HC Deb 14 March 1960 vol 619 cc927-8
Mr. Speaker

This time might be the least inconvenient to the House for me to rule upon a point raised last Thursday by the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Reynolds) on the Motion relating to the Public Bodies (Admission of the Press to Meetings) Bill standing in the name of the Minister of Housing and Local Government.

The Minister's Motion anticipates the hon. Member's Motion for 17th May asking for leave to bring in a Bill, and the hon. Member submitted that the Minister's Motion was out of order as infringing the rule against anticipation. I have given the point careful consideration and I do not think that the hon. Member's contention is well founded.

Our rule against anticipation, as set out in the current edition of Erskine May, does not prohibit all anticipation, but only anticipation by a form of proceeding less effective than that which it anticipates. I do not think that an Instruction to a Standing Committee to which a Bill has been committed is a less effective proceeding than a Motion asking for leave to bring in a Bill.

The hon. Member asked me to read a Ruling by Mr. Speaker Denison, which refused to allow a Motion for leave to bring in a Bill to be anticipated, and I have done so. It is no exception to the rule. In that instance, the anticipating Motion was a Motion seeking only an expression of opinion by the House, that is to say, a form of proceeding clearly less effective than a Motion asking leave to bring in a Bill.

The hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) asked me to consider the Minister's Motion in connection with the scope of the Bill. I have accordingly considered whether the proposed Instruction is in itself inadmissible, either as being superfluous, or, on the other hand, as attempting to embody in the Bill provisions outside its scope and declared intention. In my view, it is a matter of doubt whether, without an Instruction, the Committee would be able to entertain the relevant provisions, and I think that the object with which the Instruction is concerned is cognate to the general purposes of the Bill.

Accordingly, I hold that the Instruction is admissible.