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Adjournment Debates

Volume 31: debated on Friday 12 November 1982

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9.37 am

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wish to draw your attention to matters that affect the rights of Back Benchers and the convention and usage of this House on which our ultimate liberties in this land depend. The motion before the House in a moment will be discussed on the Adjournment. Over the last 10 years there has been considerable discussion and difficulty about matters of order relating to EEC business.

It had been hoped, following discussions, the changing of Standing Orders and various motions passed by the House, that we had reached a modus vivendi at least on matters of order, if not merit. One feature was that White Papers and Government motions relating to the EEC were almost always discussed on a substantive motion to which Ministers often added comments and which were amendable either by the Opposition or by Back Benchers.

The motion before the House today was, I understand, tabled only yesterday. It is not amendable. The rights of both the Opposition and Back Benchers are being reduced. It is desirable, I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that in future we should have not motions for the Adjournment of the House on White Papers but substantive and amendable motions.

I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for the way in which he has submitted his point of order. He will appreciate, as will the House. that this is a matter for the usual channels rather than for me. I have no doubt that what the hon. Gentleman has said will have been noted by those responsible.