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Point of Order

Volume 450: debated on Monday 9 October 2006

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am sure that you and all Members of the House realise that the situation in North Korea, with today’s news of nuclear weapons tests there, is a matter of growing international concern. Earlier this afternoon, a Foreign Office Minister made a statement and answered questions on this matter in another place. Less than an hour ago, the Foreign Secretary made a statement on this matter to the members of the press. However, no Foreign Office Minister has come to the House to make a statement and to answer questions from hon. Members. Given all that the Speaker, you and other Deputy Speakers have said previously about the importance of Ministers making statements to the House, I seek your guidance as to how we can ensure that, in future, on such matters of grave concern, Ministers recognise their responsibility to put themselves forward to be asked questions by elected representatives in this Chamber, and not simply to give statements to the press.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am sure that the whole House is seized of the importance of the report of a successful nuclear weapons test by North Korea. Was an approach made to the Speaker this morning by a Minister asking for the opportunity to make a statement? Obviously, there is an urgent need for an early debate or statement.

There were moves this morning for the matter to be discussed. Decisions were taken then, and they are not ones that the House or anyone can go back over now. I understand the concern expressed by the right hon. Member for Maidenhead (Mrs. May), which she has put firmly on the record. Mr. Speaker’s views about such matters are well known. We have a crowded programme today, with two statements as well as a lot of other business, but no doubt those on the Government Front Bench will also have heard what the right hon. Lady said and will take what action they think is appropriate.