Mr. Charles Powell

– in the House of Commons at 3:33 pm on 14th March 1988.

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Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow 3:33 pm, 14th March 1988

To ask the Prime Minister when Mr. Charles Powell was appointed to her Private Office; and for how long he is expected to serve in that office.

Photo of Mrs Margaret Thatcher Mrs Margaret Thatcher The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party

Mr. Powell was appointed to my office in June 1984, and will serve until the time comes for him to leave."—[Official Report, 11 March 1988; Vol. 129, c. 840.]

[Laughter.] We are talking about a man who is so powerful that he is known in the Foreign Office, from whence he came, as the deputy Prime Minister.

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

Order. If the hon. Gentleman will address his point of order to me, I think I can deal with it.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

Anything to do with the Prime Minister's Private Office is of increasing curiosity to many of us. The last thing she wants is this question on the Order Paper, which leads to the direct question of how Mr. Powell stays in office, basking in the Prime Minister's—

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

Order. I cannot answer matters of that sort. It may be helpful to the hon. Gentleman for me to say that this was a mistake by Hansard which, I agree, is a rare occurrence. If he tables a further question, he will not be penalised as a result of this.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

Further to my point of order, Mr. Speaker. Could we have some explanation how this has happened on this sensitive subject? As you say, Hansard makes few mistakes—

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth , Mid Worcestershire

The hon. Gentleman is paranoid.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

Paranoid possibly about the whole question why the Prime Minister's Private Secretary, according to the Select Committee, knew all about what had happened to the right hon. Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Brittan).

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

Order. That is as may be, but I have had the hon. Gentleman's complaint investigated. Hansard made a mistake. I regret that I do not know how it came about. I have already said to the hon. Gentleman that if he tables another question on this matter, it will certainly not be in jeopardy.

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

I cannot do anything else about it. [Interruption.] I shall take one more point.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

Further to my point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is not this an area where there are many curious mistakes? How on earth did a letter Prom the Prime Minister's Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Education and Science find its way to my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw)? Anything on this subject becomes a most extraordinary parliamentary happening and some of us do not think that, on this subject, that just happens by accident. These things happen for reasons—

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

Order. I have nothing else to add. I have investigated the hon. Gentleman's complaint and I cannot help him further.