Points of Order

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:34 pm on 28th November 1990.

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Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow 4:34 pm, 28th November 1990

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I congratulate you on allowing questions on the statement to run for so long? I was fortunate enough to be called early. Along with other hon. Members, I congratulate you on allowing questions to run for so long on this important subject so that the Foreign Secretary could patiently answer our questions.

But there is a problem, and it is on that problem that I seek advice. The Gulf crisis is possibly the most important since 1945. You will have detected from the nature of the questioning that passionate beliefs are held by hon. Members other than those on the two Front Benches. Will you reflect on your powers of discretion? I am speaking off the top of my head, but I understand that a long time ago Mr. Speaker Gully, in the days when Sir Steven Runciman's father was a Cabinet Minister, was able to take certain decisions on controversial issues of the day to allow proper arguments to be deployed by Back-Bench Members.

My question to you, Mr. Speaker, is this. Do you believe that you have special powers of discretion to enable the many hon. Members—I hesitate to give a figure, but perhaps 30, 40, 50 or more—who hold views which may be substantially different from those voiced from the Front Bench to put their case? What are the powers of Mr. Speaker on that?