HC Deb 14 May 1990 vol 172 cc690-1

Ordered, That, at this day's sitting, the Pakistan Bill [Lords], the Town and Country Planning Bill [Lords], the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Bill [Lords], the Planning (Consequential Provisions) Bill [Lords] and the Planning (Hazardous Substances) Bill [Lords] may be proceeded with, though opposed, unitl any hour.—[Mr. Sainsbury.]

10.22 pm
Mr. Harry Ewing

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You will have had plenty of time to think about my point of order because it is perfectly obvious. Can you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as an occupant of the Chair, give me one example during all your time in Parliament and all your time as Mr. Deputy Speaker when you accepted a point of order in the middle of another point of order? When you have answered that, I shall raise another point of order.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I have dealt with the hon. Gentleman's point of order. I remind him and the House that a point of order relating to a closure invariably takes precedence over anything else.

Mr. Ewing

You seem to make up the rules as you go along, Mr. Deputy Speaker—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] That has never happened before and it is totally unacceptable. I want to put ocord my anger and disgust at the conduct of the Chair during the debate. I am very serious about this. Normally it is the occupant of the Chair who asks an hon. Member to retire from the House because of his or her conduct. I am leaving the House now in protest about the conduct of the Chair.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The matter that I have explained to the House is clear and it is of very long standing: a point of order relating to a closure invariably takes precedence.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Would it be fair to say that when an hon. Member moves a closure, that is a motion for a closure? If the hon. Member concerned raises a point of order, he places the Chair in the position of trying to take one point of order over another. Am I right in saying that all that the hon. Member had to do—which probably was not done in this case—was to move, That the Question be now put."? Is not it wrong in principle, according to Standing Orders, for an hon. Member to rise on a point of order during another point of order? Would not it be better if the hon. Member concerned moved the closure as such, rather than on a point of order, so that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, could resolve the matter?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right. There is no need for an hon. Member to say, "On a point of order," before the closure is moved. The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right about the procedure of which he has reminded the House.

Mr. Don Dixon (Jarrow)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Had you any indication from the sponsor of the Bill that he intended to move the closure, bearing in mind the fact that many of my hon. Friends still wanted to participate in the debate?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I hope that the hon. Gentleman is not disputing the judgment of the Chair. If a closure motion is moved, the Chair has to decide whether to accept it. It is then for the House to decide on the matter. All that the Chair has to decide is whether to accept the motion.

Mrs. Alice Mahon (Halifax)

On a point of order. Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have just heard a press report that the IRA has accepted responsibility for the bombing of an Army recruitment office in Halifax some weeks ago. As there has been silence from all quarters about who is responsible for that outrage, which could have resulted in civilian deaths, but fortunately did not, I am wondering whether you have been notified by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland that he intends to make a statement in the near future about the bombing and responsibility for it.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Lady has raised a serious point. It is not possible for a statement to be made now, but I am sure that what she has said has been heard by the Government Front Bench.