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Mr. Chisholm: If the Opposition think the amendments so important, why did they sabotage debate on them yesterday, and why are they sabotaging debate on them today?

Mr. Shepherd: I will continue, if I may.

The second group is set aside in that short time. Were he to take the debate himself, the Secretary of State would barely have time to enunciate the new clause and the amendments and the Opposition would barely have time to respond to his enunciation. The hon. Member for North Cornwall (Mr. Tyler), who made a remarkable speech, would not even get a look-in, because the two Front Benchers, excluding every other hon. Member, would have disposed of the matter in five and a half minutes.

Dr. Harris: The hon. Gentleman is wrong, because the new clauses about which he feels so strongly were tabled by the Liberal Democrats, so we would have had the opportunity to speak, in the very short time that he and his colleagues left us for debate, and he will have done himself out of that opportunity by speaking at such length against the guillotine.

Mr. Shepherd: I am not doing anyone out of any time in speaking to the motion. I am not the originator of this ferocious guillotine. I rather suspect that the hon. Gentleman, who is a very new Member, will vote for the motion.

The hon. Member for North Cornwall said that he would like a timetable. I have reflected on timetables for a long time. Where was the balance of the argument in the poll tax legislation? As the Bill developed, we began to see how unworkable it was. It started by asking why a dustman should pay less than a duke but eventually transferred its principle to asking why everyone should not pay something. How, in embarking on a large Bill, can one know where the weight of the argument will develop?

Dr. Howard Stoate (Dartford): The hon. Gentleman seems to be under the impression that the motion has to be debated for three hours, but does he not understand that the sooner we finish with the motion, the longer we will have available, within the five hours, to debate the substantive amendments on the Health Bill, which I agree entirely are extremely important to the House?

Mr. Shepherd: I am not responsible for the guillotine motion. The question is better directed to the Secretary of State for Health, the Home Secretary and the Leader

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of the House; they tabled the motion. I look forward to the hon. Gentleman voting against the motion, which of course he will not do.

The third title is

It concerns new clause 8, which is a Government new clause. We have five and a half minutes on that.

Mr. Dobson: It is a Liberal Democrat new clause.

Mr. Shepherd: If the Secretary of State can explain the distinction to the wider world, we will be grateful.

The next group is entitled,

That is clearly too trivial a matter to detain the House on Report. The group consists of new clauses 9 and 19 and amendments Nos. 1 and 129.

Then we move on to the group of amendments on the

It contains new clauses 11 and 12. That is what the Government wish to condense into 60 minutes, twice over. The next group is entitled:

    "Health and safety of NHS doctors (maximum hours of work, etc.)".

It contains new clauses 13 and 28, plus amendment No. 180. It will be dispensed with in five and a half minutes, if the Government have their way.

The next group is entitled:

It contains new clause 20. No constituent who has come to my surgery to express concern on either side of the argument has been able to condense the most minimal approach to that question into five and a half minutes. Indeed, it has often taken more than an hour.

The next group deals with "Waiting times". My right hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) mentioned that issue, as did the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich. It is crucial and important to the well-being of what for many of us is perhaps the most important expression of the state in the social circumstances of our life. It too will get five and a half minutes.

The next group is entitled:

and it contains new clause 22 and amendment No. 114. It will get only five and a half minutes. The following group is entitled:

    "Abolition of fund-holding and power to withdraw from Primary Care Trusts".

It contains new clause 23 and amendments Nos. 107, 108, 143 and 144. It will be dealt with in only five and a half minutes.

The next group is entitled:

That is something on which the Government are keen. Many of us share the Government's objectives and others are cautious about them, but the subject will get only an average time of five and half minutes.

The next group is entitled:

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    It would almost take me five and a half minutes just to read out the amendments in the group, but they will have to be disposed of in that time. The group contains amendments Nos. 109, 111, 112, 181, 110 and 113, and Government amendments Nos. 53 and 54. Not content with the savage truncation of the debate of a free and representative Parliament, the Government believe that the next group of amendments, entitled

    "Primary Care Trusts (provision of services)",

can be dispatched in five and a half minutes.

Then we come to the group entitled "Drafting and miscellaneous". We know that our liberties are often in the detail and the devil is certainly in the detail. The Government will argue that the amendments in this group are technical, but each one will require clarification. The group contains Government amendments Nos. 12, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 32, 37, 39, 105, 44, 45, 48, 52, 55, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 68, 70, 72, 73 and 74.

Mr. Fabricant: Is my hon. Friend aware that if my calculations are correct, that would allow just under 7 seconds to debate each amendment?

Mr. Shepherd: I am bemused that my hon. Friend has taken the trouble to notice the nonsense that the Government have placed on the Order Paper, no doubt to the satisfaction of the hon. Member for Slough.

Next we would come to the group entitled

It contains Government amendments Nos. 13 and 14, amendment No. 128, and Government amendments Nos. 15, 16, 40, 41, 42, 43, 56, 67, 69, 71, 75 and 76. Will we have adequate time? The Government have still more business to discharge through our process in this forum. The group entitled "Local Representative Committees" contains amendment No. 115, Government amendments Nos. 94, 95, 96, amendments Nos. 116 and 117, Government amendments Nos. 97, 98, 99, amendment No. 118, Government amendments Nos. 100 and 101, amendment No. 119, Government amendment No. 102, amendment No. 120, and Government amendments Nos. 103 and 104. None of this will be treated seriously by a wider public if all that business is thrown through in 120 minutes, excluding a debate on Third Reading.

We have not yet finished. The next group is entitled:

The Secretary of State for Health is an elected representative for a London constituency. The group contains amendments Nos. 4 and 3, but perhaps they do not merit discussion. The next group is entitled "Joint Consultative Committees" and it contains amendments Nos. 138 and 142. The next group is called "Pharmaceutical Price Controls". Some of these are big issues, as the House knows. The amendments are not frivolous: they are important. However, the Government feel that Government amendments Nos. 23 and 24, amendments Nos. 93, 178 and 92, Government amendments Nos. 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31, amendment No. 179 and Government amendments Nos. 33, 34, 35, 36 and 38 can be disposed of in minutes.

Mrs. Dunwoody: Is not the hon. Gentleman illustrating a serious point that is not related to the guillotine? It is

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the practice that has grown up under both Governments--I have been in the Chair and watched hundreds of Government amendments being moved by Ministers in the previous Government--of producing legislation that has to be updated by the Government. Is not that a sign that our parliamentary draftsmen have some homework to do before we can desist?

Mr. Shepherd: The hon. Lady is right and her experience as a Chairman on the Speaker's Panel, and her long years of service in the House, underline the great urgency with which legislative ideas are often thrown together and presented to the House, giving rise to the need for subsequent amendment to make them workable or even slightly comprehensible to the lay reader. The legislation is no longer meant for the lay reader and it is beyond the reach of ordinary citizens to understand what the Government intend.

The next group of amendments is entitled:

It contains amendments Nos. 145, 167, 77, 169, 6, 162, 163, 164, 91 and 165. The next group is called "Devolution issues (Scotland)". We are fortunate in having the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North and Leith (Mr. Chisholm) present. No doubt he would wish to contribute vigorously to the debate on amendments Nos. 183, 184 and 168, Government amendment No. 49 and amendment No. 185, because they touch on Scotland.

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