HC Deb 11 March 1947 vol 434 cc1145-6
Sir John Mellor

I beg to ask you, Mr. Speaker, if you will give a Ruling to define the extent to which it is permissible to refer in this House to what has occurred in a Standing Committee before that Committee has reported to the House?

Mr. Speaker

The Rule prohibiting reference to the proceedings of a Committee, whether a Select Committee or a Standing Committee, must be interpreted in the light of the purpose it is intended to serve. That purpose is to prevent Members in the House seeking to interfere with and prejudice the proceedings of a Committee by discussing the matters referred to that Committee. In the case of a Select Committee, the Rule is more easily enforced since nothing is published about its proceedings till the Committee has reported. In the case of a Standing Committee the House has decided that for the information of the Members and the enlightenment of the, public, reports of its Debates and minutes of its proceedings should be published on the day following each of its Sittings. This concession should not be abused, as it would be if Members took advantage of it to comment in the House on Debates and incidents that have taken place in the Committee. Reference should be of the most sparing kind. It is hard to lay down a general Rule in advance as to what would be permissible. What is not permissible is more easily stated. But I should say, for example, that statistics about the number of days a Committee has sat and the rate of its progress, are just on the right side of the line, especially where such statistics are intimately related to the Question be fore the House, provided they are not accompanied by any comment on the proceedings themselves.