§ As amended (in the Standing Committee), considered.
§ 3.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Speaker
The recommittal Motion in the name of the hon. Lady the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon) is not selected.
§ Mr. James MacColl (Widnes)
On a point of order. I do not wish to appear to challenge in any way the decision not to select the recommittal Motion, Mr. Speaker, but I should like your guidance about a very difficult point of procedure which seems to me to arise out of that decision.
Clause 1, which is an important Clause—you would not want me to discuss it in detail, Mr. Speaker—was discussed at length in Committee and was much improved by an Amendment placed in the Bill by the Standing Committee. As a result of that great improvement, the members of the Standing Committee who, on the whole, were critical of it in its original form did not vote against it on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill", because, in its amended form, it seemed acceptable.
I observe that there is on the Notice Paper what I regard as a rather irresponsible Amendment to ignore the decision of the Standing Committee and to restore the original words. There are many hon. Members who, while not being against the Clause in its new form, would be against it in the form in which it originally appeared but have not had an opportunity of expressing that opposition because, when they came to vote on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill", it was in its new form. It might conceivably happen that, if the House accepted the Government's Amendment, we would be faced with an entirely new situation on which no one has had an opportunity of expressing his view.
Those hon. Members who felt that the Clause in its amended form was bad would not have a chance of indicating their view by voting against the Clause in its new form and would be appearing to support a Clause which, in fact, they do not support. May we have your 45 guidance, Mr. Speaker, on how we can get over this procedural tangle?
§ Mr. Speaker
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for what he has said. I suspected the reason which prompted certain matter in the recommittal Motion. It was one of the matters which I considered, on advice, when deciding whether to select it. I cannot, on that account, change the view which I hold, that it would not be right to select any part of the recommittal Motion.
§ Miss Alice Bacon (Leeds, South-East)
Further to that point of order. While not wishing to question your right of selection in any way, Mr. Speaker, I wonder whether, when you considered the matter, you appreciated all the circumstances of the case.
Some hon. Members opposite voted for our Amendment in Committee against the advice of the Government. I think it true to say that, had that Amendment not been accepted by the Committee, some of those same hon. Members opposite may have voted with us, and probably the whole of the Clause would have been lost. If the right hon. Gentleman succeeds in taking enough hon. Members who were not members of the Committee into the Lobby with him, and this decision is reversed, we shall not have an opportunity of considering the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." That will be a serious matter, because this is a very important Clause.
§ Mr. Speaker
I appreciate that. What the hon. Lady has said to me is, with due respect to her, precisely what the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. MacColl) said. I am afraid that her eloquence would not change my view about the matter, because she has raised the same point.