BUSINESS QUESTION – TRIDENT DEBATE – 1 March 2007

Dr Julian Lewis: In welcoming the 14 March debate on Trident on behalf of the Shadow Defence Ministers, may I ask the Leader of the House whether he will guarantee that there will be no intrusion by statements on the time for that debate? Will there be protected time – six and a half hours – for that debate? Does he agree that it would send the wrong signal about the importance of this as a defence issue for the Defence Secretary to be relegated, as appears to be the case, to winding up the debate, rather than presenting the case, which he is perfectly capable of doing?

[The Leader of the House of Commons (Mr Jack Straw): I accept the hon. Gentleman's first point. Unless there is some emergency, we will do everything we can to avoid any statement before the debate begins. Frankly, I think that the second point is rather trivial. The responsibility for that kind of major issue has always been shared between the Foreign Secretary and the Defence Secretary. If I were still Foreign Secretary, it is quite likely that I would open the debate on the issue.]