Orders of the Day — European Communities Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th May 1972.

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Photo of Mr Arthur Lewis Mr Arthur Lewis , West Ham North 12:00 am, 24th May 1972

On a point of order, Sir Robert. May I raise with you a serious point of order which is affecting several hon. Members?

You will be aware that this is a very important Bill and that connected with it are some 2,000-odd rules and regulations and directives. Since November of last year there have been hundreds of these which have been available to the Government but not to hon. Members. In recent weeks some of these rules and regulations have been published, and two weeks ago a booklet of 144 pages was published containing alterations to these 2,000-odd rules and regulations.

Try as one may, one cannot get from the Government in under six months the rules and regulations which we should have to enable us to take part in these debates. In those circumstances, would it not be advisable for the Committee to stand adjourned until such time as we have these various rules and regulations to enable us to proceed with the Bill on an adequate basis?

With respect to my right hon. Friends and, indeed, to right hon. Gentlemen opposite, we cannot adequately argue and debate these issues and explain them to the Committee if we have before us rules and regulations which the Government admit are wrong, and have been wrongly printed, with the result that they have had to issue this booklet of 144 pages of amendments.

I started to trace through the 2,500 regulations to find which ones were wrongly printed and which were out of order. That took me hours. How can I spend hours trying to trace these matters when I should be in Committee raising them here?