HC Deb 18 December 2000 vol 360 cc118-32

1. The Bill shall be committed to a Standing Committee.

2. Proceedings in the Standing Committee shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion on Tuesday 23rd January 2001.

3. The Standing Committee shall have leave to sit twice on the first day on which it shall meet.

The motion includes the provision that the Bill's Committee stage will finish by 23 January. That has been agreed by both the official Opposition and the Liberal Democrats.

Timetabling is eminently sensible and has benefits for those on both sides of the House. Above all, it will ensure that prime slots are given for consideration of the main parts of the Bill, and that will allow adequate opportunity to focus debate on the really important issues.

Mr. Heald

The Minister may have inadvertently made a mistake by suggesting that the official Opposition are happy with the programme motion. We are not.

Mr. Hill

I fear that the hon. Gentleman has inadvertently indicated his ignorance of the arrangements that have been made through the usual channels. My clear information is that there has been agreement on both sides of the House that the Bill's Committee stage will finish by 23 January.

Mr. Heald

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it in order for a Minister to go into the deliberations of the usual channels, particularly when the issues involved are contested?

Mr. Speaker

This is a strict programme motion, and I expect each and every Member to stick to the terms of the debate. I was slightly distracted and did not quite hear what the Minister said, but I am listening now.

Mr. Hill

To be entirely accurate, Mr. Speaker, I did not go into the detailed deliberations of the usual channels. I merely alluded to the conclusions of those deliberations. The confusion between those on the Opposition Front Bench and those in the Opposition Whips Office is typical of the entirely shambolic condition that the Conservative party is in at the moment.

Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (West Derbyshire)

There is no confusion. The point was made perfectly clear by my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Hertfordshire (Mr. Heald). No agreement has been reached on the timetable motion.

Mr. Miller

Another Tory U-turn.

Mr. Hill

As my hon. Friend says, that is another Tory U-turn.

Mr. Bercow


Mr. Speaker

Order. We must have good order. If Members think that the Minister is incorrect or misinformed—[Interruption.] Perhaps, they do. My suggestion is that we wait until I call the Opposition Front-Bench spokesman. He can put the record straight.

Mr. Hill

I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker. I have no intention of apologising for the statement that I made. The fact of the matter is that my hon. Friend the Member for Hyndburn (Mr. Pope) agreed in good faith with his opposite number about this matter. It was reported to me in that sense, and, as far as I am aware, that is the position.

Let me explain the reasons for timetabling the Bill. Timetabling is particularly suitable for this Bill. It is a medium-sized Bill of 45 clauses and we shall need to time to debate the clauses of greatest interest to ensure that they receive thorough scrutiny. That includes the clauses on the substantial parts of the Bill: regulating the motor salvage industry, controlling the supply of number plates and the clauses, such as those using the receipts of magistrates courts to fund more safety cameras, that raised questions on Second Reading and in the media.

Some clauses will need less discussion. I am thinking of those at the end of the Bill—clauses 38 to 45—which cover the general and administrative provisions typical of most Bills. By suggesting an end date of 23 January, we will allow sufficient time in Committee and it will be able to start its consideration soon after the new year. It goes without saying that the programming sub-committee will consider the detailed timetable and it may decide that it is necessary to sit more frequently than usual. I commend the motion to the House.

10.4 pm

Mr. Heald

Three weeks ago, we had the week of the guillotine—proceedings on the Freedom of Information Bill, the Countryside and Rights of Way Bill, the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Bill, the Disqualifications Bill and the Police (Northern Ireland) Bill were all guillotined.

The Government have set a pattern. It is a disgrace that there have been 25 guillotines in three years. The Minister has the effrontery to say that the arrangements have been agreed through the usual channels, but it is unprecedented to intervene in those discussions in such a way. My hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Norfolk (Mr. Simpson) is the other Whip involved and he denies that an agreement was reached.

The Conservative party believes that such motions are wrong. The Government should not stipulate how long a Committee can sit before they know the scope of the debate. The Minister is pointing his finger, but, as he admitted, 50 issues were raised in the debate, and there is a huge scope for discussion in Committee. How on earth is it possible to programme the sittings of a Committee before Second Reading? That is nonsense. The 10 Committee sittings that are proposed in the programme motion are inadequate. We need many more than that.

My hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow) spoke for one hour and 19 minutes, and every point was concise. The issues that he raised are relevant not only to the Bill's broad thrust, but to detailed discussions in Committee. The same is true of the contributions that were made by hon. Members on both sides of the House. Serious matters have been raised. It is unacceptable to table, ahead of Second Reading, a motion that allows wholly inadequate time for discussion in Committee. It is clear that eight or 10 sittings will be inadequate.

I have referred to the bread of the issues, but it is worth mentioning that Member after Member highlighted important issues. The Government were asked how the law will operate with regard to the retrospective fitting of immobilisers and how Home Office reports and the Bill have dealt with research into the use of cars in crime. Hon. Members asked whether the powers of search should discriminate against one vehicle dismantler in favour of another. Why should the registered person have a harsher regime imposed on him than the non-registered person? The Government were also asked whether the DVLA is able to refuse to produce documents for a vehicle even when it is known that it has been dismantled.

Many issues were raised about the way in which cancellations will work. What will be the period for cancellation? What recompense might be made available if people are falsely deregistered? The Government were asked whether the inclusion of VINs on the plates was the way forward, or whether there would be a different method of identification. There was concern that the European convention on human rights might stop vehicles being returned to the owner after they have been written off.

The views of the Association of British Insurers were challenged. The Government were asked whether it was right to reallocate the money from traffic cameras in a way that was akin to taxation. There were many questions about the costs on business. [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. There is far too much noise and conversation in the Chamber.

Mr. Heald

The Bill has raised a substantial range of issues. Many of the questions are important to business. There is concern that a balance should be struck in the regulation of motor salvage operators. Is it right to impose burdens on the smallest car repairer who might choose to salvage two vehicles a year? Is it right that he should be subject to the same regulation as a large company that deals with thousands of vehicles? Will we be able to ensure that abandoned vehicles are collected by motor salvage operators if we over-regulate them? What are the costs involved? We did not even know how many motor salvage operators there were.

We must consider enforcement. The Motor Vehicles Dismantlers Association has made it clear that the regulation will work only if it is rigorously enforced. Honest operators will register and follow all the procedures in the Bill, but those involved in crime will not do so and they will gain a competitive advantage. It is important that the balance of regulation should be properly considered. My right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) made salient points, as he so often does, and teased out some of the difficulties in the regulation.

Hon. Members questioned the practicability of the vehicle inspection regime, which has been questioned by industry sources. The Bill contains nine sets of regulations, and it was described by one hon. Member as a sea of regulation. My hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield (Mr. Fabricant) pointed out that assurances are always needed when there is a risk of legislation being gold-plated.

Mr. David Maclean (Penrith and The Border)

Surely one of the iniquities of this heinous programme motion, which will provide only five days of consideration of this complex Bill, is that it will deprive us of the chance to table new clauses. It is inevitable that, in considering such a Bill, the industry and all those who are interested, including the police, will spot problems, but there will be no time to table new clauses for consideration at the end of the Bill because there will be only five days in Committee.

Mr. Heald

My right hon. Friend makes an excellent point. The Bill gives rise to a wide range of issues, and a number of bodies have an interest. The Federation of Small Businesses is most concerned about the measure, but other industry representatives take a different view. Each and every one of the 26 bodies that responded to the consultation should have the chance not only to suggest a new clause at the beginning of the consideration but to see how the debate unfolds and to respond accordingly.

In a recent Standing Committee, my right hon. Friend and I found that it was only after about 10 sittings that we started to discover the full detail and scope of the Government's intentions. That was largely because we received representations about the Bill from outside bodies and because many members of the Committee happened to have experience of Home Office matters and were able to tease out some of the difficulties. Over time, that led to better amendments and new clauses being tabled in Committee and, at a later stage, to the Government taking steps to improve the Bill. It is often a mistake for the House to rush through legislation, rather than allowing it to go through the proper stages and be given adequate time.

The Labour party is associated with the idea that modernisation means less time for debate. If the Government were honest, they would admit that it is extremely bad for their image. Apart from demonstrating contempt for the history of this place, marginalising Parliament and ensuring that there is no proper scrutiny of legislation are not actions that any true democrat could seek to justify.

The Opposition do not disagree with the broad principles in the Bill, but we are entitled to play our traditional role and to scrutinise it in great detail, if we think it necessary. In this case, debate has demonstrated that there is a range of issues to be considered, and the time provided in the programme motion is inadequate. We ask the Government to think again.

Mrs. Anne Campbell (Cambridge)

I am not sure whether the hon. Gentleman is objecting to the timetable motion before the House, or to timetabling in principle. We all know that timetabling enables us to make progress and spend time on the contentious parts of a Bill, which is what we all want to do.

Mr. Heald

I object to both. First, let me examine the principle of programming. I was a silent one—a Whip—when the House considered the Bills that became the Government of Wales Act 1998 and the Scotland Act 1998. I spent a great deal of time discussing how long was needed for each group of clauses; however, it is not easy to judge what the mood of the House will be or in which direction the debate will turn. One of my objections is rooted in the fact that, on occasion, we programmed Bills in good faith and by agreement, but found that hon. Members who had a strong opinion on an issue and sensible comments to make were unable to speak in the House. Is that democracy? In my view, it is not.

At the outset, I was quite in favour of programming, because it seemed modern and I like modern things, as the hon. Lady knows—she recently praised my website in The House Magazine, so she is aware that I am not of the luddite tendency. However, I believe that in programming lies a danger to democracy. People who come here from their constituencies, perhaps with a constituency angle on a national question, do not get a chance to express it. To programme the Committee stage before Second Reading has taken place is nonsense.

Mr. Blunt

I am extremely concerned about the remark made by the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mrs. Campbell), that we have only to focus on the contentious issues. Issues of contention between the parties are not necessarily the ones that should be focused on. We are about making decent legislation, and we are not going to be able to put decent legislation on the statue book after only eight Committee sittings.

Mr. Heald

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for making a point that ties in with the comment made by our right hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Maclean), which is that a certain amount of time is needed for a debate to mature and for outside bodies to arrive at an understanding of the details of the legislation. Given the range of issues involved in the Vehicles (Crime) Bill, merely to guess how long will be required is not adequate.

Mr. Maclean

A moment ago, when my hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Mr. Blunt) said that we were in the business of making good legislation, Government Members chuckled. Is not the truth that, in the past few months, thousands of amendments have come through from the other place, having been made by an incompetent Government who have bashed through legislation under guillotines? Do we not face the danger that, in the other place, the Vehicles (Crime) Bill will be subjected to hundreds of amendments with which this House will be unable to deal appropriately during consideration of Lords amendments?

Mr. Heald

My right hon. Friend makes an important point. Because Bill after Bill has been poorly drafted and debate in this House has been curtailed, a whole new Bill, in effect, has on occasion been drafted for consideration by the other place. We, the people who are elected to Parliament to debate the law, are short-changed in terms of debate. It simply will not do. There were 118 amendments to the Freedom of Information Act 2000, of which 77 were not debated by this House. There were 268 amendments to the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, of which 47 were not debated here. There were 666 amendments to the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, of which 522 were not debated here. Is that democracy? No.

Mr. Douglas Hogg (Sleaford and North Hykeham)

There is a further problem, to which my hon. Friend has not yet addressed his remarks. Parts I and II of the Vehicles (Crime) Bill do not apply to Scotland, yet we could find the Committee stuffed full of Labour Members representing Scottish constituencies who can prattle on at great length without having any legitimate democratic right to do so; they might take up the time allotted, with the consequence that Members who represent English and Welsh constituencies do not have ample time in which to express their proper point of view.

Mr. Heald

My right hon. and learned Friend makes an important point. If members of the Committee come from a different jurisdiction, it is reasonable that they will not understand the intricacies of the law in England and Wales. They do not live in those countries, and debates will take longer. I mean no disrespect in any way to Scotland or to the Scots, Mr. Speaker. We do not know until the Committee of Selection meets how many Members there will be in Committee with that disadvantage.

We already have far less time than we need. However, we do not know how much longer will be needed because the detailed circumstances of consideration in Committee are unknown. Representations as yet unknown will come from industry and will subsequently take the form of new clauses and amendments. If someone who is as succinct as my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham can speak for an hour and 19 minutes on the Bill, making cogent point after cogent point eloquently and extremely effectively without trespassing on the good will of the House, we need more than 10 sittings.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield)

The point has not yet been put that programming appears to be very much between those on the two Front Benches. What input is likely to be heard from Back Benchers on both sides of the House, either as individuals or as groups, who may be interested in a part of the Bill that the Government think is not controversial? The matter may be extremely pertinent to certain constituencies.

Mr. Heald

As ever, my hon. Friend makes an excellent point. One of the difficulties in programming a Committee before a Bill's Second Reading is trying to assess the mood of the House, including Back-Bench Members. When we considered the Government of Wales Bill, there were Labour Back Benchers who did not share the views of the Government. Conservative and Liberal Democrat Back Benchers had a slightly different viewpoint on certain issues. As a result, debate was extended. That was impossible to assess in advance. That is what is so wrong with the principle of programming in this way. It seems that it will happen with every Bill, and I see that as a deleterious step.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

The hon. Gentleman is making a reasoned case, as the Opposition have a duty to do. I have no complaint about that. My only reservation is a remark that he made about Scottish and Welsh Members. May I implore him not to follow a path that would divide the House into two kinds of Assemblies? Will he accept that this is a United Kingdom Parliament? Perhaps he would bear in mind the remarks of the right hon. Member for Skipton and Ripon (Mr. Curry), who successfully opposed a ten-minute Bill that would have divided Parliament into Scottish, Welsh and English parts. We are a United Kingdom Parliament, and let us remain so.

Mr. Heald

I am sure that you would not allow me, Mr. Speaker, to go into the West Lothian question in huge detail. However, as the hon. Gentleman is aware, the legal system in Scotland is different from that in England and Wales. The issue is between two legal jurisdictions and not between England, Wales and Scotland. If someone comes from a different jurisdiction legally and he is trying to contemplate laws that may be different, with the court systems being different, it is surely fair to suggest that consideration in Committee might take a little longer.

Mr. Hogg

There is another point. An essential element of democracy is that those who make laws should be accountable to those who are affected by laws. If individuals are not affected by laws, those who represent them have no legitimate standing.

Mr. Heald

That point was eloquently made by my right hon. and learned Friend when the Bills to which I referred went through the House. I do not disagree with him, but on a programme motion it would not be right for me to discuss an aspect of principle of the West Lothian question and fair votes for England. However, it is right for me to highlight the time aspects.

The programme motion is a disgrace. It has been presented as being agreed by the official Opposition, when that is not the case. I have no doubt that that is the case. It has been presented by a Government who are making guillotining the business of the House a regular feature, and that is a denial of democracy. When we considered the Financial Services and Markets Bill, which I did not mention earlier, 675 amendments were not debated.

Mr. Michael Jack (Fylde)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. Did he notice that, when the Minister proposed the motion, he gave an indication to the House, if I understood his words correctly, that more time might be needed? He referred to the programming sub-committee, suggesting that it might have to consider whether more time was needed. Will my hon. Friend comment on that admission from the Minister?

Mr. Heald

As ever, my right hon. Friend identifies an important point. It is interesting that, in the previous debate, the Minister was unable to answer any of the questions that I posed in my closing remarks, and several points made by my right hon. and hon. Friends were not answered, because there was not enough time.

As my right hon. Friend says, the Minister admitted that more time may have to be allowed for consideration of the Bill. Should not the hon. Gentleman do the decent thing and withdraw the programme motion? It is not right that the House should be asked to vote for a motion with which the Minister who proposed it at the Dispatch Box does not agree.

The programme motion is inadequate. The House should not be made to curtail the time during which it may debate such an important measure. There is a wide range of issues, and I ask the House to reject the programme motion.

10.27 pm
Mr. Paul Tyler (North Cornwall)

The Minister was wrong when he introduced the motion. He did so under false pretences. He said firmly that he had the agreement of the Opposition parties. The hon. Member for North-East Hertfordshire (Mr. Heald) made it clear that the Minister did not have the support and agreement of the Conservative party, and he certainly did not have my support or that of my colleagues. I have great respect for the Minister. I hope that he is a big enough man to admit that a mistake has been made in the communication between his Whips Office and himself.

If the Minister does not believe me, let him look at the Order Paper. When there is an agreed programme motion, I put my name to it and a spokesman for the Conservative party puts his or her name to it. There is no name on the Order Paper from either of the Opposition parties. This is not an agreed programme motion.

On many occasions, my colleagues and I supported programme motions, when we believed that a realistic assessment had been made of the time necessary to assure all hon. Members that the major points would be covered. That is not the case tonight. I attended much of the debate this evening. The attendance now is higher than on Second Reading, but it is clear that hon. Members have important points to raise. It is clear that the Committee stage will be convoluted, complicated and important if we are to get the Bill right.

If the Minister means what he said about giving the House a proper opportunity to debate the issues that matter, it is the right course of action for him, having obviously unwittingly misled the House, to withdraw the motion.

10.29 pm
Mr. Forth

This is the first opportunity that the House has had to consider the new principle that the Government have imposed on us. It is an important occasion, but there will, of course, be many others. On each occasion, the House will have a proper opportunity to consider whether it is a proper way to consider the Bill under discussion and whether to support the proposals.

Mr. Hogg

Is not one of the problems of the procedure on which we are embarking the fact that the House does not have an opportunity to amend the motion? We might think that a timetable is appropriate, but we might also conclude that much more time should be given. The defect of this procedure is that we do not have the ability to extend the time from, say, 23 January to 18 February. I make that as a suggestion.

Mr. Forth

I am not sure that my right hon. and learned Friend is right on this occasion I was under the impression that such motions are subject to amendment, but we can pursue the matter later. Suffice it to say that, on this occasion, the House of Commons must decide whether it is appropriate and proper to bind the Committee so that it has only a certain period in which to consider the Bill.

We have already seen the difficulties that can arise when it is assumed that a small, unrepresentative group of Members of Parliament, masquerading under the title, "the usual channels", can impose on the rest of the House a timetable to which it might not agree. We have seen that that is the wrong way to approach the matter. As my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) pointed out, if that is to be the mechanism with which we have to work until the House sees better and throws it out, people who are not from the usual channels should be involved so that, at the very least, there can be a degree of representation from Members of Parliament who are not in a privileged and titled position. It is important and productive that we have already seen that the Government have sought to demonstrate that the Liberal Democrat and Conservative Front Benches had signed up to the motion when, in fact, they had not.

Mr. Bercow

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is especially unsatisfactory that the Government should seek to circumscribe debate by proposing only 10 Committee sittings for the consideration of 45 clauses when, as he is aware, no fewer than nine of those clauses provide enabling powers for the Government to issue regulations? That is despite the fact that Ministers have not given any indication that they intend to provide the House or Committee members with early sight of a draft of the regulations.

Mr. Forth

My hon. Friend is correct and he touches on another point that should not be forgotten. How can the Government decide the length of the Committee stage before Second Reading and before the House has had an opportunity to demonstrate whether the Bill is controversial and whether it includes detailed matters that require lengthy consideration by the Committee?

Mr. Hogg

It might assist my right hon. Friend to know that he is right to say that the motion is amendable. Perhaps he would like to emphasise that point. Does he agree that, when such motions are proposed in future, the proper course for Opposition Front Benchers is to table an amendment that extends the date, which we should have an opportunity to debate at length?

Mr. Forth

My right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench should certainly seek to amend the motion. However, my right hon. and learned Friend, other right hon. and hon. Members and I might have our own thoughts on the matter.

Mr. Miller

If the right hon. Gentleman's assertion is right, and if Opposition Front Benchers were correct in saying that they were not in agreement with my hon. Friend the Member for Hyndburn (Mr. Pope), they could have tabled such an amendment. They chose not to, which proves that my hon. Friend the Member for Hyndburn was correct.

Mr. Forth

No, that does not follow. My hon. Friend the Member for North-East Hertfordshire (Mr. Heald) said that we disagreed in principle and in fact with the substance of the motion. We do not therefore have to try to amend it; we can simply vote against it. I hope that we will do that. I intend to do so, and to try to give hon. Members the opportunity to do that.

Mr. Maclean

Does my right hon. Friend accept that there is a difference in principle between the usual channels being involved in discussions on Bills about which there is some general agreement and their involvement when the Government change Standing Orders to drive through ruthless automatic guillotine machinery? Does he agree that, in the latter case, it is inappropriate for the Opposition's usual channels to be involved?

Mr. Forth

I believe that it is inappropriate for the usual channels to be involved in anything, and I do not believe in the existence of uncontroversial Bills. Most of the worst measures that have emanated from the parliamentary process have been deemed consensual, all party and uncontroversial. They usually end up as thoroughly bad legislation because they have been so poorly scrutinised. The Government are in danger of imposing poor scrutiny on the House as a general principle. That leaves only the prospect of another place conducting proper scrutiny, with us as a subsidiary Chamber.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

Will my right hon. Friend comment on our Front-Bench spokesmen's remarks, which have been repeated by the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler)? He said that, despite the Under-Secretary's claim, the programme motion had not been agreed through the usual channels. Given that this is the first time that such a motion has been put before the House, and that the hon. Member for North Cornwall and my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Hertfordshire (Mr. Heald) say that it has not been agreed, will my right hon. Friend give the Minister time to reply to the debate, and to do the courteous and decent thing by withdrawing the motion?

Mr. Forth

I wish that that was a realistic prospect. Sadly, I do not believe that it is. In tonight's sordid episode, on the first occasion that the ghastly new mechanism that the Government have imposed on the House has been used, Ministers have given a less than truthful account of the background to the event. We have received neither a retraction nor an apology from them. That is regrettable but, sadly, typical of the Government. We are faced with an improper and inadequate response to the Second Reading debate.

Mr. John Butterfill (Bournemouth, West)

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it is even more worrying that the timetable motion may mean that the clauses that grant power to make regulations will go through all their stages without the regulations being published? Is not that an even more worrying trend?

Mr. Forth

Given the likely detailed and complex content of the regulations, and their number—we identified at least nine on Second Reading—we are unlikely to get any realistic idea of their content in time for the Committee proceedings.

Mr. Hogg

Is not there a further risk, with which my right hon. Friend is familiar, that the Bill will go to another place without being properly discussed, and return to the House with a host of amendments? They will be the subject of yet more guillotine motions, and we will thus never have an opportunity properly to discuss the Bill's provisions.

Mr. Forth

I regret that my right hon. and learned Friend is correct. The Bill contains 45 clauses; it became clear on Second Reading that many of them are complex and controversial. They include, for example, the right of entry, powers of inspection and powers to levy fees. Yet we are allowed only five Committee days to consider the Bill, and we do not know what a Committee day will constitute.

Paragraph 3 of the motion states: The Standing Committee shall have leave to sit twice on the first day … However, we do not know whether "twice" will mean 10.30 am to 1 pm and 4 pm to 7 pm, or 10 am to 10 pm without a break. What will a Committee day comprise? Simply saying that the Committee shall have leave to sit twice does not tell the House how much time the Committee will have to begin consideration on that crucial first day. Although five sitting days have been allowed for, the motion does not tell us how long they will be. We are faced with a controversial, complex 45-clause Bill, but we are being asked, in effect, to sign a blank cheque, even though the Government had no idea of what the response of the House would be when they embarked on the Second Reading debate.

We teased out many questions on Second Reading and, during the winding-up speeches, the Minister told my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Hertfordshire that he had about 50 questions to deal with and that, probably, there were more yet to be answered. All those 50 points require detailed consideration in Committee.

Mr. Heald

Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the great mischiefs here is that regulation-making powers may not even be discussed in Committee and that the regulations will all be made under the negative resolution procedure? Important regulations for an important industry could be made without any discussion taking place.

Mr. Forth

That is right. We see the potential horror of the programming measure that the Government have imposed on the House. I hope that we have none of that and reject it.

Mr. Roger Gale (North Thanet)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I feel a growing sense of unease. As one of those who, in another capacity, is required from time to time to adjudicate on matters of order, I have listened to the points made from the Opposition and Government Front Benches. I have worked over many hours with the Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, the hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Hill), and believe him to be an entirely honest and honourable man. I say that without equivocation. However, it is clear that two stories have been given—one by the Minister and another by Opposition Front Benchers. As this is the first time that such a matter has been discussed in the House in such a form, you might consider adjourning the House to allow both sides to reach an agreement and to allow either the Minister or Opposition Front Benchers to withdraw their remarks.

Mr. Speaker

Those are matters for debate. I certainly would not be inclined to adjourn the House.

Mr. Hogg

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. It is within my knowledge that when an agreement is made between Front Benchers it is often communicated to the Speaker. Have you received notice of such an agreement being made?

Mr. Speaker

It is often best that the Speaker does not know about such agreements.

10.42 pm
Mr. David Maclean (Penrith and The Border)

Tonight's debate has shown that an arrogant and dictatorial Government are in power—a Government so arrogant that they decided the Bill's Committee timetable before the debate on Second Reading had begun. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) said, the Government decided that a 45-clause Bill shall be considered in Committee for five days, or for 10 sittings, before hearing a single word of debate in the House. The Government did not care whether hon. Members on both sides or on either side of the House were concerned about the provisions, whether the Bill would go through on the nod or whether the whole House was up in arms about it. In their mind, they had already concluded that the Bill would be ruthlessly guillotined and that there would be no, time for discussion. We know why.

Over the past few months, the Government's experience has been of Bills returning from the other place with hundreds of Government amendments to them because they had been so badly drafted and because of their own incompetence. They have been humiliated over their drafting of legislation, so they have introduced an automatic guillotine system.

It being forty-five minutes after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER, pursuant to Order [7 November], put forthwith the Question necessary for the disposal of proceedings to be concluded at that hour.

Question put:

The House divided: Ayes 305, Noes 147.

Division No. 9] [10.44 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Bradshaw, Ben
Ainger, Nick Brinton, Mrs Helen
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)
Allen, Graham Buck, Ms Karen
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E) Burden, Richard
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale) Burgon, Colin
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary Butler, Mrs Christine
Atherton, Ms Candy Caborn, Rt Hon Richard
Banks, Tony Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Barnes, Harry Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Barron, Kevin Campbell-Savours, Dale
Battle, John Cann, Jamie
Bayley, Hugh Caplin, Ivor
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret Casale, Roger
Begg, Miss Anne Caton, Martin
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C) Cawsey, Ian
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield) Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Bennett, Andrew F Chaytor, David
Benton, Joe Clapham, Michael
Bermingham, Gerald Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Berry, Roger Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)
Betts, Clive
Blears, Ms Hazel Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Blizzard, Bob Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Borrow, David Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin) Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann Hoyle, Lindsay
Coaker, Vernon Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Colman, Tony Humble, Mrs Joan
Cooper, Yvette Hurst, Alan
Corbett, Robin Hutton, John
Corston, Jean Iddon, Dr Brian
Cousins, Jim Illsley, Eric
Cox, Tom Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Cranston, Ross Jamieson, David
Crausby, David Jenkins, Brian
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley) Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch) Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S) Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)
Darvill, Keith Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W) Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli) Jones, Ms Jenny (Wolverh'ton SW)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Denham, John Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Dismore, Andrew Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Dobbin, Jim Jowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Doran, Frank Keeble, Ms Sally
Dowd, Jim Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Drew, David Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey) Kemp, Fraser
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston) Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Edwards, Huw Khabra, Piara S
Efford, Clive Kidney, David
Ellman, Mrs Louise Kilfoyle, Peter
Ennis, Jeff King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Etherington, Bill King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Field, Rt Hon Frank Kumar, Dr Ashok
Fisher, Mark Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Fitzpatrick, Jim Lammy, David
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna Lepper, David
Flint, Caroline Leslie, Christopher
Flynn, Paul Levitt, Tom
Follett, Barbara Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Foster, Rt Hon Derek Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Foster, Michael J (Worcester) Linton, Martin
Foulkes, George Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Galloway, George Love, Andrew
Gapes, Mike McAvoy, Thomas
Gardiner, Barry McCabe, Steve
George, Bruce (Walsall S) McCafferty, Ms Chris
Gerrard, Neil McCartney, Rt Hon Ian (Makerfield)
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Godsiff, Roger McDonagh, Siobhain
Goggins, Paul Macdonald, Calum
Golding, Mrs Llin McIsaac, Shona
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E) Mackinlay, Andrew
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) McNamara, Kevin
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) McNulty, Tony
Grocott, Bruce MacShane, Denis
Grogan, John Mactaggart, Fiona
Hain, Peter McWalter, Tony
Hanson, David Mahon, Mrs Alice
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet Mallaber, Judy
Healey, John Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N) Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich) Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Hendrick, Mark Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Hepburn, Stephen Martlew, Eric
Hesford, Stephen Maxton, John
Hewitt, Ms Patricia Meale, Alan
Hill, Keith Merron, Gillian
Hinchliffe, David Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Hodge, Ms Margaret Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Hoey, Kate Miller, Andrew
Hope, Phil Mitchell, Austin
Hopkins, Kelvin Moran, Ms Margaret
Howells. Dr Kim Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morley, Elliot Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley) Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Morris, Rt Hon Sir John (Aberavon) Soley, Clive
Spellar, John
Mountford, Kali Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Mowlam, Rt Hon Marjorie Steinberg, Gerry
Mudie, George Stevenson, George
Mullin, Chris Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen) Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Naysmith, Dr Doug Stinchcombe, Paul
Norris, Dan Stoate, Dr Howard
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks) Straw, Rt Hon Jack
O'Hara, Eddie Stringer, Graham
Olner, Bill Stuart, Ms Gisela
O'Neill, Martin Sutcliffe, Gerry
Organ, Mrs Diana Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Pearson, Ian
Perham, Ms Linda Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Pickthall, Colin Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Pike, Peter L Temple-Morris, Peter
Plaskitt, James Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Pond, Chris Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Pope, Greg Timms, Stephen
Pound, Stephen Tipping, Paddy
Powell, Sir Raymond Todd, Mark
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E) Touhig, Don
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle) Truswell, Paul
Primarolo, Dawn Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Prosser, Gwyn Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Purchase, Ken Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Quinn, Lawrie Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Rammell, Bill Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Rapson, Syd Vis, Dr Rudi
Raynsford, Nick Walley, Ms Joan
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough) Ward, Ms Claire
Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N) Wareing, Robert N
Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland) Watts, David
White, Brian
Roche, Mrs Barbara Whitehead, Dr Alan
Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff Wicks, Malcolm
Rooney, Terry Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Roy, Frank Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Ruddock, Joan Wills, Michael
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester) Winnick, David
Ryan, Ms Joan Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Sawford, Phil Woodward, Shaun
Sedgemore, Brian Woolas, Phil
Sheerman, Barry Worthington, Tony
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S) Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Singh, Marsha Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E) Tellers for the Ayes:
Smith, Angela (Basildon) Mr. Mike Hall and
Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S) Mr. Kevin Hughes.
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey) Butterfill, John
Amess, David Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies (NE Fife)
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Baldry, Tony Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bercow, John Chope, Christopher
Beresford, Sir Paul Clappison, James
Blunt, Crispin Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W) Collins, Tim
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia Cormack, Sir Patrick
Brazier, Julian Cotter, Brian
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter Cran, James
Browning, Mrs Angela Curry, Rt Hon David
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Burns, Simon Duncan, Alan
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter Mates, Michael
Evans, Nigel Maude, Rt Hon Francis
Fabricant, Michael Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
Fallon, Michael Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)
Fearn, Ronnie Moss, Malcolm
Flight, Howard O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Forth, Rt Hon Eric Öpik, Lembit
Fraser, Christopher Ottaway, Richard
Gale, Roger Page, Richard
Garnier, Edward Paice, James
Gibb, Nick Pickles, Eric
Gidley, Sandra Prior, David
Gill, Christopher Randall, John
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl Rendel, David
Gorman, Mrs Teresa Robathan, Andrew
Gray, James Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Green, Damian Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Greenway, John Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)
Grieve, Dominic Ruffley, David
Gummer, Rt Hon John Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie St Aubyn, Nick
Hammond, Philip Sanders, Adrian
Harris, Dr Evan Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Hawkins, Nick Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Hayes, John Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Heald, Oliver Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David Spicer, Sir Michael
Heseltine, Rt Hon Michael Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas Streeter, Gary
Howard, Rt Hon Michael Stunell, Andrew
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot) Swayne, Desmond
Hughes Simon (Southwark N) Syms, Robert
Jack, Rt Hon Michael Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Jackson, Robert (Wantage) Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Jenkin, Bernard Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Key, Robert Taylor, Sir Teddy
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater) Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Kirkbride, Miss Julie Townend, John
Kirkwood, Archy Tredinnick, David
Laing, Mrs Eleanor Trend, Michael
Lait, Mrs Jacqui Tyler, Paul
Lansley, Andrew Tyrie, Andrew
Letwin, Oliver Waterson, Nigel
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E) Webb, Steve
Lidington, David Wells, Bowen
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter Whitney, Sir Raymond
Livsey, Richard Whittingdale, John
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham) Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Llwyd, Elfyn Wilkinson, John
Loughton, Tim Willetts, David
Luff, Peter Willis, Phil
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Wilshire, David
MacGregor, Rt Hon John Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
McIntosh, Miss Anne Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew Yeo, Tim
Maclean, Rt Hon David Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert
McLoughlin, Patrick Tellers for the Noes:
Madel, Sir David Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown
Malins, Humfrey and
Maples, John Mr. Peter Atkinson.

Question accordingly agreed to.


That the following provisions shall apply to the Vehicles (Crime) Bill: