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Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (West Derbyshire): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Will you confirm that, if a filibuster had been taking place, you would have ruled the speeches out of order? It is not right for a Minister Crown to describe speeches made by hon. Members as a filibuster, because that is not allowed in the Chamber.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): The Chair has not heard anything so far that has been out of order. My advice to the House is that there should be a little less provocation on both sides.

Mr. Hoon: I was simply entering into the spirit of things, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I apologise if any Conservative Members have been offended by the robust nature of my remarks.

6 Nov 1997 : Column 436

Question put, That the Bill be now read a Second time:--

The House divided: Ayes 202, Noes 5.

Division No. 84
[6.12 pm


AYES


Ainger, Nick
Allan, Richard
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Ballard, Mrs Jackie
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Betts, Clive
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Bradshaw, Ben
Brown, Rt Hon Nick (Newcastle E)
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnett, John
Burstow, Paul
Byers, Stephen
Cable, Dr Vincent
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Chaytor, David
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cooper, Yvette
Corbett, Robin
Corston, Ms Jean
Cotter, Brian
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Darvill, Keith
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Dismore, Andrew
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Doran, Frank
Drew, David
Drown, Ms Julia
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
Goggins, Paul
Grogan, John
Hain, Peter
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Harvey, Nick
Heal, Mrs Sylvia
Healey, John
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hoey, Kate
Hoon, Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Ms Jennifer
(Wolverh'ton SW)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keetch, Paul
Kelly, Ms Ruth
Khabra, Piara S
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Kingham, Ms Tess
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lawrence, Ms Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Liddell, Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Livingstone, Ken
Livsey, Richard
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
McAvoy, Thomas
McDonagh, Siobhain
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
Mallaber, Judy
Marek, Dr John
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Merron, Gillian
Michael, Alun
Milburn, Alan
Mitchell, Austin
Moore, Michael
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morley, Elliot
Morris, Ms Estelle (B'ham Yardley)
Morris, Rt Hon John (Aberavon)
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
Palmer, Dr Nick
Perham, Ms Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prosser, Gwyn
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Rendel, David
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooney, Terry
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
Salter, Martin
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Shipley, Ms Debra
Short, Rt Hon Clare
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Soley, Clive
Spellar, John
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
(Dewsbury)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Todd, Mark
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Touhig, Don
Turner, Desmond (Kemptown)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Vis, Dr Rudi
Watts, David
White, Brian
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Winnick, David
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Phil
Wright, Dr Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:


Jane Kennedy and
Mr. Kevin Hughes.


NOES


Colvin, Michael
Grieve, Dominic
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Johnson Smith,
Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)

Tellers for the Noes:


Mr. Eric Forth and
Mr. Nick Hawkins.

Question accordingly agreed to.

6 Nov 1997 : Column 437

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 63 (Committal of Bills),


Motion made, and Question proposed,


    That this House will immediately resolve itself into a Committee.--[Janet Anderson.]

6.24 pm

Sir Nicholas Lyell: I shall be brief. Hon. Members who were not here for the earlier debate will be interested to know what this one is about. It is about the fact that the Government are seeking to get their business through the House in a day. I have made it perfectly clear that we are not seeking to prevent that: the official Opposition did not vote against Second Reading. We seek a sensible debate on two points, the first and most fundamental of which I gave the Lord Chancellor notice of a week ago. The Minister acknowledges that. I have tabled a manuscript amendment and hope that I can persuade you to call it, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am a bit confused about

6 Nov 1997 : Column 438

whether we are in Committee or debating whether to go into Committee. I do not know whether other hon. Members would own up to the same confusion. Could the matter be clarified?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: If the hon. Gentleman were in the House paying attention to our proceedings he would know. The occupant of the Chair should not be required to inform him of the position. A motion has been moved about immediate committal. That is the Question that is before us.

Sir Nicholas Lyell: Hon. Members may feel that they are being kept longer than they expected. We wish to have a serious debate on two questions. The first basic question in the Bill is whether the House should agree that the Lord Chancellor's permanent secretary should not necessarily be a lawyer, not necessarily even a person with a legal qualification, who has grown up with the work of the Department and who has been there for at least five years. While we would be prepared to give that a fair wind, we would be prepared to do so only if the important continuity of knowledge from the Lord Chancellor's Department to the Lord Chancellor about his judicial functions and all functions connected with them and in relation to the practical administration of the courts were protected.

That could be done by ensuring that when the Lord Chancellor's permanent secretary is not a lawyer or someone with five years' experience, there would be a deputy secretary in the Department to fulfil the necessary functions. He would be a lawyer of 10 years' standing; and there must be scores, if not hundreds, of such people with developing seniority in the Government legal service. That would mean that the Lord Chancellor would have a senior person who carries the respect accorded to someone who holds a notified post to whom he could turn on these important aspects of his duties. That would help to ensure that "can-doism", which I am sure would never take over in the Lord Chancellor's Department, is balanced by a respect for law and legality. That is the serious debate we seek.

It is sometimes difficult for a manuscript amendment to be called. I am sure that the point has been grasped by the 220 hon. Members who are here. I hope that the Minister will give me a fair wind by saying that the Government will support a debate on my amendment if the House goes into Committee. Of course, that does not bind you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but I should be grateful for a helpful answer to that from the Minister, and then we can decide whether we should support our continuing to scrutinise the Bill in Committee tonight.


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