Adjournment

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th May 1963.

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Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Batsford]

4.2 p.m.

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

As the Minister was present, I proposed to raise on the Adjournment the question of this farce of Members objecting to Private Bills and then walking out. I appreciate that—

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

The hon. Gentleman cannot raise that on the Adjournment. No Minister is responsible. That is the difficulty.

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

Then may I ask for your guidance, Mr. Speaker, about what can be done with regard to those hon. Members who come in here, get one Bill through for their own side, and then, after having been told by the Government to object—1 heard them being told by the Government to object—

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

Order. I think I can give the hon. Member sufficient guidance. I am powerless to help him in the matter. Should the House like to change its rules, circumstances might be different.

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

Will you permit me to go on, Mr. Speaker, because you never heard the point that I was proposing to make? If you had, you could have followed what my point was. I have no vested interest in this matter. I understand that hon. Members ballot by arrangement with the Table for Private Members' Bills on Private Members' day. I believe that, under the procedure of the House, that is a private Member's right. How can private Members have that right if the Government, behind the scenes and behind the Chair, unknown to you, Sir, advise their back benchers to take away the right of private Members which you, as Speaker, have given them to go through the procedure of having a ballot, offering them a day, and giving them a day for their Bill? I would say that that is sharp practice.

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

I quite understand the kind of point the hon. Member is making. The procedure is governed by the rules and practice of the House. I do not confer any right on Private Members' Bills by a ballot. The House prescribes that there shall be a ballot, and a ballot is taken. The rules and practice of the House also prescribe that an hon. Member is entitled to object at this opportunity to further progress of the Bill on that day. In none of these matters can I help.

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

On Government instruction?

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

On neither of those matters can I help. Neither of those points arises.

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Reading

On a point of order. If this matter is being considered in any way for your advice, Mr. Speaker, may I point out that it would be only right and proper for you in any consideration to realise that this just does not happen from hon. Members on this side as a matter of objection? [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I happen to have—

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

Order. The matter is not being considered by me now. There is nothing for me to consider. I should not be right to allow the matter to be discussed now.

Photo of Mr Charles Hale Mr Charles Hale , Oldham West

As, I understand, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House was carried in the negative or was objected to, may I take this opportunity, as I understand the hon. Member who had the Adjournment allotted to him is not present, of raising a case for which the Minister is responsible and say at once that I deeply regret not giving him notice today but that I had no possibility of knowing that this opportunity would present itself. want to raise the case of Mr. Joseph Blakeman, of Oldham, which I have raised on a previous occasion, whose case prompted—

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

Order. As the hon. Member knows, my predecessors have always deprecated the practice of seeking to raise on the Adjournment that of which Ministers have not been given specific notice. It is not a practice I would wish to depart from noticing. I therefore deprecate what is happening. The basis of the principle is, as the hon. Member knows, that it was felt that an ex parte statement in such a matter would not be of assistance to the House. That is why my predecessors have always deprecated it. I cannot proclaim that the hon. Member is out of order in doing so—I have no power to do so—but I repeat the deprecation of the practice.

Photo of Mr Charles Hale Mr Charles Hale , Oldham West

This is a matter on which the Minister is fully informed, but your Rulings, Mr. Speaker, are always expressed with such consideration for the feeling of the House, even in moments of controversy, and with such personal courtesy, that I would not like to take this opportunity of doing something that you would deprecate my doing.

I am fortified in that decision by recollection of the fact that a Motion for the Adjournment of the House for the Whitsun Recess will be debated next week and I may well feel that that is an appropriate moment to raise the question of whether the House should adjourn at a time when Bills of great importance are objected to by a Member who arrives in the House at 3.59 and has come here because the Tory Whips have now found it almost impossible to persuade a Conservative Member to object to these Bills. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, with that brief dissertation, I will take your advice.

Photo of Mr Frank Allaun Mr Frank Allaun , Salford East

Further to the point of order. You have pointed out, Mr. Speaker, that when the Minister is not present it is not the custom to deal with the matter. May I inquire whether, as the Minister is present, it would be in order for me to move the second Motion on today's Order Paper?

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

No, I am afraid not. The hon. Member cannot raise on the Adjournment that to which the House specifically allocated another place before 4 o'clock had there been time.

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham

Reverting to the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham, North (Mr. A. Lewis), when the Private Members' Bills were being considered I heard the word "object" come from a Whip on the Government Front Bench.

Photo of Mr Michael Maitland Stewart Mr Michael Maitland Stewart , Fulham

As a Whip is a Minister and is responsible, presumably, for his own actions, cannot my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham, North raise on the Adjournment the action of one of the Government Whips in objecting to a Private Member's Bill?

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

No. He was simply pursuing a right which is open to every hon. Member. No Minister is responsible for somebody doing that.

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Reading

May I ask for your guidance, Mr. Speaker? I am in some- thing of a difficulty myself, because it seems to me that a statement has been made by the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. A. Lewis) which could be particularly misleading. I should like to ask you how best it might be corrected.

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

Not now, or we shall be debating some matter which is wholly irregular. Nor is it my duty to give guidance. I rule upon points of order when they arise, but not otherwise. I will hear the hon. Member if he has a point of order, but not otherwise.

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Reading

On a point of order. Is it correct for an hon. Member to suggest that Private Members' Bills are being objected to purely from this side of the House when I myself have a Private Members' Bill to which hon. Members opposite have strenuously objected?

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

Because what I stated has been challenged—

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

No. I cannot allow a matter of that kind to be discussed now. If the hon. Member wants to raise a point of order, of course I will hear him, but not otherwise.

Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North

We are on the Adjournment. If on the Adjournment a statement is made saying that I made a statement which is not true, surely I can say that I did not make the statement alleged. What I said—

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

I am sorry. It simply does not arise in the circumstances.

Question put and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at eleven minutes past Four o'clock.