HC Deb 22 January 2001 vol 361 cc755-69

  1. 1. The Bill shall be committed to a Standing Committee.
  2. 2. Proceedings in the Standing Commitee shall (so far as not previously concluded) he brought to a conclusion on Thursday 8th February 2001.
The Bill is important, as the speeches tonight have acknowledged, and we have had a good debate. The motion proposes that the Committee stage should end on 8 February. We think that that gives sufficient time in which to debate a Bill of this length and nature. I am sure that we shall make good progress in Committee and give the Bill proper scrutiny.

Mr. John Redwood (Wokingham)

Will the Minister explain how many sittings and hew many hours of deliberation she envisages will take place during that period, which is ridiculously short given the seriousness of the many issues raised by the Bill?

Yvette Cooper

That will be a matter for the Programming Sub-Committee to decide That answer has been given many times before and I am slightly surprised that the right hon. Gentleman feels the need to ask the question again.

The Bill delivers the Governments commitment to ban tobacco advertising. Today, we have had the opportunity thoroughly to debate the arguments For and against such a ban, and the Government have consulted twice on the matter.

Mr. Leigh

For what reason has the date 8 February been picked?

Yvette Cooper

That date has been chosen because we think that it allows sufficient time in which to debate a Bill of the length and nature of the one before the House, and we think it important to programme the Committee stage of the Bill's passage.

We remain committed to implementing in the United Kingdom broadly the same policy as was set out in European Union directive 98/43. We have already consulted twice, so there has been extensive public debate on the matters that the Bill covers. We shall, of course, want to ensure that there is sufficient time in which to debate the key areas of interest in Committee.

Mr. Bercow

Does the Minister know what are to be the terms of the draft resolution to be submitted to the Programming Sub-Committee in respect of the Standing Committee? That draft resolution will specify the number of hours intended for consideration of the Bill. Is the hon. Lady aware of that? If she is aware of the proposed number of hours, would she be good enough to share her knowledge with the House?

Yvette Cooper

I am not aware of what the draft resolution will propose. The issue will go to the Committee of Selection on Wednesday and further information will be provided in due course about the timetable for the Programming Sub-Committee and the resolution that will be submitted to that Committee.

Today's debate has given us some idea of which issues and aspects of the Bill members of the Committee will want to scrutinise. It is clear that hon. Members will want to return in Committee to matters such as the internet. We have listened to the views that have been carefully expressed today.

Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown (Cotswold)

How can the Minister have an idea of what date the Committee stage should finish if she has no idea of the total number of hours of debate in Committee?

Yvette Cooper

That is a matter for the Programming Sub-Committee. This is the standard way in which programme motions are discussed—

Mr. Douglas Hogg (Sleaford and North Hykeham)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I apologise to the Minister for raising a point of order at this stage, but I should like to ask you a question. We are being asked to vote on a programme motion that would deliver up Committee stage on 8 February without knowing how long the Committee is to sit. Would it not be best if the Minister went to get advice and returned to the House to tell us on how many occasions the Committee will sit and for how long; and if, in the interim, we adjourned?

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

Sit down and shut up—[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst)

Order. I shall try to deal with the matter myself. This is not a matter for the Chair. It must continue to be a matter for debate. We have been debating such programme motions for a few weeks, and the debate must proceed as those have done.

Mrs. Gillian Shephard (South-West Norfolk)

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order that the Leader of the House should say from a sedentary position "Shut up" to a member of the Opposition?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

As it happens, I was dealing with the point of order, and I did not hear anything that was said. However, I realised that there was a disturbance that was attracting attention, and I signified to those on the Government Front Bench that I hoped that matters of order could be dealt with solely by the Chair. I call Yvette Cooper.

Yvette Cooper

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Programme motions are a standard procedure and many have been debated. One of the main advantages of timetabling is that the Committee can concentrate on the important issues and the Opposition will have time to make their points. The suggested date, 8 February, will provide enough time in Committee. It goes without saying that the Programming Sub-Committee will consider the detailed timetable and decide how frequently the Committee needs to sit. I commend the motion to the House.

10.36 pm
Mrs. Spelman

This is the first time that I have attended a debate on a programme motion, and I was rather taken aback by the Minister's long-suffering tone. I am intrigued about why the Government are going about matters in this way. It seems that we are putting the cart before the horse. No formal discussion of the out-date took place, so I am trying to come to terms with 8 February as the proposed date.

I do not think that I am the only hon. Member who is slightly confused by the introduction of the programme motion process. In the first week after the Christmas recess, I met many of the younger Labour Members who were not a little surprised to find that modernisation of the House had led to us sitting later than usual. Things had not quite gone according to plan.

By now, the Government must be aware that the Opposition do not agree with programming or the use of the guillotine in the consideration of Bills. Although I may be comparatively new to politics, there seems to me to be a certain lack of logic on the Government's part. They enjoy the fact that we do not have fixed-term Parliaments in this, the mother of Parliaments, yet they want to fix the timetable for their own legislation. That is illogical.

Many of us who have the honour of speaking from the Dispatch Box have spent an enjoyable period in our respective Whips Offices. My experience of being a Whip was that a deal was struck informally with respect to the time required for a piece of legislation. I was sometimes amazed to find how accurate those informal arrangements turned out to be, especially when, as a Whip confronted by a large Bill, one had to make the best guess about the length of time that would be required.

I discovered that a certain pattern of behaviour ensues. Almost invariably, the Government flap about getting their legislation out by the date informally agreed, while the Opposition, like an elastic band, are capable of stretching here, contracting there, and effectively landing the plane on the stroke of the agreed time. We gave the Government no reason to doubt the honour of our word that the Bill would be properly examined, they would have their legislation within a reasonable period and we would honour the agreement that we had made.

I am therefore nonplussed that we have moved to the new method of imposing timetables. That undermines the House's ability to decide whether time is being used effectively. It simply gives more power to the Executive—yet the Government claimed that things could only get better.

As we get the hang of these 45-minute debates, a certain pattern is emerging. First, the out-date does not provide a key to the time that will be allocated. In effect, what is in the Order Paper is pretty meaningless. No discussion has taken place about how long the sittings should be, how many we should have on a particular day and whether we should continue past 7 o'clock. There is no guidance for my colleagues about the length of time required for the Bill, which renders this exercise somewhat meaningless.

Mr. Redwood

Has my hon. Friend noticed that the Leader of the House has now left discourteously halfway through her remarks? Does she realise that the Leader of the House has comprehensively bungled the modernisation of the House? Arrogant insistence on guillotines means that Government Members now go home later than they otherwise probably would do, while we are still frustrated because we do not get the right opportunity to make the right points on the right issues. It is all a plot to upset Government Back Benchers and to try to hog the debate to stop real opposition.

Mrs. Spelman

I thank my right hon. Friend for his apposite intervention. Like him, I was fairly shocked by the strength of the reaction from the Leader of the House to one of my colleagues, especially because we are at an early stage of trying out the new procedure. I thought that she might like to stay and see how it is working. Surely, having been party to introducing the new method of dealing with the timetabling of Bills, it would be good for her to see how that is working out in practice. Perhaps her departure had something to do with the offhand tone and long-suffering air with which the Minister introduced the programme motion. Frankly, the motion is a waste of time and it is difficult to see why it has been given such importance on the Order Paper. It requires people to be present for 45 minutes to go through the motions of discussing a timetalble which, in any event, has to be negotiated tomorrow or the next day.

Mr. Bercow

Does my hon. Friend agree that things are becoming curiouser and curiouser? Would it not be helpful at this stage for the House to be told whether the Government Whips have discussed the intended allocation of time, but have simply not vouchsafed that rather important information to the Minister herself, or whether—despite the fact that, in only a matter of days they will have to table a draft resolution—they simply have not got round to discussing the matter at all? Which sort of cock-up is it?

Mrs. Spelman

My hon. Friend has pointed out the confusion that reigns. I do not know the answer to his question. I suspect that we shall not get an answer, although it is highly pertinent to the question of whether or not we spend time on the matter. Certainly, the benefit or otherwise of programme motions must be properly assessed. I come from the business world, where we would not dream of introducing a new procedure without reviewing accurately, after a short period, whether or not it was effective. However, programme motions were introduced with very little discussion; we have been lumbered with them and they do not seem to work very well. If we are not careful, they will become one of the great institutions and traditions of the House, although not if my hon. Friends and I resume power shortly, when things, of course, wi11 change once again.

Mr. Swayne

Having listened to the debate, my hon. Friend will be aware that a significant number of Government Members were critical of the Bill, which, they said, did not go far enough. Would it not have been proper for this debate to have been delayed by at least a couple of days so that the Government could take some account of what was said on Second Reading before gauging precisely the length of time needed to accommodate reservations expressed, even by their own Members, in Committee?

Mrs. Spelman

Yes, I wholeheartedly concur with my hon. Friend's views. I invite the Minister to look closely at tomorrow's Hansard, as several important interventions were made by Labour Members about the flaws, loopholes and lacunae in the Bill. That, in itself, is worth serious reflection.

Mr. Leigh

I cannot help noticing the coincidence that the Committee stage of the Hunting Bill—I serve on that Committee—is also programmed to finish on 8 February. Perhaps it makes no difference how big or controversial a Bill is, as all Bills will end on 8 February. As we are now in a joke of a Parliament, why do we not just line up all Bills on 18 November and say that they will all end on 8 February—[Interruption.] The Minister is chatting to her colleague and is not interested in the debate. The motion has nothing to do with the Bill, but is to do with getting enough Bills through in time for the Government's pathetic general election. That is what they want.

Mrs. Spelman

My hon. Friend has correctly pointed out that we should be extremely worried about 8 February. The Government have continued the practice of being able to call a general election when they want. We are all trying to read the tea leaves for signs of when that may be. It looks as though 8 February may be of considerable significance.

Mr. Hogg

Does my hon. Friend agree that one of the effects of an early finish date of 8 February is that it will preclude the small businesses that will be grievously affected by the Bill from making representations on its detail?

Mrs. Spelman

That extremely valid point was skirted over in the Second Reading debate Labour as well as Opposition Members pointed out that the Bill will substantially hurt retailers and place them in a difficult, powerless position, because it does nothing to deal with the trade in illegal tobacco, which is undercutting their legitimate business. That point was raised on Second Reading, but it is difficult to see where that is reflected in the Bill.

The serious point concerning these programme motions is that the amount of time available in Committee will be hammered out between us in the Programming Sub-Committee—this debate puts the cart before the horse—which will take place behind closed doors and with no record of the discussion. I doubt whether Labour Members who objected to the flaws and lacunae in the Bill will be on the Sub-Committee that decides how much time we spend on this measure. We have no idea who will form that Sub-Committee. I doubt whether those who expressed concerns to their own Ministers will be hand-picked to take part in the important scrutiny of the Bill.

I invite the Minister to respond to the question repeatedly asked by Conservative Members about programme motions: why cannot transcripts of the Sub-Committee meetings be made available to Members? If hybrid Select Committees have transcripts of meetings, why cannot we have transcripts of the meetings that take place behind closed doors and determine the time that is to be spent debating legislation that we have been elected to scrutinise?

Mr. Bercow

My hon. Friend makes an extremely pertinent point, which is validated by recent experience. Does she agree that one of the merits of publishing transcripts is that it removes any scope for doubt or argument about what had or had not been said at a Programming Sub-Committee? That problem arose last week, when the Minister of State, Home Office, the hon. Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Clarke), had one recollection of what he had said the previous day and I had another. There was no evidence to disprove either him or me.

Mrs. Spelman

I thank my hon. Friend for that excellent example of how this process is not working. If the Government get round to reviewing the changes that they have made to the legislative procedure by introducing these programme motions, I hope that they will take on board that important example of why they do not work well. We should not forget that these motions replace a system in which the usual channels—Whip to Whip—used to agree amicably on what would be a reasonable time in which to scrutinise a Bill. That system worked perfectly well and was based on trust. The loss of transparency and the refusal to permit a record of these secret Sub-Committee meetings has undermined the trust. That is the difference.

Mr. Redwood

As a former Minister, I brought Bills before the House from time to time, and I never wanted them to be guillotined because we could not be sure at the beginning how many amendments would be needed to perfect them. It was only fair to give the Opposition reasonable time to debate substantial amendments. Does my hon. Friend fear, especially given the internet interests, that many amendments to the Bill, including some that the Minister has not foreseen, will warrant more time?

Mrs. Spelman

My hon. Friend makes an important point. My experience as a Whip in dealing with Bills is that it is difficult at the outset always to foresee precisely how much time will be needed to consider a Bill clause by clause. Mile posts were set for some of the longer Bills. That is not unreasonable. However, placing too many mile posts for the Greater London Authority Bill meant that substantial parts of the measure were not scrutinised properly before it was passed to another place.

Mr. Hogg

I want to build on the point that my right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) made. If there is insufficient time in Committee to table amendments, they may be tabled in another place. They will subsequently return to the House, where we will be denied proper time to consider them. Does my hon. Friend agree that that is yet another example of an undemocratic process that the Government are introducing?

Mrs. Spelman

My right hon. and learned Friend emphasises the damage that is caused when measures are not properly scrutinised at each stage of their passage. We are in a special period; the Prime Minister fired the gun on "Breakfast with Frost", and we all know that the sand is running through the hour glass and that our legislative debates may shortly be curtailed. The worst of all worlds would be to rush through a measure that is improperly scrutinised and unworkable. Several times on Second Reading, I emphasised to the Minister that some provisions are not workable and will require substantial amendment to put them right.

I shall finish the series of points on the general lessons that we have learned from the programme motions on several Bills in the past two or three weeks. The Government always assure the Opposition that they can determine the amount of time that is spent in debate. However, the new programme motion invalidates the offer. The Opposition may flag up to the Government the clauses that they regard as important while the Government are setting greater constraints on the time that is required for each stage. That will make it much easier for a Government Back Bencher to speak in Committee and prevent the Opposition from reaching the provisions that they wish to consider.

Perhaps the Government regard my view of their workings as too cynical. I was accused earlier of having a naive view of the tobacco industry. Any naivety that I have does not extend to the Government's workings—once a Whip, always a Whip. Of course, Whips look for opportunities to hasten or delay measures accordingly. The programme motion is likely to deprive the Opposition of the time that we need to scrutinise the measure properly.

Mr. Clifton-Brown

Does my hon. Friend agree that Programming Sub-Committees are an affront to democracy? Not only are the transcripts of their proceedings unavailable to the public, but the public are not allowed to attend, and the votes and proceedings are not recorded. Indeed, rulings from the Chair are not recorded. We therefore cannot know what rulings form precedent for future Committees. That is an affront to democracy and the procedures of the House.

Mrs. Spelman

My hon. Friend has summed up probably far better than me the fundamental flaws of programme motions. He has hit the nail on the head: they are undemocratic. The Government are powerful and have a huge majority, but they are using a dramatic tool to force through legislation. That means that the measure is bound to be compromised by the lack of time that the Opposition would otherwise have had to scrutinise the Bill effectively.

We believe that the Government's position is especially flawed on the Bill that we are considering. In trying to tackle tobacco advertising, they have left an open goal for smuggling. The consultants KPMG summed up the problem: a ban on advertising will not work unless it is accompanied by comprehensive legislation to deal with control of tobacco smuggling.

The Bill is flawed and the Opposition's ability to scrutinise the measure effectively will be constrained. That combination means that we shall return to the same problem in two or three years. It will probably be aggravated by an even greater quantity of illegally imported tobacco, which undermines legitimate trade and causes smoking to increase. The Government will have only themselves to blame.

10.54 pm
Sir Peter Emery

The motion is an aberration from what the Government originally presented, and is, I believe, entirely incorrect. There has been no consultation between Government and Opposition: indeed, the Government have admitted that they have no idea what the Opposition wish to discuss, or what amendments they may wish to table. Yet it was the Government who said that the procedure whereby the date by which a Bill left Committee was announced would ensure that the Opposition would be able to discuss what they wanted in Committee. The Government have apparently gone back entirely on that undertaking.

The sole reason for establishing Programming Sub-Committees was to ensure that every part of a Bill was debated, but we are being asked to have the Bill out of Standing Committee in just two weeks, when the Committee's members have not yet been appointed. The working of the Committee, following the Sub-Committee's recommendation, was meant to be decided by those who would consider the Bill, but apparently that is not happening.

If the Government still believe that they can make acceptable the concept of a procedural motion setting the date by which a Bill must leave Committee, they must ensure that they have consulted the Opposition about the amount of time that they need. If they do not do that, they will be going back on their undertaking.

Mr. Leigh

Hon Members, including Government Front Benchers, have heard what my right hon. Friend is saying. Does he now feel betrayed? In the Modernisation Committee he tried to achieve an honourable reform of the House's procedures, but the Government are not interested in giving fair time; they are only interested in arbitrary deadlines. They are making a mockery of what my right hon. Friend was trying to achieve.

Sir Peter Emery

I am, indeed, immensely disappointed by the way in which things are going. If the Opposition decide that we need, say, 32 debates, we shall be sitting on Wednesdays; we shall be sitting until midnight three days a week. Is that what the Government want hon. Members to go through? If so, it is a nonsense.

If we are not to revert to the old procedures whereby half a Bill was never discussed in Committee, which all hon. Members condemn, we should try to ensure that the Opposition's views and the time that the Opposition need are taken into account, and that we reach an understanding that does not lead to a debate such as this. It is a waste of time, but it will go on and on unless we can make the procedure work properly.


Mr. Gerald Howarth (Aldershot)

I have no direct interest in the tobacco industry, but I am delighted to say that I have enjoyed some splendid hospitality courtesy of the tobacco industry, particularly when clay-pigeon shooting with right hon. and hon. Friends from both Houses. Modesty prevents me from saying which Member held the Commons trophy for two successive years. [HON. MEMBERS: "Go on. Name him."] No, I am far too modest.

I also look forward greatly to attending the England-Italy match at Twickenham on 17 February, courtesy of Imperial Tobacco.

Having said that, let me add that I am not a smoker. Like other hon. Members, I cannot ascertain what Rudyard Kipling would say were he here. However, I suspect that he would believe, as I do, that the Bill is a thoroughly draconian, illiberal and un-British measure. It is absolutely and utterly disgraceful that the Government believe that four Committee sittings will be sufficient to address the Bill's many complex issues.

Mr. David Taylor

The hon. Gentleman was surmising what Kipling might have said about the circumstances. Is he aware that Orwell called advertising the rattling of a stick in a swill bucket…? Is it not time that we brought to an early end the advertising of tobacco, which brings to an early end the lives of so many people in the United Kingdom? If, as the Government suggest the Bill reduces the number of smokers by 2.5 per cent—

Mr. Deputy Speaker


Mr. Taylor

That is eight people a day—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman will sit down immediately when the occupant of the Chair rises to intervene. I wish to point out to him that that intervention has nothing to do with the specific motion that we are now considering. It was a Second Reading point.

Mr. Howarth

I entirely agree with you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. That was an inordinately long and irrelevant intervention. If the hon. Gentleman had said that 1984 is coming to pass in 2001, his remarks would have been much more accurate and relevant.It is astonishing that the Government are moving a timetable motion to confine debate on the Bill to four sittings when—as I understand it from my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman) —the Health and Social Care Bill also is due to be reported from Committee on 8 February.

Mr. Bercow

And the Hunting Bill

Mr. Howarth


What is the Government's great rush to get those Bills, particularly the two health Bills, out of Committee on the same day if it is not simply to clear the decks for a general election? Ministers persist in that rush regardless of the impact that the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill will have on businesses and on the enjoyment which the public gain from the many sporting fixtures that are held with the tobacco industry's support.

The Government are able to hurry the Bill—there are no restraints on them—using this timetable motion because Mr. Bernie Ecclestone is no longer a part of the equation. Many business men have given money to political parties to sustain them. Many business men have given money—and continue to give money—to support the Conservative party because it believes in freedom and in enterprise. However, Mr. Bernie Pcclestone is alone in buying a change in policy.

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I think the hon. Gentleman is going well off beam.

Mr. Howarth

I acknowledge your censure, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The point that I am making is that the Government have had the four years of this Parliament to introduce the Bill. We are now debating a timetable motion to hurry through—at an obscene pace, in only four sittings—an illiberal measure that they could have introduced earlier. I contend that Ministers are hurrying the Bill through now, but that they would not have done so two years ago, when Mr. Bernie Ecclestone had given them a million quid to buy off their opposition to the advertising of tobacco products in Formula 1 racing. I hope that everyone who attends Formula 1 will note what the Government have done to their sport.

The Committee will need more than four sittings to debate the Bill. I do not know whether any of my right hon. or hon. Friends have read clause 20, but if any of them have and can tell me what it means, I would be extremely interested to know. It is a most extraordinary clause. It states:

  1. (1) Apart from this section, this Act comes into force on such day as the appropriate Minister may by order appoint.
  2. (2) Different days may be appointed under subsection (I) for different provisions and for different purposes.
Clause 20 is a wholly catch-all clause—[Interruption.] It is good to know that the Secretary of State is taking an interest in the issues, even if his junior Ministers are not. I have read the Bill to discover when its provisions are to come into force, but have found nothing except the extraordinarily vague clause 20. The Government's explanatory leaflet suggested that their intention was that the Bill should come into force two months after Royal Assent, with a further three months to allow for certain other factors. I read nothing at all about the banning of tobacco advertising or the sponsorship of motor racing; I had to hear that on the "Today" programme. I understand that it will be 2006 before tobacco advertising is restricted on Formula 1. That is precisely the sort of point that we need to discuss so that the people of this country can understand the Bill.

Mr. Redwood

My hon. Friend is suggesting that the Committee will need a lot of time to table exploratory and probing amendments because the Bill is so comprehensively useless at telling the House and the wider British public what it intends for whom and when. Just as we know nothing about the number of hours allowed under the guillotine, we know nothing about when the Act will come into effect. Does my hon. Friend agree that our Front-Bench colleagues should table probing amendments?

Mr. Howarth

My right hon. Friend, as on so many occasions, is entirely right, but I am not sure that they should be probing amendments. They should be substantive amendments, so that the people of this country can see exactly what the Bill is about. We heard it argued earlier that the Bill had serious implications for small businesses; that applies also to not-so-small businesses. The Bill also deals with internet services and proposes that an internet service provider should not publish or distribute, or cause to be published or distributed, a tobacco advertisement of which it is unaware. That looks to me like a gaping hole in this draconian measure, which I hope will be exploited to maximum advantage. However, I heard the Minister of State on the radio this morning trying to explain away how internet service providers will not be affected by the Bill. It seems to me that they will. There is so much uncertainty—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman is making a Second Reading speech. He must direct his remarks exactly to the programme motion that is before the House.

Sir Peter Emery

Will my hon. Friend give way?

Mr. Howarth

Of course.

Sir Peter Emery

My hon. Friend said that he thought that tobacco advertising at motor racing was not going to be banned until 2006, and I understand that tobacco advertising at all other sporting fixtures will be banned by 2002. Does he think that the timetabling of the Bill allows us to probe how and why these differences come about?

Mr. Howarth

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his guidance. I had the privilege of seeing him on Friday in his wonderful constituency which has been so well-served by him for such a long time. That is the kind of perceptive remark that we get from Conservative Members. Why is the Bill being thrust upon the House with so little debate when its principal targets will not be affected, according to the Minister—on the radio, and not here in Parliament—apparently until 2002 or 2006?

Mr. Hawkins

Further to the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Member for East Devon (Sir P. Emery) on the Government's open betrayal of what they previously indicated, does my hon. Friend recognise the particular anger that my hon. Friend the Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway) mentioned earlier about the inconsistency in terms of darts? Darts is a sport that is well liked in his constituency and mine and its ban would take effect in 2002 or 2003. Those involved feel that they are being discriminated against by comparison with the Government's more generous treatment of Formula 1.

Mr. Howarth

My hon. Friend makes an extremely important point. As he knows, Mr. Bob Potter, a constituent of his, who has a splendid hotel in my constituency, hosts darts competitions at Lakeside—

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. The hon. Member for Surrey Heath (Mr. Hawkins) sat down before I could reprimand him, but the hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Howarth) should not be pursuing his current line because it has to do with the Bill and not with the programme motion.

Mr. Howarth

I am sorry, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I had not intended to be led astray by my hon. Friend.

Mr. Leigh

Is it not somewhat ironic that the 650 elected Members of the House of Commons are worth two weeks, while one man—Mr. Bernie Ecclestone—is worth six years?

Mr. Deputy Speaker

Order. I have already said that I have heard enough on that subject. The hon. Member for Aldershot should get on with his speech or complete it because at the moment it appears to be strung together with a number of interventions from colleagues who may wish to catch my eye.

Mr. Howarth

I am sorry, Mr. Deputy Speaker; it not my intention that you should regard my remarks as strung together.

Mr. Paul Tyler (North Cornwall)

The hon. Gentleman should be strung up instead.

Mr. Howarth

I was in the hon. Gentleman's consistency on Saturday and did not suggest that he should be strung up; perhaps I made a mistake.

Profound issues arise from the Bill, of which there has been no satisfactory explanation from the Government—just a bored look from the Under-Secretary. I am sorry to have to say to her that her attitude to the House is thoroughly contemptible. This Bill is very serious—it will affect many and could well damage many sporting events that people enjoy—Yet all the Minister can do is look bored and weary, waiting until 8 February when she can get this wretchedly illiberal measure on to the statute book, attack successful business and deprive many people of sports that they enjoy.

11.12 pm
Mr. Hogg

This is an arrogant motion; it should not be before the House.

The motion provides that the Bill leaves Committee by 8 February, but the truth is that we do not know whether that allows sufficient time. We do not know when the Bill will go into Committee or how many sittings there will be. How can we possibly say whether there will have been sufficient time to consider it by 8 February? We can say some things with certainty. My right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) drew attention to the fact that there will not be sufficient time to consider amendments. That is most certainly the case if the Bill is to report by 8 February. Indeed, as I said to my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Mrs. Spelman), amendments will then be tabled in the other place and this House will not have sufficient time to debate them. That is a denial of democracy.

There is another denial of democracy. The Bill has just begun its progress. We can argue whether it is desirable, but on any view, it represents a serious attack on liberty. People who have small businesses in my constituency wish to make detailed representations on the Bill, but all of us know full well that they will not have sufficient time in which to do that. They are being denied the opportunity to express their criticism of the Bill through their elected Members.

Mr. Bercow

Is not It the position of the Under-Secretary succinctly encapsulated thus: "I do not know how many sittings of the Committee there will be; I do not know how many amendments there will be; I do not know how much time for consideration there will be; but something in my stars says none the less that 8 February is the right day for conclusion"?

Mr. Hogg

My hon. Friend is right, with one further observation, to which I was about to draw the House's attention. In justifying the programme motion, the Undersecretary said, "We think that this is sufficient time." That is not reassuring to the House. The Government may think that there is sufficient time, but what is their agenda? We do not.

11.14 pm
Mr. Nick St. Aubyn (Guildford)

I have known the Under-Secretary for as long as we have been in the House; I know that she is an honourable Member. Surely in arriving at the date of 8 February she must have known how many amendments would be tabled in Committee. Perhaps she will come to the Dispatch Box and share with the House her knowledge of the number of amendments that will be tabled in Committee. However, she may not know that figure; I certainly do not My hon. Friends do not know how many will be tabled. Given that— 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 already proposed from the Chair.

The House divided: Ayes 254, Noes 79.

Division No. 72] [11.15 pm
Abbott, Ms Diane Coleman, Iain
Ainger, Nick Colman, Tony
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE) Cooper, Yvette
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary Corbyn, Jeremy
Atkins, Charlotte Corston, Jean
Austin, John Cousins, Jim
Bailey, Adrian Crausby, David
Banks, Tony Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Barron, Kevin Cummings, John
Battle, John Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack (Copeland)
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel Cunningnam, Jim (Cov'try S)
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret Dalyell, Tam
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough) Darvill, Keith
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C) Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Bennett, Andrew F Davidson, Ian
Benton, Joe Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Bermingham, Gerald Dawson, Hilton
Berry, Roger Denham, John
Betts, Clive Dismore, Andrew
Blears, Ms Hazel Dobbin, Jim
Boateng, Rt Hon Paul Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Bradley, Keith (Withington) Donohoe, Brian H
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin) Doran, Frank
Bradshaw, Ben Drew, David
Brinton, Mrs Helen Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries) Edwards, Huw
Browne, Desmond Efford, Clive
Buck, Ms Karen Ellman, Mrs Louise
Butler, Mrs Christine Ennis, Jeff
Campbell-Savours, Dale Fisher, Mark
Cann, Jamie Fitzsimons, Mrs Loma
Caplin, Ivor Flint, Caroline
Casale, Roger Follett, Barbara
Caton, Martin Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Cawsey, Ian Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Chaytor, David Gapes, Mike
Clapham, Michael George, Rt Hon Bruce (Walsall S)
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields) Gerrard, Neil
Clark, Paul (Gillingham) Gibson, Dr Ian
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S) Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge) Goggins, Paul
Clelland, David Golding, Mrs Llin
Clwyd, Ann Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Coffey, Ms Ann Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Cohen, Harry Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce Moffatt, Laura
Grogan, John Moonie, Dr Lewis
Hain, Peter Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale) Moriey, Elliot
Hall, Patrick (Bedford) Morris, Rt Hon Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David Mountford, Kali
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet Mudie, George
Healey, John Mullin, Chris
Hendrick, Mark Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Hepburn, Stephen Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Heppell, John Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Hewitt, Ms Patricia Naysmith, Dr Doug
Hill, Keith Norris, Dan
Hinchliffe, David O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Hoey, Kate O'Neill, Martin
Hope, Phil Organ, Mrs Diana
Hopkins, Kelvin Osborne, Ms Sandra
Howarth, Rt Hon Alan (Newport E) Palmer, Dr Nick
Hoyle, Lindsay Pearson, Ian
Humble, Mrs Joan Perham, Ms Linda
Hurst, Alan Pickthall, Colin
Hutton, John Pike, Peter L
Iddon, Dr Brian Plaskitt, James
Illsley, Eric Pope, Greg
Jenkins, Brian Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle) Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield) Purchase, Ken
Rammell, Bill
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn) Raynsford, Nick
Jones, Helen (Warrington N) Reid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C) Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Joyce, Eric
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald Roche, Mrs Barbara
Keeble, Ms Sally Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston) Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth) Rowlands, Ted
Kemp, Fraser Roy, Frank
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree) Ruane, Chris
Khabra, Piara S Ruddock, Joan
Kidney, David Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Kilfoyle, Peter Salter, Martin
Kumar, Dr Ashok Savidge, Malcolm
Ladyman, Dr Stephen Sedgemore, Brian
Lammy, David Shaw, Jonathan
Laxton, Bob Sheerman, Barry
Lepper, David Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Levitt, Tom Singh, Marsha
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley) Skinner, Dennis
Linton, Martin Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Lock, David
Love, Andrew Smith, Rt Hon Chris (Islington S)
McAvoy, Thomas Smith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McDonagh, Siobhain Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
McDonnell, John Smith, John (Glamorgan)
McFall, John Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
McIsaac, Shona Snape, Peter
Mackinlay, Andrew Soley, Clive
McNulty, Tony Southworth, Ms Helen
MacShane, Denis Spellar, John
Mactaggart, Fiona Squire, Ms Rachel
McWalter, Tony Steinberg, Gerry
Mahon, Mrs Alice Stinchcombe, Paul
Mallaber, Judy Stringer, Graham
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S) Stuart, Ms Gisela
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S) Sutcliffe, Gerry
Martlew, Eric Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)
Maxton, John
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Merron, Gillian Temple-Morris, Peter
Michael, Rt Hon Alun Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley) Timms, Stephen
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan Todd, Mark
Miller, Andrew Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE) Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown) Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Turner, Neil (Wigan) Wood, Mike
Walley, Ms Joan Woolas, Phil
Wareing, Robert N Worthington, Tony
Watts, David Wyatt, Derek
White, Brian Tellers for the Ayes:
Whitehead, Dr Alan Mr. Kevin Hughes and
Wicks, Malcolm Mr. Graham Allen.
Allan, Richard Loughton, Tim
Amess, David Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham) McIntosh, Miss Anne
Beith, Rt Hon A J Maclean, Rt Hon David
Bercow, John McLoughlin, Patrick
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W) Maples, John
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia Moore, Michael
Brand, Dr Peter Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)
Burnett, John Nicholls, Patrick
Burstow, Paul O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies (NE Fife) Öpik, Lembit
Ottaway, Richard
Cash, William Page, Richard
Chope, Christopher Paice, James
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Rushcliffe) Prior, David
Randall, John
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey Redwood, Rt Hon John
Cotter, Brian Rendel, David
Cran, James Robathan, Andrew
Davies, Quentin (Grantham) Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Duncan, Alan Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxboume)
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Fabricant, Michael St Aubyn, Nick
Feam, Ronnie Sanders, Adrian
Forth, Rt Hon Eric Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Foster, Don (Bath) Soames, Nicholas
Fox, Dr Liam Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Gidley, Sandra Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Gray, James Swayne, Desmond
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie Syms, Robert
Hawkins, Nick Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Hayes, John Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome) Tyler, Paul
Webb, Steve
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas Whittingdale, John
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot) Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Hunter, Andrew Willis, Phil
Kirkwood, Archy Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Leigh, Edward Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E) Tellers for the Noes:
Lidington, David Mr. Peter Luff and
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham) Mr. Stephen Day.

Question accordingly agreed to.