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Private Members' Bills

Volume 170: debated on Friday 20 April 1990

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On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You were in the Chair at 2.10 pm when I raised, on a point of order, the statement by No. 10 Downing street to the effect that the transcript of conversations between the hon. Member for Bromsgrove (Sir H. Miller), the Ministry of Defence, the Department of Trade and Industry and a third agency had now come to light. I ask that a Minister should come to the House to explain exactly what had happened and why it was that when the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry offered a statement on that subject on Wednesday, the transcript at that time—

Order. The hon. Gentleman is addressing his remarks more to the Government than to me. What is the point of order?

My point of order is on whether you have had any approach from any Minister. I warned Mr. Derek Kerr, one of the Private Secretaries in Downing street, that I would raise the matter. Have you had any requests from any Minister at the Department of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Defence or a representative of the third agency—which is the responsibility of the Prime Minister—to come to the House to explain precisely what has happened, when those transcripts came to light, when they were brought to the knowledge of Ministers and when the Secretary of State for Defence and the Minister of State, the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Mr. Clark), first knew that there was a problem about the export orders to Iraq, which is the question that I and other hon. Members have been asking since last Wednesday?

I can deal with the hon. Member's point. I have had no such request, but I am sure that the issues he has raised have been noted.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it not generally accepted that even on a Friday, when a lot of hon. Members leave the building, Ministers should always be available? That even applies during the long recess. It appears that my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) gave due notice at 11 am today about the purpose of his remarks and the fact that there is a cover-up involving No. 10 Downing street, and various other Departments, including the Department of Trade and Industry, over the Iraqi gun fiasco. We are reaching a sorry state when we have a Government who supposedly believe in defence but do not know the difference between a gun barrel and a pipeline. My hon. Friend is trying to get to the root of the matter. Parliament should deal with it. The Chair is being placed in an invidious position because Ministers are not available to answer such important questions. Every day that passes, Ministers are failing in their duty.

The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has openly declared his desire to see his Ministry abolished. Is there any wonder that the Iraqis are able to buy guns and God knows what else when a Minister says, "I want to get rid of my Department." That really is a scandal.

Order. I can merely reiterate that I have had no request in respect of a statement.

Security Service Act 1989 (Amendment) Bill

Order for Second Reading read.

Second Reading deferred till Friday 27 April.

Harbours, Docks And Piers Clauses Act 1847 (Amendment) Bill

Order for Second Reading read.

Second Reading deferred till Friday 11 May.

Political Parties (Income And Expenditure) Bill

Order for Second Reading read.

Does the hon. Member have the authority of the hon. Member in charge of the Bill?

Local Authority Playing Fields Bill

Order for Second Reading read.

Raoul Wallenberg (Memorial) Bill

Order for Second Reading read.

Second Reading deferred till Friday 4 May.

Adoption (Amendment) Bill

Order for Second Reading read.

Second Reading deferred till Friday 4 May.

Tax Relief For Household Employers Bill

Order for Second Reading read.

Education (School Governing Bodies) Bill

Order for Second Reading read.

Second Reading deferred till Friday 27 April.

Greyhound Betting Levy Bill

Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Second Reading [16 February].

With the authority of the hon. Member in charge of the Bill, Friday next.

Term And Quarter Days (Scotland) Bill

Read a Second time and committed to a Standing Committee, pursuant to Standing Order No. 61 (Committal of Bills).

Marriage (Registration Of Buildings) Bill

Order for Second Reading read

Rights Of Way (Agricultural Land) Bill Money

Queen's recommendation having been signified

Resolved,

That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Rights of Way (Agricultural Land) Bill, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of money provided by Parliament of any increase attributable to that Act in the sums payable out of such money under any other Act.—[Mr. Nicholas Baker.]