§ Mr. Speaker
If the hon. Gentleman has a point of order, it will be in his interest to wait a moment until hon. Members have left the Chamber.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I point out to the hon. Gentleman that, when I call him for a point of order in the ordinary process of our business, he should make his point of order then and not decide for himself that he will choose his own moment to do so. This is a point of order about which the hon. Member has given me notice, and I came prepared to answer him. That will not take two seconds. I point out to the House that hon. Members must not feel that they can choose their own moment to interrupt the business when I have called them.
§ Mr. Hooley
I regret if I have in any way upset the conventions of the House, Mr. Speaker. My intention was simply to show courtesy to a new colleague on his introduction to the House. I am sorry if that contravened the conventions and rules of the House, and I accept your correction if that was so, Mr. Speaker.
My point of order arises out of a motion on the Order Paper concerning the report from the Select Committee on Standing Orders (Revision). The report was published on 2 March 1983 and its terms of reference are set out on page 2 of the report. They are:That a Select Committee be appointed to consider and report upon the re-arrangement and re-drafting of the Standing Orders so as to bring them into conformity with existing practice.I draw the attention of the House to the phrasebring them into conformity with existing practice.One of the recommendations of the report, on page 56, departs substantially from the existing practice of the House. On page 56 the Committee says:This amendment would involve a change of practice in order to conform with the intention of the Order".It goes on to say specifically that this would be a change in practice.
The proposition made by the Committee as set out on page 56 is that, if an hon. Member is suspended by Mr. 184 Speaker, he shall forfeit his salary during the term of his suspension. My point is that it was outwith the terms of reference of the Committee to make any such recommendation. Therefore, that recommendation does not conform to the terms of reference of the Committee as laid down by the House and should be struck out of the report and not debated. I would welcome your ruling, Mr. Speaker, on whether the recommendation is in order, having regard to the terms of reference laid down by the House for the Select Committee.
§ Mr. Speaker
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for giving me notice of his point of order. However, "Erskine May" says on page 635 that the interpretation of the terms of reference for a Select Committee is a matter for the Committee. It is for the House to decide whether it likes what the Select Committee will recommend. This Select Committee dealt not only with this matter but with something else that could be interpreted as being outside the terms of its reference. The House will have a chance to decide if I select the amendment. It is not out of order, but the House will decide whether it agrees with the Select Committee.
§ Mr. Michael English (Nottingham, West)
Further to the point of order, Mr. Speaker. Before you make the selection, no doubt you will wish to consider the well-known rule of law that, although the House of Commons has power to imprison, it has no power to fine.
§ Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Will you clarify a point of some significance with regard to the ruling that you gave my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley)? When a Select Committee takes heed of the terms of reference in the way that you have described, is the "Erskine May" definition in relation to a grey area or one on which there is some ambiguity in the terms of reference, or is it related to the Select Committee doing anything that it wishes, even if it is outside the terms of reference as generally understood?
§ Mr. Speaker
It is a matter of common sense, and a Committee will interpret its terms of reference. Sometimes others may disagree with the interpretation of the Committee, but it is up to the House to decide whether it wants to accept the recommendations of the Select Committee.