HC Deb 15 December 1970 vol 808 cc1119-20
Mr. Speaker

Before I call on the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro), I have a rather important Ruling to make. I want to call the attention of the House to an incident that took place last Tuesday, 8th December, on the introduction of the Hare Coursing (Abolition) Bill under the Ten Minute Rule procedure.

The hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. William Price) and the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Ashton) were appointed tellers for the Noes on the Question, "That leave be given to bring in a Bill." The Question was agreed to, but immediately after telling against the Bill their names were included in the list of Members ordered to prepare and bring in the Bill. For Members whose names are to be announced as supporters of a Bill to vote or tell against the introduction of the Bill violates, in my opinion, the well-established principle of this House that a Member's vote must agree with his voice. I must therefore give directions that the hon. Members' names be removed from the list of Members ordered to prepare and bring in the Bill and that the Journal be corrected accordingly.

Mr. McNamara

On a point of order. If in the incident that took place on 8th December I offended against you or the practices of this House, Mr. Speaker, by the strategy I devised, I apologise to you and to the House. In an attempt to bring in the Bill, to get adequate discussion, to get opponents of the Bill to stand up and be counted, rather than waste the time allotted to other Private Members' Bills, we adopted a strategy of this sort. Therefore, responsibility for what was done was mine, at my suggestion. I apologise now to the House and to you that it was necessary. I should say that I believe a person's voice should follow the vote, but so should the vote follow the voice.

Mr. Speaker

The House will accept the hon. Gentleman's apology.

Mr. William Price

Further to that point of order. I am grateful for your Ruling, Mr. Speaker. I did not know it was coming and I had not therefore come armed with information which I should like to put before you at the earliest opportunity. Some months ago on a Friday in this House on the Conservation of Seals Bill, when the people involved did precisely the same sort of thing that I did last week—for which I do not apologise—

Hon. Members


Mr. Price

With respect, I was not asked to apologise. I am grateful for your Ruling because it allows my right hon. and hon. Friends, who thought I had finally gone out of my head in supporting hon. Members opposite, to know what the facts really were. I wish to seek an interview with you at the earliest opportunity to bring to your notice precisely what happened on that Friday some months ago on which we have not subsequently had a Ruling.

Mr. Speaker

If such a thing did happen such a Ruling ought to have been given. I was not aware of it.

Mr. Dalyell rose

Mr. Speaker

Order. We have an important debate ahead.

Mr. Dalyell

On the subject of the Ten Minute Rule Bill procedure, does it not bring the House of Commons into far greater disrepute when on a Friday afternoon people shout "Object" to Measures about which they have not the remotest idea?

Mr. Speaker

That is not a point of order.

Mr. Ashton rose

Mr. Speaker

Order. We have an important day's debate ahead.

Mr. Ashton

While thanking you for your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, as one of the tellers, could I ask you what the situation would be if two tellers find themselves convinced by the size of the majority in the vote and take it upon themselves to suport a Measure?

Mr. Speaker

That is the most ingenious point of order I have heard for some time, but it does not correspond with the history of the case. Sir Gerald Nabarro—[Interruption.] Order. The House recently decided by a large majority that the Ten Minute Rule procedure should take place at this stage of the day's debate. It must listen to the hon. Gentleman.