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Defence Estimates

Volume 15: debated on Wednesday 16 December 1981

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I apologise to the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) for the fact that I overlooked calling him earlier to raise his point of order.

I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for calling me at all. I gave you notice of a point of order that I wished to raise on the Defence Estimates that are being taken at 10 o'clock tonight. As you will see, my hon. Friend the hon. Member for Stockport, North (Mr. Bennett) and I have given notice of an objection under Standing Order No. 18(10), which, in effect, singles out the Defence Vote.

My point of order is that there is no opportunity for hon. Members to single out any section of that Defence Vote. House of Commons Paper No. 42, which covers the Defence Votes, provides in five lines the information for the expenditure of £5·583 billion, whereas House of Commons Paper No. 43, which covers the Civil Estimates, provides no fewer than 10½ pages of detailed account of expenditure.

My hon. Friend the Member for Stockport, North and I believe that the Secretary of State for Defence should be called upon, through your good offices, to provide further detailed information when the Defence Estimates motion is put on the Order Paper, as is required by the Standing Orders, so that hon. Members can make a judgment of what is contained in them. Even at this late stage, Mr. Speaker, through your good offices, perhaps the Secretary of State for Defence would wish to provide more information for hon. Members, rather than require £5·583 billion to be passed on the nod. Further information may persuade us that it is not necessary to vote against the whole of the expenditure.

The hon. Gentleman gave me notice that he would raise a point of order, but, as he is aware, he did not give me notice of the subject of it. However, fortunately, I know the answer. Our Standing Orders mean, as he correctly said, that he cannot take objection to the details within the Estimates. If he and his hon. Friend wish to vote against them, they must exercise their power to vote against the Defence Estimates as such. I shall put the Estimates to the House at 10 o'clock tonight.