HC Deb 11 March 1985 vol 75 cc15-6
34. Mr. Peter Bruinvels

asked the Lord Privy Seal what is the average time at which the House rose on Mondays to Thursdays in this Session to date; and how this compares with the corresponding average of the last five Sessions.

Mr. Biffen

The average time of rising on Mondays to Thursdays during the last five Sessions was 12.17 am. The corresponding figure for this Session so far is 12.55 am. Coincidentally, however, if one discounts the time taken by proceedings on the Water (Fluoridation) Bill, this Session's figure would be 12.17 am: exactly the same as in previous years.

Mr. Bruinvels

My right hon. Friend will excuse me because I took part in the water fluoridation debate. However, does he agree that it is a poor state of affairs that the House should have to sit so late? Does he agree also that perhaps we are legislating too much and are perhaps being distracted by European Community documentation? Could it be that the timetable needs to be readjusted?

Mr. Biffen

I have sympathy with my hon. Friend's point, but votes in the Council of Ministers are effectively binding on this country, and I am sure that he would not wish those votes to be cast without this House having had a chance to express an opinion.

Mr. Meadowcroft

Is not the point of the matter that long sittings are ineffective? Whatever side one takes, long sittings make no difference in the end to the outcome of the debate. Furthermore, is it not a fact that they spoil the following day's business, and prevent hon. Members planning in which debates they will take part and members of the public coming to hear them?

Mr. Biffen

I seriously counsel the hon. Gentleman not to disparage the role of the House in influencing legislation, both through its voices and votes as legislation proceeds through the various stages, and the use of time to secure that end.

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