On a point of order. I should like to ask your guidance, Mr. Speaker, on the happenings of yesterday. Towards the end of the debate yesterday evening I asked, on a point of order, whether or not it was possible to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) to the unfairness of his interjections during the speech of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. The OFFICIAL REPORT for today shows that during the speech of my right hon. Friend, the right hon. Member for Belper, who was sitting on the Opposition Front Bench, interjected at least 14 times. I would hazard a guess that the number of times he interjected that are not on record would amount to very many more than 14.
I was very incensed about that yesterday, and I must confess that I felt it was just to deal with the right hon. Gentleman in a way similar to that in which he had dealt with my right hon. Friend. I must confess that I interjected during his speech, and for that I should like to apologise. But I feel that now we ought to 'have some guidance about our demeanour in this House—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]. I—
My point of order is Whether or not there is any way, under the rules of order, of dealing with the situation. I suggest that on an occasion when a right hon. Gentleman knows that he is to speak later in the debate—because he is to wind it up—he should restrain himself. This is the only way of bringing the level of debates in the House back to the heights that they ought to achieve.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) is not present. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. H. Nicholls) notified my right hon. Friend that he proposed to raise this matter this morning. Is it right that this matter should be raised in this way without notice to the right hon. Gentleman who is affected?
Order. I think that we can dispose of this matter quite shortly. I had no idea of what was to be raised either. But the rules of order are perfectly plain and simple. They are that all interjections made by hon. Members of this House while they are seated are disorderly and out of order. I know that they do occur from time to time, but they should be limited to a minimum, because they really are disorderly.
If an hon. Member wishes to intervene, he should rise and then, if the hon. Member who has the Floor gives way—and only if he gives way—is the hon. Member who rises to intervene entitled to speak. These are the rules of order, and I hope that the House will respect them in the future as it has done in the past.
If I may say this as an impartial observer of the debates in this House, I find that the practice of interjecting from a seated position is confined to a few hon. Members. There are certain hon. Members who indulge in the practice to a certain extent, but the great bulk of hon. Members do not. I think that I have said enough about the matter.
Order. I have been asked for a Ruling and I have given it. This is not an arguable matter. The right hon. Gentleman whose name has been mentioned is not here, and we cannot reasonably carry the matter further.
I seek your guidance on this matter, Mr. Speaker, not because I wish to refer in any way to the conduct of the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), whose speech I did not hear, but because I wish to refer to the conduct of the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. H. Nicholls).
I came here last night wishing to listen to the debate, but I was prevented from following the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper by the persistent soliloquy—it was not an interjection—of the hon. Member for Peterborough. I should like to ask you, Sir, whether, if soliloquies which are audible on this side of the House, and which prevent hon. Members from hearing what is being said by the hon. Member who has the Floor, are not in order, a protest might be made by raising a point of order? No hon. Member—neither I nor anyone else—has a right to retaliate by breaking the rules of order of this House.
I have observed from time to time that there is a certain amount of interjection between hon. Members on the front benches below the Gangway. But when that is going on the microphones facing them are not "live" and I am, mercifully, not permitted to hear much of what is said.