§ Mr. Peyton
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am sorry to raise this matter again in this manner, but unfortunately and significantly our procedures here give no place for the complaints we now have to make regularly about the disadvantages with which hon. Members are faced because they do not have important papers available. I refer, of course, to the Finance Bill.
The Order Papers today and on Friday contained, for the first time, five Government new clauses and 146 Government amendments to this very important Bill. It does not need me to expand on this at length in order to remind the House of how the Government's business is now in total disarray, but I think that we, and, if I may say so, the Chair, must seriously reflect upon the fact, first, that this position involves a really serious erosion of the rights of the taxpayer to know what the law is going to be in order that informed representations may be made in time, and, secondly, that this sort of disarray very much enhances the already great danger that absolutely fatuous and half-baked proposals will find their way on to the statute book.
§ The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Michael Foot)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I do not know 51 whether I would be entitled to debate the matters which the right hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) raised in his point of order and the adjectives which he has applied to the situation, all of which I repudiate, but if he has any specific complaints we will look into them and seek to overcome them, as we did last week. When he raised a number of questions on Wednesday and Thursday last week about the operation of the Finance Bill this week, we made special arrangements to ensure that the amendments which were appearing were sent to those hon. Members who had applied. We made special efforts to assist in that direction. Whatever criticisms the right hon. Gentleman may make, I would have thought that he might also have had the courtesy to pay a tribute to those who worked so hard to try to ensure that we overcame the difficulties.
§ Mr. Peyton
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. What the right hon. Gentleman said at the end of his intervention has nothing to do with the matter. Of course, we acknowledge the hard work of those concerned. They deserve thanks and appreciation—and from none of us more than the Government. But a cursory look through the Order Paper reveals one Government amendment after another bearing a star, indicating that it is appearing for the first time today. I believe that this is a grave erosion of the rights of the House of Commons, and it is no good the Leader of the House simply saying that if I have any specific complaints he will look into them. Of course I have specific complaints. I have five complaints about Government new clauses and 146 complaints about Government amendments.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The House knows that what I have done is an old custom. I have been very tolerant to a matter raised as a point of order because I felt that it was in the interests of the House that I should do so. But the provision of papers for the House is not my responsibility, and it will be no good hon. Members seeking to pursue the matter with me. I hope, therefore, that hon. Members will not seek to pursue an argument which will take time out of the Private 52 Members' debate on the problems of Greater London, which finishes at 7 o'clock, when the matter is not really the responsibility of the Chair.
§ Mr. Lawson
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I assure you that this is not synthetic indignation. We feel very strongly indeed. The House will be aware that only three and a half days have been allocated for the Report stage of the Finance Bill, yet we have 159 Government amendments and 13 Government new clauses to consider, apart from other new clauses and amendments. Since—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I suggest that it would be helpful to the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends to pursue this matter within order when we come to the subject tomorrow rather than that we should take time out of the debate on Greater London today. I shall be surprised if the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends are not able to pursue it tomorrow.