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5. The Speaker shall put forthwith the Question on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown for the appointment, nomination and quorum of a Committee to draw up Reasons and the appointment of its Chairman.
6.--(1) The Committee shall report before the conclusion of the sitting at which it is appointed.
(2) Proceedings in the Committee shall, if not previously concluded, be brought to a conclusion 30 minutes after their commencement.
(3) For the purpose of bringing any proceedings to a conclusion in accordance with sub-paragraph (2), the Chairman shall--
(a) first put forthwith any Question which has been proposed from the Chair and not yet decided, and
(b) then put forthwith successively Questions on Motions which may be made by a Minister of the Crown for assigning a Reason for disagreeing with the Lords in any of their Amendments.
(4) The proceedings of the Committee shall be reported without any further Question being put.
7.--(1) The following paragraphs apply to--
(a) proceedings at today's sitting on Consideration of Lords Amendments to the Freedom of Information Bill,
(b) proceedings on the allotted day on Consideration of Lords Amendments to the Countryside and Rights of Way Bill,
(c) proceedings on any further message from the Lords on either of the Bills, and
(d) proceedings at today's sitting or on the allotted day on the appointment, nomination and quorum of a Committee to draw up Reasons (and the appointment of its Chairman) and the Report of such a Committee.
8. Standing Order No. 15(1) (Exempted business) shall apply to the proceedings.
9. The proceedings shall not be interrupted under any Standing Order relating to the sittings of the House.
10. No dilatory Motion with respect to, or in the course of, the proceedings shall be made except by a Minister of the Crown; and the Question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith.
11.--(1) If on a day on which any of the proceedings take place a Motion for the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 24 (Adjournment on specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration) would stand over to Seven o'clock--
(a) that Motion stands over until the conclusion of any of the proceedings which are to be brought to a conclusion at or before that time, and
(b) the bringing to a conclusion of any of the proceedings which are to be brought to a conclusion after that time is postponed for a period of time equal to the duration of the proceedings on that Motion.
(2) If a Motion for the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 24 stands over from an earlier day to such a day, the bringing to a conclusion of any of the proceedings on that day is postponed for a period of time equal to the duration of the proceedings on that Motion.
13. In this Order, "allotted day" means any day on which the Countryside and Rights of Way Bill is put down on the main business as first Government Order of the Day.
The House will know that this timetable motion, which was tabled by my right hon. Friends the Deputy Prime Minister and the President of the Council and myself, deals with the Freedom of Information Bill and the Countryside and Rights of Way Bill.
Mr. Straw: I hear muttering from a sedentary position on the Opposition Benches that there is some objection to the motion. Of course that is the Opposition's traditional role, and I do not particularly criticise them for that. However, to save time, I remind Opposition Members that introducing a single guillotine motion to cover two Bills is not unusual. There are plenty of examples--if pressed, I will bring them to the attention of the House--of the previous Administration passing similar motions between 1979 and 1997. [Interruption.] If the right hon. Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) carries on twittering, I shall mention the many occasions on which she and many of her right hon. Friends, including the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth), voted for such timetable motions.
None of us particularly likes having to use timetable motions. Sometimes they are necessary. [Interruption.] It does not lie well in the mouth of any Opposition Member, with the single exception of the hon. Member for Brownhills-Aldridge--
It does not lie well in the mouth of any right hon. or hon. Member who was a Conservative Member of Parliament at any time between 1979 and 1997 to complain about the use of guillotine motions, because they were sometimes used with gay abandon--for example, in 1988-89 and 1989-90.
The Freedom of Information Bill has been the subject of very extensive pre-legislative and legislative scrutiny, including two days of fine debate at the beginning of April, which happily was not guillotined. We are now drawing towards the end of the Session, so it is necessary for the House to have the opportunity to vote on a raft of Government Bills. Of course, the House may take a different view--it is for the House to dispose of matters; it is for the Government to propose them.
There is a difference between any Conservative Government and any Labour Government: Conservative Governments always had a built-in majority in the other place, and they could always rely on that majority to ensure that debates were truncated and that they got their business--that has always been a fact of life, and it continues to this day--whereas Labour Governments do not have a built-in majority in the other place; they have a built-in minority.
Mr. Forth: I am grateful to the Home Secretary for giving way, with his usual courtesy. He seems to have forgotten that the guillotines apply to the House, not to another place, and that it is the procedures here with which we are rightly concerned. Will he dig into his papers and provide some quotations from the speeches that he and his right hon. and hon. Friends made during the 1980s and 1990s on the similar occasions when the previous Government felt obliged to introduce timetable motions? He has made great play of the idea that because the Conservatives introduced such motions, it is all right for him to introduce them. Will he give us the other side of the coin and remind us of the outrage that he and his colleagues felt when confronted with the fact they had only one or two days to consider several hundred amendments to Bills to which I hope he will refer later?
Mr. Straw: I will refer to those Bills if I am tempted to do so. Of course the then Opposition typically voted against guillotine motions. If the right hon. Gentleman is asking me whether I, as an Opposition Back Bencher or Front-Bench spokesman, protested against the Conservative Government's guillotine motions, the answer is yes. However, I draw his attention to the fact that towards the end of our time in opposition, we were serious about being an effective Opposition--[Interruption.] We were so serious that we are now in government. Because this Opposition are not even any good as an Opposition, and still less as an alternative Government, they continue to fail to make any sensible arrangements to secure the proper passage of Bills.