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May I draw the attention of the House to the fact that this resignation, or the appointment of Sir William Darling as Steward, was only published in The Times of last Saturday, which is five days ago? In the case to which I objected yesterday, and which the House may remember, the period was no less than nearly twelve weeks. I wish to draw attention to the undue or indecent haste shown in the case of the constituency of Edinburgh, South, where the local Labour Party organisation may be adversely affected, and therefore there would not be a fair by-election in Edinburgh, South because of the behaviour of the Government.
In both cases, in Hornsey and in Edinburgh, South, the Government have had knowledge of these matters for some time, and I should like to say that I take a very poor view of this altogether. The Parliament-loving Conservatives in Hornsey also will show their disgust at the behaviour of the Government. Let us renew the by-election shocks on the Government and force them to get out.
Before the House gives its consent to this Motion, surely we are entitled to some explanation from the Government about the principles—if there are any principles—on which these questions are determined? One can understand that the decision should not be related to any other case, but nevertheless there is very great haste here com- pared with Government practice in other cases.
I should have to have notice of any such Motion. No one can produce such a Motion out of the blue without telling me something about it, so that I may consider it.
May I, with very great respect, Mr. Speaker, say that it seems to me quite clear—and I apologise for any discourtesy, which I hope you will believe was not intended at all—that the point really is that it is clearly stated in Erskine May that these Motions are Motions of Privilege, and, therefore, no notice has to be given and no notice has to be given on the Order Paper. I read that as any ordinary person would, trying to understand normal English, as meaning that I had no need to give notice. I have given no notice. I gave some indication yesterday that if the Government did not act today, I might move this Motion. I agree that that was not notice to you, Mr. Speaker, but now, having given you a moment's notice, may I now please formally move the Motion again? If I did, what would you say? Would you say that I must not?
Again, I do not know, Anyhow, the hon. Member gave me no notice at all, and I had no knowledge of his intentions. I called the next business, and the next business is the question before the House.