HC Deb 21 February 1990 vol 167 cc950-72
Mr. Speaker

I should inform the House that I have selected the amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith).

4.31 pm
The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Sir Geoffrey Howe)

I beg to move, That, at this day's sitting, the Motions in the name of Sir Geoffrey Howe relating to Private Members' Motions, Public Petitions and New Writs may be proceeded with until Seven o'clock; and at that hour, if proceedings thereon have not been previously disposed of, Mr. Speaker shall put successively the Question already proposed from the Chair and the Questions on such of the remaining Motions as may then be made, including the Questions on any Amendments thereto which he may have selected. As the House will realise, the effect of the motion is to allow us to debate together the three procedural motions standing in my name before allowing the House to reach a decision on them. Before tabling the motion I had carefully considered the matter. I am anxious for the House to have full opportunity to consider the motions, to which some time has already been devoted. I therefore proceeded on the basis that it makes sense for all three to be taken together, because they arose from the same report of the Procedure Committee, which regarded and, indeed, designed the various proposals as a package which, taken together, would protect private Members' time for proper use. That is the essential purpose of the package.

You will recollect, Mr. Speaker, that this position arises from your suggestion, recorded in paragraph 4 of the second report of the Procedure Committee for the 1988–89 Session: On Friday 20 January 1989, the date of the most recent such occurrence, Mr. Speaker observed during points of order at the end of the day's business:'I … hope that we shall not go through this kind of thing again. It is for the Leader of the House … to put his proposals to the Procedure Committee. I am sure that it will consider them and I hope that it will'. As a result of that suggestion, the Procedure Committee has put this package of measures before the House. They have already been debated, as I say, for some time. So it is reasonable, and for the convenience of the House as a whole, that we should seek to reach a decision on all three motions by the time proposed this evening.

This is far from being a move sponsored or inspired by the Executive. It is sponsored as the result of the most wise authority—your intervention, Mr. Speaker, and the Procedure Committee. The arrangements for the debate are reasonable because if we can dispose of the motion in the next few minutes, we shall have another two and a half hours' further debate on the substance.

We shall then have had some four hours' debate on the motions, and I think that that will have been more than sufficient to deal properly and fully with them. Indeed, some hon. Members have expressed the view that we should have proceeded to dispose of them at the end of the one and a half hours we had last time. I have provided this additional time. I propose that we proceed on the basis that we dispose of the business motion with all speed and then proceed with the main debate, as I am sure the House would wish.

4.34 pm
Dr. John Cunningham (Copeland)

I support the comments of the Leader of the House. I hope that we can use most of the time available to the House to debate, albeit for the second time, the substance of the procedural changes in the motions. We debated them for about one and a half hours a couple of weeks ago. With luck, we could have more than two hours' futher debate on them today. If we did, we would be approaching the time that is often set aside for the House to debate Second Readings of controversial Bills, when dozens, if not hundreds, of Members want to speak. Set in that context, it is not unreasonable for the House to be asked to come to a conclusion on this matter by 7 o'clock. I certainly have no objection to the proposal that we proceed in that way.

4.35 pm
Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)

I beg to move, at the end of the Question to add: 'provided that, if Mr. Speaker shall be of the opinion that the time for debate has not been adequate, he shall, instead of putting the Questions as aforesaid, interrupt the business and the debate shall stand adjourned.'. The motion and my amendment give us the opportunity to invite the Leader of the House once again to consider whether he wants to proceed with the other motions on the Order Paper, which would be subject to them.

I formed the impression earlier that many hon. Members wished to debate other matters this afternoon rather than these motions. An application was made under Standing Order No. 20 and, without giving reasons for not accepting it, Mr. Speaker, you said that there were many important matters before the House.

If the Leader of the House took the opportunity of this debate on whether the timing should be as set out and on whether the motion should be amended, he could get this nonsense off the Order Paper quickly and allow us to proceed with other matters. Even second Adjournments could be taken later on some of the issues that have arisen during the day. I know how much Ministers would dislike the idea of having second Adjournments about the arrangements in the Department of the Environment for vetting where hon. Members live and about the poverty fund issues that were raised by the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher). That possibility would be open to us if the Leader of the House did not proceed with the second motion.

There are other reasons why it would be wise for the Leader of the House not to proceed with the series of motions relating to private Members' business and with voting at 7 o'clock. There is no doubt that the Government found the motions very acceptable. Seven o'clock is laid down because it is a convenient time at which a great many Ministers—Members on the payroll—will be in the building and able to vote. It is the Government's intention, as shown by the choice of the time designated in the motion, that all those Ministers shall be encouraged to vote in favour of the line taken by the Leader of the House.

It is no use the Leader of the House saying with an air of wide-eyed innocence, as he did a few moments ago, that this is nothing to do with the Government and that he is just doing the House a service by tabling these motions and having a timing motion to ensure that the matter is dispensed with at 7 o'clock. That is absolute nonsense.

We all know that the Procedure Committee has had many reports, some of which have not been debated and others of which have been debated, and rejected, at the instance of the Government and sometimes of the Opposition Front Bench. The hon. Member for Honiton (Sir P. Emery) knows that major, radical, far-reaching reforms proposed by the Procedure Committee, which could have given us some control over the timetabling of Bills and not left it all in the hands of the Executive, were not proceeded with. He knows that recommendations enacted as a result of the Procedure Committee's proposals on Special Standing Committees have not been pursued by the Government.

The Government pick and choose the reports that they like and put their weight behind them, and sometimes they get a little help from other quarters. That is what the Government have done on this occasion. They have put these motions before the House twice and have sought in this instance to protect them by the business motion.

If hon. Members doubt that the business motion illustrates the Government's desire to get these motions passed, let them recall the earlier debate to which the Leader of the House referred. In it, we did not merely debate these motions; we debated a proposal that it should no longer be possible for a ten-minute Bill to be moved on Budget day. I ask hon. Members to look at the Division list for that debate. They will see that the apparently innocuous, innocent, far-sighted, detached proposal of the Procedure Committee had the support of many members of the Government. It had the payroll vote and the loyalist vote to help it along. That is the intention again tonight.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)

Is it not true that on that occasion the proposal was approved in order to remove the inconvenience to which the Tory Whips were subject because they had to sit upstairs for up to a fortnight before the Budget day ten-minute Bill was due to be chosen to make sure that a Tory Member got it?

Mr. Speaker

Order. That has been disposed of.

Mr. Cryer

I am just making the point that the hon. Gentleman made, which is that the arrangement is not for the convenience of Back-Bench Members but entirely for the convenience of the Government machine.

Mr. Beith

I am grateful for the hon. Gentleman's intervention. I shall not stray into the areas which you, Mr. Speaker, say go beyond the debate. It is clear that, whatever the original intentions of the Procedure Committee about any of the motions, one can measure the Government's enthusiasm for them by the way in which they take them up, put them on the Order Paper and surround them with the necessary motions to make sure that they are passed.

I reiterated what happened to remind hon. Members that Back-Bench Members were in effect frozen out by the use of the payroll vote. Clearly, that is the intention tonight. Time and again, hon. Members will find that their rights are being chipped away by the Government who have the means to do so.

On some occasions hon. Members may feel that an individual right does not matter very much. But they will find when they add up the sum total that the practice has brought about a huge shift in the balance between the Executive and Parliament, between Government and Back Benchers and, indeed, sometimes between Front Benchers and Back Benchers.

We must think about the balance between Front Benchers and Back Benchers sometimes. I am just trying to remember when I last heard a private notice question asked by a Back-Bench Member from any party. In all sorts of ways, the House is becoming dominated by Front-Bench Members. Back Benchers in all parties must reflect on the importance of that.

There is a second reason why we must consider the business motion——

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

If there is a conspiracy against Back-Bench Members—I am all for defending the rights of Back-Bench Members—can the hon. Gentleman explain why the Liberal Member on the Procedure Committee, the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace), did not vote against any of the proposals, to the best of my knowledge? The Chairman of the Committee will be aware that the proposals were carried unanimously. If there is a conspiracy, if not against all Back-Bench Members but perhaps against the hon. Gentleman's party—if that is his argument—why did his hon. Friend not vote against the proposals in the Committee?

Mr. Beith

My hon. Friend was much attracted to and voted for the proposals put forward—[Interruption.]The hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) must be quiet if he wants me to answer his intervention.

Mr. Winnick

I was not talking to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Beith

My hon. Friend voted for the addition to the package proposed by the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) who is a member of the party of the hon. Member for Walsall, North. The proposal was a compromise that would have given private Members the opportunity, not on a Friday but on a Monday, in limited circumstances, to propose additional time for a private Member's Bill. The hon. Members could be defeated or outwitted by the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) or others in their party, but at least they would have had the right to additional time for the Bill. My hon. Friend voted for that proposal in the belief that, with the addition, it would be a reasonable package. His vote is on record in the proceedings of the Committee.

I was about to adduce a second reason why the business motion is important. It shows that the Government proceed day by day with motions that vary the effects of Standing Orders. What is this motion? It is a motion to vary the effect of Standing Orders to determine that a debate will end at a particular time and that questions will be put in a particular way.

Why do the Government insist that they alone should have access to that mechanism, while no other hon. Member has access to it in any circumstances? It is like an addict preaching abstinence. It is like a 20-a-day or 60-a-day man saying, "Don't smoke." Every day the Order Paper contains Government motions to vary the effect of Standing Orders. Often they are resisted, but frequently they are allowed through because they have become part of the fabric of the place.

If the motions are important and necessary to the Government, why are there no circumstances in which a private Member is entitled to seek the approval of the House to vary the effect of a Standing Order or to change Standing Orders? I remind hon. Members that the motion that we shall discuss later does not merely stop private Members extending the amount of time available for a Bill. It prevents them from effecting on any occasion a change in Standing Orders by placing a motion before the House and having it carried. That relates not only to Standing Orders about private Members' Bills but to any Standing Order.

I do not know who drafted the motion. It may have been the Leader of the House. If so, I do not know where he obtained his advice. If he has any dealings with the Foreign Office know-how fund to explain to Parliaments in eastern Europe how to conduct their proceedings democratically, I hope that he does not draw attention to this device. It effectively puts the entire control of Standing Orders in the hands of the Government. That is how many Government business managers like it. They want the Government to have complete control.

The history of the House over the centuries has been one of the steadily advancing power of Governments over the House. The motion is just another stage in that process. Hon. Members may say, "Well, we do not mind this time because it involves something that some of us do not like, and do not want to happen, so we will allow it to go through." But one must assess every time the effect on the balance between the Executive and Parliament.

Sir Peter Emery (Honiton)

As the hon. Gentleman is making such play of that point, will he tell the House how many times or on what occasion a private Member's motion altered the Standing Orders of the House in recent times, in connection with private Members' legislation?

Mr. Beith

So what are we doing? Here is a crime that no one has committed. We are looking for a penalty for it and a way to proscribe it. A more compelling argument for not embarking on this nonsense in the first place would be hard to find. The Chairman of the Select Committee on Procedure cannot find any instance of the crime having been committed, not to the disadvantage of the House but at all. Yet he feels it necessary to proscribe it entirely, out of the blue. I simply do not understand the reasoning.

Sir Peter Emery

Therefore, is it not obvious to the hon. Gentleman that on the two occasions when it was attempted, people found other ways of stopping the matter and wasting an entire two days of private Members' time? That is what the Committee is trying to stop. We do not wish to alter the great factors which the hon. Member for Leith suggests that we wish to change.

Mr. Beith

I wish the hon. Gentleman would stop confusing me with the hon. Member for Leith. It is a confusion that I should not wish to encourage. Perhaps it was a slight slip of the tongue. I am the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed.

I was addressing the fact that the motion that we shall go on to debate does not merely proscribe what happened on the two occasions to which the hon. Gentleman referred. It proscribes hon. Members from making any change in Standing Orders whatever. If hon. Members wanted to change the rule whereby hon. Members must wear a hat to be seated and covered to raise a point of order during a Division, they could not do so even if they invited the House to make the change, had the time available to do so and carried the proposal. Not only would the change never he made, the motion would never be discussed, because the Table Office would be instructed not to receive such a motion.

In a democratic assembly, we tell our Clerks that notices of motions shall not be received. That is an extraordinary thing in any democratic assembly. It is a rule under which hon. Members cannot even put a motion on the Order Paper.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member. His arguments will be more appropriate when we come to the motions. At present we are simply discussing the business of the House motion, which is a narrow motion.

Mr. Beith

I shall have more to say later. I was drawn onto that ground by an intervention. Just imagine if there had been a Standing Order that said that motions such as the one that we are debating shall not be received. I sometimes think that it would be useful if certain motions that the Government favoured tabling were subject to just such an instruction.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

Perhaps it would help the hon. Gentleman to bear in mind that he will find it difficult to try to produce an argument about the time limits without explaining—at some length, in my view—why the three motions have all been lumped together, and why they should be dealt with by, say, 7 o'clock. I have no doubt that it could well be argued by Clerks and others that in order for him to explain it to the House more fully, he would have to tell me and other hon. Members why the three motions are important and why the limited number of hours is not enough time in which to debate the matter. To put it in Derbyshire pit language, the hon. Gentleman is in a good seam of coal.

Mr. Beith

I should not want to hew too heavily at the seam that the hon. Gentleman may himself wish to hew a little later in our proceedings. However, he is right to point out that the lumping of the motions together, the time made available, and all the rest of it, are relevant considerations.

I have not yet come to that point in my speech, because I wanted the House, and you, Mr. Speaker, to consider how illustrative this motion is of the Government's addiction to what they tell others that they must never do. That is what that is all about.

We have a Government who cannot let a day go by without changing the effects of the Standing Orders. It is unhealthy for the House to find that every day the Government are tabling motions such as this. They table 10 o'clock motions and other motions which are described as "Business of the House" motions. That is the category that I am talking about. Such motions are scattered so frequently like confetti on the Order Paper that they suggest that the Government cannot manage their voluminous business without occasionally varying the effect of the Standing Orders.

That may mean that there is something wrong with our Standing Orders and that we should revise them. Private Members should address these issues. The corollary is that private Members must at least have their case for having access to such mechanisms considered. Several different aspects of this arise in the various motions.

It is timely and poignant that the Government should have tabled a motion to start the debate which shows exactly how prone they are to do what they are inviting private Members not to do. The Government increasingly show a lack of concern for the powers that you, Mr. Speaker, enjoy—perhaps "enjoy" is the wrong word because the powers are sometimes uncomfortable to use—to protect the rights and interests of Members. That is why I have tabled an amendment to the motion.

I remind the House that the motion would be a precedent for many more like it and that it follows various precedents. As it stands, the motion would mean that, if we had had a series of statements this afternoon, with private notice questions, and many more points of order than you had to address this afternoon, Mr. Speaker, the debate might not have begun until half-past 6. You would then have had absolutely no option but to put the Question on all those matters even though they had not been reasonably debated. That is why it seemed right to table the amendment and I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for selecting it so that we can establish the precedent that the Government should not casually take away our powers in their motion.

There is a significant lack of respect for any coherent protection for the rights of Members. If just one result of this short debate was that we could ensure that the Government cannot table future motions without including words such as those in the amendment, we would have taken a step forward. It might happen that, through no fault of the Government, you, Mr. Speaker, might be placed in the position that I have described, and that a matter might be debated far too briefly to allow any serious consideration of its implications.

In such a case, Mr. Speaker, you should have the power that you would have if the Government were asking you for a closure, when you would have the discretion to refuse it. However, in this instance, you would have no such discretion unless the motion were to give you that discretion. The words in which I have framed the amendment come from the Standing Orders. They are used in another context in motions after 10 o'clock when, if the debate starts late, you have the opportunity to decide whether the debate should stand adjourned.

Mr. Cryer

Is the hon. Gentleman saying that the amendment would prevent Mr. Speaker from being, in effect, a pawn of the Government? Is not it therefore important that the amendment is passed, to maintain the strict neutrality and separation from the Government which successive Speakers have enjoyed?

Mr. Beith

That is immensely desirable. Indeed, that was my reason for tabling the amendment. I have thought about Mr. Speaker Lenthall this afternoon. Into my mind flooded what Mr. Speaker Lenthall said: I have neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place, but as the House shall direct me. He might have been being asked to identify where hon. Members had gone or perhaps even where they lived, but he refused to do so. There are many occasions on which it is important that Mr. Speaker's position should be protected, and this is one of them. Therefore, I hope that the Government will heed my pleas, accept the amendment, and leave the power to protect hon. Members in the hands of the Chair.

Governments are prone to the temptation to grab any lever of power and to pull on it as hard as possible. If they are given the opportunity to push things through, they are but human and fallible, and they will do so. Even genial characters such as the Leader of the House——

Sir Geoffrey Howe

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will respond to my geniality for a second and acknowledge that the entire foundation of the debate and of the proceedings on which we have already spent a lot of time is a report that was devoted to private Members' time, and was prepared by Back Benchers. This is a debate about Back Benchers' rights, promoted by Back Benchers, for Back Benchers. The measures that are set out had the support of hon. Members of all parties, including the hon. Gentleman's party, and are designed to present the right balance, as they recommend it. The Government have brought them forward with that objective in mind. The hon. Gentleman cannot caricature the Government in this context for doing other than promoting the rights of Back Benchers.

Mr. Beith

I most certainly can, but I shall refrain from doing so because I thought that that was the subject of the subsequent debate.

One must conclude something from the way in which the Government have picked up the ball and run with it. That is perhaps an odd thing to say to a Welshman after last Saturday, but that is what happened. In this instance, when the proposals came forward from the Select Committee on Procedure, the Government said, with a glint in their eyes, "This is good. This is helpful to us. We shall ensure that we get it through because it stops the inconvenience of private Members' time which causes members of the Government to have to be in the House when they do not want to be and extending the time"—[Interruption.] No, I have taken some trouble to look at this issue and I am making the judgment that I believe that the motions will reduce—not add to—the rights of private Members.

Mr. Speaker

Order. Again, this is the substance of the subsequent debate. The business of the House motion is narrow. The hon. Gentleman is moving his amendment and he must stick to that.

Mr. Beith

I am trying to do so, Mr. Speaker, but I keep being sidetracked by the Leader of the House and others into discussing the merits of the main motion. I am asking the House to consider that the package has been sewn up in a way that happens to suit the Leader of the House. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman was not drawn and attracted to it, I think that he would have concluded that the proposals should go back for further discussion and consideration, rather than being sewn up in a package of votes at 7 o'clock on a Wednesday night when he hopes that he can get the maximum number of payroll votes into the Lobby to support it. I shall seek to argue that the package that has been stitched together should be unstitched.

The lumping together of this series of motions, including private Members' motions, public petitions and new writs, conceals the damaging nature of the wide restriction on the rights of private Members to alter the Standing Orders of the House. I cannot think of a council chamber in the country in which such a procedure would he regarded as acceptable or desirable. I cannot think of any debating body in which so enormous a restriction would be placed on the ability of its members to raise matters in the time that is supposed to be available to them.

We are talking about private Members' time. Why should not private Members decide what to do with it? We are now debating this matter in Government time, and it is to the Government's attitude and their tying up of the measures in one set of votes to which I am now directing my attention.

I plead with hon. Members to recognise that, whatever their views on the issues in question, to allow the Government to secure this neat, payroll-supported vote on all the motions, will yet again greatly shift the balance away from private Members. The day will come when those private Members want to table a motion that affects some matter of Standing Orders, and they will find that, unlike the Government when they tabled this motion, somebody in the Table Office will say to them. "I am sorry, sir, but as a result of the motion that the House has passed, I cannot receive this motion." That was not the case with this business of the House motion. Nobody in the Table Office said to the Government's representative, "I cannot receive this motion," but that will be said to private Members if we proceed along these lines. It will be said about motions that hon. Members table in the future, in their time, on the day for which they have won the ballot.

I stress that such motions are balloted for and that an hon. Member is lucky to have the opportunity of a private Member's motion. Instead of being in the Government's happy position of being able to put anything that they like on the Order Paper whenever and however they want, hon. Members will not even be able to get past the door of the Table Office. That is why I believe that we should not take all these motions together in one vote at 7 o'clock.

4.59 pm
Sir Peter Emery (Honiton)

I shall be brief, because I wish to speak only to the motion and not about matters concerning the recommendations of the Procedure Committee.

I remind the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) that when he was a member of the Procedure Committee he often pressed the Government to provide time for the recommendations and reports of the Committee to be brought to the Floor of the House, and to give the House the opportunity to vote on those matters. That is exactly what is happening today.

We have had nearly two hours of debate on this matter, yet the hon. Gentleman suggested that the Leader of the House has been dictatorial. In response to an appeal from the hon. Gentleman and other Back Bench Members, my right hon. and learned Friend did not move the motions, to ensure that we could have a fuller debate. The Government and the Leader of the House have now provided that fuller debate, and I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman would have been delighted, given the desire that he has expressed to ensure that these matters are fully debated and that we can proceed to vote on them.

All too often, the Government have been accused of arranging matters so that such recommendations have been debated on a take-note or similar motion that has not allowed the House to reach a formal decision. In this case, the Government are giving the House the opportunity to make such a decision and no one should complain if that decision is taken after nearly five hours of debate. That seems a perfectly reasonable proposition, and one should praise the Government rather than damn them for it.

I must point out to the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed that the Government have no real interest in this matter; it is entirely a question of private Members' time and has nothing to do with Government or Opposition time. We are talking about time allocated to private Members, and many Leaders of the House and Governments have not given a tinker's cuss what has happened in private Members' time. They have allowed Members to do what they wanted: if private Members' time was wasted, that was a matter for Members.

The Government are now trying to ensure that that does not happen. They are giving the House the opportunity to decide on this matter, and to try to suggest that this is a package stitched for the benefit of the Government and to assist them is to mislead the House considerably.

Mr. Eric S. Heifer (Liverpool, Walton)

The hon. Gentleman says that the Government are providing time, and I do not deny that. But would it not be a good idea if the House made up its mind that we should allocate the time ourselves? It is Members of the House who should determine the allocation of time; the matter should not be left in the hands of Government or Opposition Front-Bench Members.

Sir Peter Emery

I like the hon. Gentleman's suggestion, but he has been a Minister and he will know that there is never enough time for the Government to get their business through the House or for the Opposition to criticise the Government. Although it is an immensely attractive suggestion that the allocation of time should be decided openly by Back-Bench Members, the chances of that happening are about as slim as the chances of a steel mill being built on the north or south pole.

I return to the motion. We need to decide on the motion so that we can move immediately to the debate. We should move to a proper and full debate on the three motions and reach a proper decision after four and a half or five hours debate. The Government are being most sensible, and those who oppose this motion are trying to waste time to stop us reaching the procedural motions, which they may or may not support. It would be much more sensible for them to speak on the procedural motions than to speak on whether we should or should not vote.

5.4 pm

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)

This is a curious set of circumstances. A number of hon. Members are disclaiming responsibility and denying any sort of Government intervention in this affair. As I recall, the business motion and the amendment were down for debate last Monday. A relatively small data protection order was also down for debate, and it was expected to go through quickly; only two hon. Members were present. I had checked before 10 o'clock that the business motion was a debatable motion. It was not debatable after 10 o'clock, but there was plenty of time available.

As it happens, I was not here for the main debate, which lasted about two hours, because I was attending a lengthy sitting of a Select Committee dealing with a lot of evidence that had just been produced about an hon. Member. I shall not go further down that road, except to say that it took a long time and that was what kept me from the Chamber.

Mr. Skinner

You mean Browne.

Mr. Cryer

I do indeed.

I wanted to debate this issue but I was prevented from doing so by the Government's Deputy Chief Whip. He and his colleagues went out and found some Conservative Back-Bench Members to speak at length on the data protection order so that we reached 10 o'clock and were effectively denied the time to debate the motion. Why should the Government do that if they are not——

Mr. Skinner

Up to summat.

Mr. Cryer

As my hon. Friend says, if they are not up to something—if they are not concerned to exclude the possibility of our debating the motion.

It struck me as curious and interesting, to say the least, that the Government should get up to such tricks when there was no pressure on them and nothing crucial about the affair. They simply wanted to stop the business motion being debated, and possibly voted on because with the few hon. Members about at the time, they might have lost the vote. So far from being disinterested, on Monday the Government planned to prolong a debate so that the motion could not be discussed at a time when they may not have had sufficient numbers present. The Government were involved in supporting the business of the House motion. There is no doubt about it.

The Whips then told me that the motion would be on the Order Paper today. Why today, and why at this time? Because they know that they have the troops here and that they can get the motions through in a neat and businesslike manner, so that by 7 o'clock the whole thing is polished and finished. That is their aim and purpose and it makes me very suspicious.

I am not too keen on consensus business motions or consensus motions affecting the Standing Orders of the House. I remember the last time this happened. At one time, the House had genuine Consolidated Fund motions. I say this, Mr. Speaker, by way of explanation of my attitude to the business motion and of my support for the amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith). We used to have a proper Consolidated Fund debate, and the House disciplined itself well. If a group of Back Bench Members wanted to speak on a topic, they could. Up to 20 Members might have a good debate on a subject that was important to them. The debate went all through the night.

But there was an inconvenience—the Government had to have 100 Members present for the closure motion the following morning. It was getting difficult to phone round and get people here at 9 o'clock, so the Government thought, "Tut, tut, let's get rid of that inconvenience and get a series of timed Adjournment debates that finish at 9 o'clock—or 8 o'clock if a suitable business motion is tabled—then we will have no difficulties." In 1981, the Opposition were foolish enough to go along with that. They said, "When we are in government it will be terribly inconvenient for us, so we shall make sure that we do not have to telephone round."

The Opposition lost a tactical advantage. One of the few occasions since 1979 when we had wrung real concessions from the Government was when we took the Consolidated Fund through the night and won concessions on housing legislation to exclude old people's dwellings. Therefore, it was a loss all round. It is relatively easy for the Government to get a majority of 100, and private Members lost significantly.

The business motion affects not only private Members' motions, but public petitions and new writs.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

I can reinforce my hon. Friend's argument about the Consolidated Fund. There was a time when the Consolidated Fund debate started no later than 4 pm, possibly after a ten-minute Bill, but even that was discouraged. We are now lucky if the Consolidated Fund debate starts before 10 pm. That is because it is thought that the motion for the recess Adjournment should be spatchcocked in with the Consolidated Fund. I accept entirely that this is a cross-party matter, in the sense that the late John Silkin agreed to it without consultation. It is no good our standing up and saying that the Tory Government are doing this because, in fairness, an agreement was made between those on the Front Benches, but it is a serious erosion of rights.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Paul Dean)

Order. I realize that the hon. Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) gave the Consolidated Fund as an analogy, but I am sure that he will now come back to the business of the House motion, which deals with the length of time for which the later motions can be discussed.

Mr. Cryer

I was just about to come to another analogy, the three-hour Adjournment debate. It used to be open ended, but now it lasts for three hours. That is also for convenience——

Mr. Dalyell

It used to be on a different day.

Mr. Cryer

It is on a different day generally, but not necessarily.

The amendment provides: if Mr. Speaker shall be of the opinion that the time for debate has not been adequate, he shall, instead of putting the Questions as aforesaid, interrupt the business and the debate shall stand adjourned. What is wrong with that? It allows Mr. Speaker some discretion. Mr. Speaker tends to take careful notice of any representations that the Government or the Opposition make about proceedings in the House, as he is bound to do. Under the amendment, he could use his discretion. As I said earlier, the amendment prevents Mr. Speaker from becoming the Government's pawn. Under the business of the House motion, Mr. Speaker does not have any discretion, but must put the motion at 7 o'clock. He is not allowed to make a judgment about the length of time that has been taken for the debate.

I shall make another analogy. If Mr. Speaker was not allowed any discretion and a Standing Order stated that, after a debate had been under way for a minimum of one hour, Mr. Speaker had to accept a closure motion, it would weaken and seriously change the procedures in the House. At present, Mr. Speaker has some discretion.

It is generally calculated that, after two or two and a half hours Mr. Speaker will take a closure motion. That depends on the nature of the amendment, but Mr. Speaker has some discretion. The occupant of the Chair should not be able to say, "It is 7 o'clock and time that the debate was finished. Let us put the Question." Mr. Speaker should have some discretion.

Some people take a different view; they say that Speakers are part of the establishment and do not do anything out of line. I do not entirely share that view. There have been occasions when a Speaker has taken a position that the Government do not like because he has decided not to accept either a closure motion or a business motion. The amendment will give greater discretion and will maintain, enhance and improve the independence of Mr. Speaker and his deputies. That is an important element.

Why this amendment to this motion? It is because the business motion relates to three items: private Members' motions, public petitions and new writs. If we pass this motion—I have no doubt that, if it were put to the vote, the payroll vote would be in the Aye Lobby—we would be debating three important subjects wrapped into one in under two hours.

The Government might say, "But you are taking time now to debate this issue. Surely the best thing to do is to stop talking and get on with debating the motion." But why was not that discretion allowed to me last Monday night? If the Government are so keen about debating the motions, why on Monday night did the Government Deputy Chief Whip organise a debate to exclude any business of the House from being debated? I am seizing the only opportunity that I have had to raise the issues and reservations that I consider important.

It has already been said that the Select Committee produced a recommendation and that, as it has about a dozen Back Benchers, and a former Minister chairing it, its recommendation should be accepted. As my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) said at the time, Select Committee recommendations are not accepted in this place simply on the nod.

I can well remember a Select Committee that spent many months examining Albert Roberts and Reggie Maudling. It heard a great deal of evidence and took enormous care, and the recommendations were rejected. Therefore, I do not entirely accept the idea that because a Select Committee makes a recommendation, we must of necessity follow it. The business motion, putting the private Members' motions, public petitions and new writs together, would confine Back-Benchers, not expand then. opportunities.

I was out of the House for four years, as hon. Members know. In those four years, Back-Benchers' rights have unquestionably been eroded in all sorts of ways. Cynicism has developed because of the way the Government try to dominate the Order Paper and there is greater organisation of procedure. The initiative, which could have been usefully deployed, has been taken away.

I do not want to sound like a 19th-century constitutionalist, but I have been in a modern assembly—the Common Market. I shall touch on the analogy only briefly. In that assembly everything—including the chairs of the various political groupings—is planned by committee and everyone works well together. It is amazing how Le Pen gets on with all the chairmen of the other groups inside the Common Market assembly. It is all stitched up. In the European legislature there are no opportunities to raise subjects in the wide variety of ways that we have in this place. Some may say that my position is rooted in the 19th century, but I disagree. This Parliament gives Back-Benchers the chance to use procedure to raise issues, and that is important. I am unhappy with the business motion because it will restrict Back-Benchers' opportunities to discuss matters.

Three important issues are covered in these motions—private Members' motions, public petitions and new writs. Public petitions and new writs have been discussed in the House in recent months. Some Back Benchers brought in petitions on Friday mornings, possibly to delay the business set down for the day. Anyone can use that technique. I remember discussing the Sessional Orders of the House, when people said that I was playing to the cameras. But anyone could have discussed them, just as anyone could have presented petitions on a Friday. Some say that large numbers of petitions are presented on Fridays to delay business, and that that is an abuse. It is not. Groups of hon. Members or an individual Member may want to delay private Members' legislation at any time, and this is a perfectly legitimate way of doing it——

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is anticipating the later debate.

Mr. Cryer

I am trying to suggest, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that it will take a great deal of time to discuss this important subject in detail. The business motion tabled by the Leader of the House—I am glad to see that he is still awake—imposes an important new restriction. We cannot encompass the subject of public petitions by 7 pm. I know that the business motion is not identical to the three motions following it, but we must be able to touch briefly on subjects the time for which the business motion seeks to restrict.

New writs are also significant. My hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), the most recent exponent of the art of moving a new writ, would need at least half an hour in which to explain his views on moving new writs. The House is starting to fill up with Members interested in this subject—[Laughter.] There are still a few empty seats left should other hon. Members want to participate quickly in the next 40 minutes——

Mr. Beith

I hope that the hon. Gentleman realises, as a Committee Chairman, that an awful lot of Select Committees are meeting in the Corridor upstairs, as many of them do at this time on Wednesday afternoons. Those attending them may want to take part in the debate, too.

Mr. Cryer

I could not take part in the original debate because I was serving on a Select Committee——

Mr. Dalyell

Does my hon. Friend recollect how important it was, before the writ for the Richmond, Yorks by-election was moved, to hear in detail about the role of the former Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, the protégé of the Leader of the House who, I notice, is burying his head deeper and deeper in his documents because he does not like this subject? It was important to explain in some detail the improper use of a Law Officer's letter, as it was subsequently proved—after all, we have Sir Leon Brittan's word for it—that he would not have acted as he did had not Mr. Powell and Mr. Ingham——

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I find it impossible to relate that intervention to the motion.

Mr. Cryer

My hon. Friend has pointed out the intricate detail involved in debating new writs. Moving the new writ in question took up a great deal of time; my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover spoke on it for about three hours——

Mr. Skinner

I was never out of order once.

Mr. Cryer

Unusually for my hon. Friend, he has just commented from a sedentary position that he was never out of order. He had prepared extremely carefully. My hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) has emphasised the value of the new writ procedure. It is important to bear that in mind when assessing the fourth motion today. Without enough time we cannot do justice to new writ motions——

Sir Peter Emery

None of these rights is being taken away from the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) or any other hon. Member, except in as much as these procedures should not take place in private Members' time. It is good of the Government to say that these procedures shall not interfere with private Members' time and to stipulate that they must be carried out in Government time. I should have thought that the hon. Gentleman would be delighted with that.

Mr. Cryer

Motion No. 4 refers to private Members' Bills being given precedence. The Chairman of the Select Committee on Procedure is now providing us with a snapshot of the sort of views that he is going to express—but he cannot express them all in an hour and a half. Judging from the thickness of his pile of notes——

Sir Peter Emery

indicated dissent.

Mr. Skinner

He has got it all in his head.

Mr. Cryer

The hon. Gentleman has spent hours in the Select Committee and he wants to give the House a great deal of information on this subject.

My point is that the Government are going to restrict the time available to Back Benchers. New writs can be moved, first, because an hon. Member wants to bring one to the attention of the House; or, secondly, because a Back Bencher wants to use up a certain amount of time because he does not like a Bill that is coming up for consideration.

In any debate we need to consider the conventions of the constitution——

Mr. Skinner

May I put my hon. Friend right? On neither occasion when I moved a writ—before the Unborn Children (Protection) Bill or before the Abortion (Amendment) Bill—did I stop anyone moving a Bill. I prevented people from queue jumping. Enoch Powell was trying to jump the queue with his Unborn Children (Protection) Bill and the hon. Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe) was trying to do the same with another Bill. It was not a question of trying to stop the Bills, but of an attempt being made to jump the queue and move ahead of other private Members' Bills.

Mr. Cryer

That fits in with what I am about to say. By rushing the motion through, there will not be time to examine the subtleties of the way in which the House operates. Those subtleties have developed over many years, but some people question their value and say that we should start with a shining new constitution. The experience of procedures and the reality of the way in which people work together have developed rules of thumb that are very helpful.

Perhaps I could give an example to illustrate the point. An hon. Member who wishes to raise a point of order during a Division has to put something on his head. At first sight, that seems daft and hon. Members feel foolish putting a hat on. People start to sing songs such as "Give Me the Moonlight" and we all make a joke about it. Its purpose is to reduce the possibility of people raising points of order during a Division because that is an awkward time. The wearing of a hat is a hurdle for a Member who wishes to raise a point of order. It seems simple, but it works rather well.

En passant, I shall elaborate on our voting system. People ask me why we cannot have an electronic voting system which would be slicker and more efficient; hon. Members would not have to move from their places and we could get more votes through more quickly. People say that, if we had very long-range telephones hon. Members who were scattered all over the world on fact-finding missions on behalf of Select Committees could telephone their votes to the House. But the voting system that we have is simple and effective and works well. It also makes it difficult to cheat. We cannot discard all those ideas—throw them out of the window—without long and serious discussion. That is why the business motion is less than adequate. We have to consider the conventions of the constitution.

Our Standing Orders are varied by the motions. "Erskine May" gives us written opinions that have been accumulated over hundreds of years, and we also have the conventions of the constitution. If we are properly to consider the business motions, we should have to consider those matters too. I shall give a couple of examples about how we could include those in the discussion.

There is a convention that private Members' Bills brought before the House on Fridays will get through, as long as they are not extremely controversial. If they attempt to remedy a relatively minor matter, something that people accept as a matter of urgency, they will get through. There must be 100 hon. Members present to ensure that such a Bill gets a Second Reading, but by and large, it will reach that stage.

It is a different matter in the case of highly controversial subjects that split all the parties in the House. Liberal, Conservative and Labour Members have different views on abortion. The difficulties of using the private Member's Bill procedure properly and within the rules are manifold. I am not speaking specifically about abortion proposals that have been presented to the House over many years, but about any major matter of great controversy. The private Member's Bill procedure is not designed for that.

Mr. Helfer

What about hare coursing?

Mr. Cryer

My hon. Friend gives a good example. Hare coursing is controversial and some people, mainly Tory Members, do not like any attempt to interfere with it. My hon. Friend the Member for Walton has tried to promote legislation on the matter on at least one occasion.

Mr. Heller

I have tried three times.

Mr. Cryer

In such cases, Tory Members organise petitions or new writs, although I do not think that there were any new writs in relation to hare coursing. Certainly they used the measures available to them in this place, and that reinforces the conventions of the constitution. We need a Labour Government committed to a programme in support of animals to eradicate hare coursing and all other examples of cruelty to animals. We could try a private Member's Bill but we know the obstacles and hurdles that exist. Therefore, it is vital to discuss the conventions of the constitution, those unwritten areas that make it difficult to define what sort of Bill will get through the House. The motions try to say that we must have a path for private Members' legislation that is free from any attempt to delay or obstruct it.

As I said, the Opposition used to have the opportunity to delay and obstruct on the Consolidated Fund. The Opposition can do that to Government legislation, although we do not do it often. On one glorious occasion, we used that opportunity and as a result, the compulsory sale of old people's dwellings was removed from legislation to sell council dwellings. We have lost such opportunities and the Consolidated Fund is a pale shadow of what it used to be. That is why I am concerned that Back Benchers should not give up something that they could use in this place as part of the to-ing and fro-ing in the production of legislation.

The production of legislation should never be easy. It should always be subject to hurdles because it affects thousands of people. I chair the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments because I am concerned to see that the powers that are given to Ministers are not used in an arbitrary or unfair manner. The same applies to the business motion. I guarantee that the business motion will be supported by the payroll vote. There may be some diffident Tory Members, but I do not think that there are many.

Mr. Skinner

It is not as easy as my hon. Friend makes out, because some of the payroll vote have gone to the Savoy, to the big spree of the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath). Some of them have been told not to stop for long, and some of them do not want to stop for very long, including the Prime Minister. We are now reaching the hour when it is conceivable that the Government have the necessary 100 Members to close the debate. I rather suspect that the presence of the Chief Whip means that he might shortly move the closure now that the junketing is about to finish.

Mr. Cryer

My hon. Friend shocks me. I am fairly cynical about this place, but I cannot believe that the Government are manoeuvring. I see the Government Whip, the hon. Member for Solihull (Mr. Taylor), kneeling at the feet of the Leader of the House. Is that in order? He should know the rules of this place. I thought that somebody was about to use a sword on a delicate spot.

If what my hon. Friend says is true, it appears that the Government are preparing to muster 100 Members for the closure. That shows that our fears are very real. This is a Government-inspired manoeuvre. As the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed said—the Government Chief Whip was not here at the time and missed the comments—there are a lot of Select Committee reports on procedure. We have not had an explanation of why this report has been put forward today. I know that the Leader of the House is not used to the job but he gave a paltry speech.

I know that the Chief Whip desperately wants to hear what I am saying, and does not want to plot any more to bring about the downfall of yet another Back-Bench comment on the matter in hand.

The Leader of the House hardly gave us an explanation, but he gave the excuse that this has been done before. The Government took out the ten-minute Bill slot on Budget day. Three years ago they took it out by convention, and on the other occasion by practicality. This issue merited a

longer speech from the Leader of the House, not simply to soak up time, but to explain why the Government have chosen this report out of the rich variety of Select Committee reports on procedure. They are lined up on the shelves, gathering dust, awaiting their time on the Floor of the House.

It is not as though the motion says that we will finish at 7 o'clock so that we can deal with more Procedure Committee reports. We are finishing them so that we can get items 2, 3 and 4 on the Order Paper through as rapidly as possible—like a dose of salts. I think that I am right to mention my reservations and suspicions about why this is going on.

Some of my hon. Friends, such as my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heller) may have served on the Select Committee on Procedure and perhaps they have come to an agreement. I wonder whether the Government have put down such a motion to get this business speeded through using a Select Committee report. Not only this Select Committee report but all the others need debating time, but they are not getting the time allocated to them. It is a conundrum.

I suspect that the reason for the motion is not that the Government want to help private Members but that they want to make things easier for themselves. That is what Governments generally wish to do. Therefore, they have moved motions which will exclude private Members from participating in the procedure of private Members' motions, which will reduce private Members' rights to present public petitions—they will have to choose other items and there will be a time limit—and which will affect the operation of new writs. Ordinary Back-Benchers can use their ingenuity to bring subjects to the attention of the House, through debate on motions for new writs. It gives them an opportunity that would otherwise have been put to one side. When a new writ is moved, it is for the benefit of the House but probably for the inconvenience of the Government.

Mr. Beith

I do not want to interrupt the hon. Member's train of thought, but sometimes when new writs are moved—as on this occasion when we are discussing the new business motion at some length—they are a sign that the Government are not listening to the general anxieties of some hon. Members. New writs are one of the means by which those anxieties can be expressed. The hon. Member's experience, and my own, shows that if one does not inconvenience a Government they will never listen.

Mr. Cryer

That is absolutely right. This——

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Tim Renton)

rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be now put:—

The House divided: Ayes 242, Noes 94.

Division No. 88] [5.44 pm
Adley, Robert Atkins, Robert
Alexander, Richard Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)
Alison, Rt Mon Michael Beaumont-Dark, Anthony
Amos, Alan Bendall, Vivian
Arbuthnot, James Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Benyon, W.
Ashby, David Bevan, David Gilroy
Biffen, Rt Hon John Harris, David
Blunkett, David Haselhurst, Alan
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Heathcoat-Amory, David
Boscawen, Hon Robert Higgins, Rt Hon Terence L.
Boswell, Tim Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Bottomley, Peter Hordern, Sir Peter
Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich) Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Bowis, John Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Brazier, Julian Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Bright, Graham Howell, Ralph (North Norfolk)
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Browne, John (Winchester) Irvine, Michael
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Irving, Sir Charles
Buck, Sir Antony Jack, Michael
Budgen, Nicholas Jackson, Robert
Burns, Simon Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Butler, Chris Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Butterfill, John Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Key, Robert
Carlisle, John, (Luton N) Kilfedder, James
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Carrington, Matthew Knapman, Roger
Cash, William Knowles, Michael
Channon, Rt Hon Paul Lang, Ian
Chapman, Sydney Latham, Michael
Chope, Christopher Lawrence, Ivan
Churchill, Mr Lee, John (Pendle)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark
Colvin, Michael Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Lilley, Peter
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Couchman, James Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Critchley, Julian Lord, Michael
Cunningham, Dr John McAvoy, Thomas
Curry, David Macfarlane, Sir Neil
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Day, Stephen MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Devlin, Tim Maclean, David
Dickens, Geoffrey McLoughlin, Patrick
Dixon, Don McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Dorrell, Stephen Malins, Humfrey
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Mans, Keith
Duffy, A. E. P. Maples, John
Dunn, Bob Marek, Dr John
Durant, Tony Marland, Paul
Eggar, Tim Marlow, Tony
Emery, Sir Peter Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Evennett, David Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas Mellor, David
Favell, Tony Meyer, Sir Anthony
Fenner, Dame Peggy Miller, Sir Hal
Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey Mills, lain
Fishburn, John Dudley Miscampbell, Norman
Flynn, Paul Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Mitchell, Sir David
Forth, Eric Moate, Roger
Foster, Derek Monro, Sir Hector
Franks, Cecil Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Freeman, Roger Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe)
Fry, Peter Morris, M (N'hampton S)
Gale, Roger Morrison, Sir Charles
Garel-Jones, Tristan Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)
Gill, Christopher Moynihan, Hon Colin
Golding, Mrs Llin Mudd, David
Goodhart, Sir Philip Neale, Gerrard
Goodlad, Alastair Needham, Richard
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Nelson, Anthony
Gorst, John Neubert, Michael
Green way, Harry (Ealing N) Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Nicholls, Patrick
Gregory, Conal Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Grist, Ian Oakes, Rt Hon Gordon
Ground, Patrick O'Brien, William
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Oppenheim, Phillip
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom) Page, Richard
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Paice, James
Hanley, Jeremy Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Patnick, Irvine Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath) Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Patten, Rt Hon John Sumberg, David
Pawsey, James Tapsell, Sir Peter
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Porter, David (Waveney) Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Portillo, Michael Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)
Powell, William (Corby) Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Thorne, Neil
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Thornton, Malcolm
Rhodes James, Robert Thurnham, Peter
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Tredinnick, David
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Trippier, David
Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm Trotter, Neville
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Twinn, Dr Ian
Rossi, Sir Hugh Viggers, Peter
Rost, Peter Waddington, Rt Hon David
Ryder, Richard Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Sackville, Hon Tom Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Sainsbury, Hon Tim Waller, Gary
Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas Ward, John
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Watts, John
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Wells, Bowen
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW) Wheeler, Sir John
Shersby, Michael Wiggin, Jerry
Sims, Roger Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Skeet, Sir Trevor Winterton, Mrs Ann
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick) Winterton, Nicholas
Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield) Wood, Timothy
Speller, Tony Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs) Yeo, Tim
Stanbrook, Ivor Young, Sir George (Acton)
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Stern, Michael Tellers for the Ayes:
Stevens, Lewis Mr. David Lightbown and Mr. Michael Fallon.
Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Allen, Graham Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Anderson, Donald Howells, Geraint
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Beith, A. J. Johnston, Sir Russell
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Lamond, James
Bradley, Keith Leadbitter, Ted
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Leighton, Ron
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Buckley, George J. Livingstone, Ken
Callaghan, Jim Livsey, Richard
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Maclennan, Robert
Cartwright, John McWilliam, John
Clay, Bob Madden, Max
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Mahon, Mrs Alice
Corbett, Robin Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Corbyn, Jeremy Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Cunliffe, Lawrence Martlew, Eric
Dalyell, Tarn Meale, Alan
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Eadie, Alexander Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Evans, John (St Helens N) Mullin, Chris
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Nellist, Dave
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) Orme, Rt Hon Stanley
Fearn, Ronald Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Patchett, Terry
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Pendry, Tom
Fisher, Mark Pike, Peter L.
Flannery, Martin Prescott, John
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Primarolo, Dawn
Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S) Richardson, Jo
Garrett, Ted (Wallsend) Rooker, Jeff
George, Bruce Salmond, Alex
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) Sheerman, Barry
Hardy, Peter Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Heffer, Eric S. Shore, Rt Hon Peter
Hinchliffe, David Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Hood, Jimmy Spearing, Nigel
Steel, Rt Hon Sir David Wise, Mrs Audrey
Steinberg, Gerry Worthington, Tony
Taylor, Matthew (Truro) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Turner, Dennis
Welsh, Andrew (Angus E) Tellers for the Noes:
Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N) Mr. Dennis Skinner and Mr. Bob Cryer.
Williams, Rt Hon Alan

Question accordingly agreed to.

Question put accordingly, That the amendent be made:-

The House divided: Ayes 84,Noes 233.

Division No. 89] [5.56 pm
Anderson, Donald Hughes, Simon (Southwark)
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Johnston, Sir Russell
Banks, Tony (Newham NW) Kennedy, Charles
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Lamond, James
Barnes, Mrs Rosie (Greenwich) Leadbitter, Ted
Battle, John Lestor, Joan (Eccles)
Beith, A. J. Livingstone, Ken
Benn, Rt Hon Tony McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Maclennan, Robert
Bradley, Keith Madden, Max
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Mahon, Mrs Alice
Callaghan, Jim Marek, Dr John
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Meale, Alan
Cartwright, John Michael, Alun
Clay, Bob Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Corbyn, Jeremy Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Cryer, Bob Mullin, Chris
Dalyell, Tam Nellist, Dave
Davies, Ron (Caerphilly) Owen, Rt Hon Dr David
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) Patchett, Terry
Day, Stephen Pike, Peter L.
Dunnachie, Jimmy Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Eadie, Alexander Primarolo, Dawn
Evans, John (St Helens N) Richardson, Jo
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Rooker, Jeff
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) Salmond, Alex
Fearn, Ronald Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Skinner, Dennis
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Soley, Clive
Flannery, Martin Spearing, Nigel
Flynn, Paul Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S) Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Fyfe, Maria Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Gale, Roger Widdecombe, Ann
Garrett, Ted (Wallsend) Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Gordon, Mildred Winterton, Mrs Ann
Heffer, Eric S. Worthington, Tony
Hinchliffe, David
Howells, Geraint Tellers for the Ayes:
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Mr. Richard Livsey and Mr. Alex Carlile.
Hughes, Roy (Newport E)
Alexander, Richard Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Bowis, John
Allen, Graham Brandon-Bravo, Martin
Amess, David Brazier, Julian
Amos, Alan Bright, Graham
Arbuthnot, James Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's)
Atkins, Robert Browne, John (Winchester)
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Buckley, George J.
Beckett, Margaret Budgen, Nicholas
Bendall, Vivian Burns, Simon
Benyon, W. Burt, Alistair
Bevan, David Gilroy Butler, Chris
Biffen, Rt Hon John Butterfill, John
Blunkett, David Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Carrington, Matthew
Boscawen, Hon Robert Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Boswell, Tim Chapman, Sydney
Bottomley, Peter Chope, Christopher
Churchill, Mr Heathcoat-Amory, David
Clark, Dr David (S Shields) Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S) Hogg, Hon Douglas (Gr'th'm)
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Hordern, Sir Peter
Colvin, Michael Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest) Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Couchman, James Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Critchley, Julian Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Cunningham, Dr John Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Curry, David Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Irvine, Michael
Devlin, Tim Irving, Sir Charles
Dickens, Geoffrey Jack, Michael
Dixon, Don Jackson, Robert
Dorrell, Stephen Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Dover, Den Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Duffy, A. E. P. Key, Robert
Dunn, Bob Kilfedder, James
Durant, Tony King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Eastham, Ken Kirkhope, Timothy
Eggar, Tim Knapman, Roger
Emery, Sir Peter Knowles, Michael
Evennett, David Lang, Ian
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas Lawrence, Ivan
Fallon, Michael Lee, John (Pendle)
Favell, Tony Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Fenner, Dame Peggy Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey Lilley, Peter
Fishburn, John Dudley Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Forth, Eric Lord, Michael
Foster, Derek McAvoy, Thomas
Franks, Cecil Macfarlane, Sir Neil
Freeman, Roger MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Fry, Peter MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Gardiner, George Maclean, David
Garel-Jones, Tristan McLoughlin, Patrick
George, Bruce McNair-Wilson, Sir Michael
Golding, Mrs Llin Malins, Humfrey
Goodhart, Sir Philip Mans, Keith
Goodlad, Alastair Maples, John
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles Marland, Paul
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Marlow, Tony
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Gregory, Conal Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Grist, Ian Maxton, John
Ground, Patrick Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Mellor, David
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom) Meyer, Sir Anthony
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton) Miller, Sir Hal
Hanley, Jeremy Mills, lain
Hardy, Peter Miscampbell, Norman
Harris, David Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Haselhurst, Alan Mitchell, Sir David
Haynes, Frank Moate, Roger
Monro, Sir Hector Sims, Roger
Montgomery, Sir Fergus Skeet, Sir Trevor
Moonie, Dr Lewis Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Morris, Rt Hon A. (W'shawe) Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Speed, Keith
Morrison, Sir Charles Speller, Tony
Mowlam, Marjorie Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Moynihan, Hon Colin Stanbrook, Ivor
Mudd, David Stern, Michael:
Needham, Richard Stevens, Lewis
Nelson, Anthony Stewart, Allan (Eastwood)
Neubert, Michael Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Nicholls, Patrick Sumberg, David
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Tapsell, Sir Peter
Oppenheim, Phillip Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Page, Richard Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Paice, James Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil Thorne, Neil
Patnick, Irvine Thornton, Malcolm
Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath) Thurnham, Peter
Patten, Rt Hon John Tredinnick, David
Pawsey, James Trippier, David
Porter, David (Waveney) Trotter, Neville
Portillo, Michael Twinn, Dr Ian
Powell, William (Corby) Viggers, Peter
Prescott, John Waddington, Rt Hon David
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Walker, Bill (T'side North)
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Waller, Gary
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Watts, John
Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm Wells, Bowen
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Wheeler, Sir John
Rossi, Sir Hugh Wiggin, Jerry
Rost, Peter Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Ryder, Richard Wood, Timothy
Sackville, Hon Tom Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Sainsbury, Hon Tim Yeo, Tim
Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey) Tellers for the Noes:
Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb') Mr. David Lightbown and Mr. Nicholas Baker.
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Shersby, Michael

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put and agreed to.

Ordered, That, at this day's sitting, the Motions in the name of Sir Geoffrey Howe relating to Private Members' Motions, Public Petitions and New Writs may be proceeded with until Seven o'clock; and at that hour, if proceedings thereon have not been previously disposed of, Mr. Speaker shall put successively the Question already proposed from the Chair and the Questions on such of the remaining Motions as may then be made, including the Questions on any Amendments thereto which he may have selected.