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Mr. Newton: There was no sign of the Christmas spirit in the hon. Gentleman earlier, but no doubt it has overtaken him in the intervening period. I welcome that. I will certainly draw his request to the attention of my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Education and for Health.
Similarly, my right hon. Friend the Member for Shropshire, North (Mr. Biffen) made only the modest request that I pass on his comments about the local government settlement and the meeting that he hopes to have, and of course I will do that.
The hon. Member for Perry Barr made an additional comment about the points raised by the hon. Member for Newport, East (Mr. Hughes) on the Severn bridge tolls. The
Column 1454toll levels were debated when Parliament considered what is now the Severn Bridges Act 1992. The hon. Gentleman took a leading part in those debates. As I understand it, the toll levels are based on a formula which is set out in the Act, so there is nothing mysterious in the matter. It is fair that bridge users, rather than the general taxpayer should finance a crossing--the new crossing, that is-- which is exceptionally expensive and offers exceptional time savings to those who benefit from its construction.
My hon. Friend the Member for Staffordshire, South will know that there is not much that I can add to what I have said on previous occasions, but he knows also that the British Government very much want UNPROFOR to stay as long as it can fulfil its mandate without unacceptable risks. I shall bring to the attention of the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister the comments that he made and the questions that he asked.
I think that the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. Rendel) conveyed less than the full flavour of what my colleague said today about the Newbury by-pass- -although I understand why he wished to raise the matter. As I understand it, it has been announced that work on the A34 Newbury by-pass is on hold for about a year. My right hon. Friend has made it clear that he will examine each road scheme decision as it is put to him, and he has concluded that the Highways Agency should be asked to look again at the plans for the bypass and to explore other options as a matter of urgency.
So, while I understand the hon. Gentleman's point of view and the desire of those who want early relief, we also need to ensure that we find the right solution. The same applies to a number of other road schemes referred to today--Oxleas Wood and the east Thames crossing, for instance.
As the hon. Gentleman said, my right hon. Friend has today announced an initiative to refocus the road programme to make the most effective use of the existing network. In the light of the strong objections that have been expressed about the environmental impact of the new Newbury by-pass route, my right hon. Friend has insisted that the Highways Agency report to him on the consistency of the Newbury proposals with the new direction that he is giving to the road programme. The hon. Gentleman may still have reservations--I do not suggest that it would be unreasonable if he did--but that is rather different from the flavour of his speech, in which he suggested that the road had just been ruthlessly cancelled.
Ms Joan Walley (Stoke-on-Trent, North): Will the Leader of the House tell us, therefore, whether all the Government's road programme schemes will be subjected to road assessment, in line with the details announced in the SACTRA report?
Mr. Newton: I am not in a position to add to what the Secretary of State said today, nor will I--except in respect of the points made by the hon. Member for Newbury, on which I sought further information during the debate.
As for the speech by my hon. Friend the Member for North Down (Sir J. Kilfedder), I have already arranged that my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Ancram) will look into the matter and will write to him. I trust that will be helpful.
The hon. Member for Newham, North-West was in good form earlier, but I thought that he went a fraction over the top. If there is to be a significant change to the
Column 1455plans for county hall, a new planning application will be needed, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment would carefully consider whether to call in any such application for his determination.
I suspect that I will be able to say very little more about the remaining speeches if I am to achieve the requirement under the Orders of the House to finish by 7.34 pm. I have, however, carefully noted, and will draw to my right hon. Friend's attention, both the comments of my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale about housing matters and the comments of the hon. Member for Tooting about the Latham report. I understand that the Government are considering a progress report from the Latham review implementation forum during the next few weeks, and the Environment Secretary proposes to respond to it in early February.
I well understand why the hon. Member for Glasgow, Rutherglen (Mr. McAvoy) felt it right to discuss the flooding in Scotland, if only because I happen to have been born and brought up in the Essex port of Harwich, where eight people were drowned on the occasion of the North sea floods in 1952 or 1953. I therefore have a clear impression of the difficulties that floods can cause for communities. I know that my right hon. and hon. Friends will want to examine carefully what the hon. Gentleman said.
The same goes for what my hon. Friend the Member for Ryedale (Mr. Greenway) said about transport orders. I know that my right hon. Friend has asked British Rail to reach its conclusions as soon as possible. I do feel, however, that the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) might have paid some tribute to the investment in one tube station in his constituency and to the amount spent on new Northern line trains in recent times. Instead, he simply reiterated his list of complaints--
Mr. Newton: I am sure that Foreign Office Ministers will look carefully at what has been said about Gibraltar. Finally, I pass by the interesting speech made by my hon. Friend the Member for Great Yarmouth (Mr. Carttiss).
Question put and agreed to.
That this House, at its rising on Tuesday 20th December, do adjourn until Tuesday 10th January.
Madam Speaker: I must inform the House that I have selected amendment (b), standing in the name of the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick), to motion No. 5. If he wants to move it formally at the end of the debate for Division purposes, I shall look to him at that time. Members may of course speak to all the other amendments on the Order Paper.
That, during the present Session of Parliament, the Standing Orders and practice of the House shall have effect subject to the modifications set out below.
(1) In this Order `a consolidation bill' means a public bill such as is defined in paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 123 (Joint Committee on Consolidation, &c., Bills).
(2) Notices of amendments, new clauses and new schedules to be moved in committee in respect of a consolidation bill may be received by the Clerks at the Table before the bill has been read a second time.
(3) If a motion that a consolidation bill be not committed is made by a Minister of the Crown immediately after the bill has been read a second time, the motion shall not require notice and the question thereon shall be put forthwith and may be decided, though opposed, at any hour.
(4) The question for the third reading of a consolidation bill shall be put forthwith.
(5) Any public bill, the main purpose of which is to give effect to proposals contained in a report by either of the Law Commissions, other than a private Member's bill or a consolidation bill, shall, when it is set down for second reading, stand referred to a second reading committee, unless--
(a) the House otherwise orders, or
(b) the bill is referred to the Scottish Grand Committee. (6) If a motion that a bill such as is referred to in paragraph (5) above shall not stand referred to a second reading committee is made by a Minister of the Crown at the commencement of public business, the question thereon shall be put forthwith.
(7) The provisions of paragraphs (3) to (6) of Standing Order No. 90 (Second reading committees) shall apply to any bill referred to a second reading committee under paragraph (5) above.
It may be for the convenience of the House if I also refer to the other four motions before us. The first is:
That, during the present Session of Parliament, the Standing Orders and practice of the House shall have effect subject to the modifications set out below.
(1) The Speaker shall put the questions necessary to dispose of proceedings on motions authorising expenditure in connection with a bill and on ways and means motions in connection with a bill-- (i) forthwith, if such a motion is made at the same sitting as that at which the bill has been read a second time; or
(ii) not later than three-quarters of an hour after the commencement of those proceedings, if the motion is made otherwise. (2) Business under paragraph (1) above may be proceeded with at any hour, though opposed.
(3) In Standing Order No. 14 (Exempted business) paragraph (1) (d) and the proviso thereto shall be omitted.
The second is:
That, during the present Session of Parliament, the Standing Orders and practice of the House shall have effect subject to the modifications set out below.
(1) The following paragraphs shall be inserted after paragraph (2) of Standing Order No. 101 (Standing Committees on Statutory Instruments, &c.):
Column 1457`(2A) Where a Minister of the Crown has given notice of a motion to the effect that a statutory instrument or draft statutory instrument be approved, the instrument or draft instrument shall stand referred to a Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, &c., unless--
(a) notice has been given by a Minister of the Crown of a motion that the instrument or draft instrument shall not so stand referred, or
(b) the instrument or draft instrument is referred to the Scottish Grand Committee.'
(2) In paragraph (3) of the said Standing Order, for lines 18 to 20 there shall be substituted the words `that a measure under the Church of England Assembly (Powers) Act 1919 be presented to Her Majesty for her Royal Assent, or of a motion relating to an instrument made under such a measure'; in paragraph (5) for the words `paragraph (3) (a) or (3) (b)' there shall be substituted the words `paragraphs (2A) or (3)'; and in paragraph (6) the words from `instruments' in line 54 to the end of the paragraph shall be omitted.
(3) Except as provided in Standing Order No. 14A (Consideration of draft deregulation orders), the Speaker shall put the questions necessary to dispose of proceedings under any Act of Parliament or on European Community documents not later than one and a half hours after the commencement of such proceedings; and Standing Orders No. 14 (Exempted business) and No. 15 (Prayers against statutory instruments, &c. (negative procedure)) shall have effect accordingly.
The third is:
That, during the present Session of Parliament, the Standing Orders and practice of the House shall have effect subject to the modifications set out below:
Provided that paragraphs (3) to (8) below shall come into effect on the third Wednesday on which the House shall sit after the making of this Order.
(1) The House shall not sit on eight Fridays to be appointed by the House.
(2) The Fridays so appointed shall be treated as sitting days for the purpose of calculating any period under any order of the House and for the purposes of paragraph (8) of Standing Order No. 18 (Notices of questions, motions and amendments) and of Standing Order No. 62 (Notices of amendments, &c., to bills); and on such Fridays-- (i) notices of questions may be given by Members to the Table Office, and
(ii) notices of amendments to bills, new clauses and new schedules and of amendments to Lords amendments may be received by the Public Bill Office,
between Eleven o'clock and Three o'clock.
(3) The House shall meet on Wednesdays at Ten o'clock and shall between that hour and half-past Two o'clock proceed with a motion for the adjournment of the House made by a Minister of the Crown. (4) The subjects for debates on that motion shall be chosen by ballot under informal arrangements made by the Speaker analogous to those which apply to the motion for the adjournment of the House under paragraph (7) of Standing Order No. 9 (Sittings of the House); and no subject shall be raised without notice.
(5) Not more than two subjects shall be raised between Ten o'clock and One o'clock on a Wednesday, and not more than three between One o'clock and Half-past Two o'clock.
(6) A motion for the adjournment of the House not disposed of at half-past Two o'clock on a Wednesday shall lapse; the House will then proceed with private business, motions for unopposed returns and questions; no subsequent motion for the adjournment of the House shall be made until all the questions asked at the commencement of public business have been disposed of; and, save as provided in paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 20 (Adjournment on specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration), no Member other than a Minister of the Crown may make such a motion before the orders of the day or notices of motions shall have been entered upon.
(7) In paragraphs (1) and (2) of Standing Order No. 9 (Sittings of the House) the words "Wednesdays" and "Wednesday" respectively shall be omitted.
Column 1458(8) Standing Order No. 10 (Sittings of the House (suspended sittings)) shall not have effect; the reference to the said Standing Order in paragraph (7) of Standing Order No. 9 (Sittings of the House) shall be omitted; and in paragraph (1)(a) of Standing Order No. 133 (Time and manner of presenting petitions) the words from "conclusion" in line 10 to "and" in line 14 shall be omitted. (9) In Standing Order No. 13 (Arrangement of public business) paragraphs (7), (8) and (9) shall be omitted; in paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 9 (Sittings of the House) for the words from "returns" in line 4 to the end of the paragraph there shall be substituted the words "and questions"; in Standing Order No. 15A (New writs) the words "or notices of motion" shall be omitted; in paragraph (2) of Standing Order No. 90 (Second reading committees) the words "or notices of motions" in line 15 shall be omitted; and in paragraph (1)(b) of Standing Order No. 133 (Time and manner of presenting petitions) the words "or motions" in line 18 shall be omitted.
(10) In Standing Order No. 22 (Periodic adjournments) for the words from "periods" in line 3 to the end there shall be substituted the words "the question thereon shall be put forthwith".
(11) In Standing Order No. 54 (Consolidated Fund Bills) paragraph (2) shall be omitted.
The fourth is:
That, during the present Session of Parliament, the following provision shall have effect in place of Standing Order No. 45A (Short speeches):
"The Speaker may announce at the commencement of proceedings on any motion or order of the day relating to public business that she intends to call Members to speak for not more than ten minutes in the debate thereon, or between certain hours during that debate, and whenever the Speaker has made such an announcement she may direct any Member (other than a Minister of the Crown, a Member speaking on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition, or not more than one Member nominated by the leader of the second largest opposition party) who has spoken for ten minutes to resume his seat forthwith.". I should like also to refer to the wider package of reforms that the Government and the official Opposition have agreed to recommend to the House. I set it out in answer to a parliamentary question last Thursday; it appeared in Hansard on Friday; and I hope that hon. Members have found it helpful.
The proposals arise from the report of the Select Committee on Sittings of the House, under the chairmanship of my right hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Mr. Jopling)--a report that the House has already debated twice on the Adjournment. I pay tribute to him for his labours, which I hope will tonight finally bear the fruit that he has urged on us for some time. I shall not attempt to rehearse everything in his report, as one of his proposals--and hence one of my aims--is to keep speeches reasonably brief. I would not want to breach that.
Following much diplomacy through the usual channels, involving, first, the right hon. Member for Derby, South (Mrs. Beckett), then the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, East (Mr. Brown), and more recently the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor), who is with us tonight, we have agreed on a set of proposals which, as I told the House at the end of the debate on the Loyal Address, implements nearly all the changes proposed by my right hon. Friend's Committee. They also achieve its main strategic objectives, although not necessarily in precisely the way proposed.
I should like--this is more than a mere formality--to express my thanks to all involved in the discussions for their constructive approach. I hope that the hon. Member for Dewsbury will understand if I particularly mention the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, East, who was in
Column 1459the hot seat during a key period. That is in no way to detract from the helpful discussions that I have had with the hon. Lady, who has shown a rapid grasp of these points in the few weeks that she has been doing the job.
The proposals, if the House approves the motions this evening, will be put into operation as an experiment--an important point--for the remainder of this Session, with a view to reviewing experience towards the end of it. There will thus be no permanent changes to our Standing Orders--as distinct from Sessional Orders applying to the remainder of this Session--without another debate and another vote in the House. For those who harbour some doubts about some aspects, I hope that that gives them an element of reassurance.
The Select Committee's main aim was to get rid of late sittings. There is not much doubt that most, if not all, Members would agree with that objective, which the Government fully share. I hope, though, that it will be recognised that, over the past two Sessions, in what one might call the spirit of Jopling, we have made every effort to organise the business in such a way as to reduce the number of late sittings. We have had a considerable amount of success in that, for which I pay tribute to the Opposition "usual channels". Certainly, hon. Members who, like me, have been in the House since the mid-1970s or earlier will recognise that there has been a huge reduction in the number of late sittings compared with what was taken for granted only 15 or 20 years ago.
Mr. Don Dixon (Jarrow): I should like the right hon. Gentleman to distinguish between the usual channels and the usual channels. The most recent time he used the expression, I could agree with it. But the first time he used it, he may have been taken to refer to the Whips Office, and I should like to stress that the Whips Office had nothing to do with this agreement.
Mr. Newton: I do not know whether I can say that the thought had never crossed my mind, but I do, of course, understand why the hon. Gentleman made that point. I hope that he in turn will understand that, if I refer to the usual channels, it is in the spirit of the conventions of the House and not an attempt to convict the hon. Gentleman of any particular sin. Indeed, I would not regard it as a sin to have been involved in putting together this package, which I regard as rather good.
To achieve its aims in respect of getting rid of late sittings, the Committee recognised clearly that, if the number of sitting hours is to be restrained, it is necessary also to reduce the amount of business to be taken on the Floor, and to ensure that the Government remain able to secure a reasonable programme of legislation. That was therefore the focus of a large number of its recommendations. Before coming to the various specific suggestions that the Committee made for easing the weight of business on the Floor, virtually all of which are implemented in the motions, I should first say a word about the Committee's proposal that is normally described as the automatic timetabling of Government Bills, which it saw as an important ingredient in the package to allow greater certainty of finishing at 10 o'clock.
After a good deal of reflection, and I mean a good deal, the Government and the Opposition concluded that the most sensible approach to the two linked issues--the
Column 1460timetabling of Bills and restrictions on the hours of sitting--is to rely on voluntary agreements reached through the usual channels, the people most closely concerned--I say this without prejudice to the hon. Member for Jarrow (Mr. Dixon), and perhaps as a compliment to him--with making any agreement work in this place. In other words, we think that it is better to continue to operate on that basis rather than devise some new mechanistic solution.
Having searched long and hard for a form of timetable motion that would ensure that the agreed rate of progress was made with each Bill, without resorting to the rigidity and inflexibility of the conventional guillotine- -Standing Order No. 80--we concluded that such a mechanism did not exist. We were forced to conclude that, in effect, any mechanism that could be put formally as a timetabling mechanism for Government Bills would end up being a guillotine, and that that would present many difficulties, certainly for the Opposition and possibly also for the House in terms of the flexible arrangement of its business.
Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed): Surely the Leader of the House must recognise that what has tended to happen in recent years is that the Government have guillotined more and more Bills under procedures that allow no input from the official Opposition, or for that matter from other groups in the House, including his own Back Benchers. Does he not recognise that the Committee was seeking to provide a way in which timetabling could be achieved, but which nevertheless gave opportunities to those in the House with legitimate concerns about Bills? We risk getting the worst of both worlds--easy guillotines for the Government to introduce and no safeguards for anybody else.
Mr. Newton: If the right hon. Gentleman looks at the statistics, he will see that his assumption that the number of guillotines has been steadily rising in recent years is not founded. The number did not enlarge in the Session that we have just completed; on the contrary, there were relatively few guillotines. I cleave to the point that I made. In practice, a timetable motion that would achieve, with or without the involvement of other parties, the security of the handling of business that the right hon. Gentleman probably has in mind, would look so much like a guillotine as to be, effectively, a guillotine under another name. I believe that that would present real difficulties.
It follows from our approach to timetabling that we also thought it right to adopt a similar, if one likes, "usual channels" approach to sittings. During the debate on 13 July 1992, I expressed the Government's support for the principle of a 10 o'clock finish as the norm, but expressed doubts about the rigidity of the solution that the Select Committee had proposed. I also made it clear that the Government accepted the Committee's aim that completely new business should not be scheduled to start after 10 o'clock. That remains our position.
Accordingly, rather than have new arrangements entrenched in Standing Orders, or for that matter Sessional Orders, the Government are undertaking this evening, as part of the agreement, to use their best endeavours to avoid late sittings whenever possible and to avoid taking highly contentious business on Thursday evenings, particularly on the Thursdays before the Fridays that are to be designated under the fourth motion on the Order Paper. It would not be practicable to guarantee a 7 o'clock end to all business on those Thursdays, as that
Column 1461would bring us very close to a three-day week for Government business for 10 weeks of the year; but I emphasise that we shall none the less do our best to ensure that parliamentary demands on Members on Thursday evenings are kept within reasonable bounds, so that their other commitments on Fridays can be given some protection. In the same spirit, the Government will use their best endeavours, as I have perhaps shown already, to give early notification of the dates of recesses. The House will understand that particular difficulty is attached to the timing of the summer recess; it may not be possible to give as much notice of the dates of the summer recess as of other recesses, or to rise for the summer as early as we might wish. Again, my hopes are to move as far as possible in the direction of that which the Jopling Committee, and no doubt the House, would like.
The House is, of course, also concerned, as was the report, to see earlier notification of business generally. Some of the difficulties are obvious, certainly to anybody who has been involved, and perhaps to anybody who simply observes. They include the need to accommodate Opposition and European Scrutiny Committee requests for debates on the Floor, which may arise at short notice, uncertainty about the timing of business arising from proceedings in another place, and indeed the value that the House itself places on the capacity to reflect in the business, without too much delay, new issues that arise or developments that take place on existing issues. Nevertheless--I hope that the House will accept the good faith with which I assure it of this--I am genuinely anxious to move as far as I possibly can to meet those wishes and will seek to do so in relation to advance notification of major debates. I must emphasise, however, that the more we move to meet that desire of the House, the more the House will need to give greater weight to such words as "provisional" and to phrases such as "subject to the progress of business", than it has hitherto been inclined to do, because there is undoubtedly a tendency to regard that as just going through the motions. The more we attempt to give advance notice of business, the more meaning will have to be attached to those phrases, and people would need to be willing to accommodate change in certain circumstances.
Before I come to the motions on the Order Paper, I shall refer briefly to a few other elements of the proposed reforms. We shall seek to take uncontentious business off the Floor of the House, by making greater use, by agreement, of Second Reading Committees. We also think that there is a case for considering whether we can reduce the quantity of parliamentary time that is consumed by what can be called set-piece debates, such as the debate on the Loyal Address and a number of other regular events during the year. But because of the wide range of interests in the House that would be affected by any proposed reduction, I suggest that the right course would be to ask my right hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Sir P. Emery) and his colleagues on the Procedure Committee to advise on how the demands made by set-piece debates might be slimmed down. Clearly, any proposals there would require widespread consultation going rather beyond the usual channels.
Mr. Alan Howarth (Stratford-on-Avon): Does my right hon. Friend agree that, if the amount of time for scrutiny by way of formal parliamentary procedures were to be reduced, or if that were to be the assumption, if
Column 1462democratic accountability is not to suffer excessively, assistance should be given to scrutiny in other ways? Does he accept that the corollary of shorter hours, or fewer sitting days, should be a greater commitment by the Government to freedom of information as well as to more extensive consultation on Green Papers and draft clauses, and earlier exposure of Bills?
Mr. Newton: My hon. Friend raises a number of points. The Government have, of course, sought to improve access to information, although I understand that there are still issues that remain controversial. We have manifestly moved down the path of improving, as I would judge, consultation, not least in respect of consultation on draft clauses on Bills, which has been done within the relatively recent past on the Shops Bill and the environment agency part of the environment Bill. My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Defence recently made it clear that he will publish an entire proposed reserve forces Act in draft within the next few months. While there may well be areas in which my hon. Friend would wish to see us move still further, I can point to a number of developments of which he should approve.
Mr. Newton: If my hon. Friend examines the Queen's Speech with care, he will realise that he has seen heavier Queen's Speeches in terms of the number of Bills. They are substantial Bills, but a considerable amount of time and effort was rightly given to presenting the House with a programme which, while large and important, takes account of the sort of pressures that my hon. Friend has just further exerted upon me.
Mrs. Gwyneth Dunwoody (Crewe and Nantwich): I apologise for interrupting the right hon. Gentleman, but the changes will undoubtedly remove a great deal of private Members' time, which usually means private Members' Bills.
Mrs. Dunwoody: The point made by some hon. Members is of great importance. If there is to be real scrutiny of Government legislation, it is important that we have not only access to a great deal of the information on which the legislation is based, but the right, if need be, to ask the Government to give evidence on it to the House at an early stage.
Mr. Newton: That is clearly a point on which, from the nature of his interjection, my right hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale may wish to comment. What the hon. Lady said about a reduction in time usually occupied by private Members is simply not true. In the Session that has just finished, the time used by private Members--this is a shorthand description--that is to be discontinued took up 123 hours, while regular
Column 1463Wednesday morning sittings in the same period would have provided 144 hours. That is a gain of 21 hours over the Session.
I want to conclude my remarks, as it is clear that many hon. Members are interested in taking part in the debate. The five motions on the Order Paper give effect to those elements of the agreed package of reforms that involve varying the Standing Orders for the duration of the experiment. As I said, those are Sessional Orders that will apply for the remainder of the present Session. The first motion deals with a matter which, although not discussed in the Select Committee's report, will nevertheless make a modest contribution to improved working hours. It provides an expedited procedure for the consideration of uncontroversial law reform Bills, which I hope will be welcomed in all parts of the House. There has been a good deal of pressure, both here and in another place, for getting on with law reform measures.
For Bills that merely consolidate the existing law, it will be possible to omit the Committee stage altogether and the Third Reading will be taken without debate. Bills that reform the law in line with Law Commission recommendations will be automatically referred to a Second Reading Committee for consideration, unless a reasonable request is made that any particular Law Commission Bill should have its Second Reading debate on the Floor.
The second motion provides that a money or Ways and Means resolution taken immediately after the Second Reading of the Bill to which it relates will be decided forthwith. Free-standing money or Ways and Means resolutions will be debatable for 45 minutes. None of that, of course, affects the Budget resolutions, because they are not at that stage
"motions . . . in connection with a bill".