HC Deb 27 April 1978 vol 948 cc1801-10

Order for consideration of Lords Amendments read.

11.12 p.m.

Mr. Speaker

Before the House enters upon consideration of the Lords amendments to this Bill, it is my duty to point out that Amendments Nos. 10 to 12 inclusive impose a charge which, under our Standing Orders, requires to be sanctioned by a Money Resolution moved by a Minister of the Crown. No resolution has been agreed to.

I have to tell the House that in these circumstances a decision to agree to these amendments would be absolutely unprecedented. Indeed, Standing Orders Nos. 89 and 90, which govern our procedures in this matter, are so unquestioningly observed that I do not think that the House can properly discuss any amendment which contravenes them.

In view of this, although it is clear that the House must come to a decision on Amendments Nos. 10 to 12, I can see no way in which a debate on them could conceivably be in order. Without, therefore, in any way passing judgment on the merits of the amendments, I believe that I have no option open to me when we reach these amendments but to call on the Minister to disagree with the Lords in these amendments and, when he has done so, to put the Question without further ado.

I hope that the House will see, from what I have said, the extreme desirability of disagreeing to the amendments. The House will, however, have noted that Amendments Nos. 1, 2, 4 and 6 to 8 inclusive concern schemes which are linked with the amendments to which I have referred. These six amendments do not, however, directly involve a charge and do not in themselves infringe privilege. The six amendments are grouped separately and may, therefore, be debated in the usual way if the House so wishes. But I shall strongly deprecate any reference, other than purely incidental, during that debate, to Amendments Nos. 10 to 12.

Mr. Norman Lamont (Kingston upon Thames)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Of course, in no way do I question your ruling, but for future in- stances is it not important to make clear that, in so far as there is a clash between the two Houses, this is a clash entirely of the Government's making? It would have been open to them to put down a subsidiary Money Resolution, precisely as happened with the Housing (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill 1969–70, the Maplin Development Bill 1972–73, the Oil in Navigable Waters Bill 1970–71, the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill 1970–71 and the Employment Protection Bill 1974–75, though I realise that they have decided not to do that.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member is right, but there is no Money Resolution to govern these amendments and this House must assert its own authority.

Mr. David Hunt (Wirral)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I ask for clarification of your ruling on one point in particular? This is an enabling scheme which does not deal with specific sums of money. It enables the Secretary of State to make schemes for providing financial assistance to employees of shipbuilding—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I am much obliged for the hon. Member's help but I have gone into this very carefully. The last three amendments make a charge which only this House is entitled to make. It is the right of this House that the Money Resolution must be observed. I must say that it would be the first time in centuries if the House did not take the advice that I have given it tonight.

Lords amendments considered.

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