I wish to raise a point of order, Mr. Speaker, concerning the statement made by the Leader of the House during Business Questions yesterday. He stated then that he would ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he would make a statement on Malta today. I think the implication was that if, indeed, the negotiations had been broken off, a statement would be made this morning. May I ask the Leader of the House when we may expect a statement, as it is not, I take it, to be made now?
Following the exchanges yesterday, I made inquiries of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. The position so far as we know has not changed from that set out in the Written Answer given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Overseas Development in yesterday's HANSARD to the hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall). If any developments occur which should be reported to the House, my right hon. Friend will, of course, make a statement on Monday.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Sneaker. I raised this matter first yesterday by your courtesy. I have been put in some difficulty and I seek your guidance not only for myself but for other back benchers on this matter.
All I could do after the statement of the Leader of the House yesterday was to telephone the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Overseas Development as soon as I could this morning. By the time I got the information from the Foreign Office that it was not going to make a statement this morning, and from the Ministry of Overseas Development that it was not sure whether it would do so or not, it was already 10 a.m. and too late to put in a Private Notice Question. I telephoned the High Commissioner for Malta in case I had misled the House yesterday in the impression I gave, and was given a categorical answer. It was read out to me. It was a statement from the Prime Minister's office in Malta supporting what I said yesterday and contradicting what Her Majesty's Government had said. It stated clearly that the talks have been broken off. In these circumstances, how can one get the Government to clarify the situation?
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will recall the exchanges during Business Questions yesterday on this matter. Since then I have received the Written Answer to my Question No. 6 in which the right hon. Lady the Minister of Overseas Development states clearly that the discussions with the Malta Government are continuing through the British High Commission in Malta. Yet this has been categorically denied by the Malta Government. Surely the position has changed and we should have a statement today.
I have made a reasonable answer on this matter. We have read the newspapers this morning. I consulted my right hon. Friends. The position is unchanged from that set out in the Written Answer referred to by the hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall). I am only sorry that he was not present during Question Time yesterday so that the Question might have been answered orally. My right hon. Friend will watch the situation, and, if necessary, there will be a statement on Monday.
I do not think that it would be profitable to take this matter much further today but if it is the case, as my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Sir F. Bennett) assures me, that the negotiations have been broken off, surely the Government should be in a position to know and to make a statement to the House on the facts. We shall have to pursue this matter further on Monday.