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" The Times"Newspaper

Volume 959: debated on Wednesday 29 November 1978

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I have had two applications in connection with The Times newspaper. I received one application at 8.30 this morning and another later in the day. Naturally, I give precedence to the one that came at 8.30 this morning. Mr. Patrick Cormack.

It just shows that it pays to get up early.

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,
" the crisis in The TimesNewspaper and its serious consequences."
I do not think that I have to show that the crisis at The Times is both specific and important. The most famous daily and Sunday newspapers in the world, together with supplements of equal distinction, are approaching the most critical 24 hours in their long and distinguished history. If the presses stop tomorrow there is no saying when, or even whether, they will roll again. The crisis and its possible consequences are of incalculable importance to everyone in this country.

The death, or even the lengthy silence, of any of the papers concerned would diminish all the freedoms that we so readily take for granted. I submit that here is a matter to which the House, which depends so much on the continued existence of a healthy free press, should turn its attention. I submit that it should do so urgently, in the hope that a thorough discussion of the issues involved will make a positive contribution to the resolution of a problem that touches us all and those who sent us here.

The hon. Member 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,

" the crisis in The Times newspaper and its serious consequences."
I listened with anxious care to the hon. Gentleman. I am satisfied that the matter raised by the hon. Member is proper to be discussed under Standing Order No. 9. Does the hon. Gentleman have the leave of the House?

The leave of the House having been given

The motion for the Adjournment of the House will now stand over until the commencement of public business tomorrow, when a debate on the matter will take place for three hours.


On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am sure that there is widespread support for the agreement which you have just given to the application made under Standing Order No. 9 to discuss the suspension as from midnight tomorrow of The Times newspapers. However, I am sure also that you will agree that an intrinsic part of any application under Standing Order No. 9 is the urgency of the issue. Only a few hours remain before the suspension of all publications of Times Newspapers Limited as from midnight tomorrow. It would be most useful, therefore, if this House could give a considered view to those who are vitally involved in this matter. I should be grateful if you would let us know whether you gave any consideration, in agreeing to the application under Standing Order No. 9, to the debate taking place later today, so that the House and Ministers would have a full opportunity of expressing a point of view which, one hopes, would have a favourable influence on those involved in this dispute and avert suspension as from tomorrow night.

I am obliged to the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Madden). I gave a considerable amount of thought to the question whether, if I granted the debate, I should grant it today rather than tomorrow. The House has instructed me not to give reasons for my decisions, but I can assure the hon. Gentleman that I gave very serious thought to that question, and I decided on the debate tomorrow