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Mr. Kenneth Clarke rose--
Mr. Speaker : Order. The House is in difficulty over this matter. As I have already said, a manuscript amendment, which I should be prepared to consider carefully, is being drafted. Let us listen now to what the Secretary of State for Health has to say.
Mr. Buchan rose--
I may have misunderstood what you said a few moments ago. My first understanding of what you said was that you had called the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) to order because it seemed that he might be straying beyond the terms of the debate. That would have been right and necessary for you to do. However, some of your later comments led me to believe--I am sure that I was wrong in this assumption--that you had ordered the hon. Member to resume his seat and to bring his speech to an end.
I am able to hear things that are said by hon. Members who are sitting near me that you, Mr. Speaker, are unable to hear. I believe that a number of hon. Members thought that you had caused the hon. Member for Workington to cease speaking. I know--and you know far better than I--that it does not lie within Mr. Speaker's power to do that. As I understand it, you asked the hon. Member for Workington to cease to refer to anything that was either outside the terms of the motion or ought to have been raised as a matter of privilege and that you would have
Column 831given him the opportunity to continue his speech if you had realised that he wished to do so. Am I right in that assumption?
Mr. Speaker : The hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) said that he knew that, if it were moved, this motion would be narrow. I had already pointed out to him, both in private and in public, the extent to which he could go in the debate. He went to that point. My understanding then was that he had made his contribution--[ Hon. Members :-- "No."] Then I called another hon. Member to speak. That is that position. I have already called the Secretary of State. [ Hon. Members : -- "On a point of order, Mr. Speaker."] I shall hear the hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook).
Mr. Robin Cook (Livingston) : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I try to assist the House? It is quite clear that the debate inevitably turns on what happened this morning in Standing Committee E. [Hon. Members :-- "No."] Whether we are debating what was said in Standing Commitee E or whether Standing Committee E was disrupted, the debate inevitably turns on what happened this morning in the Standing Committee. If the motion is persisted with, the House will be invited to take a view on what happened in Standing Committee E. Surely, therefore, it would be wrong for allegations about what happened this morning to be made in the Chamber before hon. Members have in front of them the verbatim record of the Committee's proceedings.-- [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Dover (Mr. Shaw) says that the words are irrelevant to the Committee's behaviour. We cannot judge its behaviour without having the record of that behaviour in front of us. It is perfectly clear that the Secretary of State intends to refer to what he says happened this morning. May I put it again to the Leader of the House that, whatever he may think about the merits or otherwise of the motion he advanced 45 minutes ago, it would be better for the House to debate it when we have the verbatim record? May I press him on an additional point? We are now in difficulty that Standing Committee E is due to resume the sitting at 4.30 this afternoon, at which point all those hon. Members who are aware of what happened this morning will vanish from the Chamber. In those circumstances, surely it must be self-evident that the debate must be deferred for future and further consideration. Several Hon. Members rose --
Sitting suspended at 4.15 pm.
Dr. Cunningham : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. During the brief suspension I have taken the opportunity to discuss the situation not only with the Leader of the House but with my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours), who has renewed to me his assurance--the assurance that he first gave to the House some moments ago--that it is not his intention to disrupt the Standing Committee's proceedings any further.
Column 832In the light of our discussions and that new assurance, I hope that the Leader of the House will now respond postively-- [Interruption.] It is a clear undertaking, as I said earlier, and I repeat it now. I therefore invite the Leader of the House to respond positively and to withdraw the motion.
Sir Geoffrey Howe : Two points have emerged clearly from what has been said on both sides of the House, including by the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot). The first concerns the importance of upholding the authority of the Chair.
Dr. Cunningham : I apologise to the Leader of the House. I said--I repeat it willingly--that of course we uphold the authority of the Chair in all circumstances, including the circumstances in which the hon. Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes) found herself earlier. I give that absolute assurance again, as I did at the beginning of my original remarks.
Sir Geoffrey Howe : I am grateful to the shadow Leader of the House for his confirmation of that because it was a point that emerged clearly, even from the characteristically mischievous but well-intentioned intervention of the right hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent. I appreciate the support of the right hon. Gentleman as a former Leader of the House, and also that of the shadow Leader of the House.
Secondly, the undertaking now given by the shadow Leader of the House on behalf of, and affirming that given by, the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) was of a character not available through the usual channels, despite our search for it at an earlier stage this afternoon. Had that position been different, the question of moving the motion that I moved would also have been different. The undertaking now having been given and the House having plainly been assured from both sides that the authority of the Chairman of the Standing Committee must and will be upheld, we have a different situation from that which prevailed when I moved the motion. The allegations advanced in the Committee upstairs which were the subject of the ruling by the Chairman of the Standing Committee have in substance been reasserted on the Floor of the House this afternoon. That is, for me and for most hon. Members, a matter of the utmost regret. It is fair to my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling (Mr. Forsyth) that I should make it clear that he firmly rebutted those allegations during the Committee's proceedings. I hope that they can be left to rest on the basis that they should never have been made. [ Hon. Members :-- "No."] On the basis of the assurance given by the hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) and his confirmation that the authority of the Chairman of the Committee will be upheld, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Mr. Roger Gale (Thanet, North) : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Now that the matter has been put to bed, you will be aware that this afternoon we have witnessed the shameless use by one hon. Member of the television cameras to smear the reputation of another. [Interruption.]
Column 833Mr. Gale : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I regret to have to press the matter further. This afternoon we have witnessed the use of the cameras on live television to smear a Member of this House. The hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) would not have said what he did outside the House and every hon. Member knows it. As a Back Bencher, I appeal to you Mr. Speaker. It is your clear duty to protect Members of the House. When these proceedings are over, will you consider what measures can be taken to ensure that such circumstances do not arise again?
Several Hon. Members rose--
Mr. Speaker : Order. I hope that the House will not persist with this matter. Allow me to deal with it. We must deal with each other in this place as men and women of honour. It is not in our traditions that we should smear each other in the House. The hon. Member informed the House of what had occurred in the Committee this morning and at a certain point I asked him to desist. We should now continue with our proceedings.
Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South) : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. It is clear that the events of this morning, of which some of us knew nothing until the hon. Member for Plymouth, Drake (Dame J. Fookes) reported to the House, have put both the House and yourself in some difficulty.
I wish to put to you a point which is a matter of precedent relating to the powers of the Chair and hon. Members who are on their feet. You made it clear that my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) had assumed and affirmed that the scope of the debate on the motion moved rather precipitately by the Leader of the House, was narrow. My hon. Friend developed several points, which you informed him were outside the scope of the debate. At that point you called my right hon. Friend the Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot) who made an effective speech. Some of us were under the impression that you called him to make a point of order. At that point my hon. Friend technically had not completed his speech although in your judgment he was moving outside the scope of the debate.
It is within the power of the Chair to ask an hon. Member not to pursue a point if it is beyond the scope of the debate or is not in order, and you did so. As a matter of precedent, is it not the case that the Chair has not the power, other than through the ten minutes rule or on matters relating to order, to ask Members to resume their seats and that only on a matter of content can they be ordered to pursue other matters? I hope that you can confirm that on future occasions, which I hope will not arise, hon. Members will be able to complete their speeches, as you will agree is right.
Mr. Speaker : Allow me to explain. I regret that there has been some confusion this afternoon. I have no authority to order an hon. Member to sit down unless he is out of order. I was under the impression that the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) had completed his speech. That is why I called the hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent (Mr. Foot). If the hon.
Column 834Member had not completed his speech, I apologise to him. In my judgment, he had reached the point at which it would not have been in order for him to go further.
Mr. Ivan Lawrence (Burton) : Further to the point of order, Mr. Speaker. Can you tell us whether the conclusion of these proceedings is now a precedent? If it is a precedent, is not the precedent this--that if one shows contempt for the ruling of a Chairman of a Standing Committee and subsequently, having caused the disruption of that Committee, gives an undertaking that it will not happen again, no further proceedings will follow? Is that the kind of precedent that we are expecting to establish today?
Mr. Onslow : Further to the point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it not evident that the confusion that has been caused in the House this afternoon has its origins in one simple fact, which is that Chairmen of Standing Committees do not have power to suspend members of those Committees for unruly behaviour? They do not have such powers because no member of a Standing Committee has previously behaved so badly as the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) behaved on this occasion--of that there can be no doubt. Would not the best way out of this difficulty be for the whole matter to be referred to the Select Committee on Procedure so that a judgment can be made? Then the hon. Member for Workington, who is a member of that Committee, can argue his point, although I doubt whether his argument will carry much conviction.
Mr. Speaker : I do not think that we can pursue this matter to any benefit today. It is perfectly true, as the right hon. Member for Woking (Mr. Onslow) said, that the Chairmen of Standing Committees-- Dr. John Reid (Motherwell, North) rose --
As the right hon. Member for Woking said, Chairmen of Standing Committees, whose authority must always be upheld, do not have the powers that the Speaker has. It may well be that the Select Committee on Procedure should consider the matter.
Dr. Reid : Further to the point of order, Mr. Speaker. I raise this point of order reluctantly because, like my hon. Friends, I am aware that very important Scottish business is to follow immediately afterwards. I am also aware that many people in Scotland will regard today's events--both the byzantine rules and the substance of what was said--as very important. The motion was withdrawn after discussions, through the usual channels, of three issues. The first two, I accept. The third was a statement from the Leader of the House to the effect that the allegations have been rebutted by the Minister concerned and assurances given. I want to know--this is a point of order for you, Sir--and I am sure that the people of Scotland will want to know, whether that means that assurances have been given by the Minister that the company trading--
Column 835Parliament, knows, that we do not make allegations against each other in this Chamber. If we seek to do so, it must be by a motion on the Order Paper.
Sir Hugh Rossi (Hornsey and Wood Green) : Further to the point of order, Mr. Speaker. If the principle established by this afternoon's proceedings is that the authority of Chairmen of Standing Committees must always be upheld, how can we have been discussing what happened before a ruling was made by the Chairman of a Standing Committee? If we have such a discussion, it means that the House is being invited to stand as a court of appeal upon that ruling. With respect, Mr. Speaker, it should be made perfectly clear that if a Chairman of a Standing Committee has made a ruling, that ruling cannot be questioned by the House. We must then determine whether an hon. Member has acted properly in accordance with that ruling. That is not what we have been doing this afternoon.
Mr. Speaker : In order that the House can make a judgment on whether a motion should be carried or not, the arguments must be heard, and that is exactly what happened this afternoon. I must say to the House, however, that I think that these proceedings bring no credit on us and that it would be very wise indeed for the Select Committee on Procedure to look carefully at the powers that are given--or not given, in this case--to the Chairmen of Standing Committees. Their authority must be upheld and the hon. Member for Drake was quite right to come to the House to report to the House what happened in Committee.
Several Hon. Members rose --
Mr. Cryer : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. There have been a number of requests that you should report today's events to the Select Committee on Procedure. The Chairman of that Committee, who takes a deep interest in these affairs, is not here today. May I suggest, therefore, that to avoid any repetition of such a series of events, you ask the Procedure Committee to investigate the whole structure of rules relating to Members' interests and to tighten them up? That would render discussions such as those held this morning unnecessary because Ministers would not be involved.
Mr. Robin Maxwell-Hyslop (Tiverton) : Further to the point or order, Mr. Speaker. I think that we should clarify, for the record, which of two things the House was doing. If the motion tabled by my right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the House had purported to censure the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) and to punish him in some way- -by exclusion or anything else--it would have been perfectly right for the House to debate the circumstances of the Chairman's request to him, with which he did not comply. I did not see my right hon. and learned Friend's motion in writing, but as I understand the matter, the motion did not seek to censure anybody. Instead it would have conferred powers on the Chairman of the Standing Committee. It cannot, therefore, have been in order to go into what happened in that Committee only for the House to decide whether to
Column 836uphold the authority of the Chairman of the Committee. I have to say, Mr. Speaker, that I think that it is a matter for regret that the House did not proceed with that motion, which represented the only possible way of upholding the authority of the Chairman of that Committee.
Mr. Speaker : We can best bring this matter to a conclusion by repeating that the House was being asked to confer power upon the Chairman of a Standing Committee to exclude a Member if he misbehaved. The hon. Member for Drake did not have that power this morning. The motion before the House was a debatable motion and the House was not asked to give a rubber stamp to what the Leader of the House proposed. The House had every right to debate whether the Chairman of a Standing Committee should have that power. The matter has now been resolved. I hope that we shall never get into such a difficulty again, and that we may leave the matter there.
Several Hon. Members rose
Mr. Alan Meale, supported by Mr. Frank Haynes, Mr. Dennis Skinner, Mr. Joe Ashton, Mr. Harry Barnes, Mr. Don Dixon, Mr. Harry Cohen, Mr. Eric Illsley, Mr. Martin Redmond, Mr. John Prescott, Mr. Alexander Eadie and Mr. George J. Buckley, presented a Bill to establish the rights of owners of houses, land, buildings and other constructions which have suffered damage due to subsidence resulting from the working and getting of coal or of coal and other minerals worked therewith, to full repair or equitable compensation of their properties ; to establish an independent arbitration procedure to resolve any disputes that may arise out of such damage or any matters relating thereto ; to require any public body or organisation involved in the working or getting of coal and other minerals to take steps to prevent subsidence damage and to promote public awareness of working which might give rise to such damage :
And the same was read the First time ; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 26 January and to be printed. [Bill 46.]
Mr. Alan Meale, supported by Mr. Denis Howell, Mr. Joe Ashton, Mr. Jim Lester, Mr. Tom Pendry, Mr. Eric S. Heffer, Mr. David Blunkett, Mr. Robert N. Wareing, Mr. Harry Barnes, Mr. Brian Wilson, Mr. Peter L. Pike and Mr. Don Dixon, presented a Bill to establish a statutory liaison body for the sport of football, to include in its membership the various footballing authorities and their agencies, Football League clubs, the Sports Council, football supporters' organisations and other necessary bodies ; and to make provision for changes in the organisation and function of the sport ; and for connected purposes :
And the same was read the First time ; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 2 February and to be printed. [Bill 47.]
Mr. Alan Meale, supported by Mr. Jimmy Dunnachie, Mr. Dennis Turner, Mr. Jimmy Hood, Mr. George J. Buckley, Mr. William McKelvey, Mr. Ian McCartney, Mr. John McAllion, Mr. Pat Wall, Mrs. Llin Golding, Mr. Max Madden and Mr. Harry Barnes, presented a Bill to establish a single national commission of control for the whole of the horse and dog racing industries, with overall responsibility for the bloodstock, thoroughbred breeding and betting industries, incorporating the control of the financial arrangements, rules and aims of current bodies, their other responsibilities and where applicable, the assets of all publicly supported organisations concerned or connected with these sports : And the same was read the First time ; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 9 February and to be printed. [Bill 48.]
Mr. Alan Meale, supported by Mr. Don Dixon, Mr. Menzies Campbell, Mr. Tim Smith, Mr. A. E. P. Duffy, Mr. Richard Alexander, Mr. Frank Cook, Mr. Harry Greenway, Mr. William McKelvey, Mrs. Llin Golding, Mr. Martin Redmond and Mr. George J. Buckley, presented a Bill to extend the functions of the Horserace Betting Levy Board to include the sport of greyhound racing ; and to make consequential amendments to the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act 1963 : And the same was read the First time ; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 16 February and to be printed. [Bill 49.]
Mr. Graham Allen presented a Bill to provide protection in the courts of the United Kingdom for the rights and freedoms specified in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms to which the United Kingdom is a party : And the same was read the First time ; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 26 January and to be printed. [Bill 50.]
Enterprise and New Towns (Scotland) Bill
Order for Second Reading read.
Mr. Nicholas Bennett (Pembroke) : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. It is a separate point of order. Allegations have been made on the Floor of the House. It is a rule of the House that every Member is an hon. Member. I draw your attention to the proceedings of Standing Committee E on 19 December, when my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland said :
"Since the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) was clearly referring to me"--[ Official Report, Standing Committee E, 19 December 1989 ; c. 37.]
Mr. Speaker : Order. We have finished with that matter ; I have nothing more to say on it. I do not think that there is any profit to be gained for the House in persisting with it. It must be a completely different issue.
Mr. Bennett : It is a matter of principle. If an hon. Member makes allegations about another hon. Member in Committee and those allegations are denied in the record of 19 December, is it in order for an hon. Member to make the same allegations on a subsequent occasion on the Floor of the House when they have been denied by the hon. Member concerned? Is that not tantamount to impugning the honour of the hon. Member and calling him a liar?
The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Malcolm Rifkind) rose --
Several Hon. Members rose --
Mr. Speaker : Sit down, please. [Interruption.] I have said that I do not propose to take any further points of order on the previous matter. If the point of order is concerned with this Bill, I will take it. Is it concerned with this Bill?
Column 839some time on this point of order. It is about hon. Members on Standing Committees or elsewhere. If we are to accept your ruling--I have no argument with it--that the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) gave his word and made a pledge--
Mr. Walker rose --
Mr. Walker rose --
Mr. Rifkind rose --
Mr. Walker rose --