§ Mr. Speaker
Yesterday the hon. Member for Luton, West (Mr. Sedgemore) asked me to rule about a declaration which he was requested to sign by the Committee of Selection in connection with the Opposed Bill Committee to which he had been appointed on the Methodist Church Bill [Lords]. I have looked into the circumstances and I find, to my profound relief, that this is not a matter in which Mr. Speaker has any power to rule or to intervene.
The necessity for a form of declaration to be signed is clearly laid down in Standing Order 115 relating to Private Business. The actual form of the declaration is laid down in precise terms by Standing Order 120 relating to Private Business. The same Standing Order lays it down, as the Clerk to the Committee rightly pointed out to the hon. Gentleman, that a Private Bill Committee cannot proceed to business until a declaration has been signed by each member of the Committee. The duty of settling matters in relation to declarations is laid by Standing Order 116 on the Committee of Selection, and not upon Mr. Speaker. In accordance with that Standing Order, if the hon. Gentleman considers that he is not able to complete the declaration he should convey his reasons to the Committee of Selection.
§ Mr. Sedgemore
It has been pointed out to me since I raised this matter yesterday that the nation's wisest and most noble Methodist, Donald Soper, writes articles for Tribune—they are as distinguished and passionate as all the other articles in that paper—and maybe the Committee of Selection confuses my articles with his. I am bound to say, Mr. Speaker, that your ruling means that I shall have to give this matter anxious thought. I am sure that all the other Great Britain Members of this Chamber will have to give it anxious thought too.