HC Deb 12 March 1984 vol 56 c15
31. Mr. Dalyell

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will introduce proposals to enable regular debates by the House on early-day motions supported by more than 180 right hon. and hon. Members.

The Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. John Biffen)

I have no such proposals.

Mr. Dalyell

Why not?

Mr. Biffen

Because I am unaware of any deep or genuine demand.

Mr. Stokes

Is my right hon. Friend aware that some of us believe that there are already too many early-day motions and that if they were debated the situation would become intolerable? Does he further agree that if the proposals of the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) were implemented the hon. Gentleman would be able to raise the boredom level to even greater heights that he already does?

Mr. Biffen

There is no doubt that many early-day motions are tabled as expressions of opinion rather than in the expectation of debate, and I believe that that serves a purpose.

Mr. Beith

If the Leader of the House cannot meet the request of the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell), will he arrange for debates on subjects chosen by groups of members—say, those representing more than 20 per cent. of the electorate—which is a facility currently extended to the Labour party but not to other parties in the House?

Mr. Biffen

The hon. Gentleman may wish to address that argument to the proposed Procedure Committee rather than to rehearse it now.