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Houses Of Parliament (Facilities)

Volume 888: debated on Wednesday 12 March 1975

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

Naturally, Mr. Speaker, I accept your ruling on the question of privilege for which I thank you. I am sure the whole House is grateful to you. In the light of that ruling and your subsequent suggestion that the matter should be pursued by other means, I should like to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9. Should I do that now or later?

I am afraid that that is a proposition up with which I cannot put. A ruling on privilege according to the usual practice comes last in the order of business taken after Questions immediately preceding the Orders of the Day. An application under Standing Order No. 9 would have had to be made beforehand and cannot arise out of a privilege matter. The hon. Gentleman cannot move that motion now.

The House will be grateful to you for your statement, Mr. Speaker. In particular we take note of what you have said about the importance of having regard to the convenience of the House— something which may need to be considered not only here but by others. I am sure you will be aware that it is a very serious matter that deliveries of mail to this place are being interrupted. [HON MEMBERS : "Hear, hear."] It has often been said, and rightly so, that the privileges of Parliament exist to help Parliament sustain the liberties of the individual outside Parliament, and I do not think we should ignore that at this time. While accepting everything you have said, Mr. Speaker, I hope that we may possibly come back to this issue at a later stage if this unfortunate occurrence continues.

I hope very much that the House will do that. I do not think I can permit a debate on a ruling of mine on a question of privilege.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The House is in a very serious position as regards our constituents' mail. Surely this ought to be debated now. It is a question not of the privilege of this House but of the privilege of our constituents and their ability to get in touch with their Members of Parliament. I suggest that this matter should be debated forthwith.

No. I have sought the support of hon. Members on both sides of the House in this matter of order. I have made my ruling and I have made a suggestion. No further matter for the Chair can possibly arise now. If the matter is to be pursued it must be pursued with the Leader of the House tomorrow or in other ways. [HON. MEMBERS : "Now."] I have given a ruling on privilege.

On a different point of order, Mr. Speaker, without any reference to your ruling which, of course, we accept. May I ask the Leader of the House, through you, whether we may have a statement tomorrow? [HON. MEMBERS : "Today.]"' It is not possible to gel copies of Hansard. By one o'clock today all 300 copies which are normally delivered to the Stationery Office were sold out and it is not possible for Members of Parliament to get a daily report of the proceedings in Parliament. There are very difficult matters involved. Therefore, I hope the Leader of the House will make a statement now or tomorrow.

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
(Mr. Edward Short)

I certainly agree to make a statement tomorrow. I promised the House yesterday that when I had anything to report I would do so. There are copies of Hansard in the Library for reference. I agree that there are inconveniences to hon. Members, but it does not help to exaggerate them, as one hon. Member opposite did on the radio today. That does not help to get a solution to the problem. We are trying to solve the problem. We are providing the necessary papers for debates. The services of the House are continuing. I hope hon. Members will be patient. I will certainly make a statement tomorrow.

Order. I cannot allow an irregular debate on these matters. have given my ruling. The Leader of the House has said that he will make a statement tomorrow. I am not prepared to have my position challenged in this matter, and I will not allow points of order which have nothing to do with the Chair. These are matters concerning the authorities of the House and they must be pursued in other ways.

Yes, Mr. Speaker. I believe that it is your responsibility to supervise the printing of the Vote. Hansard, I am sure, is important but is it not for you to see that the Order Paper exists in a material form? At the moment no hon. Member can put down about anything a motion which will appear on any piece of paper. There is today no Order Paper. There is a list of Questions. There are matters for consideration, but the general Order paper does not exist. Under the sesssionsl Resolution that is your responsibility, if I may say so. May I ask you to protect the rights of the Houses in this matter, Sir?

Before you reply to that point of order, Mr. Speaker, may I remind you that this occurrence is not of recent origin. It happened on numerous occasions when the Tory Government were in office, and sometimes for weeks on end. You and your staff have been very kind and helpful to us in the past. At the moment there are Questions on the Order Paper. But never once during the period of Tory Government did I hear a complaint, when all the good motions which I put down were not printed. I am sure that we all pay a tribute to you and your staff for what you have done, and I suggest that we should now wait to hear what the Leader of the House says tomorrow.

I do not understand this. I believe that it is my responsibility to appoint the printer, but how much further I can go I do not know. On a question of fact, there is an Order Paper. I have one before me. I have made it my business, with the very valuable assistance of certain other people, to do the best we can to produce an Order Paper for hon. Members.

I do not think the Chair can allow an irregular debate of this sort. If the House wants to have a debate, it must seek other means of doing so.