HC Deb 20 July 1967 vol 750 cc2656-8

Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Question [19th July], That the Agricultural and Horticultural Co-operation Scheme 1967, a draft of which was laid before this House on 28th June, be approved:—

Sir Frank Pearson (Clitheroe) rose

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Eric Fletcher)

What day?

Mr. Alan Fitch (Lord Commissioner to the Treasury)

This day, Sir.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Mr. Peart. Mr. Fitch: Not moved, Sir.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Mr. Secretary Ross.

Mr. Fitch

Not moved, Sir.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Miss Herbison.

Mr. Fitch

Not moved, Sir.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Social Security (Mr. Charles Loughlin) rose

Mr. Michael Jopling (Westmorland)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I think you called the resumed debate on one of the agriculture Schemes. My hon. Friend the Member for Clitheroe (Sir Frank Pearson) rose. He had the Floor when the debate was adjourned on Wednesday morning.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The position is that the Clerk called the Order of the Day, and I understood that from the Government Bench it was said, "This day", which means that it is not being moved today, as I understand it. So as I understand it, the Motion on the Order Paper is not being moved by the Government today.

Mr. J. B. Godber (Grantham)

May I ask for a little guidance on this Mr. Deputy Speaker? We were told that the adjourned debate was coming forward. Are we to be told at the last moment that it is not to be proceeded with? It is an extraordinary way to conduct Government business.

The Deputy Speaker

The right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the Government have control of the business of the House and that it is open to them to move or not to move any order that appears on the Order Paper. It is not a matter for the Chair.

Mr. Bryant Godman Irvine (Rye)

May I point out, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that my hon. Friend the Member for Clitheroe (Sir Frank Pearson) was on his feet when the debate on the agriculture Scheme was adjourned?

The Deputy Speaker

I am sorry. When the debate is resumed the hon. Gentleman will be entitled to continue his speech. But obviously, an Order of the Day cannot be dealt with unless it is moved by the Government, who are in charge of the business.

Mr. Ian MacArthur (Perth and East Perthshire)

This places in difficulty a number of hon. Members who have stayed to take part in the debate. It is difficult for us to understand what is happening. We have already had the delayed civil defence debates, which have been shifted from day to day to the great inconvenience of hon. Members, and now the Government at the last moment have retreated from the debate that the House expected tonight. If this is the position, is it not possible for the Leader of the House to be present for a change and to explain to us just what is happening and when these very important matters will be considered?

The Deputy Speaker

That is not a point of order for me. I am not responsible for the presence or absence of the Leader of the House at any particular moment. All I am responsible for is seeing that any Orders of the Day on the Order Paper are dealt with as and when they are moved. We have already dealt with three or four Orders of the Day, but when the Order for the adjourned debate was called it was indicated by the Government that it was not being dealt with today. When that adjourned debate is resumed the hon. Gentleman who had the floor at the time it was adjourned will be able to resume his speech. I am afraid that the Chair cannot do any more about it.

Mr. Godber

Further to the point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Chair is in a difficult position in relation to this, but as the Ministers responsible for the debate are present, could we not have the courtesy of an explanation from the Government about what is happening and why the House is being treated with this extreme discourtesy? It is a monstrous situation. The Ministers are here. Surely one of them will have the courtesy to tell us what is happening.

Sir Frank Pearson

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. This is the strangest incident in Parliamentary procedure that I can ever recollect. We have on the Order Paper the Order for the adjourned debate. The Minister concerned is sitting on the Treasury Bench. One of the gentlemen very closely concerned with the Order was in the Public Gallery. Yet the adjourned debate is not taken at this time of night, and the Minister sits there and refuses to get up and give any explanation. It is contumacious behaviour towards the House.

The Deputy Speaker

No point of order is raised in those remarks.

Mr. Loughlin rose

Sir David Renton (Huntingdonshire)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Do I understand that the Joint Parliamentary Secretary is rising to move the Supplementary Benefit (Determination of Requirements) Regulations, 1967? If so, and if I heard correctly, when you first called that Order another member of the Government called out "not moved". It is very difficult to know how Government business is being conducted if one member of the Government says "not moved" and another rises to move the Regulations. We should at least have the advantage of lack of confusion even if there is lack of courtesy.

Notice taken that 40 Members were not present;

House counted, and, 40 Members not being present, adjourned at nineteen minutes past Twelve o'clock till this day.