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Abortion (Amendment) Bill

Volume 885: debated on Friday 7 February 1975

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11.5 a.m.

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I should like to put to you, or perhaps through you to the Minister, a point of order about today's business on which clarification might help the House. The fourth item on the Order Paper, proposing the appointment of a Select Committee, touches closely upon the Private Member's Bill which the hon. Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. White) will, I hope, shortly seek to move.

I do not know whether the House has had an opportunity fully to study the statement by the Leader of the House on business yesterday, but there are certain points about the proposed Select Committee arising from it on which we need, and would welcome, detailed, or at least some, information from the Government before we can proceed to an orderly debate on the first item of business. The composition and balance of the proposed Select Committee, the time that it is expected to take gathering evidence, particularly its terms of reference and scope, at which the Leader of the House undertook to have another look, are matters about which we need to know more as early as possible if we are to have a constructive debate and come to a sensible conclusion.

Therefore, may I through you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, ask whether the Minister intends to give the House any information on this innovation in parliamentary practice which is being thrust upon us today and whether he will do so at an early stage in the forthcoming debate?

I am at the disposal of the House, Mr. Deputy Speaker. This is Private Members' business. It may be for the convenience of the House for the hon. Member whose Bill it is to move the Second Reading and for me to speak whenever the House wills it. If hon. Members wish me to speak rather earlier in the debate than is normal in Private Members' business to explain the situation, I will do so if that suits the mood of the House.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I think it would be the will of the House, and it would certainly help many hon. Members, if the Minister would intervene at an early stage to clarify the situation.