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European Community Documents

Volume 181: debated on Monday 26 November 1990

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3.40 pm

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wonder whether it is in order for the House to consider the motion being proposed by the Leader of the House that we should make a decision pursuant to Standing Order 102(2) in respect of a European Community document. I have just obtained a copy of Standing Orders from the Vote Office, and Standing Order 102(2) does not appear to cover this matter.

I then consulted your excellent Clerks, Mr. Speaker, who told me that there was a new Standing Order 102(2) somewhere which had been agreed at the end of the Session—indeed, I remember the debate on it. Unfortunately, however, the Clerks did not have a copy and sent me to the Vote Office, where, sad to say, I was told that there was no copy of the new Standing Order, because it was being printed.

This is not a jocular issue—not a matter of trying to pick an argument. I hope that you, Mr. Speaker, will consider three aspects. First, the only reason why the motion has been tabled is that the Council of Ministers is meeting next week—that is why the document has been switched from a Committee to the Floor of the House.

Secondly, the meat of the motion is huge. It proposes to put an end to the control on the possession of weapons at internal borders—a vital issue.

Thirdly, in an explanatory note, the Minister responsible has said that this is an abuse of article 100A on majority voting—

Order. The hon. Gentleman must not debate the matter. He must now allow me to give the reasons for this.

The Standing Order was agreed to on 24 October—

The hon. Gentleman says that he was here, so he knows that it was agreed to by the House. I shall look into why the Standing Orders have not yet been printed—they were sent to the printers immediately after the debate. A similar motion was passed last week and is part of our Standing Orders. I have to put the Question—

Mr. Speaker, I am not a troublemaker, but a specific period of time has elapsed. I cannot recall the wording of the Standing Order; I cannot obtain it from the Vote Office; and under the Standing Orders of the House, we need to have the papers necessary to take a decision. It is possible to regard the whole matter as a joke and to claim that it does not matter what papers we have because the Government will get their business through anyway, but that is not what I came here for 25 years ago. We are entitled to the necessary papers for decisions to be made.

The Chief Whip will recall the Single Act being put through late on a Thursday. Now we are to put through a vital issue again late on a Thursday or early on a Friday. Surely we should go through the proper procedures. How can we do that?

Order. We are going through the right procedures. The matter has been passed by the House and it is part of our Standing Orders. I have no authority to do anything other than put the Question. The hon. Gentleman was here, and if he does not like the motion, he can vote against it now.

There is a way around this. Notwithstanding the vote taken in a general form last week—

Last month. I want to ask you to tell the Leader of the House that this procedure has been found wanting because the relevant information cannot be obtained from the Vote Office. This matter can be taken off the agenda and brought back when the information is available. All the Leader of the House has to do is to stop this nonsense continuing.

Order! It is not a question of not being fair. It is a question of the House having passed the Standing Order. I have no authority to go against a decision of the House. The hon. Gentleman knows that—

Order. I will read out the motion passed by the House on 24 October. It states:

"If a Motion that specified European Community documents as aforesaid shall not stand referred to a European Standing Committee is made by a Minister of the Crown at the commencement of public business, the Question thereon shall be put forthwith."
The hon. Gentleman can vote against that if he does not like it, but I have no authority other than to put that motion.

I apologise for rising again, Mr. Speaker; this is my last intervention. There is no point in voting for or against. Our choice on the motion is either to discuss the directive in the early hours of Friday morning when no one will hear about it, or to put it to a Committee that is stuffed with people appointed by the Government. The issue here is that, under Standing Orders, the papers required for a debate must be in the hands of the House.

You, Mr. Speaker, are the only person who can protect us here. Why are those papers not available in the Vote Office? There is no point in voting on the motion because, either way, it will slip through and nobody will know about it, even though it is a vital issue. I simply say that papers should be available and that it is your duty to ensure that.

Is the hon. Gentleman saying that European Document No. 8836/90 is not available?

Well, I have explained to the hon. Gentleman that the Standing Order was passed by the House. The Speaker's hands are tied in matters of this kind. When the House passes a change in Standing Orders, I am obliged to accept it. I must now put the Question.

Order. I do not need the hon. Gentleman's help, helpful though he always is.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 102(2) (Standing Committees on European Community Documents).


That European Community Document No. 8836/90 relating to acquisition and possession of weapons shall not stand referred to European Standing Committee C.

The House divided: Ayes 164, Noes 19.

Division No. 10]

[3.46 pm


Alexander, RichardGlyn, Dr Sir Alan
Amos, AlanGoodlad, Alastair
Arbuthnot, JamesGorst, John
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham)Grant, Sir Anthony (CambsSW)
Ashby, DavidGreenway, Harry (Ealing N)
Atkins, RobertGrylls, Michael
Atkinson, DavidGummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Beaumont-Dark, AnthonyHampson, Dr Keith
Bendall, VivianHarris, David
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)Haselhurst, Alan
Blackburn, Dr John G.Hayward, Robert
Boscawen, Hon RobertHiggins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Bottomley, PeterHind, Kenneth
Bowden, A (Brighton K'pto'n)Hordern, Sir Peter
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Bowis, JohnHowarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Brandon-Bravo, MartinHowe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Bright, GrahamHowell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Buck, Sir AntonyHunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Burns, SimonHurd, Rt Hon Douglas
Burt, AlistairIrvine, Michael
Butterfill, JohnJanman, Tim
Carlisle, John, (Luton N)Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Chapman, SydneyKellett-Bowman, Dame Elaine
Chope, ChristopherKing, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Clark, Hon Alan (Plym'th S'n)Kirkhope, Timothy
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)Knapman, Roger
Conway, DerekKnight, Greg (Derby North)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)Knox, David
Cormack, PatrickLamont, Rt Hon Norman
Cran, JamesLang, Ian
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)Latham, Michael
Davis, David (Boothferry)Lawrence, Ivan
Devlin, TimLester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Dicks, TerryLightbown, David
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord JamesLilley, Peter
Dover, DenMacfarlane, Sir Neil
Dunn, BobMacGregor, Rt Hon John
Durant, TonyMacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Dykes, HughMaclean, David
Eggar, TimMaclennan, Robert
Finsberg, Sir GeoffreyMcLoughlin, Patrick
Fishburn, John DudleyMajor, Rt Hon John
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)Malins, Humfrey
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir NormanMans, Keith
Fox, Sir MarcusMarshall, John (Hendon S)
Franks, CecilMartin, David (Portsmouth S)
Gale, RogerMeyer, Sir Anthony
Gardiner, GeorgeMiller, Sir Hal
Garel-Jones, TristanMorrison, Sir Charles
Gilmour, Rt Hon Sir IanMorrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)

Moss, MalcolmSquire, Robin
Mudd, DavidStern, Michael
Neale, GerrardSumberg, David
Nelson, AnthonySummerson, Hugo
Neubert, MichaelTaylor, Ian (Esher)
Newton, Rt Hon TonyTaylor, John M (Solihull)
Nicholls, PatrickTaylor, Matthew (Truro)
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)Tebbit, Rt Hon Norman
Onslow, Rt Hon CranleyThompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Oppenheim, PhillipThompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Paice, JamesThornton, Malcolm
Patnick, IrvineTracey, Richard
Raison, Rt Hon TimothyTwinn, Dr Ian
Renton, Rt Hon TimViggers, Peter
Ridley, Rt Hon NicholasWalden, George
Rossi, Sir HughWallace, James
Rowe, AndrewWalters, Sir Dennis
Sackville, Hon TomWard, John
Sainsbury, Hon TimWardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Scott, Rt Hon NicholasWatts, John
Shaw, David (Dover)Wheeler, Sir John
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)Whitney, Ray
Shelton, Sir WilliamWiddecombe, Ann
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)Wilshire, David
Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)Wood, Timothy
Shersby, MichaelYeo, Tim
Skeet, Sir Trevor
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)

Tellers for the Ayes:

Speed, Keith

Sir George Young and

Speller, Tony

Mr. Tim Boswell.


Abbott, Ms DianeMahon, Mrs Alice
Allen, GrahamMolyneaux, Rt Hon James
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)Pendry, Tom
Bidwell, SydneyRedmond, Martin
Dalyell, TamThompson, Jack (Wansbeck)
Flannery, MartinWinnick, David
Flynn, PaulWise, Mrs Audrey
Foot, Rt Hon Michael
Hoyle, Doug

Tellers for the Noes:

Lambie, David

Mr. Teddy Taylor and

Leighton, Ron

Mr. Dennis Skinner.

Livingstone, Ken

Question accordingly agreed to.