Skip to main content

Points Of Order

Volume 400: debated on Monday 3 March 2003

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

3.31 pm

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. A very significant vote took place in the Turkish Parliament on Saturday that has an impact on British foreign and defence policy and obviously that of the United States as well. Have you received a request from a Minister seeking to make a statement on the issue or will there be an opportunity some time this week for Members to express their interest in this matter and their admiration for the Turkish Parliament on its preparedness to say no to George Bush's war drive?

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Thank you for granting me the opportunity to raise this point of order. I understand from Sky news that B-52 bombers have been deploying to RAF Fairford in my constituency all morning. Have you received any information from the Secretary of State for Defence saying that he intends to make a special statement on this matter so that we can question him specifically about it?

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I seek to raise the propriety of the correction by way of a letter of a major financial mistake made on the Floor of the House. On 9 December, I asked the Secretary of State to confirm that defence expenditure would be significantly lower as a proportion of GDP in the following year than in any year under the previous Government. In reply, he told me that that was completely incorrect and said that the level was sometimes higher and sometimes lower under the previous Government. The truth is that the proportion of GDP being spent is the lowest since the 1930s. Since then, I have received a courteous letter from the Minister of State in which he admitted that the Secretary of State had made a mistake and said that the letter had been copied to the Library. Have you had any application from the Secretary of State for an opportunity to correct the matter on the Floor of the House?

No, but I get the feeling that the hon. Gentleman wanted to put the matter on the record.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Secretary of State for Defence was repeatedly asked about the B-52s and the change in bombing over Iraq in the past few days, which is a radical departure from only protecting the no-fly zones. Some of us think that war has already started through the back door and that last week's debate was an absolute mockery, while we were given an assurance that we would be consulted further. Given the lack of any answers to genuine questions, may I ask you to request that the Secretary of State comes back to the House and gives a full and proper statement in which he answers the questions asked today?

The hon. Lady can apply—I am not inviting her to do so—for an urgent question. That is the procedure that she should follow.