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Mr Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. On Monday, the Leader of the House said in reply to a question: If he"— meaning myself— has any reason to believe that Mr. Paul Foot has breached privilege, it is open to him to come to the House and act accordingly."— [Official Report, 9 May 1983; Vol. 42, c. 628.] It may not be appropriate to raise this matter following the praises rightly given to you, Mr. Speaker, but it is a matter of considerable importance to the House in two respects. First, there is unfinished business before the Privileges Committee, which is examining a case that created a great deal of discussion—

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Mr George Thomas (Cardiff West)

Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but it is out of order to refer to the business before the Privileges Committee. It is still dealing with the matter and we cannot discuss it here until we have had its report. There is no point of order on which I can help the hon. Gentleman.

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Mr Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Perhaps you will clarify what happens at the end of Parliament. May I formally refer the article by Mr. Foot, in the current issue of New Statesman, to the Privileges Committee for its consideration and a ruling tomorrow?

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Mr George Thomas (Cardiff West)

I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman must make a written application if he wishes to refer a matter to the Privileges Committee. I should then consider it and write to him with my decision. However, as he knows, it is rather late in the life of this Parliament.

Privileges applications are no longer made on the Floor of the House. They are made in writing to Mr. Speaker, who has time to consider them and can seek advice if he needs it.

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Mr Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. In the circumstances of the article, which is a major scrutiny of the behaviour of the Prime Minister in relation to the sinking of the Belgrano—

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Mr George Thomas (Cardiff West)

Order. With every respect to the hon. Gentleman, we cannot discuss that now. There is nothing that I can do about it. I am afraid that he will have to wait.

It would be out of order for me to wish all hon. Members a safe return because I could not be impartial. However, I must tell the hon. Gentleman that he cannot resume his point of order now. I am glad that he has raised the last point of order with which I must deal during my Speakership. But, quite honestly, I cannot help him. If, within our rules, it were possible for me to send his application to any Committee, I would do so. I cannot do anything more.

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Mr Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. The issue at stake is the veracity of the Prime Minister

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Mr George Thomas (Cardiff West)

Order. The hon. Gentleman must resume his seat. He cannot persist with that point.

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Mr George Thomas (Cardiff West)

Order. We have finished with the point raised by the hon. Gentleman and I am now moving to the Orders of the Day.