HC Deb 30 June 1944 vol 401 cc977-8
Viscount Hinchingbrooke (Dorset, Southern)

If no other Members wish to continue the Debate on HANSARD reports, I wonder whether I might address a question to you, Mr. Speaker, arising out of the first part of the speech made by the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg)? The hon. Member said that he had given notice of another Debate but had dropped that subject and at very short notice—so short that no other Member knew anything about it—had decided to raise the subject of the reporting of Debates. I make no complaint at all in this case, but I would like to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether you would give us your guidance as to which has precedence in matters of Debate on the Adjournment—the person or the subject? It may be that the subject has been on the Adjournment notice paper for a few days and that many Members have made arrangements to attend the Debate, being rather more interested in the subject than in the introducer of the subject, and I think it would be very helpful to the House if you could indicate your view of the matter, in order that we might know whether an individual Member is at liberty to chop and change his subject together with the Department responsible and then, shortly before the Debate is due to come on, introduce another subject of his own.

Mr. Driberg

Before you reply, Mr. Speaker, may I respectfully remind you that the same point arose once before, when you ruled that a Member was at liberty——

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member need not remind me of what I said before. He might give me credit for knowing what I did say. Of course, the Adjournment really belongs to the individual, and the subject cannot have precedence over the individual. But, quite frankly, I think it is most inconvenient for Members if the subject is changed. When Members attend for one subject and then find that it has been changed to something else it is inconvenient, and is not quite playing the game. While I cannot rule that Members who have the Adjournment should not regard it merely as booking a seat for a certain date, they should have regard to the subject which they have chosen and endeavour to study the convenience of Members.

Mr. Driberg

That was why at the beginning of my short speech I made a brief personal explanation to the House, Mr. Speaker. I did not actually notice until last night the error on the Adjournment notice paper behind your Chair, so I could not have altered it in time. Further, I did not know until yesterday that it would not be necessary to raise the subject I intended to raise, so there was little time in which to give notice to hon. Members generally, although I did tell a few who I knew would be interested in the subject.

Question, "That this House do now adjourn," put, and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly till Tuesday next, pursuant to the Resolution of the House this day.