I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,
I believe that the matter meets the criteria for an emergency debate. I put it to you, Mr. Speaker, that it is specific and important. It is specific in that the nature and dimensions of the issue are clear, and it is important because we are talking about something that yields more than £800 million a year for the Exchequer. It seems odd that a subject of this magnitude was not considered worthy of discussion this afternoon. The matter covers the responsibilities of several major Departments of State. I cite first the Treasury. I recall the statement by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget Statement in 1976 that he could not countenance a change of this nature, which in his view would have considerable adverse effects on the balance of payments. The Department of Industry is involved because of its responsibility for our domestic car industry and its concern about the likely switch to lower-powered vehicles. an area in which our domestic industry is less competitive. The Department of Energy is involved because of energy conservation; the Home Office because of its responsibilities for the police and the extent to which the police use the vehicle licensing centre in South Wales; the Department of the Environment because of the effect on rural areas arising from the increase in the cost of petrol; the Northern Ireland Office because of security matters; the Department of Prices and Consumer Protection because of the likely distribution costs arising from the switchover—"the Government's decision to abolish the vehicle excise duty in favour of increases in the cost of petrol."
Order. The hon. Gentleman must not make now the speech he would make if the debate were granted. He must give reasons why there should be a change of our business and an emergency debate.
With respect, Mr. Speaker, I am trying to give particulars showing why the matter is important. I believe that it is important because it straddles the responsibility of so many Departments. I was itemising those Departments whose responsibility it covers. I have mentioned most of them.I turn finally to the Civil Service Department and the Welsh Office. The Civil Service Department is involved because of the effect of dispersal of civil servants in, one hopes, making good the gap resulting from the job loss. The Welsh Office is also involved because of its responsibilities for employment in West Wales. As for the second criterion, that of urgency, there is an immediacy about the problem in that the White Paper announcing the decision has, I believe, just reached the Vote Office. There has been no opportunity for the House to discuss the issue immediately. We do not know the answers to major questions, such as the opportunities that will be available in the House to discuss it, whether the changeover will be by order and whether it will be as a result of an amendment to the Finance Bill—all very important questions to which answers should be given. Because we have had no other opportunity, Mr. Speaker, I call upon you, as the protector of Back Benchers and of the House, to give us that opportunity. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear".]
The hon. Gentleman asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely,
I listened very carefully to what the hon. Gentleman said, and I realise from the noise in the Chamber as he sat down that he is not alone. In fact, I had notice from the hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr. Fowler) that he wished to make an application under Standing Order No. 9, but the hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) had got in first. As the House knows, under Standing Order No. 9 I am directed to take into account the several factors set out in the order but to give no reasons for my decision. I listened very carefully indeed to what the hon. Gentleman said, as he asks me to set aside business, either today or tomorrow, to give precedence to a three-hour emergency debate. I have to rule that the hon. Gentleman's submission does not fall within the provisions of the Standing Order, and, therefore, I cannot submit his application"the Government's decision to abolish the vehicle excise duty in favour of increases in the cost of petrol."