HC Deb 28 May 1946 vol 423 cc997-8
Mr. Bowles

May I ask you a question, Mr. Speaker, of which I have given you private notice: Whether your attention has been called to the 14th Report of the Select Committee on Statutory Rules and Orders, and in particular to the evidence taken in connection with Order No. 1682, and whether you have any Ruling to give?

Mr. Speaker

In reply to the hon. Member, it seems to me clear that the misplacing of brackets—to which he has called my attention—in the copy of the Food (Points Rationing) Order, S.R. & O., 1945, No. 1682, presented on 22nd January last, amounts to a substantial error. In my Ruling of 15th May, I laid it down that any mistake in the printed copy of an Order must be considered an error in substance if it is more than an obvious printer's error which carries its own correction. I should accordingly have been prepared to rule that the Order referred to was improperly laid before the House, and should be relaid. But [understand that yesterday a new Food (Points Rationing) Order, S.R. & O., 1946, No. 733, was laid which incorporated in a corrected form the items incorrectly expressed in the Order complained of. That Order has now, therefore, been replaced so far as the erroneous portion is concerned, and while I must hold that it was improperly laid no purpose would now be served by requiring it to be withdrawn and relaid.

Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew

This new Order No. 733, to which you have referred in your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, gives the House power to pray against the original Order No. 1682, but in my submission the opportunity has been brought about in a way that is very difficult for the House to understand. The correction has been noted at the bottom of the new Order, and one has to look through 11 documents before finding what are corrected. Your original Ruling, Sir, was that the Order should be withdrawn and relaid, so that in that way Members could see what had happened. The Order has been corrected 10 times and it is time that it was consolidated as a single new Order so that the House could understand it.

Mr. Speaker

I myself always find these Orders most difficult to understand. This Order replaces the original one so far as the error is concerned,-and there is no point in going back to the Order which preceded it. I have always hoped that these Orders would be framed in language which an ordinary person like myself could understand.