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Column 523

Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)

Shersby, Michael

Sims, Roger

Skeet, Sir Trevor

Smith, Sir Dudley (Warwick)

Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)

Soames, Nicholas

Speed, Sir Keith

Spencer, Sir Derek

Spicer, Sir James (W Dorset)

Spicer, Michael (S Worcs)

Spink, Dr Robert

Spring, Richard

Sproat, Iain

Squire, Robin (Hornchurch)

Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John

Steen, Anthony

Stephen, Michael

Stern, Michael

Stewart, Allan

Streeter, Gary

Sumberg, David

Sweeney, Walter

Sykes, John

Tapsell, Sir Peter

Taylor, Ian (Esher)

Taylor, John M. (Solihull)

Taylor, Sir Teddy (Southend, E)

Temple-Morris, Peter

Thomason, Roy

Thompson, Sir Donald (C'er V)

Thompson, Patrick (Norwich N)

Thornton, Sir Malcolm

Thurnham, Peter

Townend, John (Bridlington)

Townsend, Cyril D. (Bexl'yh'th)

Tracey, Richard

Tredinnick, David

Trend, Michael

Twinn, Dr Ian

Vaughan, Sir Gerard

Viggers, Peter

Waldegrave, Rt Hon William

Walden, George

Walker, Bill (N Tayside)

Waller, Gary

Ward, John

Wardle, Charles (Bexhill)

Waterson, Nigel

Watts, John

Wells, Bowen

Wheeler, Rt Hon Sir John

Whitney, Ray

Whittingdale, John

Widdecombe, Ann

Wiggin, Sir Jerry

Wilkinson, John

Willetts, David

Wilshire, David

Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)

Winterton, Nicholas (Macc'f'ld)

Wolfson, Mark

Wood, Timothy

Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Noes :

Mr. Sydney Chapman and

Mr. Irvine Patnick.

Question accordingly negatived.

Main Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House takes note of European Community Document No. 4616/94 on agricultural prices for 1994-95 and related measures, and of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food publication Agriculture in the United Kingdom 1993'.

ROYAL ASSENT --

Madam Speaker : I have to notify the House, in accordance with the Royal Assent Act 1967, that the Queen has signified her Royal Assent to the following Acts and Measure :

Consolidated Fund Act 1994.

New Towns (Amendment) Act 1994.

Mental Health (Amendment) Act 1994.

Insolvency Act 1994.

Transport Police (Jurisdiction) Act 1994.

British Railways (Order Confirmation) Act 1994.

British Railways (No. 2) (Order Confirmation) Act 1994. British Railways (No. 3) (Order Confirmation) Act 1994. Pastoral (Amendment) Measure 1994.


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Parliamentary Commissioner Bill [ Mone y]

Queen's recommendation having been signified

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the Parliamentary Commissioner Bill, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of money provided by Parliament of any increase attributable to that Act in the sums payable out of money so provided under the Parliamentary Commissioner Act 1967.-- [Mr. Lightbown.]

10.14 pm

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South) : I am not against this money resolution, but I believe that when money resolutions come before the House --except when there is an open and shut case for supporting them, and we know how much finance the House is committing--the Minister responsible ought to give the House an explanation of them. The Bill allows the Parliamentary Commissioner to investigate administrative actions taken by administrative staff of certain tribunals, which are listed in new schedule 4. The relevant tribunals, for the purposes of section 5(7), are :

"Tribunals constituted in Great Britain under regulations made under section 4 of the Vaccine Damage Payments Act 1979. Child support appeal tribunals constituted under section 21 of the Child Support Act 1991. Social security appeal tribunals constituted under section 41 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992. Disability appeal tribunals constituted under section 43 of that Act. Medical appeal tribunals constituted under section 50 of that Act." All these are clearly defined areas in which the Parliamentary Commissioner is to have his powers extended, and I welcome that. This money resolution is not like the one attached to the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill. All hon. Members recognise that as a Bill that will not need similar examination. This Bill, however, is rather more vague in its application. I am sure that the Minister will be able to give us some idea of the amount of money that Parliament will provide

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) : What does the Bill say ?

Mr. Cryer : Private Members' Bills do not offer the same detail as the Government can provide. Government Bills always include information about their financial effects. It provides Parliament with a helpful guide if we are told about those effects. With private Members' Bills, therefore, it is all the more relevant that the Minister should outline the sort of expenditure that he anticipates. I do not think that it will be very much, but it is useful to obtain such information from Ministers.

Before I began speaking on money resolutions, they often went through on the nod and Ministers sometimes did not even bother to turn up. They were certainly not briefed. Now they are briefed and are here to answer questions that hon. Members want to ask them.

Mr. Jacques Arnold (Gravesham) : The hon. Gentleman flatters himself.

Mr. Cryer : I probably have more experience than most hon. Members in discussing money resolutions. When I started, Ministers were not here, or they were not briefed, but now they are--that is a welcome development. I assure the Minister that I am not attempting to be hostile to his


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Bill, but I assume that if he had had the financial information before now he would have put it in an explanatory memorandum to the Bill--there is no reason not to do that.

Private Members who promote legislation in this place do so willingly, to serve some useful purpose. We realise that only legislation of this sort will get through private Members' time on a Friday in any case. Thus it seems to me that money resolution debates serve a very useful purpose. I assume that the fact that the motion stands on the Order Paper in the name of a member of the Government indicates Government support for the Bill. No doubt the Minister will be able to confirm that. It is helpful to have a look at these matters. The Minister will be able to use the information that his Department provides, and it will appear in the record.

Private Members' Bills that are enacted have exactly the same force as the most important Government legislation. In the case of their own Bill, Ministers provide some sort of estimate--alas, frequently inaccurate. In this case too there ought to be some sort of estimate so that when the Bill becomes law, as I hope it will, we shall not find that, with soaring expenses, the money provided by Parliament is virtually open ended. I realise that the various votes that Parliament approves each year constitute one of the limiting factors in public expenditure. None the less, we need some idea of the proportion of funds that will be taken up by the implementation of this legislation.

Mr. Skinner : My hon. Friend plays a very useful role by speaking in debates on money resolutions. There is no doubt that this helps the Government in some respects. It makes them study more closely the financial implications of legislation, and it ensures that Whips are here to sort things out at the end of the day. I do not know whether my hon. Friend is aware that during the last parliamentary Session the House spent 11 hours debating money resolutions. I believe that my hon. Friend was involved in every debate. I always think that my hon. Friend's contributions at the end of the day are like the epilogues that one used to see on television.

My hon. Friend plays a useful role also by ensuring that members of staff are provided with taxis to take them home. [Interruption.] I think that this is important, as does my hon. Friend. It has to be remembered that in this building there are workers--real workers--who do not have a taxi paid for by the state until after 10.30 pm. In this respect my hon. Friend does an important job.

Mr. Cryer : My hon. Friend, in his brief intervention, has refuted a rather cheap sneer from the hon. Member for St. Ives (Mr. Harris), who suggested that money resolution debates are not useful. I have always maintained that they are very useful. The time allowed is 45 minutes, but there are some people who want to abolish them. That would be wrong. For many years during my membership of the House money resolutions simply were not discussed.

On occasions, during the course of such a debate, it has been discovered that the money resolution did not cover the authority provided by the Bill. Firearms legislation is an example. In one case, two additional money resolutions were required. There is no doubt that some of the omissions that had to be dealt with by the additional money resolutions were discovered during debate on the first one.


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Mr. David Harris (St. Ives) : Can the hon. Gentleman confirm that, as indicated by the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), his only reason for keeping us here at this hour is to enable staff members to be provided with taxis home ? Can he give us an estimate of the cost to the taxpayer ?


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