Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Complete list of 8,000+ Thatcher statements & texts of many of them

1976 Jul 15 Th
Margaret Thatcher

HC PQ [Business of the House]

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Document kind: House of Commons PQs
Venue: House of Commons
Source: Hansard HC [915/903-21]
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: Around 1530-1608.
Importance ranking: Trivial
Word count: 6989
Themes: -
[column 903]

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

Mrs. Thatcher

May I ask Michael Footthe Leader of the House to state the business for next week?

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Michael Foot)

The business for next week will be as follows:

Monday 19th July—Completion of the remaining stages of the Finance Bill, until about 7 o'clock.

Motion on EEC Document on the 1977 Preliminary Draft Budget No. R/1483/76, together with R/373/76, R/672/76, R/794/76, R/1117/76, R/1370/75, R/118/76, R/1290/76 and R/1291/76.

Motions on financial assistance to Kearney and Trecker Marwin Ltd. and the Hill Livestock (Compensatory Allowances) Regulations.

Tuesday 20th July—Consideration of three timetable motions on the following Bills: Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries, Dock Work Regulation, Education, Health Services and Rent (Agriculture)—[Hon. Members: “No.” ]

Mr. Speaker

Order. I suggest that we hear what else is in store. Questions can follow afterwards.

Mr. Foot

The remaining business is:

Wednesday 21st July—Remaining stages of the Education Bill.

Thursday 22nd July—Remaining stages of the Rent (Agriculture) Bill.

Friday 23rd July—Remaining stages of the Parliamentary and Other Pensions and Salaries Bill, the Junior Ministers and Other Salaries Order, and the motion on Members' pay, etc.

Motions on Northern Ireland Orders on Financial Provisions, Appropriation (No. 2), Pharmacy, Poisons and the Department of the Civil Service.

Monday 26th July—Remaining stages of the Dock Work Regulation Bill.

The House, Mr. Speaker, will wish to know that, subject to progress of business, it is hoped to propose that the House should rise for the Summer Adjournment on Friday 6th August.

[column 904]

Mrs. Thatcher

I refer to Tuesday's business. Will the Leader of the House confirm that never before has a Leader of the House of Commons proposed to guillotine five major Bills in one day? He has shown a contempt of Parliament unprecedented in our whole history. Is the Leader of the House aware that in those circumstances I feel sure that my hon. and right hon. Friends will not wish to pair, least of all to allow Ministers to represent this dictatorial Government overseas? Our place will be here to defend a Parliament in danger from guilty men. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that if he proceeds with these proposals the epitaph of the Government will be—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. The Leader of the Opposition is entitled to be heard.

Mrs. Thatcher

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that if he persists with these proposals the epitaph of the Government will be “The Government that brought the Iron Curtain down on the Mother of Parliaments” ?

Mr. Foot

rose——

Hon. Members

Out.

Mr. Speaker

Order. We shall not advance the interests of the House by making a noise. There is all the more reason for self-control when there are high feelings. [Hon. Members: “Reichstag.” ] It will become the Reichstag if we do not allow free expression from both sides. [Interruption.] I ask the House, not for the first time, to listen. Hon. Members may not want to hear but I ask them to listen and then I shall call hon. Members from either side.

Mr. Lawson

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is not the only Standing Order of the House that enables a timetable motion to be moved Standing Order No. 44? Does not that Standing Order make it clear that the proceedings may apply to only one Bill?

Mr. Speaker

The answer is in the negative.

Mr. Foot

Perhaps I could adopt your language, Mr. Speaker, and say that the answer to the right hon. Lady is in the negative. It is perfectly true, to reply to the questions put by the right hon. Lady, to say that the same number of [column 905]guillotine motions have not been proposed on a single day. It is the fact that previous Governments have introduced the same number of guillotine motions as we are proposing in a whole Session. We are proposing those motions under Standing Order No. 44, as the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson) said, which was introduced into the House in November 1971 by the Conservatives. There are full precedents for what we are doing. So far from curtailing free speech, as compared with what was done by the right hon. Lady and her colleagues when in Government, we have allowed much more time.

Mr. Prior

What about the Dock Work Regulation Bill?

Mr. Foot

We have allowed much more time on the Dock Work Regulation Bill than was allowed——

Mr. Prior

How much?

Mr. Foot

Thirty-six days on the Committee proceedings.

Mr. Prior

No. On the Floor of the House.

Mr. Foot

On the Dock Work Regulation Bill, the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill and the Education Bill far more time has been allowed in Committee than on most of the Bills guillotined by the Conservatives. We repudiate entirely the charges of the right hon. Lady. What we say is that a Labour Government have as much right to resort to these parliamentary instruments as a Conservative Government, especially when we have allowed much more time for discussion during the Committee stage of these Bills.

Mr. Thorpe

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. It will be within your recollection that under Standing Order No. 44 when a timetable motion is tabled with respect to any Bill Mr. Speaker will allow not more than three hours' debate. We are being asked, apparently, to consider five motions—[Hon. Members: “Three.” ] With respect we are being asked to deal with five separate Bills. The fact that the Government choose to depart from the normal practice and try to bunch them in three motions is another matter. It is no use the Leader of the House shaking his head. Are we to assume that the House is being asked to give three hours to each Bill so that there will be [column 906]15 hours' debate? If not I would ask you to rule that the matter is entirely out of order.

Mr. Foot

I think that you have already ruled on the first matter whether Standing Order No. 44 could encompass more than one Bill, Mr. Speaker. We checked this carefully and the ruling we received is the same as that which you gave a few minutes ago.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker——

Mr. Speaker

Order. The Lord President is on a point of order. [Interruption.] Let us do things in an orderly way. The right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) rose on a point of order. Even if the Lord President omitted to say “Further to that point of order” , he was dealing with the point. I shall call the hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) immediately after this point of order.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

Further to that point of order——

Mr. Speaker

Order. I can tell the House, in reply to the question raised by the right hon. Member for Devon, North, that I shall look at the motions when they are tabled on Monday. Obviously I cannot rule today. I must wait until I see what is on the Order Paper.

Mr. Foot

To deal with the question asked by the right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe), we are acting strictly under Standing Order No. 44, as you have indicated, Mr. Speaker. Therefore we are fully entitled to couple two Bills in a single motion.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

No.

Mr. Foot

The hon. Member says “No” . Mr. Speaker has ruled——

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

No, he has not.

Mr. Foot

I can assure Conservative Members, before they get excited, that we have taken every step to ensure that we are acting strictly within the rules. I am sure that when Mr. Speaker confirms what I am saying the whole House will abide by his ruling. May I say to the right hon. Member for Devon, North, who apparently complains that we are acting in a manner which is in some sense out of order or not in accordance [column 907]with precedent, that there have been occasions——

Mr. Beith

That is no excuse.

Mr. Foot

—under previous Governments when there have been five guillotine motions introduced in a single Session.

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

When?

Mr. Foot

That happened in 1962 under the Conservative Government. No doubt they were taking into account a further precedent from the Liberal Party which had done the same thing in 1908.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. If I may suggest a novelty, it would be that Mr. Speaker replies to points of order and the Leader of the House replies to questions to the Leader of the House. It was because the Leader of the House was presuming to reply to a point of order raised by the right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) that I sought to catch your eye on a point of order. The Leader of the House had not risen on a point of order.

The point of order which I wish to put to you, further to the previous one, applies to the propriety of what the Leader of the House has suggested. I am directing this to you, Mr. Speaker, and not to the Leader of the House. The first occasion when there were two Bills subject to the same allocation of time motion was on 12th February 1908 when two days were given to an allocation of time motion on two synchronous Bills, the Small Landholders (Scotland) Bill and the Land Values (Scotland) Bill, both of which had been blocked by the House of Lords. These two Bills were part and parcel of each other. Both had been passed through this House and blocked by the House of Lords. Two days were allocated to that business.

The second occasion——

Mr. Speaker

Order. I am not seeking in any way to prevent the hon. Member from presenting his point of order——

Mr. Russell Kerr

Why not?

Mr. John Mendelson

This is business question time.

Mr. Speaker

Because it is the right of everyone in this House to raise such [column 908]matters. I request the hon. Gentleman, rather than giving me the history, which I will look up myself, to make his point of order, which I can consider in due course.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

I will come to the next occasion when the House thought it right to consider a timetable motion on three Bills. Those three Bills were dissimilar. What they had in common was what all three had been passed in this House by a substantial majority, and all three had been thrown out by the House of Lords.

Mr. Speaker

I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for giving way. It appears to me that he is producing an argument which would be better advanced in the debate next week, if everything—[Hon. Members: “No.” ] Order. I want the House to understand that I do not change my mind because hon. Members shout “No” . I am not here to be intimidated in that way. [Interruption.] Order. The hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop), as the House knows, is well versed in points of order. I know that he will come to his point of order rather than make out the case which he will no doubt be able to advance next week.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

The point of order—[Interruption.] The point of order——

Mr. William Hamilton

On a point of order——

Several hon. Members

rose——

Mr. Speaker

Order. I can listen to only one point of order at a time.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

The point of order——

Mr. William Hamilton

rose——

Mr. Speaker

Order. I am listening to the hon. Member for Tiverton at the moment.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker. My point of order—and it is a point of order and not a point for a debate on a timetable allocation motion—is this: never before has the Chair been asked to put to the House a motion embodying allocation of time on more than one Bill, except when one or more of the following circumstances [column 909]have been present. The first is when the Bills put together in the timetable motion have been rejected or blocked by the House of Lords. The second is when the Bills are related to each other by their content. The reason I put this to you as a point of order, Mr. Speaker, is that I submit that it would be an abuse of the due process of this House if, pursuant to the announcement just made by the Leader of the House, you were next Tuesday to put to the House a motion which has no basis in precedent at all and which does violence to all the precedents.

Mr. Speaker

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for outlining his point of order. I shall, of course, in the very nature of things—even if the hon. Gentleman had not raised this point of order—look at all these matters very closely in due course.

Mr. Heffer

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Will you advise the House what can be done about a situation in which an hon. Member, who has raised points of order and procedural matters over about 12 years, and has been right on only one of them—[Interruption.] Can we have the protection of the Chair, Mr. Speaker, so that we shall not be subjected to boring points of order from an hon. Member who has been wrong on almost every occasion?

Mr. Speaker

Order. May I seek the co-operation of the House? I hope that we shall not have a series of points of order this afternoon. They develop into points of argument, and it is very unfair at this stage to involve me in the argument until I have given consideration to everything.

Mr. Thorpe

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. If I heard the Leader of the House—[Interruption.] If it is still in order, Mr. Speaker, to raise a point of order without being shouted down, the Leader of the House, if I heard him correctly—I apologise if I did not—said that you, Mr. Speaker, had decided that this bunching of motions was perfectly in order. My recollection, Mr. Speaker, is that you indicated that you had come to no decision on that matter, and would look at it with an open mind and make your decision in accordance with Standing Order No. 44. Perhaps you would [column 910]confirm that that is the correct position and that it is not the position as advanced by the Leader of the House.

Mr. Speaker

As I understood the Leader of the House, he was indicating that he had consulted authorities.

Mr. Foot

May I say, Mr. Speaker, that we believe that we are acting properly under Standing Order No. 44. But we shall, of course, be fully eager and ready to abide by any decision you make on the application of Standing Order No. 44. It was certainly my understanding that that was the interpretation to be placed on your earlier intervention. But in any case, Mr. Speaker, it is, of course, for you to decide how Standing Order No. 44 should be applied. We are quite confident that we are acting within it, but we shall await your verdict on the matter.

Mr. Hordern

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is not the point that the Leader of the House is trying to say that he sought advice from you, and that he had obtained that advice and, indeed, your approval? [Hon. Members: “He did not say that.” ] Would you confirm that that is not the case?

Mr. Foot

These matters of the application of Standing Order No. 44, as I understand the position, were discussed when the Standing Order was introduced by a Conservative Administration, as I indicated before, in November 1971. I believe that the form of bunching that could take place was discussed then. But I repeat—I think it is right for me to do so—that if you say to the House, Mr. Speaker, that you will give your verdict on this matter and wish for time to consider it, we must await that verdict.

Several Hon. Members

rose——

Mr. Speaker

What I indicated quite clearly to the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson) was that more than one Bill can be included in the same motion. That is as far as I have gone.

Mr. F. P. Crowder

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is the position that you will give your ruling under Standing Order No. 44 in due course, when you have considered the matter?

Mr. Speaker

That is right. Business Questions—Mr. Peyton.

[column 911]

Mr. Peyton

I want to ask the Leader of the House why it took him so long to come to this conclusion. The difficulty——

Mr. Ashton

It is none of your business.

Mr. Peyton

The difficulty is one of the right hon. Gentleman's own and his colleagues' creation and it is of some long standing. It would appear that the right hon. Gentleman—I should like to ask him about this—claims to have obtained a ruling as to the construction of Standing Order No. 44. Did he have difficulty in obtaining that ruling? Was that the reason for his long delay?

Finally, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is aware that today he has blown to pieces the last shreds of his reputation as a parliamentarian?

Mr. Foot

rose——

Hon. Members

Resign!

Mr. Speaker

Order. If the House will listen to the right hon. Gentleman's reply, we may make progress.

Mr. Foot

The timing of the proposal for these debates has had nothing to do with any delay about the interpretation of Standing Order No. 44. If there is any dispute about the cause of the difficulties that we have had in getting these measures through the House, and that is the question—the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill, the Dock Work Regulation Bill, the Education Bill, the Health Services Bill, and so on—that of course is a matter to be debated when these motions are debated in the House on Tuesday, as has been the case on innumerable guillotine motions which have been presented to the House.

I do not accept any charge from the Conservative Party about the Government being opposed to the proper operation of Parliament because of the introduction of guillotine motions. Many more guillotine motions have been introduced into this House by Conservative Governments than by Labour Governments, and they have been introduced into this House after much shorter periods of discussion in Committee than have occurred on these Bills. For that reason, I believe that the storm of opposition today has been entirely synthetic. It could have been foreseen. [column 912]

It is an absurdity for both Conservative and Liberal spokesmen, whose Governments have been responsible first for establishing the guillotine and then for introducing it on innunmerable occasions, to accuse us of interfering with free speech when we say that a Labour Government have as much right to get their business through the House as a Conservative Government.

Several Hon. Members

rose——

Mr. Speaker

Order. I want the House to know the action that I propose to take. I propose to take a very limited number of business questions. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Mr. Lee) is still pressing his application under Standing Order No. 9.

Mr. John Lee

I intend to, in due course.

Mr. Speaker

Very well. Mr. Kinnock. A business question.

Mr. Kinnock

Is my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House aware that, just like the Leader of the Opposition, we, too, will be here until the bitter end and that it is probable that that end will be a little bit longer for us than for the right hon. Lady? Is he aware, also, that both in Opposition and in Government a very large number of hon. Members have sought a reasonable rationalisation of the way in which—[Interruption.]——

Mr. Speaker

Order. I cannot hear the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock). Is this a business question.

Mr. Kinnock

It is, Mr. Speaker, on the business for next Tuesday. Naturally I always try to maintain myself in order on such matters, especially when time is so precious. Is my right hon. Friend aware, further, that there is greater danger to this Parliament from fatuous and superficial scrutiny of Bills than from the expedition of business which the people of the country demand?

Mr. Foot

What we have sought to do in the passage of legislation through this House in this Session has been to combine a much greater opportunity for free debate than the Conservative Party has ever allowed with the right of the Government to proceed with their legislation.

[column 913]

Mr. David Steel

Since the right hon. Gentleman insists on quoting a precedent from way back when a Government were being frustrated by the other place, does he accept that there is no precedent at all for the appearance of so many guillotines on one day, except possibly the French Revolution, and will he now say how many hours we shall take to debate the motions? Will there be five debates, three debates or only one debate?

Mr. Foot

We are proposing three debates on Tuesday, which we believe will provide adequate time. The House will see when the motions are on the Order Paper that we are providing adequate time for the debating of the guillotine motions. The House will also see that we are providing ample time for the discussion of these Bills under the guillotine procedure. When I cite the precedent of 1908, it is not only a question of Bills being blocked by the House of Lords. That was the case in one instance. But three other Bills were blocked. Therefore, the Liberal Government of 1908 introduced five allocation Orders in that Session. What we are doing is to introduce five allocation Orders in this Session.

Mr. Michael Stewart

Since my right hon. Friend has pointed out that it is Conservative Governments who have made chief use of the guillotine in recent years, would it not be sensible if all parties now recognised that the timetabling of major Bills is a necessary improvement to our procedures?

Mr. Foot

That case has been put forward by my right hon. Friend and others on previous occasions, of course. We had to deal with a situation in which we had had extremely extensive debate on the Bills, and I do not believe that any fair-minded citizen who looks at the time which has been allocated can say that we are injuriously restricting debate in this House.

Mr. Prior

Is not the allocation of one day for the Dock Work Regulation Bill totally inadequate? Is it not a fact that we had an agreement during the Committee stage to get the Bill out before Whitsun on the understanding that there would be no guillotine on Report? [Hon. Members: “Oh!” ] Is not this another case of the right hon. Gentleman breaking [column 914]what was known to be an agreement between the two sides?

Mr. Foot

rose——

Hon. Members

Cheat!

Mr. Foot

If the official Opposition had held to all the agreements for getting these Bills through, there would have been no need for guillotines.

Mr. Molyneaux

As the Leader of a party which has not yet operated a guillotine, may I ask the Leader of the House whether, in view of the fact that the Northern Ireland Appropriation Order is the equivalent of the Consolidated Fund Bill, he will consider suspending the rule next Friday when this and other Northern Ireland business is taken?

Mr. Foot

On the previous two occasions when this has been suggested, it has worked very well. We shall be glad to operate the same system this coming Friday.

Mrs. Castle

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, in the Standing Committee on the Health Services Bill, Opposition Members have been not only playing for a guillotine but praying for it as a release from the tedium of their own excessive verbosity and that they would be deeply disappointed if we were not to proceed in the way proposed on Tuesday? Will my right hon. Friend please not disappoint them?

Mr. Foot

I am willing to satisfy my right hon. Friend when she makes that request. I am sure that she is properly interpreting the prayers which she heard in that Committee.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

On Tuesday's business, is not the Leader of the House ashamed that he of all people should assume the squalid and shabby rôle of the Robespierre of this Parliament——

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

And we all know what happened to him.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

Is not the right hon. Gentleman equally ashamed that the sole reaction of his right hon. and hon. Friends on the Treasury Bench to this violation of the decencies of parliamentary government is an embarrassed and guilty giggle?

Mr. Foot

In what we propose to do, there is no violation of the principle of [column 915]extensive free debate before decisions are made. I repeat that we are not prepared to accept any accusation of that kind from Opposition Members, because we have provided much more time for the discussion of these measures than was provided in many other cases by Conservative Governments.

Mr. Madden

Will my right hon. Friend accept that my constituents, who are anxious to secure comprehensive education for their children and who are being prevented from enjoying that opportunity by a rump of Tory extremists using every trick in the book to delay the introduction of comprehensive education, are looking to this House and the Education Bill to secure it? Can my right hon. Friend say when, under his arrangements, it is proposed that the Bill will complete its parliamentary stages?

Mr. Foot

The Bill should leave this House at the end of next week and I trust that it will proceed at a reasonable pace in another place. The sooner the House can get back to discussing the merits of the Bill, the better we shall be pleased and the better it will be for the country.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I distinctly heard the hon. Member for Feltham and Heston (Mr. Kerr) remark that I was a member of the SS. I should be obliged if you will ask the hon. Member to withdraw that remark as it has no foundation whatsoever.

Mr. Russell Kerr

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker, I am afraid the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) is mistaken. I mentioned neither his name nor his constituency and the letters SS stand for something rather different—silly sod.

Mr. Speaker

Order. May I remind hon. Members that this is the House of Commons. In the excitement of this afternoon, hon. Members may say things that will not look so good in cold print. I hope that we can remember the dignity of the House. I shall allow two more questions.

Mr. Onslow

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. If you rule no further than [column 916]that, it may be held that “SS man” would be in order as a parliamentary expression. Would you care to say that it is not?

Mr. Speaker

I understood that the hon. Member for Feltham and Heston (Mr. Kerr) had made it clear that he was not referring to hon. Members on the Opposition Benches. If a term casts a reflection upon an hon. Member's personal honour it cannot be used as a parliamentary expression. There is a list of such terms. I do not suppose that any hon. Member would like to be called a member of the SS, but I understand that the initials mean something else to the hon. Member for Feltham and Heston. In their normal interpretation, the letters would be unparliamentary and offensive.

Mr. Peter Walker

As the Leader of the House has spoken against more guillotine motions than probably any other hon. Member, why has he decided, in grouping these motions together, to allocate only three hours instead of 15 hours for the debate?

Mr. Foot

There will be three hours allotted for each of the three motions. I believe that the House will see that this is a perfectly satisfactory arrangement. I have opposed some guillotine motions in this House, but I have also supported some. This is the situation in which many hon. Members find themselves and that is why I say that so much of the storm raised today is synthetic.

Mr. English

While this controversy rages, would my right hon. Friend like to know of a motion which all hon. Members would approve? While we are doing something for ourselves on Friday, could we not do something for our secretaries and approve the first report of the van Straubenzee Committee? I do not think that any hon. Member would wish to oppose the possibility, if hon. Members wished, of our secretaries being put on Civil Service conditions.

Mr. Foot

My hon. Friend has raised this matter with me and I am considering what our approach should be. Certainly our response to this suggestion is sympathetic, but we must proceed with the proposals we have so far made. I think that the House would accept that [column 917]our proposals for secretaries are right in present circumstances.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

How can the Leader of the House reconcile his announcement that there will be five guillotines introduced on Tuesday with his earlier declaration that the guillotine is the last resort of a Government that cannot command the full-hearted support of this House and yet are determined to have their own way?

Mr. Foot

As I said in reply to the right hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker), if the hon. Member spends the time between now and Tuesday reading every speech I have made on guillotines he will come to the debates better instructed than he is at present.

Mr. William Hamilton

Do I take it that there will be nine hours of debate on guillotine motions on Tuesday? If so, will my right hon. Friend undertake to look at the Standing Orders relating to these matters with a view to reducing the time spent on these ridiculous motions since experience shows that the debates are full of synthetic indignation and are immensely boring and repetitive? Would my right hon. Friend consider simply taking the speeches in the first guillotine debate and changing the names on top of the speeches for subsequent debates?

Mr. Foot

We are proposing that the House should deal with these questions on Tuesday according to the Standing Orders of the House of Commons as they exist at present.

Mr. Onslow

On a point of order. Mr. Speaker——

Mr. Speaker

Order. I hope that it is a real point of order because I want to move on to public business.

Mr. Onslow

In view of the unprecedented events which are programmed for Tuesday, may I put it to you, Mr. Speaker, that it would be much to the advantage of the House if the motions to which the Leader of the House has freely referred, and which must clearly have been drafted, could be placed on the Order Paper at the earliest possible moment so that we may examine them and deploy our arguments upon them, if need be, to you before you are put in a [column 918]position of having to make a final decision on them? Many of us may wish to put our arguments to you in this House rather than in any other place.

Mr. Foot

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. The orders for the motions will be put upon the Order Paper speedily and in accordance with the way in which this has been done on previous occasions.

Mr. Peyton

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Leader of the House made it clear that he had received advice from the authorities of the House on the construction of Standing Order No. 44—a construction which must be at least highly debateable, bearing in mind the words of the Order. Would you be kind enough to make arrangements for the advice given to the Government on this vital point also to be made available to all other parties in the House?

Mr. Foot

I refer the right hon. Gentleman to what I said a minute or two ago——

Hon. Members

Is this further to the point of order?

Mr. Speaker

Order. I think that we shall do better if we let the Leader of the House address me on a point of order with the substance of what he wishes to say.

Mr. Foot

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I refer the right hon. Gentleman to what I said before. I said that I understood that the question was discussed in November 1971, when the Order was put down. I think that that will be found to be the case. We shall accept the ruling that you may give, Mr. Speaker. Obviously, the discussions about this matter that took place in 1971 are strictly relevant to the situation.

Mr. Speaker

I shall bear in mind what the right hon. Gentleman has said.

Mr. Peyton

rose——

Mr. Speaker

I hope that hon. Members will not seek to prolong a discussion which is likely to take some time next week.

Dr. M. S. Miller

Further to the point of order that was raised by the right hon. Gentleman, Mr. Speaker——

[column 919]

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member may speak briefly to the point of order.

Dr. M. S. Miller

When my right hon. Friend took advice on the constitutional position of the timetable motions, did he take medical advice? The conscientious Members of Parliament——

Mr. Speaker

Order. It is clear that that is not a point of order. Mr. Adley, on a point of order.

Dr. M. S. Miller

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker——

Mr. Speaker

Order. I know that the hon. Member is angry, but he must not demote me yet. I called Mr. Adley to speak to a point of order.

Mr. Adley

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. If the Lord President is quoting a rule that came into being only in 1971, what is the point of him trying to quote a 1908 precedent?

Mr. Speaker

That is a point of argument. It is not a point of order.

Mr. Peyton

Further to my perfectly genuine point of order, Mr. Speaker. I asked you, Mr. Speaker, whether you would be so kind as to direct the Clerks of the House to make available to the Opposition parties the advice which was given to the Government. I did not ask the Lord President for it. I would not ask him for any favours today. I seriously ask you, Mr. Speaker, to give those instructions.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

rose——

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member may speak in a minute. The right hon. Member may be assured that I take his request seriously, but I am not talking about instructing the Clerks. I shall take very seriously what the right hon. Member said and shall duly report to the House. I shall see. I believe that all parties in the House are entitled to any advice that may be given, but it will come through me. I am titularly responsible in these matters.

Mr. Peyton

Further to the point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am much obliged to you, Mr. Speaker. We should like to have word for word the same advice as is given to the Government.

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Mr. Arthur Lewis

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. With respect, before you, Mr. Speaker, give an off-the-cuff reply, may I ask you to give serious consideration to these questions at some other time after you have had a chance to reflect on them and take advice?

I do not support the Government on this matter. Government Back Benchers often go to your advisers, Mr. Speaker. They are kind and helpful. They give us private information. It might be dangerous if the advice and information which we receive from the Clerks is brought forward here, as on other occasions the Clerks may be asked to reveal what they may or may not have done. That is dangerous. I should not like that.

May I ask you, Mr. Speaker, not to reply to these points of order until you have had time in which to consider them?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Lewis) has been in the House for 31 years. This is not the first time that he has advanced a substantial argument. Members on both sides receive private advice from the servants of the House and sometimes from me. However, I think that the House will be well advised to leave the matter with me at present. I shall not run away. I shall be here tomorrow.

Dr. M. S. Miller

With respect, Mr. Speaker, you did not allow me to finish my point of order.

With respect, I suggest that the health and the lives of Members of Parliament are more important than trivia.

Do not jump up, Mr. Speaker. This is important.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman must not tell me not to jump up. I am being patient. I realise that he is still stirred up as a result of my telling him earlier that his reference to medical conditions was not a point of order. Medical conditions are hardly my responsibility. I rule on points of order. The hon. Member may complete his point of order now. I shall remain seated and patient.

Dr. M. S. Miller

You, Mr. Speaker, have some responsibility for the health and lives of Members of Parliament. The lives of conscientious Members of Parliament are more important than the [column 921]trivia with which we are assailed night after night by small groups of Opposition Members.

Mr. Whitelaw

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I was the Leader of the House in 1971 when the new procedure was introduced as a result of unanimous recommendation of the Select Committee on Procedure. I shall be grateful if I might make a submission to you, Mr. Speaker, which I ask you respectfully to consider before you give your ruling on the Government's procedure for Tuesday. I do not accept that when that procedure was introduced it was ever envisaged that it would be used to take timetable motions on five Bills in one day. I should like you, Mr. Speaker, to consider the submission that that fact should be considered with the other factors when deciding on the operation of that Standing Order and the Government procedure.

Mr. Speaker

I shall give consideration to what the right hon. Member said.