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Madam Speaker: Order. The hon. Gentleman is now straying into a Second Reading debate. This is a business of the House motion. The responsibility for this lies with the President of the Council, who will respond in due course.

Mr. Taylor: I entirely understand that view, but I must have misexpressed myself. My problem is that, to make a decision on the business of the House motion, I need to get some guidance from the Government on whether there was equal urgency in introducing clauses relating to international terrorism. I do not wish to debate those clauses.

There have been some disturbing events in the world during August relating to such international terrorism. It is also clear that, to achieve peace and stability in Northern Ireland, it is vital to keep the American Government on side. We have not been told, even by the Prime Minister this afternoon, whether there have been discussions between him and the American President about both aspects of the Bill, and whether the American President will make announcements when he arrives here that affect the consequences of terrorism. I ask the Home Secretary to come to the Dispatch Box to help on those important matters; otherwise, it will appear to hon. Members, and certainly to me, that we are legislating on two separate matters--one a matter of urgency and one a matter of convenience.

4.36 pm

Mr. Kevin McNamara (Hull, North): The Bill is divided into two parts. It would be easy if the President of the Council were to say that the Government were not going to move clauses 5 to 7. That would then end part of the controversy that surrounds the Bill.

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Another part of the Bill is important. As I understand the Bill, the part concerning conspiracy will not be part of the consultative paper to be published in the autumn. It will have gone and will not be part of that general discussion. If that is true, we will not be able to return to it; we have been told that one of the major concessions under the Bill is that we will be able to look at it every year.

I urge my hon. Friends to think very carefully on this matter. It would be very easy not to move--[Interruption.] My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary says from a sedentary position that it would still come under Lord Young's committee. Even if that is true, it still does not defeat my earlier argument. It is far easier for the Government to say that they will not move clauses 5 to 7. It gets over that particular difficulty.

In terms of what has been said, can my right hon. Friend the President of the Council say, following discussions with the American Government, to what extent that Government support the limitation of the fifth amendment of the United States constitution and whether the American President is considering introducing similar legislation in the United States to achieve that purpose?

4.38 pm

Mr. Jonathan Sayeed (Mid-Bedfordshire): This Government are used to using their very large majority to bully through inadequate legislation. They are in danger of doing the same thing again. It is interesting to see the way in which the tone of the House has changed over the past two hours. It is clear to me at least that the House is angered that two different types of terrorism are getting mixed up in one Bill.

Will the Government consider removing all those parts of the legislation to do with international terrorism, so that they can be given clear and thoughtful consideration at some later date? It seems to me that that part of the Bill owes more to President Clinton's visit than to considerations of good-quality legislation.

4.39 pm

The President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mrs. Margaret Beckett): I should like to deal as briefly as possible with the important issues that have been raised. The hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd) asked why I did not speak when the motion was moved. I assure him that I meant no discourtesy to the House. I simply did not wish to take the time of the House in debating a matter that would reduce the time available for consideration of the substance of the issues that we are here to discuss. The House would be--

Mr. Shepherd rose--

Mrs. Beckett: I ask the hon. Gentleman to bear with me a moment. The proceedings that we are discussing are not unprecedented, although I agree that they are unusual. The House does not normally meet in this way or curtail business as we are doing.

Mr. Shepherd rose--

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Mrs. Beckett: If the hon. Gentleman will give me a moment, I shall readily give way to him.

Mr. Shepherd: I wanted to refer to a specific point that the right hon. Lady made.

Mrs. Beckett: I shall give way to the hon. Gentleman in a moment. He has asked me why I did not speak at the outset of the debate. I did not do so because I had hoped that the House would wish to proceed speedily--as I believe that the country wishes us to do--to discuss the substance of the Bill. I did not want to take up the time of the House. If I have misrepresented the hon. Gentleman, I apologise and I shall give way to him.

Mr. Shepherd: The right hon. Lady should have read her motion on the Order Paper. This motion can be debated until 10 o'clock. Putting forward the arguments for the guillotine would not take away the House's opportunity to debate the Bill. The right hon. Lady's argument is nonsense.

Mrs. Beckett: With respect to the hon. Gentleman, I gave not an argument, but a reason. He asked me to give a reason, and I have done so. If he finds it unsatisfactory, I am sorry. Of course the motion can be debated, but he will know that we do not debate all the motions that we are able to debate. It seemed right to preserve as much time as possible for the House to debate the substance of the Bill.

Previous Governments have felt that emergency issues had to be dealt with as a matter of urgency. There have been precedents for matters being dealt with in this way. I say that with great respect to the many hon. Members who have made important points in the debate. In April 1996, an emergency was thought to have arisen. The then Government made a statement one day and the House discussed the legislation the next day. With great respect to the right hon. Members for East Devon (Sir P. Emery) and for Cities of London and Westminster (Mr. Brooke) and the hon. Members for Stone (Mr. Cash) and for Blaby (Mr. Robathan), I should like to say that they voted for the guillotine motion of their Government to deal with that Bill in one day. The previous Government allowed less time to discuss that measure than we are allowing today. I have great respect for the right and proper feeling of hon. Members that we should consider and take proper decisions, but our course of action is not unprecedented or unknown. No doubt that is one reason why those on the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Front Benches supported this way of proceeding.

Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan): A situation in which not all the signatories to a motion still fully support it might be considered unusual. Having listened to the debate for the past hour, is the right hon. Lady confident that all the signatories to the motion still fully support all its details? If not, should the Government not make some response?

Mrs. Beckett: I have heard nothing that leads me to conclude that those who signed the motion do not continue to support it.

Mr. Paul Tyler (North Cornwall): I am sure that the Leader of the House will agree that it is one of the

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absurdities of this place that it is thought to be an unforgivable sin not to listen to the arguments of one's colleagues and one's opponents. I know the difficulties that the Government had yesterday. I know that it was difficult to communicate. It was very difficult, when the Bill was not even published, to specify the format of the motion. However, I ask her to listen, as I have done, to the views expressed in the House, particularly on clauses 5 to 7. My right hon. Friend the Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) expressed real concerns, about measures that did not naturally fall within the Bill being tacked on. I am sincerely sorry if I have in any way led the right hon. Lady to expect my full support for the whole motion. Having listened to the views of other hon. Members--as I hope that the Government will--I shall withdraw my name from the motion.

Mrs. Beckett: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for making that clear. It was not so clear previously. If he and his party have changed their minds, that is a matter for them. As I am sure he is aware, members of his party, including some of those who have spoken in the debate, were kept informed. As far as I am aware, they were informed at least a week ago that we intended to include the provisions in the Bill. It would not be fair to imply that that came as a source of astonishment to the Liberal Democrats when they arrived at the House today. They are free to change their minds and I am sure that the House notes that they have done so.

Sadly--it is always sad when such matters have to be dealt with in this way--it is not unprecedented for the House to act as the Government propose. We have sought--


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