HC Deb 26 February 1985 vol 74 cc250-6 'The Secretary of State shall establish machinery for monitoring the effects of the operation of this Act with particular reference to—

  1. (a)benefit for teeth;
  2. (b)harm to health;
  3. (c)harm to plant and aquatic life.

and to report the result of such monitoring to each House of Parliament every 12 months.'.—{Mr. Lawrence.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Motion made, and Question put,That the clause be read a Second time:—

The House divided:Ayes 81, Noes 145.

Division No. 128] [8.54 pm
Alton, David Irving, Charles
Ashdown, Paddy John, Brynmor
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Jones, Gwilym (Cardiff N)
Best, Keith Knight, Gregory (Derby N)
Biggs-Davison, Sir John Knowles, Michael
Boyes, Roland Lawler, Geoffrey
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes) Lewis, Terence (Worsley)
Brown, N. (N'c'tle-u-Tyne E) Lightbown, David
Bruce, Malcolm Lloyd, Tony (Stretford)
Budgen, Nick McGuire, Michael
Caborn, Richard McKay, Allen (Penistone)
Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M) Maynard, Miss Joan
Campbell-Savours, Dale Meacher, Michael
Carttiss, Michael Monro, Sir Hector
Clay, Robert Morris, M. (N'hampton, S)
Cocks, Rt Hon M. (Bristol S.) Ottaway, Richard
Craigen, J. M. Paisley, Rev Ian
Dalyell, Tam Pike, Peter
Davis, Terry (B'ham, H'ge H'I) Proctor, K. Harvey
Dixon, Donald Richardson, Ms Jo
Dobson, Frank Robinson, G. (Coventry NW)
Duffy, A. E. P. Robinson, P. (Belfast E)
Fairbairn, Nicholas Ross, Wm. (Londonderry)
Fatchett, Derek Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)
Fookes, Miss Janet Skinner, Dennis
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Forth, Eric Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)
Fraser, J. (Norwood) Stewart, Rt Hon D. (W Isles)
Galley, Roy Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
George, Bruce Temple-Morris, Peter
Greenway, Harry Terlezki, Stefan
Grist, Ian Wardell, Gareth (Gower)
Ground, Patrick Wigley, Dafydd
Hancock, Mr. Michael Williams, Rt Hon A.
Hawkins, C. (High Peak) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Haynes, Frank Winterton, Nicholas
Hickmet, Richard Young, David (Bolton SE)
Holt, Richard
Howarth, Alan (Stratf'd-on-A) Tellers for the Ayes:
Howell, Ralph (N Norfolk) Mr. Ivan Lawrence and
Howells, Geraint Mr. Tony Marlow.
Hubbard-Miles, Peter
Ancram, Michael Foulkes, George
Arnold, Tom Fowler, Rt Hon Norman
Atkinson, David (B'm'th E) Garel-Jones, Tristan
Baker, Nicholas (N Dorset) Gourlay, Harry
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Gow, Ian
Biffen, Rt Hon John Gregory, Conal
Boscawen, Hon Robert Hamilton, Hon A. (Epsom)
Bottomley, Peter Hamilton, James (M'well N)
Boyson, Dr Rhodes Harvey, Robert
Bright, Graham Henderson, Barry
Brittan, Rt Hon Leon Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael
Buchanan-Smith, Rt Hon A. Hind, Kenneth
Burt, Alistair Home Robertson, John
Butcher, John Howard, Michael
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Chalker, Mrs Lynda Hunt, David (Wirral)
Chapman, Sydney Jenkin, Rt Hon Patrick
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Jessel, Toby
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Kellett-Bowman, Mrs Elaine
Colvin, Michael King, Roger (B'ham N'field)
Coombs, Simon King, Rt Hon Tom
Cope, John Kirkwood, Archy
Couchman, James Knight, Mrs Jill (Edgbaston)
Currie, Mrs Edwina Lambie, David
Dicks, Terry Lang, Ian
Dorrell, Stephen Lawson, Rt Hon Nigel
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J. Lee, John (Pendle)
Dunn, Robert Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Eastham, Ken Lilley, Peter
Edwards, Rt Hon N. (P'broke) Lloyd, Peter, (Fareham)
Eggar, Tim Luce, Richard
Fenner, Mrs Peggy Lyell, Nicholas
McCurley, Mrs Anna Rumbold, Mrs Angela
Macfarlane, Neil Ryder, Richard
MacKay, John (Argyll & Bute) Sackville, Hon Thomas
Marland, Paul Sainsbury, Hon Timothy
Mather, Carol Sayeed, Jonathan
Maude, Hon Francis Shaw, Giles (Pudsey)
Maxton, John Shersby, Michael
Mayhew, Sir Patrick Sims, Roger
Meadowcroft, Michael Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Mellor, David Snape, Peter
Meyer, Sir Anthony Soames, Hon Nicholas
Millan, Rt Hon Bruce Spencer, Derek
Miller, Hal (B'grove) Spicer, Jim (W Dorset)
Miller, Dr M. S. (E Kilbride) Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon) Stanley, John
Moore, John Steel, Rt Hon David
Moyninan, Hon C. Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)
Neale, Gerrard Stevens, Martin (Fulham)
Needham, Richard Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Nelson, Anthony Stradling Thomas, J.
Neubert, Michael Taylor, John (Solihull)
Newton, Tony Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)
Nicholls, Patrick Thurnham, Peter
Normanton, Tom Trippier, David
Page, Sir John (Harrow W) Viggers, Peter
Page, Richard (Herts SW) Waddington, David
Patten, Christopher (Bath) Wainwright, R.
Patten, J. (Oxf W & Abdgn) Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Pattie, Geoffrey Waldegrave, Hon William
Pavitt, Laurie Walden, George
Pawsey, James Wallace, James
Penhaligon, David Wardle, C. (Bexhill)
Pollock, Alexander Watson, John
Powell, Rt Hon J. E. (S Down) Watts, John
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Wiggin, Jerry
Rathbone, Tim Wolfson, Mark
Rees, Rt Hon Peter (Dover) Young, Sir George (Acton)
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Younger, Rt Hon George
Rifkind, Malcolm
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Tellers for the Noes:
Robinson, Mark (N'port W) Mr. Tony Durant and
Roe, Mrs Marion Mr. Donald Thompson.
Ross, Stephen (Isle of Wight)

Question accordingly negatived.

Mr. Alan Williams (Swansea, West)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You may recollect that last Wednesday the Leader of the House stifled a debate that we were due to have by making a change in the timetable, which not only created a most unfortunate precedent but ensured that it was utterly impossible for the London Regional Transport (Amendment) Bill to have a Report stage. Earlier the Government had been embarrassed by the fact that they were utterly unable to muster enough of their payroll vote even to terminate a debate on the Adjournment.

This evening we have had what I regard as an incredible situation where, after only four speeches, including that of the Minister, who spoke for 33 minutes, the closure was moved on an issue that had already proved so contentious and embarrassing to the Government that they had been forced to take it off in the hours after midnight last week and bring it back today. I accept that a Conservative Member spoke for nearly two hours, but that is not the responsibility of Labour Members, who have a right to participate in the debate as well. The Minister's speech lasted the average length of those of all other hon. Members, so if they are accused of filibustering, the Minister must stand equally indicted.

May I have your guidance, Mr. Deputy Speaker, on the fact that there has been yet another attempt to muzzle the House on a debate which itself involves an important issue of freedom and which itself hands to non-elected organisations decision-making powers that many hon. Members feel deeply should be preserved for elected representatives, be they local or national?

How can we deal with a position where twice now, within six days, the Leader of the House has abandoned his duty to protect the House and to protect Back Benchers? Who on earth now is able to protect Back Benchers?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I listened carefully to what the right hon. Gentleman said, but the only point that he has raised for my consideration is whether the House should have voted on a closure motion. I repeat that the question whether the House should have a closure motion put to it is entirely a matter for the Chair and is not open to debate or challenge. I made my judgment, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman is not challenging it.

Mr. Williams

I am not challenging your judgment, Mr. Deputy Speaker, in accepting the closure, which I can well understand. Since the debate lasted more than two hours, on the basis of precedent you were justified in accepting the closure motion. I am questioning and challenging the judgment of the Leader of the House. On an issue of profound importance and deep concern to the House he so misread the feeling of the House that he moved the closure motion.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The Chair accepts no responsibility whatever for the judgment of any Minister, including the Leader of the House. Let me correct one point that the hon. Gentleman made. It is not a convention of the House that two hours should elapse before a closure motion is acceptable. It is entirely a matter for judgment in the particular circumstances. While there are sides to the House, there are also sides to the question, and the Chair must consider whether the sides to the question have been adequately reflected in the debate.

Mr. Michael Brown

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Without in any way wanting or seeking to challenge your decision to accept the closure motion, which I acknowledge is not debatable and is a matter for the Chair, during the previous debate my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister sought to intervene after only one speech with the result that we were asked to vote when the question—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. Once again, despite what the hon. Gentleman said in his opening remarks, he is challenging the judgment of the Chair. It is for the Chair to decide which right hon. and hon. Member should catch his eye. It is not unusual for Ministers, to help the House to make progress or to advise the House, to speak early on in a debate on Report or in Committee.

Mr. Brown

Further to that point of order—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

It was not a point of order.

Mr. Brown

I wonder whether my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister will indicate at the beginning of the next debate when he intends to speak so that we may at least have the benefit of the Minister's—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I repeat that the hon. Gentleman should know by now that it is a matter for the judgment of the Chair which hon. Member — whether Minister or not—should catch the eye of the occupant of the Chair.

Mr. Fairbairn

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Will you advise those in the Chamber who may still be interested in the concept of free speech on a free vote how that is to be secured when, in the middle of a speech, the closure motion was moved by a whipped Government—and, indeed, a whipped party? I imagine that it is important that the motion on the British Shipbuilders Borrowing Powers (Increase of Limit) Order, which can be debated for one and a half hours, is soon reached. That was the psuedo basis upon which the Government Benches were whipped at 3.30 pm this afternoon. I am sure that it is a very important matter.

Now that the Whips have ensured that their dragoons can go and have a decent dinner and come back to stop free speech again, when they choose to do so, on an issue of principle, perhaps you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, can tell us who can protect free speech on a free vote.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. and learned Gentleman is indulging in criticism of the Chair. I must again point out that it is a matter for the Chair, and the Chair alone, to decide whether a closure motion should be accepted and divided upon at an appropriate moment during a debate. The debate had gone on for three and a half hours.

Mr. Don Dixon (Jarrow)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Referring to the point of order raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Swansea, West (Mr. Williams), is it true that there appears to be an order from the Tory hierarchy to curtail the debate and put hon. Members and the occupant of the Chair in an invidious position—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The Chair has no responsibility for Tory, or any other, hierarchy. These bogus points of order are only delaying progress.

Mr. Meadowcroft

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I should value your advice on the order of future debates. Many hon. Members who wish to participate in a later debate are concerned whether the Government can carry through their business this evening. On Tuesday, we had the farce of a closure motion being carried only by Opposition votes.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I do not know which Tuesday the hon. Gentleman is referring to, but if he is anxious to make progress I suggest that he stops impeding it by raising what is quite clearly not a point of order.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Your concern for the interests of this House and of Back Benchers is highly respected. Will you intimate whether it is the usual practice of the House—I do not in any way seek to question your decision on the previous debate — for right hon. and hon. Members to be entitled to an answer at the end of a debate when many questions have been raised to which answers have not been given?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

The hon. Gentleman must not ask me to make judgments about the contents of speeches. That is not a point of order.

9.15 pm
Mr. Marlow

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I wish to make a serious point of order; I am trying to be helpful. Of course I am not saying that my hon. Friends and Opposition Members have not been helpful and have not made proper points of order. You will know that it is free business tonight—it is not whipped and there is a free vote. On the basis of the free vote, if we take away the payroll vote from the last three Divisions, the Government lost them. Therefore, on a free vote in the House of Commons, the business has been lost.

You will remember, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the last time that we debated this issue my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister said that he would bring before this House measures to do with consultation. We do not have those measures before us. As the Leader of the House is present, he may wish at this stage — because the Government, apart from the payroll vote, have lost the support of the House and because my right hon. and learned Friend, busy man as he is, has not had time to frame the vital amendment which he has promised—to raise a point of order.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

I hope—

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. One at a time, please. I was about to say that I hope not to get many more such helpful points of order.

Mr. Cocks

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You will have noticed that when I raised my original point of order I did it in the firm's time, so to speak, and was not in any way impeding the progress of the Bill. At that time, while saying that my material was not within your purview, you pointed out that the Lord Privy Seal was present and had heard my remarks.

As some time has elapsed and there have been two Divisions, during which time the Lord Privy Seal has had time to reflect, I invite the right hon. Gentleman to show his hand to the House. We are used to his performances on a Thursday, when he puts us in mind of K. S. Ranjitsinhji with his deft leg glances and defalcations behind the wicket. I suggest that it is now time for him to put his foot down the wicket, hit the ball over the sight-screen and tell us exactly what his intentions are.

I have already referred to items which have appeared in The Times about the right hon. Gentleman's concern over late sittings of the House. Last week he was remarkably forthcoming; unlike any former Leader of the House, he gave an intimate preview of the recess dates weeks in advance. As a former Government business manager, I deprecate his precedent because one does not lightly give away some of the best shots in the locker.

Having done that, will the right hon. Gentleman now be equally forthcoming about whether he had been in contact with the Government Whips' Office and put forward the idea that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, might be tempted into accepting the closure when only four hon. Members had spoken and the case had hardly begun to be rehearsed? I invite the Lord Privy Seal to come clean with the House and say exactly how we lesser mortals fit into his master plan of proceedings.

The Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. John Biffen)

I feel encouraged by such elegant oratory from the right hon. Member for Bristol, South (Mr. Cocks) to make a few remarks. I hope, however, that he will allow me to substitute for K. S. Ranjitsinhji a superb Gloucestershire cricketer; I should like to be thought of in terms of Jessop.

I note that the right hon. Gentleman regards the announcement of a very tentative Easter recess date as coming within the terminology of best shots. That is a most generous judgment of best shots and I thank him for his kindness at this hour.

On the substantive point, the right hon. Gentleman knows that, in these matters of closures and so on, I have no comment, except to say that the House is well advised to observe the judgment of the Chair.

Mr. Lawerence

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The contribution of the Leader of the House in handling these matters puts one more in mind of the great Yorkshire cricketer Mr. Boycott, and I hope that he has a long innings.

Since you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, have to make the judgment in the matter of points of order, may I put the plea that I had just begun to enter my argument when I was cut off in my prime by the Patronage Secretary? If there are any more points or order, there is a serious possibility that I will not be able to deliver to the House the full benefit of my speech. I hope that this is the last point of order that is made—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I hope it is the last point of order because once again it is one that implicitly challenges my judgment. I listened at considerable length to what the hon. and learned Gentleman was saying. I must tell him that that helped in my final judgment about whether I should accept the closure. The House would be well advised to accept the concluding remarks of the Leader of the House.

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