HC Deb 08 February 2001 vol 362 cc1089-103

5.Paragraphs (6) and (7) of Sessional Order A (varying and supplementing programme motions) made by the House on 7th November 2000 shall not apply to proceedings on any programme motion to supplement or vary this order in relation to—

  1. (a)proceedings on Consideration of Lords Amendments; or
  2. (b)proceedings on any further messages from the Lords,
and the question on any such motion shall be put forthwith.

The motion proposes that the proceedings on consideration and Third Reading shall be completed at today's sitting, with consideration concluding by 3.30 pm and Third Reading at 4.15 pm.

The Bill gives companies the chance to settle their national insurance liabilities on the options granted between 6 April 1999 and 19 May 2000 early—in advance of the date when the actual gain is made by the employee. Companies that wish to use this measure will calculate the amount of national insurance due by reference to the accrued gain up to 7 November 2000—the day before the pre-Budget statement when the proposals were announced. They will be required to notify the Inland Revenue and pay the appropriate amount within 92 days of Royal Assent to the Bill. That effectively caps the national insurance contribution liability by reference to the company's share price on 7 November, so providing the company with certainty.

Our debates in Committee were brief but purposeful. The Opposition introduced worthwhile amendments, and we were happy to accept the main thrust of some of them. In particular, we accepted that the deadline for sending the notification and paying the special charge under the Bill should be extended from 60 to 92 days. We tabled an amendment in Committee in response to the Opposition request that companies with a nil liability to the special contribution should not have to go to the trouble of lodging a formal notification within the 92-day deadline. Under our amendment, such companies will be deemed to have lodged formal notice within the set period. Both those changes will help to reduce the burden of compliance for companies and will allow all companies whose liability for the special contribution would be nil to qualify automatically.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst)

Order. I am sorry to interrupt the Minister, but I need to point out that we are dealing with the programme motion, not the Bill itself.

Mr. Timms

I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

The point that I wanted to make was that all the Opposition amendments, except one, were withdrawn. Today we are introducing nine amendments which I will commend to the House, all of which respond to points raised in Committee with the intention of making the Bill more effective. None of them changes the policy intention that was fully discussed in one Committee sitting. In view of that, I believe that consideration and report can be concluded within the time set out in the programme motion. I commend it to the House.

1.36 pm
Mr. Howard Flight (Arundel and South Downs)

The House is aware that the Conservative Opposition disapprove of programme motions in principle for two reasons: first, because it is unknown what Members may have to contribute and, secondly, because it cannot easily be known what will be required in terms of a thorough analysis of and debate on proposals.

The Minister correctly pointed out that there was a constructive exchange in Committee and that the Government have one way or another taken in most of the issues and amendments that the Opposition proposed. However, clause 3, for example, is highly technical and is about what the arrangements will be in relation to national insurance charges when companies are taken over. Yesterday I received the Government's redrafts, and it was the evening before I could check out their precise implications with lawyers. It is apparent that they contain drafting errors and so will need more attention than just a few minutes during the forthcoming debate.

This is a classic example of circumstances in which, even with a relatively focused piece of legislation and with most of the material having been dealt with in Committee, the whole concept of programmed timetables does not work. If the programming arrangements are adhered to, the result will be not enough time for discussion of important, nitty-gritty clauses and, potentially, more time than needed on Third Reading later. Therefore, although we appreciate the Minister's acceptance of the various points that we raised, we do not feel that programming Bills is a good idea in principle. Even in this particular focused circumstance, yet again the motion is shown not to be delivering what is in the interests of the House and the country.

1.38 pm
Mr. John Burnett (Torridge and West Devon)

The Government amendments conceded in Committee were helpful and it would be churlish to say that the Bill is not welcome. It caps liability at 7 November 2000, but is certainly not perfect and leaves much to be desired. Improvements can and should be made. Furthermore, as the hon. Member for Arundel and South Downs (Mr. Flight) mentioned, detailed further clauses have been tabled which need careful, rigorous scrutiny. The Bill deserves that scrutiny.

Hon. Members must realise that the Bill impacts on many companies in most constituencies. Many hon. Members may want to speak about the merits or otherwise of the Bill and about the amendments that the Government have tabled.

The Government have asserted that the quid pro quo for certainty—that is, fixing the employers' national insurance contributions for unapproved share option schemes as at 7 November 2000—is to fix that liability on that date with payments to be made shortly thereafter. There are other views which deserve consideration by and a response from Ministers. Some hon. Members will be concerned about bureaucracy and unnecessary Government expenditure. I have put to the Minister a satisfactory solution which would be simple and would provide value for money. Why not leave the liability open until exercise of the option, and then leave it open to companies to pay national insurance contributions either on the basis of the 7 November 2000 value or the value on the date on which the option is exercised? That is simple—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is getting into the argument about the contents of the Bill. We are discussing the programme motion.

Mr. Burnett

I am grateful, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Members are likely to want to raise matters of bureaucracy and of fairness to taxpayers. These are important matters that deserve long debate and significant consideration. We shall oppose the motion.

1.40 pm
Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst)

It has become apparent that each programme motion raises different issues about the approach that the Government have taken to programming under "modernisation". We are embarking on a voyage of parliamentary discovery. It started with the idea that life should be made easier for parliamentarians, especially Labour Members. It was thought that everything should be done more quickly and that scrutiny should be truncated. The idea has developed from there.

We see in each instance—this is a good case in point—that such an approach is entirely inappropriate to the parliamentary process. We now know—we should have known before—that each Bill is sui generis. It stands on its own and has a different character, history and personality. Members come to the Chamber with tales of what happened in their Committee: they may talk of consensuality, joviality and other good news.

We find that the Government's explanation for a vicious truncation of the parliamentary process tends to be different in each case. In this instance, we are told that we are dealing with a relatively small and technical Bill, that there is not much to be discussed, and that what went on in Committee may or may not have been very productive. However, it is about 1.45 pm and we are debating an absurd motion which states that consideration on Report will be completed at 3.30 pm. That would be bad enough, but we know that the programme debate can run for 45 minutes.

The hon. Member for Torridge and West Devon (Mr. Burnett) has said that he believes there will be a Division, and I will join him in that. I hope that I have the opportunity to do so. It is possible that we shall not even get to on to Report until 2.30 pm. The Government are generously giving us until 3.30 pm to complete consideration on Report.

Optimists among Members may say, "There are only three groups of amendments to be considered." They may also say, "There are only"—as I count—"10 amendments to be considered." Even so, one hour divided by 10 gives us six minutes per amendment. I do not know what your view is, Mr. Deputy Speaker—we shall never know because you are not allowed to express it—but I suggest that six minutes is adequate for the House to consider an amendment to proposed law that deals with social security contributions and share options and will have a direct impact on many people's lives. Yet the Government have the gall and the arrogance to suggest that six minutes per amendment will be adequate.

There are 660 Members, and from that membership we can take away the bloated payroll, which probably runs now at about 150. We can take away also the members of the bloated Opposition Front Bench, which probably accounts for another 100. There are probably about 400 Members who are entitled to express an independent view on these matters. If we divide six minutes by 400, we have an idea of the amount of time that the Government are suggesting each Member has, potentially, to participate in a debate on these matters. That is a reductio, but not ad absurdum.

I am giving those figures to try to make the point that this is possibly the best—or, rather, the worst—example to date of the Government's view of the role of the parliamentary process, a Bill's Report stage and the role of the House of Commons in considering legislative proposals. Programme motions are simply legislative proposals, and embody what the Government think should happen. They are discussed in a Committee, and the whole House is here now to consider a particular programme motion. By my calculation—unless anyone wishes to challenge me—six minutes is the time that the Government are suggesting is available for each matter.

If we voted on Report, the Government seem to suggest—again, by my calculation—that we would have 30 minutes, from 3.45 pm until 4.15 pm, for Third Reading. Third Reading provides an opportunity for all hon. Members to come together and give mature consideration to the totality of a Bill that they have discussed on Second Reading and which a privileged few have looked at in Committee. We have gathered together now to look at a particular Bill on Report. However, on Third Reading, all hon. Members who have been unable to participate so far can come to the House of Commons and say what they want about a Bill, knowing its final form.

The Government are now telling us that we will have 30 minutes to do all of that; not 30 minutes each, but 30 minutes for the entire House of Commons to consider a piece of legislation on Third Reading. Surely, that illustrates better than most things thus far the absurdity and arrogance of the Government—as well as the cruelty that they are inflicting on the parliamentary process—

in assuming that that is an adequate period in which to legislate on a matter which, although detailed and technical, is nevertheless important.

Mr. Burnett

Because the matter is detailed and technical, does the right hon. Gentleman not agree that it deserves careful scrutiny? Having detailed and technical provisions tabled last night is unacceptable. Does he agree that there is not enough time for careful scrutiny of these important matters?

Mr. Forth

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, who has led me into the next part of my analysis. I gave a rather dry consideration of the inadequacy of the numbers involved. However, the hon. Gentleman made a valid point, from which two inter-related points follow.

First, the hon. Gentleman and my hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and South Downs (Mr. Flight) both made the point that the Government assumed that the Committee stage would be completed at a certain point, only to introduce further provisions and peremptorily insist that the House deal with them with almost no notice. That is difficult, and not only for ordinary Members of Parliament. For goodness sake, my hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and South Downs is a world expert on these matters, but even he is struggling a bit. The hon. Member for Torridge and West Devon is an intellectual giant of the House, but he is struggling. What hope is there of us poor laymen, who have come to the House to try and grapple with the matter on behalf of our constituents, dealing with the technicalities involved?

Mr. Burnett

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of another example of this sort of detailed legislation being rushed—the Finance Act 1998? Detailed amendments were tabled on stamp duty, reserve tax and anti-avoidance measures. However, they were wrong and the Government lost revenue to the tune of £1 billion or £1.5 billion because of the inadequacy of debate and scrutiny.

Mr. Forth

I am not surprised or shocked by that. The hon. Gentleman strengthened his point and illustrated it well. We run that risk if we are rolled over by the Government, as they are now attempting to do.

The motion is surrounded by an accumulation of negatives and, as far as I can see, no positives whatever. The time made available to the House for considering the Bill on Report and Third Reading has been compressed. Almost no notice was given—and that is true not just for hon. Members. As has already been said, with such a Bill one would have thought there should be an opportunity for legitimate representations to be made by outside bodies to those of us who are privileged to be here, so that we can learn from them and understand their concerns. There is no such opportunity, given the Bill's time scale.

My query about all this is why the Government persist in offering wording such as: Proceedings on Consideration shall…be brought to a conclusion at half past Three o'clock. What is the hurry? It would be bad enough if the Government had insisted, as they do in respect of the Committee stage, that we would be given, say, six hours to consider the Bill on Report, or four hours, or whatever. Today, rightly, as usual, Mr. Speaker generously allowed some time for business questions. The Government are lucky that there was no Division on the grubby deal that was done on the Hunting Bill. By setting a time of 3.30 pm for the conclusion of proceedings, rather than allowing us a specific amount of time, the Government have made us victims of the vagaries of the parliamentary process.

Mr. Gerald Howarth (Aldershot)

We are fortunate that there was not a Government statement, a private notice question or a response to some disaster in the United Kingdom or elsewhere—

Mr. Forth

Or in the Government.

Mr. Howarth

Indeed—there is one of those every day. Any of those eventualities would have required the attention of the House, and would have further compressed the time available for these matters to be discussed.

Mr. Forth

My hon. Friend is right. By taking such an approach—tabling motions that specify a particular time of the clock at which matters must be concluded—the Government make us a potential victim of what Harold Macmillan described as "events". Events do impinge on the parliamentary process, as indeed they should and they must.

The Government make the crude assumption that we will be able to dispatch the Report stage properly by 3.30, regardless of what may have happened during the parliamentary day up until that point. They go on to compound the felony by proposing that Third Reading will be finished by "quarter past Four o'clock." They do not give us a certain amount of time to consider the matter, bad enough though that would be. They make matters worse by saying that proceedings will end, willy-nilly, at a particular time of the clock.

The Government obviously take the view that it does not matter what may have happened up till now today. Regardless of any of that—regardless, as my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Howarth) said, of statements, private notice questions being granted and the length of time allowed by Mr. Speaker for business questions—we will complete consideration by 3.30 pm.

That cannot be right. It cannot be a proper parliamentary process. I regret to say that it illustrates yet again the approach that the Government take to Parliament—one of utter contempt. It could just be a misunderstanding of Parliament, I suppose, because some members of the Government have not been in the House very long. Some of them make no secret of the fact that, having got here, they want to leave the building as early and as frequently as possible. Although that may be a family-friendly approach, it does not exactly help the role of the House of Commons in giving proper scrutiny to legislation and holding the Government to account.

We are in a real mess, and the motion illustrates that all too well.

Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham)

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for giving way. I am genuinely shocked, even by the standards of this arrogant and inconsiderate Administration, that Ministers apparently envisage a Third Reading debate lasting a maximum of 45 minutes. Does my right hon. Friend think that the Government expect any significant contribution from Back Benchers in that allotted time?

Mr. Forth

My hon. Friend is correct. I had calculated 30 minutes for Third Reading, but we shall wait and see. The Government are assuming that their Back Benchers will play no part in the debate at all, as they increasingly do.

There are currently no Government Back Benchers in the Chamber. That is a sad reflection of what has happened to Government Members of Parliament and Government Back Benchers. I wonder what their constituents think they are doing at this time on a Thursday? I leave that for their constituents to muse on. They are certainly not representing them in the House of Commons—that we do know because the physical evidence is plain to see. I leave that as a matter of speculation.

I had intended to go on and comment on the further proceedings on the Bill, which are alluded to in the motion, but I am aware that a number of my parliamentary colleagues are present, in their place, representing their constituents—

Mr. Michael Jack (Fylde)

Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Forth

I will, but I am anxious to conclude.

Mr. Jack

I had hoped that my right hon. Friend would develop his further point. As the Financial Secretary said, nine Government amendments have been tabled, which means that we are allowed to consider each for 10 minutes. Such timing is sparse in respect of the complex matters that are involved. Does my right hon. Friend think that we have adequate time to consider each of the amendments?

Mr. Forth

My right hon. Friend is generous. I calculated that we were allowed six minutes for each amendment. I shall not repeat my rough calculation of how the time will be squeezed by a combination of events, including votes and other considerations.

I shall conclude my remarks, as I am aware of the pressure from the large number of Opposition Members who want to contribute and I do not want to hog the available time. I believe that the motion is probably the worst example yet of the results of the ill-thought-out and ill-considered so-called modernisation process that has inflicted such a disgraceful programming scheme. I hope that it will illustrate to everybody that that scheme is an unworkable and unjustifiable outrage that should be dropped as soon as possible. In the meantime, I hope that I will get a chance to vote against the motion.

1.56 pm
Mr. Andrew Tyrie (Chichester)

Unlike my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth), I am not against programming in principle and have argued on a number of occasions that it has some merit. However, I agreed today with almost everything that he said.

A first-rate Minister has had to introduce a third-rate Bill. It is a shoddy measure that has been torn apart by the clear-headedness of my hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and South Downs (Mr. Flight), who is probably the only hon. Member who understands what it is all about. It is a small and technical Bill, but as has been pointed out, it affects a large number of people. Everybody agrees that it is flawed. I think that the Financial Secretary will admit that that is the case and confirm that clause 3 is still deficient and needs further attention. Currently, he appears to be neither agreeing nor disagreeing with me. I cannot tell what he is expressing, but I suspect that it is agreement.

We are now stuck with an awkward situation and we do not have much time to try to sort it out. Programming makes life no better. The Bill will go to the other place, where the Government will take a bit more time to try to sort it out and table the necessary amendments. Their attitude is clear. They put a Bill into play in the House of Commons to get it running. It does not matter how shoddy it is or how much it is shredded in Committee. They get it out of here on the back of a programme motion and then sort it out in the House of Lords, where the political temperature is a bit lower and they will not have to deal with so much flak. I do not think that that is a good way of making legislation, and neither does anybody else, except the Executive, and an arrogant Executive at that.

As I said, I would not have been against programming this measure in principle. If it is to be used, however, hon. Members must have something in return in terms of better pre-legislative scrutiny. I cannot believe that the Bill would have been brought before the House in its current condition if it had been given thoroughgoing pre-legislative scrutiny and had been considered by a Committee that could ask detailed questions of the few people in the country who understand the subject with which it deals.

Programming has been introduced to the House without anything being given in return. Scrutiny of legislation has not been improved through other means and no commitment has been made to improve pre-legislative scrutiny. That is why I disapprove of what the Government have done in respect of programming. I oppose not the principle, but the fact that it was introduced without any sense of balance in respect of better scrutiny of legislation in the House of Commons.

Let us cast our minds back to the last shift in power that was as dramatic as the adoption of programming. Timetabling was introduced in the late 19th century, but was accompanied by a big quid pro quo: Supply days. The current Government have decided to introduce a major shift in the way in which legislation is scrutinised without offering anything in return to the House of Commons to try to improve legislation or demonstrate to the wider public that they are doing their job properly. Anyone viewing the Chamber today—and I hope that the cameras will be permitted to pan the Labour Benches for just a moment—will see that absolutely no scrutiny of the Executive is going on. This is really not an adequate performance.

As I said, Supply days were introduced in return for acceptance of Balfour's railway timetable; but when we accepted Beckett's railway timetable we were given nothing in return, which is why I shall vote against the motion.

2 pm

Mr. Gerald Howarth (Aldershot)

I join my colleagues in opposing the motion.

Unlike my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester (Mr. Tyrie), I am opposed in principle to so-called programme motions.

Mr. Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills)


Mr. Howarth

Indeed, they are effectively guillotines. The fact that they are undemocratic, curtailing Members' opportunity to hold the Executive to account, has been amply demonstrated by my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester.

Today's Order Paper illustrates the fatuous nature of programme motions. It features no fewer than three guillotines—if I may bow to the description preferred by my hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills—and I think the first justifies our complaints. In the motion that we are discussing, and also in the others, the Government seek to impose not so much time limits as a schedule specifying the time by which we shall be deemed to have completed consideration of what are, in some instances, complex matters. The first motion, for example, shows the fatuousness of the original proposal that proceedings on the Hunting Bill should be completed by a certain time, because the Government must now return to the House—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, and I realise that he could not be here for the opening speeches, but we are discussing a specific programme motion relating to the Social Security Contributions (Share Options) Bill, and he must confine his remarks to that.

Mr. Howarth

I was trying to illustrate my opposition to programme motions in general, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I take your point.

I wonder how many more times the Government will come back to the House and ask us to amend an earlier programme motion. Clearly, that will not happen in this case, as the motion we are discussing relates only to consideration and Third Reading—and, of course, to consideration of Lords amendments and further messages from the Lords. I must confess that I am not sure what all that means: the wording is couched in references to such and such paragraphs of the ghastly Sessional Order that is the fount of all the misery we are having to endure as a result of the Government's determination to curtail debate in the House.

We are discussing an extremely important Bill. Although I have considerable experience of the City and international banking, I do not claim to be an expert in the particularities of the share-options issues that lie behind the Bill. Fortunately for us—not just Conservative Members, but Members throughout the House—my hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and South Downs (Mr. Flight) has such expertise. He bears testimony to the value of Members who have worked in the real world and bring experience of it to the House. Such experience is especially likely to inform debates on such matters as share options, in which my hon. Friend is extremely well versed. It could also be said that his expertise makes the case for Members' maintaining familiarity with such issues by having outside interests—but I will not pursue that point.

The Bill constitutes the Government's second attempt to reform their own legislation. Having failed to produce a sensible measure earlier, they have had to return to the House. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester that the Minister is an extremely good Minister; it is just a shame that he is in the wrong party. But the fact that he is such a good Minister—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman seems unable to concentrate on the motion. Interesting and complimentary though some of his asides have been, they are not relevant to the matter before us.

Mr. Howarth

I hesitate to compliment you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I entirely accept your guidance.

This is a complex matter that should have proper scrutiny. I object in principle to programme motions, and I object in particular to this one.

Mr. Tyrie

Will my hon. Friend give some thought to how such a first-rate Minister could end up introducing such a shoddy Bill and still be unable to get it straight? Does my hon. Friend think that programming is the right way to try to force through such a Bill in these circumstances?

Mr. Howarth

Such matters will always be conducted for the convenience of Governments. We should not forget that there were guillotine motions when we were in government. There will always be rational arguments that will persuade Ministers to support guillotine motions, or programme motions, as we now call them.

I am sure that, even if the Minister wanted to spend more time properly assessing and discussing the issues with hon. Members, he would nevertheless be under pressure not to do so, but to comply with the requirements of the sewers of Westminster, as they are known collectively—not the Minister, of course—to ensure that the Government get through their business as quickly as possible, regardless of whether it has had proper scrutiny in the House.

2.7 pm

Mr. Michael Jack (Fylde)

Mr. Deputy Speaker, I apologise to you and to the House for not being here at the start of this important item of business. I was able, by another means, to follow some of the Minister's introduction to the programme motion.

I am disappointed that a piece of business dealing with social security and national insurance issues should be introduced by a Treasury Minister. Up to now, most business of this nature has proceeded on an amicable, nay, even consensual, basis in the House of Commons. Since I have been in the House, I have been involved, from the Government and the Opposition Benches, with five Finance Bills and each one has managed to achieve its objectives by agreements through the usual channels. Some of the contents of those Bills have touched on, or dealt with, the issues in this measure.

However, we are now debating a programme motion on a matter that is clearly not of great controversy between the two Front Benches, in terms of the principle, at this stage. However, the drafting and objectives of the Bill require further debate, and I shall come to those points in a moment. It is sad that the programme motion breaks away from an important point of tradition on the way in which financial matters such as these have always been dealt with.

I had always thought that the reason for introducing a programme motion—or guillotine motion, as my hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd) said—was that the Government of the day had been filibustered or were in danger of not completing their business. Under the procedures introduced, and in the context of this type of measure, that risk is not there. The Government seem to be on auto-pilot, in that we have to go through this process every time a piece of business is introduced. There is no selectivity. There is no trust between the two sides of the House that some business will pass unimpeded, without the need to impose this rigidity on us.

Why do I object to the programme motion before us today? The debate is scheduled to end at 2.17 pm. By 3.30 this afternoon, or half-past three of the clock as my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) more correctly describes it, we are supposed to have considered nine detailed Government amendments. They may improve the Bill.

Mr. Tyrie

How will we know?

Mr. Jack

That is a good question, which leads me to my central point. The Government amendments amount to a fundamental rewrite of clause 3. Yet there is inadequate time for us to probe more thoroughly the failings of any pre-legislative consultation exercise on the Bill. In earlier proceedings, the Government made much of the fact that the Bill had been introduced because of representations from third parties. There is not enough time for us to discover what went wrong between the receipt of those representations, the original drafting and the effective rewrite of clause 3. There is insufficient time to consider the failings in policy development or draftsmanship.

Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Cotswold)

Does my right hon. Friend know of any Bill since the Queen's Speech that has been subject to the pre-legislative scrutiny procedure? Would it not be better for more Bills to be subject to such scrutiny? Perhaps they would not need to be timetabled if that happened.

Mr. Jack

I understand my hon. Friend's point. However, although pre-legislative scrutiny provides an opportunity for technical measures such as the Bill to be considered in detail, it should never replace proper, thorough debate and scrutiny in the Chamber and in Committee. A Bill will be introduced on capital allowances shortly. Although it will have received a great deal of input from outside opinion, that does not remove the right and role of the House to scrutinise.

Given the detail in some Government amendments, which I am sure my hon. Friend has considered, there is insufficient opportunity to consider their implications. Although is not right to debate Government amendment No. 3 now, let me just point out that it introduces proposed new section 4A, which establishes labyrinthine interconnections. It would take a good two hours for even an excellent Financial Secretary to explain, for example, how the Corporation Taxes Act 1988 and the various connections between sections 135 and 136 relate to the proposals.

The wording in the amendment is tortuous. The tax law rewrite exercise has shone little light on it. I should have liked at least a quarter of an hour to probe the Financial Secretary about the reason for such tortuous language. I should like another hour to take him, with meticulous care, through some of the reasoning behind rewriting so much of the Bill.

An advantage of Report is that it gives hon. Members who have not served on the Standing Committee the opportunity to hear in detail the reasons for tabling further amendments.

Mr. Forth

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, given the way in which matters are proceeding, with a probable Division shortly, there will be an hour in total to consider nine or 10 important amendments? That leaves six minutes for hon. Members to discuss each amendment. My right hon. Friend will get less time than that. That does not approach the amount of time that he estimates he requires.

Mr. Jack

My right hon. Friend is right. If we take account of other matters that need consideration, there is even less time than he estimates. It is bad form to deal with detailed technical matters in that way.

Pepper v. Hart is often cited in the context of detailed Bills. It gives the legal profession the opportunity to use our proceedings in court or other tribunals to help to show the true meaning of a measure. If we have only six minutes to discuss each amendment, and the Financial Secretary wants to go into detail about some of them, those who seek to use the facility of Pepper v. Hart will have scant information on which to draw.

For those reasons, the time allocated for the amendments is inadequate, and I shall have no hesitation in joining my hon. Friends in the Lobby to oppose the motion.

Question put: —

The House divided: Ayes 249, Noes 124.

Division No.111] [2.16 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Borrow, David
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N) Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Ainger, Nick Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Allen, Graham
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary Bradshaw, Ben
Ashton, Joe Brown, Rt Hon Gordon
Atherton, Ms Candy (Dunfermline E)
Austin, John Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)
Bailey, Adrian Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Banks, Tony Browne, Desmond
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Battle, John Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Beard, Nigel Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C) Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Benn Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield)
Bennett, Andrew F Campbell-Savours, Dale
Berry, Roger Caplin, Ivor
Blears, Ms Hazel Cawsey, Ian
Blizzard, Bob Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Clapham, Michael Hope, Phil
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields) Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Clark, Dr Lynda Hoyle, Lindsay
(Edinburgh Pentlands) Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham) Hutton, John
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian) Iddon, Dr Brian
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge) Ingram, Rt Hon Adam
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S) Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Clelland, David Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Coaker, Vernon Jamieson, David
Coffey, Ms Ann Johnson, Miss Melanie
Coleman, Iain (Welwyn Hatfield)
Colman, Tony Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Cooper, Yvette Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Corston, Jean Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Cousins, Jim Jowell, Rt Hon Ms Tessa
Cox, Tom Joyce, Eric
Cranston, Ross Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley) Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch) Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Cummings, John Kelly, Ms Ruth
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S) Kemp, Fraser
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W) Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Davis, Rt Hon Terry Lammy, David
(B'ham Hodge H) Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Dawson, Hilton Laxton, Bob
Dean, Mrs Janet Lepper, David
Denham, John Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Dismore, Andrew Lock, David
Dobbin, Jim McAvoy, Thomas
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank McCabe, Steve
Dowd, Jim McCafferty, Ms Chris
Drown, Ms Julia Macdonald, Calum
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey) McDonnell, John
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston) McFall, John
Edwards, Huw McGuire, Mrs Anne
Ellman, Mrs Louise McIsaac, Shona
Ennis, Jeff McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Etherington, Bill McNulty, Tony
Field, Rt Hon Frank Mactaggart, Fiona
Fisher, Mark McWalter, Tony
Fitzpatrick, Jim McWilliam, John
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna Mahon, Mrs Alice
Flynn, Paul Mallaber, Judy
Follett, Barbara Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Foster, Rt Hon Derek Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings) Martlew, Eric
Foster, Michael J (Worcester) Maxton, John
Galloway, George Meale, Alan
Gardiner, Barry Merron, Gillian
Gerrard, Neil Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Gibson, Dr Ian Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Godman, Dr Norman A Miller, Andrew
Godsiff, Roger Mitchell, Austin
Goggins, Paul Moran, Ms Margaret
Golding, Mrs Llin Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Gordon, Mrs Eileen Morley, Elliot
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E) Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S) (B'ham Yardley)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend) Morris, Rt Hon Sir John
Grocott, Bruce (Aberavon)
Hain, Peter Mudie, George
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale) Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford) Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Hanson, David Norris, Dan
Healey, John O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich) O'Hara, Eddie
Hendrick, Mark Olner, Bill
Hepburn, Stephen Organ, Mrs Diana
Heppell, John Palmer, Dr Nick
Hewitt, Ms Patricia Pearson, Ian
Hill, Keith Perham, Ms Linda
Hinchliffe, David Pickthall, Colin
Hodge, Ms Margaret Plaskitt, James
Hoey, Kate Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Pope, Greg Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Pound, Stephen Stoate, Dr Howard
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E) Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle) Stringer, Graham
Primarolo, Dawn Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Prosser, Gwyn (Dewsbury)
Purchase, Ken Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Quinn, Lawrie Temple-Morris, Peter
Radice, Rt Hon Giles Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Rammell, Bill Timms, Stephen
Rapson, Syd Tipping, Paddy
Raynsford, Nick Touhig, Don
Robertson, John Truswell, Paul
(Glasgow Anniesland) Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Rogers, Allan Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W) Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Roy, Frank Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Sarwar, Mohammad Tynan, Bill
Savidge, Malcolm Vis, Dr Rudi
Sawford, Phil Wareing, Robert N
Shaw, Jonathan Whitehead, Dr Alan
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert Wicks, Malcolm
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S) Williams, Rt Hon Alan
Skinner, Dennis (Swansea W)
Smith, Angela (Basildon) Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Smith, Miss Geraldine Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
(Morecambe & Lunesdale) Winnick, David
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch) Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Smith, John (Glamorgan) Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Soley, Clive Wyatt, Derek
Spellar, John
Squire, Ms Rachel Tellers for the Ayes:
Steinberg, Gerry Mr. Kevin Hughes and Mr. Clive Betts.
Stevenson, George
Allan, Richard Flight, Howard
Amess, David Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James Foster, Don (Bath)
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E) Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Baldry, Tony Fox, Dr Liam
Ballard, Jackie Fraser, Christopher
Beggs, Roy Gale, Roger
Beith, Rt Hon A J George, Andrew (St Ives)
Bercow, John Gibb, Nick
Blunt, Crispin Gidley, Sandra
Boswell, Tim Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W) Gray, James
Brady, Graham Green, Damian
Brand, Dr Peter Greenway, John
Brazier, Julian Hammond, Philip
Browning, Mrs Angela Hawkins, Nick
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset) Hayes, John
Burnett, John Heald, Oliver
Burns, Simon Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Burstow, Paul Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Cable, Dr Vincent Horam, John
Chapman, Sir Sydney Howard, Rt Hon Michael
(Chipping Barnet) Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Chope, Christopher Hunter, Andrew
Clappison, James Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
(Rushcliffe) Kennedy, Rt Hon Charles
Collins, Tim (Ross Skye & Inverness W)
Cran, James Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Davey, Edward (Kingston) Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice) Leigh, Edward
Donaldson, Jeffrey Letwin, Oliver
Dorrell, Rt Hon Stephen Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Duncan, Alan Lidington, David
Faber, David Livsey, Richard
Fabricant, Michael Llwyd, Elfyn
Fallon, Michael Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas Steen, Anthony
McIntosh, Miss Anne Stunell, Andrew
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew Swayne, Desmond
Maclean, Rt Hon David Tapsell, Sir Peter
McLoughlin, Patrick Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Mates, Michael Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Maude, Rt Hon Francis Taylor, Sir Teddy
May, Mrs Theresa Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Moore, Michael Tonge, Dr Jenny
Moss, Malcolm Townend, John
Norman, Archie Tredinnick, David
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury) Trend, Michael
Öpik, Lembit Tyler, Paul
Page, Richard Tyrie, Andrew
Paice, James Walter, Robert
Pickles, Eric Whitney, Sir Raymond
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael Whittingdale, John
Prior, David Wilkinson, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John Willetts, David
Rendel, David Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry) Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne) Yeo, Tim
Russell, Bob (Colchester) Young, Rt Hon Sir George
St Aubyn, Nick
Sayeed, Jonathan Tellers for the Noes:
Shepherd, Richard Mr. Peter Atkinson and Mr. Geoffrey Clifton- Brown.
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)

Question accordingly agreed to. Ordered, That the following provisions shall apply to the Social Security Contributions (Share Options) Bill for the purpose of supplementing the Order of 23rd January: