HC Deb 26 March 1979 vol 965 cc25-6
36. Mr. Hooley

asked the Lord President of the Council if he will seek to implement the proposals for sittings on Fridays to be held from 9.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m., as recommended by the Select Committee on Procedure.

Mr. Foot

This is a matter for the House and not Ministers to decide. I am at present considering how the House might best reach conclusions on the Procedure Committee's recommendations generally.

Mr. Hooley

Without wishing to disturb your Friday morning breakfast, Mr. Speaker, may I ask whether the Lord President agrees that this would be a modest change in our procedures? It would be a great help to provincial Members. It would enable them to keep their commitments in the House on a Friday as well as to honour the many prior commitments in their constituencies on the same day.

Mr. Foot

It is a modest proposal, and it is one of the measures that should be left to the vote of the House when we come to deal with these lesser procedural matters, if I may so describe them. [HON. MEMBERS: "When?".] There has been a recommendation in subsequent proposals by the Procedure Committee as to the ways in which we should approach the various recommendations. Although I should not like to be held to it absolutely, I believe that we should follow that course. That is the line on which we are now proceeding.

Mr. Tim Renton

Before the right hon. Gentleman disappears from the scene should be not repair his damaged parliamentary reputation by seeking to find time to debate and vote on the major recommendations of the Procedure Committee?

Mr. Foot

I have already given my reply in the main answer. Since the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question is based on a false premise, the rest of his remarks do not arise.

Mr. Skinner

Would it not be a good idea for the House to sit at 9.30, or thereabouts, every morning so that hon. Members are made to be full-time Members, instead of pottering down to the inner courts, the outer courts and the inner temples and the various businesses that many of them attend? Does my right hon. Friend accept that this proposition will be no good for Members, such as my self, who refuse to be dragged away on Fridays by Yorkshire Television to take part in political programmes, which means that Members play truant for the day so that the programme can go out on Sunday afternoons? The suggestion would not alter that position.

Mr. Foot

I do not accept what my hon. Friend says about the way in which Members of Parliament discharge their duties. Every hon. Member discharges his various parliamentary responsibilities in a different way and a different combination of ways. I believe that that is for the good of the House of Commons and not to its detriment.