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Mr. Tipping: If the hon. Gentleman reads the record, he will see that when my right hon. Friend opened the debate, she pointed out that the matter was a clear

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candidate for pre-legislative scrutiny. I hope that it may be possible to produce a Bill in the not too distant future and to put it out for consultation, because although the issues are complex, it would be fairly easy to make progress on them.

The hon. Member for South Staffordshire rightly pointed out that we could take some action now; he mentioned the laws on sub judice, although I think that that is one of the more difficult examples. My impression is that whatever action we took, matters would remain more or less the same, in that the Speaker currently has great powers of discretion. As everyone is aware, these are extremely difficult issues. The hon. Gentleman said that we could also make progress on giving advice to witnesses who appear before Select Committees. I think that we could make some progress in that respect.

However, the real way to make progress is to go ahead on the recommendations of the Joint Committee report--to task it either to the Modernisation Committee or to the Procedure Committee. The Procedure Committee is already following up some comments on parliamentary papers. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House is minded to ask those Committees to explore those matters so that we can develop and implement good practice before introducing a new Bill--whatever it is called. It might be called the Parliamentary Privileges Bill, or it might have a more modern title if people would prefer that. However, we shall need more legislation.

Some Members pointed out that we last considered this subject in 1967, and that little progress has been made since that time. However, the Government set up the Joint Committee and asked it to undertake its work. We have accepted most of its recommendations; we are keen to make progress. It is important to modernise, but we should draw on our traditions. We must ensure that

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Parliament as a body takes seriously its rights and responsibilities. The Joint Committee report is a cornerstone on which we can build.

Sir Peter Emery: I thank the hon. Gentleman. Will he give--

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order.

Sir Peter Emery: By leave of the House--

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The Minister has finished.

Sir Peter Emery: By leave of the House--

Mr. Tony McNulty (Harrow, East): I beg to ask leave to withdraw the motion.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Is it the House's pleasure that the motion be withdrawn?

Sir Peter Emery: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I am putting a Question to the House. Is it the House's pleasure that the motion be withdrawn?

Hon. Members: Aye.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.



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