§ 6. Standing Order No. 15(1) (Exempted business) shall apply to proceedings on the Bill at today's sitting.
§ 7. The proceedings on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion one hour after commencement, and Standing Order No. 15(1) shall apply to those proceedings.
§ 8. Standing Order No. 82 (Business Committee) shall not apply in relation to proceedings on the Bill.
§ 9. No Motion shall be made to alter the order in which any proceedings on the Bill are taken.
§ 10. No dilatory Motion shall be made in relation to the Bill except by a Minister of the Crown.
§ 11. No debate shall be permitted on any Motion to recommit the Bill (whether as a whole or otherwise) and the Speaker shall put forthwith any Question necessary to dispose of the Motion, including the Question on any amendment moved to the Question.
§ 12. If at today's sitting a Motion for the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 24 (Adjournment on specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration) stands over 1123 to Four o'clock and proceedings on the Bill have begun before that time, the Motion for the Adjournment shall stand over until the conclusion of proceedings on the Bill.
§ 13. If the House is adjourned at today's sitting, or the sitting is suspended, before the conclusion of proceedings on the Bill, no notice shall be required of a Motion made at the next sitting by a Minister of the Crown for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order.
§ There are issues of such importance that we need to find time, perhaps at short notice, to ensure that UK law does what we in Parliament and the public whom we represent expect it to do. Human reproductive cloning is one such important issue. It is an issue on which we need to take action, and to do so now.
§ I intend to set out the background to the legislation on these matters and to the judicial review that concluded that human embryos created by cell nuclear replacement—so-called cloned embryos—were not governed by the overarching legislation, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990.
§ This is a matter of great importance, and it is not just theoretical. We are already aware of reports of an Italian who wanted to come to the United Kingdom to exploit what he considered to be a loophole in our law. Others may be tempted to do the same if the situation remains unchanged.
§ Mr. Oliver Heald (North-East Hertfordshire)
In January, did not senior lawyers in the other place—Lord Rawlinson, speaking for the Conservatives, and Lord Brennan, who is of a different political persuasion—warn that the interpretation that has now been accepted by the courts was likely? Is it not wrong that, in the 10 months since those clear warnings, the Government have done nothing to present the change to the House and correct a risky and worrying situation?
§ Ms Blears
I shall deal with the legal position later. The Government took advice from senior counsel on the interpretation of the 1990 Act, and on whether it covered all kinds of embryos, including those created by cell nuclear replacement. We were advised that the Act was likely to involve a purposive construction, and that therefore all embryos were covered. Mr. Justice Crane held otherwise in the High Court, which is why we need to introduce the Bill today and why we need the allocation of time motion.
§ Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)
The Minister is not merely allocating time, but trying to take all the Bill's stages in one day. What is the basis for her belief that in the time that it would take to handle the Bill properly, with intervals between its stages and consultation outside, this Italian—or anyone else—would manage to break what we thought the law was before the court decision? Surely it is unrealistic in the extreme to imagine that anyone could engage in that process during the time that it would take to scrutinise the Bill properly, rather than rushing it through.
§ Ms Blears
It is difficult for me to speculate on what might happen, but we know that this individual has been threatening to use such a process for a long time. If he perceived a legal loophole here in the United Kingdom, 1124 he might seek to exploit it. We must bear in mind the advances made in America last week when considering whether the Bill should complete all its stages today.
§ Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire)
That does not answer the question. If the Government made a firm declaration of intent, and if it were known—as it would be known—that their passing of a sensible measure would be widely supported in the House, the Italian and anyone else would be deterred. There is no excuse for rushing the Bill through today, especially as many of us consider it very defective.
§ Ms Blears
I think that it is a sensible measure, and I think it difficult for any of us to say that a message sent from the House will deter individuals from taking action. We have no way of knowing that. The only way to ensure that they are deterred is to pass the Bill today, and enshrine it in our law.
§ Miss Ann Widdecombe (Maidstone and The Weald)
If the real danger is represented by the activities of this Italian, the Home Secretary has adequate powers—I have counsel's opinion to this effect—to exclude him under the Immigration Acts. That would give us time to devise some sensible legislation.
§ Ms Blears
The appropriate course is to look at our legislation, impose the ban on human reproductive cloning that we promised as long ago as August 2000, and ensure that the Bill constitutes a clear legal statement of our position. Powers may well exist under other legislation, but they do not relate to banning human reproductive cloning; they relate to one individual. This is a much more sensible way to proceed.
§ Michael Fabricant (Lichfield)
The hon. Lady will know that I generally support the Bill, but because up to three hours may be spent debating the allocation of time motion we may have only two and a half hours to debate its remaining stages. Although I wish the Bill to be passed, does she not accept that those arrangements are an outrage?
§ Ms Blears
The solution lies in hon. Members' hands: we can debate the motion as quickly as possible and thereby maximise the time available to debate these very important issues. On Monday, the other place passed the Bill unamended in about five hours. I hope that we can achieve something similar in this place.
§ Lynne Jones (Birmingham, Selly Oak)
I support the Bill. The problem is that the Government's proposals cover actions that are not imminent, whereas they exclude imminent associated actions such as the use of embryos created by cell nuclear replacement techniques.
§ Ms Blears
The Bill is narrowly drawn, tightly focused and designed to concentrate on human reproductive 1125 cloning, about which there is broad consent in both Houses of Parliament and among the public. I do not think that a practice's imminent nature, although a consideration, is the sole issue.
§ Dr. Ian Gibson (Norwich, North)
Does my hon. Friend agree that immediate public reassurance on the point that she has just made is important, given the scare tactics that we have seen in the media and elsewhere? We need a decision right now, particularly on reproductive cloning.
§ Dr. Evan Harris (Oxford, West and Abingdon)
The Minister's answer to the previous question confirms what many of us feel: that the Government's legislative programme is driven more by their fear of press reports than by rational argument. If the Leader of the House was right in saying at last week's business questions that the Government's intent is to restore the status quo ante on embryo protection that preceded the judgment, why does the Bill provide only one form of protection for cloned embryos, which I support, but not for others?
§ Ms Blears
Like any proper Government, we are rightly responsive to public opinion. The proposals were announced in August 2000, when we said that we would enshrine in statute a ban on human reproductive cloning. We intend to do that.
As for the therapeutic uses of embryos created by cell nuclear replacement, we are appealing Mr. Justice Crane's judgment; I understand that it will be lodged this afternoon. We want to await the outcome of that legal process before determining what action we must take to ensure that embryos so created have the same protection as the 1990 Act offers embryos created by fertilisation.
§ Mr. Simon Thomas (Ceredigion)
The Minister correctly reminds us that the Government promised us this legislation in August 2000. Meanwhile, have not hon. Members on both sides of the House been urging the Government to introduce it much more quickly? I raised the issue in business questions four months ago but was told that a Bill would appear in good time. Have not the Government been caught out by a court case? Has not the Government's poor legal judgment forced us into this position? Why cannot we have enough time to consider the Bill and its implications such as those mentioned by the hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Dr. Harris)? Although I support the Bill, it is very flawed.
§ Ms Blears
As I have explained, it is important that we act urgently. We intend to deal with the other matters when the outcome of the appeal is known. It is not a matter of rushing legislation that we promised to introduce or of our being caught out by the judgment. Counsel's advice, on which we acted, was that all embryos were covered by the 1990 Act. After proper 1126 litigation, the courts took a narrow, literal interpretation of the statute, as a result of which cell nuclear replacement embryos are not covered. We need to take immediate action in respect of human reproductive cloning, and to consider what we need to do on therapeutic cloning when we have the results of the appeal.
§ Mr. Ian Taylor (Esher and Walton)
The Minister has been generous with her time, and I am grateful to her for giving way. The issue underlines the problem with rapid scientific advances. She is right that the judge took a literal interpretation of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 rather than taking account of the way in which cells are created. The House must consider whether this narrow Bill will give the protection against human reproductive cloning that all of us would like to see. We can revert to the importance of trying to protect and encourage therapeutic cloning.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Michael Lord)
Order. We are not at this point discussing the contents of the Bill, but simply the allocation of time motion.
§ Ms Blears
The hon. Gentleman raises some of the matters that I will address later in the debate. He makes an important point: in this fast-moving scientific world, we need to ensure that our legislation canencapsulate that dynamic process as well as capturing the law at a particular moment in time.
As hon. Members will know, our concerns—reflected in this short Bill—were proved right when, at the weekend, we saw the outcome of research in the US, where researchers successfully created embryos by cell nuclear replacement as well as by parthenogenesis, which involves stimulating an egg to develop into an embryo without the use of sperm. The Government are lodging an appeal against the court decision this afternoon, but on an issue such as this, which has such considerable safety and ethical dimensions, immediate action is required, even though there is already considerable pressure on the parliamentary timetable. That is why the Bill, announced last year, has been introduced now.
The Bill was debated in the other place on Monday and approved without amendment. It is a short Bill and its aim is clear. No one, as far as I am aware, has said that reproductive cloning should take place. I know that some people believe that the Bill should be wider, to include therapeutic cloning, but those issues are properly left for the outcome of the Government's appeal. The Government's immediate concern is that no one should think that they can come to the UK to exploit the current situation.
The Government recognise the concerns of those who seek a wider debate, but we make no apology for the fact that the Bill has been introduced quickly after the judgment on 15 November, which raised doubts about the lawfulness of the ban imposed by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. The introduction of the Bill reflects the concerns raised frequently by Parliament and the public about the importance of ensuring that reproductive cloning cannot take place in the UK.
In August 2000 we said that we would introduce a Bill to place the ban on human reproductive cloning on a statutory footing. I hope that we can achieve that aim this afternoon.
§ Mr. Oliver Heald (North-East Hertfordshire)
In opposing the programme motion, I start by referring to the exceptional speech made in the other place by the Bishop of St. Albans. I do not know whether we describe bishops as right reverend prelates, as they do in the other place; if so, I adopt that practice. He spoke of the importance of the issue and said that on certain issues a human being instinctively feels a shudder of recognition. He talked about moments of great art inspiring shudders of recognition and said:we have become so seduced by our technological skills that the moral enormity of what we are doing and the sheer scale of our audacity have dwarfed and threaten to silence conscience, wisdom and that collective sensibility which alone ensure genuine moral freedom. I believe, however, that in this debate and in our nation there is a 'shudder of recognition' that human reproductive cloning is inherently and absolutely wrong and must be prevented at all costs."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 26 November 2001; Vol. 629, c. 35.]This is one of the great issues of our day and I am sure that the vast majority of the public and this House would agree with the bishop's views, as I do.
There was also concern in the other place that, however urgent the matter might be, Parliament was not being given adequate time to consider it properly and that, as a consequence, the resulting law might not be effective. The same is true of the time being allowed in this place.
A balance must always be struck between urgency and proper consideration, and between the Government's duty to act and the rights of Opposition parties—even when, as in this instance, the main Opposition simply believe that the Bill does not go far enough. A balance must also be struck between speed and effectiveness. All hon. Members will know of examples of when the House has legislated in haste and repented at leisure.
The concerns expressed in the other place were felt not only by those such as Lord Alton, whose view is that all cloning should be banned, but by those who support so-called therapeutic cloning. Baroness Walmsely said:we are debating today the protection of probably the most vulnerable form of human life. Yet we have been given only today to do it and to ensure that the legislation passes through all its parliamentary stages."—[Official Report, House of Lords, 26 November 2001; Vol. 629, c. 17.]
§ Michael Fabricant
I have been listening to my hon. Friend, and doing some calculations at the same time. Is he aware that, if the Second Reading debate lasts for 90 minutes, the Report stage for 15 minutes and Third Reading for 30 minutes, and if this debate lasts the full the three hours deemed appropriate by the Leader of the House, there will be only three and three quarter minutes in Committee to discuss each amendment selected by Mr. Speaker? Does my hon. Friend think that that is a reasonable amount of time?
§ Mr. Heald
As so often, my hon. Friend makes an important point. It is not merely a question of the amount of time devoted to each amendment. Parliamentary procedure is designed to allow proper reflection between the various stages of a Bill's progress through the House. We have First Reading, when we read the Bill. We have Second Reading, when the principles underlying the Bill are examined. We then have a period of reflection, during which we can decide what amendments are needed to 1128 cover the ambit of debate set out on Second Reading. Not every hon. Member gets a chance to take part in debate during the Committee stage, because of the arrangements involving Committees upstairs. A gap is therefore left after the Committee stage so that all hon. Members can study a Bill and decide how it should be amended on Report. Finally, we look at the whole thing again on Third Reading, and decide whether we like it. Without those gaps, people outside do not have the opportunity to contribute.
The eyes of the world are on us today. This is an international issue. It prompted the American Congress to approve on Monday a motion, with a majority of more than 100. that bans all forms of cloning. The European countries have covered the issue in the relevant convention.
This Parliament is the cradle of democracy. Hon. Members are admired across the world for the proper scrutiny that we give, or should give—
§ Mr. Heald
My hon. Friend says from a sedentary position that the House used to give proposals proper scrutiny. It does us no credit to deny democracy in a process such as we are about to embark on today.
I accept that reproductive cloning should be banned, and that this is an urgent matter. I support the Bill, but one of the pieces of evidence presented to Congress on Monday was that more than 200 couples are interested in trying experiments of the sort covered by the Bill as a way to have a baby. Those people are prepared to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds to take part in such experiments. It is therefore urgent that the Bill should become law. I believe that it should take only days or a week to get it on to the statute book, but there is no excuse for doing so in one afternoon, as is proposed. It is crucial that we have gaps between the various stages.
§ Mr. Ian Taylor
We need time to debate this issue in the broader context of how we treat cell nuclear replacements and how we isolate the aspects of cell creation that we wish to ban—human reproduction. We do not want to make the mistake of the US Congress, which is to ban everything. In my judgment, it is humane to pursue therapeutic cloning through cell nuclear replacement.
§ Mr. Heald
My hon. Friend illustrates one of the most important points about measures such as this: there are very different, serious, deeply held views on the exact way forward. I hope that when the Lords Stem Cell Research Committee finishes its report on this issue we shall have an opportunity to look in detail at all the law in this area and at all the various complicated, difficult issues that arise. Even since January, when we debated therapeutic cloning, more evidence has emerged about what can be done with adult stem cells. Clearly, that should inform our debate and we should look at the issues. I hope that the Government will treat this as the emergency plugging of a loophole and that we shall return to the subject and have a proper debate in due course, if it does not prove possible to do so now.
§ Mr. Beith
If the Government succeed in pressing ahead today, they must return with a further legislative 1129 opportunity. Will the hon. Gentleman reconsider his concept of urgency? It strains credulity to suggest that someone could arrive in this country, find a clinic prepared to lose its licence by co-operating, find participants and embark on this procedure in the few weeks that it would take us to consider this Bill properly. Does he agree that the Government are straining the concept of emergency beyond any reasonable limit by saying that we have to legislate in a period shorter than would be needed to give the Bill reasonable consideration?
§ Mr. Heald
I agree that a period of three and a half hours with no gaps between the stages is ludicrous. The Bill is tightly drawn and probably goes beyond what is sensible in tightening the cordon.
Lord Brennan, who supports the Bill and therapeutic cloning, wanted to raise some basic legal issues about definition and so on, but even narrow definitional issues proved beyond the draftsmanship of someone who has been Chairman of the Bar Council and is widely respected across both Houses.
There is an issue about whether the drafting of the Bill is helping democracy. I would strongly support a straightforward Bill and a relatively quick timetable, but it is a mistake to draw the Bill so tightly that we cannot even consider, for example, issues such as those raised in the other place by Lady Blatch and others. The timetable, too, is wrong.
That is sad, as there is no reason for us to be in this position. The Government knew of the legal doubts as long ago as last January. I cannot help thinking that they offered a Bill in their manifesto because they thought that it was necessary to ban this form of cloning in primary legislation. Otherwise, why have a Bill? As recently as the general election the Government were promising to introduce a Bill of this sort, but they did not. In January, 11 months ago, they were told that there was a legal risk. At the general election, just a few months ago, they admitted that there was a need to change the law. The Government took a risk. They hoped that the matter would not end up in court and that they would get away with it. Now, because of their mistake, democracy is being asked to pay the price in over-hasty legislation.
We oppose the motion because, first, it fails to recognise the importance of the issue; secondly, it fails to recognise the desire of many hon. Members to consider amendments to the Bill, not only in Committee but on Report; and, thirdly, it fails to recognise the advantages of allowing people outside this place, who have a legitimate interest in the issue, to lobby us and to help us to inform our debates.
It is right to legislate, but it is wrong to do so without proper scrutiny.
§ Mr. Paul Tyler (North Cornwall)
I want to develop the point made by the hon. Member for North-East Hertfordshire (Mr. Heald).
We must all face the fact that Parliament has a bad reputation for legislating in haste and repenting at leisure. In successive Governments, Home Office Ministers especially have bamboozled the House into thinking that speed is more important than security of outcome. Each time we are told that it is an emergency.
1130 We all remember the Dangerous Dogs Bill, which proved misdirected. We should also remember the dangerous yobs Bill, dealing with football hooligans, which similarly was found to be largely inoperable. In the past few weeks, we have been considering the dangerous terrorists Bill, and even the Minister must accept that both Houses share wide misgivings about the speed with which that ragbag is being pushed through.
It appears that we are now considering a dangerous professors Bill. The measure is undoubtedly media-driven, as my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Dr. Harris) pointed out. There is no great public outcry for us to pass legislation this week. The pressure for emergency provisions comes entirely from the tabloid press. The House does itself and the country a disservice by allowing ourselves to be panicked into taking such measures.
We have four concerns about the Bill. The first is legal. As the Minister said, it was only on 15 November that Mr. Justice Crane gave his judgment in the High Court. She pointed out that an appeal is being mounted against only one aspect of that judgment and that we are dealing with a different aspect, but the interrelationship of those aspects involves complicated law. As she said, if the appeal to be lodged this afternoon is unsuccessful, she will be back here again; she will want more parliamentary time and no doubt we will be told that there is another emergency measure that must have all its stages rushed through in an afternoon.
That is the legal issue. We are already treading in dangerous territory—perhaps sub judice—because of the interrelationship of those aspects. The judge—for once—kept to the letter of the law. What a surprise. Good heavens, is not that what judges often do? Were the Government surprised that for once a judge actually read what had been passed in Parliament and decided that he should go by the letter of the law? What an amazing revelation. Were the Government not prepared for that? If they did not expect that, will they be prepared for the likely outcome of the appeal? Perhaps another judge will also say, "Good heavens, Parliament seems to have introduced some legislation, so I had better take notice of it."
In a few weeks, we shall have to come back to this issue and another Minister—or even the hon. Lady, if she has not been sacked in the meantime—will be saying, "Oh dear, oh dear, there is another emergency."
§ Mr. Tyler
I think that it was the ProLife Alliance, but I hasten to assure the hon. Gentleman that I hold no particular brief for that group. That is not the point. The point is that a judge in the High Court of this land decided to rely on the words that we in Parliament had agreed. Amazing.
Our second concern relates to the medical and scientific—
§ Mr. Tyler
I shall give way to my hon. Friend in a moment. I am about to refer to him in flattering terms. When we reach the appropriate point, he will deal in detail 1131 with the medical and scientific aspects, but I am sure that all hon. Members will acknowledge—as a layman, I certainly do—that they are complicated and difficult for ordinary people to understand. That is an important point.
Three pages of closely argued explanation—or excuse—from the Minister still do not explain why the Department made its mistake last January and gave us those assurances. There is no apology and no explanation. In a few minutes, I hope that my hon. Friend will be able to deal with the Bill's substantial omissions and loopholes. The Minister has, in effect, acknowledged that it is full of holes and thus defective. The issue has been debated at greater length in the European Parliament and the United States Congress, and they have still not got it right.
§ Michael Fabricant
The hon. Gentleman will know that the US Congress has the same procedures as us. After all, the US Congress is a mirror image of Parliament.
§ Michael Fabricant
I believe that it is. However, the issue is whether the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler) is aware that the US Congress resisted the temptation to which the House may unfortunately succumb. It has separated the various stages—Second Reading, consideration in Committee and on Report and Third Reading—but we may make the mistake of taking those stages in just two and a half hours today.
§ Mr. Tyler
I shall not follow the hon. Gentleman in his comparison of the United Kingdom and the US constitutions because, as other hon. Members will agree, we have a very different constitution. But he is right that we will run into the most appalling problems in taking together all the stages of a Bill, however straightforward it may appear at first sight.
§ Dr. Evan Harris
When my hon. Friend asked the Government to explain why they lost the judicial review, he was challenged for having in some way sided with the ProLife Alliance. Many people advised the Government that their definition would not hold up—for example, Margot Brazier. In his book, Professor Derek Morgan questioned whether it would hold—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. Those matters are not directly related to the allocation of time motion.
§ Mr. Tyler
I therefore express my qualified admiration and gratitude to my hon. Friend, but I have no doubt that he will return to that point if he catches your eye later, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
Thirdly, having dealt with the legal and scientific concerns about the way in which the issue is being handled, I turn to the ethical. Whatever our view, we must acknowledge that people have sincere moral and ethical misgivings about these issues; they need the most careful thought. These are highly contentious issues, so all hon. Members, whichever side we take, should give them the attention that they deserve. Indeed, some of us may not have reached a conclusion because these are genuine 1132 issues of conscience, and certainly not issues of party policy. We may not have had the opportunity of listening to our leaders and the great and good, who may be able to increase our wisdom on the issues, so, again, we have a particular responsibility to give them the attention that they deserve.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) said, by taking all stages in an afternoon, we deny not only ourselves but people outside the House the opportunity for careful thought. That is a critical issue for the House. It may not be such an issue for the other House, but as a representative, democratically elected House, we have a responsibility to listen to all sides of the argument and to those outside, especially our constituents.
Earlier this afternoon, the Leader of the House told us that the House will rise for the Christmas recess on the Wednesday before Christmas. Most of us had already noted in our diaries that we would be here on the Thursday. I suggest to the Government, even at this stage, that a little shunting backwards would provide us with an opportunity to return to this issue at an appropriate point in the consideration of the Bill. That would enable us to listen not only to what other hon. Members say, but to people outside the House. I cannot commit every Liberal Democrat Member to this, but I suspect that as all my hon. Friends have marked Thursday in their diaries as a sitting day, they would feel the House fully justified in taking one more day to give this important Bill further consideration.
I do not demur from what the hon. Member for North-East Hertfordshire and the Minister said about the Bill's importance. It is incredibly important that we consider it properly precisely because it is so important.
I must put on record once again the fact that there has been no consultation with my party or, so far as I am aware, with those on the Conservative Front Bench on the handling of the Bill. Frankly, that is a disgrace, and that lack of consultation is not good for business in the House.
On many occasions, the Leader of the House has said that good government requires good parliamentary scrutiny. We are letting ourselves and him down and, most important, we are letting the electorate down by giving the Bill this perfunctory performance of scrutiny this afternoon. Knee-jerk reactions have a nasty habit of hitting the wrong place. If the Bill is as misdirected as I fear that it might be, it could he very painful indeed.
§ 2.5 pm
§ Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire)
As you reminded us, Mr. Deputy Speaker, we are debating not the merits of the Bill, but the merits of considering it in this manner. Frankly, there is no merit whatever in taking it in the manner in which the Government propose.
There is no situation in the world that is not made worse by panic. This is panic legislation that has been introduced by a Government who, as long ago as August 2000, realised that it would be necessary to produce a Bill. They have waited until the very last minute and sprung the Bill on Parliament in a way that is contemptuous of Parliament, insulting to our constituents and that treats an issue of enormous moral significance as if it were a mere bagatelle. However one looks at it, it is a monumental gaffe by the Government for which there is absolutely no excuse.
1133 Yesterday, we debated a measure that did not keep the House occupied until 10 o'clock. There is no reason on God's earth why we should not have begun the consideration of this Bill yesterday. We would then at least have had 24 hours between one stage and another. That would have been far better than what confronts us now, but there is no excuse for even that sort of precipitate rush.
There cannot be a Member in the House who does not have constituents who are profoundly concerned by the moral implications of the subject. I shall say nothing about that, because I would rightly be called to order if I did. However, in this context, I am a follower of the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster who wrote an article last week that outlined some of the complexities of the subject. I well recognise that others take a different view. I honour them for it, and they have every right to take it, but whatever view we take, what opportunity did any of us have to discuss the matter in our constituencies between the announcement that the Bill would be introduced and today's debate? We had no proper opportunity to arrange meetings.
We should have had Second Reading today—that would have been perfectly in order and entirely reasonable—and then had the weekend to talk to our constituents. It is not just the Churches that are interested in the subject. Doctors and many others would have wanted the opportunity—I would have liked to have given them it—to talk about the Bill.
§ Andy King (Rugby and Kenilworth)
I am trying to find the right form of words, but perhaps the hon. Gentleman is unintentionally misleading us by suggesting that the Bill has been thought up in the past few days. As Baroness Warnock said in the other place, the Bill should be welcomed because the Government and Parliament are fulfilling a commitment on this very important subject. I have received many letters about it, and I believe that my constituents are happy that we are beginning the process, but think that perhaps we should go further.
§ Sir Patrick Cormack
I am almost sorry that I gave way. The hon. Gentleman completely misses the point. Let me say it again. Yes, the Government recognised the need for the Bill as long ago as August 2000, but why in the name of goodness do they have to give us one afternoon to get it through all its stages? It is absurd and an insult, as much to him and his constituents as to me and mine, and to all hon. Members who are present and theirs.
§ Sir Patrick Cormack
I would rather not on this occasion, if my hon. Friend will forgive me, because I do not want to detain the House. I believe that it is important to debate the merits of the Bill.
Even at this late stage, I appeal to the Minister to get herself a parliamentary reputation. She would be honoured in all parts of the House if she sent her Parliamentary Private Secretary to ring the Leader of the House. He has announced a programme of business for the next two weeks that would easily allow more debate on the Bill. The hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler) mentioned the Wednesday of the week before Christmas. The programme could allow another day—or even another half-day—to provide a gap between Second Reading and further consideration.
1134 I welcome the fact that the Government want the Committee stage to take place on the Floor of the House. The subject is so important that that is right and proper. However, there is no reason to rush through it this afternoon. Parliament is being treated with a cavalier disdain that would never have occurred to Charles I. That is monstrous, an exercise in arrogant parliamentary tyranny that even the Government have not previously undertaken. We hear nonsense, and lip service is paid to the House, scrutiny and accountability. [Interruption.] Labour Members may laugh but we are here to scrutinise and be accountable. We are told to rush through a measure on an issue of monumental moral significance in a few hours. That is an act of unspeakable arrogance and I hope that hon. Members will show their opinion of it in the Lobby.
§ Rev. Ian Paisley (North Antrim)
I oppose the way in which the Bill has been introduced. I support its aim to outlaw cloning, but many matters flow from it that some of us would like to discuss on the Floor of the House. I say to those who have spoken about the United States of America that such a measure is not law there. It has not been to the Senate and will not be considered there until late spring. Such legislation has therefore not been rushed through in the United States.
I ask the Minister to help me as a Member of the European Parliament. I welcome the fact that, under the subsidiarity principle, national Governments decide whether research into cloning should be allowed. I am glad that the power is in the hands of the national Government. However, I do not understand why the European Union is getting involved in the matter. This week, we had a report from the Brussels Parliament, from which I have just travelled. What is the difference between the Government's policy and that outlined by Europe? It is important to understand the Government's plans and the difference between them and the European Union plans.
Many matters that need to be examined cannot be considered today. The spill-over from the measure raises many issues that worry people, whatever their religious, moral, theological or political views. All hon. Members who receive letters from constituents know that the subject is topical. Our constituents are talking about it, largely because they have heard an announcement that someone might enter the country and use the territory of the United Kingdom for something that the vast majority of citizens believe should not be done.
I deeply regret that the Government have not given us more time. We have no chance of dealing with amendments properly. We can do that only if we have time to consider them. The Bill will not have a Report stage and no amendments will be accepted. It will have to go through as it is. Like the law of the Medes and Persians, it cannot be altered. That is not good government, and it does not tend to produce good legislation.
The Bill will affect many people. The Government must tell us the difference, if one exists, between their policy and that of the European Union.
§ Miss Ann Widdecombe (Maidstone and The Weald)
The Bill is a disgrace. It has been produced under the guise of one panic to cover up another. The Government are seriously asking the House to believe that they are in a terrible panic because an Italian is on his way and might do something nasty when he gets here. Indeed, we are being asked to believe that he might do it so quickly that even if we took a couple more days to debate the measure, he could do it in that time. That is not rational, and the Government do not mean it.
The Government are not genuinely afraid that, as we race against the clock to debate the Bill in the next five hours, a scientist will carry out a specific procedure unless we have decided by 7 pm that he cannot. That is ludicrous. Why are they saying that? They do not expect us to believe it; the Minister is too intelligent for that. They have produced a Bill and demanded that we take it through all its stages in five hours because they are terrified that we might try to amend it. They are especially afraid that some of us who have well known moral objections might try to amend it for purposes other than cloning. That is the source of the panic.
The problem with that approach is that the Government have produced a Bill that will not even provide the protection that they believe it will give. That is why we need more time to discuss it. I shall list some issues, which I would not dream of debating because you would quickly call me to order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that need discussion.
The Bill does not prevent the creation of human clones for export, only for implantation. The Italian could come here, create the clone and take it away. There is nothing to stop implantation in animals, and early in vitro fertilisation experiments were conducted in that way. Nothing prevents the use of artificial wombs, which are being used in animals in Japan, or the storing of cloned embryos.
We need time to debate policing the measure. The Bill provides for an offence not of creating a cloned embryo, but of implanting one. Once the embryo has been implanted, how on earth will we know whether it has been cloned? How will we know whether a pregnancy is natural, or caused through IVF or cloning? I am fascinated. I long for the Minister to tell us. We would love to know how the Bill will be policed.
When The Independent carried out a survey of all leading IVF consultants, the majority said that they believed that live-birth cloning was inevitable once the creation of cloned embryos was allowed. I find that frightening; the Minister is laughing, so I presume that she does not. The Bill does not prevent the creation of cloned embryos. It will not address, and we will not have time to discuss—I saw you getting restless, Mr. Deputy Speaker—the issues of proper control.
Last year, a clinic that only a week earlier had passed an inspection by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority implanted 80-odd women with the wrong embryos. How will we police the accidental implantation of cloned embryos? We have no clue how the Government will stop that happening, and they do not have the time to tell us.
The Bill does not even define "embryo". We were told—arrogantly—in 1990 by a Government whom I supported that it was not necessary to define that term, 1136 and that is why we are in this mess. The Bill is supposed to clear up the mess, but it is perpetuated because a definition is not available.
§ Lynne Jones
It is not correct that there is no definition; it is just that it does not cover embryos that are created other than by fertilisation. Definitions are available.
§ Miss Widdecombe
I was going to take care of that later. The point is well made. There is no definition of when an embryo, as opposed to a pre-embryo, begins and a foetus, as opposed to embryo, starts. We made it clear in 1990 that unless we sorted that out, we would have problems. As a result of not having proper definitions, the ProLife Alliance—I am proud that it was that organisation—obtained a victory in the High Court.
Concern has even been expressed by Professor Winston of all people, who is no friend to my side of the argument.
§ Miss Widdecombe
It is undeniable.
Professor Winston says that fertilisation is impossible to define and that parthenogenesis, which is the cloning procedure undertaken by Mike West of Advanced Cell Technology, could be classified as fertilisation. Professor Robert Edwards fears that the Bill, because of the way in which it is drafted, could prevent some things that are already legally allowed. Government lawyers agree that the current 14-day limit and the consent provisions will not apply to cloned embryos.
That is a partial list. I could have cited at least another 30 things that it does not do. If we had only five minutes on each of those, we would run out of time. We would even run out of time if we had only five minutes on all the things that I managed to list. It is a disgrace that the Bill is being rushed through. Nothing is going to happen in the next few days to prevent us from debating the subject for longer and more properly, and the Minister cannot point to anything that will happen in the next few days.
The hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler) rightly said that there is a whole spare day in the system. My hon. Friend the Member for South Staffordshire (Sir P. Cormack) explained that the House packed up early yesterday when there were several hours that we could have used. There have been, and there are, many opportunities to put the measure through quickly.
The situation is ludicrous. It is arrogant of the Government to bring something as profound and serious as this Bill to the House and say, "You clear it up: all stages", without giving us time to reflect on its final shape, to table amendments on Report and to reflect on those before Third Reading. It is arrogant to push it through in this way. I am not surprised, but I am disappointed and saddened. I do not think that it is an exaggeration to say that the Government's action is tyrannical. A few days would not have made any difference. Even at this late stage, will the Government reconsider their position?
§ Mr. Paul Marsden (Shrewsbury and Atcham)
I was not going to speak on the motion, but having listened to the magnificent defence of Parliament by the hon. 1137 Member for South Staffordshire (Sir P. Cormack), I want to echo his words, however humbly. This is yet another example of us rushing through a Bill in which there is great interest in the country. Many of my constituents who have contacted me over the past week want to see me at my usual surgery on Friday, where they will be able to hear me justify my standpoint, which is to support the Opposition's amendment. Unfortunately, they cannot influence my decision because it will be after the event.
There is no excuse for rushing the Bill through. I worry again about the future of parliamentary democracy when Ministers choose to take such a tack. I wish that they would reflect a little more on the need to give proper time for the due process of parliamentary procedures.
§ Michael Fabricant (Lichfield)
The hon. Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Mr. Marsden) makes a powerful point. Several issues have been raised by hon. Members from both the main Opposition parties. One issue that has not been taken up is the need to consult the experts, because this is such a technical Bill, as well as our constituents.
I am sure that I am not alone in receiving representations. I received a good letter from the Minister and briefings from the Association of Medical Research Charities, the public policy department of Christian Action Research and Education, the Parkinson's Disease Society and the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. Previously, I received briefing material from the diabetics organisations.
We are dealing with highly technical issues. The whole point of having different stages to consider a Bill is to enable people to give us advice. I sometimes think that the advice of people from outside who lobby us is not useful, and I wonder about the motivation for lobbying. However, for a technical Bill of this nature, I think that we would all welcome lobbying from those who know about the subject.
For example, there is an argument whether we need to perform such cloning in the first place. I happen to believe that we do, but many other hon. Members on both sides of the House would argue that adult stem cells can do the job. I doubt that, but I do not know. None of us does, but the experts could advise us. Surely it makes sense to hear the arguments on Second Reading today and then receive representations from people who know about the subject, so that we can take the Bill to the next stage.
I calculated earlier that possibly three and three quarter minutes might be available for each amendment, but I made a mistake. The Chairman of Ways and Means has chosen the amendments that he believes are in order and merit debate. Is there not the possibility that hon. Members might want to divide on them? A Division could take 15 or 20 minutes, so there would be virtually no time available for Report or Third Reading. That makes a mockery of the parliamentary process.
I am pleased that this issue will be subject to a one-line Whip, at least in the official Opposition. I assume that there is no whipping of Labour Members. As with all 1138 issues that require a one-line Whip or that are debated on the Floor in a Committee of the whole House, they require consideration and technical advice.
§ Mr. Paul Marsden
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will be interested to know that Labour Members were paged just a few minutes ago to remind us that we are running a three-line Whip.
§ Michael Fabricant
I am genuinely surprised by that intervention. Generally, on conscience issues, there is an understanding on both sides of the House that there will be a one-line Whip—[Interruption.] I am receiving confirmation from the hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler), who speaks for the Liberal Democrats, that it is a one-line Whip with his party, too. That is a free vote. However, there is not a free vote for Labour Members. That is disgraceful and shocking. I say that as someone who wishes the general principle of the Bill to receive a fair wind. I want the Bill to be enacted, albeit that it may need amendment.
§ Mr. Michael Jabez Foster (Hastings and Rye)
Perhaps the pager of my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Marsden) has gone wrong. It is the obligation of Members to turn up to vote on important issues. However, their right to vote and which way they vote is a free vote. That is precisely what the Government are asking Back-Bench Members to do.
§ Michael Fabricant
I do not want to take this argument too far, or I would be out of order. We are all aware of the convention on whipping. A free vote is a one-line Whip. A vote that is not a free vote is a three-line Whip. The hon. Gentleman did not deny that the hon. Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham was put under a three-line Whip.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Gentleman is drifting away from the question of allocation of time. Perhaps he will return to that topic.
§ Michael Fabricant
I am grateful for your advice, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
As small as it is, the Bill is an important measure. Only slightly fewer than 1 million people suffer from diabetes, for example. On Sunday, I was going round Bletchley Park looking at station X with a friend. He had twice to inject himself with insulin. If he does not get the balance right, he could go blind or lose a limb. Research that could stem from the Bill could possibly find a cure for diabetes and for Parkinson's disease. The Bill will—
§ Miss Anne Begg (Aberdeen, South)
The hon. Gentleman might be in danger of misleading the House. The Bill will not prevent therapeutic cloning; it is designed to prevent reproductive cloning. He must keep the two issues separate.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I remind the hon. Gentleman firmly that we are not now discussing the contents of the Bill.
§ Michael Fabricant
Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I want to respond to the hon. Lady's intervention. She is right, and I am sorry if I gave the wrong impression. I support the Bill because I support therapeutic cloning.
1139 I have illustrated that the Bill is complex. It is complex in law, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) said. It is also complex in terms of biomedicine. Hon. Members on both sides of the House will argue the points for and against the Bill on Second Reading. We shall then need time to contemplate the issues that have been raised and presented. We shall then have to take advice from experts.
There is conflicting advice. I talked earlier about whether we need therapeutic cloning. I happen to believe that we do, but we must take advice from experts.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. I hope that the hon. Gentleman is listening to the advice that I am giving him. We are not now discussing the contents of the Bill.
§ Michael Fabricant
I realise that, Mr. Deputy Speaker. We are talking about the programme motion. I am making the important point that we need extra time because of the nature of the Bill. It is a technical measure and we need gaps between the stages of consideration.
The Government are being arrogant in the extreme by trying to compress all stages of consideration into only three hours. The time for consideration may be shorter because there may be four or five Divisions before we reach 7 o'clock, when the debate must stop.
The hon. Member for North Cornwall said that there is an extra day available. My hon. Friend the Member for South Staffordshire (Sir P. Cormack) said that the issue has been known about since August 2000, more than a year ago. There have been adequate occasions since then to find time fully to debate the important Bill that is before us. The Bill is a panicked measure from a panicked Government. I fear that by not allowing proper time to debate it fully, we shall end up yet again with legislation that is imperfect.
§ Lynne Jones (Birmingham, Selly Oak)
As a supporter of therapeutic cloning, I understand the necessity to bring forward the Bill. As a supporter of the Bill, I am rather surprised to find myself supporting much of what the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) said. Similarly, I am surprised to find myself supporting the comments made in a letter from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, which wrote to all Members. Part of the letter states:There is no imminent threat of cloned embryos being created nor of resultant cloned babies being born.Surely, the society is right.
The Bill is fairly urgent, but it is not an emergency measure. It is more urgent that we consider the aspects of cloning that are not covered by the Bill. Much more imminent is the likelihood that people will seek to create cloned embryos, or embryos produced by other means that are not covered by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, for experimental purposes prior to implantation. As the right hon. Lady says, what happens after that is difficult to regulate.
The Government thought that they were clear that embryos created by cloning techniques were covered by the 1990 Act. They took counsel's advice. They were 1140 warned that we might be in the position in which we now find ourselves in 1997 by the Select Committee on Science and Technology. It is a great pity that they did not take note of what the Committee said. I shall read out the recommendation that we made that long ago. The Committee—
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Order. The hon. Lady is starting to make a Second Reading speech. We are discussing the allocation of time. When we have finished doing that, we shall move on to Second Reading, when it will be appropriate to make Second Reading speeches.
§ Lynne Jones
What I am saying, Mr. Deputy Speaker, is relevant in the sense of what is omitted from the Bill and the time that is available to us to consider important issues. I will not read the exact wording of the Committee's recommendation, but we were clear that the law was ambiguous and sufficiently lax not to catch applications of the Roslin technique. We said:While Counsel's opinion will clarify the position, it will not be a binding interpretation of the law.Somewhat momentously, we also said:It is not satisfactory for issues as momentous as this to be left until they are decided through test cases.However, that is what has happened. We predicted in March 1997 that it would happen.
Again, in February 1998, the Committee expressed its concerns to the Government. Again, those concerns were ignored. The Government are now rushing to ban reproductive cloning while allowing the creation of embryos from methods other than fertilisation, including cell nuclear replacement, which is completely unregulated. We know that reproductive cloning is impossible without those earlier stages, which are ignored in the Bill. It would have been much better if the Government had not rushed the legislation—there is time as reproductive cloning is not imminent. Women are not rushing to donate their eggs for that kind of research. There is no emergency, but the matter is urgent.
The Government should have acted on earlier advice. They are now saying that they will wait for the report from the Lords Stem Cell Research Committee and the outcome of their appeal. That is reasonable because that time scale is reasonably short. If the appeal goes against the Government, they will have to amend the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 to change the definition of an embryo to cover all methods used to create one. If they did so, there would be support on both sides of the House. There would be a lot of debate on the proposals, and no doubt people who are opposed to the use of embryos for research would want to express their views and amend the Act. It is proper for them to have the opportunity to do that, even though I disagree with them.
I am concerned that we are rushing the Bill through today, and that it does not address the crucial issues. As the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald said, the prohibitions in the 1990 Act that apply to embryos created through fertilisation do not apply to embryos created through cell nuclear replacement. She listed all the things that are unregulated as a result of the High Court judgment. The Government should address those issues. Everyone supports the Bill, and it would go through relatively quickly with support on both sides of the House. However, it would have been preferable to 1141 have at least one more day to debate it. I do not consider the situation to be an emergency. I would much prefer to have had more time to debate the anti-terrorism legislation, which does deal with an emergency.
§ Michael Fabricant
Although I support the Bill, the hon. Lady is wrong to say that Members all do. I know that a number of them object to it. Is that why Labour Members are on a three-line Whip?
§ Lynne Jones
I do not honestly know why we are on a three-line Whip, as we all had a free vote on the proposals to amend the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. Perhaps there was a mistake by the Whips Office, which may not have realised what type of issues the Bill addresses. I am sure that my right hon. and hon. Friends would not seek to lean too heavily on Members when we are discussing an issue of such importance.
I do not think that anybody in the House is opposed to legislation to ban reproductive cloning. That is the simple purpose of the Bill, which I support, but I am concerned that introducing it without addressing therapeutic cloning puts the cart before the horse.
§ Dr. Evan Harris (Oxford, West and Abingdon)
My hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler) has already given reasons why the guillotine motion is unpleasant and I endorse many comments by Members on both sides of the House on the matter.
Many of us who are relatively new to the House thought that the days of the crunch guillotine were over and that in the new modernised House, with the Modernisation Committee and programming motions, whatever their merits and demerits, we would not have to deal with such things. Having a guillotine motion imposed on the House without any consultation, even through the usual channels—I am not suggesting that that is necessarily the most inclusive way of doing things on free vote issues—makes the situation even worse
§ Michael Fabricant
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving way early in his speech. Like me, does he make a contrast between legislation rushed through the House because of a national emergency and the introduction of a Bill that has been known about since August 2000?
§ Dr. Harris
I was coming to that. Whatever one's view of the substantive issue in the Bill, one day is not enough to scrutinise it, as others have said. I am not going to reiterate the point about needing a pause between Second Reading and Committee stage, then Report and Third Reading and, indeed, between consideration in the Commons and Lords. One can take advice during that time and consult constituents and experts.
The Government are getting into the habit of calling something emergency legislation, then rushing it through as a way of getting themselves out of difficulties unrelated to the emergency. Indeed, they are also getting legislation through using emergency measures that are not really urgent.
§ Mr. Paul Goodman (Wycombe)
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that, as my right hon. Friend the 1142 Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) said, the Government do not need the legislation for the reason that they gave because they can block the entry of that professor under the Immigration Act 1971? Significantly, the Minister failed to answer that point.
§ Dr. Harris
I will call her the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) if she will call us the Liberal Democrats, not the Liberals. She gave several reasons why the Bill is not required to stop an Italian self-publicist; all that it seems to do is give credence to his wish for publicity.
I am keen to concentrate on two other areas, including the Government's general reluctance to allow full debate and amendment to primary legislation on the subject. I cannot understand why they are devoted to seeking to avoid that, unless they feel that there is a problem with allowing free votes and not having the control over matters coming before the House to which they are used. That is regrettable because many of the issues are regarded as free vote issues. Not whipping is pointless if we never get an opportunity to debate such matters and have primary legislation on them. The Government do not like to be in a position where they are not in control; this is not the only area in which we have seen that tendency.
The Government give the impression of wanting to rush the legislation through as quickly as possible because they do not like debate on such issues per se. Some members of the Government find it difficult to discuss anything to do with reproduction, or let the House debate and come to quick decisions on matters to do with sexual health, reproduction or anything concerning the abortion issue. I suspect that that was also the case with previous Governments. We have a duty in the House not to be embarrassed. We should be prepared to risk wrath or adverse coverage even in the tabloid press to make sure that such things are adequately discussed.
§ Mr. Gerald Howarth (Aldershot)
I have never known the hon. Gentleman to suffer from a surfeit of embarrassment.
§ Dr. Harris
Perhaps I have just brought my clinical training to the House. One cannot refuse to discuss those things, because science and future developments are important to many people.
The Government's decision to push the Bill through on a guillotine is based on public reaction. I was surprised that the hon. Member for Norwich, North (Dr. Gibson), for whom I have a great deal of respect in matters of science, should appear in an intervention on my hon. Friend the Member for North Cornwall to suggest that the Government must respond to something because there is panicky media coverage of it. That is most unlike him. Both in conversation with me and on the public record, he has always argued for a rational, scientific and considered approach, even in the face of adverse reaction—except, perhaps, in the case telephone communication masts. I remember him contributing to scaremongering on that subject.
1143 I urge the Government not to listen to the hon. Gentleman and to take a deep breath when a Daily Mail headline appears. The newspapers are entitled to do their job—they do it well—and cover issues in the news. I do not criticise them for that, but we have a different job, which is to legislate deliberatively.
§ Miss Widdecombe
Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that not even the Daily Mail, the Mirror or any other tabloid has suggested that by seven o'clock tonight we might have a cloned human?
§ Dr. Harris
Quite so. In that respect, I have no argument with the activities of the media. Although there was supposed to be a huge fuss, compared with other issues, the reaction to the judgment and to the news from America has been reasonably restrained and educational. I make no criticism of the media in that respect. I criticise the Government for appearing to cite the media coverage as a defence for their timetable.
§ Mr. Ian Taylor
I disagree with the hon. Gentleman on one point. The media hype up science stories and take potential science as though it is today's event. The developments at Advanced Cell Technology in the United States were fleeting, marginal and unsustainable in terms of stem cells.
§ Dr. Harris
We are not necessarily in disagreement. My main concern is that whatever the accuracy of media reports, we should not legislate on that basis, especially without the benefit of expert opinion. The media will do what the media do, and they always will. We have a free press, and I welcome that.
§ Mr. Simon Thomas
When we debated these matters earlier this year, the hon. Gentleman's views were influential in the House. I listened closely to what he said. He will be aware that next week we have two days of Adjournment debates on fisheries and European affairs, neither of which is urgent. Does he agree that if the following stages of the Bill were taken on those two days next week, that would give lay Members such as me sufficient time to get the necessary information and refer to scientific expertise on the subject?
§ Dr. Harris
The hon. Gentleman makes a good point. If my right hon. Friend the Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) catches the Deputy Speaker's eye, perhaps he will suggest that even at this late stage there are means of achieving better scrutiny.
The Government have defended their timetable on the basis of the sudden judgment given three weeks ago in the High Court. The Minister made that point in her introduction, and the hon. Member for North-East Hertfordshire (Mr. Heald) dealt with that. I want to test 'whether it was a surprise judgment. If it was not, the rationale for the timetable is groundless.
The Minister knew that there was considerable academic and legal opinion that the advice that she had received, which I accept she got from counsel, was not to be relied on to win the High Court judgment. Several people had questioned whether it was reasonable for the 1144 Government to assume that they would win the case. I fear that it may not be reasonable for the Government to assume, as they do, that they will win the appeal.
According to a book by Robert Lee and Derek Morgan entitled "Human Fertilisation & Embryology", the eminent ethicist Margot Brazier made it clear in 1999 that she had serious doubts. She stated:I would contend that nuclear substitution into an egg cell is unregulated in the United Kingdom today.That view was also expressed by Derek Beyleveld and Shaun Pattinson, who stated that in their view—which, I believe, dates from about the same time—a judge may well decide that the matter did not fall within the ambit of the 1990 Act.
It is even more surprising that the Government should be surprised by that—so surprised that they introduced the timetable—when they were relying on a judge giving a purposive interpretation, rather than a literal one. They believed that there was a ban on activity with cloned embryos outside what they thought was covered by the Bill, such that a criminal prosecution could be launched on the basis of the 1990 Act.
The Minister must know mat it is extremely unlikely that a judge would deliver a purposive interpretation of statute in order to convict someone who used a literary interpretation as a defence. If people cannot rely on a reasonable, rational, literal interpretation of the law as a defence, the British judicial system is not what it should be.
§ Lynne Jones
Will the hon. Gentleman acknowledge that not only the academics whom he quoted, but a Committee of the House made the recommendation? We took evidence at the time from the chair of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and Dr. Ian Wilmut, who was responsible for the creation of Dolly the sheep. In his view, the Act did not cover his technique.
§ Dr. Harris
I am grateful to the hon. Lady. I meant to say that in addition to the points that I made, there were those that she had made, which I would not repeat.
The Government Chief Whip has left the Chamber, which is unfortunate, but she has been replaced by her admirable deputy. It is worth while asking about the whipping arrangements. It would be useful for the House to know whether there is a running three-line Whip on the guillotine motion. If there is not, it would be useful for a pager message to be sent to hon. Members to clarify the position. If the Government Whips Office is not in communication with the hon. Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Mr. Marsden), it is difficult to know whether there will be a free vote for Labour Members on the guillotine motion.
The Minister cannot have been surprised by the High Court judgment, although she may have been disappointed, as I suspect we all were, as life would have been easier for everyone if the judgment had been otherwise. I certainly want a ban on human reproductive cloning. The Government could have predicted that the problem would occur, and we do not know when the appeal process will end. If the Minister loses in the Court of Appeal, will she take the case to the House of Lords? Will she go to the European Court? Will the other side do those things?
1145 It is time for the Government to introduce proper legislation in good time, subject to adequate scrutiny, dealing with this important matter. We have heard about the other protections for the cloned embryo that would apply had the judgment not occurred. The Government should allow therapeutic cloning to go ahead and implement the other recommendations in the Donaldson report relating to consent and what happens to embryonic stem cell lines.
There is no good argument for the Bill being rushed through Parliament. I hope that at this late stage the Government will relent, that they will not yield to or feed media panic, and that they will allow the House to scrutinise these important matters adequately.
§ Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough)
I am delighted to follow the hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Dr. Harris). Although we have often locked horns on the issue, we are at one about the way in which the House should deal with these matters—with great seriousness and attention to detail.
For a programme motion to be agreed, the Government—who can, of course, simply impose their majority on the House—must win the argument. To win the argument, they must prove two things: first, that the Bill is sufficiently clear, simple and unambiguous, and that it addresses a sufficiently narrow issue for us to debate Second Reading, Committee and Report all in one day. Secondly, the Government must prove to the House that these matters are so urgent that, in addition to being simple, unambiguous and easily disposed of in one day, they must be disposed of by this evening.
§ Mr. Leigh
No, I will not give way. I intend to speak briefly.
The Government must convince the House of those two points. Anybody who studies the Bill, the reasoned amendment tabled by me and my right hon. and hon. Friends, and the amendments on the Order Paper which are due for selection, will come to the conclusion that the matter is highly complex. It raises enormous ethical, moral and medical concerns. The amendments, especially those that relate to the definition of embryos and of fertilisation must be debated in full. They cannot be debated in one day.
It is possible that once hon. Members have exercised their right to address the wider ethical and medical issues on Second Reading, there will be no time for the Committee or Report stage. That is not the way to deal with matters that are of deep moral concern to the nation. That is my first point. Unless the Minister produces arguments to convince us that we are wrong, I do not believe that the Government have proved their point.
The second point that the Government must prove is that these matters must be resolved either today or very quickly, before the end of the week. Again, they have made no attempt to convince the House that that is the case. The fact of the matter is that no scientist is anywhere near creating a cloned human being and that there is no chance whatever of this Italian gentleman or anybody else creating such a process within the next week. We could easily have devoted a day next week to Second Reading 1146 and a day to the Committee stage. We could then have had a proper debate in which all the issues could have been discussed. Do the Government really contend that a scientist could find collaborators, eggs, embryos and women who are willing to be implanted before comprehensive legislation is introduced? Is that their contention in this debate? Surely, the medical risks that are inherent in live birth cloning mean that any doctor who carried out such a procedure would not be acting ethically. Such a doctor could be subject to censure by the General Medical Council and even find himself facing criminal charges for assault.
The truth is that that will not happen. Everybody in the House knows that it will not happen, so why on earth are the Government again seeking to treat our procedures with such contempt? What is the point? Why can we not have a proper debate on Second Reading and return next week for a proper Committee and Report stage?
§ 3.1 pm
§ Dr. John Pugh (Southport)
I shall be focused and speak specifically about why I think, as a pro-life supporter, that the idea of imposing a guillotine on the Bill is nonsensical. It deals with a matter of major moral importance that should be the subject of significant consideration in the House. A prolonged debate is the only mechanism for achieving that.
The Government's procedure seems fundamentally flawed, as they are using statutory instruments and quick Bills to deal with one of the major social issues that is facing the world. As hon. Members have pointed out, certain issues will not be cleared up anyway. They include cross-species implantation and the marketing of embryos, as well as technical issues concerning human rights. All those matters will still be on the table to be dealt with no matter what happens today. It is, therefore, a pity that the Bill is not amendable, as the need will remain for clearing up at the end of the day.
As a pro-life Member of Parliament, the Bill creates a dilemma for me. It outlaws something that I am against—therapeutic cloning—but not everything. Logically, I can understand that, and I appreciate why the Minister would none the less want us to support the Bill. Obviously, if one supports the banning of heroin, that does not necessarily mean that one is in favour of legalising other drugs. Similarly, if one opposes racial discrimination, that does not mean that one supports other aspects of discrimination. I understand that the pro-life argument must be won by the force of logic and that that principle cannot be abandoned. Any amendment that sought to avoid it would be wrong.
None the less, it has been reasonably argued in the Chamber that the way in which the Government have proceeded has given ammunition to people who suspect that some sharp practice is going on. It is perfectly clear that we are concerned with the reality of what we are doing and not with appearance, but a fairly serious argument has been put to me by people who say that, by merely introducing this simple Bill and ignoring all the other issues, we are supporting those other issues or sweeping them away. It might be suggested that we are ignoring the substantive issues that people want to debate, which are going through on the nod and undiscussed.
If that argument exists and the Government will harken to it, there is only one thing that they need to do to correct it: ensure a full and prolonged debate that gives no 1147 substance whatever to it. Without that debate, pro-life MPs such as myself are left in a dilemma about which we will have to think hard today. Furthermore, speaking not as a pro-life MP, but a new MP, I am simply amazed that we are dealing in this way with something that is a major issue not only for the House, but for humanity.
§ 3.3 pm
§ Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)
Some of the most effective speeches in this debate have also been some of the shortest. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Southport (Dr. Pugh), who conveyed such important points so briefly, and to the hon. Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Mr. Marsden) for their contributions. I pay tribute also to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Lynne Jones) for drawing our attention to the Lords Select Committee report and to the illogicality of what we are being asked to do today.
Before I turn to those wider issues, however, I should like to take advantage of the presence of the Advocate-General for Scotland. I do not think that she is winding up the debate, but I should like to point out now that it is not entirely clear to me whether we are dealing with a wholly reserved matter, or whether an enabling or Sewel motion will have to be passed by the Scottish Parliament. If that is the case, how will it relate to the timetabling of the Bill? Perhaps the Minister will be able to clarify that point in her winding-up speech, after her ear has been whispered into. It is relevant to whether we should rush the Bill through today.
Turning to the wider issue, we are considering not a programme motion, but an old-fashioned guillotine motion. It is the sort of guillotine motion of which I remember Michael Foot introducing five on one day. It has always been a fairly noxious proceeding, but what has made it rather more objectionable—and we are bearing the brunt of this now—is that an ingenious adviser to a previous Leader of the House hit on the great wheeze of incorporating the time for debating this motion into the time that is available for consideration of the Bill itself. The effect was to rob the three-hour timetable motion of its deterrent content. The three hours that are still required previously provided some measure of deterrent and could be used to discourage the Government from using such a procedure. I admit that that was not a very powerful deterrent, but the procedure had a deterrent element. Now it has no such element, however, as the Government can sit back and say, "Ha ha, they will debate the guillotine, and then they won't have any time left for the Bill; not even the little bit that we have offered."
I am afraid that, in moral terms, that will not do as ground for the Government to stand on. Governments have created this situation and they must now realise that they are offering an insufficient process and shortening it even further by requiring us to discuss whether we should adopt that process in the time that would otherwise be available to debate the substance of the Bill. This is not merely a matter of the debating time that is provided on the first day. As many hon. Members have pointed out, it concerns the staging of a Bill's consideration. These processes are designed to prevent bad legislation.
I am depressed to say that that is all of a piece with what has been happening generally. The Government's concept of an emergency is extremely wide. It embraces 1148 the possibility that there will be reproductive cloning in the next couple of weeks not only in one case, but in thousands of cases that we must attend to. The concept also embraces aspects of the new terrorism legislation, to which I referred earlier, such as the provision of powers relating to the purchase of arms by employees of the Strategic Rail Authority. Heaven knows what other nonsense has been crammed into the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Bill, which is supposedly an emergency Bill. It even extends to the ability of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to say to the Rail Regulator that he has authority, if he seeks to use his powers, to bring in emergency legislation.
That is the framework in which we are now operating. Anything can he an emergency, so anything can justify rushing through legislation in a way that cannot ensure that it is properly dealt with. The procedures in our Standing Orders are enfeebled attempts to ensure that legislation is got right, but they will not do that if we have insufficient time and an inadequate process for considering the Bill, as we have today.
Government always get their legislation wrong. Generally, they amend it during its passage, as they discover that it is wrong and table Government amendments. That will happen to any Government. It would happen to a Liberal Democrat Government just as much as it would to Labour and Conservative Governments. That is an important point. The difficulty of Labour Members is that they are so reluctant to admit that their particular Government can get things wrong.
§ Mr. Beith
That is what we are up against. Unless Back Benchers in Government parties realise that any Government are, in the nature of things, liable to have difficulty in framing law that will achieve its intended purpose, they are wasting their time here, as we must get the legislation right. I adduce as evidence for my argument the number of Government amendments that were introduced even in respect of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Bill. They believed that they had got that Bill right, but they had to amend it.
I remember a Solicitor-General in the previous Conservative Government taking a Bill to a Select Committee. He said afterwards said that when it reached the Committee—this was an unusual process—he discovered that it did not carry out its intended purposes and could not even be amended so that it did so. He was a very honest and honourable Minister and his remarks illustrate a problem that all Governments have. After all, the Minister will not have sat down and drafted the Bill on her own. She must take advice from others who do such things for her, and they, too, are not infallible and can get things wrong.
If we agree to the motion, the Government will be under enormous pressure not to table an amendment of their own. If it were discovered during debate of the first group of amendments to be considered in Committee that there was a fundamental fault in the Bill, all the advice, especially from the Government Whips Office, would be the same. The advice would be, "For heaven's sake, don't let a manuscript amendment be tabled; we can't disrupt this procedure and must get the Bill through as we have embarked on this course."
1149 I should like again to adduce evidence on how easily Governments can get these matters wrong.
I was in Committee on the Hunting Bill in the last Session. It became clear to me on reading that Bill that it would also ban deerstalking. Ministers insisted that that was neither the intention nor the effect of the Bill. A couple of Committee sittings later, they came back and said, "Sorry, we have discovered that it really does ban deerstalking. We will, of course, amend it so that it does not do so."
That is what happens in proceedings on Bills, but if it happens today, the only recourse that the Government will have will be to persuade you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to accept a manuscript amendment. Then there would have to be a Report stage, because the Bill would have been amended. All the pressure would be on the Government not to do that. So, if the Bill is incorrectly drafted—even for its own narrow purpose—the Government will prevent themselves from putting it right.
But what would happen if we got past that stage? Let us say that we did not discover that the Bill was wrong this afternoon, but that it was discovered later. Where would we end up? Right back where we started from: coming to the House, because a court case had determined that the Government had got the drafting wrong. We are here today because the previous Bill was not drafted correctly. That was an innocent mistake, no doubt, but the purpose of our proceedings in the House is to try to prevent that from happening by getting the drafting right in the first place.
§ Bob Spink (Castle Point)
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the letter from the Minister which states:The advice we received was that, if challenged, a court was likely to adopt an approach which looks at the purpose of the Act … rather than a strictly literal approach which looks only at the wording in the Act"?How can we be confident of that? I am certainly not. Are not these words from the Government's own mouth a self-indictment? Are they not an acknowledgement that the wording of the Bill is far from perfect at the moment? Should we not be taking more time to discuss the Bill, rather than railroading it through?
§ Mr. Beith
That letter illustrates the point that I was making earlier, which was that we are in danger of arriving back at the point from which we started, namely that the legislation is not correctly drafted, and that a judge would be unable to construe its purpose from wording so different from the purpose intended. We are getting into the complex territory of Pepper v. Hart, and we should not spend too much time on that this afternoon. Suffice it to say that we cannot rely on a judge interpreting a statute to mean what we meant it to say, if it can clearly be seen not to. That may not be apparent at the initial stages of drafting.
My plea to Labour Members is to recognise the reality of life in Government. Governments get legislation wrong and it is, therefore, important that the legislative process enables mistakes to be spotted, amendments to be made and other relevant issues to be raised. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak made the significant point that the matters on which the Government are launching an appeal this afternoon are those to which the issue of urgency apply. It may be the preference of the 1150 Government—and, perhaps, of many people in the House—to confine the Bill to one part of the problem, but if it becomes apparent in the course of this appeal that that was ill advised, we shall have made an error by rushing the Bill through without at least considering the inclusion of some of the other issues.
The House has left itself without any process by which to protect the concept of an emergency or of urgency. Most legislative assemblies have some way of distinguishing processes of urgency or emergency. In many cases, they require the agreement of more than one of the parties, or weighted majorities. In some legislatures, the occupant of your office, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and the others who occupy the Chair in the House, have a role in deciding whether a Bill should be certified as appropriate for emergency status. We lack any such procedures. I have given three examples, of which this is one, in which legislation—or parts of legislation—to which no one could reasonably apply the concept of urgency has been brought in under urgency procedures.
§ Mr. Heald
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that one of the concerns is that Lord Brennan—who is, after all, a former chairman of the Bar Council and art extremely eminent lawyer—tabled amendments in the other place that were not accepted? His final words in the debate were to the effect that he hoped that the Government would consider the arguments more fully and come up with their own amendments. Of course, none of that has been done.
§ Mr. Beith
That point is well made and reasonable, and comes from a source who has no partisan motive, only a desire to get the law right.
There are only two ways in which we can now halt this process. One is for the House to defeat this motion, and I appeal to Labour Members who take a close interest in these proceedings to use their votes accordingly and to ignore their pagers. I suspect, however, that more people have been reading their pagers than have been following the proceedings, even on television around the building.
Secondly, the Government have limited means of bringing the proceedings to a halt, because they alone can introduce dilatory motions on the Bill which would alter the way in which we carry on the proceedings from here. But if the Government are not to create further bad precedents, and further increase their reputation for abusing processes designed for emergencies or urgency, they must change the proceedings on this Bill. Never at any stage in our argument today has the Minister adduced substantial reasons to treat this as a matter of urgency. It is not a matter of urgency. It is important, and should be dealt with reasonably expeditiously, but not in a way that prevents us from getting the legislation right.
§ Mr. David Amess (Southend, West)
There has been just one voice in favour of these shabby proceedings this afternoon—that of the Minister. Having listened to many guillotine debates, I think that these proceedings have been historic. We have listened to hon. Members from all parts of the House express outrage about them. In particular, I commend the speeches by the hon. Members for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Lynne Jones) and for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Mr. Marsden).
1151 There is no doubt that this is a dreadful Government. The Minister, in trying to justify herself, wrote us all a letter, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Bob Spink) referred earlier.
§ Mrs. Anne Campbell (Cambridge)
Will the hon. Gentleman accept that there are hon. Members in the House who approve of the motion, but who are not speaking because they want more time to get on to the main business?
§ Mr. Amess
Oh, for goodness sake. It is a pathetic argument to say that we should not speak on the motion because hon. Members want to get on with the Bill.
In the letter that the Minister sent to hon. Members she gives the impression that she and her colleagues have taken the time to listen to the points made in the House of Lords, so that the Government could reflect on the issues and the democratically elected Members of the House of Commons could consider this important moral measure. Does the Minister honestly think that these shabby proceedings fulfil the intentions set out in that letter?
The Government were given a great deal of expert advice, but they failed to listen to it. Who is to blame for this crisis? None other than this rotten Government. They are absolutely incompetent, and they specialise in rubbishy legislation. They have excelled themselves today in showing how low they are prepared to stoop.
§ Mr. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed)
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I wonder whether, perhaps, the Minister had not indicated quite decisively enough that she wished to intervene to deal with the point that I addressed to the Advocate-General? I wonder whether you could establish whether the Minister or the Advocate-General wished to reply.
§ Mr. Deputy Speaker
Had the Minister indicated that she wished to address the House, I would, of course, have called her.
§ Sir Patrick Cormack
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it not a further insult to the House that the Minister has declined to reply to this debate?
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 259, Noes 171.1155
|Division No. 93]||[3.19 pm|
|Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)||Dowd, Jim|
|Ainger, Nick||Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)|
|Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)||Edwards, Huw|
|Alexander, Douglas||Efford, Clive|
|Anderson, Rt Hon Donald (Swansea E)||Ellman, Mrs Louise|
|Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)||Farrelly, Paul|
|Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary||Fisher, Mark|
|Atkins. Charlotte||Fitzpatrick, Jim|
|Austin, John||Flint, Caroline|
|Bailey, Adrian||Foster, Rt Hon Derek|
|Baird, Vera||Foster, Michael (Worcester)|
|Barnes, Harry||Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)|
|Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret||Foulkes, George|
|Begg, Miss Anne||Galloway, George|
|Bell, Stuart||Gardiner, Barry|
|Bennett, Andrew||Gerrard, Neil|
|Berry, Roger||Gibson, Dr Ian|
|Best, Harold||Gilroy, Linda|
|Blackman, Liz||Godsiff, Roger|
|Blears, Ms Hazel||Goggins, Paul|
|Blizzard, Bob||Girths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)|
|Blunkett, Rt Hon David||Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)|
|Borrow, David||Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)|
|Bradley, Rt Hon Keith (Withington)||Hall, Patrick (Bedford)|
|Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)||Hamilton, David (Midlothian)|
|Bradshaw, Ben||Hanson, David|
|Brennan, Kevin||Havard, Dai|
|Brown, Rt Hon Nicholas (Newcastle E & Wallsend)||Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)|
|Henderson. Ivan (Harwich)|
|Buck, Ms Karen||Hendrick. Mark|
|Burden, Richard||Hepburn, Stephen|
|Byers, Rt Hon Stephen||Heppell, John|
|Cairns, David||Hesford, Stephen|
|Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)||Heyes, David|
|Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)||Hill, Keith|
|Casale, Roger||Hinchliffe, David|
|Cawsey, Ian||Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey|
|Challen, Colin||Hope, Phil|
|Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)||Hopkins, Kelvin|
|Chaytor, David||Howarth, Rt Hon Alan (Newport E)|
|Clapham, Michael||Howarth, George (Knowsley N)|
|Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)||Hoyle, Lindsay|
|Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)||Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)|
|Humble, Mrs Joan|
|Clarke. Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)||Hurst, Alan|
|Clelland, David||Hutton, Rt Hon John|
|Coaker, Vernon||Iddon, Dr Brian|
|Coffey, Ms Ann||Illsley, Eric|
|Coleman, Iain||Ingram, Rt Hon Adam|
|Connarty, Michael||Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead)|
|Cook, Frank (Stockton N)||Jenkins, Brian|
|Cook, Rt Hon Robin (Livingston)||Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Jones, Kevan (N Durham)|
|Cousins, Jim||Joyce, Eric|
|Cox, Tom||Kaufman. Rt Hon Gerald|
|Crausby, David||Keeble, Ms Sally|
|Cruddas, Jon||Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)|
|Cryer, John (Hornchurch)||Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)|
|Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)||Kemp, Fraser|
|Cunningham, Tony (Workington)||Kidney, David|
|Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)||Kilfoyle, Peter|
|David, Wayne||King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)|
|Davidson, Ian||Knight, Jim (S Dorset)|
|Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)||Kumar, Dr Ashok|
|Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)||Ladyman, Dr Stephen|
|Dawson, Hilton||Lammy, David|
|Dhanda, Parmjit||Lawrence, Mrs Jackie|
|Doran, Frank||Laxton, Bob|
|Lazarowicz, Mark||Rammell, Bill|
|Lepper, David||Rapson, Syd|
|Leslie, Christopher||Reed, Andy (Loughborough)|
|Levitt Tom||Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)|
|Lloyd, Tony||Roy, Frank|
|Love, Andrew||Ruddock, Joan|
|Luke, Iain||Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)|
|McAvoy, Thomas||Salter, Martin|
|McCabe, Stephen||Sarwar, Mohammad|
|McDonagh, Siobhain||Sawford, Phil|
|MacDonald, Calum||Sedgemore, Brian|
|MacDougall, John||Shaw, Jonathan|
|McGuire, Mrs Anne||Sheerman, Barry|
|McIsaac, Shona||Sheridan, Jim|
|McKechin, Ann||Shipley, Ms Debra|
|McKenna, Rosemary||Simon, Siôn|
|Mackinlay, Andrew||Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)|
|MacShane. Denis||Skinner, Dennis|
|McWilliam, John||Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)|
|Mahmood, Khalid||Smith, Angela (Basildon)|
|Mahon, Mrs Alice||Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)|
|Mallaber, Judy||Smith, John (Glamorgan)|
|Mendelson, Rt Hon Peter||Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)|
|Mann, John||Southworth, Helen|
|Marris, Rob||Squire, Rachel|
|Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)||Steinberg, Gerry|
|Marshall, David (Shettleston)||Stewart, Ian (Eccles)|
|Martlew, Eric||Stinchcombe, Paul|
|Meale, Alan||Stoate, Dr Howard|
|Michael, Rt Hon Alun||Stringer, Graham|
|Milburn, Rt Hon Alan||Stuart, Ms Gisela|
|Miliband, David||Taylor, Rt Hon Ann (Dewsbury)|
|Miller, Andrew||Taylor, David (NW Leics)|
|Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)||Taylor, Dr Richard (Wyre F)|
|Moffatt, Laura||Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)|
|Mole, Chris||Tipping, Paddy|
|Moran, Margaret||Touhig, Don|
|Morley, Elliot||Truswell, Paul|
|Morris, Rt Hon Estelle||Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)|
|Mountford, Kali||Turner, Neil (Wigan)|
|Mudie, George||Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)|
|Mullin, Chris||Tynan, Bill|
|Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)||Vis, Dr Rudi|
|Naysmith, Dr Doug||Walley, Ms Joan|
|Oaten, Mark||Ward, Ms Claire|
|O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)||Wareing, Robert N|
|Organ, Diana||Watson, Tom|
|Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)||White, Brian|
|Owen, Albert||Wicks, Malcolm|
|Pearson, Ian||Williams, Rt Hon Alan (Swansea W)|
|Picking, Anne||Wills, Michael|
|Pickthall, Colin||Winnick, David|
|Plaskitt, James||Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)|
|Pope, Greg||Woodward, Shaun|
|Pound, Stephen||Woolas, Phil|
|Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)||Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)|
|Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)||Wright, David (Telford)|
|Primarolo, Dawn||Wright, Tony (Cannock)|
|Prosser, Gwyn||Wyatt, Derek|
|Purnell, James||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Quin, Rt Hon Joyce||Mr. Ivor Caplin and|
|Quinn, Lawrie||Mr. Tony McNulty.|
|Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)||Beggs, Roy|
|Amess, David||Beith, Rt Hon A J|
|Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James||Bellingham, Henry|
|Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)||Bercow, John|
|Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)||Beresford, Sir Paul|
|Bacon, Richard||Blunt, Crispin|
|Baker, Norman||Boswell, Tim|
|Baron, John||Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)|
|Barrett, John||Brady, Graham|
|Brake, Tom||Letwin, Oliver|
|Brazier, Julian||Liddell-Grainger, Ian|
|Browning, Mrs Angela||Lidington, David|
|Bruce, Malcolm||Lilley, Rt Hon Peter|
|Burnett, John||Llwyd, Elfyn|
|Burns, Simon||Loughton, Tim|
|Butterfill, John||McIntosh, Miss Anne|
|Cable, Dr Vincent||Maclean, Rt Hon David|
|Calton, Mrs Patsy||McLoughlin, Patrick|
|Cameron, David||Malins, Humfrey|
|Cash, William||Maples, John|
|Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)||Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)|
|Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian|
|Chidgey, David||May, Mrs Theresa|
|Chope, Christopher||Murrison, Dr Andrew|
|Clappison, James||Norman, Archie|
|Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Oaten, Mark|
|Collins, Tim||Osborne, George (Tatton)|
|Conway, Derek||Page, Richard|
|Cormack, Sir Patrick||Paice, James|
|Cotter, Brian||Paisley, Rev Ian|
|Davey, Edward (Kingston)||Pollard, Kerry|
|Davies, Quentin (Grantham)||Price, Adam|
|Djanogly, Jonathan||Prisk, Mark|
|Dobbin, Jim||Pugh, Dr John|
|Dodds, Nigel||Redwood, Rt Hon John|
|Doughty, Sue||Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)|
|Drew, David||Rendel, David|
|Duncan, Alan (Rutland & Melton)||Robertson, Angus (Moray)|
|Duncan, Peter (Galloway)||Robertson, Hugh (Faversham)|
|Fabricant, Michael||Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)|
|Fallen, Michael||Roe, Mrs Marion|
|Field, Mark (Cities of London)|
|Fight, Howard||Ruffley, David|
|Flook, Adrian||Russell, Bob (Colchester)|
|Forth, Rt Hon Eric||Sanders, Adrian|
|Foster, Don (Bath)||Sayeed, Jonathan|
|Fox, Dr Liam||Shepherd, Richard|
|Gale, Roger||Simmonds, Mark|
|Gibb, Nick||Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)|
|Gidley, Sandra||Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)|
|Gillan, Mrs Cheryl||Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)|
|Goodman, Paul||Soames, Nicholas|
|Gray, James||Spicer, Sir Michael|
|Grayling, Chris||Spink, Bob|
|Green, Damian (Ashford)||Spring, Richard|
|Greenway, John||Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John|
|Grieve, Dominic||Streeter, Gary|
|Gummer, Rt Hon John||Stunell, Andrew|
|Hammond, Philip||Swayne, Desmond|
|Harris, Dr Evan (Oxford W)||Swire, Hugo|
|Harvey, Nick||Syms, Robert|
|Hayes, John||Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)|
|Heald, Oliver||Taylor, John (Solihull)|
|Heath, David||Taylor, Sir Teddy|
|Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David||Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)|
|Hoban, Mark||Thurso, John|
|Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas||Tonge, Dr Jenny|
|Horam John||Tredinnick, David|
|Howard, Rt Hon Michael||Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)|
|Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)||Tyrie, Andrew|
|Jack, Rt Hon Michael|
|Jenkin, Bernard||Viggers, Peter|
|Johnson, Boris (Henley)||Waterson, Nigel|
|Key, Robert||Weir, Michael|
|Kirkbride, Miss Julie||Whittingdale, John|
|Knight, Rt Hon Greg (E Yorkshire)||Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann|
|Laing, Mrs Eleanor||Wiggin, Bill|
|Lait, Mrs Jacqui||Wilkinson, John|
|Lamb, Norman||Williams, Hywel (Caemarfon)|
|Lansley, Andrew||Williams, Roger (Brecon)|
|Leigh, Edward||Willis, Phil|
|Wilshire, David||Younger-Ross, Richard|
|Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)|
|Wishart, Pete||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Yeo, Tim||Mr. Charles Hendry and|
|Young, Rt Hon Sir George||Mr. Laurence Robertson.|
§ Question accordingly agreed to.