On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. On today's Order Paper there is notice of the presentation of a Government Bill, the Long Title of which includes the sentence
It will be within your recollection that on 27th November last I presented a Bill, the Long Title of which was in exactly those words—"… to authorise local authorities to promote lotteries."
That Bill has been printed and published, and it is set down for Second Reading on Friday of this week. In the Commons Journal of 1st June as long ago as 1610 it is stated:"… to authorise local authorities to promote lotteries."
Page 479 of "Erskine May" repeats that rule. My first submission, therefore, is that under that rule you should not allow the presentation of this Government Bill, which appears to be an endeavour to sabotage Private Members' Business on Friday. It seems to me that I am being gazumped, if that is parliamentary language. My second submission is that if you allow the Government's Bill to be presented on the ground that it contains other matters also, you should not allow, in answer to your question, "Second Reading what day?", the customary answer, "Tomorrow". If in Government time the Government Bill is given a Second Reading tomorrow or on any day before the Second Reading debate on my Bill is concluded, my Bill falls to the ground. The Government seem to have adopted a fantastic procedure to stifle Private Members' legislation, and I ask for your protection."… no bill of the same substance to be brought in in the same Session. So agreed for rule."
I am grateful to the right hon. Member for Crosby (Mr. Graham Page) for warning me that he intended to raise this point of order. This has enabled me to consider it in advance.The presentation of the Government's Lotteries Bill is completely within, order as
That rule is to be found in "Erskine May", 18th edition, page 479. What is more, on the assumption that the Government do not intend to move the Second Reading of their Bill tomorrow, since they have announced other business, the presentation of the Government Bill does not prevent the right hon. Gentleman from moving the Second Reading of his Local Lotteries Bill on Friday. I cannot forecast later proceedings on either Bill."There is no rule or custom which restrains the presentation of two or more bills relating to the same subject, and containing similar provisions."
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am grateful for your ruling. When the Government ask that the Second Reading of their Bill be tomorrow, surely this House must consider that it may well be tomorrow or on some other day before the Second Reading debate on my own Bill has been concluded. If the Government Bill had a Second Reading, you would be unable to put the question on my Bill, "That the Bill be read a Second time". That is sabotaging Private Members' Business.
Strictly speaking, the right hon. Gentleman is correct. However, the occasions on which I have heard the word "Tomorrow" in this House when it has borne no relation to what happens tomorrow are beyond count. Clearly, it is not the Government's intention to proceed tomorrow. But it is not a matter for me. I am sure that the Government will have noted the right hon. Gentleman's point.