HC Deb 26 January 1973 vol 849 cc900-3

4.13 p.m.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Weatherill.] [Interruption.]

Several Hon. Members rose——

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Mr. Strang, for his Adjournment debate. [Interruption.]

Mr. Gavin Strang (Edinburgh, East) rose—[Interruption.]

Mr. Russell Kerr

Use common sense.

Sir Charles Taylor (Eastbourne)

I suggest that Mr. Speaker be sent for to attend forthwith.

Mr. Strang

I am——

Mr. George Cunningham (Islington, South-West)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker——

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Is this a new point of order?

Mr. Cunningham

Yes. I have been trying to raise it with you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for some considerable time. Will you give the House your advice on this point which has arisen?

As I understand it it is within the rules of order for the Chair, in the event of a mistaken call, to go back to the immediately preceding item of business. If that is not in Erskine May, I respectfully suggest that you have put it in in the last five minutes. Since that now is part of the established practice of this House, how can it be that it is permissible, within the rules of the House, to go back to a matter which has been decided to be all right within the normal proceedings, yet it is not possible to go back to the item of business which preceded that?

I suggest that if it was legitimate to go back one stage, and you ruled that it was, or you behaved accordingly, then it must be legitimate to go back two stages, because both are in the same situation. They are both items which, according to the normal practice of the House, have been decided. In exercising your discretion you accepted that we ought to give the matter another run through. I would be grateful for your advice on how to distinguish between the last item which has been decided and the item immediately before that.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

There is no difficulty at all in distinguishing between those two. Mr. Strang.

Sir C. Taylor

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. This is a very serious point of order. The whole House thought when you made your ruling that you were referring to the Export of Animals (Control) Bill—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—to which the hon. Member for Feltham (Mr. Russell Kerr) said that he had objected by mistake. The whole House was astonished when you said you would recall the last Bill that you had called. Everyone was shocked and surprised. They did not know why you were calling that again because there was no dispute about it. But there was a dispute about the Export of Animals (Control) Bill, and the whole House though you were referring to that and was relieved when you said that you were prepared to recall it. To put this matter right, could you not stretch procedure and recall the Bill as you said you would, and give the House a chance to decide this important matter?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I am afraid that there is no doubt in my mind at all. There was an objection to the Bill about which the hon. Member is talking. That being so, I was obliged to go on.

Mr. Jennings rose——

Sir Stephen McAdden (Southend, East)

On a point of order. Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have been trying to catch your eye for the past five minutes to come to your aid.

It is true that when the Export of Animals (Control) Bill was read out, a cry or cries of "object" were heard. Honourable Members below the Gangway said that they heard only one cry. To my certain knowledge there was more than one. I support you in the ruling you have given.

Subsequent to the objection being taken, when the House had passed on to other Bills, it was brought to the attention of the Chair that an hon. Member who was thought to be the only one to have objected to this particular Bill wished to withdraw his objection. The Chair very kindly gave, as it was thought, permission for the Title to be read again. Unfortunately, that Title was not read again. Another Title was read. May I suggest that you allow the correct Title to be read again? The result will be the same; someone will object; and we can then go home.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Unfortunately, there seems to be some difference of opinion in the House as to which Bill was referred to. However, I have no doubt in my mind to which Bill I was referring: I ordered the last Bill but one on the Order Paper to be read again, and it was in order to do so. Since then we have passed on to the next Bill, and we cannot now go back.

Mr. Jennings

Further to the point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Most of the confusion this afternoon has arisen on this matter because certain hon. Members could not distinguish where the objection came from. We at this end of the Chamber thought it came from here, and we thought it was a mistake because the hon. Member who did it did so in a hurry. Would it not be better for the comfort of the House if the hon. Member or hon. Members objecting stood up? [Interruption.] Why not? Let us have the objection in a visual form. This is an important matter of principle which affects the liberties of back benchers.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I am afraid that it is not possible to go back like that, and we are now on the Adjournment.

Mr. Strang rose——

Mr Kaufman

Further to the point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. My hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, East (Mr. Strang) is suffering a great injustice through no fault of his own in that he is losing time on his Adjournment. I sought to prevent that by opposing the motion for the Adjournment so that the point of order could be dealt with, we could have a Division and defeat that motion, and then introduce a new motion for the Adjournment. It is most unfair for my hon. Friend that because of the necessary points of order he should lose so much of his time in raising a subject of great concern to him and his constituents. May we, therefore, be allowed to vote on the motion for the Adjournment as I asked when the Government Whip moved it.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

We are already on the Adjournment. I have called Mr. Strang.

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