HC Deb 23 January 1958 vol 580 cc1248-9
45. Viscount Hinchingbrooke

asked the Prime Minister whether he will move to appoint a Select Committee on Procedure to examine and report upon Lord Campion's proposals for a more effective control of Supply by this House and, in particular, for a more detailed review of expenditure in its financial aspects and for a more suitable form of raising grievances before voting Supply, upon the processes of legislation by Public Bill both in Committee upstairs and on the Floor of this House in relation to the procedure now adopted for the consideration of Statutory Rules and Orders, upon proxy voting and other matters which may be referred to the Select Committee for the better exercise of the Parliamentary function.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department and Lord Privy Seal (Mr. R. A. Butler)

I have been asked to reply.

Lord Campion's proposals were fully considered by the Select Committee on Procedure of 1945–46 for which they were prepared. Certain of the proposals were rejected by die Committee and certain were accepted, and some have since been put into effect. I do not think there is any call yet for further consideration of the proposals by a Select Committee.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Have the correspondence and the leading articles and turn-over articles in The Times been brought to the notice of my right hon. Friend during the Recess? Have they made no impression on him whatever? Are the Government not prepared to make a more considered and more forthcoming statement to the House when the matter of the procedure of Parliament happens to be raised by an hon. Member opposite on 31st January?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir, I was deeply affected by the letter of my noble Friend. For the sake of greater accuracy, I have a copy of it with me. I fully realise the importance of the procedure of the House of Commons and the public interest in it, but it so happens that in answering my noble Friend's Question I attempted to answer the points he raised, and I would not have thought that he would wish to limit the reform of procedure to those points. In so far as those points are concerned, however, they have been already considered.

Mr. Shinwell

Does the right hon. Gentleman not consider that the time has arrived for at least the appointment of a Select Committee to consider a complete revision of the procedure of the House? Does he not recognise that a great deal of time is wasted, that the time of Members is often wasted—they often have nothing to do—and that a great deal of work that is undertaken by the House itself could be referred to appropriate Committees? Even the matter of Questions could be referred to appropriate Committees. Surely, the time has arrived when we ought to bring ourselves up to date.

Mr. Butler

In answer to the right hon. Gentleman's Supplementary Question, and again in answer to my noble Friend, I certainly would be quite ready as Leader of the House to consider any constructive proposals relating to the procedure of the House. In answering my noble Friend I was answering a specific point. In general, I think we ought to keep our minds open.