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Defence

Volume 720: debated on Tuesday 16 November 1965

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Q5.

asked the Prime Minister what recent discussions have been held with the Leader of the Opposition on defence matters.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the Answer I gave to a similar Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle on the 29th of July.

Does not my right hon. Friend consider that some clarification should be sought from the Leader of the Opposition of the new attitude to defence as expressed by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell)? Does my right hon. Friend realise that the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, speaking on behalf of the Tory Party, seems to be—

Later—

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I refer to your comments to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Mr. loan L. Evans) on Question No. Q.5? You ruled that his supplementary question was out of order. For the guidance of the House, could you say how it could be out of order when, in fact, he was inquiring whether, in discussions with the Leader of the Opposition, the views of the official spokesman of the Opposition on defence matters would be a matter for comment? Some of us might think that this was too strict a Ruling and I would ask you to give your view.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I have to make decisions very quickly. It seemed to me that the original question of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Mr. loan L. Evans) involved the Leader of the Opposition in his relationship with the Prime Minister but no other member of the Opposition.

With great respect, Mr. Speaker, is it not the case that anybody responsible for the formation of defence policy on the Opposition Front Bench is invariably involved in such discussions between the Leaders of the parties? Would it not be better if such matters were allowed?

That is a political argument rather than an argument about order. I hope that we can now proceed.