HC Deb 23 July 1975 vol 896 cc571-2
Mr. Douglas-Mann

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I ask your guidance as to a decision of the House last night on Members' salaries and their linkage to those of Assistant Secretaries and, in particular, as to whether that decision is binding on the House and the Government?

As you know, Mr. Speaker, the decision, which I understood was to take our salaries to between£8,650 and£11,000, vastly in excess of the Boyle Report's recommendations, was taken at two o'clock in the morning in a House in which there had been a very wide-ranging discussion in which even the mover of the motion scarcely dealt with its subject matter. [Interruption.] The decision was taken in the absence of nearly 60 per cent. of the Members of the House at two o'clock in the morning by a majority of one vote, and I understand, although I may be incorrect in this information, that that one vote was that of an hon. Member who inadvertently went into the wrong Lobby.

If we as a House deal with public expenditure of which we are beneficiaries in such a cavalier and thoughtless fashion we are justifiably bringing ourselves into disrepute. May I ask your guidance, Mr. Speaker, on whether it would be in order for a different motion to be brought before the House on another occasion when it can be properly debated at a reasonable hour as the main subject for discussion by the House?

Mr. George Cunningham

May I remind you, Mr. Speaker, of the following matters? First, the amendment which was carried by one vote had been on the Order Paper with due notice in the normal way. Secondly, although that amendment was carried by one vote, as someone famous once said, one is enough to carry a vote in this House. Thirdly, the substantive motion which was then amended was carried by 169 votes to 70, a majority of 99. Therefore, the point of substance was voted upon twice, first with a majority of one and the second time with a majority of 99, with all the normal notice that the House gives.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. This is wholly irregular. I did not recognise a point of order in the original question to me. It would be much better if we all studied Hansard, which is not yet available, and saw the precise terms of the resolution and whether the Chair has any part to play. I am very doubtful about that. The House appeared to come to a decision. Whether it can come to another decision at another time is not for the Chair to say—and that is the end of that.