Points of Order
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. During the statement by the Foreign Secretary on Wednesday 28 November, in column 871 of Hansard, I suggested that the right hon. Gentleman might not have done his national service. The right hon. Gentleman has written me a courteous letter to point out that he had done his national service with the Royal Artillery from July 1948 to September 1949. I hope that he will accept my apologies for any suggestion to the contrary.
§ Mr. Harry Ewing (Falkirk, East)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wish to clarify the old point about the sub judice rule before the House gets itself into some difficulty. Is it the case, Mr. Speaker, that it is for you to rule when a matter is sub judice, and that in the past you have always ruled that matters become sub judice only when a date has been set for the proceedings to begin? Is it right that it is not for Ministers or any other right hon. or hon. Member to decide that a matter is sub judice? Surely it is a matter that is entirely for the Chair.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I do not need a further point of order, because I can deal with the matter that the hon. Minister for Falkirk, East (Mr. Ewing) has raised.
The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. I said that the matter under discussion was not sub judice. I think that the Minister made that clear in his final comment.
§ Mr. Nellist
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wondered whether you would take the opportunity, perhaps through one of the channels that are available to you, to remind Ministers for the future that, if investigations are taking place, as the Minister for Trade 38 said in his statement, that is entirely different from the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, East (Mr. Ewing) about court dates or court actions. In this instance, no charges have been laid against anyone. It was wrong for the Minister carefully to choose his words and effectively to produce a smoke screen to stop hon. Members asking questions which otherwise he would be obliged to answer.
§ Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The statement on arms sales raised serious and important questions. Have you had any request either for a debate or a statement on the principle of selling lethal weapons to repressive regimes, which leads to the death of many innocent people?
§ Mr. Speaker
I have not had such a request, but that is exactly the sort of subject that hon. Members might well choose to debate on a private Member's motion day, or even in an Adjournment debate.
§ Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Will you condemn the hon. Member for Coventry, South-West (Mr. Butcher) for alleging today on radio in the west midlands that I had irresponsibly tabled questions last year linking Matrix Churchill to Iraqi intelligence? I understand that some concern about that is being expressed in the west midlands.