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Standing Order No 16

Volume 930: debated on Thursday 21 April 1977

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On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I draw your attention to Standing Order No. 16, which deals with the procedure for the Adjournment of the House? Would you examine the proceedings of the House last night, when in an 18-minute debate there were no fewer than 10 references to legislation? My understanding was that in an Adjournment debate reference might be made only in passing to legislation—in the words of Standing Order No. 16—if it is

"relevant to any matter of administration then under debate".
But it was clear from the reply of the Minister of State that that was not, in fact, so.

I do not ask you to rule at this moment, Mr. Speaker, but I think it might be helpful to the House if, at a convenient moment next week, you were to say whether you thought that at that stage your wig had fallen over your ear and you did not hear so many references to legislation—which seemed to me at least to be out of order.

The hon. Gentleman is very kind, but I would rather deal with it now than have it hanging over my head. I was in the Chair for the Adjournment last night, as all the House will know. The references to legislation in the Adjournment debate were incidental in the sense that the hon. Lady the Member for West Bromwich, West (Miss Boothroyd) was not, as I heard her, calling specifically for changes in the law.

The hon. Gentleman is quite correct to draw my attention and that of the House to the rule that calls for legislation should not be made during an Adjournment debate. I am grateful to him for his vigilance. He is justified in his point of order.

I thank you, Mr. Speaker. But may I point out that the hon. Lady specifically said:

"… will they undertake to bring in the necessary legislation themselves before the end of the current Session."—[Official Report, 20th April 1977; Vol. 930, c. 334.]
I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for your ruling, which I think was needed.