Orders of the Day — Parliamentary Commissioner

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th February 1967.

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Photo of Mr David Webster Mr David Webster , Weston-Super-Mare 12:00 am, 7th February 1967

I do not have any knowledge of what went on behind the scenes. Perhaps when my hon. Friend the Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) speaks later, if he is fortunate enough to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, he will enlighten us on this point.

The House of Commons was treated with contempt by the Leader of the House when one recalls what occurred on Second Reading. After all, this matter had exercised the minds and tingled the thoughts of a breathless electorate. We were told that there would be a Parliamentary Commissioner to deal with the complaints of the citizen; and many hon. Members thought that such a thing might reduce the opportunities and duties of the ordinary back bencher. Then we found that a Bill had been brought forward. The Prime Minister then stated in August that it was all right for the Parliamentary Commissioner to be set up and that if any expenditure were incurred, that, too, would be all right, although that was during the midst of an economic crisis.

Many of my hon. Friends and I thought at the time that it was a gimmick designed to take people's eyes off the crisis in hand. [Interruption.] I cannot hear what the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) is muttering from a sedentary position. I trust, if he has anything constructive to say, that he will get to his feet. We notice that whenever there is a crisis the Prime Minister, like a conjurer or a prestidigitator, will produce a rabbit out of a hat. This is indeed an expensive rabbit. It will cost the taxpayers £49,000. We know that the Government and their supporters regard Parliament as a rubber stamp, but my hon. Friends and I who have served on various Standing Committees and other bodies are not willing to accept this state of affairs.