Oral Answers to Questions — Amendments (MR. Speaker's Selection)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 1st November 1976.

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Photo of Mr Robin Maxwell-Hyslop Mr Robin Maxwell-Hyslop , Tiverton 12:00 am, 1st November 1976

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am most grateful to have the opportunity to ask you whether you will consider, though not necessarily replying today, dispensing to the House an act of grace and discretion by the Chair—not a duty—which would certainly be of great convenience to hon. Members.

I asked your predecessor, Mr. Speaker Hylton-Foster, eight or 10 years ago whether he would place in the "No" Lobby a list of the provisional selection of amendments to Bills which at a convenient moment in time he had it in mind to call—not a list that would bind him to call all the amendments so selected, or indeed would prohibit him from calling amendments that were not on the list, but a list giving an indication to the House before a debate of the mind of the Chair. I am sure that hon. Members on all sides of the House agree that such a practice has been of great convenience to the House.

However, that practice was restricted in interpretation and practice to amendments on Bills rather than to amendments on motions. My respectful request to you today, Mr. Speaker, is that you should consider indicating, by papers placed in the "No" Lobby, the amendments which you had it in mind provisionally to call to motions before the House as well as to Bills.

There are many amendments to motions which are of more than party interest—namely, of interest to Parliament as a whole. However, once the House is sitting it is not mechanically very easy for Members who wish to speak in a debate to discuss with Members on the other side of the House amendments to motions with which they may agree or disagree. When there is a plethora of amendments, it is difficult to know which amendments the Chair has it in mind provisionally to call and this places a restriction on hon. Members because, by the laws of mathematics, only a certain number of hon. Members can be called by Mr. Speaker to speak in any debate.

This consideration applies to today's events as to matters on other days, and I hope that you will be good enough, Mr. Speaker, to consider whether to place in some convenient place, be it in the "No" Lobby or elsewhere, your provisional selection of amendments.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I undertake to consider what he said and I shall inform the House tomorrow.