HC Deb 13 January 1977 vol 923 cc1656-7
Mr. Tebbit

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration; namely, the failure of the Government to intervene in The Times industrial dispute, which threatens the freedom of the Press. The facts are known. Last night, one print union at The Times refused to print the newspaper as it had been prepared by the editorial staff because members of that union did not approve of the content of the newspaper. As a result, The Times was censored on such grounds for the first time in its long and distinguished career.

It is clear from the Prime Minister's statement during Question Time that the Government have no intention of acting to protect the freedom of the Press. Further, the question of a Standing Order No. 9 debate may not be raised on Fridays and it is very probable that The Times will not appear again tomorrow.

I ask you, Mr. Speaker, therefore, to rule today that a matter so specific, so urgent and of such great importance as this should have precedence over any other business at present set down for consideration by this House.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter which he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely, the strike at The Times newspaper. As the House knows, under Standing Order No. 9 I am directed to take into account several factors set out in the Order but to give no reasons for my decision. I have listened very carefully to the exchanges this afternoon and the exchanges between the Leader of the Opposition and the Lord President. I have also given careful consideration to the representations by the hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit), but I have to rule that his submission does not fall within the provisions of the Standing Order. Therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House.