HC Deb 01 April 1981 vol 2 c289
Mr. David Ennals (Norwich, North)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I reported to you last night on actions taken by the hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Sir R. Bell), which were witnessed by other hon. Members. You advised me that the complaint concerned privilege, so I give notice that I shall raise the question of the hon. and learned Gentleman's conduct in the normal way for consideration by the Committee of Privileges.

Mr. Speaker

The right hon. Gentleman was correct in writing to me. I know that he does not wish to pre-empt my decision, which I shall announce to the House tomorrow.

Sir Ronald Bell (Beaconsfield)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. The right hon. Member for Norwich, North (Mr. Ennals) gave me notice that he would raise the point of order. I should be sorry if the right hon. Gentleman felt a sense of grievance about anything that happened yesterday. I do not want any parliamentary colleague to feel a sense of personal grievance. However, I see the affair in a different light. It was known that the guillotine would fall upstairs at a certain time—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. and learned Gentleman should not pursue the argument now. If it is a question of privilege, he, too, should write to me, and I shall give my answer to the House orally tomorrow.

Mr. Roger Moate (Faversham)

Further to that point of order, but not related to privilege, Mr. Speaker. I, too, was endeavouring to table a new clause simultaneously with the Bill being reported by the Clerk, who properly took papers from elsewhere and was clearly in difficulty. There is a procedural problem, as a result of which a new clause supported by a large number of right hon. and hon. Members has been elbowed aside by rather more eccentric new clauses. In the context of the guillotine on Report, considerable difficulty results. When selecting new clauses, would you bear in mind the circumstances and, in particular, do your utmost to protect Back Benchers?

Mr. Speaker

The Procedure Committee has considered the difficulty, of which we are all aware. It is not new. When there is a timetable motion, there is usually an understanding between both sides about the time given to different groups of amendments. I shall do my best to be fair to the House, as usual.

Mr. Ivan Lawrence (Burton)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. As one who was standing there at the time, may I point out that the complaints sound like sour grapes from bad losers?