§ Mr. Eldon Griffiths (Bury St. Edmunds)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As one who has an interest to declare, and who expects to continue to have an interest to declare, in the policing of—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Griffiths
I am doing my best, Mr. Speaker. As one who has an interest to declare, and who expects to continue to have an interest to declare, in the policing of public order, may I raise a point of order about a specific matter last night? It was your judgment, Mr. Speaker, in your absolute discretion, that the House should adjourn, and, of course, all of us accept that. In the event that it had proved necessary for you to instruct the Serjeant at Arms to cause the removal from the Chamber of those who were preventing free speech and obstructing the business of the House, what resources were available to the Serjeant at Arms for him to prevent that affront against free speech in the House?
§ Mr. Speaker
What the hon. Member said was hypothetical. That situation did not arise. I have given careful consideration to whether I should make a statement about what occurred last night. I just say this: for centuries this House has seen the strongest expressions of conflicting opinion and policy and, over the centuries, the House has jealously guarded its procedures of free debate. I remind the House that if its proceedings are brought to a halt by disorderly conduct—that includes refusal to hear the opinions of others—that long tradition is damaged and violated and the authority of Parliament is undermined.
As long as I am Speaker of this House, I shall continue to uphold its reputation and supremacy. I hope that in this I shall always have the full backing of the House.