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Points of Order

Volume 474: debated on Monday 21 April 2008

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Following the recent Freedom of Information Act report released to The Times last week by the Ministry of Defence on the humiliating abduction of Royal Navy and Royal Marine personnel by the Iranian revolutionary guard, I seek your advice on how to secure more transparent, accurate and timely information from the Government on the issue, which is obviously of great importance.

According to an internal and unpublished Ministry of Defence report dated 13 April last year, the illegal abduction by the Iranian revolutionary guard navy took place in waters that are not internationally agreed to be Iraqi. However, the Secretary of State told the House on 19 June last year:

“There is no doubt that HMS Cornwall was operating in Iraqi waters and that the incident itself took place in Iraqi waters.”—[Official Report, 19 June 2007; Vol. 461, c. 1266.]

I am sure that you agree that it is important that Parliament be presented with the facts. It appears—it may not be the case—from the reports that the House was given information, which the Ministry of Defence has contradicted. Although there are Defence questions next week, the matter is so important to our foreign policy that I wonder whether you could advise me on how best I might seek information from a Ministry of Defence Minister.

The hon. Gentleman has given me the solution to his problem by saying that there are Defence questions next week. He should ask those questions. It is up to Members of Parliament to seek clarification on all matters that come before the House and to ask questions. The hon. Gentleman should continue to ask questions, either written or oral, when he gets the opportunity.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, on a different matter about which I seek your guidance. Given the weekend reports of further arrests, torture and killings that were undertaken in Zimbabwe—to the distress, I am sure, of hon. Members of all parties—at the obvious behest of the mass murderer Mugabe, and in the light of the Prime Minister’s welcome public statements in the United States and elsewhere on the subject, have you had any indication that the Foreign Secretary intends to come to the House to make a statement about how, on a multilateral basis, we can achieve progress to bring that ghastly regime to book and ensure that the people of Zimbabwe have a better future?

These matters should not be raised in points of order. It is up to Ministers whether they wish to come to the House. I think that we can leave it at that and not use points of order to raise such matters.