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Members' Rights And Privileges

Volume 972: debated on Monday 29 October 1979

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I wish to raise a point of order on a general matter, Mr. Speaker. In your rulings earlier you made it clear that the customs and practices of the House are not matters for you. Many of your predecessors went to the Tower or, indeed, were beheaded because of the way in which they defended the rights and privileges of this House, mainly against the Crown. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to reflect on how you may defend the rights and privileges of Back Benchers against the Executive, and on whether this is a matter that ought to be discussed by you. I make this—

Order. The hon. Gentle must not put words into my mouth. I did not say that the customs of this House are not my concern. I said that a convention between the two parties is not my concern. I hope that I have registered the fact that I have tried to defend the rights of hon. Members. I must tell the House that I am not prepared to use up its time any more on points of order that are not points of order, especially when there is a long list of hon. Members who wish to speak on the business before the House and who may be denied their chance to speak.


Earlier you interrupted me, Mr. Speaker, quite rightly, in the middle of my point of order and said that it was not a point of order. I do not seek to trespass on your generosity by pursuing the matter further. However, I should like to make it clear that in no circumstances was I seeking to put words into your mouth. I was trying to describe how I thought your ruling was given and how I thought the usual practices between Government and Front Bench were interpreted. I hope that you will take that as an apology.

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman. It is very easy for us to misunderstand each other when the House is a little heated, as it has been. However, I am pleased to say that the temperature appears to be coming down.