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Mr. Shepherd: The right hon. Lady makes the common mistake of counting the number of guillotines used. Current jargon refers to the number of Bills guillotined, but a Bill may require one, two, three or four guillotines during its passage through the House. I thought that that was clear in the right hon. Lady's mind. I do not seek to contradict her, but she is genuinely wrong to say that the number of Bills guillotined during the 1987-92 Parliament was greater than the number guillotined during this Parliament. This Government hold the record.

Mrs. Beckett: I accept that the hon. Gentleman makes his point in good faith, but on every previous occasion when Conservative Members have alleged that fewer questions are being answered, that recesses are longer or

7 Nov 2000 : Column 199

that more guillotines are being used, their information has never proved more accurate than ours. I leave that thought with him.

Mrs. Browning: Will the right hon. Lady give way?

Mrs. Beckett: If the hon. Lady will forgive me, I am anxious not to take up the House's time discussing this matter at length.

Mrs. Browning: I hope that the right hon. Lady will examine annexe C of the report of the Modernisation Committee--her own Committee. The language and methodology used to put the information into the public domain was at her and her Committee's discretion. Annexe C refers to the

The list that I read out earlier clearly shows that during the past three years, 34 Bills have been timetabled.

Mrs. Beckett: This matter will no doubt be aired time and again. I do not accept the hon. Lady's point. If one calculates the figures in exactly the same way, it is clear that there was a heavier use of the guillotine in previous Parliaments.

That brings me to my second point, which was raised by, I believe, my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody)--not, I believe, by my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley, South (Mr. Pearson). My hon. Friend said that hon. Members came here not to discuss the daily timetable but to examine what affects people's lives. She is correct--that is why we are all here. Unfortunately, however, we are discussing the timing rather than the substance of the debate. That is, I fear, a very good parallel. We have spent a long time discussing how long we should discuss what we are all told is an important matter.

Mrs. Dunwoody: Will my right hon. Friend give way?

Mrs. Beckett: I want to make one further point in response to my hon. Friend, who has already made several contributions to this debate. She went on to say that we are concerned with the curtailing of debate. My response to her and to other hon. Members who made the same point is that this discussion is not about whether we curtail debate, unless we adopt the legitimately held attitude of the hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills, who said that any attempt to end a debate involves curtailment. Others would argue that the ordinary process of having a measured debate in a suitable time allows people to focus that debate better and that it is not necessary to cut the time that is available.

Mrs. Dunwoody: The way the House organises its debates, including their time, date and place, directly impinges on the quality of those debates and on their meaning. Even in the Labour party, we normally appreciate the connection between the way in which agendas and debates are organised and the effect that that has on the discussion that ensues.

7 Nov 2000 : Column 200

Mrs. Beckett: We have debated, and will undoubtedly continue to debate, whether there is merit in changing the way in which debates are focused to ensure that they cover all the important and substantive issues. Is that more important than not limiting the length of time that is available, which does not provide a structure to the debate?

Mr. Redwood: Will the right hon. Lady give way?

Mrs. Beckett: I apologise to the right hon. Gentleman. I want to bring my remarks to a close. I am anxious to turn to the substance of our debate. I remind Conservative Members, who talk as if these are unprecedented proposals--the words "binding" and "irreversible" have been used on several occasions--that the motion, should we ever reach it, involves Sessional Orders, which would expire if they were not renewed. The order contains an experiment, and no proposals would be binding or irreversible. I refer those Conservative Members who said that our approach is unprecedented to the remarks of another of my distinguished predecessors, Lord Newton of Braintree. He said that

This debate has moved to and fro not for some hours today but for at least 10 years in the House, and probably for much longer. To some extent, I take issue with the hon. Member for South Staffordshire (Sir P. Cormack), whose views I know and respect. There is a world of difference between the issues that we are discussing today and those to which he alluded. This is not the first occasion on which the programming of discussion in the House has been considered--it is probably the 155th occasion. The principles that lie behind the motion raise matters of importance--the Government do not dispute that. That is why we are anxious for those proposals to be discussed. The ideas that underlie our proposals are not new, and the substance and the principle about whether to structure debate or to leave it unstructured are not new; what is new is the detail of the proposals.

Mr. Tyrie: Will the right hon. Lady give way?

Mrs. Beckett: I am sorry. If the hon. Gentleman seeks to intervene later in our debate, I shall certainly give way to him. I have concluded the remarks that I wanted to make, and I am anxious to move on to the substance of our debate.

Mr. Keith Bradley (Treasurer of Her Majesty's Household) rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be now put.

The House proceeded to a Division.

Mr. Hawkins: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wish to protest at the timing of your acceptance of the closure motion moved by the Government Deputy Chief Whip.

7 Nov 2000 : Column 201

I and my hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Mr. Blunt) were present throughout the debate and we were the only two Members to rise regularly as soon as an hon. Member had finished speaking. We had shown our interest by some brief interventions and we had hoped to contribute. I submit that it would have been more appropriate not to accept the closure motion until after our speeches had been made.

Mr. Speaker: Any hon. Member can move, That the Question be now put. Whether to accept the motion is a matter for the discretion of the Chair, and there can be no discussion about that.

The House having divided: Ayes 251, Noes 164.

Division No. 321
[5.59 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Donald (Swansea E)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Ashton, Joe
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Banks, Tony
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Benton, Joe
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Blackman, Liz
Blizzard, Bob
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Browne, Desmond
Burden, Richard
Butler, Mrs Christine
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clwyd, Ann
Coffey, Ms Ann
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cook, Rt Hon Robin (Livingston)
Cooper, Yvette
Corbett, Robin
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom
Cranston, Ross
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Darling, Rt Hon Alistair
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Drown, Ms Julia
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Etherington, Bill
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Foulkes, George
Fyfe, Maria
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Bruce (Walsall S)
Godman, Dr Norman A
Goggins, Paul
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Grogan, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hanson, David
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Heppell, John
Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Hinchliffe, David
Hood, Jimmy
Hope, Phil
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Howells, Dr Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Illsley, Eric
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)
Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kemp, Fraser
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Kingham, Ms Tess
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Llwyd, Elfyn
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Ms Chris
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Mitchell, Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Morley, Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mowlam, Rt Hon Marjorie
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Mrs Diana
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Perham, Ms Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Reed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Ryan, Ms Joan
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Snape, Peter
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Ms Helen
Spellar, John
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Strang, Rt Hon Dr Gavin
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tynan, Bill
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
White, Brian
Wigley, Rt Hon Dafydd
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Clive Betts and
Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe.


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Allan, Richard
Amess, David
Ancram, Rt Hon Michael
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Baldry, Tony
Beggs, Roy
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs Virginia
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom
Brand, Dr Peter
Brazier, Julian
Breed, Colin
Brooke, Rt Hon Peter
Browning, Mrs Angela
Burnett, John
Burns, Simon
Burstow, Paul
Butterfill, John
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chidgey, David
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cotter, Brian
Cran, James
Curry, Rt Hon David
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Day, Stephen
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, Iain
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Flight, Howard
Foster, Don (Bath)
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Fox, Dr Liam
Fraser, Christopher
Gale, Roger
Garnier, Edward
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gibb, Nick
Gill, Christopher
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gorman, Mrs Teresa
Gray, James
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Hague, Rt Hon William
Hammond, Philip
Hancock, Mike
Hawkins, Nick
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Horam, John
Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Hunter, Andrew
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson Smith,
Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, Rt Hon Charles
(Ross Skye & Inverness W)
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lidington, David
Livsey, Richard
Loughton, Tim
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
MacGregor, Rt Hon John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Mates, Michael
Maude, Rt Hon Francis
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Moore, Michael
Norman, Archie
Oaten, Mark
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paterson, Owen
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Prior, David
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Ross, William (E Lond'y)
Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)
Ruffley, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
St Aubyn, Nick
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Shephard, Rt Hon Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Soames, Nicholas
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Townend, John
Trend, Michael
Tyler, Paul
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Wardle, Charles
Waterson, Nigel
Wells, Bowen
Whitney, Sir Raymond
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Willis, Phil
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Eric Forth and
Sir Archie Hamilton.

Question accordingly agreed to.

7 Nov 2000 : Column 204

Main Question put accordingly:--

The House divided: Ayes 251, Noes 168.

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