§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)
On a succinct point of order, Mr. Speaker. Following the exchanges, initiated by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Medway (Mr. Marshall-Andrews) and taken up by the hon. Member for Meirionnydd Nant Conwy (Mr. Llwyd) and myself, concerning cluster bombs and land mines, and in the light of my approaches to the Chief Whip, the Solicitor-General's office and, indeed, to the Liberal Democrat spokesman, would you look kindly, Mr. Speaker, on my request that, as the Solicitor-General will be in the House at 12.20 tomorrow for Question Time, she make a statement to follow up her written answer? That answer stated:As chief legal advisers to Her Majesty's Government, the Attorney-General and Solicitor-General are available to advise the Government on all questions of international and domestic law. In this capacity the Law Officers have been asked to advise, from time to time, on legal issues relating to the use of force."—[Official Report, 18 October 2001; Vol. 372, c. 1284W–85W.]It is said that the Americans may have dropped this arsenal—this weaponry; none the less, it is also true that it came from the British base of Diego Garcia in the Indian ocean which brings it into order as a legitimate matter for the House to consider. Will you look kindly on allowing some kind of statement from the Solicitor-General tomorrow?
§ Mr. Speaker
It is up to the Solicitor-General whether she wishes to make a statement. I have no control over those matters. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman can raise the matter at business questions tomorrow and put in a bid for such a statement.
§ Mr. Greg Knight (East Yorkshire)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will be aware from exchanges that took place earlier that the Secretary of State for International Development ducked out of giving evidence to a Select Committee earlier this week, citing as a reason the fact that she was unwilling to instruct her officials to prepare a written memorandum and despite the fact that the Committee had said that it did not require such a memorandum.
You are the custodian of our rights in this place, Mr. Speaker. There seems to be a new development, whereby a Minister declines to be cross-examined by a Committee because of the absence of a written document for whose preparation that Minister is responsible. Can you do anything to ensure that in future neither the House nor its Committees are treated in that cavalier manner?
§ Mr. Speaker
The Chair has no power to force an hon. Member to appear before a Committee. I heard what the Secretary of State said and I also heard what the Chairman of the Select Committee said. It seemed to me that there was a mood of co-operation, so that should assist the right hon. Gentleman and everyone else.