HC Deb 15 July 1997 vol 298 cc190-1
30. Mr. Hill

To ask the President of the Council if she will make a statement on progress made in respect of the modernisation of Parliament. [6721]

Mrs. Ann Taylor

The Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons was set up on 4 June with a wide remit to consider how the practices and procedures of the House should be modernised. I hope that the Committee will soon be able to report its initial conclusions on improvements to our legislative procedure. We have already made suggestions about changes in the voting Lobby, which are being adopted on an experimental basis.

Mr. Hill

In thanking my right hon. Friend for her reply, may I remind her that impatience for change is shared not only by newly elected Members, but by Members of all generations, not least my intake of 1992. With reference to long overdue reforms, has my right hon. Friend any plans to remedy the absurd situation that occurred yesterday evening, when the House was kept up until the small hours by a handful of Liberal Democrats on entirely non-controversial legislation?

Mrs. Taylor

My hon. Friend is right to say that the House was detained last night by part, if not all, of the Liberal party. He is certainly correct when he says that not only new Members of Parliament favour change: many experienced Members have submitted ideas and evidence to the Modernisation Committee and we hope to take their views into account in due course. I think that there is a general mood for change the procedures of the House.

Sir Patrick Cormack

Does the right hon. Lady accept that, if her laudable desire for full and proper scrutiny of all legislation is to come to pass, we must have more prior consultation and much fuller debate than she has allowed us today on the Finance Bill?

Mrs. Taylor

The hon. Gentleman will know that today's Finance Bill debate was agreed with the Opposition: the Government acceded to their request to consider the Bill for two days in Committee of the whole House. In the longer term, we must examine procedures to ensure that there is appropriate scrutiny of all Bills. However, I do not wish to rehearse the issues raised in yesterday's guillotine debate.

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