§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Francis Pym): I beg to move,
|(1) Standing Order No. 6 (Precedence of Government business) shall have effect for this Session with the following modifications, namely:|
|5||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 26th January, 2nd, 9th, 16th and 23rd February, 2nd March, 6th and 13th April. 4th, 11th and 18th May and 20th July.|
|10||(3) Private Members' Notices of Motions shall have precedence over Government business on 24th November, 1st, 8th and 15th December, 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th March, and ballots for these Notices shall be held after Questions on 8th, 15th, 22nd and 29th November, 21st and 28th February and 7th and 14th March.|
|15||(4) On Monday 18th December, Monday 12th February, Monday 21st May and Monday 25th June, Private Members' Notices of Motions shall have precedence until Seven o'clock and ballots for these Notices shall be held after Questions on Thursday 30th November, Thursday 25th January, Thursday 3rd May and Thursday 7th June, respectively.|
|20||(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. Speaker
I have selected certain manuscript Amendments to the Motion. The first two are in the name of the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Leonard): in line 4, leave out twelve' and insert sixteen '; and in line 5, leave out eight ' and insert four '.
The other Amendments are in the name of the hon. Member for Kensington, South (Sir B. Rhys Williams): in line 9, delete ' 11th ', and after' May ' insert ' 22nd June '.
§ Mr. Pym
I apologise to the House for the fact that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House is unable to be present. He has asked me to move this Motion, which I shall do with brevity because it repeats basically the same time and the same arrangement for Private Members' Bills and Private Members' Motions as we had last Session and, indeed, the one before. I hope the House will agree that it is right to proceed on the same basis for this Session.
§ Mr. Leonard
I beg to move, as a manuscript Amendment, in line 4, to leave out "twelve" and insert "sixteen ".
As you have said, Mr. Speaker, you have also selected my manuscript Amendment in line 5, to leave out "eight" and insert "four ".
This is a very important point. It is not my intention to delay the House for long, but this matter affects the rights of back-bench Members in all parts of the House and I believe that it would be 164 wrong to allow the Motion to go through this afternoon without giving it some examination.
The effect of the Motion is that 12 days will be devoted to the consideration of Private Members' Bills in this Chamber during this Session and eight days to Private Members' Motions. As the Chief Whip has said, this is the same allocation as we have had in the two previous Sessions of the present Parliament. But hon. Members will be aware that this represents a reduction in the time available to Private Members' Bills compared with the last three Sessions of the previous Parliament. In the last Parliament, in each of those Sessions 16 days were available for Private Members' Bills and four days for Private Members' Motions. The effect of the manuscript Amendments which you have selected, Mr. Speaker, would be to restore the situation that existed in the final three Sessions of the last Parliament. No justification was put forward to the House by the then Leader of the House in 1970 when he proposed the reduction from 16 days to 12. Unless convincing arguments are advanced this afternoon, I give notice that I shall seek to divide the House at the conclusion of this debate.
In my view, the case for making more rather than less time available for Private Members' Bills is overwhelming. The demand for Members to present Private Members' Bills in this House is large and is increasing. In the last Session 388 165 Members took part in the Ballot. That is more than two-thirds of the total number in the House who were eligible to take part in the Ballot. That is a considerable increase as compared with 10 years ago. In the 1959 Parliament not more than about half of the eligible Members sought to take part in the Ballot.
Of the 388 Members who entered the Ballot last year, 20, or less than one in 19, were able to introduce their Bills in the House. In the 1969 Session, when 16 Fridays were available, 27 Members had this opportunity, and I suggest that this is the minimum provision which the House should make this Session. Although last year there was time for 20 Bills to be introduced, only nine went through all their stages and received Royal Assent. Of the remaining 11, undoubtedly some Bills would not have commanded the full support of the House, and it is right that those should not have been enacted. But there were others for which there was widespread support on both sides of the House and these failed only through lack of parliamentary time.
The proportion of successful Bills introduced under the Ballot is falling year by year and this should cause some concern to the House. During the period of the previous Conservative Government, in 1959 no fewer than 58 per cent. of the Bills introduced under the Ballot were successful. Last year only nine out of 20 were successful—45 per cent. In the previous Session only seven out of 20 were successful—35 per cent.
§ Mr. Leonard
I do not wish to enter into a discussion of mathematics with the hon. Gentleman. He is technically right; only eight were successful. But a ninth was introduced under another procedure by which we enacted the provisions of the Bill. In effect, nine were successful, although I agree that technically there were only eight. If only eight were successful, this reinforces the case that the House should be concerned that less than half of the Bills successfully completed the course.
166 We are behaving in a rather frivolous fashion if we make provision for the introduction of Bills and then do not allow ourselves adequate time in which to consider them. The effect of carrying my Amendment would be to reduce the amount of time available to Private Members' Motions from eight days to four. Some of these debates in the past have been of high quality and they have been appreciated widely throughout the House. But I submit that there was neither the same demand for those debates, nor do they have the same effect on the welfare of the country, as the debates which we have previously had on Private Members' Bills. Many significant changes in legislation have been effected through the instrument of Private Members' Bills in recent years and the nation is better for them. I hope the House will give itself the same opportunities as it enjoyed in the last Parliament, and for these reasons I ask the House to accept my Amendment.
§ Mr. Pym
I have listened carefully to what the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Leonard) has said. It is a matter of controversy within the House how many days should be allocated to Bills out of the number of days allocated altogether to Private Members' time. The Standing Order divides the number of days as to 10 and 10. As the hon. Member rightly said, the last Labour Government changed it to 16 for Bills and four for Motions. Rather more than two years ago when I took soundings on this matter on both sides of the House, there were those who felt that that was too big a division in favour of Bills and that too few days were allocated for Motions. When we on these benches came into office, in our first Session we altered the proportion not back to 10 and 10 but to 12 days for Bills and eight for Motions. I still believe that that is a better division.
It is interesting to look at the statistics. Notwithstanding the extra amount of time given to Bills by the previous Administration, they did not have very many more passed than were passed in the last Session. In fact, I am advised that the number of Bills altogether, including Ten-Minute Rule and other Bills, which got through during the last Session was 16. In 1969–70 the number was 15 and that 167 was after the Government of the day had provided some of their own time in order to facilitate those Bills. On an immediate analysis, therefore, it does not necessarily follow that more days did produce or always have produced a more profitable result.
Frankly, I believe that wherever one brings down the dividing line one cannot satisfy everybody in the House, but I think that a majority of people felt and still feel that 16 days for Bills is too many. Equally I believe that a majority
§ feel that 10 is too few, and on balance I think it will be wise for us to continue what has been widely, although not completely, accepted as the best division, which is 12 days for Bills and eight days for Motions.
§ For those reasons I trust that the House will feel that we ought to continue on this basis for another Session.
§ Question put, That the Amendment be made:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 78, Noes 128.169
|Division No.1.]||AYES||[2.50 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Price, William (Rugby)|
|Ashley, Jack||John, Brynmor||Probert, Arthur|
|Atkinson, Norman||Jones, Barry (Flint, E.)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Barnett, Guy (Greenwich)||Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)||Robertson, John (Paisley)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Kaufman, Gerald||Rose, Paul B.|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Proven)||Kelley, Richard||Rowlands, Ted|
|Buchan, Norman||Kinnock, Neil||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Campbell, I. (Dunbartonshire, W.)||Lambie, David||Short, Mrs. Renee (W'hampton, N.E.)|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)||Leadbitter, Ted||Siliars, James|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Lestor, Miss Joan||Skinner, Dennis|
|Clark, David (Colne Valley)||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Stallard, A. W.|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Lomas, Kenneth||Steel, David|
|Dalyell, Tam||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Stoddart, David (Swindon)|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)||McBride, Neil||Thomas, Rt.Hn. George (Cardiff, W.)|
|de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||McCartney, Hugh||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy|
|Eadie, Alex||Marsden, F.||Varley, Eric G.|
|Ellis, Tom||Marshall, Dr. Edmund||Wainwright, Edwin|
|English, Michael||Milne, Edward||Wallace, George|
|Evans, Fred||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Weitzman, David|
|Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||White, James (Glasgow, Pollok)|
|Forrester, John||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||O'Halloran, Michael||Wilson, Alexander (Hamilton)|
|Hamling, William||O'Malley, Brian||Woof, Robert|
|Hardy, Peter||Orme, Stanley|
|Heffer, Eric S.||Oswald, Thomas||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)||Pardoe, John||Mr. John D. Grant and|
|Janner, Greville||Pavitt, Laurie||Mr. Dick Leonard.|
|Jay. Rt. tin. Douglas|
|Adley, Robert||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||Hornby, Richard|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Dodds-Parker, Douglas||Hornsby-Smith,Rt.Hn.D[...]mePatricia|
|Astor, John||Drayson, G. B.||Hutchison, Michael Clark|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Edwards, Nicholas (Pembroke)||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)|
|Awdry, Daniel||Emery, Peter||James, David|
|Balniel, Rt. Hn. Lord||Eyre, Reginald||Jessel, Toby|
|Batsford, Brian||Fell, Anthony||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine|
|Bell, Ronald||Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||Kershaw, Anthony|
|Benyon, W.||Fidler, Michael||Kilfedder, James|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)|
|Biffen, John||Fookes, Miss Janet||King, Tom (Bridgwater)|
|Blaker, Peter||Fortescue, Tim||Kitson, Timothy|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S.W.)||Fox, Marcus||Knight, Mrs. Jill|
|Boscawen, Hn. Robert||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Knox, David|
|Boscawen, Hn. Robert||Goodhew, Victor||Lambton, Lord|
|Bowden, Andrew||Gower, Raymond||Lamont, Norman|
|Bray Ronald||Grant, Anthony (Harrow, C.)||Langford-Holt, Sir John|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Gray, Hamish|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Grieve, Percy||Lloyd,Rt.Hn. Geoffrey (Sut'nC'field)|
|Buck, Antony||Gummer, J. Selwyn||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)|
|Butler, Adam (Bosworth)||Gurden, Harold||Longden, Sir Gilbert|
|Campbell, Rt.Hn.G.(Moray & Nairn)||Hall, John (Wycombe)||McLaren, Martin|
|Carlisle, Mark||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||McMaster, Stanley|
|Channon, Paul||Hannam, John (Exeter)||McNair-Wilson, Michael|
|Chapman, Sydney||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Madel, David|
|Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher||Havers, Michael||Mather, Carol|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Hayhoe, Barney||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Cormack, Patrick||Heseltine, Michael||Mills, Peter (Torrington)|
|Costain, A. P.||Hill, John E. B. (Norfolk, S.)||Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)|
|Mitchell,Lt.-Col.C.(Aberdeenshire,W)||Roberts, Wyn (Conway)||Thatcher, Rt. Hn. Mrs. Margaret|
|Monro, Hector||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)|
|Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Rost, Peter||Thomas, Rt. Hn. Peter (Hendon, S.)|
|Normanton, Tom||Russell, Sir Ronald||Trew, Peter|
|Onslow, Cranley||St. John-Stevas, Norman||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally||Scott Nicholas||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Owen, Idris (Stockport, N.)||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)||White, Roger (Gravesend)|
|Page, Rt. He. Graham (Crosby)||Shelton, William (Clapham)||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Sinclair, Sir George||Wilkinson, John|
|Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||Skeet, T. H. H.||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Proudfoot, Wilfred||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)|
|Pyme, Rt. Hn. Francis||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Redmond, Robert||Stokes, John||Mr. Walter Clegg and|
|Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)||Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart)||Mr. Michael Jopling.|
|Renton, Rt. fin. Sir David||Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||Tebbit, Norman|
§ Question accordingly negatived.
§ Sir B. Rhys Williams
I beg to move, as a manuscript Amendment, in line 9, to leave out "11th ".
The second half of my proposal would be effected by my other manuscript Amendment, in line 9, after "May ", to insert "22nd June ".
I congratulate the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Leonard) on making an extremely reasonable speech, and I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Chief Whip also on his extremely reasonable reply. In my limited experience, the difficulties which we have had in the introduction of Private Members' Bills have stemmed not so much from the total number of days allocated for their consideration on the Floor as from the timing of the days allocated, which has made it extremely difficult for Private Members' Bills to complete their remaining stages if, for any reason, they were delayed in going into Committee or coming out of Committee.
I am sure that the whole House will welcome my right hon. Friend's decision to recommend that the last date for the remaining stages of the Private Members' Bills should be 20th July. I am certain that this will prove of considerable advantage to Private Members. Nevertheless, I feel that the choice of that date leaves a long gap between the end of May and 20th July, and it would be advisable if that gap were filled by giving a later day for consideration of remaining stages during June.
My small Amendment, which appears to be purely technical, would offer these three advantages. First, it would provide better opportunities for Ten-Minute Rule Bills and for Bills which are tabled later in the Session than the balloted Bills. It would provide more opportunity for 170 balloted Bills coming out of Committee late, perhaps through no fault of the hon. Member introducing the Bill but perhaps because a previous Bill had proved controversial and had taken a lot of Committee time. It would, I believe, help to prevent a build-up of Bills leaving the Commons at the end of July and embarrassing Members in the other place if there could be a release of Private Members Bills in June rather than July.
I hope, therefore, that my right hon. Friend, bearing all these considerations in mind, will see fit either today or perhaps at some later date to amend his proposal in regard to the dates chosen for consideration of remaining stages. I recognise that he may be unwilling to make a commitment today because of the necessity to consult the powers-that-be in the other place.
§ Mr. Pym
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for the reasonable way in which he proposed the Amendment. I am glad that he is pleased about the last date of 20th July and I am sure that it will be for the advantage of hon. Members. If we had only ourselves to consider in the matter of timing Private Members' Bills there would be much to be said for what my hon. Friend proposes, but we must consider the other place and if we had our last days too late in our Session it would produce congestion in the other place.
Their Lordships were concerned in the last Session at the effect our arrangements had upon them and the congestion they created for them and they are keen not to have a bunch of Bills towards the end of the Session if it can be avoided. It was because of this that the penultimate day for Bills, as appears in the Motion, was chosen as 18th May, which is reasonably early, and the last day, towards 171 the end of this Session, was chosen as 20th July.
I should like to consider the matter with my noble Friend in the other place and go into it more deeply bearing in mind the representations made in the last Session and the purpose behind the Motion. I hope the House will approve the dates on this occasion, but I shall certainly go into the matter in more detail when I have more time, which I shall have after the House has passed this Motion.
§ Mr. English
Before the right hon. Gentleman sits down, will he perhaps solve one problem by assuring the House that we might have two Standing Committees for Private Members' Bills so that there is not a long queue of Bills waiting to be dealt with by Standing Committee?
§ Mr. Pym
That is another and quite separate matter and I am not sure that it could be given effect without consideration by the Select Committee on Procedure. I should not like to make any commitment in that regard. On the matter of the dates, I hope the House will feel it right to proceed on this basis now, but I undertake to go more deeply into what my hon. Friend suggested.
§ Amendment by leave withdrawn.
§ Main Question put and agreed to.