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Middle East

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 5th February 1986.

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Photo of Mr Michael Latham Mr Michael Latham , Rutland and Melton 12:00 am, 5th February 1986

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement on developments in the middle east peace process since the visit to London by Mr. Shimon Peres.

Photo of Mr Timothy Renton Mr Timothy Renton , Mid Sussex

Moderates on both sides have our full support in their continuing efforts to move towards the peaceful negotiation of a just and lasting settlement of the Arab-Israel dispute.

Photo of Mr Michael Latham Mr Michael Latham , Rutland and Melton

Has my hon. Friend noticed that the PLO leaders who have been meeting King Hussein in Amman during the last few days have again explicitly refused to recognise resolution 242? Will he confirm that there can be no place for the PLO in negotiations so long as that remains their attitude?

Photo of Mr Timothy Renton Mr Timothy Renton , Mid Sussex

My interpretation of the Amman discussions is not exactly the same as that of my hon. Friend, although I appreciate his close interest in the matter. King Hussein is clearly trying to reach a formula under which it will be possible for moderate Palestinians who abhor violence and who are prepared to say so in public, and who also accept Israel's right to exist within secure borders, to be incorporated in the peace process. Moderates on all sides ought to hope that he will be successful in that aim.

Photo of Mr Ernie Ross Mr Ernie Ross , Dundee West

How can the Minister claim that there are Palestinians who are not prepared to work for a peaceful resolution of this problem when they have made it quite clear that they are prepared to accept all and every resolution of both the General Assembly and the Security Council?

Photo of Mr Timothy Renton Mr Timothy Renton , Mid Sussex

I wish that what the hon. Gentleman has just said was correct, but unfortunately it is not.

Photo of Mr David Crouch Mr David Crouch , Canterbury

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. arising out of question 13. When the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Cohen) sought to put his supplementary question I had some difficulty in following him because he sought to use notes and to read from a communiqué. You are aware, Mr. Speaker, that in this House we practice a form of masochism. Back Benchers are never allowed to use notes at Question Time, although that is the accepted practice for those who sit on the Front Bench—a practice which I would not dispute. Can you let me know, because this is very important, whether the practice that allows the leaders of the parties to use notes extends to the leader of the Liberal party and of the other parties when they sit on the Back Benches? Can you also let me know what standing order, convention or guideline in "Erskine May" prohibits Back Benchers from ever using notes when putting questions?

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

It has always been perfectly in order for hon. Members to refer to notes, but the convention of the House is that hon. Members should not quote from them.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

I do not think that it would be helpful to take further points of order. We have a very heavy day ahead of us.

Photo of Harry Cohen Harry Cohen , Leyton

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it not in order for Back Benchers who want to refer to a specific quotation, as I did this afternoon, to read out the quotation?

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

The convention that I enunciated to the hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Crouch) has always been the practice of this House.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

I will just explain. There has just been an announcement that there is an emergency at Sellafield—

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. I shall take the hon. Gentleman's point of order after the statements.

Photo of Mr John Farr Mr John Farr , Harborough

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Photo of Mr John Farr Mr John Farr , Harborough

Yes. I should like to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether Foreign and Commonwealth Office questions could be made a little easier to understand. So many of them today have just referred to the views of the Council of Ministers. The correct description is either the Council of Ministers of the European Economic Community or the Council of Ministers of the Council of Europe. Because of the question asking for the views of the Council of Ministers, would it not be better if the phrase "Council of Ministers" always referred to either the European Economic Community Council of Ministers or the Council of Ministers of the Council of Europe?

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

The hon. Gentleman has raised an important point. It is up to hon. Members to decide the form in which they put down their questions. I do not determine that.