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First Scottish Standing Committee

Volume 961: debated on Tuesday 30 January 1979

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Order. Normally I take points of order after statements. However, I have already taken one. If the hon. Member is seeking to raise with me the question of what happened in the First Scottish Standing Committee this morning I must indicate that that is not a matter on which he has any right to appeal to me. It is a custom, established over 100 years, that hon. Members cannot raise by way of complaint in the House what happens in a Committee.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I accept what you have said, but it might be helpful if you could indicate the way in which the matter could be raised. It will be many weeks before that Committee reports and it is a matter of extreme importance and general interest. Perhaps, for the benefit of those hon. Members who do not know what it is, I could explain very briefly—

Order. It has been indicated to me that certain hon. Members wish to raise this matter concerning the events in the First Scottish Standing Committee today. The custom of this House is clearly established, and has been for more than a century, that hon. Members may not appeal to the Speaker about matters in a Standing Committee where, in any case, he was not present. Hon. Members have been here long enough to know that there are other ways open to them to pursue the matter. The Bill will eventually come back to the House.

I seek your guidance, Mr. Speaker. I would welcome advice from you as to what other methods are open to us. Irrespective of what happened this morning, I should like to know how one could have such a matter referred to a Select Committee on procedure to examine the position in which a Chairman makes a decision on an important matter which is not in line with the normal "status quo" convention, and on which the House is extremely evenly divided. It seems to me that the general proposition of the conduct and perhaps the choice of the Chairman should be looked at.

I hope that the House will listen and accept my advice. I am quite unable to rule on what happened this morning in Standing Committee. The hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) has been here long enough—(HON. MEMBERS: "Too long.") Not as long as I have. He knows the ways that are open to him. I shall take one more point of order as long as it is a point of order.

Will you give us guidance, Mr. Speaker, on the question whether the method by which the Chairmen of Standing Committees are chosen takes account of the long-standing convention that the Chairmen of such Committees are to be impartial in their views—

Order. The hon. Member is getting very near to arguing the merits of this morning's case. The Chairmen of Standing Committees are selected by myself. I do not wish to say anything further on that.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it in order for Members of this House who happen not to like the decision of the Committee—

Order. I knew that I was well advised in the beginning to say that I would take no more points of order.