HC Deb 03 July 1978 vol 953 cc30-2
Mr. Brittan

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wish to raise the intolerable situation that has arisen in relation to the handling of the Scotland Bill later this week. Tomorrow evening the House will be asked to pass a further timetable motion on the Scotland Bill, yet the arrangements that the Government wish to put to the House for dividing the time that will be made available if that motion is passed are still not available to the House.

What is worse, it is proposed, whether the timetable motion is passed or not, that on Thursday the House should consider Lords amendments to the Scotland Bill. That means that if amendments to those amendments are not to be starred, they have to be put down by tomorrow—but the Lords Amendments are not available in the Vote Office today.

This attempt to bulldoze these measures through the House is unacceptable. Can anything be done to enable the House to have the necessary documentation in time for proper consideration and for amendments to be put down in time?

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Michael Foot)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I fully understand the desire of the House that the motion should be on the Order Paper and that the House should have proper time to consider it. We shall be putting it down today.

The hon. and learned Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan) should be a little less impatient. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Because if he looked up what happened on some previous Lords amendments to various measures he would discover that we are acting in conformity with what has been the practice on previous occasions. That is why he should be a little more careful about using such words as "intolerable" and "unacceptable".

Of course we want to make the motion available for hon. Members to consider. Of course we shall be able to consider it properly tomorrow. The hon. and learned Gentleman should not cast aspersions on the way in which we shall be able to proceed with the matter on Thursday. We are seeking to deal with the whole question. We want to get the motion on the Order Paper today. If the hon. and learned Gentleman will spend the afternoon looking up what previous Goverments have done in such matters he will discover that we are acting in full accordance with the timetables that prevailed on previous occasions.

Mr. Brittan

When will the Lords amendments be available?

Mr. Speaker

Order. We cannot debate that matter now. Mr. Rooker, on a point of order.

Sir David Renton

Further to the point of order raised by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan)—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) gave me notice of a point of order. I shall come back to the right hon. and learned Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton).


Sir David Renton

Further to the point of order raised by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Cleveland and Whitby (Mr. Brittan), I wonder whether the Leader of the House could help us further in this matter. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that we cannot either sensibly prepare our own amendments to the Lords amendments or form a judgment on the timetable motion which the Government are to table until we know what are to be the Government's amendments to the Lords amendments. When will they be tabled?

Mr. English

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Can you refresh my memory? Am I correct in believing that their Lordships are entirely responsible for delivering their decisions to this House? Is it not true that they have about 260 amendments, not 150 as has been reported, and is it possible that the delay in our receiving their amendments is not unintentional?

Mr. Speaker

It is clear that I cannot answer these questions on points of order. I cannot refresh the memory of the hon. Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English). He had better look to another source.