HC Deb 02 July 1958 vol 590 cc1335-6
Sir J. Barlow

May I ask a question, Mr. Speaker, of which I have given notice: whether your attention has been drawn to the fact that a statement on behalf of the Manchester Corporation is being handed out from the Vote Office this afternoon? If so, is this in order?

Mr. Speaker

My attention has just been drawn to this matter. I myself received a copy of the document this morning, but it came by post in the usual way. As soon as I heard that these documents were being distributed by the Vote Office, I gave instructions that the issue from the Office should cease pending an inquiry by myself into the practice which prevails in the Vote Office.

I remember that, many years ago, even before the war, as a private Member I received with Private Bills statements by accredited Parliamentary Agents about the Bills. But I should like to have an opportunity of looking into the practice which prevails in the Vote Office. I am sure that there is no blame on the staff in the Vote Office, but I want to make sure that the practice conforms with the best interest of the Members of the House.

Mr. Paget

Is it not a great convenience, when one receives a Private Bill, to receive with it a statement from the promoters? If this practice is not regular, could it be regularised, Sir?

Mr. Speaker

I will take that into consideration, but this document is, I think, slightly different from an ordinary statement by an accredited Parliamentary Agent. I do not know whether the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) has seen it; it is a quite considerable volume, different from the usual form of Parliamentary Agent's statement. I wish to have an opportunity to examine the practice which prevails.

Mr. S. O. Davies

Could it be made clear that many of us, to my knowledge, have received these documents through the Post Office with our usual mail?

Mr. Speaker

I shall have to look into the matter. I heard about it only since I came into the House. It is clear that, before I say anything of very definite import, I should know exactly what I am saying.