HC Deb 27 April 1948 vol 450 cc215-6
Captain John Crowder

May I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether you will consider giving some further directions to the Clerks regarding the handing in of Motions with lists of names attached; namely, that the Clerks be empowered to ask for some concrete evidence, such as the actual signatures, that the Members whose names appear on the list have agreed to support such a Motion, before their names are printed on the Order Paper?

Mr. Speaker

I am obliged to the hon. and gallant Member, who gave me notice of this Question. I have gone into it and I find it very difficult to lay down that nothing but a list of signatures be put in, because to be quite frank I believe that the Clerks at the Table would be spending their time sending for Members to ask, "Is this, or is this not, your signature?" I am often grateful when, in the correspondence I receive, the signature is also typewritten.

The hon. and gallant Member has raised an important point, however. I propose to instruct the Clerks that when a list of names is put in it should be authorised by the definite signature of the Member who hands it in. He will then himself be responsible for having seen those whose names are on the list and for it being more or less what I should call certified correct, not "E. and O.E." as is said in bankers' documents. The list will be certified correct in the sense that the hon. Member who signs the list has been authorised by each individual Member whose name he has put in—that each Member has instructed him. I hope that that will meet the situation. I will certainly watch the matter.

Captain Crowder

Thank you very much, Sir.

Mr. Eden

This is a new departure, and while I am not querying it, may I ask, Sir, whether you rule that in all circumstances an Amendment must be signed by the Member whose name is first on the Paper or can it be authorised by any Member whose name is on the Paper?

Mr. Speaker

That is what I meant. For instance, representatives of parties on both sides of the House put in Amendments, which are put on the Paper by a Whip usually, in the case of a Committee upstairs. It would be better if the Whip signed the Paper when he put in the names. But I am not thinking so much of Amendments as of Motions. Motions sometimes have a hundred names to them, and it would be a rather difficult task for the Clerks if they had to check all the names and ascertain if they were correct. As I say, I shall watch the situation.