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Mr. Brady: Will the Minister give way?
Mr. Clarke: No, I will not give way.
I hope that the House will agree that we should extend the rights of Back Benchers to ensure that we have a more informed debate, and for that reason I commend the motion to the House.
Mr. Graham Brady (Altrincham and Sale, West): I had not intended to speak in this debate, but I am forced to do so, as the Minister was not prepared to deal with a brief inquiry that I directed at him. He has spoken very briefly, which, of course, is an improvement on what he originally offered to do; he originally was not going to have the courtesy to reply to the debate. Will he give us some small detail of the Government's timetable for the provisions? That is directly pertinent to the matter that we are debating. If the timetable is to be particularly compressed, there will be additional difficulties in tabling and debating amendments or new schedules.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The point the hon. Gentleman makes is not only repetitious, as it has been made many times during the debate, but outside the strict terms of the motion.
Mr. Brady: I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I do not seek to repeat any point at all; of course, I have not made a speech in the debate.
Before hon. Members decide how to vote in any Division that may be called, it is important that they know the practical implications of the motion. If we allow amendments to be tabled before the completion of Second Reading, the Minister must intimate whether that will be our only opportunity to table amendments or whether we shall have other opportunities to do so and whether there will be a period between the conclusion of Second Reading and the commencement of the other stages.
Mr. Forth: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Can the House do anything to protect the Chair from being harangued by the Government Deputy Chief Whip, who is probably asking for a premature closure?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: It is perfectly in order for any hon. Member to approach the Chair at any time.
Mr. Hogg: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Would you care to help me on one matter? I can, of course, understand the ruling that an hon. Member is out of order, but the word "repetitious" troubles me. Having been a Member for 20 years, it occurs to me that our arguments are repeated many times, and when did that become--
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The right hon. and learned Gentleman must be familiar with Standing Order No. 42.
Mr. Brady: We are all familiar with Standing Order No. 42, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I do not wish to detain the
Mr. Miller: May I ask the hon. Gentleman a straight question? Is he in favour of extending the normal practices of the House for the purposes of this business, or is he in favour of sticking to the normal practices?
Mr. Brady: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for making some very interesting interventions, in one of which he suggested that the Leader of the House had inadvertently misled the House in a statement on Monday. However, I am pressing the Minister on the vital point that we cannot make a rational judgment on the motion unless he is prepared to give us important but simple information on whether the timetable will be tight and compressed, whether there will be a gap between Second Reading and Committee and whether we shall have a longer period to debate--
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The hon. Gentleman is repeating himself, and in my hearing. The fact of the matter is that what the motion seeks to do is quite independent of any other timetable motion, which presumably will be discussed by the House on a future occasion.
Mr. Hogg: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You were good enough refer me to Standing Order No. 42, but might it not help the House if it knew that repetition per se is not objectionable? Repetition is objectionable only if it is tedious.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: That will be a matter for my ruling.
Mr. Brady: The timetable may be outwith the scope of this motion, but my point is simple. My decision on how I cast my vote in any Division on the motion will depend very much on the Minister's response to my question.
Mrs. Browning: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. You were not here at the beginning of the debate, but I am sure that you will have followed what happened. Before the conclusion of this debate, may I please have an answer to the question that I asked initially? Will manuscript amendments be acceptable on all stages of the Bill tomorrow?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I cannot add to the ruling that Mr. Speaker gave a short while ago. It was entirely definitive, and I stand by it.
Mr. Brady: I was about to give way to my hon. Friend the Member for Buckingham (Mr. Bercow).
Mr. Bercow: Does my hon. Friend not agree that, on the question of the tabling of amendments, probably the
Mr. Brady: My hon. Friend makes an important point. More to the point, the Minister does not appear to know whether the Government intend to timetable this business or what timetable will be applied.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The hon. Gentleman is either wilfully or carelessly mishearing my rulings. This motion has nothing to do with the timetabling.
Mr. Brady: My aim was quite the contrary, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Without challenging your ruling, I was simply seeking to conclude my sentence but, at that point, you interrupted my remarks.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The hon. Gentleman should consider his reputation in the House before making such a suggestion. I advise him to desist from continuing with that argument.
Mr. Brady: That is precisely what I was trying to do, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I was attempting to conclude a sentence, to conclude a point and to conclude my remarks. All I want from the Minister is an indication of what the timetable will be, because that will inform my decision.
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The hon. Gentleman will be in serious trouble if he goes on defying the Chair after a ruling has been made. I take it that he has now sat down and concluded his speech.
Sir Nicholas Lyell (North-East Bedfordshire): The common objective of us all must be to try to enact sensible legislation on this fairly narrow point. It is plain that, regardless of the time that there may be between the Bill's different stages, it will be a tight timetable. The Leader of the House tabled this motion to enable amendments to be tabled before Second Reading, which is unusual.
When you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, were not in the Chair--Mr. Speaker was in the Chair--a perfectly logical supplementary question was asked. Will amendments be considered by the Chair--you were not here, but you might have to consider them--in Committee and on Report?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The Chair has a collective memory on these matters and the right hon. and learned Gentleman will have heard me respond to the hon. Member for Tiverton and Honiton (Mrs. Browning), repeating, in effect, Mr. Speaker's ruling on that question. The position is unchanged and the motion before the House in no way affects that speculative situation.
Sir Nicholas Lyell: You called me to order, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I fully understand that, but may I raise a point of order about the collective memory of the Chair? I have been here throughout the debate, so I have a collective--or, at least, an individual--recollection of what was uttered. What came home to me was that Mr. Speaker made it clear that you, in your capacity as
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The right hon. and learned Gentleman is again going over the same ground. Mr. Speaker has given the correct position. Such matters will be considered in due course. This, however, is not the time.
Sir Nicholas Lyell: I shall return to my serious point. Much legislation has been erroneous in this Parliament, not least because time for debate has been unduly truncated. The process of debate--
Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The right hon. and learned Gentleman is again directing his remarks towards the amount of time that is available for discussion. That is well and good, but it is not within the terms of the motion to extend the normal time in which amendments can be tabled. It is a separate matter.