HC Deb 07 December 1994 vol 251 cc327-8

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

4.23 pm
Mr. Andrew Smith (Oxford, East)

On a point of order, Mr. Morris. First, may I welcome you to the Chair for our deliberations? It is quite like old times, and there are many familiar faces here from the debates on the Maastricht Bill. We now have an extra party, over and above what we had then, but that can only enliven our deliberations.

Have you received any indication of the Government's intention to make a statement as to which of the new clauses that you have selected for debate represent essential matters of the Bill and which—in the Prime Minister's understanding—represent matters of confidence and which do not? If the House is to vote to bring down the Government, it perhaps ought to know when it is doing so.

The Chairman of Ways and Means (Mr. Michael Morris)

The Chair welcomes the initial comment from the hon. Gentleman, and also welcomes the prospect of getting on with the new clauses.

The Paymaster General (Mr. David Heathcoat-Amory)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Morris. It may assist the House if I point out that the Government attach the highest importance to the passage of the Bill, and have asked my right hon. and hon. Friends to attend accordingly. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said that the Bill must pass in all its essentials. That clearly refers to the clause 1 stand part debate which we will have shortly, and also to the Third Reading of the Bill.

Mr. William Cash (Stafford)

On a point of order, Mr. Morris. Article 11 of the decision that we are to discuss within the context of the Bill says that the decision shall enter into force on the first day of the month following the receipt of the last of the notifications received from the member states in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements. It adds that the decision shall take effect on 1 January 1995.

It is crystal clear that the Dutch Parliament has no chance whatever of managing to complete its procedures by 1 January 1995; indeed, that may well not happen until the end of February. I should therefore be glad if some consideration could be given to the effect on the requirement of an overriding European legal position by virtue of the decision that the measure must come into effect on 1 January 1995 to be effective.

The Chairman

The hon. Gentleman will recognise that that is a matter of argument. My responsibilities are to the United Kingdom Parliament.

Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan)

On a point of order, Mr. Morris. It seems to have been made clear that votes on clause 1 stand part and Third Reading will in effect be votes of confidence, presumably with the full authority of the Government Front Bench—whatever that may be now. Does that mean that other votes, if they take place, will not be votes of confidence? I am sure that that is of great interest to Conservative Members. Is it absolutely clear that two votes will be votes of confidence—according to the Government Front Bench—while the others will not be?

The Chairman

As an experienced Member of Parliament, the hon. Gentleman will know that it is not for me to judge how many votes take place.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

On a point of order, Mr. Morris. My hon. Friend the Member for Oxford, East (Mr. Smith) made a passing reference to the debates that you chaired with such distinction during the Maastricht proceedings. My point concerns timing. Would it be correct to say that whether this debate continues after 10 pm is entirely up to the Government? It seems rather odd that it may do so, given that the Leader of the House is constantly telling us of the virtues of the Jopling report and saying that we should not -sit through the night because people outside misunderstand. It would be useful if the Government would tell us now whether the 10 o'clock motion will be moved.

The Chairman

The hon. Gentleman has asked me a question to which the answer is yes: whether the motion is moved is entirely up to the Government.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 1 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

On a point of order, Mr. Morris. When you put the Questions on clauses 1 and 2, several voices—including mine—said "No". My hon. Friends the Members for Worsley (Mr. Lewis) and for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Loyden) both shouted "No". You completely ignored those three voices. There should have been a Division. It looks to me as if you are siding with the two Front Benches.

The Chairman

The hon. Gentleman's point of order was made distinctly; I could hear it clearly. I did not, however, hear a clear "No" from the hon. Gentleman, or from the hon. Members sitting next to him. Let me issue a plea to the hon. Gentleman that in future he speaks with his usual clarity—

Mr. Skinner

I did.

The Chairman

I regret to say that the hon. Gentleman did not.

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