§ Mr. Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield)
On a point of order, Madam Speaker. It will be brief, and I apologise for making it today.
There is a feeling on both sides of the House that—given your great interest in preserving the rights of hon. Members—you might wish at some stage to comment on the view that, over the past two or three weeks, private Members' time and private Members' business have been interfered with in an unwarranted way. Two weeks ago, a Bill that would have given disabled people rights—
§ Mr. Sheerman
I remember your being there, Madam Speaker.
The feeling is that the Government are now organising business in a way that almost undermines private Members' time and private Members' Bills. I have heard the matter being discussed by hon. Members on both sides of the House. Will you make a statement, Madam Speaker, or talk to the relevant Committees in order to make some headway? There is a feeling that our rights as Members of Parliament are currently being undermined by the Government.
§ Madam Speaker
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman was present on Friday, when I was in the Chair and several hon. Members raised the issue. I understand that a number of hon. Members have already written to the Procedure Committee about the whole procedure of dealing with private Members' Bills. I anxiously await the Committee's report, in which I am as interested as the hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Michael Jopling (Westmorland and Lonsdale)
On a point of order, Madam Speaker. It is on the same subject. May I point out that the problem with private Members' Bills arises every year? It is in the very nature of private Members' Bills that if they are controversial, it is always difficult to get them through; I must point out, however, that when the Select Committee on Sittings of the House—which I have the honour to chair—sat just over two years ago, there were no representations for the procedure for private Members' Bills to be changed.
§ Madam Speaker
The right hon. Gentleman has been in the House for a long time, and is very experienced in these matters. I am as aware as he is of some of the difficulties that the House runs into from time to time in regard to contentious issues.