HC Deb 07 February 1979 vol 962 cc400-1
Mr. Ian Lloyd

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration.

I must first apologise, Mr. Speaker, for not having given notice of this matter before 12 noon, but I was informed only minutes ago of the following item which appears on the PA tapes. Under the heading "Strikes panel" there is the following item: Secret plans to 'paralyse' a major centre in the South were drawn up by public service unions today. Mr. Shaun Hilliard, a NUPE official, said the area was in Hampshire, but he would not say where. Men operating all public services, including sewerage pumps, would be involved over several days. Action would also cover ambulance drivers and hospital workers. 'We are going to paralyse this one particular centre,' said Mr. Hilliard. He was speaking after a meeting of officials of public service unions, at Winchester, Hampshire. It was also announced that industrial action elsewhere in the South was to be stepped up, hitting refuse services, and there would be more selective strikes by school caretakers. I submit that this is a specific matter in that an individual named in the press release has announced that a decision appears to have been taken to paralyse a major centre of urban population. Nothing could be more specific than that. I believe that it will be the view of the whole House, irrespective of views, party or otherwise, that this is an important matter. Any announced decision of this kind which will paralyse and deprive a major centre of population of its important social public services cannot be other than important.

In my view, this matter is more important than any item of business—I say this in all humility—that remains to be dealt with by the House this week. Therefore, I hope that it will be given specific consideration.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member for Havant and Waterloo (Mr. Lloyd) gave me notice as soon as he could, which was when the announcement was made at 2.35 this afternoon, that he would seek leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration.

I listened with considerable care to the hon. Gentleman. The House will know that there are many important matters on which it is not possible for me to grant emergency debates. The House has asked me to give no reasons for my decision, but I have to rule that the hon. Gentleman's submission does not fall within the provisions of the Standing Order. Therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House.

Mr. Viggers

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it in order to ask, through you, whether a Minister could be present tomorrow to report on steps which have been taken to co-ordinate Government effort should the threat outlined by my hon. Friend the Member for Havant and Waterloo (Mr. Lloyd) be carried out? This is an unprecedented threat which requires unprecedented action, and certainly a statement tomorrow without fail.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman's point of order will have been heard and, no doubt, noted.