HC Deb 17 February 1971 vol 811 cc2005-7

12.12 a.m.

Question put, That the Clause stand part of the Bill:—

The Committee proceeded to a Division

Mr. Ian Lloyd (Portsmouth, Lang-stone)

(seated and covered): On a point of order, Sir Robert. It will be within your recollection that I do not raise bogus or frivolous points of order. Indeed, I have raised only one point of order in the last six years. On this occasion I do so because it seems to me that until this point the Committee has for nine and a half hours behaved in a proper, constitutional and acceptable way to ourselves and the country.

We have reached a point in time where we have passed from that region of responsible behaviour to the region of utterly irresponsible—[Interruption.]

The Chairman

Hon. Members will please allow a point of order to be raised in an orderly manner.

Mr. Lloyd

A vote has been taken and in that vote the Government have expressed their proper constitutional authority and the Opposition have expressed their proper constitutional disagreement. We have reached a stage where we pass from solemn responsibility to farce and in the next few hours the Committee will wander round and round the Lobbies in such fashion that we do damage to ourselves, to the Government, the Opposition, to the reputation of Parliament and, above all, we are putting the House in a position where it is losing respectability and the respect of the country. I therefore propose that the House should now make procedure its servant and no longer be the servant of procedure.

Mrs. Castle

(seated and covered): Further to the point of order raised by the hen. Member for Portsmouth, Langstone (Mr. Ian Lloyd). May I support his point of order and his contention that we had a serious and constructive debate up to midnight, when the "chopper" fell, and that it is indeed making a farce of Parliament that at midnight this Committee should be expected to accept on the nod the whole of Part IV of this Bill—26 Clauses, all of them dealing with constitutional issues, all of them dealing with the setting up of a new court and giving new powers to industrial tribunals, not one item of which will have been debated by the Committee, with hon. Gentlemen opposite going through the Lobby like lobby fodder?

The Chairman

I am afraid that what the right hon. Lady is raising is not a point of order. I wonder whether what she has in mind—what the hon. Member for Portsmouth, Langstone (Mr. Ian Lloyd) had in mind, but could not get to either through force of circumstance—is that we might take the whole of these Clauses and vote for or against them en bloc. Is that what she has in mind?

Mrs. Castle

No, that is not my point of order. It is that it is not maintaining the dignity and rights of this House to vote en bloc 26 constitutional Clauses, a whole section of the Bill, without having debated a word of it. My point of order is that it is to make a farce of Parliament for Part VI to be voted in its entirety without a word of debate. I therefore call on the Leader of the House to give us more time to debate Part VI. for which we have had no time.

The Chairman

I am sure the right hon. Lady knows very well that that is not a point of order for me, that she and I and the whole Committee are governed by the terms of the Resolution of the House as set out by the Business Committee. There is nothing we can do about that. In case the matter should be raised again, to save the time of the Committee, may I say—I know that this was not the right hon. Lady's point: this is me saying something for the moment—that it is impossible to take the Clauses all together and vote against them, because it is contrary to the practice of the House and could militate against the right of any minority, however small, to express its opinion against any particular Clause?

Mrs. Castle

It would be even better if we had time to debate it.

The Committee having divided: Ayes 283, Noes 249.

[For Division List 168 see col. 2027.]

Clause 88 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

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