HC Deb 04 July 1995 vol 263 cc145-6

As amended (in the Standing Committee), considered.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Pensions Bill [Lords], as amended, be considered in the following order, namely, new Clause 22, new Clause 3, new Clause 23, new Clause 1, new Clause 2, new Clause 15, Amendments relating to Clause 164, Clause 7 and Clauses 16 to 21, new Clause 21, new Clauses 11 to 14, new Clause 7, new Clause 9, new Clause 10, new Clause 17, new Clause 19, new Clause 20, Amendments relating to Clauses 125 to 133 and Schedule 4, new Clause 6, new Clause 4, new Clause 5, new Clause 24, other new Clauses, other Amendments.—[Mr. Hague.]

3.37 pm
Dr. John Marek (Wrexham)

I apologise for having stood up to speak too early, Madam Speaker, but it is always better to be early than to be late. Once one is too late, there is nothing that one can do about it.

I want to draw the attention of the House to how curious the order of consideration is. Normally, as the House knows, Government new clauses come first, then Opposition new clauses and other new clauses. After that, we go through the amendments normally. However, this time, Madam Speaker, you will see that we are to start with Government new clause 22, then move to new clause 3, tabled by the Opposition, and then return to another Government new clause, new clause 23. Then we are to deal with new clause 1, another Opposition clause, and then new clauses 2 and 15, followed by amendments relating to clauses 164 and 7.

We shall not come to new clauses tabled by hon. Members other than the occupants of the Government or the Opposition Front Bench until we reach new clause 21, Madam Speaker—the fifth debate, according to your selection. I find that curious, but there is a reason for it. The occupants of the Government and the Opposition Front Benches have got together to ensure that all the new clauses and amendments on war widows and their pensions, and on frozen pensioners, will not be considered until after 10 o'clock tonight.

I could use various adjectives to describe that arrangement, and it does not help the House when Ministers and Opposition spokesmen get together in that way. Hundreds of hon. Members have signed early-day motions about frozen pensioners and war widows' pensions but now find that, because of collusion between the occupants of the two Front Benches, the amendments and new clauses dealing with them may not be reached until the early hours of the morning. [Interruption.]

Will Ministers, instead of chatting across the Floor of the House to the Opposition Front-Bench spokesmen, consider that matter? The House would appreciate that, because some of the early-day motions have been signed by 200 or 300 Members. Could not the debate on those subjects have been taken, if not in prime time, at least in time when hon. Members will be here? That is the least we could do for war widows and reserve pensioners.

I do not suppose that what I have said will make the slightest difference between hon. Members on the two Front Benches, but I register my objection to the way in which we are proceeding with—and the ordering of—the Bill.

Mr. Phil Gallie (Ayr)

Surely hon. Members should be present when the business comes before the House. If the hon. Gentleman and the 200 or 300 Members thought the matter important enough to sign the early-day motion, they should be here tonight when the business is discussed.

Question put and agreed to.

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