§ Considered in Committee [Progress, 26th January].
§ [Sir MYER GALPERN in the Chair]
§ 4.8 p.m.
§ Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)
On a point of order, Sir Myer. While the first group of amendments is being discussed, would you be willing to give further consideration to the selection of amendments in the group headed by No. 575 and consider whether the provisional selection might be the subject of a little further thought?
The new clause which has been tabled by the Opposition Front Bench could have effect only if the overall size of the House were reduced—that is, if the Speaker's Conference recommended a reduction in the number of Scottish and Welsh Members in the House. Would that not be going well beyond the scope of the Bill?
My right hon., hon. Friends and I tabled an amendment seeking to avoid that difficulty by ensuring that the seats taken from Scotland and Wales could, by a general redistribution, be allocated to other under-represented areas such as Northern Ireland. If we vote on the selected new clause, but on none of the amendments to it, hon. Members who do not wish the membership of this House to be reduced will be in difficulties.
If it is argued that the amendment to provide for a redistribution is out of order, it is difficult, to see how the new clause could be in order, and perhaps that is what the Prime Minister meant when he said at Question Time today that it would be outside the scope of the Bill. Surely we should be able to meet this point by a general redistribution and not by simply reducing the size of the membership of the House.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Down, South)
Further to that point of order, Sir Myer. I should like to support the plea made to you, or through you to the Chairman of the Committee, by the hon. Member 244 for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) since, as the selection stands, it would be difficult to take into account the representation of this House in other parts of the United Kingdom or the manner in which that representation might be in evitably affected by an alteration in the representation of Scotland and Wales. Since Amendment (a) is only an amendment to a selected new clause, perhaps the hope might be expressed that it would be possible for that amendment to be taken into account in the discussion on the new clause, New Clause 36.
The First Deputy Chairman
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman and the right hon. Gentleman for their points of order. I shall certainly give the matter further consideration and let them know my decision before we reach the discussion on the amendments.