HC Deb 09 August 1972 vol 842 cc1738-9
Mr. English

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I apologise for the short notice I have given of this point of order, but yesterday the Select Committee on Procedure published its Third Special Report on the Procedural Consequences of Entry into the European Communities.

My point of order is that this Select Committee, which apparently took no evidence, did not publish with its report its proceedings. This surely is a considerable breach of the custom of the House. In eight years I cannot remember a situation in which a Select Committee has not published its proceedings and thus revealed whether its report was unanimous, whether any amendments to it were tabled by any Member of the committee and, if so, what they were and whether there was any division of opinion on them.

I say that advisedly in this case because, however expert the Committee might be about procedures on this subject, it will be agreed that it is a rather strange Committee. The Chairman is the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Mahon (Sir Robin Turton), who does not share the views of the majority of the Conservative Party on the subject of the Common Market, and the members on the Opposition side of the House are my hon. Friends the Members for Edmonton (Mr. Albu), for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh), for Ashfield (Mr. Marquand) and for Dagenham (Mr. Parker), who certainly, in my view, do not share the views of the majority of the Labour Party on that subject.

In these circumstances the Committee's proceedings would have been of great interest. I object to the Committee concealing any division of opinion on this matter from the Press and Members of the House.

Mr. Speaker

I am grateful to the hon. Member for having given me notice of this point; I have had time to consider it.

Standing Order No. 80 provides that …the minutes of proceedings of a Select Committee shall be laid on the Table of the House. On a proposal of the Select Committee on the Standing Orders (Revision), the House agreed on 8th March, 1971, to this Standing Order, which altered the former provision that the minutes of proceedings of a Select Committee should be laid on the Table with the report of the committee.

I understand that the practice of Select Committees is in many cases to publish their minutes of proceedings separately from their reports, which under Standing Order No. 80 they are permitted to do. Nothing irregular has taken place.