HC Deb 10 March 1960 vol 619 cc640-2
Mr. Reynolds

On a point of order. I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, that I was unable to give adequate notice of this, but we have just been told by the Leader of the House that on Monday the Government propose to find time for a Motion in the name of the Minister of Housing and Local Government to give an Instruction to the Standing Committee on the Public Bodies (Admission of the Press to Meetings) Bill. The Motion appears on today's Order Paper.

[That it be an instruction to the Committee on the Bill that they have power to make provision in the Bill for requiring members of the public other than representatives of the press to be admitted to meetings of bodies exercising public functions, and for matters arising out of their admission.]

As I understand, this Instruction is procedural advice to cover gross ineptitude in the original drafting of the Bill and would allow the Committee to extend its deliberations to saying whether or not it considered it fit to admit the public to meetings covered by the terms of the Bill.

I have given notice, on page 2372 of today's Order Paper, of my intention to ask the Leader of the House, under what is commonly referred to as the Ten Minutes Rule, to seek leave to introduce a Public Bodies (Admission of the Public to Meetings) Bill to provide for the admission of the public to the meetings of certain bodies exercising public functions. I believe—and this can be easily ascertained—that my notice of Motion was in before the notice in the name of the Minister of Housing and Local Government.

I should like to ask, therefore, whether the Motion in the name of the Minister of Housing and Local Government is in order, in view of what is contained in pages 403 and 404 of the sixteenth edition of Erskine May which, after describing the position, goes on to say: Thus a motion (other than a motion for leave to bring in a bill) is out of order if it anticipates a notice of motion for leave to bring in a bill (g) that includes the subject proposed to be dealt with by the motion. I would respectfully submit that as my notice of Motion to bring in a Bill covers the matters which are dealt with in the Instruction in the Motion which it is intended to move on Monday, the Instruction itself is out of order in view of the fact, as. I believe, that my notice of Motion was handed in to the Clerks at the Table before that of the Minister. I am not certain of that, but I am sure that it can be easily ascertained.

Mr. Speaker

On the last point of fact the hon. Member is quite right. His notice beat the other by 40 minutes. On the face of this problem, I think it is necessary to bear in mind, with regard to the rule about anticipation, that a Motion must not be anticipated if it is contained in a more effective proceeding but, in the terms of one of the pages of Erskine May to which the hon. Member was referring, … it may be anticipated if it is contained in an equally or less effective form. At first glance at this matter, it looks as though in this case a Motion for an Instruction to the Committee on the Bill would seem to be as effective as a Motion for leave to introduce the Bill, but I confess to the House and to the hon. Member that not the least uninterrupted time for study is Question Time. I will undertake to look further into this and rule on the matter on Monday before the first Motion comes up.

Mr. C. Pannell

May I call your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the debate which took place on Second Reading of the Public Bodies (Admission of the Press to Meetings) Bill on Friday, 5th February, and the fact that I, among others, raised this point of the orderliness of the Bill in so far as its seconder, the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, South (Mr. Corfield), indicated that he wished to interpolate into the Long Title the question of the admission of the public. You gave a Ruling in which you threw the responsibility completely on the Chairman of the Committee. I merely raise this matter for further information, but it is rather mystifying to us when that Ruling seems to have been upset or negatived by this Motion.

When you inform the House on Monday about your researches into this matter, we should like the position clarified in case this is raised again, because you will know, Mr. Speaker, that I, with some of my hon. Friends, argued this very point and we tended to be overruled during the course of the debate when the hon. Lady the Member for Finchley (Mrs. Thatcher) moved the Second Reading of her Bill on 5th February.

Mr. Speaker

Yes, I remember quite well what the hon. Member is referring to and, of course, I will look at it in this connection, but I do not think that it is complicated really. The circumstances then were that there was a question whether some suggested Amendment fell within the scope of the Bill or not. That, clearly, would be a matter for the Chairman of the Committee and since, should he be deemed or alleged to be wrong thereafter, there would be, in effect, an appeal to me, it was extremely important that I should not rule on the matter at that stage. I think that that was all that arose then.

Mr. Reynolds

I am much obliged to you, Mr. Speaker. When you are considering this matter, would you read the Ruling made by Mr. Speaker Denison on 23rd June, 1871, when a similar point was raised?

Mr. Speaker