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Madam Speaker: I have not been informed by the Ministry of Defence or any other Department that a Minister wants to make a statement on that matter, at least today.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): On a pukka point of order, Madam Speaker, that has lasting significance for the House. I refer to the difference between the questions that can be tabled in the Commons and in the Lords. I believe that your office has had some notice of the background to this matter. Today, I attempted--I make no criticism whatever of the Clerks at the Table Office--to table the following question to the Home Secretary:

I have a lasting interest in the use of DNA in the criminal context, believing that it is of great value in establishing guilt and also in quickly proving innocence and allowing many people to be cleared who might otherwise hang around for months under suspicion. No one doubts that my question is highly significant. The Table Office, in detail with which I shall not bore the House, rejected part of the question and said that it did not fall within Commons rules. However, for once, the question was not dreamed up by me--although I am deeply interested in it--but came from the fertile and formidable legal mind of Lord Ackner, who tabled it in the other place.

In the twilight of your Speakership, Madam Speaker, could you bequeath to us a statement about the desirability of some synchronisation between the Commons Table Office and the Lords Table Office? As the Lords makes more and more claims for itself, surely it is a question of sauce for the Commons gander and sauce for the Lords goose? If the House of Lords is to change, there should be some synchronisation of the criteria used in the Table Offices. Personally, I would like the Table Office rules in the Commons relaxed so that we can ask what we really mean.

Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst): Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. Can you confirm that there has not been in the past nor will there be--certainly for as long as you are Speaker--any tightening of the

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rules and criteria applied by the Table Office? Many hon. Members feel that a change has taken place, possibly since roughly May 1997--without putting too precise a date on it. The House would be grateful, in the context of the point of order from the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell), if you could give us that assurance.

Madam Speaker: I am pleased by the tribute that the hon. Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) paid to the Clerks of the Table Office, who do a very good job on behalf of all Members of this House. I am also grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving me a little notice of what he called a "pukka" point of order. I would not quite say that, but it was long one and, having had notice of it, I have been able to make thorough inquiries.

I have seen the notice to which the hon. Gentleman referred and which he read out to the House. I am satisfied, as he is, of course, that it has been dealt with under our rules. What the House of Lords does in relation to questions is entirely a matter for that House, just as our rules are a matter for this House. As hon. Members know, our rules have evolved over many years and have been examined and reconfirmed by the House on several occasions. There are several areas in which our procedures differ from those of the House of Lords, but I see no reason why that should be changed. If the House wishes the procedures to be synchronised with those of the House of Lords, it must decide that that should happen. However, it is a matter for the House, not for the Speaker or for individual Clerks. If the House wishes to synchronise procedures with the House of Lords, it must table the proper motions to achieve that.

Mr. Dale Campbell-Savours (Workington): Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. Just to ensure that journalists do not put a spin on the point of order raised by the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth)--that there has been a tightening of the rules on the tabling of questions since 1997--will you confirm that there has been no change whatever?

Madam Speaker: There has been no change whatever. The Clerks at the Table and all the Clerks throughout the House operate, as they have always done, on the basis of helping and assisting individual Members in the best interests of those individual Members.


Motion made, and Question put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 119(9) (European Standing Committees),

EC Budget (Balkans)

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Question agreed to.


Madam Speaker: With permission, I shall put together motions 2 to 4.

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

Social Security



Question agreed to.

Madam Speaker: Before I call the Home Secretary to move the Football (Disorder) Bill (Allocation of Time) motion, I should tell the House that two manuscript amendments to the motion have been tabled by the right hon. Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir G. Young), and that I am prepared to select them for debate.

Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey): On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I heard a little earlier that manuscript amendments had been tabled. Will you ensure that those amendments are made available to hon. Members?

Madam Speaker: I inquired about that some time ago. My understanding is that the amendments are available in the Vote Office. However, those concerned will have heard me raise my voice on this matter, and will no doubt make sure that they are.

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Football (Disorder) Bill (Allocation of Time)

4.10 pm

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Jack Straw): I beg to move,

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This is a guillotine motion. The House will acknowledge that such motions are to be avoided wherever possible, but it is accepted on all sides that they are sometimes inevitable. I hope that there will not be too much trade across the Chamber about this Government's record on guillotine motions, but I remind the House that, in 1988-89, 17 Bills were guillotined by the Conservative Administration, at a time when that Government had a majority of well over 100.

It happens that one of those Bills was the Football Spectators Bill, for which the guillotine motion was moved exactly 11 years ago today, on 17 July 1989. It was moved by Mr. John Wakeham, now Lord Wakeham, in terms remarkably similar to the case that I have put before the House for the need for this business to proceed as quickly as possible.

However, within the imperative that the business for the rest of the week, including that for tomorrow, has to be protected, the Government are anxious to proceed by agreement. The burden of the amendments shortly to be moved by the right hon. Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir G. Young) is that the Committee stage should end at 12 midnight, and that all other Commons stages should end by 5 am. I am pleased to tell the House that the Government will be ready to accept the amendments.

It may also help the House in judging whether the motion, as amended, allows sufficient time for debate, if I say how we intend to deal with some of the principal issues raised by the amendments that will come before us. I promised in the statement that I made almost two weeks ago, on 4 July, that I and the Government would listen carefully to all representations made about the draft Bill and then about the Bill as introduced, and that we would respond positively wherever we could.

The House will know already that I responded positively to two suggestions made about the pre- legislative draft by Lord Ackner and Lord Alexander of Weedon. Lord Ackner proposed that reasons given at the point of a direction being made to require an individual to attend a court under the fourth part of the Bill should be given in writing. Lord Alexander of Weedon proposed that the Bill should contain a sunset clause and that there should be a process for reviewing the legislation. Both proposals were worked into the Bill on presentation.

I deal briefly with the other amendments, to indicate the changes that I am ready to accept, which will be obvious to those who have read through the Order Paper. Considerable concern was expressed by right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House in respect of the key police power, in the fourth part of the Bill. There

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was concern about whether the powers given to the police to detain people for inquiries and then to direct them into court were too wide.

We have considered the provisions again in the light of the representations and the amendments which have been tabled. The criteria which are now before the House, contained in amendments Nos. 42, 43, 44, 45 and 46, seek essentially to replicate the grounds for detention and arrest, which are already provided, and have been accepted by successive Governments and Oppositions, in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. In the place of a power giving a constable a right to exercise those powers under proposed new section 21A in schedule 1 to the Bill, if it appears to him that the behaviour of the person present before him is such that he may be a candidate for a banning order, amendment No. 42 now requires that the constable in uniform

that the person has been involved in violence and disorder--has been met. He must also have reasonable grounds for believing that a banning order in the person's case would help to prevent violence or disorder at or in connection with any regulated football matches. The PACE power is a much more constrained power, which we propose, subject to the will of the House, to insert in the Bill.

Concern was also expressed about the fact that it seems from the Bill that a police officer might hold an individual for questioning, with a view to making inquiries, for 24 hours. Under further amendments that we have tabled, the power to hold someone for questioning to find out whether there are reasonable grounds for a direction to be made to get someone into court is reduced from 24 hours to four hours, with an extension to a maximum of six hours when an inspector agrees. That period must be contained within the overall period of 24 hours specified in the Bill.

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