§ Order read for consideration (as amended in the Standing Committee).
§ Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. When my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) moved that his Bill be now read a Second Time, I honestly did not hear any hon. Member say "Object"—[HON. MEMBERS: "We did."] If you heard an objection, Mr. Deputy Speaker, could you tell us from whom it came?
Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. We have been round that course on many previous Fridays. As this is the last effective Friday for private Members' Bills, perhaps it would be as well if I were to remind the House that this is a well-established procedure. I clearly heard "Object", which means that the Bill—
Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I have not finished. I also remind the House that the Select Committee on Procedure has considered this procedure fairly recently and has advised against any change to it. The Committee, of course, gave its reasons for so doing.
It might also be as well if I remind the House that the procedure of objection is not available only at 2.30 pm on a Friday; it is used frequently on main sitting days at 2.30 pm to stop private Bills. It can equally be used to stop Government motions at various times. If an hon. Member shouts "Object" to any of those categories of Bill, that does not necessarily mean that he objects to the Bill as such. He may merely be objecting to the Bill proceeding without debate or scrutiny. I hope that that helps to clarify the position for the House.
§ Sir Bernard Braine
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am sure that the House is grateful to you for the explanation that you have just given of the present position. You did not call me when I sought to rise a little earlier—I should have shouted that I wanted to make a point of order. Great indignation was felt by my hon. Friends about the way in which the hon. Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) sabotaged a Bill—and subsequently glorified in that fact—which is of great social importance and of great importance in terms of law and 1303 order in many parts of the country. Happily, that is not the case in my constituency, but there is a major problem in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Streatham (Sir W. Shelton) which he was seeking to alleviate, with the support of all of us.
I do not know whether the Select Committee on Procedure can be persuaded to reconsider that matter, but there is something badly wrong with our procedures when a Bill that is desired by many people, by the forces of law and order, and especially by women is sabotaged. The hon. Member for Brent, East gave us a lecture, but he was not even well informed. I shall not go into the details now because this is a point of order, but there must be a strong case for the Select Committee on Procedure being asked to reconsider that matter. Parliament is a living and continuing thing. It may take a view one day, but if abuse continues to occur, I believe that the Select Committee should be asked to reconsider.
Mr. Deputy Speaker
I fully understand what the Father of the House, the right hon. Member for Castle Point (Sir B. Braine), said, but what occurred today was in order. If, however, the right hon. Gentleman feels that the matter should be referred to the Procedure Committee, who better to do that than he?
§ Mr. Tony Banks
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I say through you, Sir, to the Father of the House, for whom I have infinite respect, that I believe, as a member of the Procedure Committee, that he has made a good point? However, I must point out to him that there was a difference between the way that my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, East (Mr. Livingstone) dealt with the Sexual Offences Bill and the method used by those who objected to my Protection of Badger Setts Bill. My hon. Friend objected openly to the Sexual Offences Bill. He will have to take whatever public criticism comes his way and he will, no doubt, endure it in his customary fashion.
Unlike my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn), I clearly heard the objections to my Protection of Badger Setts Bill from the hon. Members for Romsey and Waterside (Mr. Colvin) and for Devizes (Sir C. Morrison). The difference between them and my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, East is that they want to wear the cloak of anonymity. Every hon. Member must in the end be accountable for his or her actions. I respect the views of any hon. Members who wish to use the procedures of the House to kill off a Bill if they believe that that is in the best interests of their constituents, or of whatever other interests they serve. However, they ought not then to be able to claim anonymity.
I was not here at 9.30 when a number of points of order were raised because last week I named the hon. Member for Devizes who objected to my Bill. I understand that he has received a number of threats. I utterly deplore them. Anyone who issues threats ought to realise that, far from the hon. Member for Devizes being criticised by the public, as he ought to be, he could gain their sympathy. I hope that anyone who is considering such foolhardy actions will bear that in mind. The Bill will return to this place, when 1304 the hon. Members for Romsey and Waterside and for Devizes will undoubtedly endure public criticism for having killed off the Protection of Badger Setts Bill.
Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The matter has been well ventilated on both sides of the House. We must now get on.