HC Deb 02 February 1977 vol 925 cc571-2

Considered in Committee [Progress, 1st February].

[Sir MYER GALPERN in the Chair]

4.25 p.m.

The First Deputy Chairman

We come to the first group of amendments.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)

On a point of order, Sir Myer. It will be within your recollection and that of other occupants of the Chair that yesterday great difficulty was experienced over the powers of this Parliament in a devolved situation. This matter was constantly raised yesterday by myself and the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison). Indeed, this matter has been raised time and again by those of us who have heard practically every speech in this Committee.

May I appeal to you, Sir Myer, for an authoritative legal ruling to be made, either by the Lord Advocate or the Attorney-General, so that we may resolve a doubtful and complex situation? This matter is of great importance for the understanding of Members as to the progress of the Bill and is a matter of considerable substance. I speak as somebody who genuinely does not know what is the legal position, and I feel that the time has come for an authoritative legal ruling.

The First Deputy Chairman

I am sorry that the Chair cannot help the hon. Gentleman. However, the Minister of State, Privy Council Office, is present and he has heard the hon. Gentleman's remarks. I must leave the matter to the Department that is responsible for the Bill.

Mr. Cranley Onslow (Woking)

In the absence of the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton), in whose name Amendment No. 97 stands—obviously he and many other Members of the Labour Benches appear to have lost interest in the Bill—may I seek to move that amendment in order to allow the debate to proceed?

The First Deputy Chairman

We have not yet reached that stage. It was intimated to me that the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton) would not be present and that the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) would move the amendment.

Mr. Onslow

If you had not called me, Sir Myer, I would have approached the matter by prefacing my remarks with the phrase "On a point of order".

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