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Part of Opposition Day – in the House of Commons at 4:59 pm on 19th June 1995.

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Photo of Mr Michael Heseltine Mr Michael Heseltine President of the Board of Trade 4:59 pm, 19th June 1995

I beg to move, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof: recognises the independence of the all-party Select Committee for Trade and Industry; welcomes the Government's assurance that if that Committee decides to examine the issues raised by the allegation that Singapore was used as a conduit for arms to Iran then it will co-operate fully; and recognises that as far as intelligence is concerned the Government will establish procedures with the Select Committee in the light of the Intelligence Services Act 1994.". In the ordinary course of events, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I would begin with your characteristic title, but the whole House will want to recognise that in one material way your title has changed since I was last able to address you. I do not in any way seek to change your title, but the spirit of my congratulations is deep and heartfelt.

It was not until the 27th minute of the speech of the right hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) that it appeared that there was a substantial difference between the thrust of what he was saying and the reasons why I made an oral statement a week ago. I accept at once that my statement arose directly from the fact that my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State and I had three written questions to address from the hon. Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson). As a result of those questions, we did what the House would expect Ministers to do, which was to ask the basic questions and to seek the basic information so as to give a full answer to the House.

My hon. Friend and I were not satisfied with the answers which were in front of us, and therefore asked for further information. As a result of the further information which was brought to our attention, it became apparent that there was a serious issue which Ministers in my Department first had to address. The right hon. Member for Copeland was correct when he said that there is a range of quotations, letters and parliamentary answers which needs to be revisited in the light of my statement.