HC Deb 09 April 1986 vol 95 cc168-9
Mr. Speaker

Yesterday the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) asked for my ruling on whether the altered status of Manchester international airport rendered the Airports Bill prima facie hybrid.

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving me oral notice of this matter yesterday and for sending me a detailed written submission because it has enabled me to look into the matter in great detail and to reach a considered decision.

The right hon. Gentleman submitted that the newly constituted Manchester airport company, created on 1 April after the Bill was reported from Standing Committee, is being singled out from other airports in its class and that the Bill is therefore hybrid. My duty is to look at the terms of the Bill and to see whether it singles out an airport or airport company for treatment different from others in the same class.

When I look at this Bill, I see that the classes of the airports, airports companies and local authorities are drawn entirely in general terms, and that there is no discrimination within those classes. The changed status of Manchester international airport has therefore not made the Airports Bill a hybrid Bill.

Mr. Alfred Morris (Manchester, Wythenshawe)

I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for the earnest consideration which I know that you have given to my application. With others on both sides of the House, I shall naturally want to reflect on a very important statement. Meanwhile, may I thank the Officers of the House with whom I have been in contact on this matter for their unfailing help and courtesy?

Mr. Speaker

I thank the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am sorry to raise this matter, but you will know that one and a quarter hours were spent yesterday on a series of points of order. I want not to repeat what was said yesterday but to raise with you a question which relates to yesterday.

You will know, Mr. Speaker, that the argument was that hon. Members had been led to believe that certain documents would be made available before the debate. The Chair ruled repeatedly that that was a matter for Ministers. When the House is being disrupted and its proceedings are being delayed, as was the case yesterday, would you not wish to express a view which might influence Ministers' judgments when they are deciding when to make documents available?

My hon. Friend the Member for Dunfermline, West (Mr. Douglas) came into the Chamber with an enormous pile of documents which had been put in the Library at 3.30 pm—approximately half an hour before the debate. It was clear that no hon. Member was able to discuss or examine those documents or to examine relevant issues about which there was information in the documents. May I put it to you, Mr. Speaker, that you might wish to deprecate the practice of Ministers refusing to allow sufficient time to enable hon. Members to study such material? Such information, had it been available, would have had some bearing on yesterday's debate.

Mr. Speaker

I thank the hon. Gentleman. I confirm that Mr. Deputy Speaker was in the Chair at the time and was correct in what he said. When documents are made available is a matter for the Government, not for the Chair. I note also that Mr. Deputy Speaker allowed a dilatory motion to be moved, so the decision was placed in the hands of the House.