HC Deb 02 December 1974 vol 882 cc1110-1
39. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Lord President of the Council whether he will move to instruct the Select Committee on Procedure to consider, in the interest of hon. Members as a whole, the exclusion from the Ballots for Private Members' Bills and Motions for the rest of the Session, or of the current Parliament, as might be deemed more appropriate, those hon. Members who had already been successful in the Ballots according to a definition to be worked out.

Mr. Edward Short

If it were the general wish of the House to do so, the Procedure Committee might be asked to look at the hon. Member's suggestion.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that while many hon. Members take a regular part in the Ballot some never draw lucky, whereas others are repeatedly fortunate? Does he appreciate that Privy Councillors and other hon. Members with whom I have discussed this suggestion have approved of it? Will he at least have it discussed by the appropriate Select Committee?

Mr. Short

This is the first time the subject has been raised with me. If other hon. Members care to make their views known I shall certainly be prepared to consider referring this subject to a Select Committee.

Mr. English

If this suggestion is to be considered, may I express the hope that it will not preclude hon. Members doing what the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Page) is doing, namely, using the terms of the Parliament Act to get something passed which has been rejected in the House of Lords although not in this House?

Mr. George Cunningham

Is not the truth of the matter that we do not have a Procedure Committee at the moment? Have we not rather got a Committee which has had referred to it specific procedural matters rather on the lines of the Select Committee on Parliamentary Questions in 1972? Would it not be sensible for the House to set up a Procedure Committee like that which we had in the Parliament before last, which, in addition to considering subjects referred to it by the House, was free to consider any other points which it thought of importance and needing attention?

Mr. Short

Of course we have a Procedure Committee, set up by the House. This Committee is, first of all, invited to consider matters referred to it. These are matters on which there is a great demand for change. It makes good sense that the Committee should consider these first.

Mr. William Hamilton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that for the first time, and probably the last, I am in agreement with the hon. Member for Epping Forest (Mr. Biggs-Davison)? Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that I have been in this House for a long time and have never yet come first, or even second, in any of the Ballots? If the hon. Gentleman's proposition were accepted we might stand a better chance than we have had up to now.

Mr. Short

I am prepared to look at this. The great wheel of fortune brings luck to people in different ways, and I am sure that my hon. Friend is lucky in other respects.