§ Ms. Jo Richardson (Barking)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wish to seek your guidance, Sir, and I do not know whether this is the right time to do so. The Secretary of State for Health and the Solicitor-General have tabled some new clauses, which are to be discussed today. They were tabled only yesterday and we saw them only yesterday. I should like to know whether the Secretary of State has notes on clauses. We have no notes on the new clauses and the Library staff are trying to get their heads round the new clauses. We need to understand them. They may be perfectly all right but we would like some elaboration on what they are about.
§ The Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Kenneth Clarke)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I think that I am right in saying that all the new clauses in question are unlikely to be debated before 7 o'clock. They are to be debated after the first guillotine falls. I shall make every effort to ensure that briefing is available to the hon. Lady and to any other right hon. or hon. Member. Notes on clauses will be made available at the first possible opportunity.
§ Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)
Further to the point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Bill that is before us has implications for the Common Market. There are people and countries in the Common Market that do not have the same abortion rights as those which have been recognised by this Parliament. If the Italians, for example, decided that they were not happy with the way in which abortion rights were being exercised in this country, they could, if they obtained a majority in the Common Market, decide to impose conditions upon Britain. That is very important for you, Mr. Speaker.
Those on the Government Front Bench agree with the Common Market. The Opposition Front Bench now agrees with the Common Market and all that takes place within it. Liberals have long been defenders of Common Market; they are Euro-fanatics. The Scottish Nationalists believe in the Common Market. My point is that many Back Benchers do not agree with the Common Market.
You will have representations from Back Benchers, Mr. Speaker, but you may not have representations from the Government Front Bench or the Opposition Front Bench. The net result is that the Front Benches will not ask for a debate on this important constitutional matter, so we Back Benchers have to rely on your decision that the matter is 936 important enough for Parliament, despite the collaboration between the Front Benches. That is why this is an important matter for you, Mr. Speaker.
Previous Speakers of the House have had to stand up against the monarch and various interests. Now the Speaker of the House—yourself, Sir—must stand up against the mighty Common Market, which is beginning to do what it likes. As a result of the government's ruling, it will impose its rules, conditions and constitution on this Parliament. Somebody must speak out about it.
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Member may be surprised to hear that I entirely share his anxiety, but he should have made that speech when we debated the Single European Act—
§ Mr. Speaker
But the House passed it. I will not go back on the decision which I have taken. We all agree that the matter is important. The question is whether it is so urgent that it must be debated immediately. [Interruption.] Order. Back Benchers also have time at their disposal and there will be opportunities for them to use that time on this important matter, even if the Front Benches do not find time, which I hope they will.
§ Mr. Marlow
I put my hand on my heart and say that this is about the Bill.
The hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) rightly said that, even if the House passed the Bill, the Act of Parliament could be as confetti as a result of the ruling made by the court yesterday. The ruling does as much potential damage to this House as was threatened by Guy Fawkes in his day. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, for your assistance. You are the champion of this House. Even after the Single European Act, "Erskine May" says that the powers of the EC institutions—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman put the wrong hand on his heart. We must proceed with today's Bill.
§ The Minister for Health (Mrs. Virginia Bottomley)
I beg to move amendment No. 38, in page 1, line 17, leave out from 'in vitro' to 'and' in line 18 and insert'(in their application to those where fertilisation is complete) are to those where fertilisation began outside the human body whether or not it was completed there'.This is a formal drafting amendment which follows from the change made to the definition of fertilisation in another place. It is important to make it clear when fertilisation begins, to inform the arrangements concerned 937 with consents. The amendment clarifies beyond any doubt where fertilisation begins—whether inside or outside the body.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. Cryer
I put my hand on my heart.
We are dealing with several amendments to an important Bill and I share your concern, Mr. Speaker, that we should be debating them. Nevertheless, may we have an assurance from the Secretary of State that if, when the Bill is enacted, it is challenged, as the Merchant Shipping Act 1988 has been challenged, in the court in Luxembourg, he will use the available path demonstrated in "Erskine May" which is that primary legislation can maintain the supremacy of Parliament? If the Bill is challenged, will the Secretary of State be prepared to consult his Cabinet colleagues about producing legislation to maintain our supremacy? If we do not get that assurance, we are not exactly occupying our time usefully.