§ Mr. Douglas Hogg (Grantham)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I seek your guidance on your powers under Standing Order No. 4. As you will know, from what my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House said, next Wednesday we are to have a debate on the NIREX special development order. You may feel that there is a cosy agreement between the two Front Benches to limit the debate to one and a half hours. This may be because the Labour party, too, supports the policy of disposing of low-level nuclear waste in a shallow burial facility. It is the policy of the Liberal Chief Whip as well.
A number of constituencies are affected, and Fulbeck in my constituency is included. Our constituents would never forgive the House if their case was not fully argued. Under Standing Order No. 4, the debate on a prayer of this type ends automatically at 11.30 pm. As I understand it, Mr. Speaker, you have a residual discretion under the provisions of the Standing Order, if you hold that this is an important matter which has not been adequately discussed, to adjourn the debate for further argument. If the representatives of the affected constituencies—
§ Mr. Michael Brown (Brigg and Cleethorpes)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am sure you will have noticed the number of requests made to the Leader of the House. It is reasonable to assume that all those hon. Members might seek to catch your eye during that debate. During a one and a half-hour debate, it is reasonable to assume that not all those who this afternoon have made the case for a longer debate will be called, and they will very 876 much welcome you using your power under the Standing Order referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg). I urge you to recognise that the debate on Wednesday is the only opportunity that we have to draw to the attention of the House the total and unanimous opposition of large numbers of people in four communities in the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Neil Kinnock (Islwyn)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I was under the impression earlier today that we were to have a three-hour debate on that prayer. I do not know from where I gathered that view. I had to be corrected by my hon. Friend the Chief Whip of the Parliamentary Labour party. If it would assist in any way, may I say that I and my right hon. and hon. Friends are disposed to agree to the prolongation of that debate, as this issue is of considerable importance to both sides of the House. I hope that even without invoking your intervention the Government will reconsider their business. I am sure that a three-hour debate would bring widespread satisfaction.
§ Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough and Horncastle)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. This is an important matter and you are about to give an important ruling. You might at this stage say that you will adjourn the debate, because there are no Members of the Liberal party in the Chamber. They clearly do not care at all about the matter that we are to debate.
§ Mr. Speaker
That is also a hypothetical question. It may be of some comfort to the hon. Gentleman to know that during the debate I shall certainly bear in mind those who were not called in previous debates.