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Private Members' Motion

Volume 161: debated on Tuesday 13 March 1923

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I wish to ask your advice, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday the hon. Member for Silvertown (Mr. J. Jones) obtained the Adjournment of the House on a Motion which was accepted by you, and which obtained the necessary support. That Motion superseded a Bill which was down for 8.15 last evening, the Warrington Corporation Water Bill which automatically should have come on at that time. A fortnight ago I happened to be lucky in the ballot in drawing first place and I put down a reasoned motion for to-night in regard to trade and Empire development. I noticed on the Order Paper this morning that my Motion does not appear upon it and the Warrington Corporation Water Bill does. I have no doubt that that Bill is a very important Measure, particularly for the people of Warrington, but the Motion which I had down was also an important one.

I am corning to that. I want to emphasise this point that the Motion which stands in my name is one which excites an extraordinary amount of interest in this House, and a great number of Members wish to speak on it. One hon. Member from the North of England has cancelled an engagement in order to be here specially, and a distinguished Member of one of the Dominion Parliaments had made special arrangements to be present to-night—

The hon. Member cannot, under the plea of a point, of Order, make a speech.

I will come to the point of Order at once. Private Members have very few opportunities of bringing forward their Motions. Next Wednesday week, the 22nd March, is taken by the Government. I do not object to giving way for a Government Motion. My point of Order is this. What is the alternative which is at the disposal of private Members? Are there or can there be open to them any means under the Rules and procedure of this House to secure the discussion of a Motion which has been excluded, as in this instance.

In the first place, the hon. Member was not at all correct in saying that his Motion has disappeared from the Order Paper. If he will look at page 746, he will find it there set out in full, along with the Amendments which it is proposed to move to it.

With regard to his other point, it is the duty of the Chairman of Ways and Means to set down Private Bill business at 8.15, and, on referring to Standing Order No. 8, paragraph (3), the hon. Member will see that it is to be set down on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays. Therefore, the matter is entirely in the hands of the Chairman of Ways and Means, and is not one over which I have any jurisdiction. The Chairman of Ways and Means is appointed by the House to supervise the business of Private Bills, and I have no doubt he exercises his duty in a proper manner. It is not a matter which I have any jurisdiction. Hon. Members who ballot stand their chance. Sometimes they win, and sometimes they lose.

My chief point is, Will you kindly indicate what means are open to hon. Members who have Motions treated similarly to this to secure that they shall be taken at some future time—that facilities are given for their discussion?

There are still a number of ballots. I am going to call one just now. In addition to that, if the hon. Member will look at the Order Paper, he will see that there is a Motion very similar to his own which stands first on the Civil Service Estimates.

Would it be possible to indicate to the Chairman of Ways and Means that at any rate these Private Bills should be put down so as to secure an equal distribution between Government days and Private Members' days?

What steps can be taken to alter the Standing Order so as to avoid this infringement of the rights of Private Members?

If the hon. Member wants to amend the Standing Orders, he must Table a Motion to that effect, and then try to induce the Government to give time for it.