HC Deb 01 December 1980 vol 995 c19
Mr. Merlyn Rees (Leeds, South)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I wish to seek your advice and, if appropriate, provoke the Leader of the House.

At business questions last week, the right hon. Gentleman made certain remarks that are linked to business tomorrow. It will, therefore, be too late to raise the matter tomorrow. The hon. Member for Havant and Waterloo (Mr. Lloyd) asked the Leader of the House whether the new procedure, whereby a Standing Committee would look at a Bill before it went through its Committee stage, would be appropriate for the British Telecommunications Bill. It is a complicated Bill and many important issues need to be clarified before debate starts. The right hon. Gentleman said that all suggestions would be gratefully received. However, we have not heard a word since then, although we asked whether the British Nationality Bill would go through that procedure. If we are not careful business will unfold every Thursday and we shall still not be aware of how the new procedure will operate. In view of the right hon. Gentleman's words and the all-party support for the Special Standing Committee procedure, it is right that we should know what will happen.

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

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am not at all provoked by the right hon. Gentleman, except perhaps to be helpful and to give further information. It is not the Government's intention to submit the British Telecommunications Bill, to the new procedure. It is a party political controversial Bill in parts and, therefore, perhaps not suitable for the procedure. However, if it is for the convenience of the House, I shall consider a further statement, giving information about a Bill or Bills for which it is the Government's intention to use the procedure, which could be considered a first instalment. I am willing to give information to the House as soon as it is available—in other words, as soon as we have made up our minds.