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Mr. Fabricant: Does my hon. Friend realise that if the hon. Member for Edinburgh, North and Leith wished to contribute to the debate on that group of amendments, he would have only 63 seconds per amendment?

Mr. Shepherd: I am grateful to my hon. Friend. We would come next to the group entitled "Devolution issues (Wales)". I have cast my eye round the Chamber and I cannot see a Welsh Member, except for a Whip.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Privy Council Office (Mr. Paddy Tipping): The Under-Secretary of State for Wales, my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, Central (Mr. Jones), is here.

Mr. Shepherd: My apologies. No doubt the Under-Secretary would move Government amendments Nos. 50 and 51.

So much for the Speaker's selection of amendments that the motion would require us to dispose of in two hours. A debate on Third Reading is also required, of course.

Mr. Tyler: I have sympathy with what the hon. Gentleman has said, and with the comments of the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody). However, given that calculations are being made, will he say how many amendments we could have discussed in the 25 minutes during which he has addressed the House?

Mr. Shepherd: I had always thought that Cornishmen were canny and could understand the thrust of an argument. The hon. Gentleman knows that I am not responsible for the guillotine motion but that I am endeavouring to criticise it. I do not know how I can put

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it more plainly, so that the hon. Gentleman can understand that we are in this dire position because the Government wish to truncate debate to two hours.

The hon. Member for North Cornwall knows that Standing Orders set out the regime for guillotines, and they allocate three hours for debate on such motions. However, the Government want to blackmail--if I may use such unparliamentary language--the House into shutting up and forgetting its responsibilities as a representative institution. That is not acceptable to some of us. I know how easily a great majority can change Standing Orders, but until that happens we will remain unable to debate a guillotine motion for longer.

Mr. Douglas Hogg (Sleaford and North Hykeham): My hon. Friend mentioned the Speaker's selection, with which members of the public may not be familiar. Will he confirm that the amendments included in that selection are deemed to be relevant and important, either because they have not been debated in Committee or because they are new?

Mr. Shepherd: I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend: that is indeed the rationale behind the selection.

So far, we have debated only the first part of the guillotine motion. The second part states:


That is less grand that it sounds: two full parliamentary days seems a long time, but they begin immediately after the conclusion of this debate.

I was generous in calculating that an average of five and a half minutes would be available for debate on each group of amendments. Hon. Members are entitled to express dissent if they so judge, so each of the 82 amendments and new clauses, not all of which are technical, could be voted on. That would be a grim prospect, as it would take up all the time available for debate on the Immigration and Asylum Bill.

There is also a Speaker's selection of amendments and new clauses for the Immigration and Asylum Bill, a measure that is very sensitive for many hon. Members, as it deals with the treatment of human beings in distress. I know that Labour Members are exercised about that. Their party's historical role has been to represent the fears of the oppressed and to understand the needs of people in the most dire of circumstances. It has done that more sensitively than any other party.

Conservative Members are not naive and know that many of the proposals in the Bill test the patience and sympathy of a wide section of the British public. I would not want to have to judge between asylum applications that are genuine and those that are fabricated. The Labour party's heritage is its history as a guardian of safety for the waves of people who came to this country to escape, for example, the pogroms in eastern Europe and Russia at the turn of the century. The Labour party has welcomed them: to its shame, the Conservative party has been less sensitive to people's circumstances and less aware of what

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they could contribute here. Many immigrants have become an essential ingredient in this country's greatness. We have been the beneficiaries of immigration.

The Government have pulled out some bottom-drawer proposals first put forward by a previous Government. However, I respect the need of many Labour Members and those of my colleagues who are fair minded and who want to examine some of the contentions on which the Bill is based. If the responses on Report were not satisfactory, those hon. Members would want to say, on Third Reading, why they consider that the Bill did not deserve to be "read the Third time". The essence of parliamentary democracy is that hon. Members should be able to reject proposals if they judge that necessary.

How have the Government addressed that tradition? The Speaker's selection groups amendments and new clauses according to their effect on the Bill. Those groups concern the treatment of certain over-stayers, the removal of asylum claimants, facilitation of entry, European Economic Area nationals, and support for children--which all hon. Members know is a sensitive matter. The selection also covers restrictions on employment, general support arrangements for asylum seekers and miscellaneous and consequential amendments.

This latter category includes Government amendments Nos. 32, 33 to 38, 47 to 49, 74, 77 to 80, 83 to 89, 94, 119 to 123, 125 to 133, 135 to 138, and 140 to 142.

Mr. Hogg: My hon. Friend has referred to the importance of Third Reading. Does he agree that a timetable motion that precludes discussion or description of any amendment or new clause prevents hon. Members on either side from determining whether or not to support a Bill, because the information simply is not available to them?

Mr. Shepherd: That is the infamy of guillotine motions. My right hon. and learned Friend's intervention makes me nervous. If I were to repeat in their entirety all the amendments on which we might vote, I might deprive the House and the nation of the opportunity to hear my right hon. and learned Friend speak.

Mr. Jim Dowd (Lord Commissioner to the Treasury): Every cloud--

Mr. Shepherd: --has a silver lining. A better silver lining would result if the Government reflected on the monstrosity of their guillotine motion.

There are amendments relating to codes of practice and procedures for preventing the carriage of clandestine entrants--Government amendment No. 39, amendment No. 9, Government amendments Nos. 40 and 41, amendment No. 11, and Government amendments Nos. 42 and 45. Codes of practice are of considerable importance, so those amendments deserve proper attention.

Further amendments have been selected on charges for passengers without proper documentation--amendments Nos. 145, 146, 147, 148, Government amendments Nos. 43, 44 and 46, and amendment No. 149. My right hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone and The Weald alluded to the penalties that might arise from that part of the Bill. There are amendments on bail hearings, a subject in which I am particularly interested. Amendments

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Nos. 13 and 14 relate to victims of torture and detainees with children. On appeals, adjudicators and the immigration appeal tribunal, we have Government amendments Nos. 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 57, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 97 to 116--I shall not list all of those individually--and 124 and 134.

I have tried to follow the Government's logic in hooking a second guillotine motion to the first. I cannot find the thread in the Speaker's selection that might have led the Government to believe that their soundbites should be reduced to such contempt for the representative and democratic process. On support arrangements for asylum seekers and accommodation, Madam Speaker has selected amendments Nos. 18, 17, 20, 21 and 22. On support arrangements for asylum seekers and interim provisions, she has selected Government amendments Nos. 69 and 95 and Government new schedule 1. On support arrangements for asylum seekers and essential living needs, she has selected amendment No. 143.

Finally, there are amendments on powers of search, arrest, and finger-printing. I know that there is a great distaste for civil liberties these days, and the drum beat is always to give the authorities the right to do things that we traditionally looked at askance. The Home Secretary puffs out his cheeks at that, and I know how irritating all this must be when one is Secretary of State of a great Department that deals with many matters. However, the powers of search, arrest and finger-printing are covered by Government amendments Nos. 75, 76, 81, 82, 90, 117 and 118. After all these amendments, Third Reading would follow. This process cannot be said to be reasonable.

By listing the amendments to be considered by the House, I have tried to set out how absurd it is that any Government of any party should treat the House with the contempt implicit in the Government's derisory dismissal of these great issues. The hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich correctly said that the business managers want to get through more business and have many important things to do. However, in recalling my 20 years in the House I can think of few pieces of legislation that were crucial to the well-being of the nation. There were few that shaped the decades ahead of them. Most that did were concentrated in the highly contentious and difficult early years of Lady Thatcher's Governments. Gosh, they were bitterly opposed. Guillotines were imposed, and Members on the current Government Front Bench vigorously opposed them with all the fervour with which they now take me aback by promoting them.

Life is like that. Perhaps in the detail of Bills and the actions implicit in the actions proposed by Government we can find the truth. I hope that the Government will realise a truth today. No matter what the outcome of the guillotine motion, I hope that they will not produce such a lamentable motion again. I urge anyone with any spirit to go through the Lobby against the motion, or at least to abstain.


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