Motion made, and Question proposed
§ (1) Standing Order No. 6 (Precedence of Government business) shall have effect for this Session with the following modifications, namely:—
§ In paragraph (2) the word 'twelve' shall be substituted for the word 'ten' in line 5; and in paragraph (5) the word 'eight' shall be substituted for the word 'ten' in line 30;
§ (2) Private Members' Bills shall have precedence over Government business on 24th and 31st January, 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th February, 18th and 25th April, 2nd, 9th and 16th May and 11th July;
§ (3) Private Members' Notices of Motions shall have precedence over Government business on 22nd and 29th November, 6th and 13th December, 7th, 14th and 21st March and 11th April, and ballots for these Notices shall be held after Questions on 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th November, 19th and 26th February and 5th and 26th March;
§ (4) on Monday 9th December, Monday 10th February, Monday 19th May and Monday 7th July, Private Members' Notices of Motions shall have precedence until Seven o'clock and ballots for these Notices shall be held after Questions on Thursday 21st November, Thursday 23rd January, Thursday 1st May and Thursday 19th June;
§ (5) no Notice of Motion shall be handed in for any of the days on which Private Members' Notices have precedence under this Order in anticipation of the Ballot for that day.—[Mr. Edward Short.]
§ Mr. Fell
The motion worries me a little. As I understand it, what has happened is what happened under not the previous Government but the Government before that, in that the 20 days involved are now divided into 12 and eight instead of 10 and 10, contrary to the present Standing Orders. Backbench Members' prerogatives and rights are being set at nought, as was discovered yesterday through the televising of the House. I want to know why it is that 226 this matter is being agreed to so meekly when instead the Private Members' Notices of Motions could be increased by two? The Government could give up another couple of Fridays to private Members instead of taking away those Fridays. The wish of private Members could be satisfied by having 12 days as against eight.
I ask the Government to be generous with their time. They have enough time to spare during the next two or three years. I ask them to give the time for Private Members' Motions as well as to give us another couple of Fridays.
§ The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Edward Short)
There is no question of satisfying the Government's wish. I thought that this matter would be for the convenience of the House. For the past five Sessions the divide has been 12 to eight. It is over 10 years since the House agreed to 10 and 10. I have discussed this matter with a number of hon. Members who have come to me to discuss it. I believe that it is in the general interests of all hon. Members that there should be more time for Bills than for motions. The total number of days for Members is 20, and the issue is whether we should divide it into 12 and eight or 10 and 10. I believe it is for the general convenience of the House that it should be 12 and eight.
§ Question put and agreed to.