HC Deb 21 February 1990 vol 167 cc973-1048

6.8 pm

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

I beg to move, That—

Sir Geoffrey Howe

We shall vote on the three procedure motions at 7 o'clock. I propose to speak briefly on all three now. The House will recall that on 1 February we dealt with the third report of the Procedure Committee on ten-minute Bills. The debate on that day also covered the second report of the Committee, dealing with private Members' time. We did not bring it to a conclusion, following a request by hon. Members, and the matter was held over to a subsequent occasion. That is the purpose of today's debate.

Since the previous debate I have reflected on the speeches made, and I remain convinced of the need and justification for the three motions. As this is, in effect, a continuation of the previous debate, I do not intend to repeat my speech.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I apologise to the Leader of the House. I should have informed the House before he rose that I have selected the amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith), to leave out paragraph (d). I selected the amendment on the previous occasion that the matter was debated. I have not selected the other amendments.

Sir Geoffrey Howe

I had dealt with that amendment in my previous intervention.

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

I asked the Leader of the House to make sure that he addressed the issue raised by the amendment. The motion covers not only matters that went to the Procedure Committee but any attempt by any hon. Member ever to use private Members' time to make a substantive decision about any Standing Order.

Sir Geoffrey Howe

Let me reiterate the central point of our position. I believe that the three motions, taken with the additional day for private Members' business in the Sessional Order to amend Standing Order No. 13 which I moved on 22 November, provide a fair and reasonable deal for the House as a whole and for Back Benchers. Indeed, they were so regarded by the hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) and many other hon. Members in the previous debate.

If the way is to be cleared for private Members' business to be considered largely unobstructed—that is, through the motions on new writs and petitions, motions 4 and 3—an additional day having already been provided for that business, I do not think it unreasonable to expect hon. Members to operate within the parameters of the agreed procedures and within the time available within the system, and to preclude them from doing otherwise. That is the central purpose of the motion on private Members' motions.

Any hon. Member who introduces a private Members' Bill which is long, complex or controversial should be aware of the risks of failure arising from the inherent nature of the Bill and should not blame the system if the Bill fails to get through.

In the earlier debate my hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe) emphasised what she called the will of the House. It has also been raised tonight. She suggested that if a private Member's motion were passed to give precedence or some other advantage to a private Member's Bill, so be it. That was the very question addressed by the Procedure Committee. I explained previously that if we allowed that to be the position, that would itself destroy the balance of the accepted convention for dealing with private Members' business.

It could nullify the effect of the ballot for private Members' Bills if a Member successful in obtaining a high place in the ballot found his Bill being upstaged by a Bill lower down that had a stronger lobby behind it. I do not think that that prospect is made more acceptable by the amendment on the Order Paper in my hon. Friend's name. Although the intention might be to secure favourable treatment for a Bill, such a procedure could be used to hinder other Bills. That is one feature we would not want.

As for the point raised by the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) as he is anxious to be identified—I understand why—the procedure of the House has been used on previous occasions in a way which was never intended. The Procedure Committee addressed itself to that, at the invitation of Mr. Speaker. The hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed said that hard cases make bad law and that we should think carefully before changing procedures in response to one or two incidents.

We have thought about it carefully, and so has the Procedure Committee. When the procedures of the House have been used in a way that was never intended, it is reasonable to plug the gaps and to eliminate the weaknesses that are exposed by such unintended use. I add to that the hope expressed by you, Mr. Speaker, that we shall not go through this kind of thing again.

Miss Ann Widdecombe (Maidstone)

My right hon. and learned Friend made consistent reference to motions being used in a way that was not intended. May I refer him to the ruling of the Speaker in 1927 on which our privileges have been based ever since? That ruling specifically said that altering time and seeking extra time was not solely within the competence of the Government but was rightly also within the province of private Members. How is it an abuse if that was what the Speaker ruled?

Sir Geoffrey Howe

The target of the report that we are debating was not the impact of decisions or wishes of the Government on anything but the potential impact of one set of private Members' rights on another set of private Members' rights. It is that balance which the report carefully seeks to maintain. In paragraph 5 the Committee said: Our fundamental approach in tackling this problem has been to seek to preserve and strengthen the balance between, on the one hand, the rights of private Members to have their balloted Motions debated without disruption, and, on the other, the legitimate expectations of Members with Bills in the first six allotted places". So it is not a matter between the Executive and private Members. It is an attempt to implement a recommendation made by private Members for private Members for the better management of the business of the House.

I believe that the three motions, with the others that were debated, make a sensible package. They have been debated in prime time already for about one and a half hours. We had a substantial debate on the substance earlier this afternoon. We have a further opportunity of debating the motions for the remainder of the hour. On that basis, we shall have debated them for more than enough time to bring the matter to a conclusion at 7 o'clock. I commend the motions to the House.

6.17 pm
Dr. John Cunningham (Copeland)

I speak for the second time in support of the motions. Before I come to their merits, although I do not want to repeat at length what I said on the previous occasion, I want to deal with the argument which has been put to us again today that there has been a great conspiracy on the part of the Government.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

Between the two Front Benches.

Dr. Cunningham

I should remind my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) of what I said in the previous debate. I consulted Back-Bench Members of the parliamentary Labour party in public at a meeting which was advertised on the Whip. My hon. Friend was probably doing something important, but he did not come to that meeting.

Mr. Skinner

I was probably in the Chamber——

Dr. Cunningham

He probably was.

Mr. Skinner

—doing the job for which I am paid.

Dr. Cunningham

There has been every opportunity on this side of the House for consultation and discussion, and there is to be a free vote. I shall list my hon. Friends who served on the Committee: the Members for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks), for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours), for Stockton, North (Mr. Cook), for Rotherham (Mr. Crowther), for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick), who is in his place, and for Nottingham, North (Mr. Allen), who was here earlier. They are not the kind of people to join any conspiracy with the Treasury Bench or, in many cases, with this Front Bench. I do not think there is a shred of evidence to sustain the conspiracy argument.

The hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith), for whom I have a high personal regard—[Interruption.] I have a high personal regard for my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover too, but I do not agree with him on this matter.

The hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed cannot sustain his argument; there is no validity in it. He has not a shred of evidence to support his argument.

Mr. Beith

The hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) is serving on a Select Committee at this moment. He told me that if he had been able to take part in the debate he would have wanted to draw attention to the fact that in the Procedure Committee he moved and voted on an amendment that was a much better compromise than that which is being offered to us today.

Dr. Cunningham

We should have argued about the merits of the proposed changes. I do not suggest for a moment that all my hon. Friends agree with the view that I have expressed about the proposed changes. However, I believe that they disagree with those who say that in bringing the recommendations before the House in this way they have somehow been involved in a behind-the-scenes deal with the Government. That is not true. That is not true in my case, either.

We are trying to protect Back Benchers from the depredations of other Back Benchers. That is the force of the argument for change. Back-Bench Members' time is not being dramatically changed by the proposals, except in one instance. It is unacceptable that, with the shortest period of notice, a Back Bencher can move a motion in the Chamber to change our Standing Orders. The proper way to change Standing Orders is for the House to set up a Select Committee of Back Benchers to take evidence and to come back to the House with recommendations. That is the orderly way to change our procedures, and that is the proposal. Therefore, I have no hesitation in saying that I do not accept the argument that, willy-nilly, at short notice, Back Benchers should have the right to come into the Chamber, move a motion and turn the procedures of the House upside down.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)

My hon. Friend will, I am sure, want to make it clear that a motion would have to be on the Order Paper before it could be moved. Hon. Members, therefore, would be notified. Furthermore, there would have to be a majority for the motion. Surely those are two enormous safeguards.

Dr. Cunningham

That is a statement of fact, so it has to be right. However, I do not accept that that is the best way to examine the procedures of the House. It would be better to appoint a Select Committee of Back Benchers to consider the matter thoroughly. Interested though I was in my hon. Friend's amusing speech earlier today, it was nevertheless an attempt to prevent the House from reaching a decision today. I am in favour of the House reaching a decision on these matters.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)

I apologise for the fact that, because of official business with a Select Committee, I was unable to be here for the earlier debate. I can attest to the consultation procedures to which my hon. Friend properly referred. However, does he not agree that he is now dealing with two distinct, albeit connected, issues? I agree with my hon. Friend and the Leader of the House about the first—the use of private Members' motions to change the Standing Orders relating to private Members' Bills. However, my hon. Friend has introduced another element: that the House can change any Standing Order with or without notice. I take his point that there is a connection in this instance, but are they not two separate issues that ought to be debated separately instead of together?

Dr. Cunningham

I understand my hon. Friend's point, but I do not agree with it. That would be another means to cause delay. All hon. Members who are in the Chamber know what the issues are. The report has been before us for many months. We had an opportunity to debate it on an earlier occasion. There can be no confusion about what the House is being asked to decide. My hon. Friend may have made a pedantic point, but it is not a point of major substance, or one with which I can agree.

I intend to support the motion in the Lobby.

6.24 pm
Sir Peter Emery (Honiton)

I spoke earlier only on the procedural motion. I wish to make three specific points. The Procedure Committee attempted to ensure fairness for those who are successful in the ballot for private Members' motions and for those who are successful in the ballot to introduce private Members' Bills. They have little enough time. If hon. Members were advocating more time, it would be a different matter. We should thank the Government for providing an additional day.

The Procedure Committee has tried to safeguard the rights of hon. Members who are successful in the ballots so that their motions can be properly debated. Neither writs nor petitions should curtail their time. The Procedure Committee has not limited the time in which hon. Members who are successful in the ballots can discuss these matters; they can be discussed at other times. Writs could be discussed in Government time. I should have thought that that would be an advantage for BackBenchers; writs would not be dealt with in private Members' time. The Procedure Committee suggests that petitions should be dealt with at the end of the day instead of the beginning.

The hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) argued that an amendment moved by the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) altered the package. That is not correct. The amendment would have provided additional time—it would not have altered the package—for private Members' Bills. The Government have met that point to some extent by providing an additional day.

Whenever there is a request for Standing Orders to be changed, the Procedure Committee is asked to examine the request and make recommendations. Hon. Members who are against the motion believe that they will lose their special rights, or privilege, to introduce Bills. They want to be granted special rights to introduce a motion, thus taking precedence over other hon. Members who have been successful in the ballot. That is unfair and should be stopped. It was seen by the House to be unfair. The hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) spoke for three hours on one occasion to prevent a Bill from being debated. We want to save the hon. Member for Bolsover the trouble of having to speak for three hours to prevent queue jumping.

The Procedure Committee heard a great deal of evidence on the subject and has provided a complete package. The evidence is printed at the back of the Committee's report. The Procedure Committee wants to safeguard Back Benchers' rights. The rights of Opposition Front-Bench and Treasury Bench Members are unaffected; they have nothing to gain or lose by this. The fact that the Government have found so much time to debate the matter—twice in prime time—is excellent.

Mr. Cryer


Sir Peter Emery

The hon. Gentleman says that it is suspicious. Is not that what hon. Members want? Do they not keep pressing the Government for more time? Is that not what Back Benchers keep asking the Leader of the House to do? The moment that it is done it is called suspicious. Hon. Members cannot have it both ways. It has been done for the benefit of Back Benchers. We should thank the Government and not be bloody-minded about it.

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

I beg to move, as an amendment to the motion, to leave out paragraph (d).

I shall be very brief as other hon. Members wish to speak. I shall not repeat my arguments on the main issue although I remain of the view that it is hard to tell Back Benchers that they should never do what the Government do every day—seek more time for Bills. I wish to concentrate on my amendment to leave out paragraph (d).

The motion has a far wider effect than the Chairman of the Procedure Committee or the Leader of the House have admitted. It precludes private Members from ever using private Members' time to bring about a change in the Standing Orders. I am not sure whether the hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) followed that point. I agree with him that the most desirable way to change the Standing Orders, if there is a problem, is to refer the matter to the Procedure Committee, get a report and act on that report. But what happens if the Government do not provide time for the report? My experience is that they choose to provide time for those reports which, for one reason or another, they wish to bring forward.

The Chairman of the Procedure Committee, the hon. Member for Honiton (Sir P. Emery) will be the first to realise the many occasions when I served on that Committee on which we could not get some of our proposals before the House. If, in those circumstances, he and other hon. Members decided that enough was enough—that one of us has won the ballot, so we shall bring forward the changes and not be fobbed off by the Government any longer because they do not like the changes—we would be unable to table a motion to give effect to the Procedure Committee's recommendations because it would not be receivable in the Table Office. All that we can do is table a take-note motion which does not have any effect. The Government are off the hook again because they do not have to proceed with the matter.

Sir Peter Emery

It would be quite possible for the Procedure Committee to move a motion asking for time, but any report of the Procedure Committee should be approved by the House and then acted upon by the Government. We could pass that quite easily.

Mr. Beith

Any motion to give effect to changes in the Standing Orders, which is what is required to change Standing Orders, would be precluded at the Table Office. Neither the hon. Gentleman nor I nor anyone else could get past the Table Office clerks, who would be bound by the motion to say that amending or varying any Standing Order is prohibited by the motion. I do not understand why the Leader of the House included that prohibition in the motion. It widens it far beyond its original purpose.

I hope that the hon. Gentleman and others will accept my amendment even if they do not agree that it is also legitimate for hon. Members to seek the approval of the House for further time for private Members' Bills. That is a separate issue. Why it has been wrapped up in this motion, I do not know, but the effect is to place a clear limitation on hon. Members. Perhaps the Leader of the House is not in a conspiracy; perhaps he is as innocent as he so often looks and does not realise that that is the effect of the motion. That is a possible explanation.

Mr. Spearing

Without taking any view on the timetable motion, suspicions or anything else, I understand why my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) and the Leader of the House included paragraph (d). I understand that there was a procedural motion without notice. Would not the whole matter be resolved at a subsequent stage, if it is not acceptable to the Leader of the House tonight, by stating that any procedural motion must have so many days' notice? The question of Back Benchers' rights would remain open and everyone would be protected by the notice required.

Mr. Beith

I agree with that observation and I am in favour of requirements of notice being laid on individual Members and the Government. Both should have to give notice of changes in Standing Orders.

Dr. Cunningham

I want to get the record straight. My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) said that he understood why the Leader of the House and I had included that change. I make it absolutely clear that I had nothing to do with the drafting of the motions on the Order Paper. Of course, I studied them and agreed to support them, as I have made clear, but I was not involved in drafting them. I must say to the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) that it is not that I do not understand what he is saying; I simply do not agree with him.

Mr. Beith

I think that the hon. Gentleman should agree with me. I tell many of my constituents in many cases, "If only you had looked at the small print." At some time in the future, hon. Members will say, "If only we had looked at the small print because we are precluded from bringing about changes which the Procedure Committee has recommended and the Government do not like, or in some other way acting in a perfectly proper manner to serve the interests of our constituents and the House." For the moment hon. Members should forget whatever views they may have had on a controversial instance in the past, look at the merits of the argument and read the small print.

6.34 pm
Miss Ann Widdecombe (Maidstone)

I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the debate and I shall be brief as I know that other hon. Members wish to speak.

The motion is utterly disgraceful. It proposes to remove from Back Benchers the last shreds of their rights to influence the business of the House. My right hon. and learned Friend the Leader of the House has not addressed himself to the principal issue that I raised last time—the difference between obstructive activity and that which seeks the will of the House.

Only one hon. Member has to decide to move a by-election writ and talk for three hours. Some hon. Members can present petitions all morning but there is no way in which the House can give precedence or extra time to any Bill or have a Standing Order changed without the will of the House. The first motion means that an hon. Member cannot ask the House to decide whether we shall change a Standing Order or give a Bill extra time.

I have been very restrained about answering this allegation in the past, but in view of the fact that yet again reference has been made to queue jumping, I should like to point out to the Chairman of the Procedure Committee that the Bill for which I was seeking time came up after the six Bills that were ahead of it in the ballot. I did not seek immediate consideration of all stages; I sought Second Reading only, so it stayed very firmly in its place in the queue and there was no queue jumping. Had there been queue jumping the queue could not have been jumped without the will of the House and that is crucial.

The motion says that Back Benchers may not seek the will of the House. My amendment, which you quite properly did not call, Mr. Speaker, tried to meet the case that was put last time that a Back Bencher could take up a great deal of time on the Floor of the House in discussing a Bill that did not have much support and then try to push something through on a small vote. My amendment was trying to make certain that there was substantial support across the House before any such motion could be tabled and I am sorry that you did not call it.

It really is a question of protecting our last rights. If those rights go, there will be no other way than by lottery that an hon. Member can come to the House and ask for any change in Standing Orders. The hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) was quite right to say that, if the Government of the day do not want to do something, the Procedure Committee, Select Committees or anyone else will not be able to ask individual hon. Members to use their place in the ballot to propose respectable recommendations. If we pass the motion, we shall be totally at the mercy of the Executive. That is why there is agreement between the two Front Benches. There will simply be nothing left. We have had those rights for years. I regret that tonight's debate is not better attended so that people can hear the arguments.

6.37 pm
Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

Earlier today, Mr. Speaker, you had a request under Standing Order No. 20 for a debate on an important matter that was urgent and specific. I do not know and I am not asking you why you turned down that application, but we could have been debating that issue had a different decision been made.

We would have been debating the social fund and the fact that according to the courts in some circumstances people can claim money that the Government have deprived them of in the past few years. Nearly all Opposition Members would have preferred to discuss the social fund, and those poor people who do not have two ha'pennies to rub together, instead of messing about with a motion which has come from the belly of the Chairman of the Procedure Committee, the hon. Member for Honiton (Sir P. Emery). He spawned it and he did not know what he was doing when he produced it.

The hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) has shown that the hon. Member for Honiton has gone a bridge too far—he is taking away powers without even knowing that he is doing it. The Leader of the House, the Chairman of the Procedure Committee and my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham) have not explained the answers to the charges that have been made on three separate occasions by the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed.

It is shabby that we should be spending our time attempting to stop Members moving writs. Some might regard it as fantasy land, but imagine what would happen if the Government did not want to move a writ for the Mid-Staffordshire by-election. Suppose the Government thought that because of public attitudes to the poll tax, high interest and mortgage rates and so on, they would not, despite their 150 majority over Labour, go ahead with the Mid-Staffordshire writ. Indeed, suppose the Government went against an earlier decision and moved an amendment stating that the by-election must be held within, say, three months.

Suppose that the initiative of an Opposition Member was required to tell the people of Mid-Staffordshire, "You will have the chance of a by-election." The Government might vote that down, but at least the voters of Mid-Staffordshire would have been alerted to the fact that the Labour party, through one of its Back Benchers, was prepared to try to secure a by-election. That type of scenario might be remote, but the opportunity that now exists for a Back Bencher to take the initiative is being taken from us.

Sir Peter Emery (Honiton)

In private Members' time.

Mr. Skinner

Private Members raise issues that the Government dare not touch. There have been many occasions when private Members have brought forward on a Friday issues that the Government would not raise. Indeed, the hon. Member for Honiton brought forward a private Member's Bill recently and managed to obtain a Second Reading.

Dr. Cunningham

The effect of what is before the House would not prevent any Opposition Member from moving a writ for a by-election. It would simply prevent it happening in private Members' time. We would not be giving up the right to move a writ for a by-election if we decided to move a writ. A danger of moving a writ for a by-election against the Government's desire is that, if it is voted down, there cannot be a by-election in that Session of Parliament.

Mr. Skinner

I appreciate what my hon. Friend is telling me and I do not need to be educated on the subject. I fear, however, that he is wrong. Such matters on a Friday come up as first business. From Monday to Thursday they come up at the commencement of the sitting, before Question Time, and, as Government business, they are held over. From then on the Government are in control. We had an example of that once this Session.

That is why I say that a different set of circumstances applies on Fridays. Why does my hon. Friend think that the proposed prohibitions and bans have arisen? On Friday the Government do not always have 120 Members present. They do not want to be burdened every Friday with having to contend with a Back-Bench adventure. On Fridays, the Government are not always in control of the activities of Back Benchers.

The Government do not want to be bothered every Friday with such matters. Ministers and others on the Government Benches want to be elsewhere. They do not want to have to keep sufficient supporters here to control the House. The hon. Member for Honiton will recall that when, on a recent Friday, he secured a Second Reading for his Bill, only 53 Members voted for the closure motion. That is how the Government like it. They love it because it enables Ministers to trot around the country on photo opportunities, on fact-finding tours and doing whatever else they want to do.

Let us deal with the nitty-gritty of the matter. It is nonsense to say that the Government are worried about the business of Back Benchers on Fridays. It is being suggested that the Government are telling us, "We are doing this only because we are trying to look after you on Fridays." Who believes that? After all, the Leader of the House has spent most of his time swanning around the world, at the United Nations and elsewhere, meeting Foreign Ministers and others. Also, the right hon. and learned Gentleman has two houses to visit on Fridays.

Is it really suggested that he is anxious to accommodate Opposition Back Benchers in what they wish to achieve on Fridays? Of course he is not. In the television age he wants to tell the moguls who run the networks, "Here is the business for Friday. We can tell you spot on what will happen next Friday." Every day on programmes about Parliament we read the details of what business will take place here.

From Monday to Thursday the Government can be sure of being right about that—because they are in control of the business, knowing that certain items will be raised, finishing with the Adjournment—but they are never too sure of what will happen on Fridays. Indeed, five or six Bills might be down for discussion on a Friday. Had the hon. Member for Honiton not listened to the advice of the Tory Whip, my hon. Friends and I might have slipped two more Bills through. A Bill presented by my hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. Meale) nearly got through. Unfortunately, the hon. Member for Honiton had his elbow jerked by the Government Whip on duty.

Sir Peter Emery

Keep talking.

Mr. Skinner

The hon. Gentleman tells me to keep talking. He knows as well as anyone what happens on a Friday. On that day there is always an opportunity for Back Benchers to get something through. Ministers may not be in evidence. So let us put an end to the suggestion that the Leader of the House is worried about Back Benchers and is anxious to make life smooth for us on Fridays.

If that were the case, we would not have occasional Government statements made on Fridays. I am not against the Government making statements on a Friday, when there are not many Members present. In those circumstances I may be called by Mr. Speaker to put a question. That happened last Friday when we discussed Hong Kong.

But it is a bit cheeky for the Government, who may wish to make statements on a Friday for their own benefit, thereby disrupting private Members' time, to say that they are anxious to protect Fridays for Back Benchers. It has been suggested that Government statements have been made deliberately to reduce the time that would otherwise be available on a Friday for a private Member's measure that the Government do not like.

If the Chairman of the Procedure Committee wanted to do something good for Back Benchers, he could have advised the Leader of the House to allocate 10 more Fridays for private Members. The Government occupy the time on some Fridays. Why did not the hon. Member for Honiton have the guts to tell his right hon. and learned Friend that his Committee recommends that Back Benchers should have more time for Adjournments, motions and private Members' Bills? There might not be any queue jumping if more days were allocated for private Members' Bills. That would have been far preferable to the paltry little concession that is being made.

Sir Peter Emery

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would do me the kindness of reading the report.

Mr. Skinner

I have read it.

Sir Peter Emery

In that case, the hon. Gentleman must have overlooked, which is often the case with the hon. Gentleman, the recommendation that extra time should be given twice a week to Back Benchers for Adjournment debates. He should not make the sort of allegations that he is making without knowing the facts, which is often the case with the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Skinner

I said that the concession was paltry. Indeed, the Leader of the House even forgot that it was in the report. If the hon. Member for Honiton were sensible, he would have said that, in anticipation of the proposals being passed by the House, 10 more Fridays should be provided for private Members' Bills and motions.

The hon. Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe) will be aware that, if it is the wish of the House that a Member shall not jump the queue, that is the end of the matter. If a Back Bencher wishes to move a writ, he or she can do that. Although there may have been a majority on Second Reading for the Bill that she introduced, the fact remains that the will of the House on that occasion—and in 1985 when Enoch Powell moved a Bill on the same issue—was to the effect that so-called queue jumping should not occur.

Miss Widdecombe

I cannot quite equate the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) with the will of the House. If he wished to move a by-election writ, he did not have to seek the will of the House; he could go ahead and do it. But I could not get extra time for my Bill unless the House agreed to my having more time. That is the difference between the two.

Mr. Skinner

The hon. Lady could not have had her ear close enough to the ground. I assure her that, in the days prior to that Friday, scores of her hon. Friends, some of whom were prepared to support her Bill on Second Reading, told me, "I hope to goodness that you manage to stop it on Friday, Dennis." Certainly Government Members did not want to spend the weekend here; they had had enough having to stay for the Friday—[Interruption.] There were a greater number of Members supporting me on the two Fridays when the hon. Lady presented her Bill than I had experienced in 20 years.

I shall tell the Leader of the House what he should do. Why not take the motions one at a time? The right hon. and learned Gentleman has heard the request of the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed and if he accepts the amendment, he will do the House and himself a favour. By the time the Prime Minister has finished with the Leader of the House, he could well be a Back Bencher, and he might want to do some of these things on a Friday. He will not always have two houses to sweep and clean with Lady Quango on Friday when we are battling here.

If the Procedure Committee wants to do something decent, I shall give it some ideas. Why not take up the matter of starting our proceedings at 9 am? Why not take up the question of having full-time Members of Parliament? Why not consider ensuring that every Member has one job as a Member of Parliament, and one job only? Why not take up the idea of clocking on, like millions of our constituents have to do? Why not do all those things? A report on those issues would be controversial, and this place would be full to debate it.

Mr. Jacques Arnold (Gravesham)

If the hon. Gentleman is concerned about Back Benchers' rights, why did he not take up the matter of the Labour Front Bench using the time for ten-minute Bills, as happened the other day?

Mr. Speaker

Order. That matter should be discussed on another occasion. It does not concern the motion on the Order Paper.

Mr. Skinner

I must answer that question, Mr. Speaker. One of my hon. Friends on the Front Bench passed the Bill to another Front Bencher. The hon. Member for Gravesham (Mr. Arnold) has not been a Member long. He is a bit wet behind the ears and he probably did not realise that it had been passed by one Front Bencher to another.

Many improvements could be made for Back Benchers. We are in the so-called television age. If the Chairman of the Procedure Committee wants to do something useful, such as consider those matters that I have suggested—perhaps he and other hon. Members could present a multitude of other issues—he might get some support from those of us who want to take some power from the Executive and hand it to Back Benchers. Over the past 20 years during which I have been a Member, there have been six occasions—many of which have been alluded to—when powers have been taken from Back Benchers, and they have never been restored. It is time that we took some of those powers back.

6.52 pm
Mr. Michael Jopling (Westmorland and Lonsdale)

I am sure that we all enjoyed the speech of the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner). We have discovered what he does in the rare moments when he is not in the Chamber—he has obviously started writing his autobiography. Many of us will look forward to reading it.

There are many arguments about whether there should be more or less time for private Members' business. In a previous incarnation, I sometimes wished that there were no time for that business. Nothing gives a Government Chief Whip more nightmares than the prospect of private Members' business on Friday. It is an art of its own in terms of parliamentary procedure. Over the years, I probably lost more nights' sleep over private business than over everything else put together.

We should not give more time to private Members' business. If the Chairman of the Procedure Committee said that more time should be allocated, I would strongly oppose that view. However, we must strenuously protect the time already given. I have grieved when the time granted has been abused by hon. Members using a number of devices. In the past year or so—I cannot remember the exact time—I unsuspectingly applied to present a petition to the House on a Friday morning. To my horror, I found that there were many other petitions, which were clearly to be presented to block private Members' business. Consequently, I said to the House that I did not intend to present my petition, because I did not think that my constituents would wish to have their petition mixed up in a blocking procedure.

The motions are thoroughly worthy in that their aim is not to remove Members' rights to move writs or present petitions, but solely to protect private Members' time. I hope that the House will support that worthy and laudable aim.

6.54 pm
Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South)

We have been debating a number of different issues more or less simultaneously which may be confusing to those hearing or watching these proceedings. The first part of the debate on these matters was spent deciding how long we should debate them and whether an amendment should be made. In that debate, matters were rehearsed relating to the substance of the motions on the Order Paper.

In the past three quarters of an hour, we have discussed one motion which relates to a well-founded attempt by the Leader of the House, supported by my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland (Mr. Cunningham), to stop a gap which was ingeniously discovered by the hon. Member for Maidstone (Miss Widdecombe) and her hon. Friends in pursuit of a controversial private Member's Bill. A gap in the procedures was found by which to extend, through private Members' motions, the opportunity for debate on private Members' Bills, which were otherwise limited in time. None of us would deny the hon. Lady's right to attempt that.

The main question is whether, in the balance of the private Members' time available, that facility should be used and whether it is desirable. Although I agree that the hon. Member for Maidstone had the right to make that attempt, the balance of private Members' time should be retained as it is, and that path should be closed. I disagree in some measure with the motion because of the method used to close it. I am concerned with paragraph (d). I fully understand why it was inserted.

It would seem necessary and common sense to deal with the situation precipitated by the hon. Member for Maidstone. I understand that the motion was tabled without much notice. I agree with the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) that, perhaps inadvertently, the inclusion of paragraph (d) precludes any Member from tabling a motion to amend Standing Orders at any time, however much notice is given—whether it has been promoted by the Procedure Committee or otherwise. That encroachment on private Members' rights may need to be considered again.

I ask the Leader of the House, who takes these matters seriously and my hon. Friend the Member for Copeland to consider the motion again, if it is passed, so that Members' rights are maintained without allowing the route taken by the hon. Member for Maidstone to be followed. I hope that, even if the Leader of the House cannot accept an amendment—I hope that he will—the motion will be ameliorated.

6.58 pm
Mr. Patrick Cormack (Staffordshire, South)

The motions do not touch on the subjects on which the hon. Member for Bolsover, (Mr. Skinner) spoke—the power a Back Benchers and the right of the legislature to curb the Executive. In the two minutes that are left I simply wish to say that I hope that the House will do something to redress the balance between the power of the legislature and the power of the Executive.

The House should be a curb on the Executive which scrutinises properly. Instead we have become a tool of the Executive. That has distorted the balance of power in this country. It is time for another Dunning's motion that the power of the Executive has increased, is increasing and ought to be diminished.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 83, Noes 218.

Division No. 90] [7 pm
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy Benn, Rt Hon Tony
Bennett, A. F. (D'nt'n & R'dish) Lawrence, Ivan
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke) Livingstone, Ken
Bermingham, Gerald Livsey, Richard
Bradley, Keith McAvoy, Thomas
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Maclennan, Robert
Callaghan, Jim Madden, Max
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Marion, Mrs Alice
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Marek, Dr John
Carlile, Alex (Mont'g) Marlow, Tony
Clay, Bob Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Corbyn, Jeremy Martlew, Eric
Cryer, Bob Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Dalyell, Tam Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Day, Stephen Mills, Iain
Dover, Den Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Eadie, Alexander Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Evans, John (St Helens N) Nellist, Dave
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) Patchett, Terry
Fairbairn, Sir Nicholas Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth
Fearn, Ronald Pike, Peter L.
Field, Frank (Birkenhead) Powell, Ray (Ogmore)
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n) Primarolo, Dawn
Flannery, Martin Shersby, Michael
Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S) Skinner, Dennis
Gill, Christopher Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Gordon, Mildred Stanbrook, Ivor
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Summerson, Hugo
Gregory, Conal Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Waller, Gary
Heffer, Eric S. Watts, John
Hinchliffe, David Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Hood, Jimmy Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Howells, Geraint Widdecombe, Ann
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Winterton, Mrs Ann
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Jessel, Toby Young, David (Bolton SE)
Johnston, Sir Russell
Kennedy, Charles Tellers for the Ayes:
Kilfedder, James Mr. Alan Beith and Mr. Nigel Spearing.
Knowles, Michael
Lamond, James
Alexander, Richard Buckley, George J.
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Burns, Simon
Allen, Graham Burt, Alistair
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Butler, Chris
Amess, David Butterfill, John
Amos, Alan Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Arbuthnot, James Carrington, Matthew
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Channon, Rt Hon Paul
Ashby, David Churchill, Mr
Aspinwall, Jack Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)
Atkins, Robert Clwyd, Mrs Ann
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Colvin, Michael
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Baldry, Tony Couchman, James
Batiste, Spencer Cox, Tom
Battle, John Critchley, Julian
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Cummings, John
Beckett, Margaret Cunningham, Dr John
Benyon, W. Curry, David
Bevan, David Gilroy Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g)
Biffen, Rt Hon John Davis, David (Boothferry)
Blunkett, David Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l)
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Dickens, Geoffrey
Boscawen, Hon Robert Dixon, Don
Boswell, Tim Dorrell, Stephen
Bottomley, Peter Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Duffy, A. E. P.
Bowis, John Dunn, Bob
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth
Brazier, Julian Durant, Tony
Bright, Graham Dykes, Hugh
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Eastham, Ken
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Eggar, Tim
Browne, John (Winchester) Emery, Sir Peter
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Fallon, Michael
Buck, Sir Antony Favell, Tony
Fishburn, John Dudley Morrison, Sir Charles
Flynn, Paul Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester)
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Mowlam, Marjorie
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling) Moynihan, Hon Colin
Forth, Eric Mudd, David
Foster, Derek Needham, Richard
Franks, Cecil Nelson, Anthony
Freeman, Roger Neubert, Michael
Fry, Peter Newton, Rt Hon Tony
Fyfe, Maria Nicholls, Patrick
Galloway, George Nicholson, David (Taunton)
Gardiner, George Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley
Garel-Jones, Tristan Oppenheim, Phillip
Golding, Mrs Llin Page, Richard
Goodhart, Sir Philip Paice, James
Goodlad, Alastair Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil
Greenway, John (Ryedale) Patnick, Irvine
Grist, Ian Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath)
Ground, Patrick Patten, Rt Hon John
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn Pawsey, James
Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom) Porter, David (Waveney)
Hanley, Jeremy Portillo, Michael
Harris, David Powell, William (Corby)
Heathcoat-Amory, David Price, Sir David
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Raison, Rt Hon Timothy
Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE) Renton, Rt Hon Tim
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Rhodes James, Robert
Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A) Richardson, Jo
Howarth, George (Knowsley N) Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd) Ridsdale, Sir Julian
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne) Roberts, Wyn (Conwy)
Hunter, Andrew Rooker, Jeff
Irvine, Michael Ryder, Richard
Irving, Sir Charles Sackville, Hon Tom
Jack, Michael Sainsbury, Hon Tim
Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey Shaw, David (Dover)
Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside) Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W) Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Jones, Robert B (Herts W) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Jopling, Rt Hon Michael Sims, Roger
Key, Robert Skeet, Sir Trevor
King, Roger (B'ham N'thfield) Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Kirkhope, Timothy Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)
Knight, Greg (Derby North) Speed, Keith
Lang, Ian Speller, Tony
Lee, John (Pendle) Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh) Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Lester, Jim (Broxtowe) Steen, Anthony
Lightbown, David Stern, Michael
Lilley, Peter Stevens, Lewis
Lloyd, Peter (Fareham) Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Lofthouse, Geoffrey Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Luce, Rt Hon Richard Sumberg, David
Macfarlane, Sir Neil Taylor, Ian (Esher)
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
McKay, Allen (Barnsley West) Thurnham, Peter
MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire) Tredinnick, David
Maclean, David Turner, Dennis
McLoughlin, Patrick Twinn, Dr Ian
Malins, Humfrey Viggers, Peter
Mans, Keith Waddington, Rt Hon David
Maples, John Wakeham, Rt Hon John
Marland, Paul Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Marshall, John (Hendon S) Wells, Bowen
Mawhinney, Dr Brian Wheeler, Sir John
Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick Wiggin, Jerry
Meale, Alan Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Meyer, Sir Anthony Wood, Timothy
Michael, Alun Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Miller, Sir Hal Yeo, Tim
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling)
Mitchell, Sir David Tellers for the Noes:
Morley, Elliot Mr. John D. Taylor
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Mr. Sidney Chapman.

Question accordingly negatived.

It being Seven o'clock, Mr. SPEAKER proceeded,pursuant to the Order this day, to put successively the Question already proposed and the Question on such of the remaining motions as might then be made.

Main Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 211, Noes 73.

Division No. 91] [7.12 pm
Alexander, Richard Favell, Tony
Alison, Rt Hon Michael Fishburn, John Dudley
Allen, Graham Flynn, Paul
Amery, Rt Hon Julian Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Amess, David Forth, Eric
Arbuthnot, James Foster, Derek
Arnold, Tom (Hazel Grove) Franks, Cecil
Ashby, David Freeman, Roger
Aspinwall, Jack French, Douglas
Atkins, Robert Fry, Peter
Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Valley) Fyfe, Maria
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N) Gardiner, George
Baldry, Tony Garel-Jones, Tristan
Batiste, Spencer George, Bruce
Battle, John Golding, Mrs Llin
Beaumont-Dark, Anthony Goodhart, Sir Philip
Beckett, Margaret Goodlad, Alastair
Benyon, W. Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Bermingham, Gerald Grist, Ian
Bevan, David Gilroy Ground, Patrick
Blunkett, David Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Bonsor, Sir Nicholas Hamilton, Hon Archie (Epsom)
Boswell, Tim Hanley, Jeremy
Bottomley, Peter Harris, David
Bottomley, Mrs Virginia Heathcoat-Amory, David
Bowis, John Hicks, Robert (Cornwall SE)
Brandon-Bravo, Martin Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Bright, Graham Howarth, Alan (Strat'd-on-A)
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Brown, Michael (Brigg & Cl't's) Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Brown, Ron (Edinburgh Leith) Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Browne, John (Winchester) Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Bruce, Ian (Dorset South) Hunter, Andrew
Buck, Sir Antony Irvine, Michael
Buckley, George J. Jack, Michael
Burns, Simon Johnson Smith, Sir Geoffrey
Butler, Chris Jones, Barry (Alyn & Deeside)
Butterfill, John Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Campbell-Savours, D. N. Jones, Robert B (Herts W)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln) Jopling, Rt Hon Michael
Carrington, Matthew Key, Robert
Channon, Rt Hon Paul King. Roger (B'ham N'thfield)
Churchill, Mr Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe) Lang, Ian
Clwyd, Mrs Ann Lawrence, Ivan
Coombs, Simon (Swindon) Lee, John (Pendle)
Couchman, James Leigh, Edward (Gainsbor'gh)
Cox, Tom Lester, Jim (Broxtowe)
Cummings, John Lightbown, David
Cunningham, Dr John Lilley, Peter
Curry, David Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)
Dalyell, Tarn Lofthouse, Geoffrey
Darling, Alistair Luce, Rt Hon Richard
Davies, Q. (Stamf'd & Spald'g) Macfarlane, Sir Neil
Davis, David (Boothferry) MacGregor, Rt Hon John
Davis, Terry (B'ham Hodge H'l) McKay, Allen (Barnsley West)
Dixon, Don MacKay, Andrew (E Berkshire)
Dorrell, Stephen Maclean, David
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James McWilliam, John
Dunn, Bob Matins, Humfrey
Dunnachie, Jimmy Mans, Keith
Dunwoody, Hon Mrs Gwyneth Maples, John
Durant, Tony Marek, Dr John
Dykes, Hugh Marshall, John (Hendon S)
Eadie, Alexander Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Eggar, Tim Mawhinney, Dr Brian
Emery, Sir Peter Maxton, John
Fallon, Michael Mayhew, Rt Hon Sir Patrick
Meyer, Sir Anthony Sackville, Hon Tom
Michael, Alun Sainsbury, Hon Tim
Miller, Sir Hal Shaw, David (Dover)
Mills, Iain Shaw, Sir Giles (Pudsey)
Mitchell, Andrew (Gedling) Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')
Morris, M (N'hampton S) Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Morrison, Sir Charles Sims, Roger
Morrison, Rt Hon P (Chester) Skeet, Sir Trevor
Mowlam, Marjorie Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Moynihan, Hon Colin Smith, Tim (Beaconslield)
Mudd, David Speller, Tony
Needham, Richard Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Nelson, Anthony Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Neubert, Michael Steen, Anthony
Newton, Rt Hon Tony Stern, Michael
Nicholls, Patrick Stevens, Lewis
Nicholson, David (Taunton) Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Onslow, Rt Hon Cranley Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Oppenheim, Phillip Sumberg, David
Page, Richard Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Paice, James Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Parkinson, Rt Hon Cecil Thurnham, Peter
Patnick, Irvine Trippier, David
Patten, Rt Hon Chris (Bath) Twinn, Dr Ian
Pawsey, James Viggers, Peter
Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth Waddington, Rt Hon David
Porter, David (Waveney) Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Portillo, Michael Wells, Bowen
Powell, William (Corby) Wheeler, Sir John
Raison, Rt Hon Timothy Wiggin, Jerry
Renton, Rt Hon Tim Williams, Alan W. (Carm'then)
Rhodes James, Robert Winnick, David
Richardson, Jo Wood, Timothy
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas Yeo, Tim
Ridsdale, Sir Julian Younger, Rt Hon George
Rifkind, Rt Hon Malcolm
Roberts, Wyn (Conwy) Tellers for the Ayes:
Rogers, Allan Mr. John M. Taylor and Mr. Sydney Chapman.
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Ryder, Richard
Arnold, Jacques (Gravesham) Knowles, Michael
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE) Livingstone, Ken
Beith, A. J. Livsey, Richard
Benn, Rt Hon Tony Lord, Michael
Bradley, Keith McAvoy, Thomas
Brazier, Julian Maclennan, Robert
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon) Mahon, Mrs Alice
Callaghan, Jim Marlow, Tony
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE) Meale, Alan
Clay, Bob Michie, Bill (Sheffield Heeley)
Corbyn, Jeremy Michie, Mrs Ray (Arg'l & Bute)
Cryer, Bob Mitchell, Sir David
Day, Stephen Molyneaux, Rt Hon James
Devlin, Tim Montgomery, Sir Fergus
Dover, Den Nellist, Dave
Duffy, A. E. P. Patchett, Terry
Ewing, Harry (Falkirk E) Pike, Peter L.
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray) Primarolo, Dawn
Flannery, Martin Skinner, Dennis
Foot, Rt Hon Michael Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Forsythe, Clifford (Antrim S) Soley, Clive
Galloway, George Speed, Keith
Gill, Christopher Steel, Rt Hon Sir David
Gordon, Mildred Summerson, Hugo
Greenway, Harry (Ealing N) Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Gregory, Conal Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Hargreaves, Ken (Hyndburn) Watts, John
Hawkins, Christopher Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Heffer, Eric S. Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Hood, Jimmy Widdecombe, Ann
Howells, Geraint Winterton, Mrs Ann
Hughes, John (Coventry NE) Wise, Mrs Audrey
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W) Woodcock, Dr. Mike
Hughes, Simon (Southwark) Young, David (Bolton SE)
Jessel, Toby
Johnston, Sir Russell Tellers for the Noes:
Kennedy, Charles Mr. Nicholas Bennett and Mr. Gary Waller.
Kilfedder, James

Question accordingly agreed to.

Ordered, That—

  1. Private Members' Motions ( Business of the House) 205 words
  2. c973
  3. Time and manner of presenting petitions 323 words
  4. c991
  5. Private Members Motions (Business of the House) 165 words
  6. cc991-5
  7. PUBLIC PETITIONS 25 words
    1. cc991-3
    2. Time and manner of presenting petitions 1,320 words, 1 division
    3. cc993-5
    4. NEW WRITS 1,118 words, 1 division
  8. Orders of the Day
    1. cc996-1030
    2. Government Trading Bill 7 words
      1. New clause 2
        1. cc996-1007
      2. New Clause 4
        1. cc1007-22
        2. PROHIBITION OF PRIVATISATION (No. 2) 8,534 words, 1 division
      3. New clause 5
        1. cc1022-4
      4. BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE 39 words
      5. c1025
      6. Government Trading Bill 53 words
      7. New clause 6
        1. cc1025-30
        2. CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSIONER 2,868 words, 1 division
    3. Enterprise and New Towns (Scotland) Bill [Money] (No. 2) 5,368 words
      1. c1040
      3. c1040
      1. c1041
      2. Local Government Finance 219 words
  9. Sub-post Offices 3,647 words