HC Deb 27 November 1974 vol 882 cc570-2

Motion made, and Question proposed, That in respect of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Bill, notices of Amendments, new Clauses or new Schedules to be moved in Committee may be accepted by the Clerks at the Table before the Bill has been read a second time.—[Mr. Pavitt].

9.13 p.m.

Rev. Ian Paisley (Antrim, North)

If amendments are not tabled before the Second Reading debate will it be possible for them to be tabled immediately after? Certain assurances will be asked of the Minister who is presenting the Bill. If we get those assurances, why should we go to the trouble of tabling needless amendments? We went to facilitate the Government on matters on which we are agreed, but I should like to know from a Government spokesman tonight whether it will be possible to table amendments after the Second Reading debate, as is usual, so that if the assurances which we seek are given, there will be no need to table them.

9.14 p.m.

Mr. Gerard Fitt (Belfast, West)

May I reinforce the request put forward by the hon. Member for Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley)? It may be that on the crucial legislation which we are to debate tomorrow, and possible into the early hours of the next day, certain assurances will be asked of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary the giving of which would make it unnecessary to move certain amendments.

The House may take the view that to safeguard ourselves against the Home Secretary's refusal to give the assurances the amendments should be tabled now and later withdrawn. I ask that every facility be given to hon. Members, especially to those who represent Northern Ireland constituencies, and that the longest possible time be allowed for the acceptance of amendments.

9.16 p.m.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Alexander W. Lyon)

The House is governed by the rules of the House, and those are administered by Mr. Speaker. But, to the extent that it is the responsibility of the Government, I can assure hon. Members that we wish to give the maximum opportunity for the consideration of this Bill and of amendments which hon. Members wish to move.

There is a practical difficult always in manuscript amendments in terms of the preparedness of Government spokesmen to answer the points raised in them. If hon. Members are thinking of raising matters which will constitute amendments, it will help the Government if they do so tonight so that we may consider them as calmly as possible in the interval between now and the Committee stage. However, I undertake that we shall be willing to consider manuscript amendments tabled after the Second Reading if those are allowed by Mr. Speaker. Clearly there are practical difficulties in the way of considering them.

The best way of meeting the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Belfast, West (Mr. Fitt) is for me to say that if there are issues that he wishes to raise upon which he wants assurances, and if, given those assurances, he does not need to move amendments, it will be more helpful if he tables the amendments tonight and then, if he is given the assurances that he seeks on Second Reading, he will be able to withdraw them.

9.18 p.m.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Down, South)

The House is obliged to the Minister of State for the attitude which he has indicated on behalf of the Government. I thought that it might perhaps be useful and might facilitate business if I indicated that the amendments being tabled by hon. Members representing Northern Ireland constituencies have also been notified to the hon. Gentleman's Department already.

Rev. Ian Paisley

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I seek your guidance. If we agree to this proposal, are we limited to tabling all our amendments tonight, or can we follow the usual procedure of tabling amendments immediately after the Second Reading?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

This is an enabling motion, and it will make the matter easier for hon. Members.

Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Epping Forest)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Since the discretion will be with the Chairman about the acceptance of manuscript amendments, may we take it that there will be no disposition on his part to be more restrictive than usual on manuscript amendments?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

That is a matter for the Chairman when he makes his selection.

Question put and agreed to.