Points of Order

– in the House of Commons at 3:57 pm on 21st February 1989.

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Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh , Gainsborough and Horncastle 3:57 pm, 21st February 1989

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Earlier this afternoon the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) made yet another attack on Mr. Charles Powell. We value our right to fearless, free speech in the Chamber, but does not free speech depend also on responsibility? What kind of political skunk attacks a man who cannot answer back—

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

Order. As the hon. Gentleman well knows, we do not refer to each other in this Chamber by epithets of that kind. Will the hon. Gentleman withdraw that phrase about the hon. Member for Linlithgow?

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh , Gainsborough and Horncastle

I am happy to withdraw that statement and to say that the hon. Member for Linlithgow is deluded by his own fantasies.

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

I do not think that it will help, but I shall take it.

Photo of Mr Eric Heffer Mr Eric Heffer , Liverpool, Walton

You, Mr. Speaker, must be aware that since the commencement of the matter, many Opposition Members have been very clear as to our position, while both Front Benches have not. Therefore, is it not clear that the comments of those of us who have raised the matter consistently should have been heard on a statement for which we have been asking from the day on which the matter began?

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

I take it that the hon. Gentleman is referring to the statement on Iran. The hon. Gentleman may say that, but it is always tempting to ask for longer on the statement on which one has not been called, to the detriment of one's colleagues who wish to participate in the important Opposition day debate. I am sorry, but the Chair has to be absolutely fair about these matters.

Photo of Mr Timothy Devlin Mr Timothy Devlin , Stockton South

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday, my hon. Friend the Member for Langbaurgh (Mr. Holt), as reported in column 716 in Hansard, raised a point of order about recent developments in Cleveland. It arose out of the action of 11 paediatricians who wrote to The Guardian claiming that as many as 90 per cent. of children diagnosed by Dr. Marietta Higgs as having been sexually abused were correctly diagnosed. However, 98 of the 121 children were returned home, following the judicial inquiry and the various wardship cases.

In this morning's press some of the doctors are quoted as having said that they never signed the substantial letter, only one calling for Dr. Higgs to return to Cleveland to work in neo-natology—

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

Order. What is the point of order for me?

Photo of Mr Timothy Devlin Mr Timothy Devlin , Stockton South

The point of order is that if the figure of 90 per cent. is to be bandied about and not withdrawn by these doctors, the matter should be discussed by the House. Therefore, would you be prepared to ask the Leader of the House to find time next week for a debate on this urgent and important matter?

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

This is not the appropriate occasion to ask the Chair to find time for the matter. I am not responsible for what members of the public outside the House may say. There are other ways for the hon. Gentleman to raise the subject.