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Column 977is to be made notice is given, if only for a few minutes, so that those who wish to ask a question about the change in the business arrangements can do so? Perhaps my hon. Friend will be able to tell me--he may have been in the Chamber at the time--whether the Leader of the House, in announcing that there would be a timetable motion on Friday, stated that there would be an extended sitting. That would be within the Government's rights but it is a sign of distress. I understand that a guillotine motion would continue to be debated for three hours at the conclusion of the debate on the Football Spectators Bill on Friday.
Mr. Cryer : There will be guillotine motions on Thursday 26 October, which is tomorrow or later today. The Government will continue the debate on the Children Bill on Friday 27 October. The debate on the Bill will follow a Ways and Means resolution on the Football Spectators Bill. The Government know that there is concern about, but a good deal of consensus on, the Children Bill and they want cynically to ensure that there is something following the Ways and Means resolution that Members will wish to reach. They wish to ensure that the Ways and Means resolution on the Football Spectators Bill is not debated at length.
The Government proclaim in loud tones and in generality that they are concerned about taxpayers' expenditure--that is money that is spent by the Government--but they do not like hon. Members such as myself speaking on Ways and Means resolutions. They regard that as an inconvenience. When they are spending hundreds of thousands of pounds, millions of pounds or, in the case of the privatisation of the water industry, billions of pounds, it is inconvenient to have an extra 45 minutes of debate after the Division at 10 o'clock. That is what the business is about on Friday. The Government are cynically curtailing debate on the Ways and Means resolution by arranging to take the Children Bill after it. They know that there will be pressure on debate. There will be those who say, "For goodness sake do not talk about money and Ways and Means. Let us get on to the Children Bill, where there is consensus." The notion that the Government are concerned about the Children Bill and are providing time for that is absolutely false. It is a cynical manoeuvre to curtail debate in this place about a subject in which this place should have some measure of interest, and that is the expenditure of money. That is one reason why the change in business has been wrapped up in the motion to curtail business on the Companies Bill.
Although there were shouts from Conservative Members when my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) raised the question of the Children Bill, the reality is that the Bill was progressing smoothly last night. There had been an extensive debate, but every hon. Member who spoke had a deep and concerned interest. Indeed, I had two amendments on the Amendment Paper concerned with charging for pre-school playgroups. A great many representations have been made to me on that matter. I have received a petition and 100 letters, including half a dozen from organisations running pre-school playgroups in my constituency that expressed great concern about the charges for registration and inspection.
I was surprised to find that, although I had tabled those amendments, and although that usually means that one is
Column 978called fairly early in the debate, I was in fact called eighth or ninth because of the long queue to speak. Therefore, it is quite false to suggest that there was anything other than concerned and detailed discussion last night.
Mr. Dave Nellist (Coventry, South-East) : While my hon. Friend was explaining the importance of the discussion on the Children Bill, I heard Conservative Members complaining about the number of votes that were taken. My understanding--and, I think, that of my hon. Friend--is that we are paid a fairly heavy salary to come to this place to vote on legislation. Are Tory Members suggesting that we are not sent here to do that? If so, what are we paid to do?
Mr. Cryer : In fact, there were very few votes last night because the vast majority of the amendments being debated related to schedule 8. Under the Standing Orders of the House, it is not possible to vote on amendments until we reach the clause or schedule to which they apply. Hon. Members will be aware that schedule 8 is towards the end of a group of schedules which themselves are near the end of the Bill. Therefore, it was not possible to vote on my amendments. I must make it clear that my amendments were not tabled last night and they were in no way superfluous. I was not the only hon. Member wanting to ensure that the charges were removed. I presented the House with the choice of either removing the charge for inspection and registration or limiting the charge to a maximum of £10. The Minister said that he would not charge more than £10, so through the vehicle of my amendment the Opposition gained a valuable concession. That was not entirely satisfactory, however, because the actual amendment concerned the right of the Minister to issue orders. As the House knows, these are very unsatisfactory. Ministers change, and an assurance that a Minister gives does not bind other Ministers. The fact is, however, that an assurance was obtained that will go some way towards giving the pre -school playgroup organisations in my constituency some confidence in the fact of support for the figure of £10 in my amendment--support, indeed, that I received in a letter from a playgroup association representing the whole of Bradford. The time was not wasted ; it was typical of the way in which the House of Commons works late at night, when there is a good deal of detailed argument and some common sense and understanding.
Mr. John Butterfill (Bournemouth, West) : Does the hon. Gentleman accept, however, that his attempt to justify his behaviour last night, and the intervention of his hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Nellist), would have much more validity were it not for the fact that, in the many Divisions that were called, no one voted on his side? If there was real concern, why did no one support the hon. Gentleman in the Lobby?
Mr. Cryer : It simply is not correct to say that many Divisions were called with no hon. Members in the Lobby. As a matter of fact, I was very sorry that my two amendments--Nos. 360 and 361--were not subjected to a Division. I would have asked for a Division to remove all possibility of charging, but--as I explained to the House--that was not possible, because my amendments affected schedule 8, which could not be voted on until that stage in
Column 979the Bill was reached, which would be at the very end of the proceedings. The truth is that not enough time has been allowed for ordinary consideration of the Children Bill.
Mr. Skinner : I think we need to explain why there were only about three or four Divisions, and Opposition votes in all but one--the first. That was deliberate : we decided to find out how many Tory Members were present before we kicked off with the Bill. That is always a good exercise. If they are down to, say, 130 or 140, we know that they will not last very long, and tonight was a good indication. So, last night, we tested them early on. We did not want anyone to vote, so two of us tested the Tories. We found 183 in their Lobby, and we realised then that they might manage with that number for about an hour or two, but not much longer. My prediction turned out to be right. Now they are making a song and dance about no one voting in our Division ; but we did not want anyone to vote in our Division. We simply wanted to find out how many Tory Members were here.
Mr. Devlin : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I wonder whether you could advise the House whether the activities described by the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) are an abuse of the procedures of the House.
Mr. Cryer : I am grateful, Mr. Deputy Speaker, for your comment indicating that last night's events were perfectly proper and entirely within the provisions of Standing Orders of the House. Yet we are being accused by the Government of breaching them, when that is patently not true.
I must say that I feel very critical of--and angry with--Conservative Members who make such imputations about the Chair. As the House knows, any occupant of the Chair would draw the House's attention to any breach of Standing Orders immediately : he would not need to wait for 24 hours for guidance from some Back Bencher seeking a quarrel where none existed. [Interruption.] My hon. Friends tell me that the hon. Gentleman is highly unqualified to make any such comment, because he was not even here : no doubt he was tucked up in his Division Bell flat.
Mr. Brian Wilson (Cunninghame, North) : I am grateful as this debate has enabled me to learn about the concession which my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) succeeded in obtaining late last night. I suggest that that one concession which will be appreciated by playgroups throughout the country is considerably more valuable than anything that the hon. Member for Stockton, South (Mr. Devlin) will do in this place if he lives to be 100. To illustrate the synthetic outrage displayed by Conservative Members in their concern about the Children Bill, will my hon. Friend remind the House how many Government amendments to the Children Bill have been tabled this week? Might that not be a measure of their high regard for getting it through?
Mr. Cryer : I understand that the Government tabled some 400 amendments to the Children Bill. That demonstrates either very bad drafting or concessions in the Committee. Frankly, given this Government's record, the notion that they would make a large number of concessions--although they allowed some on the Children Bill--is not borne out by experience. On Bill after Bill the Government have rejected our modest and minor amendments. It is obviously a mixture of drafting a Bill that is not up to the standards required by the House but approved by the Government, and a number of concessions.
Mr. Vaz : It is important to dispel the myth that there was no co- operation between the two sides of the House concerning the Children Bill. We co-operated throughout the Children Bill, even when we had reached this stage in our deliberations. We co-operated to such an extent that we did not press new clause 5, which I proposed, to a Division because we believed that it was important to make progress. At 2.30 this morning when the hon. Member for Stockton, South (Mr. Devlin) was in bed, I and my hon. Friend the Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bell) argued that we should continue debating the Children Bill as it was so important to get the measure through.
Mr. Cryer : Yes, indeed. A number of us voted that way, unlike the Government who voted for closure, of course without the assistance of the hon. Member for Stockton, South, who, as my hon. Friend pointed out, was in bed.
My understanding is that there has been a good deal of co-operation on the Children Bill. It is quite false and inaccurate for any Conservative Member to argue that that is not the case. Although the Bill has had a great deal of cross-party support, and although it was discussed in Committee in a spirit of assistance from the Opposition, the Government have tabled a huge number of amendments. That suggests that the Government are dealing with these matters in too much haste.
I accept that the Children Bill covers a number of delicate and difficult matters, and therefore the legislation has to be phrased very carefully, as clearly as we can, to make sure that children's rights are properly protected. But that process will not be enhanced by a guillotine--it will be denied. If we are charitable towards the Government--and that is not easy--they must realise that in what they recognise by the number of amendments that they have tabled, to be a delicate and difficult legislative area the process will not be assisted by haste. The Government have to face up to the brutal fact that the measure needs more time because the Government have frittered away the past 12 months on monster Bills such as the Water Bill which was in two volumes. They abused the House by putting through vast quantities of legislation. During proceedings on the Electricity Bill to privatise electricity, the procedure was changed, as a last gasp from the then Secretary of State for Energy who announced that a separate corporation was to be set up to finance the closure of the Magnox reactors. All that was against the background that decisions were not being taken by the Cabinet and changes were being made, yet the House is supposed to deal with this huge volume of legislation.
I was present on Second Reading of the Children Bill. The Government embarked on a cynical manoeuvre. The Minister said that he hoped that there would be consensus
Column 981and understanding. Much common concern was expressed by hon. Members, and he said that he hoped that the Bill would not become a political issue. By their brutal treatment of the House, the Government made it a political issue. The Bill does not deserve such brutal treatment.
The Government must accept that they will not pass legislation in the time that they have allocated. If they want to deal properly with the Children Bill they will simply have to allocate more time. Of course they do not want to do so, because their obsession with their political ideology and their fear of the Prime Minister prevents them from offering time to allow proper discussion of a decent Bill such as the Children Bill.
Mr. Peter L. Pike (Burnley) : I am sure that my hon. Friend is aware that the group of amendments that we were about to debate last night on the Children Bill dealt with grandparents' rights. My hon. Friend will realise that the issue was not raised only this year, because hon. Members have been tabling early-day motions about it for years. Many people inside and outside the House will be concerned to hear that a guillotine motion is to be introduced tomorrow, thereby not allowing enough time for that important principle, and many others, to be debated properly.
Mr. Cryer : My hon. Friend is right. One of the reasons why I voted against adjourning debate on the Children Bill was that I knew that for several years my hon. Friend the Member for Ogmore (Mr. Powell), aided by other people, had tabled early-day motions and campaigned for grandparents' rights. He was willing to move amendments to the Bill, but he was denied that opportunity, which is outrageous.
Mr. Spearing : The earlier part of the debate to adjourn debate on the Bill was understandably, and quite properly, partisan. I suggest to hon. Members that we should not be partisan on the Children Bill. The public often worry that we are over-partisan. Is it not a fact that time and consideration of the Children Bill are of the essence to get it right? The number of amendments that have been tabled to that non-controversial Bill suggest just that. If the Government are suggesting that they, or any political party, should get themselves out of an embarrassment that they have got themselves into through unwise legislation or an overloaded timetable, or both, by sacrificing proper consideration on a non-party political basis of such a sensitive and important issue, that is surely unworthy of any Government. I therefore appeal to the Leader of the House to reconsider the principle of a guillotine on the Bill--least of all this week--and to consider another way of proceeding, such as reintroducing the Bill in the next Session of Parliament.
Mr. Cryer : My hon. Friend is right. A further abuse of Parliament is that the Government propose to give additional powers to Ministers on many Bills. They are saying, "We have not time to deal with detailed aspects of Bills. Therefore, we shall give widespread delegated powers to Ministers to deal with the details." If the House had adequate powers for dealing with delegated legislation there might be an argument for doing that. As my hon.
Column 982Friends know, I chair the Joint Select Committee on Statutory Instruments. Frankly, the means of dealing with delegated powers are totally inadequate.
Very shortly, in November, we shall have a meeting of the Commonwealth conference on delegated powers here in London. My guess is that most of the other Commonwealth countries will be able to show us a good deal of better practice in dealing with delegated legislation. One Conservative Member said that it is going to be an exciting conference. He was joking. It will be dull and detailed work. However, it is absolutely necessary if Parliament is to exercise some scrutiny of Ministers' powers, which must be examined to see whether they are using them arbitrarily or whether they are the powers that Parliament has granted.
That sort of work carried out by a Committee which does not have the right of debate on the Floor of the House, is best carried out in Committee upstairs and, of course, examined by all hon. Members on Report. It is far better that the House should examine Bills in detail on Report than simply shuffle off powers to Ministers and let them get on with it. That is an abrogation of our duty. By introducing this timetable motion, the Government are demonstrating an abrogation of parliamentary rights to carry out those duties. As an hon. Member implied by his lofty joke, the Statutory Instruments Committee's work is detailed. It is actually much more interesting to deal with Bills on the Floor of the House, yet we are being denied that opportunity because of the Government's obduracy.
Mr. Nellist : To ensure that the issue is properly considered, will my hon. Friend care to play devil's advocate in his own argument and consider the opposite side of the coin? Let us consider a Labour Government bringing forth enabling legislation in the form of an industry measure, which would give a Labour Secretary of State for Industry the power to nationalise companies and then, one by one, through either a statutory instrument or regulation, hand over to the Department as and when was necessary to speed up and complete the process as quickly as possible the necessary powers to take over industry after industry. I have heard that argument put forward over the past 10 or 15 years as an elegant and efficient solution to the time-wasting delays that a Labour Government could face from a future Tory Opposition. Will my hon. Friend explore that possibility?
It is an interesting train of thought. I am arguing against the proposal to adjourn the debate on the Companies Bill and also on the guillotine proposals that the Leader of the House has produced. The Government will go ahead and try to get their troops into the Lobby to support the adjournment of the debate today or tomorrow, whichever is the correct parliamentary term, to pass the guillotine motions. If a Labour Government were giving delegated powers to take into public ownership companies which were necessarily to be collectively owned and responsible to generate the devastating manufacturing economy that we shall inherit at the next general election,
Column 983the Conservative Opposition would say, "It's the slippery slope of Fascism. It's Communism gone mad. It's a Marxist dictatorship that is about to take over. Where are our rights as Members of Parliament?" That is what they would be saying and that is what they said when there was a Labour Government between 1974 and 1979.
I was a member of that Labour Government and I recall the activities of the present Secretary of State for Trade and Industry who was then just the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley). After the first 12 months of disbelief that their inherited right to govern had been somehow upset, when the Conservatives finally got some confidence back, they used every dodge to delay and obstruct that Labour Government. Because they were involved in financial arrangements, the Conservatives also used lobbying organisations outside this place in a very unscrupulous way. Labour Members would not do that.
Mr. Skinner : At the beginning of his response to my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South-East (Mr. Nellist), my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) referred to the Tories getting their troops through the Lobbies to get this motion to adjourn the debate carried tonight. It just crossed my mind that if the Tories were down to about 119 votes in the last Division, and as a lot of Tories want to get home to bed, if my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South and one or two of my colleagues continued to talk for a considerable time about this very important issue, the Government might not have the 100 votes to close the debate. If they did not have 100 votes to close it, they really would be in Dicky's meadow, wouldn't they?
Mr. Cryer : As my hon. Friend said, the Conservative Whip is now receiving messages, no doubt from telephonic communications, calling on the loyalty of Conservatives who are asleep in bed to come here to vote.
The Government have moved this motion, but we would prefer to be debating the Companies Bill. We do not want to examine the motion in detail. However, now that the Government have tabled it, they should not be too saddened by our desire to examine it in some detail especially given the Government's unprecedented link between the guillotine motions on the Companies Bill and the Children Bill. The Leader of the House did not introduce the two guillotine motions in a spirit of progress or to move on the business ; he introduced them in a spirit of revenge. The Government have the troops and they have tabled the motions because we have debated issues and taken up more time than the Government had planned for. The Government do not want to have to keep their troops in the House too long. They have an unmanageable spill-over period, but they want to chop off the debate and send their troops back to their constituencies and whatever activities the Tory Members get up to. They want to give them a few days' holiday before the new Session of Parliament. That idea is not working because there is too much legislation. Our extra scrutiny is causing the Government problems and we have seen chaos over the past two days.
As I have emphasised, the Opposition are simply examining the Bills in detail. I took part in yesterday's examination of the Children Bill. What about tonight's debate and the companies legislation?
Mr. Vaz : Can I press my hon. Friend on the suggestion made by my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing)? My hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South was not aware of the detailed negotiations between the Opposition and the Minister for Health. I want to pay tribute to the Minister for Health for the way in which he conducted the Children Bill and for allowing us to discuss important matters with his officials.
Does my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer) agree that in view of the seriousness of the Children Bill, it would be a good idea-- if the Leader of the House cannot guarantee what we asked for originally, namely, an extra day's debate--that the Bill should be withdrawn and reintroduced in the new Session instead of rushing through important issues such as the grandparents' rights clauses and the Government's wish, in clause 84, to abolish the ancient jurisdiction of wardship that has been with us for more than 450 years?
Mr. Cryer : That is a useful idea. We could also drop some other item of legislation that is equally complex and lengthy, such as the Companies Bill, and reintroduce it later. A number of useful formulae could facilitate the House in its examination of the Children Bill. The Self- Governing Schools etc. (Scotland) Bill, the Employment Bill and the Local Government and Housing Bill could be dropped to make way for it.
The Goverment may say that they promised the Prime Minister--she is on her way back from Kuala Lumpur--that all the business would be got through. Some Bills are relatively obscure and I suspect that if the Self-Governing Schools etc. (Scotland) Bill was dropped and reintroduced during the next Session it might entirely escape the Prime Minister's notice.
The Leader of the House has the opportunity of entering into negotiations to allow the Children Bill to be exempt from the guillotine procedure. Although the Leader of the House is deep in conversation about tactics for tonight, I appeal to him on behalf of my hon. Friends.
I remember the hon. and learned Member for Putney (Mr. Mellor) in his guise as a Minister at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. He used to combine arrogance and vindictiveness to an unusual degree. When he made his Second Reading speech on the Children Bill he was a changed man. He was genuinely conciliatory and willing to help. Therefore, he got a response from us. There is a large degree of good will among those hon. Members who have taken the trouble to examine the Bill. No doubt that good will is shared by those hon. Members who have not taken the trouble to read the Bill, but who agree, in principle, that it is a good thing to pass a Bill to provide more protection for children. There is a big question over the resources necessary to finance some of its provisions, but there is an underlying consensus on the Bill, so it would not be a bad idea if the Leader of the House interjected at this stage to say that he would consider negotiations to exempt that Bill from the guillotine motion. It would be to the Government's credit if they did that. It would mean that the Government recognise that a parliamentary democracy has some merit and is not simply a mechanism by which they can push through their ideologically committted pieces of legislation and damn the rest. The rest includes the Children Bill.
I note that the right hon. and learned Gentleman is not rising to seize that opportunity offered to him to create good will and a sense of value in the democratic processes.
Column 985If there were an agreement to remove the guillotine on the Children Bill it would mean that part of the democratic process was being used. The trouble is that the Government do not recognise democracy very much. The only ideas that they recognise are their own and they do not even recognise that this place has any part to play. The Children Bill was the subject of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's statement, but it is also important to consider the Companies Bill, which is a highly complicated measure. It is designed to scrutinise the operation of companies, the subject of continuous scrutiny by the House during the past 25 years. In recent years a number of items relating to company legislation have been discussed, so it will not do any harm if the Bill is reintroduced in the next Session. The fact that it was introduced in the other place suggests that the Government regard it as non-controversial. My hon. Friends and I would not regard it entirely in that way, but that is the Government's view. Frankly, because the Bill is so complicated--
Mr. Campbell-Savours : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have just seen the hon. Member for Stockton, South (Mr. Devlin) approach the Government Chief Whip, ask for the right to speak and be told that he cannot. That is an intrusion into the rights of hon. Members. If the hon. Gentleman wishes to speak, he should be allowed to do so. It is not for Whips to instruct hon. Members that they cannot speak in a debate such as this.
Mr. Cryer : I imagine that the House would probably be a good deal better off if the hon. Member for Stockton, South (Mr. Devlin) did not speak, but I certainly defend his right to speak in the House. My hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) has done the House a service in raising this matter because if the hon. Gentleman were to speak we could all get a cup of tea while he was holding forth and come back in time for the Division. However, it is a sorry business if the Government Chief Whip is so instructing members of his own party, and it is even more disturbing that Conservative Members do not even have the guts to say "no" to the Chief Whip. They do not have sufficient independence and commitment to democracy to rise and speak. It is true that they will not get the opportunity to do so for a little while because I have a few remarks to make about the Companies Bill. After all, the Government have given us this opportunity and I am loth to allow it to pass. The Companies Bill is lengthy and complicated. Having had a lot of advice from their legion of civil servants--the Department of Trade and Industry has carried out inquiries into company after company and has produced many valuable reports--it is rather strange that the Government have tabled a thousand amendments to the Bill. We must consider the reasons for that. Was the Bill so badly drafted? Have there been so many changes in the positions of companies that the Government have needed to produce a thousand amendments? Surely, it is reasonable for companies to expect to have some degree of certainty about the procedures and passage of legislation. I should have thought that the degree of uncertainty in the
Column 986Government's mind, which in turn is producing uncertainty in companies, would merit the Government giving some serious consideration to deferring the Companies Bill to the next Session. That seems the proper way to proceed. I should have thought that in these circumstances, the Companies Bill deserved lengthy consideration.
There was an unfortunate interruption in my membership of the House due to a realignment of the boundaries, but I recall the introduction of a private Bill in 1982, entitled the Lloyds Bill. Some of us opposed it because we said that self-regulation was not the answer. However, self-regulation is the path that the Government have gone down.
Opposition Members want to try to ensure that the Companies Bill is better than the Government have proposed, and that is why we have tabled a modest number of amendments. Certainly, in comparison to the number of amendments that the Government have tabled, the Opposition have been positively parsimonious with their amendments. It is not as though the Opposition had decided to flood the Amendment Paper with amendments because if we had wanted to hold up the Bill as a simple matter of course we could have done so. That is a technique open to the Opposition, but no, we have not taken that course. We decided what we would do as a constructive Opposition, scrutinising matters carefully and disagreeing with the Government's ideology, although, as always, we were in a difficult position because this is a grey area. Should we go for all out opposition, or should we try to improve parts of the Bill and help its passage? These are matters of judgment for the Opposition. We adopted the moderate view that we should try to improve the legislation, to afford genuine protection to the people affected by the Companies Bill--the shareholders, directors and employees.
We wanted, for instance, to improve the Bill by giving shareholders the right to ballot--not an unreasonable view, given the Government's obsession with balloting for the trade unions. We thought that we would take a leaf out of their book and give shareholders the right to decide matters such as political contributions. We tabled a new clause to that effect. We did not table 200 of them, as we could have. We tabled some carefully phrased, moulded and targeted amendments in the best traditions of a constructive Opposition who are biding their time until the general election, after which we shall produce carefully phrased, well drafted and targeted legislation when we form the next Labour Government.
The Government have many resources at their disposal--thousands of civil servants, and advisers on whom they spend about £4 million a year at the taxpayers' expense. I noticed that The Guardian said today that these advisers are paid for largely by the Conservative party. That is not true : I tabled many questions on this and the Government would not disclose the cost--
Mr. Skinner : The company known as the Tory party has more or less gone bust. I have just seen a junior Whip tell the Chief Whip, roughly speaking, "They ain't got a hundred." The Chief Whip pulled a face and sent him out again. That is one reason why the Chief Whip is not moving the closure on this part of the proceedings. The Government have not dared move the closure on my hon. Friend, so they are in more serious trouble than we first thought.
Mr. Cryer : My hon. Friend raises a serious issue. The Government have trampled on parliamentary rights by proposing to adjourn this debate and by producing two guillotine motions later today, but I hesitate to contemplate the idea of their moving the closure on a debate to adjourn consideration of the Companies Bill. That would be outrageous. It is the sort of thing that happened in pre-war Germany. I cannot believe that even this Government would stoop to the gutter of anti-democratic practice and do that. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Wallace) says that I am gullible. He should have said that I have a touching faith in democracy, but it has been severely wounded tonight by the Government's actions. My endeavours in this place have included discussions of Ways and Means resolutions. At the beginning of my speech, five or 10 minutes ago, I touched on them. On Friday there is to be a Ways and Means resolution on the Football Spectators Bill. I have raised--
Mr. Cryer : Perhaps I can remind you, very humbly, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that when the Leader of the House moved this motion, he said that the Children Bill, which is to guillotined, will be taken after the Ways and Means resolution on Friday 27 October.
One of the genuine strengths of this place is that there are a lot of loopholes, and it is possible to use this place to raise issues which I suspect is not possible in younger, more mannered, legislatures. Ways and Means resolutions have provided me and other hon. Members with interesting ways in which to raise issues.
Mr. Vaz : I do not know whether my hon. Friend is aware that I served on the Standing Committees which considered the Children Bill and the Football Spectators Bill. The problem for those of us who have been involved with the two Bills is that there will not be enough time on Friday to consider the issues that they both raise. We understand that the Football Spectators Bill is to be amended quite substantially by the Minister for Sport and the Home Office, as a new criminal offence is to be created in clause 2. The Leader of the House's statement makes it very difficult for all of Friday's business to be considered properly, bearing in mind the fact that there is to be a guillotine motion on the Football Spectators Bill on Monday.
Mr. Cryer rose --
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. David Waddington) rose --
Mr. Waddington rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.
The House proceeded to a Division--
Notice being taken that Strangers were present, Mr. Deputy Speaker,-- pursuant to Standing Order No. 143 (Withdrawal of Strangers from the House), put forthwith the Question, That strangers do withdraw :--
The House divided : Ayes 6, Noes 132.
Column 988Division No. 350] [1.28 am
Barnes, Harry (Derbyshire NE)
Campbell-Savours, D. N.
Tellers for the Ayes :
Mr. Bob Cryer and
Mr. Dennis Skinner.
Alison, Rt Hon Michael
Baker, Nicholas (Dorset N)
Bennett, Nicholas (Pembroke)
Biffen, Rt Hon John
Buck, Sir Antony
Campbell, Menzies (Fife NE)
Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)
Coombs, Anthony (Wyre F'rest)
Coombs, Simon (Swindon)
Davis, David (Boothferry)
Douglas-Hamilton, Lord James
Ewing, Mrs Margaret (Moray)
Fields, Terry (L'pool B G'n)
Fishburn, John Dudley
Forsyth, Michael (Stirling)
Glyn, Dr Alan
Golding, Mrs Llin
Goodson-Wickes, Dr Charles
Griffiths, Peter (Portsmouth N)
Gummer, Rt Hon John Selwyn
Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)
Howarth, G. (Cannock & B'wd)
Howe, Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Hughes, John (Coventry NE)
Hughes, Robert G. (Harrow W)
Hunt, David (Wirral W)
Hunt, Sir John (Ravensbourne)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S W)
Knight, Greg (Derby North)
Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)
Lyell, Sir Nicholas
Martin, David (Portsmouth S)
Meyer, Sir Anthony
Nicholson, Emma (Devon West)
Pike, Peter L.
Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas
Sackville, Hon Tom
Sainsbury, Hon Tim
Shaw, David (Dover)
Shephard, Mrs G. (Norfolk SW)
Soames, Hon Nicholas
Stewart, Andy (Sherwood)
Stradling Thomas, Sir John
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Thompson, D. (Calder Valley)
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Townsend, Cyril D. (B'heath)
Twinn, Dr Ian
Waddington, Rt Hon David
Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Welsh, Andrew (Angus E)
Welsh, Michael (Doncaster N)
Tellers for the Noes :
Mr. Irvine Patnick and
Mr. Michael Fallon.