HC Deb 11 December 1967 vol 756 cc33-4
45. Mr. Ridley

asked the Lord President of the Council if he will move to revise Standing Order No. 9 so that topics of an urgent and important nature can be debated as they arise.

Mr. Crossman

The House has just approved a complete revise of this Standing Order and I am sure the majority of the House would agree that it ought to be given a fair run to see how it works in practice. In my view the first example was a pretty good one.

Mr. Ridley

Is the Leader of the House aware that there is a strong demand in all quarters of the House, including below the Gangway on his own side, that those matters should be debated, as they arise quite frequently? Could he say, therefore, how many Standing Order No. 9 debates he would expect to see during the course of a year?

Mr. Crossman

I am surprised at the hon. Gentleman. The question of the number given depends on Mr. Speaker and not on the Leader of the House. If the hon. Gentleman is interested, he could read the Report of the Select Committee, which makes suggestions on this. Now we have passed a Standing Order which leaves it to you, Mr. Speaker, to decide, and you will decide.

Mr. J. T. Price

Whilst I welcome some of the measures which have been taken to improve the administration of the House, will my right hon. Friend receive with due caution these blandishments from the other side of the House on Standing Order No. 9? Would he not agree that if we carry this principle too far we shall have no protection whatever for the Orders of the Day, with the result that general business already in the pipeline will he pushed back and back and nobody will be able to make any forward arrangements?

Mr. Crossman

I would have thought that those of us who studied the Report of the Select Committee on Standing Order No. 9 realised that this was a bold but perfectly practicable extension of the desire for topical debates. So far we have had one on what seemed to me a thoroughly justifiable subject. I would have thought that the best thing the House can do is to wait and see what happens and be content. I am prepared to say that the increase in the number of topical debates was part of the balanced change in procedure which I have been trying to put forward.

Forward to