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Criminal Justice and Police Bill

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Mr. Simon Hughes: We will happily support the hon. Member for North-East Hertfordshire in pushing those three amendments to a Division. We shall also support amendment No. 131 tabled by the hon. Member for Reigate. The debate has been fairly wide and we took the view from the beginning that the clause needed to be improved considerably. It would merit from being taken away and redrafted because it is too widely drawn. We always live in hope that, given such non-core issues of national party policy, there might be a little flexibility on the part of the Back Benchers of the governing party and that they may be allowed to exercise some personal discretion and be unwhipped, as our electors always call for us to be. A good example would be set if the Whips were less dominant. We are minded to make strong representations later that the clause could benefit from being discussed with people outside as well as inside the Committee.

As for amendment No. 4, I am reassured by the Minister's remarks that he is willing to consider both the guidance option, which was his proposal but less appealing to us, and the regulation option, which was my proposal and more appealing to us.

Mr. Clarke: Following the hon. Gentleman's earlier comments, I was not aware that the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions had conducted a review of the Noise Act 1996. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has written to the DETR about it.

Mr. Hughes: I am grateful to the Minister. Perhaps he will be kind enough to ask his colleague to let us have sight of that correspondence if it is the type of correspondence that a Government who believe in freedom of information will allow us to see. It will be a mini-test of whether interdepartmental correspondence can see the light of day. We live in hope. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment proposed: No. 131, in page 10, line 9, leave out

    ``, or in the vicinity of,''.—[Mr. Blunt.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 7, Noes 11.

Division No. 12]

AYES
Ballard, Jackie
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Gray, Mr. James
Hawkins, Mr. Nick
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Hughes, Mr. Simon
Lyell, Sir Nicholas

NOES
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Clark, Mr. Paul
Clarke, Mr. Charles
Grogan, Mr. John
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lock, Mr. David
McCabe, Mr. Stephen
McDonagh, Siobhain
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendment proposed: No. 36, in page 10, line 9, after ``the'', insert ``immediate''.—[Mr. Heald.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 7, Noes 11.

Division No. 13]

AYES
Ballard, Jackie
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Gray, Mr. James
Hawkins, Mr. Nick
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Hughes, Mr. Simon
Lyell, Sir Nicholas

NOES
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Clark, Mr. Paul
Clarke, Mr. Charles
Grogan, Mr. John
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lock, Mr. David
McCabe, Mr. Stephen
McDonagh, Siobhain
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendment proposed: No. 82, in page 10, line 9, at end insert ``and related to''. —[Mr. Heald.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 7, Noes 11.

Division No. 14]

AYES
Ballard, Jackie
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Gray, Mr. James
Hawkins, Mr. Nick
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Hughes, Mr. Simon
Lyell, Sir Nicholas

NOES
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Clark, Mr. Paul
Clarke, Mr. Charles
Grogan, Mr. John
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lock, Mr. David
McCabe, Mr. Stephen
McDonagh, Siobhain
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry

Question accordingly negatived.

Amendment proposed: No. 84, in page 10, line 15, after ``(c)'', insert

    ``having made a request to the holder of the licence to act reasonably by reducing or ceasing the emission of noise from the premises''.—[Mr. Heald.]

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 7, Noes 11.

Division No. 15]

AYES
Ballard, Jackie
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Gray, Mr. James
Hawkins, Mr. Nick
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Hughes, Mr. Simon
Lyell, Sir Nicholas

NOES
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Clark, Mr. Paul
Clarke, Mr. Charles
Grogan, Mr. John
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lock, Mr. David
McCabe, Mr. Stephen
McDonagh, Siobhain
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry

Question accordingly negatived.

Mr. Hawkins: On a point of order, Mr. Gale. I have two points, both which I hope that you will regard as points of order. I draw your attention and that of the Clerks of the House to an error that my hon. Friends and I believe has crept into the amendment paper, relating to amendments Nos. 18 and 19, to clauses 35 and 37.

In discussion with my hon. Friends this morning, we discovered that, in addition to the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for Maidstone and The Weald (Miss Widdecombe) and my hon. Friend the Member for North Wiltshire (Mr. Gray), my name and that of my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Hertfordshire should also appear. I tabled the amendments, and purely for the sake of completeness, we thought that we should draw the matter to your attention so that that was clear on the amendment paper. We were worried that if our names did not appear, neither my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Hertfordshire nor myself would be able to speak to the amendments. We understood that a similar point arose during consideration of the Hunting Bill, and your counterpart, the Chairman of that Committee, said that as long as the name of a member of the Committee appeared, other hon. Members could speak to the amendment.

My second point of order relates to when, at the last sitting before the short recess, the Minister of State was pressed by my hon. Friend the Member for North-East Hertfordshire. At column 235, on the afternoon of 15 February, when my hon. Friend questioned the Minister on data, evidence and mapping of local authorities, my hon. Friend said:

    ``It would be interesting to know a little more about this. Could the Minister allow us to see some of this information? Can he make it available over the recess?''

The Minister responded:

    ``I would be happy to do that.''—[Official Report, Standing Committee F, 15 February 2001; c. 235.]

As my hon. Friend said, we were all grateful that late yesterday afternoon, on the Members' Board, we finally received the draft guidance from the Minister. However, nothing has come in response to his promise to my hon. Friend at column 235. I thought that we should mention that so that the Minister was aware of it.

The Chairman: On the first point, the hon. Gentleman's information is entirely correct. As long as one of the names on the amendment paper is that of a member of the Committee, any member of the Committee may speak to an amendment once it has been moved. The hon. Gentleman noticed that both amendments to which he refers have been selected, and considerable time will probably be available between now and when we discuss those amendments for him to ensure that other names are added if he wishes to do so.

On his second point, the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the provision of papers and responses offered by a Minister is entirely a matter for the Minister. If the Minister wishes to respond he may of course do so.

Mr. Charles Clarke: I apologise to the Committee for not circulating the response. I had hoped to do so by today. I hope now to be able to do so by the time that we next meet, on Thursday.

Mr. Simon Hughes: On a point of order, Mr. Gale. As we have had two, we might as well have a third now, rather than later. Anticipating business here and downstairs later, on the best intelligence that I have as someone with a departmental interest in the Bill downstairs, I ask you to consider before we break at 7.30 pm or 7 pm whether in the time approaching and immediately after 10 pm—which is scheduled for possible votes downstairs, although we do not know whether they will happen—we might ensure that the Committee does not sit.

Under the timetable motion, provision is made for votes at 10 pm. My intelligence is that it is not yet clear whether such votes are likely to be taken. I think that colleagues would be keen to be present at the beginning of the process to inform themselves about a complex set of votes and it would be helpful to have an agreement not to sit at that time.

The Chairman: My understanding from the usual channels is that the intention is for the Committee to sit from 8.30 pm until 10 pm. That being so, it has always been my custom to suspend the sitting at 7 pm, for the well-being of the officers of the House apart from anything else. We should have a clear hour and a half as a dinner break.

I intend to suspend the Committee, in whatever form it may be, at 7 pm. If that coincides with a Division, it will be a happy circumstance. I shall then suspend the Committee again, as hon. Members would expect, for a Division of the House. If that coincides with 10 o'clock, provided that no hon. Member is on his or her feet, the Government Whip will be able to move the adjournment of the day's sitting.

I hope that that makes the position clear. We shall of course endeavour to accommodate Divisions as best we can, but I am afraid that it is not in my gift to interrupt the Committee's proceedings otherwise to take account of votes, and nor would I wish to do so. The timetable motion on the Floor of the House is one matter and a timetable motion on this Bill is another. It is my happy job to manage the latter rather than the former.

Mr. Charles Clarke: I beg to move amendment No. 113, in page 11, line 1, after `order' insert

    `or any extension of it'.

 
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Prepared 27 February 2001