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Points Of Order

Volume 169: debated on Tuesday 13 March 1990

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4.26 pm

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In the light of the decision today by the Irish Supreme Court to reject this Government's application for the extradition to Northern Ireland of the Maze escapers, Finucane and Clarke, and as we must deduce that the real reason stems from the Irish Republic's legal claim to jurisdiction over Northern Ireland, as confirmed in the McGimpsey judgment a few days ago, the logical consequence of which is that the Irish Republic could not extradite to territory that it now deems to be its own, has the Attorney-General said to you, Mr. Speaker, that he intends to make an early statement to the House on this serious matter?

The Attorney-General has not made such an application to me, but I note that the hon. Gentleman has the Adjournment debate tomorrow night. I am certain that, especially if he were to let the Minister know as a matter of courtesy that he proposed to raise this matter, he would receive an answer.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In the light of today's pronouncement by Congressman Kennedy of the United States legislature that Irishmen are unlikely to receive a fair trial in this country, will there be an opportunity for us to debate whether Cubans, Mexicans or black people receive a fair trial in the United States?

That is not among my many responsibilities. I am sure that, with a certain amount of ingenuity, the hon. Gentleman will be able to raise the matter in order, perhaps in an Adjournment debate.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. It will not have escaped the notice of all hon. Members and perhaps people outside the House that today we had 55 minutes on an undoubtedly important statement, according to those who made contributions. However, it is certain that it was not very controversial. I hope that if there is another controversial item, such as the House of Fraser report, you might consider, Mr. Speaker, that half an hour is not sufficient for a matter concerning fraud in the City.

The hon. Gentleman has raised this matter before. I do not give reasons for my decisions on these matters. However, I want to point out again to the hon. Gentleman and to any others who are interested that I have to take into account the pressure on business later in the day. When we had the statement on the Harrods affair, there was an important debate which had to end at 10 pm and in which many hon. Members wanted to participate. Many of them have subsequently written to me regretting that they were not called. Today we have exempted business, which can go on until any hour. I therefore allowed the statement today to range, which seemed reasonable in view of the time available later.