HC Deb 23 July 1979 vol 971 cc59-105

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Speaker

Order. I shall not pursue by point of order the business that we have already dealt with. We are moving now to the motion on business of the House.

Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston-upon-Hull, Central)

On a point of order—

Mr. Speaker

I am not pursuing any more points of order on the question with which we were dealing before the Bill was presented. I shall call the hon. Gentleman's manuscript amendment to the business motion in a moment.

Mr. McNamara

I am grateful for that information, Mr. Speaker. But I had a point of order which I hoped would be of help to hon. Members, and which does not arise out of the matter of Harland and Wolff, even though I feel seriously about that. It was about matters that I tried to take up with you this morning, by private notice question. You rightly—

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman is out of order in referring to the fact that he submitted a private notice question to me. That is not done, and everyone knows it.

Mr. McNamara

In that case, Mr. Speaker, I apologise to you and the House. But could you help the House? If an hon. Member has a point that he wishes to put by way of a private notice question and you, in the exercise of your discretion, rule it out of order or do not accept it, notice of your decision will not be given until after 12 o'clock. The hon. Member could have pursued another course of action—that of seeking to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9. The difference is that if one asks a question one hopes for an answer, whereas if one seeks to move the Adjournment under Standing Order No. 9 one merely makes a case, and the decision whether to put the matter to the House is again at your discretion, Mr. Speaker.

My point is that if one seeks to proceed under Standing Order No. 9 one will not know until one is in the House whether the application will be accepted. That application must also be in before 12 o'clock, just as the private notice ques- tion must be. As one does not know until after that hour whether the private notice question has been accepted, one is on a sort of Morton's Fork. If any other hon. Member is suddenly faced with the problem of 1,000 unemployed and wishes to take either of those courses, which will be the best one for him to pursue to make sure that he can air the matter on the Floor of the House and obtain an answer from the Government?

Mr. Speaker

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for raising this matter. It is up to every hon. Member to decide for himself whether he chooses to submit a private notice question, hoping that it will be called, or whether he will seek leave under Standing Order No. 9 to move the Adjournment of the House. The hon. Gentleman is quite right. If he submits a private notice question and it is not accepted, it is then too late for him to submit his application under Standing Order No. 9, because it must be done before 12 o'clock, if the subject matter is in his knowledge then. But he must make up his mind which course he thinks is best for himself.

We come to the business motion.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Keighley)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

Is it on business that we have already dealt with?

Mr. Cryer

Not directly, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

I am not going back to the question of the written answer.

Mr. Cryer

It is not on the question of the written answer, Mr. Speaker. It is on the matter of statements. I have raised this subject with you before. How can the House alter a situation which has been complained about for at least the past five years, with nothing having been done about it, whereby statements are made to the House by Ministers without the necessary accompanying documentation?

I refer to the fact that members of the press have copies of the statement, and certain other people are apparently picked out to receive copies. Why cannot copies of a ministerial statement be available at the Vote Office at 3.30 p.m.? If the suggestion that I made the week before last had been followed, the whole mess that the House got into over the lack of information from the Department of Industry last week would have been avoided, and the mess that the House got into today would have been avoided, because it would have become a convention of the House that all the relevant written material would be available in the Vote Office.

I understand that written statements are made available to members of the press in order that they may make a judgment upon them and prepare a short synopsis. Surely, Members of Parliament, who have important interests to represent, should have at least equal status with the press. What can we do to improve the position?

Mr. Speaker

This is a matter for the usual channels to resolve. It is not a matter for me. The hon. Gentleman should pursue it with the usual channels.

Mr. Arthur Lewis (Newham, North-West)

On another point of order, Mr. Speaker. I think that the business motion that you are trying to call is debatable. If so, I wish to give notice that I should like to debate it.

Mr. Speaker

I am very much obliged. I do not know for whom I am speaking when I say that.

Mr. A. W. Stallard (St. Pancras, North)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I seek your guidance on a constitutional point? In reply to questions and points of order about the shipyard business a few minutes ago, the Minister of State, Department of Industry, said that he had no authority to deal with anything except British yards. Am I to infer, therefore, that the Government have now relinquished sovereignty over Harland and Wolff? Do I further infer, Mr. Speaker, that by your condoning that statement we have accepted as a nation that we no longer have sovereignty over Harland and Wolff and that it is not British?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman's first point is not for me. As for his second, he is not right to draw any conclusion whatsoever.

Motion made and Question proposed, That, at this day's sitting, Standing Order No. 3 shall apply to the motion relating to the Appropriation (No. 2) (Northern Ireland) Order with the substitution of half-past Two o'clock or four and a half hours after it has been entered upon, whichever is the later, for the provisions in paragraph (b) of the Standing Order.—[Mr. MacGregor.]

Mr. Speaker

I have selected a manuscript amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara), to leave out from "sitting" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof the motion relating to the Appropriation (No. 2) (Northern Ireland) Order may be proceeded with until any hour.

4.50 p.m.

Mr. Kevin McNamara (Kingston upon Hull, Central)

I start by expressing my gratitude to you Mr. Speaker, for using your discretion to accept my amendment. Its effect would be to ensure that rather than finishing at 2.30 a.m., or 3 a.m., if there is a Division at 10 p.m. on the Competition Bill, we would go forward with our debate for the rest of the day.

I shall move the amendment for a variety of reasons. It would have been easy merely to oppose the Government's motion and vote on it. Had they won, the debate would have been limited to one and a half hours, which would have been intolerable. That would, however, be only a little more intolerable than the position that we are in at present.

When the business of the House was announced on the Thursday before last we were told that we were to have Northern Ireland orders debated today. I admit that we were not promised that we would have Northern Ireland orders exclusively. I remember the hon. Member for Epping Forest (Mr. Biggs-Davison) congratulating the Government when we discussed the emergency provisions legislation for ensuring that, at last, the House had been given a proper time to discuss Northern Ireland business. We were given two whole days to discuss the affairs of the Six Counties.

It does not matter what one regards as being the future constitutional position of the Six Counties, the proper constitutional arrangement for the island of Ireland or the relationship of mainland Great Britain with the Six Counties or the Republic of Ireland. One's attitude on those matters does not affect the importance of the fact that we should properly discuss the affairs of the Six Counties of Northern Ireland which are part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

I criticised my own Government for being too keen on occasions to put down orders affecting Northern Ireland for debate on Friday afternoons, when hon. Members often have constituency engagements, or last thing on a Thursday night when hon. Members are rushing off to catch sleepers. For a variety of reasons it seemed never to be convenient to have Northern Ireland business on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday.

I was particularly pleased, therefore, with the decision of the Administration to take the orders before the House on a Monday afternoon. Whether we like it or not, the involvement of the British Army in the Six Counties, the enormous cost of adminstering the Six Counties, the special arrangements made in terms of organising the administration of the Province, the fact that it is the only part of the United Kingdom with a land frontier with a foreign Power, the fact that that frontier creates problems of trade and security and the fact that in the whole of Ireland the Six Counties are the only place where we have urban and rural guerrillas, of whatever type, are all sound and important reasons why we should have longer to debate the orders.

It was with considerable regret that many of my hon. Friends and I heard that arrangements had been made for the business to be taken after the debate on the Competition Bill. It seemed to me that, in those circumstances, we should ensure that if we could not have a proper debate during the day we should at least have an open-ended debate during the night so that any hon. Member who could reasonably expect to be in his place to catch the eye of the occupant of the Chair would be able to contribute to a debate on one of the most important problems within our islands. Hon. Members with information and knowledge that they wish to impart to the House should have the opportunity to do so, untrammelled by the guillotine of time.

We should be able to voice our opinions on the use of the Appropriation order, the Votes and grants in aid contained in it. We should also be able to follow what has become the custom on such occasions and have a general look at the economy of Northern Ireland and discuss the many problems associated with it.

I think that all hon. Members would agree that the security position makes economic problems of Northern Ireland, bad though they are and have been, infinitely worse and harder to resolve by any well-meaning Government, whether Tory or Labour. The House should debate the matter fully and properly.

We are to have four and a half hours to debate the Appropriation order. If we allow nearly one hour for the Front Bench speakers, that leaves each of the 12 Northern Ireland Members 18.33 minutes to discuss the problems of the Province. Even if we distributed the time of the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maguire) among his 11 colleagues in the Six Counties, they would still have only 20 minutes each for their speeches.

But it is not just a Northern Ireland problem; it is a British problem. It is a matter about which hon. Members have a right to voice opinions. It concerns the use of British troops, the spending of British wealth, and our whole constitutional future. We have a right, indeed, a duty, to speak for the English, Scottish and Welsh constituencies about the problems of Northern Ireland and how they affect us and our constituencies.

When one considers how much time is available for the debate, it is clear that it will be impossible for us to have a worthwhile and meaningful discussion of the problems. My hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt), even given his bird's eye view of Irish history and the economic problems of West Belfast—let alone those of the rest of Belfast—would find it difficult to get in all his comments within half an hour.

The hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley)—who, unfortunately, is not here at the moment; presumably he is organising a committee to welcome the Pope to Northern Ireland—

Mr. Gerard Fitt (Belfast, West)

He is visiting Rome.

Mr. McNamara

—would find it difficult to speak within 15 minutes. I would not criticise my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West or the hon. Member for Antrim, North or any other Member from Northern Ireland for taking longer than half an hour to discuss the problems of their troubled Province, because the time available to them is severely limited and it adds insult to injury if the debate is not only taken at night but under a guillotine as well.

Among the matters that we should have to talk about in the four and a half hours is the question of a number of grants in aid—for example, assistance to the gas industry in Northern Ireland. I understand that there is a written answer today which will only be to the knowledge of the Members for Northern Ireland lucky enough to be here and go to the board. I understand that the reply talks about the complete withdrawal of support to the Northern Ireland gas industry. That matter alone would take a great deal of time to discuss.

My right hon. Friends on the Front Bench will remember the discussions and the great pressures that they were under. Perhaps the Labour Government would still have been in power if they had been willing to build an undersea pipeline to take North Sea gas to the Six Counties. Now, however, Northern Ireland is not even to get that. Aid to the gas industry there is to be withdrawn.

As part of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland has a great problem with the supply of gas for both domestic and industrial use. The gas industry was supported—as a Socialist, I believe it to have been proper support—in order to help both industrial and domestic users in Northern Ireland. Now the answer about the withdrawal of aid has ben slipped in by sleight of hand to the privileged Members for Northern Ireland. It has not been given to the remainder of hon. Members. Thus, it appears that we have two classes of Members, one from Northern Ireland and one from the rest of the United Kingdom, and that certain hon. Members will be privy to information for debate while others will not, or at least will not be able to get it without going to a great deal of trouble and time-consuming effort to find out where it is, where it is coming from and what are its possible implications.

Mr. Robert Maclennan (Caithness and Sutherland)

Is my hon. Friend aware that the practice of which he is complaining—with complete justification—illustrates a general practice which appears to be growing under this Government? It is that of making certain Members, selected by the Government, privy to information in advance of Members of the House as a whole. The example that my hon. Friend is giving follows hard on the heels of last week's announcement on regional policy. Is it not wholly unacceptable for members of the Government to pick and choose which Members they will pass information to prior to or concurrently with the making of a statement?

Mr. McNamara

I am grateful for that observation. It seems that there are two classes of Member. Only today the Leader of the House spoke about those to whom answers had been sent. I am informed by the hon. Member for Armagh (Mr. McCusker) that the information which he was told had been sent to him was being delivered to the board as he went out to get it. It is a strange way to govern a democracy, yet it is a practice from which Back Benchers suffer greatly. I may add that the situation reflects not only on the present Government; we suffered the same sort of problems under the Labour Government. But that does not make the matter easier.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

The trouble is that the present Government got the same civil servants and the same advisers, and of course they carry out their advice.

Mr. McNamara

If one believes that the present Government are weak and spineless, because of their policies, that shows how robust and strong the Labour Government were, because they did not carry out the disastrous policies on regional assistance and job maintenance that the present Government are carrying out.

Earlier today we had the statement on shipbuilding. In reply to the hon. Member for Armagh the Minister making the statement—obviously only an office boy because he was not privy to the Cabinet decision and did not know how it had been reached—said that the Secretary of State would make a statement later on Harland and Wolff. After a flurry on the Government Bench that was amended to say that there would be a written answer to a question. Unless we had pursued the point we would have been at a complete loss about the situation. But we are still at a loss, because the Government refused the suggestion by my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Foot) that it might be a good idea and good policy for the Government to make a statement about Harland and Wolff in the House. As a result, if we have only the time allocated by the Government for the Northern Ireland debate today, a great deal of it will be taken up pursuing the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland about the future of Harland and Wolff.

The future of the shipyard is not just a question of jobs or of the internal economic balance within Northern Ireland. It is the major employer in the East Belfast area. That is an area from which I would not normally expect a great deal of political support, but I have great sympathy for the people there if they are to be faced with a sudden job loss and a sudden threat to their standard of living. Like the rest of Belfast, the area suffers from partition, and from the presence of armed troops on the streets, with a police force grappling for the respect of the community. Suddenly to have foisted upon it a great deal of unemployment and short-time working, with all the uncertainty about apprenticeships and employment prospects for young people, and for us to have only four and half hours in which to debate even that one item, is to create a dangerous situation.

For a start, there will be very few scribes in the Press Gallery to record the concern that hon. Members feel about the matter. Little time and opportunity will be given to my hon. Friends to express their feelings about the relationship of Harland and Wolff to British Shipbuilders. There were those of us who argued during the period of office of the previous Government, against the wishes of many Northern Ireland Members, that Harland and Wolff should not be part of British Shipbuilders. We felt that its future would be better protected if it were independent, under the Department of Commerce, rather than part of the overall British shipbuilding industry. We felt at that time that Harland and Wolff, on the periphery of these islands, might suffer more drastically and more rapidly than mainland yards if it did not receive special attention. That was not an argument that found a great deal of favour with all hon. Members from Northern Ireland, but it was a matter of considerable importance to hon. Members on the Labour side of the House.

Against the background of the announcement on British Shipbuilders today, and against the background of the written answer about Harland and Wolff, which some hon. Members have not yet had an opportunity properly to read, we should have had more time to discuss this issue. The opportunity is to be denied us. On those two issues, which have been the subject of written answers today and to which I am not yet privy, we have only four and a half hours for discussions. I do not believe, nor, I believe, do many of my hon. Friends, that that will be long enough. It is for that reason that the manuscript amendment in my name was put forward.

Other matters that can be raised, purely and simply, by the nature of this order can take up a great deal of the time that will be spent after 10 p.m. They are matters of controversy that would merit detailed discussion if we were to go into all the principles. I take one at random. Article 2 of the order that we are to discuss says: The Interpretation Act (Northern Ireland) 1954 shall apply to Article 1 and the following provisions of this Order as it applies to a Measure of the Northern Ireland Assembly". Many hon. Members would question the whereabouts of the Northern Ireland Assembly, this strange constitutional creature which disappeared at the time of the Northern Ireland workers' stoppage, but which still seems, in its ordinances and in its declarations, to govern us from the limbo in which it is placed. This raises the whole propriety of the constitutional methods used in discussing Northern Ireland finance. One can envisage a situation later this evening when the House will barely get beyond the two opening speeches from the two Front Benches discussing whether the methods that we are using to debate these matters are proper methods to be used at all. It is perhaps not the happiest way to discuss Northern Ireland and its financial problems against a background of a democratic Assembly that has not met for five years.

A large part of the time could perhaps be devoted to examining better and more expedient methods of discussing how these matters should be debated. My hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West hopes perhaps that one day these matters will be discussed in Dail Eireann. That is a sympathy which I understand and for which I have a large measure of support, provided that it is done by democratic methods.

Other hon. Members would perhaps argue that we should not be discussing this order in this way at all and that the Six Counties should be fully and properly integrated into the United Kingdom. That is not an argument in which I find substance, although other hon. Members might disagree with my view. It is not a course of action that I would recommend to my constituents. But the fact is that we are discussing this order as if it were a measure of the Northern Ireland Assembly. I do not believe that it would be right to allow that matter to go by default in the four and a half hours at our disposal later this evening.

Article 3 contains an important item which in itself would merit that amount of time for debate. It says: The Department of Finance may issue out of the Consolidated Fund and apply towards making good the supply granted to Her Majesty for the service of the year ended on 31st March 1978, the sum of ten pounds. I am sure that Her Majesty can do a lot with £10. I doubt whether it would reach the inflation limits of the previous Government or cover the galloping inflation of the present time.

That, however, is an aside, because we are examining the appropriateness of the time that is being given and the reason why we should be given longer. It is a measure of the contempt in which the Government hold the House that they should have sought to introduce this legislation in a mad rush in one week. It is significant that they are introducing these matters in a shamefaced manner. I have already illustrated to the House how the Government are dealing in a shamefaced manner with some of the problems of Northern Ireland, including the disappearance of the subsidy to the gas industry and the treatment of Harland and Wolff.

But there are other matters that should be discussed. There is the question of the strange behaviour of the baking industry and the arrangements made in regard to Peter Pan bakeries. The baking industry was crying out, on one hand, to the Government for support to keep open the bakery and, on the other, saying that it should be closed because there was too much competition. The industry was telling one story to its workers and another to the Government. It was saying, on the one hand, that it wanted plenty of compensation—

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Richard Crawstaw)

Order. I do not wish to interrupt the hon. Member unduly, but he is making a case for a matter other than that to which he is supposed to be speaking. Will he please return to the subject of the time allocated to this debate?

Mr. McNamara

Thank you for your guidance, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was attempting to indicate to the House some of the topics which appear in the Vote, a number of which require explanation and which I do not believe can be covered properly in the four and a half hours which the Government propose to give the House to debate them. I have been trying to explain certain of the matters contained in the Vote of the Department of Commerce. They include Peter Pan bakeries, Harland and Wolff and the gas industry. I also wanted to explain to the House the problem of Antrim Crystal.

In arguing about the economic policies contained in this Vote for Northern Ireland we are looking not just at budget accounts and trying to balance one set of figures against another but at a social and economic policy against the background of the difficulties in Northern Ireland. To do that in four and a half hours is not fair to right hon. and hon. Members. That is the line of argument that I have been attempting to pursue.

I have also been trying to suggest that what we have illustrated by this policy is a contempt of the House by the Government. They are seeking to bring forward this matter after 10 o'clock, and later this week we are to discuss two orders put forward by the Department of Employment concerning notices of redundancy and various other matters, again after 10 o'clock at night. These, too, are indicative of the Government's attitude.

When I see the Order Papers for Tuesday and Wednesday, if I discover that the Government have tabled motions about the orders I shall be very keen to see whether we shall be limited again to an hour and a half, or whether it will be possible to amend the relevant motions.

There are other matters which we need to discuss. I have already cited the example of gas and how the subsidy is to end. Last year the sum of £9,628,000 was granted for expenditure by the Department of Commerce on Northern Ireland's electricity supply undertaking. That gave rise to the need to question the relationship of the economic policy to the energy policy. If we debate this economic policy, we cannot do so against the background of energy costs because energy in Northern Ireland is very expensive and needs to be supported financially.

Then we have the strange figure of £18 million being spent on the provision of land and buildings, the promotion of tourism and development policy. That is one of the largest sums to be found in the Vote until we come to specific aid to industry of nearly £71 million. That again needs to be discussed, and that cannot be done in four and a half hours.

Another specific matter which we must look at hits at the Government's policy on security and the maintenance of law and order. Right hon. and hon. Members will recall that that weighed very heavily during the recent election campaign.

Class VII deals with expenditure by the Department of the Environment on fire and other protective services. Under the heading "Sums Granted", we see the figure of £4,653,000. Under "Appropriations in Aid", we see a dash—nil. This seems to be a contradiction of the Government's policy. Despite this morning's news and past campaigns involving the burning of buildings and the destruction of property and its increase over the past year there is to be no increase in the sums granted, and we are entitled to ask why the Government are so satisfied with the fire and other protective services that they feel that further money should not be spent on this occasion.

Then we come to Class VIII. That raises other very important problems of a constitutional and democratic nature. Right hon. and hon. Members will be aware that in Northern Ireland there is a system of area education and library boards which are nominated bodies. Looking at the amount of money spent on them, we find that there is more than £200 million one way or the other being spent by appointed boards which are answerable to no one other than themselves or perhaps some remote official in a Government Department. That gives rise to the question of local government and its organisation within the Six Counties of Northern Ireland and whether we should accede to the clamour for the extinction of local government. I believe that we should not because of the abuses which existed before the Macrory reforms and which many of us would not like to see return to these unhappy Six Counties.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Member is touching on all the subjects in the order. I appreciate that. But he is going on to argue as he would do if we were debating the order now. Will he please confine himself to the time proposed to be allocated to the debate?

Mr. McNamara

If we are to discuss that £200 million, we shall need far longer than the four and a half hours allocated to the debate. I do not believe that I have been arguing the case before. I have merely tried to illustrate the two sides of the argument about it and about many of the other factors underlying this seemingly innocuous document of eight pages and these five or six columns of figures. Again, in my view, it is an insult to the House that a major issue of £200 million should have to be debated in four and a half hours. I do not believe that that is good enough.

I move on to Class IX. I shall not seek to illustrate the argument as I did on Class VIII.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

My hon. Friend is arguing that the time for the debate should be extended. Unless he gives me reasons why he feels that it should be extended, I shall not know whether to vote for the motion or for his amendment. I must implore my hon. Friend to give some reasons why I should support the amendment rather than the Government's motion. Even if he does not go into detail I should like to hear why he feels more time should be allocated to the debate.

Mr. Stallard

My hon. Friend will have to start again.

Mr. McNamara

My hon. Friend tempts me, but—ne nos inducas in tentationem—I shall resist the temptation. I obviously do not have the gift of succinct argument to persuade my hon. Friend. Perhaps some of my hon. Friends will persuade him of the value of the course of action that I urge.

The hon. Member for Armagh—from a sedentary position—has said that the same argument about democratic control applies to Class X as applied to Class IX and that is true. However, there is a distinction between the Six Counties and the rest of Britain. The health and hospital services here are to undergo surgery which may make them more representative.

In Britain we can regularly question the Ministers responsible for the Department of Health and Social Security about the administration of the service. It could be argued that the same opportunity lies with hon. Members for Northern Ireland, but there is an important distinction. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is merely one in a queue of Ministers and he replies for the whole gamut of Government Departments in Northern Ireland. The United Kingdom Minister, on his one day, answers merely for the sins and omissions of his own Department.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Stockport, North)

The Secretary of State for Social Services has one advantage. He comes on at 2.30 and not in the middle of the night.

Mr. McNamara

There have been occasions when it might have been better if the Minister had never come on at all. My hon. Friend has made a valid point.

When looking at the strange question of administration, we find that expenditure on the Northern Ireland Assembly is to be increased by £19,000. I am at a loss to know why we are spending money on an Assembly to pass measures when that Assembly does not exist. We have heard in the past of rule by the god- fathers, but this is ridiculous. We should be able to discuss the future of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the strange role that it has to play.

Class XI, sub-head 7 shows an appropriation in aid of £128,000 for the expenses of information services and a grant in aid. Four and a half hours is not long enough to explain the improvements that have to be made within that department. It is obvious from the comments made today about Harland and Wolff, about the gas industry, about the Assembly in Northern Ireland and so on, that there is a great deal of information yet to be given to hon. Members by that department, and, presumably, a great deal of information to be given to the information services themselves. It might help if they knew that the Northern Ireland Assembly is in limbo. This ignorance probably accounts for the strange messages that we receive from time to time.

According to the explanatory note to the Draft Appropriation (No. 2) (Northern Ireland) Order 1979, laid before Parliament under the Northern Ireland Act 1974, schedule 1, for approval by resolution by each House of Parliament, we have to discuss in only four and a half hours the whole economic future of Northern Ireland—the changes that are to be referred to today by the Minister, the operation of the strange ugly face of capitalism in the Six Counties, the reduction of employment at Harland and Wolff, the increasing of energy costs, with consequent difficulties in Northern Ireland, the cuts in social services and employment services and the £35 million to which the Secretary of State has referred in the past.

That is not the way that we should proceed. The House has been insulted by the Government's scheduling of business for this week. I am sure that the Leader of the House enjoyed the support and sympathy of many wives and children when he declared so movingly—almost passionately—last Thursday that we should depart early to join our families. That is a right, proper and humane attitude. In the past many of us, on both sides of the House, would have welcomed that attitude. Nevertheless, one of the duties and responsibilities of those elected to the House is to protect the interests of constituents. Another is to try to debate properly matters that come before the House.

It is a well accepted fact that those who have taken part in Northern Ireland debates in the early hours of the morning—interesting, amusing, erudite and clever though they may be—have felt the lack of a stimulus from more of our colleagues, sometimes from Northern Ireland, sometimes from the remainder of Britain, whom we would have welcomed into our debates to help us to shape the economic future of the Province. I do not believe that those hon. Members will be in the House tonight. They may be tempted to believe, by the way that the Government are treating the problems, that somehow or other the Province and what happens there is not of importance to the rest of Britain.

It is a matter of supreme importance to the rest of Britain. Soldiers of the British Army are being killed in the Six Counties. Members of the police force, the UDR and the auxiliary forces are constantly under threat and attack. The economy of that area is being suppressed. The natural genius of the people of the Six Counties cannot flower because of the unhappy division within the Six Counties themselves, and within the island of Ireland as a whole. We should not have only four and a half hours, nor should we debate this matter after 10 o'clock. We should have the whole day that we were promised.

If the amendment is defeated by the Lobby fodder or the payroll vote emerging from their sub-committee meetings after debating the death of a thousand cuts for the rest of the population, I shall ask my hon. Friends to join me in voting against discussing the matter at all tonight. We should then have only an hour and a half, but that would show the measure of contempt that the Government have for Northern Ireland's problems. That is what they have shown by this arrangement in the first place.

This undertaking has been changed to permit the passage of a mere Competition Bill so that the Government could wave a piece of paper at their party conference to show their triumph. No Committee would have discussed the Bill and there would be nothing to stop the Government issuing press statements and written answers, some of which we should never see, to show their virility. The Government have said that pure doctrinaire politics, mere cosmetics, are more important than a proper debate of these problems.

Mr. Maclennan

My hon. Friend has not greatly strengthened his case for extending the Northern Ireland debate by minimising the importance of the Competition Bill. The complaint of many hon. Members is that the tactics for which the Leader of the House is responsible have resulted in an important Bill, abolishing the Price Commission and affecting the rights of every citizen against unjustifiable price increases, being slipped under the carpet. The Leader of the House has sat silently, and so far as I know has not yet sought your approval, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to postpone the Second Reading of the Competition Bill, in which many of us are very interested and which should not be debated so late.

Mr. McNamara

I am grateful to my hon. Friend, whose experience under the last Government is well known. However, if I were to pursue that matter I might be ruled out of order.

I am not underestimating the importance of that Bill, but the Government are overestimating its effect on their party conference. My hon. Friend the Member for Caithness and Sutherland (Mr. Maclennan) knows much more about the Price Commission and its workings than I could ever hope to know but the Government have done their dirty work through many of the diktats that they have issued and the Bill is really only the panegyric over the grave of a good idea.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett

Rather than go to the Tory Party conference and wave this piece of paper, would the Government not do better to persuade the conference to spend a whole day discussing the problems of Northern Ireland?

Mr. McNamara

That would be marvellous, but when the Government cannot be persuaded to act in that way in the House, it is difficult to see how they could do so at their conference. To be fair, our own party conference has not often been keen to debate these matters and some motions on the subject have been very wild. But that is democracy: our subjects for discussion are not arranged in the way that is common in the Tory Party.

By allotting four and a half hours after 10 o'clock the Government have admitted their guilt over their treatment of Northern Ireland. They have said, in effect "Northern Ireland is down for discussion on Monday, but we need this Bill to wave at our party conference to show that we are pursuing policies of increasing inflation and unemployment in defiance of our election promises. Perhaps we have a problem over Northern Ireland. Some constitutional issues have to be decided before the recess, but we cannot allow only an hour and a half after all the things that we said about Northern Ireland in opposition. We shall therefore try to meet the needs of the House in another way."

Therefore, they probably came to an agreement—perhaps through the usual channels, although I hope not. Perhaps they entered into discussions with the hon. Member for Antrim, North who now sits on their side of the House—

Mr. James Wellbeloved (Erith and Crayford)

A squalid understanding.

Mr. McNamara

No, those are not the words that I was looking for, but I should be grateful for some suggestions.

I believe that the Government decided on three extra hours, on the following reasoning: "There are only 12 Northern Ireland Members now, and they do not hold the balance of power, so we do not need to worship at the shrine any longer. It is easier to give them three hours than six seats. We shall therefore debate the affairs of Northern Ireland from 10 p.m. to 2.30 or 3 a.m."

That is how they showed their guilt, and we should not accept it. We should not accept the diktat of a Government who, for pure party reasons, want to rush through the competition legislation. Important matters need to be discussed affecting Northern Ireland.

Mr. John Prescott (Kingston upon Hull, East)

White fish.

Mr. McNamara

My hon. Friend is right. The problems of fisheries can be discussed under the Appropriation order. That might lead into a discussion of the common fisheries policy and the effect on fishermen around Northern Ireland and in my constituency. In the words of my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Wellbeloved), a "squalid understanding" might be reached with the Commissioners after the House rises which would be neither wise nor sensible. If we are to discuss all the topics involved, four and a half hours is not enough.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

My hon. Friend has proved the point. He has been speaking for over an hour and he has not touched upon any of those topics. If he mentions just one of those topics he will take up the allocated time.

Mr. McNamara

My hon. Friend is perhaps a little more optimistic than I about my chances of catching Mr. Speaker's eye when we are discussing Northern Ireland later in the evening.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Norman St. John-Stevas)

The hon. Member is clearly reaching his peroration. Will he keep it within reasonable bounds so that I shall be able to inform him of the Government's intention?

Mr. McNamara

I am prepared to give way to the Leader of the House so that we may hear of his intention and then I shall resume my speech.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I am not persuaded by the hon. Gentleman's arguments and I need more than an intervention in his speech to make my statement.

Mr. McNamara

Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes. I do not seek to enter into competition with the Leader of the House. I have noted what he has said and the House will welcome the opportunity to hear from him. The Government have a responsibility.

The Leader of the House had an opportunity to inform the House of the Government's intention. However, the motion was moved by a Whip. The motion appears in the name of the Prime Minister. She could appear at the pulpit and give us the benefit of her wisdom. That could have prevented me from having to tread this delicate tightrope, trying to ensure that the Government provide us with a reasonable amount of time.

Some of my hon. Friends have interjected to assist me. If the Government intend to accept my amendment the main burden of the argument remains. The argument not only involves the length of the debate but the timing of it. We were given—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. We must discuss one amendment at a time.

Mr. McNamara

I was not intending to move another amendment because I have yet to hear what the Leader of the House has to say. I was arguing the consequences of the House accepting my amendment.

Mr. Stanley Newens (Harlow)

My hon. Friend has given many reasons why the House should be given more time to discuss Northern Ireland. I accept what he has said. Northern Ireland is a vital subject which too often the House has pushed to one side.

The Government are seeking to rush through many other measures this week. There are a number of other subjects which should be discussed before we adjourn for the summer. Does my hon. Friend recognise that by pushing Northern Ireland into the background they are acting in a way in which they have acted over many other topics?

Mr. McNamara

The Government are paying attention to too many subjects. They would do well to leave some of them alone. Some of the other business for this week—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Will the hon. Gentleman please confine himself to the timing of this debate?

Mr. McNamara

I was arguing about business being taken after 10 o'clock. I was illustrating that too much business is being taken after 10 o'clock. That is a contempt of the House. Not only should we not have to discuss Northern Ireland after 10 o'clock but we should have proper debates on the many other issues which are of fundamental importance to our constituents.

The Government won the election. I am a democrat. I am entitled to argue about what the Government are seeking to do. It is no part of the democratic system for a Government to issue diktat after diktat and order after order for debate late at night. The population must understand what is going on. They may decide in favour of the Government or against. That is what democracy is about. However, democracy can exist only when there is informed and proper debate. That is impossible in the early hours of the morning.

The Government say that we must discuss important matters after 10 o'clock tonight but it is not what they were elected to do.

Mr. Robin F. Cook (Edinburgh, Central)

The Government have not behaved as one on this matter. During business questions on Thursday the hon. Member for Epping Forest (Mr. Biggs-Davison) reminded the Leader of the House that he had previously congratulated him on arranging a debate on Northern Ireland at a civilised hour. He asked the Leader of the House to consider taking the Appropriation order before the Second Reading of the Competition Bill. Government Members are as deeply embarrassed as we are enraged about what the Government Front Bench are doing.

Mr. McNamara

It is not up to me to come to the defence of the hon. Member for Epping Forest. I made honourable mention of the hon. Member for Epping Forest in my remarks. The hon. Member congratulated his own Front Bench on the civilised way in which they proposed to discuss Northern Ireland affairs. In some ways that prompted me to make my present observations.

When discussing Northern Ireland we must have time, clear minds and an opportunity to examine the arguments. We must be able to listen to them, to understand them and appreciate their texture. But we are not able to do that in the time allotted to us today.

The Leader of the House gave an indication that he might have something to say on these matters but, regrettably, when I gave him the opportunity briefly to do so, he declined the invitation. But the heart has its reasons, and so does the Leader of the House, no doubt. Nevertheless, I am left to wonder what the right hon. Gentleman might be minded to say.

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman has it in mind to drop the firearms order for tonight. If he does that, it may be of added interest to know his reasons. It seems to me that to enter upon an important matter such as the firearms order after 4 o'clock, or perhaps 3 o'clock, in the morning is a very shabby way to treat a matter of some significance both in relation to Northern Ireland and in relation to certain English matters, especially with regard to air rifles and so on. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would offer to give us some information about that.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I was not entirely convinced by the hon. Gentleman's eloquence, but during the further quarter of an hour during which he has been speaking he has convinced me of his case, and it is the Government's intention to accept his amendment.

Mr. McNamara

I am much obliged for that move on the Government's part. I think that it is the first Labour success in this Parliament, and I thank the Leader of the House.

Perhaps I may now turn my attention to the motion, as amended.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman must move his amendment first.

Mr. McNamara

I have now to move my amendment. I am much obliged, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

I beg to move, as a manuscript amendment to the Question, to leave out from "sitting" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof the Motion relating to the Appropriation (No. 2) (Northern Ireland) Order may be proceeded with until any hour. I say at once that I am most grateful to the Leader of the House and to the Government for their willingness to accept my manuscript amendment. It would not have been necessary had they not been so inconsiderate or, perhaps, thick-skinned as to seek to push this matter as they have, but their object and intention, apparently, was to press through easily and quickly questions relating to fundamental matters in Northern Ireland, getting them through without consideration for the interests of the House. But now the Leader of the House has conceded the point and said that we may debate these matters in the early hours of the morning.

Mr. Wellbeloved

I have been patiently trying to follow my hon. Friend's argument. I must tell him that I am not in favour of his amendment, and I hope at least to have the opportunity to vote on it, but at this stage I ask my hon. Friend to clarify one point. If his manuscript amendment is carried, will it mean that we can also take the firearms order tonight, or is that automatically ruled out?

Mr. McNamara

It is not for me to say what the Government's intentions will be on that order, but if the debate on the Appropriation order were to go as far as 11 o'clock in the morning—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I heard the intervention. We are not discussing that matter now. We are on the amendment to which the hon. Gentleman is speaking. Does he wish to continue his speech in moving that amendment?

Mr. McNamara

I am in fact doing that, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I am grateful to the Leader of the House for giving me—

Mr. Newens

Will my hon. Friend give way? There is some doubt among us on the Labour Benches regarding the terms of his amendment. It is not clear whether discussion will continue after 10 o'clock, and I wonder whether my hon. Friend will clarify some of the points on his amendment which trouble us.

Mr. McNamara

The business motion in the Prime Minister's name is as follows: That, at this day's sitting, Standing Order No. 3 shall apply to the Motion relating to the Appropriation (No. 2) (Northern Ireland) Order with the substitution of half-past Two o'clock or four and a half hours after it has been entered upon, whichever is the later, for the provisions in paragraph (b) of the Standing Order. I appreciate that not all my hon. Friends will have seen my amendment because it is a manuscript amendment, but it suggests that we leave out from the word "sitting" to the end and add: the Motion relating to the Appropriation (No. 2) (Northern Ireland) Order may be proceeded with until any hour. That is the substitution which I have proposed, and I understand that the motion will be thus amended.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

I know that my hon. Friend is not responsible—he is probably very glad of it—for what the Government do or say, but I am not clear how matters will go since the reference in the motion is to half-past Two o'clock or four and a half hours after it has been entered upon". Does that mean 2.30 p.m.—that is, 14..30—or does it mean 2.30 a.m? As I read it, the reference is to half-past two, and we have already passed half-past two. The Government's motion itself is not clear. Perhaps my hon. Friend could try to make matters clear when speaking to his amendment.

Mr. McNamara

I am not sure that I am the best person to help my hon. Friend, because we do not have for the rules of the House the equivalent of our interpretation of statute legislation. However, I am sure that my hon. Friend could get valuable assistance from the Clerk at the Table or from the Table Office. All of us find most courteous and helpful advice from that source on matters of interpretation. Indeed, hon. Members have always taken pride in the impartial and objective assistance which they receive from all the servants of the House, and I commend that course to my hon. Friend.

As I understand it, the Leader of the House is prepared to accept my amendment, so that, after the Division which will be pressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Crayford, we shall probably be able to discuss the matter for any time we like after 10 o'clock. However, for the various reasons which some of my hon. Friends have outlined during interjections during my speech, there are some of us who would find it difficult to support that procedure, since we believe that, despite the Government's concession, we shall still be forced to debate matters of supreme importance in the middle of the night.

I am grateful to the Leader of the House for accepting my amendment. However, I understand the reasons of my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Crayford for not accepting it. When the time comes to discuss the business motion, I shall be grateful, Mr. Speaker, to have an opportunity of addressing the House again.

6.10 p.m.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Norman St. John-Stevas)

I congratulate the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara) on his stamina in moving the amendment. I am glad that I was able to make a positive response. It is the Government's intention to accept the amendment, so that the Northern Ireland debate will be open-ended. No great point of principle is involved.

In suggesting a debate of four and a half hours I was responding to the suggestion of the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) at business questions last week when he asked for a debate of four hours. The Government provided four and a half hours. That was broadly in accordance with precedent.

It is relevant to look back over the past few years to ascertain the time that was allowed for the various Northern Ireland Appropriation orders. For example, in 1976 the Appropriation (No. 2) (Northern Ireland) Order 1976 was laid on 22 June and approved on the Floor of the House on Friday 23 July, when it was debated from 5.33 p.m. to 9.13 p.m. Before Opposition Members become too eloquent in denouncing the Government for the time that they have allotted, they should remember what they did in a similar situation. The Labour Government set the example of debating the Northern Ireland order on a Friday evening, which surely cannot be said to be the most convenient time for the House.

The Appropriation (No. 2) (Northern Ireland) 1977 Order was debated on Friday 1 July from 12.24 p.m. to 3.44 p.m.—a shorter time than we provided in the motion. On both occasions the debates took place on a Friday, and late on a Friday on the first occasion.

In 1978 the order was laid on 10 July and the debate was taken from 12.15 a.m. on Tuesday 18 July to 12.38 a.m. The Appropriation (No. 4) (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 was laid on 12 November 1978 and debated on Monday 1 December from 7.12 p.m. to 11.06 p.m. The Appropriation (Northern Ireland) Order 1979 was laid on 19 February 1979. The debate took place on Wednesday 7 March 1979 from 6.36 p.m. to 11.30 p.m.

In providing for a debate of four and a half hours the Government followed precedent. I shall say a few words about written answers, to which the hon. Gentleman referred.

Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Epping Forest)

Will my right hon. Friend take into consideration that a number of us hoped that we would not merely follow the precedent of the previous Administration but would do rather better? Although it is not possible to do so before the Summer Recess, I urge my right hon. Friend to consider the whole issue of Northern Ireland business for when we return after the recess.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Yes, I am most willing to respond to my hon. Friend's suggestion. I have already expressed to Northern Ireland Members my regret at the inconvenience caused them by having the debate at a late hour. My argument was addressed not to my hon. Friend but to those who were complaining about the limited time available.

Mr. McNamara rose

Mr. St. John-Stevas

The written answer procedure was the one that is normally followed. The answer is supplied to the Member who has asked the question and it is placed in the Library and made available to the press. On occasions, when there are questions of special interest, replies are sent to certain other Members who have a special interest in the question and the answer. That is the normal procedure, and it was followed on the occasion to which the hon. Gentleman referred.

Having accepted the hon. Gentleman's amendment, I hope that we may proceed to our business without further delay.

Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)

I would wish—

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Michael Jopling) rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be now put:—

The House divided: Ayes 230, Noes 180.

Division No. 74] AYES [6.17 p.m.
Adley, Robert Colvin, Michael Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Aitken, Jonathan Corrie, John Grist, Ian
Ancram, Michael Costain, A. P. Grylls, Michael
Arnold, Tom Cranborne, Viscount Gummer, John Selwyn
Aspinwall, Jack Critchley, Julian Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Speithorne) Dean, Paul (North Somerset) Hampson, Dr. Keith
Atkins, Robert (Preston North) Dodsworth, Geoffrey Hannam, John
Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset) Darrell, Stephen Haselhurst, Alan
Banks, Robert Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Bell, Ronald du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Hawkins, Paul
Benyon, Thomas (Abingdon) Dunn, Robert (Dartford) Hawksley, Warren
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Durant, Tony Hayhoe, Barney
Berry, Hon Anthony Dykes, Hugh Heath, Rt Hon Edward
Best, Keith Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Henderson, Barry
Bevan, David Gilroy Elliott, Sir William Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Biffen, Rt Hon John Emery, Peter Hicks, Robert
Biggs-Davison, John Eyre, Reginald Higgins, Terence L.
Blaker, Peter Fairgrieve, Russell Nill, James
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Hogg, Hon Douglas (Grantham)
Boscawen, Hon Robert Finsberg, Geoffrey Holland, Philip (Carlton)
Bowden, Andrew Fletcher, Alexander (Edinburgh N) Hordern, Peter
Brains, Sir Bernard Fookes, Miss Janet Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Brooke, Hon Peter Forman, Nigel Howell, Rt Hon David (Guildford)
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'thorpe) Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Bruce-Gardyne, John Fraser, Peter (South Angus) Hunt, David (Wirral)
Bryan, Sir Paul Fry, Peter Jessel, Toby
Buck, Antony Galbraith, Hon T. G. D. Johnson Smith, Geoffrey
Budgen, Nick Gardiner, George (Relgate) Jopling, Rt Hon. Michael
Bulmer, Esmond Gardner, Edward (South Fylde) Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Butcher, John Garel-Jones, Tristan Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Cadbury, Jocelyn Glyn, Dr Alan King, Rt Hon Tom
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Goodhart, Philip Kitson, Sir Timothy
Channon, Paul Goodhew, Victor Knight, Mrs Jill
Chapman, Sydney Goodlad, Alastair Lang, Ian
Clark, Hon Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Gower, Sir Raymond Langford-Holt, Sir John
Clark, William (Croydon South) Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) Lawrence, Ivan
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Gray, Hamish Lawson, Nigel
Clegg, Walter Grieve, Percy Le Merchant, Spencer
Cockeram, Eric Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St Edmunds) Lester, Jim (Beeston)
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Page, John (Harrow, West) Spicer, Michael (S Worcestershire)
Lloyd, Ian (Havant & Waterloo) Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) Sproat, Iain
Luce, Richard Parkinson, Cecil Squire, Robin
McAdden, Sir Stephen Patten, Christopher (Bath) Stanbrook, Ivor
McCrindle, Robert Patten, John (Oxford) Stanley, John
Macfarlane, Neil Pattie, Geoffrey Steen, Anthony
MacGregor, John Pawsey, James Stevens, Martin
Mackay, John (Argyll) Percival, Sir Ian Steward, Ian (Hitchin)
McNair-Wilson, Michael (Newbury) Peyton, Rt Hon John Stokes, John
McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest) Pink, R. Bonner Stradling Thomas J.
Madel, David Porter, George Tebbit, Norman
Major, John Price, David (Eastleigh) Temple-Morris, Peter
Marlow, Antony Prior, Rt Hon James Thompson, Donald
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Proctor, K. Harvey Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)
Marten, Neil (Banbury) Pym, Rt Hon Francis Townend, John (Bridlington)
Mates, Michael Raison, Timothy Trotter, Neville
Mather, Carol Rathbone, Tim van Straubenzee, W. R.
Maude, Rt Hon Angus Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal) Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Mawby, Ray Rees-Davies, W. R. Viggers, Peter
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Rhodes James, Robert Wakeham, John
Mayhew, Patrick Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Waldegrave, Hon William
Mellor, David Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW) Walker, Bill (Perth & E Perthshire)
Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove & Redditch) Rossi, Hugh Waller, Gary
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Rost, Peter Walters, Dennis
Mills, Peter (West Devon) Royle, Sir Anthony Ward, John
Moate, Roger Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Warren, Kenneth
Monro, Hector St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon Norman Wells, John (Maidstone)
Montgomery, Fergus Shaw, Michael (Scarborough) Wells, P. Bowen (Hert'fd&Stev'nage)
Moore, John Shelton, William (Streatham) Wheeler, John
Morrison, Hon Charles (Devizes) Shepherd, Richard(Aldridge-Br'hills) Wickenden, Keith
Morrison, Hon Peter (City of Chester) Shersby, Michael Wilkinson, John
Myles, David Silvester, Fred Winterton, Nicholas
Nelson, Anthony Sims, Roger Wolfson, Mark
Neubert, Michael Skeet, T. H. H. Young, Sir George (Acton)
Newton, Tony Smith, Dudley (War. and Leam'ton) Younger, Rt Hon George
Normanton, Tom Speed, Keith
Nott, Rt Hon John Speller, Tony TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Onslow, Cranley Spence, John Mr. David Waddington and
Oppenhelm, Rt Hon Mrs Sally Spicer, Jim (West Dorset) Mr. John Cope.
Abse, Leo Dobson, Frank Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Alton, David Dormand, J. D. Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Dubs, Alfred Kerr, Russell
Armstrong, Ernest Duffy, A. E. P. Kinnock, Nell
Ashton, Joe Dunn, James A. (Liverpool, Kirkdale) Lambie, David
Atkinson, Norman (H'gey, Tott'ham) Eadie, Alex Lamborn, Harry
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Eastham, Ken Lamond, James
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) Leighton, Ronald
Beith, A. J. English, Michael Lewis, Arthur (Newham North West)
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Evans, John (Newton) Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Bidwell, Sydney Ewing, Harry Lyons, Edward (Bradford West)
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Faulds, Andrew McCartney, Hugh
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur (M'brough) Field, Frank McDonald, Dr Oonagh
Bradley, Tom Fitt, Gerard McElhone, Frank
Bray, Dr Jeremy Flannery, Martin McGuire, Michael (Ince)
Brown, Hugh D. (Provan) Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Brown, Ronald W. (Hackney S) Foot, Rt Hon Michael McKelvey, William
Buchan, Norman Fraser, John (Lambeth, Norwood) Maclennan, Robert
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE) Freud, Clement McMahon, Andrew
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Garrett, John (Norwich S) McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, Central)
Campbell-Savours, Dale George, Bruce McNamara, Kevin
Carmichael, Neil Golding, John McWilliam, John
Clark, David (South Shields) Gourlay, Harry Marks, Kenneth
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Grant, George (Morpeth) Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole)
Cohen, Stanley Marshall, Jim (Leicester South)
Coleman Donald Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Mason, Rt Hon Roy
Conlan, Bernard Hardy, Peter Maxton, John
Cook, Robin F. Hardy, Peter Maynard, Miss Joan
Cowans, Harry Harrison, Rt Hon Walter Meacher, Michael
Cox, Tom (Wandsworth, Tooting) Healey, Rt. Hon Denis Millan, Rt Hon Bruce
Crowther, J. S. Heffer, Eric S. Miller, Dr M S (East Kilbride)
Cryer, Bob Hogg, Norman (E Dunbartonshire) Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Holland, Stuart (L'beth, Vauxhall) Mitchell, R. C. (Solon, Itchen)
Cunningham, George (Islington S) Homewood, William Morris, Rt Hon Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Cunningham, Dr John (Whitehaven) Hooley, Frank Morris, Rt Hon Charles (Openshaw)
Dalyell, Tam Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H) Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)
Davidson, Arthur Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Morton, George
Davies, Ifor (Gower) John, Brynmor Moyle, Rt Hon Roland
Davis, Clinton (Hackney Central) Johnson, James (Hull West) Newens, Stanley
Davis, Terry (B'rm'ham, Stechford) Johnson, Walter (Derby South) Oakes, Gordon
Dempsey, James Jones, Alec (Rhondda) Ogden, Eric
Dixon, Donald Jones, Barry (East Flint) O'Neill, Martin
Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Sever, John Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Silverman, Julius Wellbeloved, James
Palmer, Arthur Skinner, Dennis Welsh, Michael
Park, George Smith, Rt Hon J. (North Lanarkshire) White, Frank R. (Bury & Radcliffe)
Parker, John Soley, Clive Whitehead, Phillip
Parry, Robert Spearing, Nigel Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Pendry, Tom Spriggs, Leslie Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Powell, Raymond (Ogmore) Stallard, A. W. Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)
Prescott, John Steel, Rt Hon David Wilson, Gordon (Dundee East)
Race, Reg Stoddart, David Wilson, Rt Hon Sir Harold (Huyton)
Radice, Giles Stott, Roger Winnick, David
Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds South) Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley Woodall, Alec
Richardson, Miss Jo Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery) Wright, Miss Sheila
Roberts, Ernest (Hackney North) Thomas, Mike (Newcastle East) Young, David (Bolton East)
Roper, John Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Ross, Ernest (Dundee West) Tinn, James TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Urwin, Rt Hon Tom Mr. Ted Graham an
Rowlands, Ted Varley, Rt Hon Eric G. Mr. Joseph Dean.
Sandelson, Neville Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 268, Noes 109.

Division No. 75] AYES [6.29 p.m.
Adley, Robert Dickens, Geoffrey Hogg, Hon Douglas (Grantham)
Aitken, Jonathan Dodsworth, Geoffrey Holland, Philip (Carlton)
Alexander, Richard Dorrell, Stephen Hordern, Peter
Alton, David Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Ancram, Michael Dover, Denshore Howell, Rt Hon David (Guildford)
Arnold, Tom du Cann, Rt Hon Edward Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Aspinwall, Jack Dunn, Robert (Dartford) Hunt, David (Wirral)
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Durant, Tony Jessel, Toby
Atkins, Robert (Preston North) Dykes, Hugh Johnson Smith, Geoffrey
Atkinson, David (B'mouth East) Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Jopling, Rt Hon. Michael
Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset) Egger, Timothy Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith
Banks, Robert Elliott, Sir William Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Emery, Peter King, Rt Hon Tom
Beith, A. J. Eyre, Reginald Kitson, Sir Timothy
Bell, Ronald Fairgrieve, Russell Knight, Mrs Jill
Bendall, Vivian Faith, Mrs. Sheila Lang, Ian
Benyon, Thomas (Abingdon) Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Langford-Holt, Sir John
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Finsberg, Geoffrey Lawrence, Ivan
Berry, Hon Anthony Fletcher, Alexander (Edinburgh N) Lawson, Nigel
Best, Keith Fookes, Miss Janet Lee, John
Bevan, David Gilroy Forman, Nigel Le Merchant, Spencer
Biffen, Rt Hon John Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Biggs-Davison, John Fox, Marcus Lester, Jim (Beeston)
Blackburn, John Fraser, Peter (South Angus) Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Blaker, Peter Fry, Peter Lloyd, Ian (Havant & Waterloo)
Body, Richard Galbraith, Hon T. G. D. Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Gardiner, George (Reigate) Luce, Richard
Boscawen, Hon Robert Gardner, Edward (South Fydle) Lyell, Nicholas
Bowden, Andrew Garel-Jones, Tristan McAdden, Sir Stephen
Braine, Sir Bernard Glyn, Dr Alan McCrindle, Robert
Bright, Graham Goodhart, Philip Macfarlane, Neil
Brinton, Timothy Goodhew, Victor MacGregor, John
Brooke, Hon Peter Goodled, Alastair Mackay, John (Argyll)
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Sc'thorpe) Gower, Sir Raymond McNair-Wilson, Michael (Newbury)
Bruce-Gardyne, John Grant, Anthony (Harrow C) McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest)
Bryan, Sir Paul Gray, Hamish Madel, David
Buck, Antony Grieve, Percy Major, John
Budgen, Nick Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St Edmunds) Marlow, Antony
Bulmer, Esmond Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N) Marshall, Michael (Arundel)
Butcher, John Grist, Ian Marten, Neil (Banbury)
Cadbury, Jocelyn Grylis, Michael Mates, Michael
Carlisle, John (Luton West) Gummer, John Selwyn Mather, Carol
Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Maude, Rt Hon Angus
Channon, Paul Hampson, Dr. Keith Mawby, Ray
Chapman, Sydney Hannam, John Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Clark, Hon Man (Plymouth, Sutton) Haselhurst, Alan Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin
Clark, William (Croydon South) Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael Mayhew, Patrick
Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Hawkins, Paul Mellor, David
Clegg, Walter Hawksley, Warren Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove & Redditch)
Cockeram, Eric Hayhoe, Barney Mills, Iain (Meriden)
Colvin, Michael Heath, Rt Hon Edward Mills, Peter (West Devon)
Corrie, John Heddle, John Moate, Roger
Costain, A. P. Henderson, Barry Molyneaux, James
Cranborne, Viscount Hicks, Robert Monro, Hector
Critchley, Julian Higgins, Terence L. Montgomery, Fergus
Dean, Paul (North Somerset) Hill, James Moore, John
Morrison, Hon Charles (Devizes) Rhodes James, Robert Tebbit, Norman
Morrison, Hon Peter (City of Chester) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Temple-Morris, Peter
Murphy, Christopher Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW)
Myles, David Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)
Needham, Richard Ross, Wm. (Londonderry) Thornton, George
Nelson, Anthony Rossi, Hugh Townend, John (Bridlington)
Neubert, Michael Rost, Peter Trippier, David
Newton, Tony Royle, Sir Anthony Trotter, Neville
Normanton, Tom Sainsbury, Hon Timothy van Straubenzee, W. R.
Nott, Rt Hon John St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon Norman Vaughan, Dr Gerard
Onslow, Cranley Shaw, Michael (Scarborough) Viggers, Peter
Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs Sally Shelton, William (Streatham) Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Page, John (Harrow, West) Shepherd, Richard(Aldridge-Br'hills) Wakeham, John
Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) Shersby, Michael Waldegrave, Hon William
Parkinson, Cecil Silvester, Fred Walker, Bill (Perth & E Perthshire)
Parris, Matthew Sims, Roger Wall, Patrick
Patten, Christopher (Bath) Skeet, T. H. H. Waller, Gary
Patten, John (Oxford) Smith, Dudley (War. and Leam'ton) Walters, Dennis
Pattie, Geoffrey Speed, Keith Ward, John
Pawsey, James Speller, Tony Warren, Kenneth
Percival, Sir Ian Spence, John Watson, John
Peyton, Rt Hon John Spicer, Jim (West Dorset) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Pink, R. Bonner Spicer, Michael (S Worcestershire) Wells, P. Bowen (Hert'fd&Stev'nage)
Pollock, Alexander Sproat, Iain Wheeler, John
Porter, George Squire, Robin Wickenden, Keith
Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch (S Down) Stanbrook, Ivor Wilkinson, John
Price, David (Eastleigh) Stanley, John Winterton, Nicholas
Prior, Rt Hon James Steel, Rt Hon David Wolfson, Mark
Proctor, K. Harvey Steen, Anthony Young, Sir George (Acton)
Pym, Rt Hon Francis Stevens, Martin Younger, Rt Hon George
Raison, Timothy Steward, Ian (Hitchin)
Rathbone, Tim Stewart, John (East Renfrewshire) TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal) Stokes, John Mr. David Waddington and
Rees-Davies, W. R. Stradling Thomas J. Mr. John Cope.
Renton, Tim
Abse, Leo Flannery, Martin Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby)
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Mitchell, R. C. (Solon, Itchen)
Ashton, Joe Freud, Clement Morris, Rt Hon Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Atkinson, Norman (H'gey, Tott'ham) Garrett, John (Norwich S) Morris, Rt Hon Charles (Openshaw)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. George, Bruce Morton, George
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Golding, John Newens, Stanley
Bidwell, Sydney Graham, Ted Oakes, Gordon
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur (M'brough) Grant, George (Morpeth) O'Neill, Martin
Bradley, Tom Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Parker, John
Bray, Dr Jeremy Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife) Parry, Robert
Brown, Hugh D. (Proven) Hardy, Peter Powell, Raymond (Ogmore)
Brown, Ronald (Hackney S) Heffer, Eric S. Race, Reg
Buchan, Norman Holland, Stuart (L'beth, Vauxhall) Richardson, Miss Jo
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Homewood, William Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Campbell-Savours, Dale Jay, Rt Hon Douglas Roberts, Ernest (Hackney North)
Carmichael, Neil Johnson, James (Hull West) Roper, John
Clark, David (South Shields) Johnson, Walter (Derby South) Ross, Ernest (Dundee West)
Cohen, Stanley Jones, Barry (East Flint) Short, Mrs. Renée
Conian, Bernard Kinnock, Neil Skinner, Dennis
Cowans, Harry Lambie, David Soley, Clive
Cox, Tom (Wandsworth, Tooting) Lamborn, Harry Spriggs, Leslie
Craigen, J. M. (Glasgow, Maryhill) Lamond, James Stoddart, David
Crowther, J. S. Leighton, Ronald Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
Cryer, Bob Lewis, Arthur (Newham North West) Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
Cunningham, George (Islington S) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Dalyell, Tam Lofthouse, Geoffrey Welsh, Michael
Davidson, Arthur McDonald, Dr Oonagh White, Frank R. (Bury & Radcliffe)
Davis, Terry (B'rm'ham, Stechford) McKay, Allen (Penistone) Whitehead, Phillip
Dempsey, James McMahon, Andrew Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Dixon, Donald McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, Central) Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)
Dobson, Frank McWilliam, John Winnick, David
Dubs, Alfred Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Woodall, Alec
Duffy, A. E. P. Marshall, Jim (Leicester South) Wright, Miss Sheila
Dunn, Robert (Dartford) Maxton, John
Eastham, Ken Maynard, Miss Joan TELLERS FOR THE NOES
English, Michael Meacher, Michael Mr. James Wellbeloved and
Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Miller, Dr M S (East Kilbride) Mr. Robin F. Cook.
Fitt, Gerard

Mr. Jopling rose in his place, and Question accordingly agreed to. claimed to move, That the Main Question, as amended, be now put.

Mr. Cryer

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker

The main Question has been claimed. The Question is the main Question, as amended. [Interruption.] Order. I will take the point of order of the right hon. Gentleman before I put the main Question.

Mr. Foot

I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for taking the point of order that I raise. I gather that the main Question was claimed by the Patronage Secretary. Naturally, it is entirely within your discretion whether you accept that claim, but I put it to you, Mr. Speaker, that what occurred before the vote on the closure is one reason, among others, why you should not accept the motion when it is claimed.

I should have thought that there has very rarely been a state of affairs in a debate when the Leader of the House has made a statement and the official Opposition spokesman has been denied any chance of participating in the debate. If you were to accept the proposal to claim the main Question that would mean that the official Opposition spokesman would not have had the opportunity of putting the Opposition's case on this motion. Therefore, I ask you to rule that you will not accept the main Ques-

tion being claimed. That would mean that we could revert to the debate on the main Question, upon which there has so far been no debate whatever. I emphasise, Mr. Speaker, that so far the debate has been on the amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara). If you were to accept the Government's proposal it would mean that you had ruled from the Chair that no debate on the main Question should take place. I submit that that would be quite contrary to any precedent in this House.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Speaker

Order. Far from being contrary to precedent, I would be following precedent in this matter. I have taken into account everything that has happened during the course of this debate. I had indicated to the House that I was accepting the main Question.

Main Question, as amended, put accordingly:

The House divided: Ayes 269, Noes 168.

Division No. 76] AYES [6.44 p.m.
Adley, Robert Cadbury, Jocelyn Freud, Clement
Aitken, Jonathan Carlisle, John (Luton West) Fry, Peter
Alexander, Richard Carlisle, John (Luton West) Fry, Peter
Alexander, Richard Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Galbraith, Hon T. G. D.
Alton, David Chalker, Mrs. Lynda Gardiner, George (Reigate)
Ancram, Michael Channon, Paul Gardner, Edward (South Fylde)
Arnold, Tom Chapman, Sydney Garel-Junes, Tristan
Aspinwall, Jack Clark, Hon Alan (Plymouth, Sutton) Glyn, Dr Alan
Atkins, Rt Hon H. (Spelthorne) Clark, William (Croydon South) Goodhart, Philip
Atkins, Robert (Preston North) Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Goodhew, Victor
Atkinson, David (B'mouth East) Clegg, Walter Goodlad, Alastair
Baker, Nicholas (North Dorset) Cockeram, Eric Gower, Sir Raymond
Banks, Robert Colvin, Michael Grant, Anthony (Harrow C)
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Corrie, John Gray, Hamish
Beith, A. J. Costain, A. P. Grieve, Percy
Bell, Ronald Cranborne, Viscount Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St Edmunds)
Bendall, Vivian Critchley, Julian Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Benyon, Thomas (Abingdon) Dean, Paul (North Somerset) Grist, Ian
Benyon, W. (Buckingham) Dickens, Geoffrey Grylls, Michael
Berry, Hon Anthony Dodsworth, Geoffrey Gummer, John Selwyn
Best, Keith Dorrell, Stephen Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)
Bevan, David Gilroy Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Hampson, Dr. Keith
Biffen, Rt Hon John du Cann,t Rt Hon Edward Hannam, John
Biggs-Davison, John Dunn, Robert (Dartford) Haselhurst, Alan
Blackburn, John Durant, Tony Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael
Blaker, Peter Dykes, Hugh Hawkins, Paul
Body, Richard Eden, Rt Hon Sir John Hawksley, Warren
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Eggar, Timothy Hayhoe, Barney
Boscawen, Hon Robert Elliott, Sir William Heath, Rt Hon Edward
Bowden, Andrew Emery, Peter Heddle, John
Braine, Sir Bernard Eyre, Reginald Henderson, Barry
Bright, Graham Fairgrieve, Russell Hicks, Robert
Brinton, Timothy Faith, Mrs. Sheila Higgins, Terence L.
Brooke, Hon Peter Fenner, Mrs. Peggy Hill, James
Brown, Michael (Bragg & Sc'thorpe) Finsberg, Geoffrey Hogg, Hon Douglas (Grantham)
Bruce-Gardyne, John Fletcher, Alexander (Edinburgh N) Holland, Philip (Carlton)
Bryan, Sir Paul Fookes, Miss Janet Hordern, Peter
Buck, Antony Forman, Nigel Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Budgen, Nick Fowler, Rt Hon Norman Howell, Rt Hon David (Guildford)
Bulmer, Esmond Fox, Marcus Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Butcher, John Fraser, Peter (South Angus) Hunt, David (Wirral)
Jessel, Toby Myles, David Speller, Tony
Johnson Smith, Geoffrey Needham, Richard Spence, John
Jopling, Rt Hon. Michael Nelson, Anthony Spicer, Jim (West Dorset)
Joseph, Rt Hon Sir Keith Neubert, Michael Spicer, Michael (S Worcestershire)
Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine Newton, Tony Sproat, Iain
King, Rt Hon Tom Normanton, Tom Squire, Robin
Kitson, Sir Timothy Nott, Rt Hon John Stainton, Keith
Knight, Mrs Jill Onslow, Cranley Stanbrook, Ivor
Lang, Ian Oppenheim, Rt Hon Mrs Sally Stanley, John
Langford-Holt. Sir John Page, John (Harrow, West) Steel, Rt Hon David
Lawrence, Ivan Page, Rt Hon R. Graham (Crosby) Steen, Anthony
Lawson, Nigel Parkinson, Cecil Stevens, Martin
Lee, John Parris, Matthew Steward, Ian (Hitchin)
Le Marchant, Spencer Patten, Christopher (Bath) Stewart, John (East Renfrewshire)
Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark Patten, John (Oxford) Stokes, John
Lester, Jim (Beeston) Pattie, Geoffrey Stradling Thomas J.
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Pawsey, James Tebbit, Norman
Lloyd, Ian (Havant & Waterloo) Percival, Sir Ian Temple-Morris, Peter
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Peyton, Rt Hon John Thompson, Donald
Luce, Richard Pink, R. Bonner Thorne, Neil (Ilford South)
Lyell, Nicholas Pollock Alexander Thornton, George
McAdden, Sir Stephen Porter, George Townend, John (Bridlington)
McCrindle, Robert Powell, Rt Hon J. Enoch (S Down) Trippier, David
Macfarlane, Neil Price, David (Eastleigh) Trotter, Neville
MacGregor, John Prior, Rt Hon James van Straubenzee, W. R.
Mackay, John (Argyll) Proctor, K. Harvey Vaughan, Dr Gerard
McNair-Wilson, Michael (Newbury) Pym, Rt Hon Francis Viggers, Peter
McNair-Wilson, Patrick (New Forest) Raison, Timothy Wainwright, Richard (Coine Valley)
Madel, David Rathbone, Tim Wakeham, John
Major, John Rees, Peter (Dover and Deal)
Marlow, Antony Rees-Davies, W. R. Waldegrave, Hon William
Marshall, Michael (Arundel) Renton, Tim Walker, Bill (Perth & E Perthshire)
Marten, Neil (Banbury) Rhodes James, Robert Wall, Patrick
Mates, Michael Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Waller, Gary
Mather, Carol Roberts, Michael (Cardiff NW) Walters, Dennis
Maude, Rt Hon Angus Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight) Ward, John
Mawby, Ray Ross, Wm. (Londonderry) Warren, Kenneth
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Rossi, Hugh Watson, John
Maxwell-Hyslop, Robin Rost, Peter Wells, John (Maidstone)
Mayhew, Patrick Royle, Sir Anthony Wells, P. Bowen (Hert'fd&Stev'nage)
Mellor, David Sainsbury, Hon Timothy Wheeler, John
Miller, Hal (Bromsgrove & Redditch) St. John-Stevas, Rt Hon Norman Wickenden, Keith
Mills, Iain (Meriden) Shaw, Michael (Scarborough) Wilkinson, John
Mills, Peter (West Devon) Shelton, William (Streatham) Winterton, Nicholas
Moate, Roger Shepherd, Richard(Aldridge-Br'hills) Wolfson, Mark
Molyneaux, James Shersby, Michael Young, Sir George (Acton)
Monro, Hector Silvester, Fred Younger, Rt Hon George
Montgomery, Fergus Sims, Roger
Moore, John Skeet, T. H. H. TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Morrison, Hon Charles (Devizes) Smith, Dudley (War. and Leam'ton) Mr. John Cope and
Morrison. Hon Peter (City of Chester) Speed, Keith Mr. David Waddington
Murphy, Christopher
Archer, Rt Hon Peter Crowther, J. S. Garrett, John (Norwich S)
Armstrong, Ernest Cryer, Bob George, Bruce
Ashton, Joe Cunningham, George (Islington S) Golding, John
Atkinson, Norman (H'gey, Tott'ham) Cunningham, Dr John (Whitehaven) Gourlay, Harry
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Dalyell, Tam Grant, George (Morpeth)
Barnett, Rt Hon Joel (Heywood) Davidson, Arthur Grant, John (Islington C)
Benn, Rt Hon Anthony Wedgwood Davies, Ifor (Gower) Hamilton, James (Bothwell)
Bennett, Andrew (Stockport N) Davis, Clinton (Hackney Central) Hamilton, W. W. (Central Fife)
Bidwell, Sydney Davis, Terry (B'rm'ham, Stechford) Hardy, Peter
Booth, Rt Hon Albert Dean, Joseph (Leeds West) Harrison, Rt Hon Walter
Bottomley, Rt Hon Arthur (M'brough) Dempsey, James Hattersley, Rt. Hon Roy
Bradley, Tom Dixon, Donald Helfer, Eric S.
Bray, Dr Jeremy Dobson, Frank Holland, Stuart (L'beth, Vauxhall)
Brown, Ronald W. (Hackney S) Dormand, J. D. Home Robertson, John
Buchan, Norman Dubs, Alfred Homewood, William
Callaghan, Rt Hon J. (Cardiff SE) Duffy, A. E. P. Hooley, Frank
Callaghan, Jim (Middleton & P) Eadie, Alex Howell, Rt Hon Denis (B'ham, Sm H)
Campbell, Ian Eastham, Ken Jay, Rt Hon Douglas
Campbell-Savours, Dale Ellis, Tom (Wrexham) John, Brynmor
Carmichael, Neil English, Michael Johnson, James (Hull West)
Carter-Jones, Lewis Evans, Ioan (Aberdare) Johnson, James (Hull West)
Clark, David (South Shields) Evans, John (Newton) Johnson, Walter (Derby South)
Cocks, Rt Hon Michael (Bristol S) Ewing, Harry Jones, Alec (Rhondda)
Cohen, Stanley Faulds, Andrew Jones, Barry (East Flint)
Coleman, Donald Field, Frank Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Conian, Bernard Fitt, Gerard Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Cook, Robin F. Flannery, Martin Kerr, Russell
Cowans, Harry Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Kinnock, Neil
Cox, Tom (Wandsworth, Tooting) Foot, Rt Hon Michael Lambie, David
Craigen, J. M. (Glasgow, Maryhill) Fraser, John (Lambeth, Norwood) Lamborn, Harry
Lamond, James Morton, George Soley, Clive
Leighton, Ronald Moyle, Rt Hon Roland Spearing, Nigel
Lewis, Arthur (Newham North West) Newens, Stanley Spriggs, Leslie
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Oakes, Gordon Stallard, A. W.
Lofthouse, Geoffrey O'Neill, Martin Steward, Rt Hon Donald (W Isles)
McCartney, Hugh Orme, Rt Hon Stanley Stoddart, David
McDonald, Dr Oonagh Owen, Rt Hon Dr David Stott, Roger
McElhone, Frank Palmer, Arthur Summerskill, Hon Dr Shirley
McKay, Allen (Penistone) Park, George Thorne, Stan (Preston South)
McKelvey, William Parker, John Varley, Rt Hon Eric G.
Maclennan, Robert Parry, Robert Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
McMahon, Andrew Pendry, Tom Wellbeloved, James
McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, Central) Powell, Raymond (Ogmore) Welsh, Michael
McNamara, Kevin Prescott, John White, Frank R. (Bury & Radcliffe)
McWilliam, John Race, Reg Willey, Rt Hon Frederick
Marks, Kenneth Rees, Rt Hon Merlyn (Leeds South) Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Marshall, Dr Edmund (Goole) Richardson, Miss Jo Williams, Sir Thomas (Warrington)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester South) Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Wilson, Gordon (Dundee East)
Mason, Rt Hon Roy Roberts, Ernest (Hackney North) Wilson, Rt Hon Sir Harold (Huyton)
Maxton, John Roper, John Winnick, David
Maynard, Miss Joan Ross, Ernest (Dundee West) Woodall, Alec
Millen, Rt Hon Bruce Rowlands, Ted Wright, Miss Sheila
Miller, Dr M S (East Kilbride) Sandelson, Neville Young, David (Bolton East)
Mitchell, Austin (Grimsby) Sever, John
Mitchell, R. C. (Solon, Itchen) Short, Mrs. Renée TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Morris, Rt Hon Alfred (Wythenshawe) Silverman, Julius Mr. James Tinn and
Morris, Rt Hon Charles (Openshaw) Skinner, Dennis Mr. Ted Graham.
Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon) Smith, Rt Hon J. (North Lanarkshire)

Question accordingly agreed to.

Ordered, That, at this day's sitting, the motion relating to the Appropriation (No. 2) (Northern Ireland) Order may be proceeded with until any hour.

Mr. Foot

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. It is not related to the events which occurred earlier. No doubt the House will wish to consider afresh what occurred then, and the precedents relating to it. We on the Opposition Benches will certainly wish to do so, as we think that those events involved a truncation of the debate from our point of view.

My point of order arises from the time that has already been taken out of the debate on the Competition Bill. We are now reaching almost 7 o'clock. If we proceed with the Orders of the Day as has been previously announced—and the Opposition and many other hon. Members objected to the way in which the business was proposed to be dealt with—we should be embarking upon the Second Reading of a major Bill with only three hours left for debate.

The Leader of the House said that he was introducing the Bill at this time in spite of the protests from many quarters in the House precisely because he wanted a full debating period to be available so that the views of hon. Members on all sides could be presented. Clearly, it is not possible to have a proper full debate on a major Second Reading between 7 o'clock and 10 o'clock.

I therefore ask the Leader of the House for an announcement on how we should now proceed. I have alternatives to put to him—we could have put them to the Government previously if the opportunity had been available. Either the Government should say that they are not proceeding with the Second Reading, which I am sure would conform with the desire of the House—if they were to do that, they would be able to provide the full time for a Second Reading of the Bill at a later stage while according full time to the debate tonight on Northern Ireland matters or that they will follow a precedent which occurred some six months ago when a similar situation arose and it was agreed that the Question on the Second Reading should not be put at 10 o'clock but that the debate should be adjourned and the outstanding three hours, which would constitute the full time for the debate, should be provided at some later stage. I trust that the Leader of the House will indicate which of the solutions he prefers to adopt. Either he should say that he will not proceed with the Second Reading—that may be the best course—or that the vote on the Second Reading will not be taken at 10 o'clock and that opportunity will be provided at a later stage for a full debate. The Leader of the House said that he wanted a full debate on the matter. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will rescue the matter by adopting one or other of the alternatives.

Mr. Speaker

The House has decided on the business motion and I now call the Orders of the Day. I cannot anticipate what will happen at 10 o'clock. The right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues will understand that.

Mr. Wellbeloved

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. On my reading of sub-paragraph 1 of Standing Order No. 30, which relates to the effecting of the Closure motion, some serious matters arise which I believe should be referred to the Select Committee on Procedure. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, you were not in the Chamber during the course of the short debate on the manuscript amendment. My hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara) made a lucid speech and, after that, the Leader of the House informed the House that during the last quarter of an hour of my hon. Friend's remarks he had concluded that he should accept the manuscript amendment. I intervened during my hon. Friend's speech to indicate my absolute opposition to his manuscript amendment. I did not have an opportunity to put forward my views but I felt that such a motion, if it were carried, would have a number of consequences. It would put an intolerable strain upon officials and officers of the House. It would also put an intolerable strain upon hon. Members who would be faced with a late sitting tonight and might well have heavy duties later in the week.

Standing Order No. 30 states that the Question shall be put unless it shall appear to the Chair that such motion is … an infringement of the rights of the minority". As a single-minded Member having put my opposition to the amendment, I was denied the opportunity, as was any other like-minded hon. Member, of putting a case to the House by the pre-emptive strike of the Patronage Secretary in moving, That the Question be now put. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, you were not in the Chamber at the time and you were probably unaware when you accepted the motion that the rights of minorities were being infringed because, on this occasion, those rights have definitely been infringed.

In the light of those circumstances, although I appreciate that nothing can be done about the matter today, I ask you, Mr. Speaker, if you will indicate that you are prepared to refer the question to the Select Committee on Procedure. That would avoid a minority's rights being inadvertently infringed upon a future occasion. The Select Committee on Procedure should inquire whether a procedure could be established by the outgoing occupant of the Chair or by one of the Clerks at the Table that Mr. Speaker should be informed that hon. Members wished to put a minority view which it had not been possible to put. That can be taken into account in the operation of Standing Order No. 30, which lays precisely that obligation upon the occupant of the Chair. I hope, Mr. Speaker, that you will take the point of order seriously. There has been an absolute denial of the rights of individual Members to oppose the manuscript amendment.

Mr. Speaker

Order. It may or may not be that I can help the House on the matter. One of the most difficult tasks of the occupant of the Chair is accepting or rejecting an application for Closure. The House has given me complete discretion on the matter and, further, stated that it is not open to discussion. Therefore, I shall not take the point of order on the subject because my duty has been imposed on me by the House to ensure that parliamentary rules are observed. I will consider what the hon. Gentleman has put forward but I shall listen to no points of order about the exercise of the Closure tonight.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

Further to the point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Wellbeloved), Mr. Speaker. The occupant of the Chair has the right to decide whether or not there has been adequate debate and whether or not the Closure should be accepted. However, in this case, there was no debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara) moved his manuscript amendment, which none of us had seen. The Leader of the House said that he would accept the amendment—

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman is referring to a matter that I have said is not open to him to discuss. He is beginning to discuss the tact that I accepted the Closure. I am not prepared to let that be done.

Mr. Lewis rose

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is making a point that there was no proper debate. He may be of that opinion but I exercised my discretion, as the House expects me to. On that matter there can be no debate.

Mr. Lewis rose

Mr. Speaker

Order. If the hon. Gentleman has a different point of order that is not about the length of the debate or the number of hon. Members who were not called, he may make that point of order. The other matters come under the heading of my discretion.

Mr. Lewis

I should be grateful, Mr. Speaker, if you would allow me to put my point of order before you attempt to answer it. I was relating a series of events that took place. I am not talking about the question of the Closure and if you will hear me out I shall explain what took place. The Leader of the House spoke and then my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Foot) wanted to speak but was prevented from doing so by the Closure. My point is that before the debate started I gave you notice, Mr. Speaker, that I would like to be called. I am not talking about minority rights but I am talking about debate. Last week I also gave notice that I wished to be called in the debate on capital punishment. On both occasions I was not called. It is also your job—

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman is making a mistake. He is not going to stand in his place and tell me what my job is. If he pursues that line I shall order him to resume his seat.

Mr. Lewis

I again assert, Mr. Speaker, that it is the job of the occupant of the Chair to see that all hon. Members have a fair crack of the whip. If some do not, all that they can do is to raise the matter with the Chair.

Mr. Speaker

By and large—and I do my best—the House cannot complain that I do not try to ensure a fair debate. If the hon. Gentleman was not called tonight, he was apparently one of a number who were not called. Was that the hon. Gentleman's point of order?

Mr. Lewis

I agree, as every hon. Member will agree, that the occupant of the Chair has a most difficult job. I have paid tribute to the way in which the Speaker carries out his onerous duties. But, with great respect to the Chair, if the occupant of the Chair does not know what has happened, if he has not been advised, and if something happens of which he has not been acquainted, surely hon. Members have the right to explain to Mr. Speaker what has happened—not to criticise or to question—so that he may know, and thus perhaps prevent such happenings in the future. Anyone who has been in the House this afternoon will agree that, outside your knowledge, Mr. Speaker, there have been the most disgraceful, Kremlin-like activities that we have ever seen.

Mr. Speaker

It is true that I was not here for the first hour and five minutes of the speech of the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara), but I was here for the last quarter of an hour of it. I was also here whilst all the rest of the incidents occurred.

The Clerk will now proceed to read—

Mr. Fitt

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of what you have just said, I take this opportunity to support the point of order made by my right hon. Friend the Shadow Leader of the House, the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Foot). Today we have had a semi-debate on Northern Ireland. I in no way question what you did with regard to the Closure, Mr. Speaker, but may I point out, without in any way attempting to infringe the Race Relations Act, that the only speaker in that debate was an Englishman, by the name of McNamara, representing an English constituency? That may confuse certain people.

I think that you will take it as a valid point of order, Mr. Speaker, that during the course of today we have heard of matters extraneous to the debate, issues brought before the House by the Government in relation to the Belfast shipyard and the Belfast gas industry, which will lead to more than 3,000 redundancies. That was why Northern Ireland hon. Members who will be affected by the redundancies wanted to take part in a debate not in the early hours of the morning but when a large number of the new Conservative Members would be here, during the hours of daylight, to hear about the problems of Northern Ireland.

It is for that reason, Mr. Speaker, that I ask you, and through you the Leader of the House, whether it is possible to postpone the Northern Ireland debate until another day, when all the new Conservative Members can be made fully aware of the problems that beset the Government and Northern Ireland.

Mr. Speaker

If we are to maintain the rules of the House at all, I have a responsibility to tell the House that we should be moving away from points of order to the business of the day. Hon. Members know that points of order that are arguments about the Government's timetable should not be raised with me at all. I shall accept only a point of order that is not to do with the timetable or with my earlier ruling. I should be failing the House if I did otherwise.

Mr. Richard Wainwright (Colne Valley)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. My point of order is about the reasonable rights of the smaller parties in the House, to which you have always shown yourself entirely sensitive. At the hour that we have now reached—and this is not the responsibility of the Liberal Bench—it will be a physical impossibility for the views of some of the smaller parties to be adequately heard on Second Reading of a major Bill, on which representations from many national and regional organisations and constituency groups have been made to hon. Members. The electorate will be outraged if those views are not ventilated reasonably.

Mr. Speaker

I told the House earlier that I could not anticipate what would happen at 10 o'clock. But I take the hon. Gentleman's point.

Mr. Newens

On a new point of order, Mr. Speaker. Can you help the House about the method by which you take points of order? Whilst I in no way question your ruling or anything of the sort, a certain difficulty arose during the course of points of order being taken this evening. After you announced the result of the Division on the amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara), a number of hon. Members tried to raise points of order. They were unable to catch your eye, but subsequently my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Foot) succeded in catching your eye to raise a point of order. After that, a number of other Labour hon. Members, including me, rose to ask whether you would take further points of order at that stage. You refused to do so.

That raises an important point of order in itself. I understand that when, in the past, one hon. Member has raised a point of order and it has been accepted, it has always been the custom of the House to take successive points of order on the same matter. I wanted to raise at that stage a point of order—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I can help the hon. Gentleman. Experience has taught me that when any hon. Member prefaces his remarks by saying "Without in any way challenging your ruling, Mr. Speaker", it is time for me to be on the alert. I tell the hon. Gentleman, in case he is in doubt, that it is by no means a rule of the House that if one point is taken, 20 or 30 can follow it—not at all. Discretion is given to the Chair in this matter. All my predecessors exercised it as I do.

Mr. Newens

I in no way wish to challenge your ruling, Mr. Speaker. I am merely asking for an explanation which may be helpful to the House on a future occasion. In this case, you did not take one particular hon. Member after my right hon. Friend. Therefore, perhaps you will clarify the position. I am sure that it cannot be that Privy Councillors have precedence over other hon. Members in this respect.

Surely, it would be reasonable in the normal course of events—or perhaps, Mr. Speaker, you can help the House by explaining when it is not reasonable—for additional points of order to be raised, at least in small numbers, when the principle had been accepted as a result of one right hon. or hon. Member raising such a point.

Mr. Speaker

One thing is certain; no Speaker is expected to give reasons why he has ruled in a given way. The hon. Gentleman has been here a long time, and he knows that.

If there is a new point of order, I shall take it. But I shall interrupt any hon. Member who seeks to deal with the timetable or business, or with my rulings, in order to prevent us from reaching the stage where the Clerk reads the Orders of the Day.

Mr. Jim Marshall (Leicester, South)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I do not wish to incur your wrath, but perhaps I may remind you of what happened on 7 December 1978, when you were in the Chair and there was a Supply Day available to the then Opposition on the previous Government's sanctions policies.

You may recall that prior to that debate beginning a fair amount of time had elapsed on what you, Mr. Speaker, would call technical points. When we did get to the business of the day, the Leader of the House—speaking from the Opposition Benches—said: In these circumstances, may I ask the Leader of the House to tell the House what he intends to do to give us time next week to debate this subject which is vital to hundreds of thousands of workers, and because of the issues of freedom involved, which are of importance to every citizen in this country."—[Official Report, 7 December 1978; Vol. 959, c. 1693.] That was said after a considerable amount of time had passed. Those issues and principles apply to the Competition Bill.

Finally, may I remind you Mr. Speaker, of what the Prime Minister said when she was the Leader of the Opposition?

Mr. Speaker

Order. I told the hon. Gentleman that I would not accept such a point of order. His point has already been made by the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Foot). I said that I would interrupt anyone dealing with the timetable of business for tonight. I intend to call upon the Clerk to read the Orders of the Day.

Back to