HC Deb 08 December 1988 vol 143 c448 4.15 pm
Mr. Speaker

I have a short statement to make about the arrangements for the debate on the motion for the Adjournment, which will follow the passing of the Consolidated Fund Bill on Monday 19 December.

Right hon. and hon. Members should submit their subjects to my office not later than 9 am on Thursday 15 December. A list showing the subjects and the times will be published later that day. Normally, the time allotted will not exceed one and one half hours, but I propose exercising discretion to allow one or two debates to continue for longer, up to a maximum of three hours.

Where identical or similar subjects have been selected by different right hon. or hon. Members whose names are drawn in the ballot, only the first name will be shown on the list. As some debates may not last the full time allotted to them, it will be the responsibility of right hon. and hon. Members to keep in touch with developments if they are not to miss their turn.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You gained the Chair with the good will of us all, and not least among the many reasons was that you said that you would be the protector of Back-Benchers' rights. In the opinion of one hon. Member—myself—you have done your best over many years to do so.

There is a non-party issue for the House of Commons to consider. Is it proper that the Consolidated Fund Bill—which until recent years was considered sacred and a time when some of your predecessors would not even allow statements at 3.30 pm because they felt that the Consolidated Fund should start straight away—should be eroded gradually and by a trickle, first, by Adjournment debates, then by long statements, and now by starting at 10 o'clock at night? Several right hon. and hon. Members feel that they are being given even less opportunity to raise matters in prime time. This is a matter that you, Mr. Speaker, ought to consider as a matter of principle.

Mr. Speaker

I share the hon. Gentleman's concern, but, as the Leader of the House said, it is not unprecedented. The Consolidated Fund Bill gives Back-Bench Members a precious opportunity to raise matters of interest to them, and perhaps the hon. Gentleman should draw the matter to the attention of the Procedure Committee to see whether, in future, a definite arrangement can be made to ensure that Back-Bench time is preserved.

Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. On the business statement—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I shall deal with points of order on the business statement after the statement by the Secretary of State for Wales.