HC Deb 04 March 1960 vol 618 cc1667-70
Mr. John Hobson (Warwick and Leamington)

On a point of order. I was asked by the hon. Member the promoter of the Mock Auctions Bill to nominate as the date for the Second Reading Friday, 11th March, but an hon. Member on the other side of the House who, as far as I am aware, did not have instructions from the promoter of the Bill, said the date should be Friday, 18th March, which is the date you accepted, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Norman Dodds (Erith and Crayford)

I happen to be one of the sponsors of that Bill. I have no objection, if it will keep the peace, that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Hobson) should have the date.

Mr. Speaker

I am sustained by the hon. Member's absence of objection, but strictly the position is that anyone nominating the date should be authorised by the hon. Member in charge of the Bill. I accordingly amend my previous order to proclam for that it Bill, Friday, 11th March.

Mr. Walter Edwards (Stepney)

On a point of order. It appears that an hon. Member who has his name attached to that Bill suggested Friday, 18th March, for its consideration on Second Reading, and that you accepted that date, Mr. Speaker. Then the hon. and learned Member—I do not know whether his name is attached to the Bill or not—gets up, without any confirmation from anywhere whatever, to say the date should be 11th March. May we know whether it is within the rules of the House that an hon. Member who speaks for the promoter of a Bill has to have the consent of the promoter before he speaks in the House to change a date which has been already accepted for it by you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

Here is the difficulty. Both the hon. and learned Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Hobson) and the hon. Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Dodds) rose simultaneously. I confess to the House that owing to the musical repetition of "Friday, 18th March" which was going on at that time I thought myself that they had both said, "Friday, 18th March." I have no doubt that that was a misapprehension. For the rest, one has to trust the hon. Member who has said he has been authorised by the proposer. I feel sure that the hon. Member would not desire to raise objection in the circumstances, particularly as the other hon. Member concerned says that he has no objection. It is impossible for the House to inquire into Members' private conversations conferring authority.

Mr. Harold Wilson (Huyton)

On a point of order. It has been quite clear that today, as on so many Fridays, Bills which one understood to have the general support of the House have been blocked by one or two Members saying "Object" when the Titles of the Bills were called. I know that this is a very ancient procedure, but I should like to suggest for your consideration, Mr. Speaker that the names of Members who say "Object" should be recorded in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

If I may submit a reason for this, the Public Service Vehicles (Travel Concessions) Act, 1955 (Amendment) Bill, which affects the rights of a large number of old-age pensioners in this country, not least in my own constituency, was introduced under the Ten Minutes Rule and—

Mr. Speaker

Order. With respect, not even the right hon. Gentleman may be allowed to insert into a point of order, which I fully understand, some discussion of the merits of the Bill. I will consider what the right hon. Gentleman says about recording the names of those who object. I suppose that, if the House wished, it could so order, but it is not an innovation I would desire myself to introduce, for the recording of the calling of the roll of names in these matters might not be generally appreciated.

Mr. Wilson

I certainly will not pursue the merits of that Bill, Mr. Speaker, but on the point which you have graciously consented to consider I should like to put this to you, that if a Bill does come under the Ten Minutes Rule then anyone who wants to vote against it ought to have his name recorded. There was a very long struggle in this House over many years to get the names of Members voting recorded. I think it important that when one or two Members take this responsibility of blocking a Bill, preventing it going to Committee, they should have the courage to have their names recorded so that their constituents and others may know about it.

Mr. Speaker

I understand what the right hon. Gentleman says. There is no mystery about it. I have myself suffered from it in days past. However, if the House wishes to effect a change of that kind the House will have to do it. I could not do it on the responsibility of the Chair.

Mr. Wedgwood Benn (Bristol, South-East)

Further to that point of order. The Standing Order provides that no opposed business can take place after a certain time. The opposition to the Bill today came largely from the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Dudley Williams), who rose several times and shouted, "Object". A Bill falls after four o'clock only because an hon. Member, in practice, raises objection. The raising of one's voice against a Bill is to object, and in that case the name of the Member should be recorded in HANSARD.

Mr. Dudley Williams (Exeter)

Further to that point of order. I have no objection to its being publicly known that I was the Member who objected to several Bills, but I think that it is a very shady manœuvre on the part of the hon. Member to try to get my name fastened to that Bill

Mr. Speaker

Order. I cannot tolerate a discussion on shady manœuvres under the guise of points of order. If the House wants that change I have no doubt that it will take steps to make it, but I have no power to make it.