HC Deb 01 April 1955 vol 539 cc783-5
Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)

On a point of order. I wish to raise this point of order with you, Mr. Speaker, because in my experience I have always found you to be most jealous of the rights and privileges of back benchers. I seek your guidance on and consideration of this point. You are aware that as a result of the Ballot 20 hon. Members are permitted to present Private Members' Bills, but, as you are aware, only six Fridays are allocated to the discussion of those Private Members' Bills on Second Reading. It means that only six hon. Members are certain of having their Bills discussed.

The suggestion I want to put forward and should like you to consider is that you should allocate the time on those six days to ensure that more of the 20 Bills are discussed. I feel that would avoid a great deal of the frustration felt by back benchers. I should like quickly to give you one example. There is down for Second Reading today the Workmen's Compensation (Supplementation) Bill which, at one time, was second in the list on the Order Paper. It is a Bill for which there is considerable support in the country, because it would give to 50,000 disabled workers a chance of benefit—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I may be wrong in thinking so, but I believe that some hon. Members seem to think that the hon. Lady is trying to make a speech on her Bill under the guise of a point of order. What the hon. Lady suggests to me is an entirely novel course as to the selection of Bills. That is a matter of business, and is a matter for the House as a whole, and not for me. I have to see only that the rules of order are maintained. It is very frustrating, I agree, sometimes when a Bill is objected to after Four o'clock. I try to help Private Members to do their work in this House, but of course a Private Member who objects to a Bill has the same rights as a Private Member who proposes a Bill. This is not a matter I can decide on a point of order, but a matter of business.

Miss Herbison

I thought of bringing this forward, Mr. Speaker, because of the decision that you made only this week for making a much more sensible allocation of the Adjournment debates. I thought this a proper point of order, because as Speaker you are able to help back benchers.

Mr. Speaker

That decision was in relation to the daily half-hour Adjournment debates. I am glad that the hon. Lady thinks it is a sensible idea. However, I cannot exercise that power over Private Members' Bills. That would be to exceed my function altogether.

Mr. M. Follick (Loughborough)

On a point of order. Before you call the Public Libraries (Scotland) Bill, Mr. Speaker, I should like to point out that a delegation of Scottish librarians came to see me yesterday about the Bill—

Mr. Speaker

Order, order.