You will recollect, Mr. Speaker, that yesterday, on the Floor of the House, I suggested to you that if there was not a further statement from the Secretary of State for Social Services, there could perhaps be the opportunity for a debate under Standing Order No. 9. People who were employed at hospitals that are now closed do not know whether they ought to return to work, since the instructions that the hospitals should be closed are invalid and illegal. I shall not argue the case now, but I think you would agree, Mr. Speaker, that it is a matter of urgent public importance that what should happen in respect of actions taken during the period of illegality should be discussed on the Floor of this House.
I allowed the hon. Member for Nottingham, West (Mr. English) to make his point of order. He will realise that he should have notified me before 12 o'clock today if he intended to make an application under Standing Order No. 9. But the hon. Gentleman has got on the record the point of view that he wished to advance.
If you will look at the Official Report, Mr. Speaker, you will find that I specifically referred to the possibility of a Standing Order No. 9 debate today, as well as to the desirability of a statement to the Secretary of State. I should not, of course, have raised the matter under Standing Order No. 9 had there been a statement by the Secretary of State. You will find it, Mr. Speaker, in the Official Report.
I know that quite well. But I do not take notice, across the Floor of the House, of applications under Standing Order No. 9, except when the matter arises out of the business of the day. It is quite easy for hon. Members to write to me before 12 o'clock, and then I have a chance to consider the matter. With his usual courtesy, I know that the hon. Gentleman would have done so had he really wished to pursue the matter—
—had the hon. Gentleman wished to pursue the matter this afternoon.
I hope that you will give me credit, Mr. Speaker, for believing that I may have been mistaken, to use Cromwell's words, rather than that I intended not to raise the matter this afternoon. You imputed to me something that was not correct. I genuinely believe that the matter ought to be discussed as soon as possible.
I had no desire to impute anything to the hon. Gentleman, except that he had failed to observe our general custom.