Skip to main content

Industry Bill (Standing Committee)

Volume 886: debated on Friday 21 February 1975

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

11.4 a.m.

I undertook yesterday to look into a matter which a number of hon. Members raised, namely, the action of the Committee of Selection in nominating Members to serve on Standing Committee E in respect of the Industry Bill. In the course of answering points of order yesterday, I said:

"I doubt very much whether it is for me to say whether the Committee of Selection has complied with a Standing Order of the House."—[Official Report, 20th February 1975; Vol. 886, c. 1563.]
I find, on looking into the matter, that my doubt was justified. In the words of Erskine May, on page 225,
"The opinion of the Speaker cannot be sought in the House about any matter arising or likely to arise in a committee."
This matter is, therefore, not one for the Chair and I find that when a similar matter was raised on 22nd January 1973 I myself in fact ruled to this effect.

However, I understand that the Standing Committee is not to meet for the first time until next Thursday. I was wrongly informed yesterday when I said it would meet on Tuesday. It does not, in fact, meet until next Thursday. I have had certain discussions on the matter, and I hope that the Committee of Selection will be able to discuss it again within the ambit of Standing Order No. 62 and in the light of what has been said in the House.

On behalf of the Committee of Selection, Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank you sincerely for the consideration you have given to this difficulty, and I want to assure you that the Committee of Selection will pay the most respectful attention to your guidance.

I understand, Mr. Speaker, that the ruling that you have given is that this is not a matter on which you yourself have power to act. However, I think it would be right that the Leader of the House, who I understand cannot be here this morning, should make a statement on this matter on Monday as he is responsible for the interests of hon. Members, and the selection of Members to serve on a Committee is meant to reflect the balance of the parties. Would it be appropriate for me, therefore, to ask through you, Mr. Speaker, that the Leader of the House should come to the House on Monday and make a statement about his views on the matter?

I am sure that point will be borne in mind, but I hope the House will just let this matter be. There is not the immediate urgency that I thought there would be when I heard that the Committee was to meet on Tuesday. There is a little more time, so I hope the House will leave the matter where it is. If I can help further in any way I shall certainly do so.