HC Deb 24 June 1985 vol 81 cc630-1
31. Mr. Beith

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will refer to the Procedure Committee the question of time for Private Members' Bills.

Mr. Biffen

I understand that the Committee is considering how best to deal with these matters.

Mr. Beith

When a Bill has been strongly supported on Second Reading and extensively discussed in Committee, does the Leader of the House think it right that the House should be able, if it chooses, to extend its sitting hours to reach a decision on the matter? If he does not think that, will he accept the degree of restraint on the Government's legislative enthusiasm that would result if he stopped tabling motions asking hon. Members to sit after 10 o'clock to consider Government Bills?

Mr. Biffen

That is precisely the type of question that should be central to the considerations of the Procedure Committee.

Sir Geoffrey Finsberg

The House passes a resolution saying what amount of time should be allocated to private Members. Is my right hon. Friend aware that, however strongly those of us who support a particular Bill feel about it, we feel even more strongly that those conventions passed by resolution should not easily be overturned?

Mr. Biffen

That is a reasonable general proposition, but when tested in certain singular circumstances, great passions are released and the task that has been given to the Procedure Committee will be formidable when it looks at the principles that are involved in the governing of private Members' time.