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Emergency Debate (Application)

Volume 32: debated on Wednesday 24 November 1982

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4.5 pm

Before Twelve o'clock this morning I had notice from the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) that he proposed under Standing Order No. 9 to seek an emergency debate. I have read what he submitted to me. In my judgment it would be an abuse of our procedure to allow him to make that application. I hope, therefore, that, bearing in mind what I have said, the hon. Gentleman will not seek to make his application this afternoon.

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am grateful to you for your comments. Will you tell me why my application was out of order, yet on 13 April 1981 an application was made by my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe (Mrs. Dunwoody), to discuss the negotiations that were taking place about hospitals being turned into private medical centres and on 22 February 1982 an application was made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South (Mr. Rees) to discuss the sale of shares in Amersham International, both of which were allowed?

Both the hon. Gentleman's hon. Friends referred directly to matters that were under way. The hon. Gentleman has given me notice of an alleged decision by the Government, which apparently he is not sure about. I honestly think that it would be a gross abuse of our procedure, were he to continue.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Perhaps I could turn your attention to a statement that was made at a meeting yesterday—

Order. The hon. Gentleman will either proceed against my advice or he will not. I give him my strong advice that he should not proceed with his application. It would be unfair to the House if our procedures for emergency debates were to degenerate into a mere opportunity for a speech to be made without the opportunity of reply.

Could I then, on a point of order, refer you, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that the Government this afternoon or tomorrow are to make a statement in the form of a written reply, which I believe should have been the subject of a full statement at the Dispatch Box, on the privatisation of Companies House? My application—

Order. Of course, I cannot be aware of what possible answer will come from the Government tomorrow.

Later

I hope that the House will allow me to express my gratitude to the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours), because he has been a good parliamentarian. It is in the interests of the House to accept rulings on such occasions. I do not make them unless I feel rather strongly about a matter.