§ Mr. Patrick Nicholls, supported by Sir John Hannam, Mr. Anthony Steen, Mr. Robert Hicks, Mr. David Harris, Mr. Rupert Allason, Mr. Sebastian Coe, Mr. Gary Streeter and Mrs. Angela Browning, presented a Bill to make provision for the introduction of a new system for meeting the costs of improvement of water quality standards in coastal waters; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time upon Friday 30 April, and to be printed. [Bill 178.]
§ Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)
On a point of order, Madam Speaker. You will recall that yesterday we had a similar situation to that which we now face: a Bill was defeated—by 65 votes to 39—on what was, in House of Commons terms, a very thin day because we had just returned from the holidays. Roughly the same Bill was introduced yesterday, and we challenged it. You said on a former occasion that you would not scrutinise Bills which were presented in an attempt to circumvent a decision of the House.
"Erskine May" says on pages 468 to 469 that Bills should not be accepted if they were substantially the same. I think that the Bill presented today is substantially the same as the Bill which was defeated yesterday. I think that that flouts the rules of Parliament, and I would like to know your ruling and whether it has been scrutinised.
§ Madam Speaker
My ruling is precisely the same as the one I gave previously. I ruled earlier in this Session in respect of what was known then as the human fertilisation Bill, which was presented to the House by the hon. Member for Basildon (Mr. Amess). This course is in order, and since yesterday's refusal to introduce was not the kind of decision which rules out the presentation of a similar but not identical Bill. In so ruling I have taken account of the precedent set in "Erskine May".
I, too, have looked at "Erskine May". Let me correct the hon. Gentleman by referring him to pages 468 to 470. On the earlier occasion I indicated that the existence of this loophole was something which might be looked at by the Select Committee on Procedure—that the House might wish to refer the matter to the Committee, and that remains my view. It is for the House to take action if it feels there is a loophole that needs filling.