HC Deb 01 February 1999 vol 324 c595
43. Sir Sydney Chapman (Chipping Barnet)

What assessment she has made of the operation of the procedures for private Members' Bills. [66805]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Privy Council Office (Mr. Paddy Tipping)

Concern has been expressed about the systematic blocking of well supported measures by a few Members. If the procedures are found to be unsatisfactory this Session, then either the Modernisation or the Procedure Committee could examine the matter.

Sir Sydney Chapman

I am interested to hear the Minister's reply. Whatever the merits or demerits of a particular private Member's Bill, the fact that few such Bills reach the statute book breeds disillusionment among the public about our procedures. Will he consider carefully the suggestion that fewer should be chosen in the ballot, but they should be given more time—without increasing the time available for private Members' Bills in the calendar year?

Mr. Tipping

The hon. Gentleman is quite right to point out that fewer private Members' Bills gained assent in the last parliamentary Session. We want to consider what happens in the current Session before we make a judgment. The hon. Gentleman clearly understands the wider issue, which is to achieve a balance between the time required for debates and statements and the need to hear all the views in the House. I am not convinced that pledges can be given to make extra time available.

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