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Points Of Order

Volume 175: debated on Thursday 28 June 1990

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5.29 pm

Order. I think that I called both hon. Members. What is the point of order? I call Mr. Nellist first.

Given the specific questions asked by the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile) and by my right hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, West (Mr. Williams) and my hon. Friends the Members for Newcastle upon Tyne, North (Mr. Henderson) and for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), and as the Attorney-General is still present in the Chamber, will you, Mr. Speaker, confirm that if the right hon. and learned Gentleman were to approach you now to be allowed to make a statement about the legal advice given to Lord Young, you would allow him to make one?

I have received no notification that the Attorney-General wishes to do that.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday, I may inadvertently have misled the House, and if so I want to correct myself. At one stage during Question Time, I alluded to a rather nefarious contract negotiated by Middlesbrough council. I suggested that a Middlesbrough councillor was on the board of the new company concerned. I was mistaken. It was a Cleveland county councilor.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. There is a rule, regarding the tabling of questions, that matters relating to internal Government administration are not answerable. Will you, Mr. Speaker, confirm that legal advice given by the Attorney-General to a Minister on an important issue of public policy, such as the sale of British Leyland, does not fall into that category, and that questions about that aspect put to the Attorney-General and to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry are answerable?

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I recollect that, when the then Mr. Sam Silkin was Attorney-General, he not only refused to tell the Trade and Industry Committee what advice he had given but refused to attend the Committee to give it legal advice, saying that it was the established custom of the House to refuse both such requests.

The hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop), who is an expert on such matters, has given the House an answer to the question of the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer).

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Attorney-General is still in the Chamber, and you were asked to approach him with a view to allowing the right hon. and learned Gentleman to make a statement. The point was made by several right hon. and hon. Members that the Attorney-General should come clean. It is clear that he knows more, and he should be given the option of making a statement now on the legal advice that he tendered to the Prime Minister, Lord Young or anyone else as to the illegality of the Rover deal.

The whole House knows that that is not a matter for me. Furthermore, there is ahead of us an important debate for which the whole House has been waiting for a long time. I shall take one more point of order.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Will you confirm that, in respect of the Property Services Agency and Crown Suppliers Bill, the Solicitor-General was required to attend the Committee to give it advice relating to internal workings and to explain the advice that had been given to Ministers?

Perhaps that matter would more appropriately be the subject of a question from the hon. Member for a future Question Time.