HC Deb 16 February 1972 vol 831 cc429-30
Mr. Benn

On a point of order. I seek your guidance, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday there were meetings between the Prime Minister, the C.B.I. and the General Secretary of the T.U.C., Mr. Feather. The industrial position confronting the country is such that the Government should make a daily statement to the House on lay-offs, the effect of the electricity cuts and so on. As you know, Mr. Speaker, I sought to put down today a Private Notice Question. I do not query your disallowance of it—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Even a right hon. Gentleman is not allowed to say that.

Mr. Benn

If I am not allowed to refer to it, I apologise, Mr. Speaker.

In view of the daily changes in the situation and the obvious interest of hon. Members in developments, some special arrangements should be made to permit the Government to make a daily statement to the House so that we do not have to rely upon the B.B.C., the morning Press and such speculation as there is to get an understanding of the Government's policy.

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. William Whitelaw)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I accept, as the right hon. Gentleman says, that the Government should keep the House as fully informed as possible. In these circumstances, a statement will be made tomorrow.

Mr. Harold Wilson

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I welcome what the Leader of the House has said. There should be a daily statement. When we debated the situation on Monday it was difficult to forecast how things would develop. I see from the Press headlines today that there are now 2½ million unemployed. Further to that point of order, and to future points of order, I point out that in the crisis of 1947 five Ministerial statements were made, all by the then Prime Minister, and there were four debates and two Private Notice Questions. We shall hold the Leader of the House to his offer to keep the House informed, and this should be on a daily basis from now on.

Mr. Whitelaw

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I note what the right hon. Gentleman has said, but the House must accept that frequent statements cut into the time of important debates. That has to be accepted.

Sir Harmar Nicholls

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. The point has been raised that under the Standing Orders of the House daily statements should be made. Has it not always been the practice that this is left to the Govern. ment of the day to decide?

Mr. Speaker

Order. I think we are getting beyond matters of order.

  2. c430
  3. WELSH AFFAIRS 32 words