§ Mr. Walden
To ask the Lord President of the Council if he will make a statement on the origins of the 10 o'clock rule in respect of business of the House; what assessment he has made to its suitability to current conditions; and what plans he has to change it.
§ Mr. Newton
The origins of the 10 o'clock rule lie in the 1880's. Following a report from the Select Committee on Parliamentary Procedure in 1886, William Smith, the then First Lord of the Treasury, proposed in 1888 a series of rules of procedure. The impetus for the regulation of the hours of the House resulted from a series of very late sittings in the previous sessions. The hours of sitting of the House have been regulated by Standing Order since 1888 to the present day, except during the period 1940–47 when they were regulated by Sessional Order. Prior to 1888 only Wednesday and morning sittings were regulated.
I am currently having discussions with the hon. Member for Newcastle Upon Tyne, East (Mr. Brown), in the light of the report of the Select Committee on Sittings of the House. The report did not however envisage a change to the 10 o'clock rule.