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Hon Members For Antrim, North And Belfast, East

Volume 12: debated on Wednesday 11 November 1981

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

I have a brief statement to make about an incident that occurred yesterday at the outset of the Prime Minister's statement on the Anglo-Irish talks. It concerns the conduct of the hon. Members for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) and for Belfast, East (Mr. Robinson).

Last night, when I had my attention drawn to reports in the media of the words that the hon. Gentlemen were alleged to have used, I gave notice to the hon. Member for Antrim, North that I would wish him to be in his usual place to hear what I had to say. I understand that the hon. Gentleman has been in the precincts of the House and, indeed, was here when we begun our business this afternoon, but I had a message from him to the effect that he could not come to the House because he was receiving a deputation.

The hon. Member for Antrim, North shouted an interruption from that part of the Gallery that constitutes part of the Chamber and then hurriedly left. Shortly afterwards the hon. Member for Belfast, East behaved in a similar way. I strongly deprecate the conduct of both hon. Members in leaving the Chamber to avoid the authority of the Chair as well as, if they spoke the alleged words, the words that were uttered. It so happens that neither I nor Hansard, nor, I believe, anyone else in the Chamber, heard the actual words, but apparently they were given to the media at some stage yesterday evening.

As I think that it is entirely wrong for any hon. Member to be able to decline to enter the Chamber to say whether he used completely unparliamentary, abusive and offensive words, I shall deal with the matter on Monday next as though it were this day. That gives the hon. Member for Antrim, North plenty of notice to come to the House. If he does not do so, I shall act in his absence.