HC Deb 06 July 1978 vol 953 cc674-841


Order for consideration of Lords amendments read.

4.2 p.m.

Mr. John Stokes (Halesowen and Stourbridge)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As one of those present during the many debates on the Scotland Bill, I must confess that I am somewhat at sea about the procedure to be followed today and in the remaining two days under the new timetable measure.

I believe that it would be most helpful to the House, before we start our debates on this very complicated matter—I have some if not all of the remarks made in the other place, which we shall have to consider—to know a little beforehand what subjects are coming up. I realise of course, Mr. Speaker, that you cannot read out the list of all amendments to be called, but, if you are able at the start of the day to give an indication of some of the subjects to be discussed, it will enable us to do some homework before we take part in the debate.

Mr. Francis Pym (Cambridgeshire)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. With your help, may I ask the Government whether they will indicate to the House which Lords amendments they intend to recommend should be accepted by the House and which should be rejected? Until last night I had thought—mistakenly, as I then discovered—that it would be necessary for the Government to put down a motion to disagree with the Lords on a particular amendment. Of course, that is not so.

Last night I received a letter from the Minister of State indicating what the Government intended to do, and I am grateful to him for helping me in that respect. Until then, I had expected that the House would have been in the same state of knowledge today, but that is not so. The House does not know what the Government's intentions are because there is nothing to show this on the Order Paper. I believe that it would be convenient if we had this knowledge.

Therefore, with your help, Mr. Speaker, may I ask the Minister whether he can say, first, why it was that on this occasion, unlike many previous occasions, the practice of putting such a motion on the Order Paper was not followed? Secondly, will he indicate to the House what his intentions are?

The Minister of State, Privy Council Office (Mr. John Smith)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. The guillotine motion and the Government's behaviour in dealing with it are in accordance with what has been done on previous occasions, although, no doubt, there have been various approaches by Governments in different circumstances. I am willing to assist the House as much as I can in this matter so that we may have as orderly a debate as possible. The right hon. Gentleman indicated in the exchanges the other day that he had perhaps found a difficulty, and that was why I responded by writing to him as I did.

Perhaps the most convenient way to proceed would be that, when we come to each compartment of the debate, I should indicate at the beginning which amendments within that compartment the Government would recommend the House to accept.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (West Lothian)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. If the Opposition Front Bench is told what amendments are to be accepted, why on a matter of this kind cannot Back Benchers on both sides be given equal information? I do not make any complaint about the Minister of State telling the Opposition Front Bench, because that is the courteous thing to do. I should have thought, however, that the same information could have been made available to Back Benchers.

Secondly—[Interruption.]—on the question of betting and gaming, I should like to return to the issue that I raised with my right hon. Friend the Lord President.[Interruption.] The issue of betting and gaming seems to be an especially complex subject. It would involve a great deal of work if the Government were not to accept the motion in the Lords that was put forward in the names of my noble Friend Lord Wigg and others. This is a very important matter—

Mr. Speaker


Mr. Dalyell

I cannot sit down as I should when you rise, Mr. Speaker, because the Bench has been soiled by some of the offensive matter that has iust been thrown from the Public Gallery.

Mr. Speaker

Then perhaps the hon. Gentleman will sit a little further along. I am asking, unusually, for one of the attendants to be allowed into the Chamber while we are sitting to clear up the mess on the Floor as well as on some of the Benches. I am all right here, but I was very anxious for the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner). He was only just missed. Will the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) now bring his point of order to a conclusion?

Mr. Dalyell

My final point is that Lord Allen of Abbeydale made clear that in his considered view, as in the considered view of the previous chairman of the Gaming Board, Sir Stanley Raymond, it was highly dangerous to devolve betting and gaming. He was not actually a newcomer to the Gaming Board when he gave evidence to the Royal Commission. He had been permanent secretary at the Home Office, the Department responsible for betting and gaming, and can therefore be presumed to know a great deal about—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I think that tt is in the interests of the House if I suspend the sitting for 15 minutes to enable the mess to be dealt with.

4.9 p.m.

Sitting suspended.

4.29 p.m.

On resuming

Mr. Speaker

I shall make a brief statement later in the day about the incident that caused me to suspend the sitting.

I call the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) to conclude his point of order.

Mr. Dalyell

I was referring to the serious issue of the possibility of debating properly betting and gaming, in light of the fact that Lord Allen, chairman of the Gaming Board, has said that it is highly dangerous to devolve betting and gaming.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, may we possibly have injury time for consideration of Lords amendments, on possibly a fourth day of such consideration? That might be to the advantage of the House.

Mr. Speaker

The House has already taken its decision.

Mr. John Smith

One perhaps unforeseen side benefit of the suspension is that the right hon. and learned Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton) approached me to ask whether we could make available the letter which I sent to the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) indicating the amendments which the Government were minded to accept and make them more widely available to the House. I have had it photocopied and copies are available in the Vote Office.

Mr. Pym

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for taking that trouble. I am sure that that will be for the convenience of the House. There are, in fact, 36 amendments which the Government are intending to recommend the House to accept, and it is of some interest that all but four of them are amendments which were conceded by the Government in another place or amendments actually moved by the Government in another place in response to strong representations. I ask the Minister of State whether he could do the same next week so that the House might have the advantage of knowing what is intended for the remaining two days of the debate, which I understand will take place the week after next.

Mr. Smith

I shall certainly consider what the right hon. Gentleman has said.


5.26 p.m.

Mr. Speaker

I ask the leave of the House to make a very brief statement.

I have to inform the House that a man and a woman were taken into custody by the Serjeant at Arms in connection with the recent disturbance in the Gallery this afternoon. I take a serious view of this, and I have directed that they be given into the custody of the civil police.

Lords amendments considered.

  1. Clause 1
    1. cc677-747
    2. THE SCOTTISH ASSEMBLY 26,865 words, 3 divisions
  2. Clause 15
    1. cc747-77
  3. Clause 19
    1. cc777-83
    2. SCRUTINY OF ASSEMBLY BILLS 2,091 words, 1 division
  4. Clause 20
    1. cc783-815
    2. THE SCOTTISH EXECUTIVE 12,440 words, 2 divisions
  5. Clause 26
    1. cc815-41
    2. COMMITTEES 10,309 words, 1 division
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