HC Deb 02 December 1997 vol 302 cc154-5
35. Mr. Mackinlay

If she will take steps to increase the time available for private Members' Bills. [17127]

Mrs. Ann Taylor

I have no plans to do so.

Mr. Mackinlay

Does my right hon. Friend realise that that is a very disappointing reply, bearing in mind the fact that we were elected as new Labour—[Interruption.] Some of us are Labour mainstream. Does she agree that, as well as checking the Executive, the role of Back Benchers is to be proactive in the House? It would therefore be greatly welcomed if she were to find parliamentary time so that the rank and file in this place could contribute to the legislative process.

Mrs. Taylor

I can confirm that my hon. Friend was absolutely on message about increasing the role of Parliament. I realise that Back Benchers have opportunities to be proactive, and that he is one of those who takes many of those opportunities and uses them to good effect. The Standing Orders of the House provide 13 Fridays in each Session for private Members' Bills. I know that some hon. Members think that that is not enough, but it is a rule of the House.

Mr. Forth

Does the right hon. Lady accept that many, if not most, members of the public do not wish to regard this place as a legislation factory? The thought of random, if not bizarre, legislation by private Members would scare the wits out of the public.

Mrs. Taylor

The public, like the House, have made their views on certain private Members' Bills very clear.

Mr. Rooney

Does my right hon. Friend agree that extra time would not be needed if certain hon. Members recognised the will of the House as expressed last Friday and did not try to obstruct it?

Mrs. Taylor

One of the most disappointing things about last Friday was the intervention by the hon. Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve), who made it clear that, no matter how much time was provided for certain Bills, some Conservative Members would try to block them. Hon. Members have a responsibility to consider not just the strong views expressed and the strong majority last week, but public opinion.