§ 4.5 pm
§ Mr. Ian Lloyd (Havant)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will be aware that, within the last few days, there has appeared on the Order Paper a series of early-day motions on the subject of the conditions of black South African mineworkers. These early-day motions fall into three categories. The first is based on the distinct and obvious premise that South African society has no redeeming features whatsoever, and that a policy of total condemnation is therefore justified. The second is based on a premise that these damaging, destructive and indefensible features of apartheid are on the way out, and that any support which can be given by Her Majesty's Government or others to that trend is therefore justifiable.
But there is a third category, which is entirely different.
§ Mr. Lloyd
It is a different kettle of stinking fish. The objective of the third category of early-day motion is to discredit the views of hon. Members by suggesting that they hold views which they do not hold. Secondly, it has as its distinct purpose the suggestion that the views or the judgment of an hon. Member can be bought or influenced simply because he has accepted a journey to a foreign country and has travelled around, as most hon. Members do on most occasions when they travel abroad to other countries. My point of order is that such motions are an unwarranted and grave abuse of the House.
§ Mr. Lloyd
It makes the most scandalous allegations about an hon. Member and it is a breach of the tradition of courtesy and dignity in this place, which allows the widest possible diversion of interest and argument, without attacking the honour and integrity of individual Members. Is it possible for you in such circumstances, Mr. Speaker, to defend an hon. Member, and, indeed, to 832 defend the tradition and dignity of the House, by ensuring that, when an early-day motion of this kind is tabled, the Table Office will at least refer it to you in the first instance so that any early-day motion attacking—
§ Mr. Speaker
I thank the hon. Member for having given me notice that he was going to raise this point of order. I have studied carefully the motion to which he refers. It contains strong criticisms of the hon. Member's alleged political views and conduct, but motions of this kind frequently appear on the Order Paper. However, this motion gives me the opportunity to remind the House—I am glad to have the opportunity—of the words in "Erskine May":Good temper and moderation are the characteristics of parliamentary language. Parliamentary language is never more desirable than when a Member is canvassing opinions and conduct of his opponents in debate.I would therefore ask all hon. Members drafting motions to bear those wise words in mind.
§ Mr. James Lamond (Oldham, Central and Royton)
On the same point of order, Mr. Speaker. While I accept the ruling and comments that you have made, Sir, would you care to extend that to include all citizens of this country who might be maligned in early-day motions—such as Monsignor Bruce Kent, who frequently comes under very strong personal attack in early-day motions?
§ Mr. Speaker
I confirm to the hon. Member that the words that I have quoted from "Erskine May" apply equally to those inside or outside the House.