HC Deb 04 February 1929 vol 224 cc1409-10

I desire to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether an alteration might not be made in the custom laid down in the Manual of Procedure by which on hon. Member raising a point of Order after a division has been called is obliged to be covered as well as seated? The change in the method of taking a Division introduced in 1906, the falling off in the fashion of wearing hats in the Chamber, and more especially the advent of lady Members have contributed to make obedience to this Regulation difficult, irksome, and at times practically impossible. Members desiring to raise a serious point of Order at this particular juncture may be forced—should they be without a hat—into an undignified and even ridiculous position. I would therefore ask you, Sir, whether for the convenience of Members as well as in the interests of the decorum of debate the enforcement of this Regulation might not be discontinued?


The question which the hon. Member has put to me seems to be one more for the House to decide than it is for me. After all, it is one of the Rules of Procedure and my business is to see that the Rules of Procedure are carried out, and not to frame them. I think, however, this being only a Rule of Procedure and not a Standing Order there is some difference between the two. In the Manual of Procedure which is in the possession of hon. Members it will be seen that in Rule 136 it does say that an hon. Member raising a point of Order during a Division must do so covered. If, however, hon. Members will look at Rule 142, they will see that an hon. Member who desires to speak must rise in his place uncovered. It is quite true that the wording of the Rule says "in his place," and omits "or her." It is obvious, therefore, that the advent of lady Members when this Rule was framed was not at that time contemplated. The House will notice that in the case of Lady Members Rule 142 has never been enforced. I think I am right in saying that as regards lady Members no public notice in the House has been taken of it by any hon. Member rising and putting a point of Order as to whether a lady Member should rise uncovered. Seeing that the Rule to which I have referred has never been taken arty notice of since the advent of ladies into this House, so equally Rule 136, which says that hon. Members who desire to raise a point of Order during a Division should be so covered, ought equally not to be enforced in the case of a lady Member.