HC Deb 30 June 1981 vol 7 cc697-8
Mr. Bob Cryer (Keighley)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I should like your guidance on a matter which arose yesterday but which is also connected with the laying of a statutory instrument today. My hon. Friend the Member for Easington (M. Dormand) asked the Minister of State, Department of Trade, about the workings of the Films Act 1980, and specifically about the quota for British films. The Minister for Consumer Affairs replied: I hope to be making an announcement on quotas before long. I took up the question, and the right hon. Lady said: I have already told the House that I expect to make an announcement about the quota shortly".—[Official Report, 29 June 1981; Vol. 7, c. 563–4.] Standing Order No. 120 requires that, if an Act specifies that powers should be carried out by an instrument, the instrument should be laid before the House. When questions are asked in Parliament of a Minister and that Minister has made an order, preparatory to the laying, about that very subject, namely, the quota of British films, there is an obligation on the Minister to provide that information. The Minister said that she would make an announcement, but the previous Thursday she had made an order reducing the quota from 30 per cent. to 15 per cent., and that order is laid before the House today.

I seek your guidance, Mr. Speaker—I am sure that Erskine May has guidance for us—on this matter. When a specific question is asked about a subject, the Minister should make clear the position when an order is to be laid before the House is involved.

Mr. Speaker

I am much obliged to the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer). He will not be surprised if I say that his point of order is too important for me to answer off the cuff. I shall answer it tomorrow.