HC Deb 01 February 1977 vol 925 cc230-2
Mr. Speaker

Yesterday, the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham)raised a point of order relating to Speaker's Conferences with special reference to the Scotland and Wales Bill. He asked for my comments on certain amendments, and I assume that he had Amendment No. 575 and New Clause 36 in mind.

The hon. Gentleman was, of course, quite right when he said that I had no locus in relation to what went on in Committee. Nevertheless, I have the same opportunity as the rest of the House in seeing selection lists circulated under the authority of the Chairman of Ways and Means, and I note that those two amendments have in fact been selected by the Chairman. I imagine that it is possible that they will come before the Committee of the whole House today.

However, I cannot respond to the hon. Gentleman's invitation to comment either upon Clause 3 of the Bill or upon any amendment to the clause. It would be quite improper for me to do so. It is for the House to decide how to resolve this matter without any advice from me. I am the servant of the House and if any task were to be placed upon me by statute, as the hon. Gentleman said yesterday, it would be my duty to carry it out to the best of my ability. I am afraid that I can say no more.

Mr. George Cunningham

Since I raised the matter yesterday, perhaps I might remind vou, Mr. Speaker, that the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) intervened after I had spoken to make the point that the amendments would not in fact oblige you to set up a Speaker's Conference. Therefore, I suggest that there is still a point here in that, whether or not these amendments were passed, the situation would remain as it is at the moment and you might get a request from the Prime Minister in the normal way to set up a Speaker's Conference for the purpose of considering the representation of Scotland and Wales in this House.

If you were to receive such a request, could we be sure that you would not accede to it before you had the opportunity to hear the views of the House on whether that was the appropriate mechanism to consider the matter, bearing in mind especially that we have no control over whether you accede to such a request. After all, a Speaker's Conference has nothing to do with us. It is not a Committee of the House. It is your own private Committee. I never know where the money comes from for it.

I hope that, somehow or other, you will find yourself able to respond to my question.

Mr. Speaker

I am afraid that I cannot commit myself on a hypothetical situation which might arise, but I have, of course, taken note of the hon. Gentleman's remarks.