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Standing Committees

Volume 983: debated on Thursday 24 April 1980

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On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Referring back to your ruling on the Standing Committee——

Order. I must make clear to the House that I cannot enter into discussions about what happens in a Standing Committee. The newest of hon. Members must know by now that that is very much a part of our rules. I cannot be tempted along those lines.

Order. With every respect to the hon. Gentleman, I hope that he is not seeking to pursue the matter of the Standing Committee.

In that case, I am afraid that I cannot listen to the hon. Gentleman. I am not prepared to take any further points of order on that.

Order. I know that the hon. Gentleman said " On a point of order ". What I have said is that I shall not enter into a debate or discussion with anyone about what happened in the Standing Committee. It is not within my field of responsibility. It is the sole responsibility of the Standing Committee Chairman.

If the hon. Gentleman has a point of order about anything else, of course, I shall listen to him.

On a further point of order, Mr. Speaker. The office of Chairman of any Standing Committee carries very heavy responsibilities for the hon. Member who is appointed to that position. If it is the judgment of the Chair and the House that the Chairman of a Standing Committee—whether it be dealing with the protection of animals or any other subject—is the sole custodian of what should and should not take place in that Standing Committee, may we take it that were such a Chairman, in his judgment to believe that hon. Members were being denied the opportunity properly to pursue their public duty, and were to suspend that Standing Committee in order that documents might be made available, he would receive not only your assistance and protection, but, I hope, the protection of the House?

If the Chairman of a Standing Committee dealing with the protection of animals or with any other subject takes action in that Committee, it is his responsibility. It is not mine.

In order to protect the further business, Mr. Speaker, may I say that I have taken note of the point that has been made? I shall look into it, as a matter of urgency, to see whether any special arrangements can be made.

Will the Leader of the House add to that that he will make a statement on Monday about his conclusions?

I shall look into it to see whether special arrangements can be made. I cannot go further than that.