Points of Order

– in the House of Commons at 4:16 pm on 28th January 1991.

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Photo of Mr Max Madden Mr Max Madden , Bradford West 4:16 pm, 28th January 1991

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it not extraordinary that the Secretary of State for Defence should have announced yesterday, on the radio, fundamental and important changes in the war aims of the British Government in the Gulf? He made it clear that, even if Iraq withdrew from Kuwait, allied forces would launch a ground and air attack on Iraq if it was perceived to maintain a military threat. That is clearly a major change in Britain's war aims; yet the House of Commons is being given no opportunity to question the Secretary of State—or, indeed, the Prime Minister—about such an important matter.

I therefore ask you, Mr. Speaker, to reconsider the application that I made to you earlier for an emergency debate on the war aims of the British Government in the Gulf, arising from the exchanges that have taken place today on a very narrow but nevertheless very important subject. I urge you, Mr. Speaker, to allow such a debate to take place, if the Government are not—

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

Order. That is plainly cheating. As the hon. Gentleman knows very well, I explained to him when he came to see me—as he has raised the matter, let me say that he did come to see me about it—why it would not be possible for me to do as he asked, as it would be an abuse of our procedures.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. About three months ago, I raised with you—you dealt with it sympathetically—the question of where the division lay between the responsibilities of the Department of the Environment and those of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in relation to international environmental matters.

Given that there will clearly be opportunities in the House for requests to question Ministers and to table questions, I wonder whether the Secretary of State for the Environment could consult his colleagues in the FCO and the Ministry of Defence. Perhaps a note could be issued explaining which Department should most appropriately deal with matters that fall within such a confused area of responsibility.

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

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman's remarks will have been heard by the Secretary of State for the Environment, and by those on the Front Bench who are responsible for such matters.