HC Deb 10 March 1997 vol 292 c18
35. Mr. Simon Hughes

To ask the Lord President of the Council what proportion of the Government's legislative programme he plans to complete by Easter. [17787]

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Tony Newton)

As much as possible.

Mr. Hughes

I suppose that is about par for the course. On my calculation, 25 Government Bills are still before one or other House of Parliament. It would be helpful if the Leader of the House would give us a slightly more accurate estimate of how many of those he proposes should be completed—he must have a timetable. Just a postscript: will the extraordinary and possibly farcical change of party by the hon. Member for Reigate (Sir G. Gardiner) have any effect on the composition of the Committees considering any of those Bills?

Mr. Newton

It is not for me to determine the composition of Committees, as that is done under an order of the House which was passed only about two years ago. The hon. Gentleman will also be aware that relatively few Bills are now in Committee.

On the hon. Gentleman's general question, I am no more able to give him an answer now than I was when he asked it on a previous occasion, when I said that the number of variables involved would make any estimate merely speculative. That remains the case.

Sir Patrick Cormack

Does my right hon. Friend expect to be able to give us a better answer this Thursday? Will he give us some indication of whether the House is likely to sit until 27 March or to come back after Easter and a short recess?

Mr. Newton

I am mindful of the interest in that question.