Strangers Gallery (Admission Tickets)

– in the House of Commons at 3:47 pm on 21st April 1983.

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Photo of Mr Michael Hamilton Mr Michael Hamilton , Salisbury 3:47 pm, 21st April 1983

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will remember that I raised with you yesterday the question of collaboration between hon. Members and demonstrators in the Strangers Gallery. You were good enough to say that you would make a careful study of the tickets issued. I rise to ask whether you are now in a position to identify the hon. Members responsible for yesterday 's disorder.

Mr. Speaker:

As I told the House yesterday, I always look at the admission tickets when there has been a disturbance in the Gallery, as I like to know on which names people have been admitted. Sometimes they come through the ordinary Admission Order Office procedure. I have, however, looked at the names of hon. Members in relation to some of the people admitted to the Gallery, but not for all, because it is not possible to trace them all. I do not pass judgment on whether hon. Members were in knowledge. That is beyond me, because I have no evidence that they were. I know that the House will not expect me to give names, because that matter must be left to the Speaker himself. It would put me in a very invidious position if I had to stand up and recite names of hon. Members on suspicion. It would not be on evidence.

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Honiton

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Surely this is a great matter for the House itself. If it were seen as a new procedure that anyone with any objection could get a Member to provide five or six tickets so that a party could be brought into the House of Commons to demonstrate here, the whole House would surely condemn such a procedure.

Are you, Mr. Speaker, therefore able to tell the House whether it appears that a large number of persons who created a disturbance received tickets from perhaps just one or two Members who may have provided more than the usual one or two tickets? If that is indeed the case, surely there is a responsibility on Members to consider carefully to whom they issue tickets and to find out whether there is any likelihood of disturbance. That has always been the case. I believe that, as a matter of order, Back Benchers have the right to look to Mr. Speaker to defend their rights in this matter.

Several Hon. Members:

rose——

Mr. Speaker:

Order. Before I call anyone else, I should state that this is a matter for the House of Commons, not for me. If the House wishes to change its rules and to require me to give names, the House must do so and give me instructions. Until that is so, I do not propose to put myself in the position of standing here and naming anyone from either side of the House.

Photo of Sir Peter Emery Sir Peter Emery , Honiton

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I in no way wish to put the Chair or the Speaker in an invidious position, but if the Speaker has reason to believe that a Member or a number of Members issued tickets to people who then carried out a disturbance, is it not incumbent upon the Speaker, without necessarily giving names, to inform the House so that it does not happen again?

Photo of Mr Eric Heffer Mr Eric Heffer , Liverpool, Walton

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker:

Order. I shall take the point of order of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), but I hope that we can then move on, as this is not a very profitable exercise.

Photo of Mr Eric Heffer Mr Eric Heffer , Liverpool, Walton

On one occasion I went outside with two tickets. When a lady asked whether she could have one of them, I said that she could. Shortly afterwards I looked up and saw her being thrown out of the Gallery for shouting "Down with British imperialism". Any Member could have a similar experience to mine.

Later——

Photo of Mr Harry Greenway Mr Harry Greenway , Ealing North

Further to the earlier point of order, Mr. Speaker——

Mr. Speaker:

Order. I think that it is the wilt of the House that we now leave that matter, but I shall take the point of order if the hon. Gentleman thinks that it will help the House.

Photo of Mr Harry Greenway Mr Harry Greenway , Ealing North

I simply wished to say that the honesty and integrity of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) should be commended to those other hon. Members who have been guilty of what he admitted.

Mr. Speaker:

Well, at least one hon. Member is happy.