HC Deb 30 October 1980 vol 991 cc849-50

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That Standing Order No. 105 (Deputy Speaker) be amended, as follows: Line, 7 after 'absence' insert 'or the absence by leave of the House', Line 26, after 'absence', insert 'or the absence by leave of the House'. Line 32, after 'absence', insert 'or the absence by leave of the House'.—[Mr. St. John Stevas.]

Mr. St. John Stevas

This amendment arises out of an early-day motion which was tabled last March by the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell). We have had correspondence on the matter.

At present, Standing Order No. 105 only provides for the House to be informed by the Clerk at the Table of the unavoidable absence of Mr. Speaker, the Chairman of Ways and Means or the First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means. The amendment would provide for leave of absence to be granted by resolution of the House. It would seem appropriate that, where necessary, such a motion should be moved by a Minister.

Mr. Speaker has kindly indicated that he is content with the proposed change.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell

I am much obliged to the Leader of the House for having taken this point and put it into the form of an amendment to the Standing Order.

Hitherto, the House was in the embarrassing position that when Mr. Speaker had leave of absence the Clerk nevertheless had to stand at the Table and inform the House of the unavoidable absence of Mr. Speaker, which threw many of us into alarm that he might be ill and gave others a sense of insincerity that his absence was, indeed, avoidable, though an absence which the House had desired. The amendment will make for a greater decency in our proceedings.

Question put and agreed to.