HC Deb 13 February 1996 vol 271 cc806-7 3.32 pm
Mr. Peter Luff (Worcester)

I seek your guidance, Madam Speaker, not on the point about which you so kindly wrote to me this morning, but on the rights of Back-Benchers, which you are always so keen to protect. My question relates to the use of Adjournment debates by hon. Members on the Front Bench.

I notice from the Order Paper of Thursday 8 February, page 1488, that the hon. Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Allen) sought to raise with the House the question of the roads programme—a matter for which he has responsibility as shadow spokesman. I see that, subsequently, the debate has been changed and now the hon. Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Cunningham) will raise the question of the 1994 Coventry air crash. Did you encourage an Opposition Front-Bencher perhaps to be more respectful of the rights of Back-Benchers, or was it the Labour Whips, who were worried about the ways in which the debate might expose the bankruptcy of their party's policies?

Madam Speaker

I would not know what action anyone else took, but I encouraged nobody. Hon. Members have asked before to withdraw Adjournment motions. Indeed, that occurred the other day, with the hon. Members for Dartford (Mr. Dunn) and for Blackpool, South (Mr. Hawkins). Many hon. Members have withdrawn their Adjournment debates, so it is a perfectly usual thing to happen.

Mr. Bob Dunn (Dartford)

Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. May I point out that I was a beneficiary of someone removing their Adjournment debate? I benefited from it.

Madam Speaker

I am delighted to hear that.

I believe that the hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Hawkins) withdrew two Adjournment debates in a matter of three weeks. Hon. Members often find that they have other things to do.

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