Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Amendment [21st June] proposed to Lords Amendment: In page 8, line 43 leave out subsection (2) and insert:
'(2) This Act shall not come into operation before the expiry of one month beginning with the day on which it is passed, but subject thereto it shall come into operation on a day to be appointed by Her Majesty in Council';
Which Amendment was: In line 2, to leave out from 'operation' to the end of the Lords Amendment and add:
'when an order for that purpose has been approved by both Houses of Parliament'—instead thereof.—[Mr. Channon.]
§ Question again proposed, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the words proposed to be inserted by the Lords.
§ 1.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Robert Cooke (Bristol, West)
I am glad to have the opportunity today to conclude my remarks on this Question and to deal, perhaps, more fully than I could on 21st June, when the debate was adjourned, with the substance of both the Lords Amendment and the Amendment to it moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, West (Mr. Channon). I am here because I regard this matter as of sufficient importance to move me to persist in my Parliamentary activities, in spite of having been in the Chamber since half-past two yesterday paying attention to the business of the House n one way or another or on one subject or another.
I am sorry that the Postmaster-General has had to come here at this time. It is, no doubt, inconvenient for him, but it is not of my doing or the doing of my right hon. and hon. Friends. The business of the House is arranged by the Leader of the House, and we have often protested about the way in which he has treated us recently. The Postmaster-General is merely the victim of his right hon. Friend.
I shall begin by going over some of the history of what happened in their Lordships' House, as that has a considerable bearing on what we are discussing now. It would be out of order to quote from 1146 the speeches of any noble Lord unless he was a Minister of the Crown, and any quotations I make will come from Ministerial speeches as recorded in HANSARD of 1st May.
My noble Friend Lord Denham's Amendment was carried in their Lordships' House and has now come to us here. What Lord Denham was trying to do was to give the Government flexibility to bring this Measure into force when they had provided an adequate substitute for the pirate radio stations which they are seeking to destroy. He explained the matter at some length. It received a favourable response from their Lordships, and the noble Lord, Lord Sorensen, speaking for the Government, was not all that unkind to it. Indeed, on the first occasion when he intervened, he was positively encouraging.
However, it suddenly dawned on the noble Lord, Lord Gardiner, the Lord Chancellor, that the Government were to be given this opportunity for flexibility of action, and they might be pushed into providing an alternative service or allowing someone else to provide it. He seems to have come to this realisation "all of a sudden like", which is rather surprising for someone of the experience and ability of Lord Gardiner and for the holder of his high office. I suppose that he may have thought that Lord Denham, because he looks very young, was inexperienced in Parliamentary matters, or, at all events, was not pursuing anything of great importance.
Perhaps the Lord Chancellor was not paying attention. He certainly did at the end, and what he tried to do was to put Lord Denham off. He said that Lord Denham had made a long speech—not, of course, a minute too long, but a long, carefully prepared, written speech.I am not surprised that my noble Friend read it. He wanted to get it right. It was an important matter.
The Lord Chancellor went on:It is not unreasonable, I should have thought—particularly when, as I say, the Amendment is not of itself self-explanatory …What a statement from the Lord Chancellor—that the Amendment did not explain itself. My noble Friend explained it. There was a substantial debate. Yet, apparently, the Lord Chancellor had not 1147 understood it till the last minute, because it "was not of itself self-explanatory". He ended by saying that he thoughtthat the Government should have an opportunity of considering what the noble Lord has said".That was an effort to discourage my noble Friend from dividing the House. I suppose that the Lord Chancellor had discovered that he had not got a majority because, although scores of peers have been created by the present Prime Minister, they had not turned up in sufficient numbers on this occasion to obey the Government Whip.
There was a Division, and the Amendment was carried. One might have supposed that that would have been the end of the matter, especially in view of what Lord Sorensen had said earlier. However, Lord Gardiner said merely that the Government wanted time to consider it. Apparently, they had considered it pretty swiftly during the course of the Division, because Lord Sorensen then said:So that there shall be no dubiety in the minds of those who are operating pirate radio stations, I think it right to inform your Lordships' Committee, on behalf of the Government, that it will be their intention, if the Bill is enacted in this form, to advise Her Majesty to make an Order bringing the Act into operation on the day after the expiry of one month from the date on which the Bill receives the Royal Assent."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 1st May, 1967; Vol. 282. c. 734–6.]In other words, the Government intended to bring it in on the very first day they could, although my noble Friend Lord Denham had had his Amendment passed by the House to give the Government flexibility to act at the appropriate moment when an alternative service had been provided. This resulted in a major row in another place. I shall not go into it because that would be out of order, although I hope that hon. Members will refer to cols. 737–8 of the House of Lords HANSARD of that date. It ended with a rather sullen Earl of Longford making a statement on behalf of the Government that he would not like noble Lords to imagine that the Government would alter their attitude. Now, thanks to my hon. Friend, the House has an opportunity to help the Government a little further by a wide discussion in both Houses.
1148 The whole object of our inquiry into the Government's activity on the Bill, and the reason we are here today, is to explore the Government's intentions on the alternatives, because the proper time at which the Act should begin to operate, if the Bill becomes an Act, entirely depends on when the alternative service is to be provided. The B.B.C. will produce what I think is called Radio 247, and we know that it will do its best to fill the gap left by the pirates. There will be a gap and a time lag, but I am sure that one of my hon. Friends will deal with that point. Radio 247 is not—
§ Mr. H. P. G. Channon (Southend, West)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I draw your attention to the fact that there is not a quorum present?
§ Mr. Channon
I think that I am entitled to call a Count between 1 p.m. and 1.15 p.m. Is it not a fact that if I call a Count before one o'clock the House will stand adjourned until one o'clock, but that between 1 p.m. and 1.15 p.m. I am entitled to call a Count?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I think that, technically, that is not the case. I think that the hon. Member is entitled to adjourn the House up until 11 minutes past one, but not after that, because the rules provide a certain amount of time after notice has been given to see if there is a quorum. Therefore, I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman is too late.
§ Mr. Cooke
Further to that point of order. My hon. Friend was making some movement, and I was looking at the clock because I was afraid that I would be counted out and be the victim of a technical manoeuvre. Being aware of the Friday rules, and because I can see the clock above your Chair, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I knew that my hon. Friend was in time by the formula which you have given the House Mr. Deputy Speaker. That is why I was looking so apprehensive when my hon. Friend was moving up and down in front of me.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman was one minute too late. He called the Count at 12 minutes 1149 past one, and the last time that the Count can be called is 11 minutes past one.
§ Mr. Channon
I apologise for rising again, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have no wish to query your Ruling. I am sure that you are absolutely correct, as always. But may I ask you where this is to be found in the Standing Orders? Standing Order No. 30(2) says:Paragraph (1) of this order shall apply to sittings on Fridays, with the substitution of references to a quarter-past one…Although I was not aware of the "11-minutes-past rule", it was my opinion that I had called the Count by 11 minutes past. I bow to your decision on that, but I see nothing on it in the Standing Orders.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I am following a rule made by Sir Charles MacAndrew, then Deputy Speaker, when he dealt with a similar point. I do not have the Ruling but it followed other precedents, and, therefore, I am equally bound by it.
§ 1.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Cooke
In those circumstances, I shall try to be as brief as possible.
Having said how much we deprecate the Government's attitude in another place, I want to turn to the question of the alternative. Some days have passed since we last heard from the Government, and this is an opportunity for them to tell us a little more about it. The public would also be interested to know, because the argument is all about the alternative.
Radio 247 will no doubt provide a good service, but it is not the same as the pirate radios. It will not provide the same public service. We could have an argument from the Postmaster-General that for legal reasons it is not possible to do the sort of thing the pirates do, be- 1150 cause they do not have to bother about copyrights, and so on. In view of what has happened over pirate radio, I am not so sure that there will not be a completely different attitude by the owners of record copyrights. Perhaps we shall even see the unions taking a different view about the use of recorded music on radio. Certainly, there is much greater freedom in some other parts of the world. Because we started first, the United Kingdom ends up, with more restrictions, as in so many other spheres, but perhaps we may break out from them.
I want to finish with a reference to genuine local broadcasting.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I do not want to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but I do not think that he can pursue that argument on the Amendment to the Lords Amendment, which merely deals with the date of the coming into operation of the Bill.
§ Mr. Cooke
I shall not pursue the matter at length, but perhaps I might be allowed to bring that part of my argument to a conclusion. As we are arguing the case today, because of the lack of an alternative, I imagine that I could have been even longer and stronger in deprecating the Government's procedural machinations. We might have wearied the House within the rules of order, so perhaps I might be allowed to conclude on this aspect.
The Government have so far not had the courage to authorise real local experiments to replace the pirate radio stations which will be killed by the Bill. We have seen that they are prepared to authorise certain experiments, and the B.B.C. is being brought in. No doubt a real effort will be made to make a success of the experiments, but the Government are having great difficulty in getting them going. So far, we have heard of less than a dozen, and many of them are hanging fire.
We on this side of the House feel that the Government could have been more imaginative and perhaps allowed a rather different type of much more competitive broadcasting. Some people have branded our party as wanting just slush, with advertising in between and money made for a few businessmen, but that is not so. We want a real public service that is competitive, interesting and vital 1151 but we shall not get it in the B.B.C. experiments because of the restrictions that the Government put on it.
I hope that the Postmaster-General will make us and the public feel happier before we give our blessing to a Bill which is aimed at suppressing the activities of the pirates, which though illegal, have been enjoyed by so many people.
§ Mr. Anthony Berry (Southgate)
I support my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, West (Mr. Channon) in the moderate way he moved the Amendment. It is very important that we should discuss it seriously. I am not over-happy about the way that the Bill has been treated since it returned from another place. We discussed it at the end of a Wednesday morning and now on this Friday afternoon, and I do not think that that gives it due importance.
However, we must take what time we have. The purpose behind the Amendment, which will enable the House to discuss the problem further before the final steps are taken to end the pirate radio stations, is very important. I should like to refer, as my hon. Friend for Bristol, West (Mr. Robert Cooke) did, to the debate in another place, referring only to remarks by members of the Government. I want to quote remarks made by Lord Sorensen. I am not claiming for a moment that at no stage in those remarks did he say that the Postmaster-General would necessarily change his mind. However, he said:it may well be that there are points raised by the noble Lord which we have not considered as we should consider them. If necessary, we will consider the matter yet again …".Later he said:'I can assure him that the matter can be reconsidered between now and the next stage of the Bill …".That was the next stage in another place. But that point was not referred to again. Finally, Lord Sorensen said:I give the assurance that it will be considered."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 1st May, 1967; Vol 282, c. 729–730.]No mention was made again in another place of consideration of this very important point.
Since my hon. Friend the Member for Southend, West spoke, we have a dif- 1152 ference, because the Postmaster-General yesterday announced the date of start of Radio 247–30th September. I should like to know how it will be described. The Light Programme now describes itself as the Corporation Station, which seems an interesting move with the times. I mention this only to show that I listen to the Light Programme as well as other stations.
I feel also that it is relevant to consider the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor) about the possibility of competition, even for a comparatively short time, between the new programme and the pirate radios, not in support of the pirates but so that the public may have a chance of judging whether they like the new station or not at a time when there are some alternatives of a kind. I think it could not be anything but beneficial to the new station. We have seen changes in the B.B.C. over the past years, as we have in B.B.C. television, as a result of competition. I feel that this could be very helpful to Radio 247 in establishing itself as a good station.
I should like to go a stage further. I should like to see us move much nearer towards the start of local sound stations round the country. I realise that I am on slightly dangerous ground here, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I should like to have more news about these stations. I should like to see them start before the enforcement of the Bill. For one thing, Radio 247, good as it may well be, will not have any local interests and will not cater for them as such, whereas the pirates, as the Postmaster-General reminded us on many occasions during the Committee stage, have played a great part in local interests. My hon. Friend the Member for Cathcart gave a number of examples in Committee when he referred to the publicity for local R.A.F., defence and—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman is now wandering very wide of the Amendment.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
This is not a Committee stage, nor a Report stage. We are merely considering Lords Amendments, and debate on them is very limited.
§ Mr. Channon
Would not my hon. Friend agree that the announcement by the Postmaster-General yesterday of the date 30th September makes our Amendments even more important, because unless something like them is passed there will be a gap?
§ Mr. Berry
Yes, that is an extremely valid point. I am coming to it as my closing remarks. The fact that there is this gap, albeit a short one, arises because the Postmaster-General will not put off the enforcement until the local stations start. I think that he could meet us and the wishes of another place by having another look at this, bearing in mind the two-month period which will elapse between the enforcement of the Act. If it is the month and a day, as was said in another place, after it receives the Royal Assent, there will then be the months of August and September, the holiday months in which people like to listen to their radio more than during other months of the year, and it will be a time when they are to have neither the pirate radios nor the new Radio 247. The Postmaster-General should consider this most seriously.
§ The Postmaster-General (Mr. Edward Short)
We have had many discussions on the Bill in this House. On one point there has been general agreement on both sides, and that is that the pirates must go. Hon. Member after hon. Member on the benches opposite, both in the House and in Committee, has reaffirmed this and said that the pirates must go. What we disagree about is when they should go.
I have explained the reasons why the pirates must go, and I do not propose to do this again today. As you said, Mr. Deputy Speaker, this is a very restricted debate. The reasons that I have given still hold good. However, a number of hon. Members opposite have expressed the view that the Bill is contingent upon the provision of some kind of legal substitute for the pirate stations. I think it was in this context that hon. Members opposite spoke to this Amendment. Even 1154 so, the two hon. Members opposite who put down this Amendment do not seem to be entirely clear in their own minds just what they want.
The hon. Member for Southend, West (Mr. Channon), who has taken such a great interest in the matter, began by saying that the Bill should not come into force until the new popular music programme had started. However, he went on to say that the Bill should be delayed until a "decent" alternative had been provided, and then expressed doubts whether the new programme would satisfy him in this respect. The hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Edward M. Taylor), who could not be here today, went even further, and said that there should be a period in which the new programme and the pirates should coincide and be in competition for audiences. So I think I can be excused for having some doubt as to how long these hon. Members wish to see the Bill delayed, for the effect, presumably, of their two Amendments would be to delay the Bill.
§ Mr. Channon
The right hon. Gentleman has asked me for my attitude. To my mind, my attitude is clear. I should prefer the Bill to be delayed until we have had a decent time for Radio 247 to get going. But I accept that that is unrealistic. Therefore, the minimum that I am asking for is that the Bill should be delayed at least until it comes into operation.
§ Mr. Short
There is a clear contradiction there. The hon. Gentleman said that the Bill should be delayed until the new station comes into existence and then that it should be delayed until a decent programme exists—and Radio 247 will not be a decent programme to him. So there is a conflict there.
However, these doubts need not detain us today. They are all resolved by the urgent need to bring the Bill into operation with as little delay as possible. I wish hon. Members opposite would face the fact that the House and this country have an obligation to take this action. There is no escaping this obligation; it has to be fulfilled as soon as possible, and the only regret is that it was not done very much sooner. I have repeatedly made clear that the Bill is not contingent upon anything. It has to be passed 1155 because we have an international obligation to pass it. It is as simple as that. It certainly is not contingent upon the introduction of new programmes.
We have for a long time been aware that there is an audience for continuous music, and the new music programme, will, I believe, cater for this audience. Its purpose is not to be a substitute for the pirates. It could not be. Nobody can create a legal substitute for the pirates by putting out the sort of programme that they do. It is not possible to do this within our law. The purpose is to provide an extension of choice for the listener.
In two respects the new programmes will be different from those of the pirates. First of all, the new station will necessarily accept restriction on the amount of broadcasting time devoted to gramophone records. There is no avoiding this. Legitimate broadcasters cannot blithely ignore the copyright laws in the way the pirates do.
Secondly, it will cater for a wide range of taste than most of the pirate stations, each of which aims at roughly one section of taste. It would clearly be a great waste of our broadcasting resources if programmes for a certain section of the population were to dominate the broadcasting media at the expense of people who want to listen to other kinds of programmes. The B.B.C. is confident that the new programme will be very popular, and I do not see why the hon. Member for Southend, West thinks it will be inadequate, before he has heard it. I ask him to suspend judgment about Radio 1, as I understand it is to be called, until he has heard it.
I have referred to the new popular music programme only because hon. Gentleman opposite have made a great deal of it. As I indicated earlier, is really is not relevant to the issue of how long the pirates should be allowed to continue. In parenthesis, I should like to put it on record as an assurance to the hon. Member for Cathcart that I do not deplore the content of the pirate radio programmes, at least as far as entertainment goes, but I am certainly not happy about the quality of some of the political and propaganda-type broadcasts. They 1156 have all been anti-Labour so far, but surely hon. Gentlemen opposite realise the terrible potential of this kind of development. Even so, I find it difficult to think of their programmes without reflecting on the cynical disregard of the law which has made them possible, and I wish that hon. Gentlemen would face this fact.
The only question which we are considering today is whether the coming into force of this Bill should be delayed, not the need for it. This is agreed. Member after Member on the other side of the House has said this. We are not discussing the future of radio in this country. The hon. Member for Southend, West referred to a statement made in the other place by my noble Friend, Lord Sorensen, in which he said that the Government's intention was to bring the Bill into force as soon as they could. It had been suggested that if, at any time, even under the Amendment, there was a danger of loss of life on the seas, or of interference with foreign radio, I would still be able to bring the Act into force as early as the day at present named in the Bill.
Perhaps I might give the House a piece of information. Even while the Bill was being considered in another place I received a report that a pirate radio station had interfered with the radio communication of a lighthouse on the Irish coast. This shows that the pirates are still interfering on wavelengths used by shipping, and the possibility of a vital message being blocked is one that is with us all the time until we end this menace. It is with us today, tomorrow, and every day until, as the International Telecommunication Union has urged, the high seas are cleared of this menace.
Again, the pirates are causing interference to foreign broadcasting services all the time. Even today, every day, they are doing this. This interference is most marked during the hours of darkness when most people on the Continent want to listen, so it will get worse as the days go shorter. The longer it is delayed the bigger will be the interference with our friends in Italy, Rome, Yugoslavia, Sweden and elsewhere. The Governments of the countries concerned have been extremely patient in the face of our assurances that we are doing all we can to get rid of the pirates, and, let us face it, we are the main offender. There is one in Holland, but, by and large, it is a 1157 British problem. In fairness to them we cannot allow the pirates to continue to deprive listeners in those countries of satisfactory broadcasting services until the hon. Member for Southend, West has decided that the new music programme measures up to his requirements.
My noble Friend was quite right to make the statement that he did in another place, and I have no hesitation in reaffirming that it is the Government's intention to arrange for the Bill to come into force as the House intended, that is to say a month after it receives the Royal Assent. When that will be I do not know. This is matter not for me.
I have listened carefully to what has been said in this debate, and, as the debate has been interrupted, I have had the advantage of reading what was said before, but I have not heard anything, any single fact, which outweighs the force of the facts which I have just pointed out. The House has decided, in fact both Houses have decided, that the pirates must go, and in view of the urgency which I have indicated I am sure that hon. Gentlemen will agree that they must go without any more delay. There is no escaping this. I can therefore see no point in providing for further discussion of such a straightforward matter at a future date. The straightforward issue has already been decided by both Houses of Parliament, and. I am sorry, but I have no option but to say that the Government cannot advise the House to accept either of these Amendments.
§ Mr. Paul Bryan (Howden)
I can hardly believe my ears. I thought that by general agreement between the three parties morning sittings were confined to a discussion of non-controversial subjects, or at least to subjects on which it was understood there was to be no vote. Thus, when I heard that this subject was to be debated in the morning, my Whips' office asked whether it was a suitable subject to debate in the morning and I said "No".
I said that as far as I know the Lords Amendment had been opposed by the Government, and presumably, therefore, they would vote against it here. But then another message came through to say that the Amendment was to be accepted by the Government. I therefore said that if it was to be accepted 1158 it was suitable for discussion at morning sittings, but if it is to be accepted, which I assume it is since we have been told this, it surely means that it will be accepted and honoured in the spirit as well as the letter. In other words, that the real meaning of the Amendment will be accepted.
Everybody knows that the purpose of the Amendment—and the right hon. Gentleman must know it—is to give the Postmaster-General latitude in his choice of day on which the Bill when it becomes an Act comes into force. It therefore presupposes, and the right hon. Gentleman surely cannot deny this, that he has not already made up his mind, because if he has the Amendment is without substance. By accepting the Amendment the right hon. Gentleman is withdrawing the statement of policy by the Government spokesman in another place that if the Amendment became law the Postmaster-General would frustrate its purpose by using the power it gave him one day after the date written into the Bill.
The right hon. Gentleman must agree that by accepting the Amendment the responsibility for the timing of the coming into force of the Bill is put fairly and squarely on his shoulders. Now that we are irrevocably committed to the suppression of the pirate radio programmes, the only important thing left is timing.
Throughout the debate on the Bill the Opposition have stressed the interests of the listener. Time and again we have said that if 20 million people are to he deprived of the programmes to which they have become accustomed, these programmes should not be discontinued until a replacement is supplied. We agree that the B.B.C. is doing its best to supply a replacement in the form of Radio One, or 247, or whatever it is called, and we recognise the inevitable limitations that will go with it. Nevertheless, the right hon. Gentleman has doggedly continued to assert that this new programme has nothing to do with the replacement, and that it is by pure chance that it will come on the air at about the same time as the pirates leave the scene. I assume, also, that by accepting the Amendment the Postmaster General is facing the facts at last and putting himself in a position to allow the pirates to continue until Radio 247 is on the air.
1159 This is a sensible and considerate thing to do. It will probably be too much to ask the right hon. Gentleman to confess this is so in so many words, but at least we must have an assurance that he accepts the principle of the Amendment, and not merely the words, and without committing him to any of the details which I have mentioned I ask the right hon. Gentleman to assure us that the date is not already determined in his mind. If it is, he is laughing at the Amendment. He is accepting it, knowing that he will not accept it at heart.
If this is not done the Government have been utterly deceitful in the last phases of the Bill. In another place my noble Friend who proposed the Amendment was implored by the Lord Chancellor not to divide the House. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Am I wrong? Was he not implored by the Lord Chancellor.
§ Mr. Bryan
I am assuming, since we have been told the Government would accept the Amendments, that they are accepting them. I do not utter words like this and say they were deceitful when I do not think so.
I will point out what happened in the other place. I will not go through all the quotations, because we have heard them, but the proposer of the Amendment in the other place was implored—I cannot put it any other way—by the Lord Chancellor not to divide the House so that more thought could be given to these important Amendments. It was said that it had not been understood and that more time was needed for consideration.
After the Division there was a flurry of temper and the Government speaker 1160 again said words to the effect, "This will be frustrated, because we will arrange for the effect to be exactly the same and the Postmaster-General will put it into effect anyway the day after."
The honest thing to do, if the Amendment was not to be allowed to work in the way we all understood, in the spirit of the thing, would be to oppose it again now. I should like an explanation, whether on this Amendment or the next, of exactly why it is being accepted if it is only being accepted in the letter in this way. It never occurred to me that this sort of conduct would take place. I did not think that the Postmaster-General would connive in such a game.
My hon. Friends, on the other hand, had a more accurate idea of what would happen and, therefore, they put down this Amendment. At the time, I rather scoffed at it, but I can see that it was entirely necessary. I do ask the Postmaster-General, either now or on the next Amendment, to explain—I think he owes it to the House and to himself—why he thinks acceptance of such an Amendment merely in the letter is worthy of him.
§ Mr. Channon
May I beg leave of the House to speak for one minute, since I originally moved the Amendment?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
The hon. Member for Southend, West (Mr. Channon) has exhausted his right to speak.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
It is usual, but if objection is taken, objection is taken, and the hon. Member has exhausted his right to speak.
§ Question put, That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the words proposed to be inserted by the Lords.
§ The House proceeded to a Division— Mr. FITCH and Mr. WALTER HARRISON were appointed Tellers for the Ayes, but no Member being willing to act as Teller 1161 for the Noes, Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER declared that the Ayes had it.
§ 1.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Channon
On a point of order. This might be a convenient moment to ask about the Ruling which you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, gave earlier about counting out the House. Is this the appropriate time?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I am obliged to the hon. Member. Since he raised the question I have had an opportunity of looking up earlier Rulings on this and I was right in saying that a Ruling was given by the then Sir Charles MacAndrew.
However, the latest Ruling, and the one which it would be most convenient for the House to refer to for future guidance, was given by the present Speaker, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as he then was, in the House on 12th February, 1965, reported in HANSARD, Volume 706 at c. 758, where the position is explained in some detail.