Points of Order

– in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 15th May 1991.

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Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow 3:31 pm, 15th May 1991

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. It has always been a rule of the Table Office—and understandably so—that it does not accept questions about the SAS. However, one read in this morning's newspapers that at a function organised by an Anglo-Israeli business man, Mr. Benjamin Pearl, the Prime Minister made a rather detailed speech about the operation of the special forces. If the Prime Minister can make speeches on sensitive matters, may we take it that Members of Parliament can put down questions about security operations?

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

I understand that the speech in question was not made in public. However, the answer to the hon. Member's question is that the Table Office will continue to examine questions carefully to ensure that they come within the rules of the House.

Photo of Mr Patrick Nicholls Mr Patrick Nicholls , Teignbridge

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will recall that I raised yesterday the question of a document that had been filed in the House of Commons, and to the ruling to which page 196 of "Erskine May" makes reference. I said that we expected to see a copy of the Leader of the Opposition's reply. Clearly, a reply would have been given, since otherwise an insult would be paid to the nation and to the House. However, subsequent inquiries have revealed that only a Minister of the Crown or yourself, Mr. Speaker, has the authority to lodge such a document in the Library. Will you consider whether or not the rules should be amended? The letter having been produced, it is not fair to the Opposition that they are unable to file it in the Library, and that right hon. and hon. Members are prevented from learning its contents. That letter clearly exists—it would be a disgrace if it did not—but a mechanism to allow the Opposition to bring it to the attention of right hon. and hon. Members does not exist.

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

I must give the hon. Member the same answer that I gave him yesterday. I have no authority to require documents of that kind to be placed in the Library —any more than I have the authority to order the speech to which the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) referred to be placed in the Library.

Photo of Mr Jim Sillars Mr Jim Sillars , Glasgow Govan

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, arising out of Question Time. Is it sensible and relevant to apply the random selection procedure in respect of Scottish questions? The Under-Secretary responsible for industry pointed out that there were no questions today for the Ministers responsible for education and the health service in Scotland. Such questions may have been tabled, but eliminated by the random selection process. Given the Scottish Office's range of responsibilities, we shall have an opportunity to ask questions on those subjects and others only if the system is altered in respect of Scottish questions.

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

The Select Committee on Procedure is examining the matter, and I suggest that the hon. Member makes his representations to that Committee, because I am conscious of the fact, particularly on Scottish Questions, that there is a ballot. I think that the House accepts that. I frequently call hon. Members whose questions appear lower down the Order Paper, and, indeed, some hon. Members who do not have questions on the Order Paper at all.