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Trade Union And Labour Relations Bill (Divisions)

Volume 877: debated on Tuesday 16 July 1974

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the exchanges yesterday, may I ask whether you are now aware that irregularities occurred in voting during the proceedings on the Trade Union and Labour Relations Bill on Thursday 11th July, including the Divisions on Amendments Nos. 101 and 66 which resulted in tied votes?

I do not make any complaint, but I have not had very long notice of this point of order. I have heard of the allegations made and I heard what was said in the House of Commons yesterday, but nothing has been formally reported to me by the Tellers in the Lobby in which the irregularity is said to have taken place or by any other hon. Members involved in the irregularity. What I have to consider and decide is whether I should take it upon myself to make inquiries into the matter and report back to the House. That is a matter for me to consider and decide. However, if any right hon. or hon. Member has views on the matter I shall be happy to hear them.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I, through you, ask whether the Leader of the House will inform us what measures he proposes to take about an irregularity that has been reported?

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
(Mr. Edward Short)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I have looked into this matter since our exchanges yesterday and my right hon. Friend the Chief Whip has discussed the matter with the Opposition Chief Whip. I understand that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has also exchanged letters with the Leader of the Opposition. I am quite sure that a number of clear points emerge from all this.

The first is that my right hon. Friend the Chief Whip acted in perfectly good faith.

The second is that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster was not on the premises. He should have been here, but he did not know it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]

The third point is that the Opposition Whips knew that my right hon. Friend was not on the premises four hours and 20 minutes before Third Reading of the Bill—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh"]—after inquiries, including one under an assumed name. It was four hours and 20 minutes before the matter was reported to my right hon. Friend the Chief Whip.

Therefore, a number of matters concerning these events are still shrouded in mystery. I think that by far the best way out of the immediate problem is the suggestion that I made yesterday; namely, that the Opposition parties put down identical amendments in another place, which they would have done anyhow, that these are brought back here and that we then have votes on them. I am sure that that is the best way out of the immediate problem.

For the future, I think there is a case for referring our custom on this matter—[HON. MEMBERS: "Cheating."]—to the Select Committee on Procedure. If that has the general agreement of the House, I shall be happy to see that it is done.

It is clear from what the Leader of the House said that there was an irregularity in that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster was not on the premises and that he should have been if he was to be nodded through. Those are the facts. That being so, would it not be right for the House to follow the precedent that it has followed on previous occasions of asking the other place to return the Bill to the House of Commons so that the irregularities can be put right before it is delivered to that other place?

In your reply to the original point of order, Mr. Speaker, in passing you said that you had not been informed by the Tellers of any irregularity. Since I was the Teller on Amendment No. 66 in the "No" Lobby and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster was nodded through, may I inform you now that I have read a Press statement that he was not present in the House on that occasion?

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. You may like to know that some of us appreciate your position in this matter. When a vote is declared it is impossible for anyone in that Chair to know the rightness or wrongness of the result. Some of us would support you in the view that, whatever has happened, it is not for us to come creeping to you at this stage expecting you to get us out of the mess. The solution lies with us and we should take it on board, however unsatisfactory it is.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Opposition likewise have considerable sympathy with you because you were put in the difficult position of having to exercise your casting vote and were therefore involved. The practice of the Speakership therefore becomes a matter to be considered in this regard. May I put it to you that, great though your powers may be, it is not within them to allow to be recorded in HANSARD on a Division that a right hon. Member was present for voting when by his own admission and general agreement he was not, and could not, have been present. Therefore, there can be no question of the record standing in the form where presumably it will stand when we get a HANSARD to record the Division and there can be no justification for you having been called upon to exercise a casting vote. This is a most irregular position. It is intolerable that the Bill should have gone forward from this House to another place as if it had gone forward regularly.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. While joining in the general condemnation of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster for absenting himself from this House, may I ask you to take into account in your consideration of the matter that an Opposition Whip—namely, the hon. Member for Reading, South (Dr. Vaughan), I understand—telephoned the home of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy at about 7 o'clock in the evening, ascertained that he was not in the House, informed his superiors in the Opposition Whips Office, and yet they failed to bring that absence to the attention of the Government Chief Whip? Will you take into consideration in any inquiry that you may set up that the Government Whips Office acted with honour and integrity in this matter? If blame is to be apportioned, it must fairly fall upon the head of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who ought to have been in the House, and upon the Opposition Whips, who failed to have the integrity and courtesy to inform my right hon. Friend the Government Chief Whip.

Can you help the House on this point, Mr. Speaker, leaving aside the peripheral point? My colleagues and I had no idea where the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster was, but assumed that he was probably in the House, as otherwise he would not have been nodded through the Lobby. The Leader of the House, having accepted that an inaccuracy occurred in this House, said that the only forum in which it could be put right was another place. [Interruption.] Indeed. Some of us feel that that is a most extraordinary procedure. On the advice that you have taken and sought, Mr. Speaker, can you tell us whether there is a procedure whereby this House can put right its own inaccuracies and does not have to rely on another place?

It must go out from the Government side of the House that, however inadvertently, a parliamentary impropriety has occurred. The matter of that evening's debate must be decided by this House, and a recount taken before it is considered by another place.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is there not general agreement that the vote taken the other night must be reviewed and that it cannot stand? Two propositions are put forward, as I understand it. One is that the matter should be put right by recalling the Bill, as the right hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) suggested. That is bound to be a highly dilatory and very cumbersome way of dealing with the matter. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] From the point of view of simplicity of action and effective action, is it not much better that the proposal of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House should be adopted? We should have exactly the same effect more quickly.

Nobody has yet mentioned the Journal of the House, which is supposed to be the official accurate record for all time of events in the House. It is not the case that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster voted against the two amendments. I do not believe that any hon. Member disputes that. As the right hon. Gentleman did not vote against the amendments, it must lie within your authority, Mr. Speaker, to see that the Journal of the House records the fact that he did not vote against them. Otherwise, the Journal ceases to be an authoritative record of what does and does not happen in the House. Therefore, the correct means of establishing the truth has nothing to do with HANSARD, which has no locus standi in the matter, but has to do with the Journal of the House. I believe, Mr. Speaker, that you should instruct that the Journal records the real vote, which will show that one more vote was cast for the two amendments than was cast against them. That surely lies within your authority. I put it to you that it is your duty to the House so to do.

Is not the position that it is now agreed by the Leader of the House and, I think, by everyone that irregularities took place?

The right hon. Gentleman mentioned an accusation against my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, South (Dr. Vaughan), one of the Opposition Whips. In reply to the Prime Minister's letter, which I received just before I came on to the Opposition Front Bench, I shall say that after examination I find no truth whatever in the allegations.

As for the constitutional procedure, may I refer to the point made by the right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. Strauss). I think that the constitutional question is this: is it right—perhaps this is where we differ from the Leader of the House—that an acknowledged irregularity in this House, which is the responsibility of this House, should be left to the other place to put right? Is it constitutionally proper to ask the other place to take responsibility for putting right an irregularity in this House? I suggest that many hon. Members on both sides of the House feel that that is not constitutionally right, and that if we are responsible for an irregularity we should take responsibility for putting it right.

With regard to the right hon. Gentleman's second point about a dilatory procedure, I understand that it would be possible for you, Mr. Speaker, to ask the Lords—as was done in 1972 for another reason—to return the Bill to this House. As the Second Reading is going on there now, it would be necessary for you to request this of the Lords during the debate on Second Reading, in which case the Lords, having reached their decision whether to do so, would be able to do it before the end of business tonight. Therefore, it would not be a dilatory procedure.

May I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that what follows would be what has already been suggested by the Liberal Whip, that you could ask the Tellers to report the incident, and as a result of their report the correction could be made.

As this is the first word I have to say to the House on the matter, it is right that I should begin by apologising to right hon. and hon. Members for having put them to this inconvenience.

It is also right, however, that I should tell the House, difficult as it may be for some on either side of the House to accept, that when I stayed away I did so in the belief—wholly wrong, and I am not entitled to rely upon it—that I was the object of some chivalrous indulgence by the Tory Whips. But I have to inform the House that, beyond any doubt whatever, there was a telephone call from the hon. Member for Reading, South (Dr. Vaughan) at around 7 o'clock, when my secretary informed the hon. Gentleman that I was in another room but not available, for reasons that I will not go into now, and offered to ring him back. The hon. Gentleman, who had originally announced himself as Mr. John Smith, then announced that he was the hon. Member for Reading, South, the Tory Whip. In my childish innocence, I thought that the John Smith was the former Conservative Member of the House when I heard my secretary tell me that the man who had said that he was Mr. John Smith then said that he was the hon. Member for Reading, South.

That does not excuse my fault, but perhaps explains to some hon. Members why I felt that the nodding through that was to take place in my absence would take place in the full knowledge of, and with the acceptance of, the Opposition Whips.

Rightly or wrongly—I do not know even at this moment—I regarded the nodding through process as a matter between the Whips. I thought that if the Whips were content that I registered at the beginning of a Committee stage and then went out, that was all right. If the Whips were not so content, I would of course have come back. I was at home at 7 o'clock when the hon. Gentleman telephoned. If the Opposition Whips had let me know that they resented my having left the House, I would have returned.

There is one general point on which you might help, Mr. Speaker. I have been in the House for about 30 years. I am told that I should know by now that people have been brought here in ambulances. I am not unaware of that, but I have not been aware that at any Committee stage Members have been shuttled by ambulance to and from hospital or have necessarily been in the House the whole time.

However, I should like to conclude by saying that I deeply regret the inconvenience and disturbance I have caused to the House and its business, because it was wrong of me, even in those circumstances, to act on the assumption that the Tory Whips had assented and that that permitted me to be absent. I was wrong, and I apologise to the House for it.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I personally have great sympathy with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and I am sure that, as usual, the House will accept with great good will his explanation of what happened. But this has nothing to do with the substance of the matters that we are discussing. This House has passed a very important piece of legislation, and the country will think it totally irresponsible if we allow it to go to the House of Lords in a form which it is agreed is wrong. To my mind, it cannot be beyond the powers of this House to recall the Bill and get the matter put right so that it may be examined in a proper form.

Order. Perhaps I may be allowed to say a word. It has now come to my knowledge officially that there was an irregularity in this Division. It has been said on the Floor of the House, and it has been confirmed. The question is where do we go from there? The Leader of the Opposition referred to a case when the House of Lords was asked to return a Bill to this House. However, that cannot be done on my request. It requires a motion of the House.

There is the additional difficulty that I would have reserved my opinion on these matters until tomorrow but for the fact that the House of Lords is at the moment engaged in the Second Reading discussion of the Bill, which has to finish by 10 o'clock this evening. But there was an irregularity, and the vote was not the right vote. However, the House must decide what to do about it.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I suggest to you and the other right hon. and hon. Members concerned that there is a simple method of disposing of this matter which is not open to the objection that it is leaving it to the House of Lords to do our business for us. We sometimes make procedural mistakes in this House, and the House exonerates itself from the consequences of them. If a motion were taken on a vote that, notwithstanding the irregularity which took place last Thursday, the House none the less asks the Lords to proceed with their consideration of the Bill—we all understand that a further vote will be taken when it comes back here—I suggest that we should have corrected the situation within this House and that that would be both the easiest and most procedurally correct and foolproof way of dealing with the matter.

Order. Before the hon. Member for Reading, South (Dr. Vaughan) puts his point of order, may I remind the House that from the point of view of this discussion these various charges and counter-charges are not relevant.

Although I agree entirely with you, Mr. Speaker, that charges and counter-charges serve no useful purpose and are side issues to the main problems facing the House today, since my name has been mentioned—[HON. MEMBERS: "John Smith."]—may I tell the House that at no time was there any attempt to conceal who it was who was telephoning—

Certainly I telephoned—[Interruption.] May I continue by saying that it seemed to me an essential part of my duty to inquire, since I was seeking the right hon. Gentleman in the House, whether he was in fact at home. As I say, at no time did I give any assumed name.

It has been suggested that there was then an undue delay. This was merely in order to try to ascertain for certain whether the right hon. Gentleman was away from the House, rather than making an accusation which we felt to be extremely serious.

Quite honestly, the hon. Member for Reading (Dr. Vaughan) has confirmed that he telephoned some hours before, and so it is now established that the Conservative Party knew that there was an irregularity but that the Government side of the House did not know. It is a sorry business. The right hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) knew that there was an irregularity four hours before the vote. My right hon. Friend did not know that there was an irregularity. In view of this, would not the simplest way out of the difficulty be to adopt my proposal allowing this House—not the other House—to vote on these amendments again?

We have now heard the views of the Leader of the House again. He accepts that there was an irregularity. That there has been an irregularity is not in doubt, and, Mr. Speaker, you yourself have said that there was an irregularity. Therefore, may I suggest to the Leader of the House that the right way to proceed now is for a message to be sent to the Lords to request that they will be pleased to return to this House the Trade Union and Labour Relations Bill because of the irregularities in voting on Amendments Nos. 101 and 66? If necessary, would it be in order for me to move such a motion?

Order. This is an important and serious House of Commons matter. I hope that hon. Members will listen in silence to what is said.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. It has been said that the hon. Member for Reading, South (Dr. Vaughan) knew what was happening. May we be informed, before the motion it put to the House, how many other members of the Opposition Front Bench knew about it?

Order. The right hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Prior) has risen on a point of order.

I think that the House would be better served at the moment if it accepted that there has been an irregularity and that, in view of that and because it must he right that the House of Commons should correct any irregularities for which it is responsible, I am certain that, whatever the side issues, we should do well as a House of Commons to ask for this procedure to be adopted and for the Leader of the House to move this motion now so that the Bill may be returned for the House of Commons to take the necessary decisions.

I do not want to cause the right hon Gentleman any further embarrassment. I understand the position. I know how difficult it is. But I believe that, in the interests of the House of Commons and the future of the House of Commons, this is a matter that we should put right in the House of Commons now.

I have plenty of time. [Interruption.] Mr. Speaker is not listening yet. Is it not worth recording what no one has as yet mentioned and what ought perhaps to be borne in mind—that these so-called irregularities were to do with the Industrial Relations Act which, when is was a Bill was brought into this House by another form of irregularity—[Interruption.]—known as the guillotine, restricting the number of days for debate. It seems to me that as a result of this technique and what took place the Opposition are trying to inject a breath of life into that discredited Act as long as they possibly can.

I have had quite enough. The House ought to consider this matter seriously. I will suspend the Sitting for 20 minutes.

4.11 p.m.

Sitting suspended

4.31 p.m.

On resuming

The position, as I see it, is this. On the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy, there was an irregularity in the vote. It follows, therefore, that the Journal must be altered. The copy of the Bill sent to the other place was incorrect. Therefore, this becomes a matter of privilege and I would give precedence to a motion relating to it.

Further to that point of order, and in view of your ruling, Mr. Speaker, may I ask whether the Leader of the House will now move the necessary motion "That the Bill be returned to the House of Commons"?

In view of the behaviour of the Opposition in this matter, I am not prepared to do so. [Interruption.]

There has been a period for reflection. One realises that on these occasions the House naturally has very strong feelings. We can understand that the Leader of the House himself feels very strongly about it. He put forward a solution which I think most hon. Members would feel did not on the whole commend itself to the House. An alternative solution has been put forward which I think most hon. and right hon. Members would like to see accepted. I ask the Leader of the House in these circumstances to reconsider the answer which he has just given, and carry out his responsibilities—which I know he wants to do, to the House as a whole—recognise the feelings of the House, which it is customary for any Leader of the House to do in these circumstances, and give the House now the opportunity of passing this motion in order to get the Bill back from the other place. I ask the Leader of the House to carry out his responsibilities to the whole House, and to move that motion himself.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The House of Commons is facing a very grave situation. I think it extremely important that voices from both sides of the House should be heard on this question. In view of your statement, Mr. Speaker, following the suspension of the Sitting, there is a body of opinion on the back benches on this side which finds itself in agreement with the proposal that the Leader of the House should move the motion, and move it formally. I therefore beseech him to bear that in mind.

May I draw the attention of yourself, Mr. Speaker, and of the House to the fact that, regardless of what arrangements are made between the Front Bench leaderships, across the Floor, through the usual channels, or behind the Chair, there are many back-bench Members who do not have knowledge of these matters? When we vote in the Lobby we are under the impression that we are abiding by the rules of the game. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to protect us by making sure that when arrangements are made they are honoured. Therefore, I appeal to the Leader of the House to do as requested by his right hon. Friend.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it not the case that when Whips of whatever side nod a Member through the Lobby, those Whips are guaranteeing the presence of that Member within the precincts of the Palace of Westminster? It is not the fault of my right hon. Friend the Chan-cello of the Duchy. Such a fault might easily arise. The fault lies with the Whips of whatever side who nod a Member through.

I should like to put this to my right hon. Friend. Since a mistake has clearly been made, in that those who are responsible for guaranteeing a Member's presence within the precincts of this Palace have guaranteed that the Member was here, it seems to me—I am speaking for many hon. Member on this side of the House, too—that the right thing to be done is this, and the House cannot function unless we do things in this way. A declaration should be made that a mistake has been made, and whatever is necessary should be done to rectify that procedure.

In view of the reasonable way the right hon. Gentleman put his point, if you, Mr. Speaker, can assure the House that we shall have an opportunity under this procedure to vote again on these amendments, I will move the motion.

I am afraid that, how ever much I might want to do so, that will not be within my power. I can order the figures to be changed to what they should have been.

This means that if I accept what the right hon. Gentleman has suggested, the House is not given an opportunity to vote on these amendments again. If my solution were adopted the House would have an opportunity to vote.

May I put it to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House that there is an important reason why the House should reject the opportunity that he is offering, because we are by tradition and rule—this is surely what we are seeking to achieve now—allowed to vote once on an amendment at each stage that it comes before the House. We have here a situation where we have voted on the amendments which have been before the House. The vote was a wrongly recorded vote, for reasons with which we are now familiar and which it will not help us to go over again because they are incidental and irrelevant in many cases.

I put it to the right hon. Gentleman that what he as Leader of the House is seeking to achieve is that the House should take two bites of the cherry which it has already swallowed. There is no way in which the House can do that. The House has voted. The vote was a regular vote so far as everyone who took part in it was concerned. But the result is irregular because one Member was recorded as having taken part in it when, in fact, he did not do so.

What the Leader of the House is seeking to achieve is that the Bill should go to another place and be amended there, which would open the way for this House to vote again on a Lords amendment. But that is not the matter which is before us. The matter before us is that the vote on the amendment which has already been taken should be accurately recorded, acted upon and not taken again.

It may be within the recollection of the House that whenever an irregularity in a Division is reported to you, Mr. Speaker, you call another Division. The procedure now proposed would deny that opportunity.

It will be within your recollection, Mr. Speaker, and that of the House that during the proceedings of the Bill an irregularity was reported to Mr. Deputy Speaker and he ordered another Division. In view of the serious situation which confronts Parliament, will you consider that precedent?

We now know that had both the Government teller and the Opposition teller jointly been in possession of the knowledge that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster was not present within the precincts, there would no doubt have been a dispute when my right hon. Friend the Member for Bermondsey (Mr. Mellish) "nodded through", and that would have been reported to you. The fact that the Government teller on the door was not informed by the Opposition teller is in itself, in my view, an irregularity of almost equal importance to that of the absence of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Even if it meant a further short suspension of the sitting, would you take this situation into consideration, because it would be intolerable if on one occasion during the passage of the Bill an irregularity was immediately reported and caused a further vote to be held, whereas a similar irregularity reported at a later stage did not carry the same opportunity for a further vote to be taken.

It would be an easy way out for me but I do not think that it would be right. The figures are precise. There has been an admission as to one vote being counted which should not have been counted. My impression is that another vote is allowed when there is a dispute about what actually happened. In this case there is no dispute.

Before the suspension, Mr. Speaker, you confessed that you were in somewhat of a dilemma because the Bill is now before the other place. Since resuming its sitting, the House still seems to be in a dilemma. Is not the practice of "nodding through" a convention and not a rule? Therefore, would you now accept a motion, in order to relieve the difficulty, to the effect that the Third Reading of the Bill, as amended, be upheld?

Could the House revert for a moment to your original statement, Mr. Speaker, wherein you said that this was a matter of privilege and that an incorrect record of the House should be put right? Surely it is the duty of the Leader of the House to move such a motion, whatever the local politics involved, because this affects the whole rectitude of the House of Commons.

May I suggest that I should now move the motion? I think that that would be for the convenience of the whole House.

The original factor which has arisen this afternoon, and which is new today as against yesterday in the knowledge of most of us, is that one of the four tellers who appeared at the Table last Thursday knew at the time that one of the votes recorded on the piece of paper for which he was taking responsibility was an improper vote.

Some of us on this side of the House have freely accepted, yesterday as well as today, that there was a mistake or a blameworthy action by this side of the House. But it is now clear that there was also a blameworthy act on the part of the teller of the Opposition. If that is right—and I think that most of us know that it is near enough right—then the right way out would be for my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House to move a motion that the House acknowledges the irregularities of last Thursday but invites the House of Lords to proceed with its consideration of the text which it now has, on the understanding that when the matter comes back to this House there will be a Division.

No side comes out of this affair very creditably, and if we are not careful the whole House will come out of it with no credit at all. I invite you, Mr. Speaker, at least to confirm that that is a motion which you would be prepared to accept if the Leader of the House were prepared to move it.

I was one of the Government tellers on both of these occasions and I ought to remind the House that earlier that evening there was a disputed vote which I reported faithfully and with integrity, and that a second Division was called. Had I known that there were further disputes in the other two Divisions in which I participated—[Interruption.]—I would have thought that in courtesy hon. Members would listen to those whose integrity has been challenged. Had I been informed by any of my colleagues who were telling on those occasions that there was a dispute. I would have brought the matter to the notice of the Chair, and as far as I am concerned a second Division would have been required. I hope that the House will accept that explanation. I have already indicated that earlier in the evening that was the way in which we behaved.

We cannot go on like this. We must resolve the matter. I have tried to help the House on two occasions, Let me try once more. [HON. MEMBERS: "Do your duty"] A great many other people want to do their duty. If this procedure is adopted, Mr. Speaker, I understand that you will, without calling the Whips, make a declaration about the results of the Divisions on these two amendments and declare them carried. May I ask whether you will agree, immediately following that, to allow the vote on Third Reading to be taken without further debate? One consideration in this matter is that if the Third Reading is delayed to another day, the House must sit into the second week in August, and I want to avoid that.—[Interruption.] This is an important matter for hon. Members who have children, if not for all hon. Members. Could I ask whether you would allow that, Mr. Speaker? If you would agree to that, I should be prepared to move the motion to expedite the matter.

Perhaps I can be helpful to the Leader of the House on this matter. I can obviously speak only for my right hon. Friends and myself, not for anyone else, but I understand the right hon. Gentleman's point on this matter. We do not wish to delay this Bill. That is not the purpose of the point that we have raised. We accept that it is the Government's Bill—it has had a Third Reading and will receive another Third Reading. As I have said, we have no desire to delay the proceedings in the other House.

I believe that this procedure will allow the Bill to come back when the Lords have had their Second Reading debate but before it has been formally given a Third Reading. So, from the point of view of time, I am prepared to ask my right hon. and hon. Friends—I hope that the Leader of the Liberal Party will do the same—to enable the Leader of the House to get his Third Reading, I hope without further delay, after this irregularity has been put right. I would give him that assurance from this Bench.

In view of that—I would remind my hon. Friends that we are denied the right to vote again on this—to expedite the business of the House. I beg to move,

"That the proceedings of 11th July in relation to the Third Reading of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Bill be null and void; that a message be sent to the Lords to request that they will be pleased to return to this House the said Bill because Clause 27 and Schedule 1 are incorrect; and that when the Bill has been returned by the Lords and corrected it shall be read the Third time."

Question put and agreed to.

On a new point of order, Mr. Speaker. Since it has been a long-established tradition in the House that hon. Members treat each other and regard each other as "honourable" Members, what sanction does the House have against a Member who passes himself off as somebody else—Dr. Gerard Vaughan as Mr. John Smith? Are we entitled to suspend him, or what action can we take against a man who behaves in such a dishonourable way?

That is not a matter for the Chair. I think that the general rule is that allegations of that sort by one hon. Member against another can be made only on a substantive motion.