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Mr. Simon Hughes accordingly presented a Bill to permit local authorities to increase to 50 per cent. the proportion of housing in any development which is affordable to people in low paid employment or with equivalent incomes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 21 July, and to be printed [Bill 150].
Report and Third Reading
1. Proceedings on Consideration and Third Reading shall be completed in two allotted days and shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion three hours after the commencement of proceedings on the Bill on the second of those days.
Proceedings on Consideration
2. (1) Subject to the Speaker's powers to select the amendments, new Clauses and new Schedules to be proposed, the proceedings to be taken on consideration on each of the two allotted days shall be as shown in the second column of the Table in sub-paragraph (2) below and shall be taken in the order so shown.
(2) Each part of the proceedings on those days shall, if not previously brought to a conclusion, be brought to a conclusion at the time specified in relation to that part of the proceedings in the third column of the Table.
|Allotted day||Proceedings||Time for conclusion of proceedings|
|First day||New Clauses relating to Part I, New Schedules so relating, Amendments to Clauses 1 to 8.||One and one-half hours after the commencement of proceedings on this Order.|
|New Clauses relating to Part II, other than Clauses relating to access to information.||Three hours after the commencement of proceedings on this Order.|
|New Schedules relating to Part II, other than Schedules relating to access of information, Amendments to Clauses 9 to 20|
|New Clauses relating to access to information, New Schedules so relating, Amendments to Clauses 21 and 22, Amendments to Schedule 1, Amendments to Clauses 23 to 40, Amendments to Schedule 2, Amendments to Clauses 41 to 45||Four and one-half hours after the commencement of proceedings on this Order.|
|New Clauses relating to Part III, New Schedules so relating, Amendments to Clauses 46 to 54. Amendments to Schedule 3, Amendments to Clauses 55 to 80||Five and one-quarter hours after the commencement of proceedings on this Order.|
|New Clauses relating to proportional representation, New Schedules so relating, New Clauses relating to Part IV, New Schedules so relating, Amendments to Clauses 81 to 86, New Clauses relating to Part V, other than Clauses relating to pensions and allowances or to the repeal of section 2A of the Local Government Act 1986, New Schedules relating to Part V, other than Schedules relating to pensions and allowances or to the repeal of section 2A of the Local Government Act 1986, Amendments Clauses 87 to 93.||Six hours after the commencement of proceedings on this Order.||New Clauses relating to pensions and allowances, New Schedules so relating, Remaining new Clauses other than Clauses relating to the repeal of section 2A of the Local Government Act 1986, Remaining new Schedules other than Schedules relating to the repeal of section 2A of the Local Government Act 1986, Amendments to Clauses 94 to 97||Six and three-quarter hours after the commencement of proceedings on this Order.||Second day||New Clauses relating to the repeal of section 2A of the Local Government Act 1986, New Schedules so relating. Amendments to Clauses 98 to 101, Amendments to Schedules 4 and 5, Amendments to Clauses 102 and 103.||Two and one-quarter hours after the commencement of proceedings on the Bill on the second day.|
3.--(1) For the purpose of concluding any proceedings which are brought to a conclusion at the time appointed by this Order, the Speaker shall forthwith put the following Questions (but no others)--
(a) any Question already proposed from the Chair;
(b) any Question necessary to bring to a decision a Question so proposed;
(c) the Question on any amendment moved or Motion made by a Minister of the Crown;
(d) any other Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded;
(2) Proceedings under sub-paragraph (1) above shall not be interrupted under any Standing Order relating to sittings of the House and may be decided, though opposed, at any hour.
(3) On a Motion made for a new Clause or a new Schedule, the Speaker shall put only the Question that the Clause or Schedule be added to the Bill.
(4) If two or more Questions would fall to be put under sub-paragraph (1)(c) on amendments moved or Motions made by a Minister of the Crown, the Speaker shall instead put a single Question in relation to those amendments or Motions.
Debate in Committee was conducted in good spirit. It was extremely constructive, and there was a general intention of improving the Bill, which I think was achieved. An informal timetable was agreed, and was used effectively, with no curtailment of debate on any point raised by the Opposition parties. There was no complaint from either side about insufficient time being allocated for debate. Indeed, we had the opportunity to sit more frequently if we needed to.
The time allocated for Report has been discussed through the usual channels. We tabled this motion with a view to ensuring that there was sufficient opportunity, within the overall time provided, to discuss all aspects of the Bill, to which amendments have been tabled by both sides. That approach has also been discussed through the usual channels. I therefore do not intend to take up any more of the time available in discussing how we should organise the business of considering the Bill, and propose that we proceed to do so as soon as possible.
As the Minister was good enough to concede, the Committee stage was conducted in good spirit. There were a few good jokes here and there, at least from our side. The Government, of course, lost almost every argument in Committee, but, sadly, none of the votes. The Minister was also good enough to confirm that we took a wholly constructive attitude. We supported the good things in the Bill and tried to make them better, and we opposed the bad. Above all, we tried to improve the Bill as a whole.
The Minister mentioned amendments, which, from her point of view, was bad salesmanship. A total of 438 Government-inspired amendments were tabled in the Lords, and, subsequently, nearly 400 more were tabled in the Commons Committee. At this late stage, the Government have tabled well over 100 new amendments--115, according to my arithmetic--again, to their own Bill. No wonder the Minister said on Second Reading that the Bill was not yet finished.
Things are going from bad to worse, as we shall see as the debates develop. Labour Back Benchers are queueing up to rubbish the Bill. The Government have been universally criticised over Cabinet secrecy. They face renewed defeats in the Lords on council structures and on section 28. Frankly, the Bill has turned into an embarrassing shambles. It is hardly surprising that the Minister was slow handclapped at the Local Government Association conference last week.