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Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 15 (Exempted business),

Question agreed to.


Queen's recommendation having been signified--

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 52 (Money resolutions and ways and means resolutions in connection with bills),

(a) any expenditure incurred by the Secretary of State under the Act; and
(b) any increase attributable to the Act in the sums payable out of money so provided under any other enactment.--[Mr. Allen.]

Question agreed to.

11 Apr 2000 : Column 288


Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Lord): With permission, I shall put together the motions relating to delegated legislation.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 118(6) (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation),

Welfare Reform and Pensions

Supreme Court of England and Wales

Local Government Finance

Question agreed to.

11 Apr 2000 : Column 289

Standing Committee on Regional Affairs

[Relevant document: The unnumbered Paper from the Leader of the House, entitled "Regional Standing Committee".]

10.30 pm

The President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mrs. Margaret Beckett): I beg to move,

117.--(1) There shall be a standing committee called the Standing Committee on Regional Affairs, which shall consider any matter relating to regional affairs in England which may be referred to it.
(2) The Committee shall consist of thirteen Members representing English constituencies nominated by the Committee of Selection; and in nominating such Members, the Committee of Selection shall--
(a) have regard to the qualifications of the Members nominated and to the composition of the House; and
(b) have power to discharge Members from time to time, and to appoint others in substitution.
(3) Any Member of the House representing an English constituency, though not nominated to the Committee, may take part in its proceedings, but may not make any Motion, vote or be counted in the quorum; provided that a Minister of the Crown who is a Member of this House but not nominated to the Committee may make a Motion as specified in paragraph (10) below.
(4) The quorum of the Committee shall be three.
(5) Paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 88 (Meetings of standing committees) shall not apply to the Committee; except that the proviso to that paragraph shall apply to any sitting at Westminster.
(6) A Motion may be made in the House by a Minister of the Crown to specify (or to vary) any or all of the following:
(a) the matter or matters to be referred to the Committee;
(b) the period to be allotted to proceedings on such matters;
(c) when and where (within England) the Committee shall meet;
(d) the hours for the commencement and conclusion of any sitting;
(e) any days when the Committee shall meet at Westminster at Ten o'clock;
and such Motion may be moved at any time; and the Question thereon shall be put forthwith and may be decided at any hour, though opposed.
(7) Where any order made under paragraph (6) above makes no provision for the period to be allotted to the proceedings on any matter or matters which have been referred to the Committee for consideration at a particular sitting, those proceedings shall be brought to a conclusion no later than three hours after their commencement.
(8) At the commencement of business at any sitting of the Committee, the Chairman may permit Ministers of the Crown, being Members of the House, to make statements on any matter or matters referred to the Committee for consideration at that sitting, and may then permit members of the Committee to ask questions thereon.
(9) No question on a statement by a Minister of the Crown shall be taken after the expiry of a period of one hour from the commencement of the first such statement, except that the Chairman may, at his discretion, allow such questions to be taken for a further period not exceeding half an hour.
(10) The Committee shall, following any such statements and questions, consider each matter referred to it on a motion 'That the Committee has considered the matter'; the Chairman shall put the Question necessary to dispose of the proceedings on each matter at the time, or after the period, specified in accordance with

11 Apr 2000 : Column 290

paragraph (6) or paragraph (7) of this Order, and the Committee shall thereupon report to the House that it has considered the matter or matters without any further Question being put.
(11) Any period allocated to the consideration of any matter or matters shall include any time spent on statements by Ministers of the Crown and questions thereon, except when otherwise provided by any Order of the House made in accordance with paragraph (6) above.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Mr. Michael Lord): I remind the House that Madam Speaker has selected amendments (a) and (b), which stand in the name of the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Inverness, West (Mr. Kennedy) and his right hon. and hon. Friends. There will be a joint debate on the main motion and the two amendments. Decisions on the amendments will be taken when the debate ends.

Mrs. Beckett: I propose to be brief in moving the motion because the proposal that it enshrines is perfectly straightforward and simple and because the procedure that it suggests is already extremely familiar to the House. The Standing Orders already contain provision for a Standing Committee on Regional Affairs, to debate primarily matters that are of concern to Members who sit for English constituencies. The Standing Order was decided and placed on, so to speak, the statute book of the House in the context of previous moves--[Interruption.]

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I ask right hon. and hon. Members who are not staying for the debate to leave the Chamber quickly and quietly.

Mrs. Beckett: The Standing Order was decided in the context of previous moves to introduce devolution for Scotland and Wales. It means that the House has already debated and decided the issue of principle.

The Standing Order ceased to be used after 1979 but it has never been removed from the statute book of the House. In consequence, it remains part of our potential procedures. However, since it was carried, many of our procedures have changed. That is why the motion brings the Standing Order up to date, as I see it, using today's procedures. I hope that this will make the Standing Order both more flexible and more useful to the House.

It will be apparent already to hon. Members on both sides of the House that the model that has been used is that of the European Scrutiny Committee. The Government believe that that is an effective model both in informing Members and in calling Ministers to account.

Mr. Dale Campbell-Savours (Workington): I wonder whether my right hon. Friend will explain something to me. Many of us believe, certainly in terms of regional affairs debates, that there is an argument for bringing in civil servants, in a Select Committee mode, and taking evidence from them. At a regional level, they are critically important in the taking of decisions under the new structures that we have set up. When my right hon. Friend was considering these matters and the tabling of the motion, did she consider a procedure whereby that would be possible?

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