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House of Commons
Session 1998-99
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House of Commons Votes and Proceedings
Monday 19th April 1999

The House met at half-past Two o'clock.
1HFC Bank Bill,—The House proceeded to consider the HFC Bank Bill, as amended in the Committee.
        Bill to be read the third time.
2Vacation of Seat (Newark),—The Speaker made a statement, as follows:
        I have a brief statement to make.
        The House will recall that on 22nd March, following the conviction of the honourable Member for Newark in the Crown Court on a charge of making a false declaration as to election expenses, I stated that the seat had been vacated in accordance with law.
        The House will also be aware that the Court of Appeal has since quashed that conviction. The Court of Appeal, however, considered that it had no jurisdiction to go on to rule on whether or not the honourable Lady recovers her seat following the success of her appeal.
        This is an unprecedented situation. On the one hand, there are considerations of natural justice. The conviction has been quashed: should not the vacancy also be overturned? On the other hand, whatever the outcome of the appeal, it is the interpretation of the Representation of the People Act 1983 which is crucial.
        It is for the courts, not for the House, to interpret the law. I have therefore asked the Attorney General, on behalf of the House, to seek an authoritative declaration from the High Court on the true construction of the 1983 Act. The Court will be invited to make a declaration that, following the decision of the Court of Appeal to quash her conviction, Fiona Jones is entitled to resume her seat.
        I understand that the application is being made today. I hope very much that it may be disposed of as speedily as is consistent with fairness and with certainty.
        May I add in the interests of Members in all parts of the House that, once this matter has been resolved, I think it would be desirable for this part of our statute law to be reviewed, to see whether it cannot be expressed more clearly, so as to avoid this kind of situation in future.
3Fifth Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation,—Dr Michael Clark reported from the Fifth Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation the draft Civil Procedure (Modification of Enactments) Order 1999.
        Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee to lie upon the Table.
4Adjournment (Kosovo) (No. 2),—A Motion was made, and the Question being proposed, That this House do now adjourn—(Mr Kevin Hughes);
        Mr Tam Dalyell rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put;
        And the Question being put, That the Question be now put;
        The House divided.
          Tellers for the Ayes, Mr Bill Michie, Mr John McDonnell: 11.
          Tellers for the Noes, Mr Mike Hall, Mr David Jamieson: 0.
        And it appearing on the report of the Division that fewer than forty Members had taken part in the Division, the Speaker declared that the Question was not decided in the Affirmative.
        And it being after Ten o'clock, the Motion for the adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.
5Public Petitions,—A Public Petition from residents of the constituency of Harrow East against hunting with dogs was presented; and ordered to lie upon the Table and to be printed.
6Adjournment,—A Motion was made, and the Question being proposed, That this House do now adjourn—(Mr Robert Ainsworth);
        And the Motion having been made after Ten o'clock, and the Debate having continued for half an hour, the Speaker adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order, it being then twenty-two minutes to Eleven o'clock, till to-morrow.
[Adjourned at 10:38 p.m.
Betty Boothroyd

Madam Speaker will take the Chair at half-past Two o'clock.

Papers presented or laid upon the Table:
Papers subject to Negative Resolution:
1Housing,—Housing (Right to Acquire) (Discount) Order 1999 (S.I., 1999, No. 1135), dated 12th April 1999 [by Act] [Mr Secretary Prescott].
2Merchant Shipping,—Merchant Shipping (Fees) (Amendment) Regulations 1999 (S.I., 1999, No. 1063), dated 30th March 1999 [by Act] [Mr Secretary Prescott].
Other Papers:
3Deregulation,—Proposal under the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994 by the Secretary of State for the Home Department for the Deregulation (Casinos) Order 1999, with an Explanatory Memorandum [by Act] [Mr Secretary Straw].
4Housing,—Account of Grants and Loans to the Housing Action Trusts for 1997-98, with the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General thereon [by Act]; to be printed [No. 388] [Clerk of the House].
5Law Commission,—Report of the Law Commission on Damages for Personal Injury: Non-Pecuniary Loss [by Act]; to be printed [No. 344] [Mr Geoffrey Hoon].
6National Debt,—Accounts of the National Debt Commissioners Gilt-edged Official Operations for 1996-1997 and 1997-1998, with the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General thereon [by Act]; to be printed [No. 389] [Clerk of the House].
Standing Committees
Draft Local Authority (Stocks and Bonds) (Amendment) Regulations 1999,—The Committee of Selection has discharged Sir Michael Spicer from the Seventh Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation (nominated in respect of the draft Regulations); and nominated in substitution Mr John Townend.

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Revised 20 April 1999