Adjournment Debates (Member's Absence)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 2nd March 1948.

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Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham 12:00 am, 2nd March 1948

I should like to make a short statement to the House about the Adjournment. Last night a question was raised with me about an hon. Member who could not take his Adjournment in the last half hour, who, I gather, informed another hon. Member that he might take it. There is no hereditary right in the last half hour, and, in future, if an hon. Member cannot take his Adjournment he should inform the Chair and nobody else. I will then have his name crossed out at the back of the Speaker's Chair, and it will be a case of first come, first served, and whoever notices it can go to my office and register for that half hour. I do not think it right that an hon. Member who cannot be there should pass that half hour on to another hon. Member who might happen to be a friend of his. I think it fairer to let it go back into the general pool.

Photo of Mr Francis Bowles Mr Francis Bowles , Nuneaton

Suppose an hon. Member is unable to give you, Sir, the information and the Whip moves that the House do adjourn; presumably, anybody who then rose to his feet and caught your eye would be called?

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

That is so, but there is the question of general convenience. An hon. Member would want to give notice to the Minister concerned in order that he might receive a reply. Otherwise, of course, the Chair is bound to call any hon. Member who gets up.

Photo of Mr Richard Stokes Mr Richard Stokes , Ipswich

Suppose the hon. Member who cannot take the Adjournment gives you notice, Mr. Speaker, and nobody else notices that he has given you that notice. There would then be the sort of hiatus to which the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles) has referred. Surely it is in Order for an hon. Member who cannot take the Adjournment both to give you notice and to tip the wink to somebody else that he might get the Adjournment if he is at your office quickly enough?

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

I prefer to cross out the name at the back of the Chair. Then hon. Members going in and out of the House will be able to see that the name has been erased and will have an opportunity of getting in first.

Photo of Captain Harry Crookshank Captain Harry Crookshank , Gainsborough

I take it, Mr. Speaker, that what you have now ruled will not affect a position such as arose the other night, should it happen again, when through some mischance the hon. Member who had the Adjournment could not get here at the moment that the Adjournmen was moved, and another hon. Member spoke for a minute or two to enable the hon. Member who had the Adjournment to come in. I refer to the Adjournment Debate initiated by the hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Teeling). Presumably, there would be no objection to carrying on as we do now.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

No. There is no handing on of the Adjournment to another hon. Member in that case, because he is just holding the fort for the time being. As the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles) said, somebody got up and he caught the eye of whoever was in the Chair.

Photo of Captain Harry Crookshank Captain Harry Crookshank , Gainsborough

I think that referred to another aspect. The occasion I have in mind was when an hon. Member got up and spoke to the subject of the Adjournment in the temporary absence of the hon. Member who had the Adjournment. That is not quite the same as somebody getting up and starting another Debate altogether. I want, if possible, to see that the inadvertent lateness of an hon. Member at the hour of interruption is not to his disadvantage.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

I was not thinking of inadvertent lateness. I was thinking of when an hon. Member is away and telegraphs to say that he cannot be present. These little incidents can always be adjusted. I have no in mind the particular case mentioned by the right hon. and gallant Member.

Photo of Mr William Gallacher Mr William Gallacher , Fife Western

Would it not be better to score out the name, to leave it to hon. Members to get up, and for you to select somebody? If an hon. Member knows his name is to be scored out, he can let a friend know, and the friend can get round to your room before anybody else, which would produce the same position as arose last night.

Photo of Mr Douglas Clifton Brown Mr Douglas Clifton Brown , Hexham

My impression of hon. Members is that if I lay down something they will always play the game. I should prefer to trust hon. Members to play the game.