I am pleased with the Lord Privy Seal's statement. May I seek an assurance from him that he will investigate the source of all items, because it is now becoming clear that South Africa is using other countries to process its produce? May I have an assurance that he will investigate this and that if I am able to find any country processing South African produce he will strike out that country as well?
The hon. Gentleman's question was a factual one and I gave him a factual answer. If he wishes to press the matter further, he should take it up with the Services Committee.
Will my right hon. Friend further reassure the hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Grant) by telling him that when the North Atlantic Assembly was held in Westminster Hall in 1982 the elegant chairs on which we all sat and which had been hired specially for the occasion were all made east of the iron curtain?
Will the Leader of the House confirm that, although the general position is as he says and that no regular supplies come from South Africa, there are no supplies from South Africa? If he cannot tell us that today, will he inquire, and if he finds that there are, or may be, supplies purchased from South Africa, will he let the House decide whether that is an appropriate way for the House to deal with its contracts
I can only repeat what I said to the hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Grant). If the hon. Member wishes to pursue the matter further, he should take it up with the Services Committee.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that many of us are very disappointed that there are no South African goods available? If he intends to go down the road suggested by some Opposition Members, will he give us the chance to draw up a list of countries of which we disapprove and from none of which we will accept products for this place? Will he assure us that he will not single out any one country for such ridiculous treatment?
I should perhaps make it clear that my answer covers not only the Refreshment Department but the purchasing agencies such as Her Majesty's Stationery Office and the Crown Suppliers, which supply the House of Commons and for which I have no direct ministerial responsibility. Naturally, these agencies seek their supphes from United Kingdom sources where possible. I am sure that the House supports that approach.
Mr. Alan Williams:
Is it not the truth that the Minister cannot give the assurance that is asked for by the Opposition and will not be able to in future, nor will the Committees be able to make the judgments that he has stated? That is because of changes made to consumer legislation immediately prior to the election affecting the Trade Descriptions Act 1972. As a result of that there will no way in which any hon. Member will know whether he is using South African goods.
I gave the hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Grant) a factual answer. If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to pursue the matter further, he should take it up with the Services Committee.