On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. On Wednesday of last week the Government were defeated on an important vote in European Standing Committee B on the question of patent terms for medicines. The Hansard report of the Committee's proceedings shows that the Government's motion, subsequently amended on a vote, was resolved. In view of the controversy over the reporting of European Standing Committees on other issues, may we be assured that the resolution as passed in Committee will be presented to the House and that the Hansard report will be corrected?
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Today, we have had a bit of Welsh and a bit of Scottish, and I hope to further the entente cordiale by introducing a bit of French. Apparently, the French Prime Minister has sought to insult the virility of the British male because when she was last in London she did not receive enough admiring glances. I sought to table a motion—
I sought to table a motion explaining that hon. Members do not fancy elderly French women, but I was told that that was out of order. How can the House stand up for half the British population when it is insulted like that?
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. First, may I apologise on behalf of myself and my hon. Friend the Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) for going on a bit. In my own defence, may I say that my hon. Friend was a lot worse than me.
My point of order is this. You, Mr. Speaker, are always generous during statements. If, at the end of the statement, some right hon. and hon. Members have not caught your eye, you make it clear that you have noticed that and that, in future, if the subject is raised again, you will keep that fact in mind. As a good crawler, I have always appreciated that during your Speakership, Mr. Speaker. However, you will have noticed that during our exchanges today no Scottish Tory Back Benchers or Scottish National party Members have been present. In order to protect you, Mr. Speaker, may I draw to your attention that, in future, you should not allow absent brethren—
—or sisters, to prevail upon you saying that they were not called during today's exchanges on the statement and thus try to persuade you to call them as a favour. If they are absent today, you should score them off your list.
I think that that is a hypothetical matter. I bear in mind all kinds of things, one of which is the regularity with which hon. Members come into the Chamber. It is true that, the more frequently Members are present, the more likely they are to be called.
It is totally inadequate for the Minister to give the House misleading statements on the position of Kurdish refugees. During the Gulf war, the Government made a statement almost every day about the conduct of the war. In the aftermath of the war, the Government have a responsibility to make statements to the House on what is happening to the Kurdish refugees. Much Government aid and individual help has been invested in solving that problem, but we have had no statement from the Government on the withdrawal, or the proposed withdrawal, of British and allied troops from Kurdistan. Those refugees are in a parlous position, and it is incumbent on the Government to make a proper statement to the House instead of dealing with the crisis in two minutes of Overseas Development Questions.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. There is increasing anxiety about what the position would be once the allied troops had left. I have been trying to find out, and perhaps you, Mr. Speaker, can advise me, about the allies' precise intentions. Are they to leave by a certain date? Will you, Mr. Speaker, bear in mind that when Foreign Office Questions are taken—I believe, a week on Wednesday—for obvious reasons there will be few opportunities for Back Benchers to be called to press the Minister? In what circumstances would the Minister, whether the Foreign Secretary or the Defence Secretary, come to the House to tell us precisely what the allies will do? Are they going to leave, and, if so, what sort of safety and security would the Kurds have, bearing in mind that a notorious criminal remains in power in Baghdad?
I do not know whether the hon. Members for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) and for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd) were here for business questions last Thursday when the Leader of the House said that he was giving careful consideration to whether there should be a debate on that subject.
The answer that the hon. Member for Cynon Valley received to her question on overseas matters today was a long one and it caused the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) to say from a sedentary position that the Minister was making a statement. As he made that comment from a sedentary position, it will not be reported in Hansard, but it was certainly a long answer.