HC Deb 26 May 1972 vol 837 cc1803-4
Mr. George Cunningham

I should like to raise two points of order with you, Mr. Speaker. The first relates to my attempt last night while you were in the Chair to raise the second point of order, to which I will come in a moment.

On the Order Paper yesterday there were two Motions in the names of the Government Whips relating to membership of two committees of the House. When the items came to be taken the Motions were not moved. I wish to raise a point of order concerning the propriety of the Motion dealing with membership of the Expenditure Committee, not the substance of it as it appeared on the Order Paper.

Last night I waited until what I conceived to be the right moment to do so namely when the Motion immediately before the one with which I was concerned had been disposed of. But the Government Whip immediately moved the Adjournment of the House, and so it seemed that in trying to raise my point of order I was doing so in the time allocated to the hon. Member who had the Adjournment debate, and you, Mr. Speaker, quite rightly preserved his rights by slapping me down, and I do not object to that.

I do not seek an answer to the matter but I ask you to consider whether something needs to be done about the difficulty experienced by an hon. Member who wishes to raise a point of order in these circumstances, when he must wait until a certain stage in order to raise it but as soon as that stage is reached it is past because the House has moved on to the Adjournment.

One way of dealing with it, I suggest, would be that the item on the Order Paper would be mentioned as it is sometimes in Committee. The Government would have to say "Not moved" and that would give an hon. Member who wanted to raise a point of order an opportunity of doing so.

My second point is not on the substance of the Motion which was on the Order Paper last night but on what I regard as a breach of the proprieties and courtesies of the House towards me. It was proposed in the Motion that I should be dismissed from a Committee of this House. I was not informed before the Motion was put on the Order Paper by whoever should have done so, nor I was informed after it had been put on the Order Paper of the means by which it was proposed that this action should he taken.

It could therefore quite well have happened that this went through the House without my knowing that it was going to happen or, at least, the manner in which it was going to happen. I direct at anyone who carries the responsibility for that the charge that this is a breach of the courtesies and proprieties of the House. I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, to lend your authority to that contention.

Mr. Speaker

With regard to the first matter, the hon. Member is quite correct. I was curt with him last night because I wanted to protect the time of the hon. Member who had the Adjournment debate. I believe that the Chair must try very zealously to cherish that privilege when it is afforded to an hon. Member. I think that the first matter the hon. Member raised is perhaps a matter for consideration but I do not think it is a matter for me.

On the second point, I think it is much more a matter of convention or courtesy, and on one aspect of it I think that if the Government have decided not to move a particular Motion and the hon. Member is here he might be told beforehand if it is humanly possible to do so. I am obliged to the hon. Member.

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