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Points Of Order

Volume 163: debated on Monday 4 December 1989

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

3.48 pm

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Those of us who were here on Friday and listened to an interesting debate on eastern Europe are rather surprised to see that the Official Report has missed out from the report at least three speeches. One was an interesting speech by the hon. Member for Bradford, North (Mr. Wall) in praise of Leon Trotsky. Is there a Stalinist in the Hansard office who has declared the hon. Gentleman a non-person?

I have received an apology from the Editor of Hansard to say that a technical malfunction of Hansard Press resulted in most of the speech of the hon. Member for Gravesham (Mr. Arnold) all the speeches of the hon. Members for Bradford, North (Mr. Wall) and for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson) and the beginning of the speech of the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Dr. Thomas) being omitted. A correction will be made in the text of Hansard today. The Editor expresses his regret.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. On Saturday morning, Radio 4 referred to my speech as odd. I thought that I had given an even-handed description of both Stalinism and capitalism. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether my speech exists—I understand that all our speeches, interventions and even interjections are reported in Hansard. If my speech does not exist, is there a technical case for saying that Radio 4 is in breach of privilege?

The hon. Gentleman's speech exists. Hansard Press made a mistake. I am glad to know that the hon. Gentleman's speech was referred to on the radio.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. As a speech was reported in Hansard in my name although it was made by another hon. Member, can you advise me what to do when in the second paragraph I am supposed to have waxed eloquent on Balkanisation? Far worse than that, I am supposed to have said:

"It is wonderful to be able to quote a statement from the present political leader of Bulgaria."—[Official Report, 1 December 1989; Vol. 162, c. 977.]
What can I do to safeguard my reputation, Mr. Speaker?

I am sorry that the mistake was made. New technology in Hansard caused the malfunction. I think that the hon. Gentleman has now put the record straight.

On a different point of order, Mr. Speaker. It is not related directly to the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell)—it is more general than that—but earlier this afternoon, in a question to my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General, the hon. Gentleman referred to a loyal and devoted civil servant. It was one of the seemingly endless occasions on which he has done so on the Floor of the House on an issue which surely has had its day. Is it correct, and if it is not, what can be done about it, for the names of senior civil servants to be mentioned in this way? Would it be possible for the House to examine whether there is a better way of handling these matters?

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Surely it would be wrong for anyone to stop my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell), or anyone else, raising important matters in the House merely because a long time has passed since the issue arose. We all remember the case of the Guildford Four and the 15 years which followed, during which hon. Members asked questions about the case. Tory Members could have said that that should stop. It is a good thing that it did not stop. Another example is the Rover sweetner. The questions about that will run on and on and on.

Order. I hope that these points of order will not run on and on and on. There is an important debate to follow.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Could not the matter which I raised be brought quickly to an end and cleared up if the deputy Prime Minister were to tell us from the Dispatch Box whether he believes that Sir Leon Brittan, his friend and protegé, was right or not right in saying that Mr. Charles Powell and Mr. Ingham quite improperly approved the disclosure—

Order. That is a matter for the Government Front Bench and not for me. I say in answer to the hon. Member for Crawley (Mr. Soames) that we must all calculate the use of names of those who are not Members of this place and the impact on them when mentioning them. However, hon. Members have freedom of speech in the Chamber, and that cannot be rationed.