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Mr. Forth: My hon. Friend is, as ever, helpful, in that he has got to the point quicker than I would have done. That is, of course, a good thing, which we all want.

Sir Brian Mawhinney: On a point of order, Mr. Martin. I wonder whether you can help the Committee. Westminster Hall has now started Wednesday's business. Before the commencement of the Westminster Hall experiment, Tuesday's business in this place continued until 2.30 pm, when Wednesday's business began. Can you help us by telling us whether we are now in Tuesday's business or Wednesday's business?

The First Deputy Chairman: I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that we are in Tuesday's business. What goes on outside the Chamber has nothing to do--[Interruption.] Order. I would appreciate being able to answer the right

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hon. Gentleman. I shall then take other points of order. What goes on outside the Chamber is nothing to do with us. This is a Committee of the whole House.

Sir Brian Mawhinney: That is a helpful ruling, Mr. Martin, but will you go one step further to remove a continuing confusion that I at least have? My understanding was that Westminster Hall was but an extension of the Chamber, and that the rules setting it up in effect moved Wednesday's business from the Chamber to Westminster Hall, but did not establish a separate entity. In that sense, it is but an extension of this place. Therefore, I remain confused because Westminster Hall is on Wednesday's business and we are on Tuesday's business, though it is but an extension of us.

Several hon. Members rose--

The First Deputy Chairman: Order. I cannot go into the business that is taking place in Westminster Hall. I have instructions to take the business of the Committee and to be its Chairman. That is what I must do. If the right hon. Gentleman has any concerns about what is going on in Westminster Hall and feels that perhaps it is a breach of the rules of the House, he can take up the matter with the Chairman of Ways and Means. He is entitled to do that.

Mr. Peter Bottomley: On a point of order, Mr. Martin. Your advice about taking up the matter with the Chairman of Ways and Means is useful. However, I wish to raise a different matter.

We have a dilemma that we share with other parts of the House. The words that are being said in Westminster Hall will be recorded in the Official Report. The question is which day they will be reported under. If, for example, this debate continues and we lose Wednesday's business, there will not be a Wednesday's Official Report. It may be that what is said in Westminster Hall on a Wednesday will be reported on a Tuesday in the Official Report; or it may be that it will have to be reported on a Thursday when the House comes back.

Obviously these are not matters for you, Mr. Martin, as Chairman of the Committee. However, it might be helpful if some of these matters could be considered. Whatever decisions have to be taken during the next day or two, or this day, should not be regarded as precedents if they involve matters that should be referred to another Committee or for deeper consideration. We should understand that what is happening now is provisional and that what is happening apparently at Westminster Hall on a Wednesday might be taking place on Tuesday, Thursday or Wednesday.

The First Deputy Chairman: This is a Committee of the whole House. The best that I can say to the hon. Gentleman is that his voice and concerns have been heard. That is the best way I can put it.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton On a point of order, Mr. Martin. I think that all hon. Members on both sides of the Chamber recognise the difficulties in which you find yourself as a result of the point raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for North-West Cambridgeshire (Sir B. Mawhinney). However, I must support what he said. Westminster Hall is an extension of the Chamber.

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May I press you a little further, Mr. Martin, because you are supposed to safeguard the rights of the House of Commons and the rights of Members? Could you, as Chairman of the Committee, seek to make inquiries as to whether it is in order for Westminster Hall to be sitting at this time?

The First Deputy Chairman: I have no difficulties with that. I am here to chair a Committee of the whole House. As the hon. Gentleman said, hon. Members have rights, including a right to be heard in such a Committee. Westminster Hall has its own rules and it is not for me to concern myself with what is happening there. My current duty is to chair the Committee of the whole House. If many hon. Members make points of order about Westminster Hall, we shall be in danger of departing from the Committee's business. I can say no more about Westminster Hall.

10.30 am

Mr. Bercow: On a point of order, Mr. Martin. I am sorry to trouble you, but it is important for the constitutional position to be clear, especially to new Members. My right hon. Friend the Member for North-West Cambridgeshire (Sir B. Mawhinney) said that Westminster Hall was not separate from, but was an extension of, the House. That point is underlined by a simple occurrence that we witness daily: the Official Report of the debates in the Chamber and in Westminster Hall are reproduced in the same volume. Does not that testify to the fact that they are one entity?

The First Deputy Chairman: All the rules and conventions for Westminster Hall have been agreed by the House. The hon. Gentleman should bear it in mind that we are now in a Committee of the whole House and we must get on with the Committee's business.

Mr. Maclean: On a point of order, Mr. Martin.

The First Deputy Chairman: I hope that it is not about Westminster Hall.

Mr. Maclean: I am afraid that it is a related point. You rightly ruled that we should take up the matter with the Chairman of Ways and Means. However, it is difficult to do that while participating in the debate in Committee. Hon. Members in Westminster Hall may also want to participate in our debate--

The First Deputy Chairman: Order. I am sorry to cut the right hon. Gentleman short, but when I told the right hon. Member for North-West Cambridgeshire to take up the matter with the Chairman of Ways and Means, I did not expect him to go to Westminster Hall, and take the Chairman from the Chair for a discussion. He and other hon. Members can arrange to meet the Chairman of Ways and Means to discuss the matter.

Mr. Robathan: On a point of order, Mr. Martin. My point is about the good standing of the House. I know that you and your colleagues--indeed, the Speaker herself--take seriously the standing of the House, which is the mother of Parliaments, and respected throughout the

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world. Do we not look ridiculous if we are sitting in two different places on different days, which are really the same day?

The First Deputy Chairman: That matter has been covered. The House has considered those issues.

Mr. Fabricant: On a point of order, Mr. Martin. To my surprise, the Table Office says that today is Wednesday, whereas you have ruled that it is Tuesday, regardless of events in Westminster Hall. Surely the Table Office should remain closed until Wednesday's business begins.

The First Deputy Chairman: Today is obviously Wednesday. [Interruption.] Order. I told the Committee that we were dealing with Tuesday's business because the sitting has been unbroken. We remain in Tuesday's sitting.

Mr. Fabricant rose--

Mr. William Ross rose--

The First Deputy Chairman: Order. I have made my ruling. We must return to the business of the Committee. Did the hon. Member for East Londonderry have a point of order?

Mr. Ross: I am not sure whether it is a point of order or a point of clarification. You told us earlier, Mr. Martin, that we were in a Committee of the whole House. However, with the best will in the world, it is impossible for the whole House to be present. Half the hon. Members are in Westminster Hall.

The First Deputy Chairman: We are in a Committee of the whole House in the sense that all hon. Members can be here if they wish. Attendance has nothing to do with the Chair. The important thing is that I am here, and so is the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Forth: I will express my gratitude to my hon. Friend the Member for Worthing, West (Mr. Bottomley) in his absence, so that it can be reported to him and he can read it in Hansard. He unerringly put his finger on a point that I had not quite zeroed in on, when he pointed out the blindingly obvious. The Government are making a discretionary change that, if they had not made it, would have left the status quo ante. That simple matter leads us directly to consider a positive act by the Government in seeking to change the status in of the Irish Senate in the Bill.

You are right, Mr. Martin, to remind me that the debate is narrowly drawn. I will not explore the composition of the Irish Senate, however fascinating that may be, but I thought it legitimate to point out that the Senate's unelected composition might give it a different relationship with the Northern Ireland Assembly and House of Commons.

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