HC Deb 28 February 2000 vol 345 c32

4.6 pm

The President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mrs. Margaret Beckett)

With the leave of the House, I should like to make a short business statement about the business for Wednesday 1 March.

The business will now be, first, a motion to approve the Fifth Report of the Select Committee on Standards and Privileges; followed by Second Reading of the Sea Fishing Grants (Charges) Bill; followed by Second Reading of the Nuclear Safeguards Bill [HL]. That is to be followed, at 7 o'clock, by an Opposition Day [6th Allotted Day, first part], when there will be a debate entitled "Tax Cuts and Public Services", in the name of the Liberal Democrats.

Sir George Young (North-West Hampshire)

The Opposition have no difficulty with that change of business, but I should like to ask two quick questions. First, if for whatever reason the House has inadequate time to debate either or both of the two Government Bills by 7 o'clock, am I right to assume that the Government will not seek to secure a Second Reading of one or both Bills? Am I also right to assume that the Government will not suspend the 10 o'clock rule?

Secondly, will the Leader of the House say who—in the absence, on ill-health grounds, of the Chairman of the Select Committee on Standards and Privileges—will be moving the motion on the Committee's report?

Mrs. Beckett

I cannot give the right hon. Gentleman the assurance that he seeks that it will not be possible to deal with any of that business, nor can I give him any undertaking that the business will not be proceeded with after 10 o'clock. He also asked who will deal with the business on the Select Committee on Standards and Privileges. I anticipate that, in the circumstances of the Chairman's ill health, the deputy Chairman will deal with it.

Mr. Nick St. Aubyn (Guildford)

Today's Order Paper contains a suggested amendment, tabled by me, to the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill. It deals with a matter of concern to teachers across the country, but has not been debated by the House at any point in the Bill's progress, in either the previous or the current Session. Will the Leader of the House provide, at this late stage—today—for a debate on that important matter?

Madam Speaker

Order. If the Leader of the House wishes to respond to that point, of course she must do so. However, the point deals with a matter that was not included in her business statement, and the hon. Gentleman was rather mischievous in raising it. A business statement is a business statement, and it did not deal with today's business.