§ Mr. Ron Lewis
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In July of last year, on the Government's initiative and without any mandate from the electorate at the General Election of 1970, a measure was passed through the House to denationalise the Carlisle and District State Management Scheme.
1302 Since July I have used every conceivable means at my disposal, and my democratic rights, to raise matters concerning the sale of the scheme, so far without any success, yet certain newspapers are able to get information on the matter.
Yesterday, in pursuance of my democratic rights, and bearing in mind that the greater part of the scheme lies within my constituency, I tabled 124 Questions on the sale of the scheme.—[An HON. MEMBER: "A waste of money."] I hear someone say that that is a waste of money, but I am interested in my constituents, and I ask the House to bear in mind that I do not hog the Order Paper with Questions. On this occasion I felt that I had the democratic right, and the interests of public accountability, to put to the Minister certain Questions on which I required information. The Table Office said that it did not think my Questions would be accepted, and I received a white card asking me to have a word with the Clerk at the Table. This I duly did, and informed him that I was not satisfied.
He drafted a Question which, in the opinion of the Table Office, covered the Questions to which I wanted answers. His suggested Question dealt with the sale of the whole of the Carlisle and District State Management Scheme, whereas my 124 Questions dealt with certain aspects of the scheme only, and I was therefore unable to accept his suggestion.
I understand, Mr. Speaker, that the matter has been referred to you. There has been nothing like it in the lifetime of this Parliament, so far as I know. This was the denationalisation of a brewery.
§ Mr. Lewis
As my right hon. Friend says, it was a very good brewery. Because of my democratic rights as an elected Member, I wish to make my protest at being gagged on matters of vital importance to my constituents. I suggest that you should allow the 124 Questions to appear on the Order Paper. It will be much easier for the Home Office to answer them than to reply to the Question suggested by the Table Office. I wish to register most strongly my protest against the denial of my democratic rights as an elected Member of this House.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member was kind enough to inform me that he would raise this as a point of order. This is a matter for me. I have to safeguard the Order Paper. I have given certain rulings in other cases. I cannot give one ruling for one hon. Member, and another ruling for another. I have considered the matter carefully, and I have made my decision. It is my decision, and if the hon. Member wants to question it there are ways in which he can do that, but there the matter must remain today.
§ Mr. Peart
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I understand your ruling, but my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Mr. Ron Lewis) has a point. The Carlisle and District State Management Scheme affects not only Carlisle. My constituency, too, is affected, and I should like to table a few Questions about the matter.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The right hon. Gentleman can try to see whether the Questions are allowed, but this is not the time to pursue the matter.