HC Deb 28 July 1982 vol 28 cc1059-60
Mr. Norman Buchan (Renfrewshire, West)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I would not normally raise a point of order in relation to Question Time, particularly when there are other important matters to debate. However, the Secretary of State's answers require us to ask you questions—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman knows that I cannot allow a point of order on further questions to the Secretary of State.

Mr. Buchan

If you had borne with me another second or so, Mr. Speaker, you would have heard me say that the matter that arises affects both the House and you. It involves privilege. We are entitled to know whether the form used—which was new to me and, I believe, to many—has been used before in such a situation. Has an address for a return of a report ever enabled a report, which should be dealt with under privilege, to be published at a time when it cannot be dealt with in that way? You will recall, Mr. Speaker, that the issue has been described as large and important. Indeed, it is large and important.

The Secretary of State said that he was not involved, but several people are involved. The former Solicitor-General for Scotland, for one, is involved, and I am also involved. The matters arising from the report require such discussion. Is there any way in which you, Mr. Speaker, or the Leader of the House, could take steps to ensure that the Scottish Grand Committee is recalled when the report is published—[Interruption.]—so that it can be discussed under the proper circumstances of privilege?

Mr. Speaker

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for the way in which he presented his point of order. However, he will be aware that it is not for me to decide whether a Committee should be recalled.

In response to the hon. Gentleman's first point, what has happened is not without precedent. It has happened before, and there is nothing out of order on which I can rule.

Mr. Frank McElhone (Glasgow, Queen's Park)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the Secretary of State's totally unsatisfactory answer to my question, I give notice that I intend to raise the matter on the Adjournment of the House. Although I have every faith in Adjournment debates, I have no faith that the Secretary of State will give me an adequate answer. Therefore, I give him notice that I intend to seek an action of declarator in the Court of Session in Edinburgh because of his incompetence.

Mr. George Foulkes (South Ayrshire)

Further to the point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan), Mr. Speaker. Would it be in order for the Leader of the House to be called to inform the House whether it is possible for a resolution to be passed by the House prior to the Summer Recess so that the Scottish Grand Committee can meet during the recess to discuss the matter?

Mr. Nicholas Fairbairn (Kinross and West Perthshire)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State said that if we wanted a copy of the report, we could ask our secretaries to obtain one, or ask the Vote Office to send one. He also said that we should take time to consider the report before commenting on it. However, the time taken will be infinitely increased by the inevitable delay in receiving copies of the report if they have to be sent from the Vote Office. Could you protect the rights of Back Benchers by asking the Secretary of State to ensure that copies of the report, upon its issue, are delivered to Back Benchers in their constituencies instead of allowing a further delay of perhaps three days?

Mr. Speaker

That request will have been heard. I shall lend my support to it if it is in the interests of hon. Members to have a copy. That should not be too difficult.