§ As amended (in the Standing Committee), considered.5.15 pm
§ Mr. Jeremy Hanley (Richmond and Barnes)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. New clause 48 and amendment No. 303, which relates to it, are omitted from the selection list. The Committee of London and Scottish Bankers, the Law Society, Law Lords, the Association of British Insurers, the Confederation of British Industry and many others are concerned about the uncertain position of the law following the decision in re Charge Card Services and should like it to be clarified. New clause 48 was accepted by the Clerks after three or four draftings. An extremely important point of law arises that requires urgent discussion. I should be grateful if you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, would reconsider the selection for tomorrow.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Harold Walker)
Did I understand the hon. Gentleman to say that new clause 48 is not included in the clauses on the prefatory motion?
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
As the hon. Gentleman knows, Mr. Speaker goes through the selection list with meticulous care. If the new clause and amendment to which he referred are not included, it is because they have not been selected. I shall have further inquiries made, but I think that that will be so.
§ Mr. Anthony Nelson (Chichester)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I ask for your help and guidance, in your capacity of protecting hon. Members' interests? We are about to embark on the Report stage of a Bill to which 300 amendments have been tabled. Admittedly, many of them are Opposition amendments, but the Government amendments are technical. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will understand that many hon. Members are faced with the serious difficulty of being unable to understand what are, in many cases, highly complex amendments at this stage of the passage of the Bill. At this late stage, officials and Ministers should not be allowed to bring before the House reams of amendments without giving the House and its Committees appropriate opportunity, and more thorough explanation, to consider them. You, Mr. Deputy Speaker, rightly protect the interests of Back Benchers. We do not have the resources or the staff to be able to investigate the proposals, many of which have major significance for the running of companies and the employment of people throughout the country. Will you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, advise us, or perhaps make a statement, about the practice that should be adopted for Bills such as this, and the extent to which any Government can bring forward so many amendments on Report?
§ Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)
The hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Nelson) makes a valid point. Before you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, took the Chair, we heard about a Bill that had 400 amendments attached to it. The hon. Member for Chichester mentioned 300 amendments being tabled 884 today. I have news for him: tomorrow another 500 Government amendments will be added. It appears that the Government have allowed their legislative programme to get out of control. I think that they would he well advised to drop the Bill. Some people have been talking about bringing back the Children Bill.
We understand that the Government are in a mess. We know that the Cabinet is at sixes and sevens, and that only two Cabinet Ministers wanted to hear the Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday. The Government are in an old-fashioned mess, which was exemplified by one of their Back Benchers saying that he cannot understand the Bill that the Government have brought forward. Tomorrow will be even worse, and I believe that the Government would do beter to get rid of it altogether.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
I understand the complaints about the number of amendments and the lack of time in which adequately to debate them. These are not matters for the Chair, but doubtless what has been said will have been heard by the Minister.
That the Bill be considered in the following order: New Clauses relating to Part I, Clauses 1 to 4, Schedule 1, Clause 5, Schedule 2, Clause 6, Schedules 3 and 4, Clauses 7 and 8, Schedule 5, Clauses 9 to 13, Schedule 6, Clauses 14 to 18, Schedules 7 and 8, Clauses 19 to 21, Schedule 9, Clauses 22 and 23, Schedule 10, New Schedules relating to Part I, New Clauses relating to Part II, Clauses 24 to 30, Schedule 11. Clauses 31 and 32, Schedule 12, Clauses 33 to 46, Schedule 13, Clause 47, Schedule 14, Clauses 48 to 50, Schedule 15, Clauses 51 to 53, New Schedules relating to Part II, New Clauses relating to Part III, Clauses 54 to 87, New Schedules relating to Part III, New Clauses relating to Part IV, Clauses 88 to 100, Schedule 16, New Schedules relating to Part IV, New Clauses relating to Part V, Clauses 101 to 134, Schedule 17, Clause 135, Schedule 18, New Schedules relating to Part V, New Clauses relating to Part VI, Clauses 136 to 143, Schedule 19, New Schedules relating to Part VI, New Clauses relating to Part VII, Clauses 144 to 146, Schedule 20, Clauses 147 to 176, New Schedules relating to Part VII, New Clauses relating to Part VIII, Clauses 177 to 191, Schedule 21, New Schedules relating to Part VIII, New Clauses relating to Part IX, Clause 192, New Schedules relating to Part IX, Other New Clauses, Clauses 193 to 202, Other New Schedules, Schedule 22.—[Mr. Redwood.]