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Business of the House

– in the House of Commons at 3:33 pm on 6th July 1982.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry 3:33 pm, 6th July 1982

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a short business statement.

The business on Thursday 8 July will now be as follows: Until about 7 o'clock, debate on a Government motion on the decision to appoint a committee to review matters leading up to the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands. Afterwards, Supply day debate on the Army, on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Several Hon. Members:

rose

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

Order. I shall call a few hon. Members to put questions, but this is a brief statement about a debate being available to us on Thursday.

Photo of Mr Frank Hooley Mr Frank Hooley , Sheffield, Heeley

Will the Supply day debate run until 10 o'clock or midnight?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry

The motion that will govern the day's business will enable the Supply day debate to run long enough to make up for the time that will have been for-gone.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , West Lothian

In the interests of those of us who are not Privy Councillors, and reflecting what happened on Saturday 3 April when a truncated debate in the House led to a reflection of opinion that may not have been the true opinion of the entire House at the time, is it satisfactory that such a crucial debate should be limited to three hours?

If it is limited to three hours, will the Prime Minister outline the events that led to the firing of torpedoes on the "General Belgrano" and tell us especially whether Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse consulted her before giving the order to fire?

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

Order. Those questions can be raised during the debate on Thursday.

Photo of Mr Maurice Macmillan Mr Maurice Macmillan , Farnham

May the House debate the terms of reference and amend them?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry

The motion will be amendable.

Photo of Mr Chris Price Mr Chris Price , Lewisham West

Will the Government announce the full membership of the inquiry committee before the debate or simply in the opening speech of the debate?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry

I cannot anticipate the contents of my right hon. Friend's opening speech, but doubtless she will have heard the hon. Gentleman's point.

Several Hon. Members:

rose

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

Order. I propose to call the four hon. Members who have been trying to catch my eye.

Photo of Mr Michael English Mr Michael English , Nottingham West

Will the motion include South Georgia as well as the Falkland Islands? I believe that Argentina invaded South Georgia first.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry

I am sure that the debate will be sufficiently elastic to cover the point that worries the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Mr Harry Ewing Mr Harry Ewing , Stirling Falkirk and Grangemouth

Although the Leader of the House cannot anticipate the Prime Minister's opening speech, will he ensure that she explains to the House the constitutional point raised by the right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath), because she appears to be saying to the nation that she has the right, without asking permission, to examine the papers of previous Administrations?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry

I am sure that that matter will be fully and adequately covered.

Photo of Mr George Foulkes Mr George Foulkes , Ayrshire South

Further to the matter raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Price), will the Prime Minister ensure that the names of the other members of the committee are made available before the debate and not in her introductory speech?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry

I cannot go beyond the answer that I have already given.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South

Will the Leader of the House make it clear whether the inquiry will be set up by a motion of the House or whether it will be an inquiry appointed by the Government on which the House is invited to make observations?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry

The House will be invited to approve the inquiry.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , West Lothian

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Would I be right in thinking that the time for Back-Bench Members' contributions to the debate on the Falkland Islands inquiry will be limited to one and a quarter hours or, at most, one and a half hours, because there will be four major Front Bench speeches? Do you, as Speaker of the House, believe that it is satisfactory that Back-Bench Members' contributions should be limited to that extent?

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

I do not decide the timing of the debate.

Photo of Mr Dick Douglas Mr Dick Douglas , Dunfermline

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

Order. Points of order simply take time from the major debate in which many hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Dunfermline (Mr. Douglas), will hope to catch my eye.

Photo of Mr Dick Douglas Mr Dick Douglas , Dunfermline

It was not my intention unduly to take up the time of the House, Mr. Speaker. The name of the head of the Falkland Islands inquiry has been widely leaked to the press. May we have an assurance that information about the other members of the committee of inquiry will not be leaked to the press but will be given to the House?

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

That is not a point of order.