HC Deb 08 February 1966 vol 724 cc222-4

Order for Second Reading read.

Question proposed, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

4.0 p.m.

Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)

I wish to make a few remarks on the Second Reading. I know that there are different practices which apply to the discussion of a Second Reading of a Consolidated Fund Bill. Sometimes, the whole of the discussion is devoted to the opinions of back benchers and sometimes it is arranged that the Second Reading should be taken formally and that there should then be a debate on a Motion. At different times, these or other procedures are most convenient to the House.

However, it has always been acknowledged on both sides of the House and by Leaders of the House of all parties that none of these arrangements can deprive the House as a whole of its rights. It is, therefore, perfectly proper for an hon. Member to do what I seek to do, which is to express views on this Second Reading.

There are two other reasons why I should do so. First, it has not been very clear from the statements made by the Opposition which aspect of South-East Asian affairs they wish to discuss. When my hon. Friend the Member for Ashfield (Mr. Warbey), a few days ago, asked whether the Opposition were retreating from their proposal to discuss the situation in Vietnam, there was considerable laughter on the Opposition side of the House. I am not sure what it implied. Possibly it implied that they were very interested in—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) so early, but he can discuss on the Second Reading of the Bill only the items covered by the Supplementary Estimates for which the Bill provides the money. If he turns to pages 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the Civil Estimates, he will find what overseas matters he can raise in this debate.

Mr. Foot

I certainly bow to your Ruling at once, Mr. Speaker, but I understand that one of the Estimates covered is the Sub-Committee on Defence and Overseas Affairs. That is the matter which I wish to discuss. I would have thought that, following precedent and as indicated under the items covered, I would be fully in order in discussing the main matter which I wish to discuss, which is the situation in Vietnam.

Mr. Speaker

I understand that defence is not in the Supplementary Estimates on which the Bill is based. The hon. Gentleman would be out of order in discussing Vietnam.

Mr. Foot

If that is your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, of course I must bow to it, but I ask you to consider whether, in fact, that is the case, because there is a reference to the Sub-Committee on Defence and Overseas Affairs which would fully cover the matter which I wish to discuss.

I thought that it would certainly be for the convenience of the House, and convenient to myself, if we could discuss this situation before coming to the general debate which the Opposition wish to raise. Not only do I claim that the subject is covered by that item, but there have been several occasions on which fairly wide latitude has been allowed by the Chair in debates on Second Readings of Consolidated Fund Bills.

Mr. Speaker

Perhaps I can help the hon. Gentleman. There is an occasion in Parliamentary time when the very wide debate which the hon. Gentleman has in mind can take place. That does not apply to this particular Consolidated Fund Bill, which is merely concerned with the money to be found for the Civil Estimates, the Supplementary Estimates, for 1965–66, a copy of which the hon. Gentleman no doubt has with him. The subject of Vietnam does not come under that.

Mr. Foot

My understanding of the rules is that it would be perfectly proper for me to raise a wide debate on this subject, but it is certainly not my desire—

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman must take the advice of the Chair. He is a good Parliamentarian. He will be out of order if he seeks to do what he is trying to do.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time and committed to a Committee of the whole House.

Committee Tomorrow.

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