HC Deb 12 February 1981 vol 998 cc999-1001
Mr. Harry Cowans (Newcastle upon Tyne, Central)

I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely, the statement by the Minister in charge of Government information made outside this House on 11 February. It is disappointing that the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) is not in his seat. He and his office were informed that I intended to raise the matter.

The right hon. Gentleman's statement was made to the Putney Conservative Association. Had it remained within that august body, its contents might not have been of such considerable purport to the House. His speech has been referred to widely in the press and in the House today, but unfortunately only some of it has been talked about. Within the speech are wide implications of a change of Government policy and a change of direction, which are matters to be debated in the House.

I welcome the right hon. Member back into the real world because in part of the speech he said of trends that had occurred in the past two years that they were not unexpected, although their sharpness and suddenness came as a surprise. Labout Members have been telling the Government about the sharpness—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman must not make the speech that he would make if I were to grant the application. All that he needs to do is to persuade me of the urgency, importance and specific nature of what is troubling him.

Mr. Cowans

I apologise for transgressing, Mr. Speaker. I shall leave that part of the speech and carry on with another part and hope that I shall not transgress again. It is difficult to make my point without quoting the right hon. Gentleman's speech. I shall change my tack in quoting from the speech. The part that makes my point is: Commonsense tells us that changed circumstances make adjustments necessary in tactics and time. That is policy and that is a matter which interests the House. If tactics are to be changed—and we have been telling the right hon. Gentleman for a long time that his tactics are wrong—that matter should be debated on the floor of the House. The right hon. Member's statement goes further: We could neither press ahead regardless with our planned schedule nor avoid some needed measures to deal with some of the distressing effects of the factors that he had referred to.

Labour Members have been informing the right hon. Member daily of the distressing effects. He has talked about "some measures". Those measures are important to the House and should be brought before the House. Will he at last do something about unemployment? Is that one of the measures? Is his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry suddenly to change his mind and appoint a northern development agency? Is that one of the measures? The answer is that we do not know. That is why the matter should be debated in the House, to prove that the right hon. Gentleman has been listening to what we have been telling him—which will help to get the country back to where it was before the Conservative Government came into office.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, Central (Mr. (rowans) gave me notice this morning before 12 o'clock that he would seek to make an application under Standing Order No. 9.

The hon. Gentleman asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purposes of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely, the statement by the Minister in charge of Government information made outside this House on 11 February. I listened, as the House did, with interest to what the hon. Gentleman said in making his application. The House knows that it has told me to give no reasons for my decision. I have to rule that the hon. Gentleman's submission does not fall within the provisions of the Standing Order. Therefore, I cannot submit his application to the House.