I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important national matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,
the agenda of the Heads of Government meeting, European Council, in Madrid on 27 and 28 June next".
You will have heard the exchanges, Mr. Speaker, immediately preceding this application and the courtesy of the Leader of the House who said that he is attempting to improve debates on matters of scrutiny. On this occasion, however, I am afraid that he has not provided the opportunity for such a debate.
The matter is specific in so far as some important items on the agenda are concerned, particularly the report of the Delors committee, commissioned at the last Heads of Government meeting, on full economic and monetary union within the European Community. I need not emphasise the importance and significance of that report and its recommendations for the future of the nation and its potential consequences for virtually all our future economic, political and social life.
Two Select Committees of this House will have reports available early next week and the Governor of the Bank of England and the Chancellor of the Exchequer have given evidence to the Select Committee on the Treasury and Civil Service. The Select Committee on European Legislation has reported that the Delors report should be debated within the terms of the resolution of the House on 30 October 1980, which appears to have been discounted or overlooked in the statement that we have just heard from the Lord President in reply to my question.
If the House is to have any influence on those of Her Majesty's Ministers who will be attending this important meeting, where decisions of principle could be taken, it is essential that the matter be debated in time—I refer to the Standing Orders. I submit, therefore, that bearing in mind the ancient privileges of this House, particularly those concerning consultation prior to decisions, and prior to legislation, you, Mr. Speaker, as the protector of the rights and liberties of the House and thus of all the subjects, should place the application before the House.
The hon. Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely,
the forthcoming meeting of the Heads of Government in the European Council in Madrid on 27 and 28 June next.
I have listened with great care to what the hon. Gentleman has said about his matter. As he knows, my sole duty in considering an application under Standing Order No. 20 is to decide whether it should be given priority over the business set down for today—
I regret that the matter that the hon. Gentleman has raised does not meet the requirements of the Standing Order and I cannot therefore submit his application to the House, but I hope that he will find other methods of raising it.