HC Deb 22 November 1977 vol 939 cc1321-3


Considered in Committee.

[Mr. OSCAR MURTONin the Chair]

The Chairman

The first group of amendments which has been selected is No. 2.

Mr. Francis Pym (Cambridgeshire)

On a point of order, Mr. Murton. I refer to the second group of amendments below the first line, that is to say, the group which begins with Amendment No. 19 and has a number of other amendments attached to it. May I put it to you, Mr. Murton, that Amendment No. 19 ought to be segregated from that group and listed separately? The point is that Amendment No. 20 and all the others with it relate to the size of the Assembly, the method of election, constituencies and so forth. They can therefore be said to fall together. But Amendment No. 19 is rather different, because it relates to an Assembly the members of which are Members of Parliament for Scottish constituencies. That seems to me to be a fundamentally different point, and I submit that it would be for the convenience of the House and, indeed, altogether appropriate, that it should be taken separately.

The Chairman

In answer to the submission by the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym), I point out that I looked very carefully at the amendment in the name of the right hon. Member for Renfrewshire, East (Miss Harvie Anderson) and her hon. Friends on the question whether I would be in order in taking this amendment separately from the group. But, after very deep thought on this matter, I came to the conclusion that it must be to the advantage of the Committee to discuss the whole group together, because of the limited time which is available to the Committee for dealing with these several matters.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)

On a further point of order, Mr. Murton. I have given notice of this point of order. I know that you will have given careful consideration, in your usual way, to Amendment No. 1, but I ask you to reflect on this decision. Adding the words "and England" after "Scotland" is, in our submission, not a matter of opinion or a matter of judgment but a matter of accurate fact Those of us who put forward this amendment hold that a novel principle has been introduced, that is, the power of speaking and, above all, voting money without responsibility, that 71 Scots mongrel Members of the House of Commons, as we would put it, would have in deciding the most delicate issues of English politics without having anylocus, any more than English Members would have in relation to some matters in Scottish constituencies.

I do not want to elaborate on the so-called West Lothian question, but let no one imagine that such a situation would not alter the very basis of the way in which England is governed. I ask you, therefore, for the sake of truthfulness, to accept that Amendment No. 1 might be considered.

The Chairman

I should like to thank the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) for the courteous manner in which he has advanced his argument. I fully acknowledge the strength of feeling which the hon. Member attaches to the importance of this amendment but, nevertheless, after very careful consideration I have decided that I ought not to select the amendment standing in his name and in the names of his hon. Friends the Members for Pontypool (Mr. Abse) and Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham).

Mr. George Cunningham (Islington, South and Finsbury)

On a point of order, Mr. Murton. Can you help us by telling us what your intentions are with regard to the calling of Divisions on amendments which are attached to the first amendment stated in each group?

The Chairman

I am perfectly prepared to consider representations as they are made when the time approaches.

Mr. Cunningham

Further to that point of order, Mr. Murton. Does that mean that if one wanted to have a Division on an amendment which was grouped with another amendment but not coming first on the list, it would be necessary to bring the vote on the first amendment to a conclusion so that the second amendment can be moved before we run out of guillotine time? Am I right?

The Chairman


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