HC Deb 29 June 1979 vol 969 cc789-90
Mr. Spearing

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Perhaps I may trespass on your hospitality, and that of the House, because this point of order is one of great substance but may not be as usual as those otherwise raised.

There has been a tradition and custom in this House that EEC regulations and documents that are likely to be of political, social or economic importance to Britain are placed before the Scrutiny Committee of this House, and that if that Committee regards such documents as being within the criteria laid down, it recommends that a debate be held in this House. That debate was held prior to the specific and related Council in which the regulation was to be discussed.

For reasons that we all understand we do not have the Scrutiny Committee, but in replying to my question the Lord Privy Seal hinted—indeed, it was more than a hint—that due to the gap that we have it was possible—indeed, he asserted that it was the practice—that the Government would not be inhibited from going ahead and discussing such important regulations in Brussels, even though the Scrutiny Committee had not seen them and even, in his own words, when the House had not had a debate.

I may have been wrong in what I gleaned from the Lord Privy Seal's remarks, but I hope that he will clarify this matter because it is very much a matter of procedure.

Mr. Speaker

One of my primary duties is to guard the interests of this House. I shall look into the matter raised by the hon. Gentleman. He underestimated his point of order. Although I am not responsible for statements, I am responsible for guarding the rights of the House. I shall look into the matter.