On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I have given your secretary notice of exactly where it refers to—column 794-95 of yesterday's Hansard, when, at the end of the debate, I raised the question whether the use of the words
was the equivalent of calling a person a liar. I raised it in respect of the hon. Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe). I raise it again with you. Are those words interpretable as calling someone a liar, and, as such, should they require an apology to the House and to the hon. Member concerned?"Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.— [Official Report, 11 December 1995; Vol. 268, c. 794.]
I looked at the exchange this morning, and I have to tell the hon. Gentleman that I do not accept the interpretation that he has placed on it. I believe that Madam Deputy Speaker dealt with it very well last night. The House does not go in for inquests about what happened the night before. It was dealt with at the time, and we must now move on.
Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker.
I do not normally take further points of order, but, as it is close to Christmas, I will take this one.
I am grateful, Madam Speaker. Am I now to understand that I can use any quotation—from the Bible or from Shakespeare, for example—to call anybody anything, and that it will be permitted?
Not at all. As the hon. Gentleman and all hon. Members know, it very much depends on how the quotation is applied and interpreted at the time. The hon. Gentleman is making a great deal of last night's exchange, which I looked at carefully this morning. In the light of what took place, I believe that the Minister of State, Home Office was indicating that the hon. Gentleman had made a poor or a false point. As I have said, we do not go in for inquests. I interpret each comment as it is made, and I am sure that that is the right and just way to do it.
The quality of mercy is not strained.