Business of the House

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th March 1977.

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Photo of Mr Francis Pym Mr Francis Pym , Cambridgeshire 12:00 am, 16th March 1977

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. A matter of real difficulty has arisen in connection with tomorrow's debate. At Business Questions last Thursday, the Lord President announced that tomorrow we are to discuss a White Paper on public expenditure. Yet all this week, including today, there has been no motion on the Order Paper dealing with that White Paper. The House is under the impression that we are to debate that White Paper. My right hon. and hon. Friends and other hon. Members have been waiting for that motion because it is the usual practice, for the Opposition to seek to amend such a motion and for other hon. Members to table amendments. That cannot he done if there is no motion on the Order Paper.

The Government normally table a take-note motion which is amendable. You may feel, Mr. Speaker, that it is right to accept manuscript amendments tomorrow, but this is an extremely important matter that is of public concern. I expect that there are precedents for the Government not tabling a motion by this stage, but it would be difficult to find a precedent to the particular situation, since the Leader of the House gave such long notice of the debate.

This is a matter of public concern which directly affects in various ways every family in the land. Although the matter has nothing to do with you procedurally, perhaps you could give the House guidance. There is nothing on the Order Paper, and yet in 24 hours' time the House is expected to debate the White Paper. We have not been told that there is a change in the business for tomorrow. We are in a major difficulty and we would be grateful for your advice.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

The right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) is correct to say that the matter is not one for me. It is not for me to decide on a motion, the form of a motion or the absence of a motion. However, I understand that the Government have now given notice that the debate is to take place upon the Adjournment.

Photo of Mr Norman Tebbit Mr Norman Tebbit , Waltham Forest Chingford

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it possible to have a debate on the Dissolution rather than the Adjournment? That might be more final.