HC Deb 14 June 1977 vol 933 c249
Mr. Wigley

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am very grateful to be able to raise this point of order, which may be also a point of privilege. I am glad to see that the Lord President is in the Chamber to hear it.

I wish to raise the subject of the protection of Back Benchers of small parties and the time that they spend on Committee meetings in the House. This practice has developed particularly in recent weeks. For someone in a small party, such as my own, who wants to be present for as many debates as possible in this Chamber, there is considerable difficulty when Committees choose to meet in the evenings rather than in the mornings.

Some Committees deliberately choose not to meet in the mornings, and the reasons given for this may suggest a matter of privilege. For example, on the Finance Bill Committee the reasons given for meeting only in the evenings is that that is more convenient for outside advisers. What it means is that it is more convenient for those who advise Members of the Conservative Party. That situation makes it impossible for people like me to be upstairs in Committee and at the same time participating in debates in the Chamber.

Surely Committees should meet where-ever possible in the mornings first and thereafter in the evenings.

Mr. Speaker

I allowed the hon. Member to state his case, but I must point out that the responsibility for the arrangement of the business of the House and of Committees does not lie with me. That responsibility lies elsewhere.