§ Mr. Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock)
On a point of order. Mr. Deputy Speaker. A little while ago, on inquiring at the Speaker's Office, I was told that the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Bill, which is on the Order Paper today, would not be discussed today. I welcome that decision because the Bill was flawed and was not a consolidation measure. However, it is important that the House knows whether it will be taken today. Will you confirm that? Furthermore, if it is proposed to discuss the Bill on another day and not abandon it, will it still be taken through all its stages in one day and, if so, when? Will it be discussed on the Floor of the House? It is unsatisfactory for those of us who were prepared to speak on Second Reading of the Bill later today.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Geoffrey Lofthouse)
That matter should be raised at business questions. It is not a matter for the Chair.
§ Mr. John McAllion (Dundee, East)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. During last month's Scottish Question Time, I gave notice that, because of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply that I received from the Secretary of State for Scotland to a question about a referendum on the future government of Scotland, I intended to raise the matter on the Adjournment of the House. I was then told by the Clerks that, because that subject was a matter for the Prime Minister, and because the Prime Minister does not answer Adjournment debates, it would not be possible for me to raise the matter on the Adjournment of the House. Given the fact that it is in order to ask the Secretary of State for Scotland questions about a referendum for the future government of Scotland, why is it not also in order to raise that subject in a debate on the Adjournment to be answered by the Secretary of State for Scotland?
§ Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)
Further to the point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Mr. Mackinlay), I wish to clarify the position regarding the consolidation measures on the Order Paper today. It is important that any adjustments to the Order Paper should not simply be left to the Whip not to move at a given time, especially bearing in mind the fact that the Adjournment debate under item 7 is limited to an hour and a half. That in itself is disgraceful because the two reports of the Select Committee on Members' Interests run to many pages and the Select Committee spent hundreds of hours producing reports. For them to be dismissed in an hour and a half is tantamount to a cover-up by the Government.
If the consolidation Bill is not moved, is it within your jurisdiction, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to allow us to use that time discussing item 7 so that we can spend more time on the reports of the Select Committee on Members' Interests, as they very much deserve?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
The House is bound by its resolution of last Friday, when it agreed to discuss that matter for an hour and a half.
§ Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I listened carefully to my hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock (Mr. Mackinlay) and I want to know where you stand on the matter. My hon. Friend found a flaw in the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Bill. He then did his duty, as he saw fit, and sought advice from the Clerks about the flawed Bill. We have now found that the Bill has been taken off.
§ Mr. Skinner
It sounds very much like it. Who is working with whom? My hon. Friend the Member for Thurrock should have been allowed to oppose the Bill today. It has given the Government time to try to sort out the problem. Wheels have been working within wheels here. When my hon. Friend and I seek the Clerks' advice, we want to know whether that advice is being given in confidence so that we can get on with the job of opposing the lousy, rotton Tory Government.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I think that the hon. Gentleman knows that when hon. Members speak to the Clerks, they speak in confidence, which is what happened on this occasion.
§ Mr. David Trimble (Upper Bann)
Further to the point of order of the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer), Mr. Deputy Speaker. I appreciate that the House is bound by the timetable motion on the debate on Members' interests passed last Friday, but is there any way to prevent timetable motions from appearing on the Order Paper on Fridays, when not many hon. Members are present? It is particularly unfortunate when there is a minimum of consultation and other hon. Members are not given the opportunity to express their opinions.
§ Mr. Mackinlay
Further to the point of order of my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), Mr. Deputy Speaker. Can the Leader of the House be brought here to tell us why the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Bill is not being proceeded with today? It is legitimate to ask why it has been abandoned and whether there has been some misunderstanding.