HC Deb 27 April 1976 vol 910 cc195-7
Mr. Marten

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I ask for your guidance on the question of the desire of Back Benchers to hear from Ministers who go off to Luxembourg, have a major conference, come back and do not make statements to the House about that conference? We were promised that statements would be made to the House as a matter of routine after any important meetings in the Common Market, and we have not had any for rather a long time. The height of this matter was that the Council of Ministers had a summit meeting and all that we got was a Written Answer to a Written Question that had obviously been planted. There was no statement. The Prime Minister recognised that as a mistake that would not happen again. On the Finance Ministers' meeting, which was very important, we should have had a statement from the Chancellor today.

Mr. Speaker

The arrangement of the business of the House is not a matter for me. However, the hon. Gentleman's point of order seems to be one on which if anyone sought to answer the point of order with a further point of order, it would be permissible. However, what is sure is that I cannot answer it.

Mr. Blaker

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Does this not involve the way in which the Government are treating the rights of the House? If the meeting were sufficiently important for the Chancellor himself to invite his colleagues to meet him, surely it is equally important for him to tell the House of Commons what happened.

Mr. Speaker

That is not a matter of judgment for me. It is a matter of judgment for someone else.

Mr. Peyton

I entirely accept that it is a matter of judgment for someone else. We are so fortunate that the "someone else" is present. I am sure that the Leader of the House will want to jump at the opportunity of bringing weight to his own words in relation to the importance that he attaches to the rights of the House of Commons, and I hope that he will, first, remind his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the House is not uninterested in what the Chancellor has been doing over the last few days. Perhaps the Leader of the House will promise us now, with certainty, that his right hon. Friend will make a statement tomorrow.

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Michael Foot)

Having been incited by the right hon. Gentleman and by you, Mr. Speaker, to put myself out of order, I shall respond to the invitation.

Mr. Speaker

Order. To make the right hon. Gentleman respectable, I should feel better if he began by saying "Further to the point of order".

Mr. Foot

I was not absolutely sure that it was a point of order, and I am pleased to have your assurance. Further to the point of order, Mr. Speaker. I shall convey to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer the views stated in the House today and I am sure he will take them fully into account.