HC Deb 16 March 1973 vol 852 cc1722-4

Order for Second Reading read.

Hon. Members


Mr. James Wellbeloved (Erith and Crayford)

Friday 6th April, Sir.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu)

I understand that the date should be Friday next.

Mr. Wellbeloved

On a point of order. There is no one in the House under the definition of Member in charge of the Bill, nor is there anybody in the House who has the authority from the Member in charge of the Bill to name the day. Therefore, having carefully studied Erskine May, I believe that it would be right to put it to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that, in the absence of the Member in charge or anybody acting with his authority, it is open for the House, but not for the Clerk at the Table, to name the day.

Naming the day is a matter for hon. Members and not for Officers of the House. In the absence of a Member of the House—an elected Member of the House—naming the day, I submit that there is no standing for an Officer of the House to make any statement to the House other than reading the Orders of the Day. Therefore, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you are faced with the position that the only Member who has named the day is myself, since an Officer of the House has no standing in this matter.

If one refers to Mr. Speaker's Ruling, which you are now doing, Mr. Deputy Speaker, one sees that Mr. Speaker ruled that it would be wrong for an hon. Member to name a day for the Second Reading of a Bill so far ahead as to obstruct that Second Reading from taking place and the Bill being ensured a passage through the House. The day that I have named, 6th April, leaves a considerable number of Fridays for the Bill to continue its passage.

Therefore, I submit, first, that I am within Mr. Speaker's Ruling, in that the day that I have named is not so far ahead as to frustrate the passage of the Bill. Second—I should like a Ruling, either now or by Mr. Speaker at some subsequent date—I submit that nobody other than an hon. Member has the right under our Standing Orders to participate in the proceedings of this honourable House, and that Officers at the Table, with the exception of the Clerk When he is reading the Orders of the Day, have no standing whatsoever and no right at all to name the day or to participate in our proceedings. I hope that either you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, or Mr. Speaker himself will in due course rule upon those submissions.

Mr. Gerald Kaufman (Manchester, Ardwick)

Further to that point of order. I think that I may be in a position to help the House. When my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, Central (Mr. Clinton Davis), who is involved with this Bill, was absent in the Lebanon last week, he asked me to act on his behalf with regard to this Bill. However, my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Wellbeloved), with his usual speed, managed to get in ahead of me before I had named the day. Since I have been nominated by my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, Central, I think that I might be able to assist the House if I were to name 6th April as the day on which the Bill should be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I think it is customary for the Chair to select a date in the absence of a request by the hon. Member in charge of a Bill, or someone requested by that hon. Member to make the request to the Chair. Has the hon. Member that request?

Mr. Wellbeloved

If you had been able to hear the submission made by my hon. Friend—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Has the hon. Gentleman the permission of the hon. Member in charge of the Bill?

Mr. Wellbeloved

My hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Ardwick (Mr. Kaufman) has and he has named 6th April.

Mr. Kaufman

As I pointed out, my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, Central asked me, during his absence last week, to take care of the Bill. As I said, my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Crayford was speedier on his feet last week than I. That led to the imbroglio which took place last week. As I have managed to get to my feet I think that, since my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney, Central has not withdrawn his instruction to me to look after the Bill, I can solve the situation for everyone by naming 6th April as the date for the Second Reading.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

That is perfectly in order.

Second Reading deferred till Friday 6th April.