HC Deb 24 July 1978 vol 954 cc1287-8

Mr. Robert Sheldon accordingly presented a Bill to apply a sum out of the Consolidated Fund to the service of the year ending on 31st March 1979 to appropriate the supplies granted in this Session of Parliament, and to repeal certain Consolidated Fund and Appropriation Acts: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time tomorrow and to be printed. [Bill 183.]

Mr. Michael English (Nottingham, West)

I wish, Mr. Speaker, to raise a point of order, of which I have given you notice. What is happening is an illustra- tion of what an unmitigated farce our financial procedures are. In two minutes we have approved the expenditure of £26,236,313,000.

Mr. Thomas Swain (Derbyshire, North-East)

As much as I owe.

Mr. English

We are not allowed to discuss these resolutions, because we shall not be allowed to discuss them when the Bill is put before the House. When the Bill reaches its Committee stage, we shall be told, I believe—you will correct me if I am wrong, Mr. Speaker—that we may not amend it in Committee.

There are 29 days upon which in theory Supply resolutions such as we have just approved may be discussed, but that is at the Opposition's behest. If the Opposition Front Bench chooses not to have the resolutions discussed, Mr. Speaker, you are obliged to put them as you just have They are undebatable and unamendable, and we can merely approve them. In my view, Mr. Speaker, that is a farce.

Mr. Speaker

That is a very interesting point of order. I take note of what the hon. Gentleman has said.

Mr. Norman Tebbit (Chingford)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker, I think that what the hon. Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English) has said is not quite correct. If he had been here last year for the Committee stage of the Consolidated Fund Bill, he would be aware that the Bill was discussed for seven or eight hours, as I recollect. A number of matters were discussed in considerable detail while hon. Members remained in order. Therefore, if the hon. Gentleman has a desire to discuss these matters, and the wit to do it while remaining in order, he could no doubt do so.

Mr. Englishrose

Mr. Speaker

Order. I do not take it kindly if anybody provokes other points of order.

Mr. English

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Would you perhaps correct me? As I understand it, the only amendment in order in Committee on this Bill is an amendment to delete the word "may".

Mr. Speaker

We shall deal with that when we come to it