HC Deb 23 July 1998 vol 316 cc1257-67 3.30 pm
Sir George Young (North-West Hampshire)

May I ask the Leader of the House to announce the business for next week?

The President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mrs. Ann Taylor)

The business for next week will be as follows:

MONDAY 27 JuLY—Conclusion of consideration in Committee of the Northern Ireland Bill.

TUESDAY 28 JuLY—Consideration of Lords amendments to the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Bill.

Consideration of a Lords amendment to the Crime and Disorder Bill [Lords].

Consideration of Lords amendments which are expected to be received to the National Minimum Wage Bill

The Chairman of Ways and Means has named opposed private business for consideration at 7 pm.

WEDNESDAY 29 JULY—Until 2 pm, there will be debates on the motion for the Adjournment of the House, which will include the usual three-hour pre-recess debate.

Opposition Day (19th allotted day). Until about 7 pm, there will be a debate which the Opposition have entitled "The Government's obsession with style over substance", followed by a debate that they have called "The Government's threat to the quality of life in rural areas". Both debates will arise on Opposition motions.

Motion on the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act 1998 (Terrorist Organisations) Order.

THURSDAY 30 JULY—Progress on remaining stages of the Northern Ireland Bill.

FRIDAY 31 JULY—Conclusion of remaining stages of the Northern Ireland Bill.

The House will then rise for the summer recess. I cannot announce this week the business for the first week back, but we will return on Monday 19 October.

Sir George Young

The House is grateful for the announcement of next week's business, and of the date on which we can return from working in our constituencies. The House is expecting a number of statements before we rise next week. When can we expect the publication of, and a statement on, the findings of the inquiry into the Sandline affair? Will it be, as rumoured, on Monday?

When will we have the long-awaited statement on local government? Will there be a statement on asylum seekers? When can we expect the outcome of the roads review? Can the Leader of the House confirm that there is no question of delaying announcements so that they are made when the House is not sitting, and can she shed any light on the continuing speculation in the newspapers about the legislation on freedom of information?

If there are to be changes not only in the personnel of the Government—we very much hope that the right hon. Lady will not be moved—but in the structure, can we have early discussions, through the usual channels, about the implications for Select Committees and for question time in the House?

Can the Leader of the House find time for a debate, in which many Ministers may wish to take part, including the right hon. Lady herself, so that the House can judge for itself the claim of the Minister for Competition and Consumer Affairs on 15 July in the Edinburgh Evening News: When it comes to performance as a minister, I'm rated as one of the best in the House. Can the right hon. Lady devise an appropriate mechanism to allow the House to vote on the respective qualities of Ministers? Might there also be an opportunity for the President of the Board of Trade to apologise for statements made by the Minister for Competition and Consumer Affairs about his staff, and to outline what disciplinary action she is taking to deal with him?

Mrs. Taylor

My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has made it clear that she has no intention of responding to press reports, and that she has confidence in her Ministers and her civil servants. I have nothing to add to that.

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for reiterating what I have said many times about the recess. It is not a time just for holidays, but for hon. Members to do useful and well organised work in our constituencies. It is a working period, which sometimes includes Committees of the House.

The right hon. Gentleman was worried about whether there would be any delay in our making several statements. I hope that there will be statements in one form or another before the House rises on all the matters he raised, but I cannot guarantee that. We pencil in dates for statements, but sometimes they must be adjusted.

The right hon. Gentleman asked about the Legg report. The inquiry is independent, as I have pointed out before. I have not yet had confirmation of precise arrangements for the report's publication, but I expect it to happen next week, and expect that there will be a statement in the House.

We are still considering the precise timing and arrangements of the local government White Paper. On the roads review, I have said before that I think it extremely important that any announcement allows all hon. Members to be informed on what is happening in their areas. There are precedents for and against statements on such matters, and we shall have to make a judgment about the balance of other business and statements. The right hon. Gentleman also asked about asylum, and I hope that there will be a statement, perhaps on Monday.

Mr. Derek Foster (Bishop Auckland)

Has my right hon. Friend seen early-day motion 1589 about freedom of information, which has been signed by 76 hon. Members from both sides of the House, including several leading Select Committee chairpersons?

[That this House welcomes the Prime Minister's statement in 1996 that a Freedom of Information Act 'is not some isolated constitutional reform' but 'a change that is absolutely fundamental to how we see politics developing in this country over the next few years'; congratulates the Government on its Freedom of Information White Paper; expresses concern at the prospect of any delay in bringing the measure forward; and calls on the Government to publish its draft Freedom of Information Bill before the end of the current session and to ensure that the actual Bill is introduced in the coming session.]

Can she give us a statement next week on the progress of the draft Bill on freedom of information? Would it be possible for that statement to deal with Sir Richard Scott's comments after the arms-to-Iraq affair about a culture of secrecy in Whitehall that was endemic to how we operated? He was saying that the affair was not just a matter of a few Tory Ministers behaving badly, but part of the way in which we work. Can we be told when the draft Bill will be published? Can we be assured that it will be in the Queen's Speech?

Mrs. Taylor

My right hon. Friend is too experienced to expect me to anticipate the Queen's Speech. The Government are fully committed to a radical freedom of information Bill. I apologise to the right hon. Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir G. Young) for ignoring that part of his question; perhaps I had anticipated that it would come up again. I can confirm that, as my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has said, we intend to publish a draft Bill in the autumn.

Mr. Andrew Stunell (Hazel Grove)

Could the Leader of the House arrange for a statement on the European Union's current anti-dumping negotiations? I draw her attention to early-day motion 1558 and the large number of jobs at stake in many constituencies.

[That this House supports the British Government in opposing measures taken by the European Commission to impose duties on cotton imports from China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey; recognises the adverse effect this will have on United Kingdom jobs with 7,000 jobs in the United Kingdom textile finishing sector at risk; and calls on the Government to continue its stance in objecting to these measures along with the eight other member states who oppose the duties in order to ensure that these proposals are scrapped.]

May I ask the right hon. Lady to find time for a statement on the future of mutual building societies, following the very narrow victory today by the Nationwide board in the ballot?

Has she had an opportunity to study the letter from my hon. Friend the Member for Newbury (Mr. Rendel) to the Secretary of State for Social Security? It draws attention to the continuing difficulties in getting statements and documents from the Government, including this week, which, following the brave words of the Leader of the House in a debate earlier this week, is perhaps somewhat unfortunate?

Finally, early-day motion 1569, supported by more than 80 Members, contains a request that urgent consideration be given to solving the long-standing problem of dealing with private Members' business. Can the right hon. Lady assure the House that action will be taken on that front as well?

Mrs. Taylor

The hon. Gentleman knows that the Government are extremely concerned about the anti-dumping issue, as are many of us who have textiles in our constituencies. I know that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has been active in trying to get a satisfactory resolution of that matter.

Regarding mutual building societies, the hon. Gentleman will be aware that, in November last year, we increased the turnout threshold in conversion votes from 20 to 50 per cent. That is probably as far as the Government can go in that respect. I assume that the hon. Gentleman wants time to be found for a debate on the matter, but he will understand why "not next week" is a particularly appropriate answer this week.

Regarding his hon. Friend the Member for Newbury, I have no idea what the hon. Gentleman is talking about. Had he given me notice, I would have made inquiries, but I shall do so after Business Questions. I have to admit that I do not see every piece of correspondence from individual Members to all my ministerial colleagues. As for private Members' Bills, the hon. Gentleman is a member of the Modernisation Committee, and he knows that that is one of the issues to which the Committee intends to turn its attention.

Mr. Tony Benn (Chesterfield)

Will the Leader of the House give the House an assurance that she will defend the right of the House of Commons over the other place, particularly in respect of the amendment made yesterday in the House of Lords to the Crime and Disorder Bill? Is she aware that it would be utterly intolerable for two free votes of the House of Commons—one on fox hunting and the other on equality of treatment between people of different sexual orientations—to be frustrated by the second Chamber? We have a Government who are prepared to take tough decisions, and here is a really tough decision.

Is my right hon. Friend also aware that a study of the Division list shows that the life peers voted by a majority of 138 to 97 in favour of rejection of the Bill, which includes 20 Labour life peers, four Labour hereditary peers and a former leader of the party, Lord Callaghan? Will she therefore give serious consideration to the apparent policy of the Government that patronage is better than election when it comes to a second Chamber? Will she look at the Parliamentary Reform Bill introduced last week, which would provide for a wholly elected second Chamber of the sort that most civilised countries adopted long ago?

Mrs. Taylor

I am afraid that I cannot hold out very much hope for the Parliamentary Reform Bill introduced last week, but my right hon. Friend makes some serious points about the need for reform of the other place. On his two specific points, I think that the fate of the Bill on fox hunting had more to do with Opposition Members than with Members of the House of Lords; and, after the vote last night, I am considering very seriously with my right hon. Friends, including the Home Secretary, the options now open to us.

Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst)

May we have an early debate on the extraordinary events in the Department of Trade and Industry, not least the astonishing outburst by the Under-Secretary of State to which my right hon. Friend the Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir G. Young) referred? Does the right hon. Lady not agree that we really must get to the bottom of those events, touching as they do on the relationship between the Secretary of State, one of her junior Ministers and the permanent secretary, the ability of that Department properly to discharge its duties, and its relationship with the House? Surely the President of the Council must agree that this matter is of the utmost gravity and urgency. Will she arrange for an emergency debate to take place later today so that we can clarify those matters before the events of the coming weekend?

Mrs. Taylor

I am reminded that the Opposition will have a debate on style over substance next Wednesday. The right hon. Gentleman may have style on occasion, but there was certainly no substance in that request.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

Although I deeply regret the decision by the House of Lords yesterday, I ask my right hon. Friend to bear it in mind that there are differences of opinion about the way in which a second Chamber should be organised. Is she aware that many hon. Members, including myself, take the view that the last thing that the House of Commons should want is an elected second Chamber that would substantially undermine the authority of this House, which is already undermined to some extent by organisations such as the European Union? If an elected second Chamber did as the other place did yesterday, what political and moral grounds would we have for opposing it? Now, we can oppose the second Chamber with justification on decisions such as the one made last night, because the other place is totally unelected.

Mrs. Taylor

That is very interesting, but I am afraid that I cannot find time for a debate on that matter next week.

Mr. James Paice (South-East Cambridgeshire)

Is the right hon. Lady aware of the crisis in the milk industry? Does she know that a week ago all the major dairies in this country refused to bid for this round of milk sales, with the result that some 40 per cent. of dairy farmers do not have an outlet at any price for their milk in the coming months?

Will the right hon. Lady try to arrange an emergency debate or at least a statement by the Minister of Agriculture about what can be done? A statement could perhaps be made by the President of the Board of Trade, because the Monopolies and Mergers Commission is currently considering the matter. I hope that the right hon. Lady understands that the dairy farmers of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are very worried about what will happen to their milk.

Mrs. Taylor

I cannot arrange the debate that the hon. Gentleman requests, but I remind him that Agriculture questions will take place on Thursday.

Mr. Lawrence Cunliffe (Leigh)

Will my right hon. Friend consider arranging a debate on the textile industry? Has she read early-day motion 1558, in my name and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Chorley (Mr. Hoyle)? The motion pinpoints the potential loss of 7,000 British textile workers' jobs. Those jobs will be lost simply because the European Commission is not firm enough in importing its levies and protecting the general textile industry. Does my right hon. Friend accept that today's legitimate demonstration to safeguard and secure textile workers' jobs is welcomed by the House?

Mrs. Taylor

As I explained earlier, I represent a textile constituency, so I know about those problems. The Government remain firmly opposed to anti-dumping duties on imports of unbleached cotton originating in China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey. We are doing everything that we can to prevent confirmation of the current provisional duties. There is concern among all Members with textile interests in their constituency. As I pointed out earlier, my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade is fully aware of those concerns, and is working extremely hard to try to achieve a proper resolution of the problem.

Sir Peter Tapsell (Louth and Horncastle)

Will the Leader of the House give a categorical assurance that during the summer parliamentary recess, no British forces will be committed to action in Kosovo or against Serbia without the House of Commons first being recalled to debate the matter?

Mrs. Taylor

I have said on other occasions that we can never guarantee an oral statement before any decision is made to deploy troops. We would never want to deploy troops without first making a statement, but obviously that cannot be ruled out.

Mr. Dale Campbell-Savours (Workington)

My right hon. Friend said that she expected the freedom of information Bill to be published in the autumn. I wonder whether she might go further and arrange for the publication of the draft Bill before the Labour, Liberal and Conservative party conferences, because I believe that it will certainly influence debates at those conferences.

Mrs. Taylor

I am not sure when all the dates of those conferences are, but it is an interesting suggestion. I shall look at the possibilities, but without giving any guarantee.

Mr. Archy Kirkwood (Roxburgh and Berwickshire)

May I pursue that point? Is the right hon. Lady aware that her answers to the right hon. Member for Bishop Auckland (Mr. Foster) are very disappointing indeed? The Bill has slipped several times, and there is now concern that the Government are going cold on the idea.

It is a matter of some importance that we get the draft Bill published in the spillover at the latest, because the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan) and the Select Committee on Public Administration are looking forward to conducting pre-legislative scrutiny of the Bill. That makes it impossible, realistically, to put it in the Queen's Speech for next year. That is a matter of grave concern because, apart from anything else, before the general election some pretty firm assurances were given to my party—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—that these matters would be brought forward and dealt with very early in this Parliament.

Mrs. Taylor

Freedom of information has long been a high priority of the Labour party, and, as I said, Government remain fully committed to a freedom of information Bill. I believe that the hon. Member for Cardiff, West (Mr. Morgan), as Chair of the Select Committee on Public Administration, which is considering a draft Bill, appreciates the importance of that procedure, which I want to see advanced in a positive way, and from which I want positive outcomes.

The idea is that we have a draft Bill, which is then considered again. I hope that that means that the passage of the legislation will subsequently be more straightforward. We cannot guarantee that, but it is worth investing time in that pre-legislative procedure to getthe legislation right. Earlier, I gave the date that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster mentioned to the House—in the autumn. He has made that statement, and that remains the position.

Mr. Chris Mullin (Sunderland, South)

I had understood that the Office of Public Service was saying that the draft freedom of information Bill would be ready by the end of September. Is that true?

Mrs. Taylor

I cannot give a precise date, but the end of September is in the autumn.

Mr. Ian Bruce (South Dorset)

Will we have a chance next week to debate the report that the Government were going to produce on the progress of each Minister? The Leader of the House knows that, in February, I asked a series of questions about the time that it took for people to respond to letters from Members of Parliament. One junior Minister has said that he is being undermined by his civil servants because he is trying to get 90 per cent. of letters answered within the appallingly long time of three working weeks.

What will actually happen? Does the Leader of the House believe that she is responsible for obtaining for the House a proper service for getting those answers out to Members of Parliament? She knows that Ministers refuse to tell me how long it is now taking them to reply to Members' letters, saying that the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster will publish those figures some time—and not in Hansard.

Mrs. Taylor

The information will be published. We shall publish the target times for the turnaround of replies, and information about the volume of correspondence to different Departments. I hope that we shall be able to do so in the very near future.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

Why should there be all this fuss and bother about what the Minister for Competition and Consumer Affairs is alleged to have said? If what was reported today in the House is correct, what is wrong with the Minister doing his own spin doctoring? He has cut out the middle man.

Mrs. Taylor

I think my hon. Friend confirms that we need not have a debate on that subject next week.

Several hon. Members


Madam Speaker

Order. Humorous though some of these exchanges are, I am not prepared to cut into the period of time for debate on the Northern Ireland Bill, which should start at about 4 o'clock, so I am asking for very specific questions and very brief responses, please.

Mr. John Wilkinson (Ruislip-Northwood)

Can the Minister of Transport come to the House and explain how he will safeguard the interests of British aviation against the thoroughly unconstitutional behaviour of Commissioner Kinnock, who, at a stroke of a pen, seems to be able to overturn the jurisdiction of the European Court?

Mrs. Taylor

Again, I do not think that we will be able to debate such issues next week, but the hon. Gentleman, who is well informed on European matters, will know that the original decision to grant aid predated the arrival of Commissioner Kinnock.

Mrs. Linda Gilroy (Plymouth, Sutton)

Has the Leader of the House had drawn to her attention concerns about thoracic surgical services at Derriford hospital in Plymouth following a Channel 4 news programme last night? Such instances cause deep anxiety to patients and those close to them. As well as leaving no stone unturned, will she offer reassurance that the House will have the chance to debate the findings of any review of the circumstances?

Mrs. Taylor

I cannot give that assurance at this stage, but I will try to make sure that my hon. Friend is fully informed of what is happening and of when any outcome is due. As she knows, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health acted promptly to launch an inquiry and the surgeon concerned has been suspended, pending its outcome. I do not think that there is time to have a further debate at this stage—nor, probably, would it be appropriate.

Dr. Evan Harris (Oxford, West and Abingdon)

Speaking as one of the six co-sponsors of the Back-Bench amendment on the age of consent, may I ask the right hon. Lady to accept that there is cross-party Back-Bench concern about the actions of another place in overturning that amendment? Therefore, does she not consider it reasonable for the Home Secretary to consult both with other parties through the usual channels and with those co-sponsors on the nature of the Government's response next Tuesday night to the decision in another place?

Furthermore, does the right hon. Lady deprecate press briefings, which are rumoured to have taken place, to the effect that the Government might cave in on the issue? Does she agree that those briefings were not helpful in advance of the debate in another place?

Mrs. Taylor

I certainly confirm that such briefings in advance of that debate would not have been helpful at all. I do not think that any briefings were issued by Labour Members; they certainly did not come from Government sources. I have explained that, along with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and other colleagues, we are considering seriously the options open to us now.

Mr. John Smith (Vale of Glamorgan)

Will my right hon. Friend try to find time in a busy schedule before the House rises to look at the impact of the Data Protection Act 1988 on the ability of right hon. and hon. Members to take up constituency cases? We should be able to do that, and I am sure that the whole House supports me, without any fear or favour or impediment. More of us have time allotted to take up constituency cases than ever before. The last thing we want is barriers. The Act is not being applied equally throughout the country or by different agencies. I should be grateful if she would protect our interests by looking into the matter.

Mrs. Taylor

I am aware that some Members, when they take up a case on behalf of a constituent, have been asked for proof that the constituent is willing for the Member to do so. I do not think that such proof is necessary, but I know that some people want doubly to protect themselves. It is an issue that we will have look at, because it appears that that practice is increasing.

Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan)

Whose decision was it to release the Government's consultation paper on fishing safety and recovery of bodies lost at sea by written answer and press conference, as opposed to Commons statement? The hon. Member for St. Ives (Mr. George) and I have received the document in the past few minutes. We understand that the press conference took place at 2.30.

Given the commitment by letter last November to release such a consultation document on recovery of bodies lost at sea to four bereaved families in my constituency, what provision was made to inform them of the release of the document and to ensure that they had its contents at least at the same time as the press? Given the huge sensitivity of these matters, is not this an occasion when effective parliamentary scrutiny and questioning might have been better than the Government's obsession with news management?

Mrs. Taylor

This is a matter of sensitivity and, sometimes in such matters, it is right that everyone can absorb the information before they jump to conclusions about what is being proposed. We do not always have statements in the House. As I was saying the other day, we always have to balance the business of the House with statements and the nature of those statements, but I will ensure that the hon. Gentleman's concerns are passed on to my right hon. Friends.

Mr. Neil Gerrard (Walthamstow)

In considering the options in response to last night's vote in another place on the age of consent, will my right hon. Friend take into consideration the fact that many hon. Members feel strongly that we should at least be given the opportunity for a further vote on the matter?

Mrs. Taylor

That issue will return to the House next Tuesday. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, along with other colleagues as well as myself, understands the feeling in the House on that matter.

Mr. Tim Collins (Westmorland and Lonsdale)

Will the right hon. Lady find time for an early debate on redundancy arrangements, given that so many of her colleagues will be deeply interested in them in the next week or so? Does the right hon. Lady agree with the self-assessment of the Minister for Competition and Consumer Affairs, her hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh. South (Mr. Griffiths), that he is rated one of the best in the House?

Mrs. Taylor

I have nothing to add to what I said earlier.

Mr. Alan Simpson (Nottingham, South)

May I refer my right hon. Friend to early-day motion 1583 which relates to a Court of Appeal decision earlier this week about genetically modified crop trials?

[That this House welcomes the Court of Appeal ruling that it was illegal for field trials of genetic maize in Devon to have been allowed without first having met the statutory legal requirements relating to national seed list trials; regrets that the court failed to go on to rule that GM crop trials be removed; recognises that there is now a moral obligation to do so; values the legal requirement that two replicated trials must be conducted before any national field trials can proceed; and calls for a moratorium on all GM field trials until the wider consequences for human health and environmental well-being have been fully explored.]

Can a statement be made in the House which clarifies exactly what is happening to the crops that have been ruled to be illegal because they have been grown without having first met the statutory legal requirements over national seed list trials? Can we also have a statement on whether there is a case for a moratorium on such GM trials until their status is clear?

Mrs. Taylor

I cannot guarantee my hon. Friend the statement or the debate that he requests. However, I draw his attention to the fact that there are Agriculture questions on Thursday, and it may be possible to raise the subject then.

Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham)

Further to the right hon. Lady's glib answers to date, why will she not ask the Minister for Competition and Consumer Affairs, the hon. Member for Edinburgh, South, to make a statement to the House, given that that would enable him either to apologise for, or to explain, his publicly reported attack on the permanent secretary of the Department in which he is a Minister? If the right hon. Lady is not prepared to make that request, are we to conclude that the Minister's behaviour is an example of the high standards of public life to which new Labour aspires?

Mrs. Taylor

The hon. Gentleman's behaviour today certainly does not meet the high standards of the House. There is no case to answer, and to ask for time to be used on such matters is just silliness on the hon. Gentleman's part.

Mr. Bob Blizzard (Waveney)

Will my right hon. Friend find time for a debate or statement on the taxation of the North sea offshore oil and gas industry? That matter has a bearing on some 350,000 jobs across the country, and affects hundreds of constituencies throughout the land.

Mrs. Taylor

I am aware of my hon. Friend's concern about this issue. I know that he is one of those who has already found the three-hour pre-recess debate extremely useful. I would not be surprised if he were to try to contribute again. I cannot throw any more light on that topic today, but I know that Ministers are aware of the interest in that issue.

Mr. Nigel Evans (Ribble Valley)

Can the Leader of the House arrange for the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the right hon. Member for Copeland (Dr. Cunningham)—or preferably a new Minister—to make a statement on the quarantine regulations? If the right hon. Lady believes that he cannot come next week, when are we likely to have an announcement on any proposed changes in quarantine regulations? The right hon. Lady may know that many people are deferring their holidays in anticipation of changes taking place.

Mrs. Taylor

I am not aware of people deferring their holidays on that basis, and I cannot provide time for a debate before the summer recess. I remind the hon. Gentleman, as I have reminded others, that it is Agriculture questions on Thursday.

Sir Robert Smith (West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine)

Further to the question on the oil tax, does the right hon. Lady not realise that, for an industry to make investment decisions, it has to know what the Government intend to do with the tax regime? The Government keep promising to say something, but then say nothing. Is the right hon. Lady aware that Labour Members and nationalist Members are fighting over the fact that the Government have made a U-turn, and about who is responsible? The industry cannot have confidence in Back-Bench speculation; it needs to know what the Government are planning to do.

Mrs. Taylor

In that case, we should wait for the Government's decision.

Dr. Vincent Cable (Twickenham)

Can the Leader of the House find time for a debate before the recess on the working time directive, since its implementation has been promised by 1 October? Although that will be widely welcomed, it is extremely controversial, and raises many technical questions about implementation.

Mrs. Taylor

For reasons that the hon. Gentleman will well understand, next week's programme is extremely crowded, and I do not think that there will be time for extra debates of the type that he is suggesting.