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Column 709Robinson, Mark (Somerton)
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Rowe, Andrew (Mid Kent)
Rumbold, Rt Hon Dame Angela
Ryder, Rt Hon Richard
Scott, Rt Hon Nicholas
Shaw, David (Dover)
Shephard, Rt Hon Gillian
Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)
Skeet, Sir Trevor
Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)
Speed, Sir Keith
Spencer, Sir Derek
Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)
Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)
Spink, Dr Robert
Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Taylor, John M. (Solihull)
Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)
Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)
Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)
Townend, John (Bridlington)
Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)
Twinn, Dr Ian
Vaughan, Sir Gerard
Waldegrave, Rt Hon William
Walker, Bill (N Tayside)
Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)
Wiggin, Sir Jerry
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'ld)
Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Tellers for the Noes :
Mr. Sydney Chapman and
Mr. James Arbuthnot.
Question accordingly negatived.
The Chairman,-- being of the opinion that the principle of the clause and any matters arising thereon had been adequately discussed in the course of debate on the amendment proposed thereto, forthwith put the Question, pursuant to Standing Order No. 67 (Debate on clause or schedule standing part), That the clause stand part of the Bill. Question agreed to.
Clause 28 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
To report Progress and ask leave to sit again.--[Mr. Conway.] Committee report Progress ; to sit again tomorrow.
The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Tony Newton) : On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker.I should like to make a short statement about a change in the business for tomorrow.
The business for tomorrow will now be a timetable motion on the Finance Bill, followed by conclusion of proceedings in Committee of the whole House on the Finance Bill.
Mr. Alistair Darling (Edinburgh, Central) : Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. So far we have debated one clause of the Finance Bill, and it was quite clear that progress was being made. We were ready to debate the next clause, on which it was also quite clear that progress would be made. It was equally clear that the Committee would proceed tomorrow in an orderly manner. It is therefore quite outrageous that the Government should try to timetable the Finance Bill--one of the longest ever introduced--when it is quite clear that the Bill would have been debated properly. The fact is that the Government are no longer confident of their own legislation, which is why they wish to guillotine a Finance Bill, an action unheard of in recent times.
Mr. Geoffrey Hoon (Ashfield) : Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Was it in order for the Leader of the House to announce a guillotine motion without giving the House the benefit of an explanation why it is necessary ?
Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Morris) : The Leader of the House is entirely responsible for his own statements.
Mrs. Margaret Beckett (Derby, South) rose --
Mr. Peter Bottomley (Eltham) : The right hon. Lady has not been here.
Mrs. Beckett : Quite right. I was not here because I had no notice of the statement from the Leader of the House. He did not even do me the courtesy of giving me 30 seconds' notice, as he did on the last occasion, of the fact that the Government proposed to guillotine after one day's debate a Finance Bill of more than 200 clauses. I do not know why this Government even bother to come to Parliament, they have such contempt for the parliamentary process. Is there any Bill that they will not guillotine ? They simply cannot be bothered to make their Members stay here to debate crucial issues that affect the British people and the tax package that they will have to pay in April. That is disgraceful, and the Leader of the House knows it. He is not fit to do his job.
Mr. Newton : I have three points to make in response to that. First, anyone who has followed today's proceedings--including speeches verging on an hour's length and many others lasting half an hour, some made by Members who were not in the Chamber at the beginning of the debate--will have recognised organised delaying tactics when they saw them.
Secondly, every effort was made by my hon. Friends in good faith to achieve an understanding. They thought that they had achieved one ; manifestly it was not adhered to.
Column 711Thirdly, if the right hon. Lady would engage in sensible discussion through the usual channels, we would not be in this position.
Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed) : Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Leader of the House rather gave the House the impression that he was making a business statement. Would it not have been more helpful to know clearly that that was what he was doing, thus enabling hon. Members to ask him questions about whether he intended to timetable the entire Bill or merely the clauses taken on the Floor of the House? Important--and very long--Bills such as this, which are not usually timetabled, surely demand some opportunity for discussion in the House and for questioning the Leader of the House about his precise intentions.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : This is a business statement, so a modicum of discussion and questioning is appropriate.
Mr. John Greenway (Ryedale) : Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It was quite obvious to some of us who wanted to take part in the debate on clause 46 and who have been in the House since 3.30 pm in order to do so that there were only seven hon. Members in the Chamber at 4.30 pm, and such was the poor attendance that many of us suspected that the business would collapse--that it would be a struggle to keep it going until 7 pm.
Hon. Members do not have to sit in the Chamber for hours on end to see what is going on there. What has happened here tonight has been a disgraceful waste of public money, and my right hon. Friend is entirely right to introduce a timetable motion.
Mr. Newton rose--
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Order. Before the Leader of the House answers, I must say that I should be grateful if hon. Members would remember that they should ask questions, not make statements of opinion.
Mr. Newton : My hon. Friend the Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway) confirmed one of the points that I made in responding to the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mrs. Beckett). I apologise as I certainly intended no discourtesy by not responding to the right hon. Member for Berwick-upon- Tweed (Mr. Beith). It is our intention that the timetable motion should cover the rest of the proceedings on the Bill as a whole, and should provide probably more, and certainly no less, time than was spent on the previous Finance Bill. It is intended to ensure that the Bill is discussed in the proper and orderly way that both the House and the business community are entitled to expect.
Ms Angela Eagle (Wallasey) : Will the Leader of the House admit that those of us who have been in the Chamber for most of the night were expecting to debate the subsequent clauses--I have my speech ready for the clause that I thought we would go on to debate. We were not in any way attempting to delay business.
What the Leader of the House has done is an absolute disgrace. He has curtailed debate on a Bill that is twice the length of the previous Finance Bill and will enable highly technical legislation to pass through the House without proper scrutiny. The right hon. Gentleman has no proof of any attempt to filibuster. As an Opposition Member, I am