HC Deb 19 May 1965 vol 712 cc1453-5
35. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Lord President of the Council what subjects he proposes to move to refer to the Select Committee on Procedure between now and the end of the current Parliamentary Session.

Mr. Hector Hughes

On a point of order. Is it not inconsistent with the rules of the House to break into Questions addressed to the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, who has answered only 33 out of 60 Questions addressed to him? Could——

Mr. Speaker

Order. If the hon. and learned Gentleman will be so kind as to look at the revised order of Questions provided for his use, he will see that it is decreed there that it should be so.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Further to that point of order. Is it not obvious that the Questions to the Attorney-General and other Ministers, which are about to be called and answered, are obviously of a type which could be answered in the form of statements instead of breaking into these Questions to the Minister of Agriculture?

Mr. Speaker

It may be so, but I do not propose to deal with it on a point of order now. I want to get on to another Question. Mr. Hamilton.

Mr. William Hamilton

Question No. 35.

The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert Bowden)

None, Sir. The terms of reference approved by the House were in the widest possible terms—no further instruction from the House would appear to be necessary.

Mr. Hamilton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this House, in seeking to modernise its procedures, is setting a very bad example to the rest of the country? Can he state what action the Government intend to take on the recom- mendations already made by the Select Committee? It is not much good that Committee proceeding further in any investigations if we do not take action on the recommendations that it has made.

Mr. Bowden

I said during the business exchanges on Thursday of last week that the two Reports from the Select Committee on Procedure would be debated, with any proposals which may come from the Government, before the Summer Recess.

Sir Knox Cunningham

Will the right hon. Gentleman also refer the method of answering Questions by certain Ministers, in particular the Paymaster-General, to the Select Committee?

Mr. Woodburn

Can my right hon. Friend say whether any progress has been made in his talks about getting rid of the undignified procedure of bringing sick people to vote in the House?

Mr. Bowden

I am afraid that I cannot answer that point on this Question.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Can my right hon. Friend tell us whether the Select Committee on Procedure is considering whether dignified, respected and learned Members and servants of this House should continue to wear wigs?

Mr. Bowden

I have already said that the terms of reference are the widest possible. Nothing is excluded.

Mr. Turton

Will the right hon. Gentleman recollect that he asked the Select Committee to make a quick Report on the matter of Questions, so that an early change could take place? Delaying any discussion of this matter until the Summer Recess precludes an early decision on it.

Mr. Bowden

I have said already that if, through the usual channels, it is felt that a change should take place between Whitsun and the end of July, I am prepared to consider it, but as for a wider discussion of the Report from the Committee, I think that we had better wait until we have a debate.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Can my right hon. Friend tell us whether the matter to which I have just referred in my point of order will be within the terms of reference of the Select Committee on Procedure, and, if not, should not it be included, because this is essentially a matter for such a Committee?

Mr. Bowden

This matter was discussed and agreed through the usual channels, and reported to the House.

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