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', and
(c) the word "not" shall be omitted.'--[Mr. Maclean.]

Schedule 10


Amendment made: No. 21, in page 99, column 3, line 30, at beginning insert--

'In section 146A(1A), the word "not".' --[Mr. Maclean.]

Bill read the Third time, and passed, with amendments.

19 Mar 1997 : Column 942


Considered in Committee.

Clauses 1 to 4 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Bill reported, without amendment.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.


Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Janet Fookes): 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:
Consolidated Fund Act 1997
Finance Act 1997
Criminal Evidence (Amendment) Act 1997
Policyholders Protection Act 1997
Pharmacists (Fitness to Practise) Act 1997
British Nationality (Hong Kong) Act 1997
Knives Act 1997
Architects Act 1997
Lieutenancies Act 1997
Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors Act 1997
Justices of the Peace Act 1997
Transfer of Crofting Estates (Scotland) Act 1997
Social Security (Recovery of Benefits) Act 1997
Merchant Shipping and Maritime Security Act 1997
Local Government and Rating Act 1997
Police (Property) Act 1997


Lords amendments considered.

Lords amendments Nos. 1 to 5 agreed to.

19 Mar 1997 : Column 943

Business of the House

7.26 pm

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Tony Newton): With permission, Madam Speaker, I wish to make a statement about the order of business later today and the business to be taken tomorrow.

It is intended that the House will consider Lords amendments to the Crime (Sentences) Bill immediately following motion 6 relating to Northern Ireland business, and that the House will consider Lords amendments that are expected to be received to the Education Bill immediately after the Third Reading of the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill. The business for tomorrow will be:

Money resolution on and consideration of Lords amendments to the Crime and Punishment (Scotland) Bill.

Motion on the Hedgerows Regulations.

Motion on the legislative procedure for tax simplification


Motion relating to the First Report from the Administration

Committee (Session 1995-96) on all-party and parliamentary groups.

Motion relating to the First Report from the Procedure

Committee on Standing Orders revision.

The House may also be asked to consider any Lords messages which may be received.

Mrs. Ann Taylor (Dewsbury): I thank the Leader of the House for that statement. I am not sure that it deals with the main item of outstanding business in this Parliament that has been on Members' minds today, but I cannot comment on that; nor perhaps can the right hon. Gentleman, as a member of the Select Committee on Standards and Privileges, which is still sitting.

The right hon. Gentleman has said that we shall take Lords amendments to the Crime (Sentences) Bill and the Education Bill this evening. I wonder whether that is the best way to proceed, given the weight of other business this evening and the fact that Members interested in those Bills may not have enough notice of when they are coming on for discussion. We have no wish to delay either Bill, but would it not be wiser to consider the Lords amendments to them tomorrow, when there is far less business than this evening?

This is the fourth business statement that we have had in little more than 48 hours. Will it be the last?

Mr. Newton: I certainly hope that this will be the last business statement and I have every expectation that it will be, but in an uncertain world I had better not go further than that. I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her acknowledgement in relation to the Select Committee on Standards and Privileges. On the other points, we concluded--I hope that it will not cause too much difficulty for her--that, given the extent of the agreement reached on the two Bills to which I referred, it would be sensible to proceed with them this evening.

Sir Peter Emery (Honiton): My right hon. Friend informed the House that there will be a motion to deal

19 Mar 1997 : Column 944

with revision of the Standing Orders, but an amendment to the motion on the Order Paper has been tabled by the majority of members of the Procedure Committee, urging that the second annexe be included. It is a simple annexe that modernises the names of Committees in the House, so that a Public Bill Committee will be known as a Public Bill Committee, not by some other rather subfusc name. I hope that that matter can be raised and that, if anybody is thinking of voting against the amendment, my right hon. Friend will use his powers to persuade him or her that the Government have always been in favour of modernisation.

Mr. Newton: I do not think--[Interruption.] I do not need to be reminded by the Opposition Chief Whip intervening from a sedentary position. Hon. Members on both sides of the House will have studied carefully the case that my right hon. Friend made in his report for the amendment to which he refers. I hope and expect that they will have an opportunity to make that decision if they wish.

Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey): Assuming that this is the last business statement that the Leader of the House will make, how much Government business will not be taken before the Prorogation of Parliament? In his capacity either as Leader of the House or as Chairman of the Select Committee on Standards and Privileges, can he give us a report on how far that Committee has gone in its deliberations and in dealing with the report being prepared by the Commissioner? If the hon. Members, some of whom are on record as saying that they want the report published, give their assent, can the report be published before the general election?

Mr. Newton: The hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor) rightly acknowledged the difficulty for me of speculating, as it would be at the moment, about a meeting of the Select Committee on Standards and Privileges, which would be proceeding now but for the fact that I am making this statement to the House. I cannot, therefore, do that. On the earlier point, the Government have effectively carried the business that they intended to carry at the beginning of the Session, although some of the Bills are not quite in the form that was originally intended. However, the bulk, even of those Bills, has been passed and they contain many important proposals. Apart from that, I can think only of a number of not particularly urgent regulations that were among the remaining orders, which have not been tabled in order not to take up the time of the House.

Dame Jill Knight (Birmingham, Edgbaston): Without wishing to trespass in any way on the deliberations of the Select Committee on Standards and Privileges, would not the normal procedure for that Committee ensure that any report by the Commissioner could not possibly be published until the Committee had been given an opportunity to discuss and consider the points that the Commissioner had made?

Hon. Members: It has.

Mr. Newton: That is certainly the case.

Mr. Peter Shore (Bethnal Green and Stepney): The whole House is greatly encouraged by what the Leader of

19 Mar 1997 : Column 945

the House said about the proceedings of the Select Committee on Standards and Privileges. In resuming his discussions on that matter, will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind how monstrously unjust it would be, both for hon. Members affected by the inquiry and for their constituents, to have the matter hanging over them without the proper publication of the report of Sir Gordon Downey? I am sure that he is aware of how much the reputation of Parliament is involved in the completion of that inquiry, given that nearly three years have passed since the great offence of cash for questions was first brought into the public domain.

Mr. Newton: The right hon. Gentleman, to whom I pay respect, particularly at the end of his distinguished parliamentary career, has revealed the difficulty of my making any comment at all on that matter. I judge from the early part of his remarks that he may have been reading more than I intended into what I said. This can be judged only once the Committee has finished its proceedings tonight. Given that several Committee members are in the Chamber, I am sure that they will bear in mind the points that he made.

Sir Michael Spicer (South Worcestershire): Given that my right hon. Friend has just announced that the Administration Committee's report will be presented tomorrow, will he confirm that a gap of two months will be allowed during which Committees such as the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee will be allowed to re-register?

Mr. Newton: Yes.

Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South): Does the Leader of the House agree that the necessity for his statement now, and the events of the past two days, have been occasioned by the decision to prorogue Parliament on Friday, not on Thursday week, which would have been possible? Is he aware that page 33 of "Erskine May" makes it clear that since 1974 it has been the practice at general elections to prorogue and dissolve Parliament on the same day? Why not have Dissolution and Prorogation on 8 April to allow the Select Committee on Standards and Privileges to continue its work, as it has done in previous periods? If he will not do that, he is not being

as paragraph (3) of motion 10 on the Order Paper says he should be, and which he will invite the House to approve later this evening.

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