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Bob Spink (Castle Point): Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the letter from the Minister which states:

How can we be confident of that? I am certainly not. Are not these words from the Government's own mouth a self-indictment? Are they not an acknowledgement that the wording of the Bill is far from perfect at the moment? Should we not be taking more time to discuss the Bill, rather than railroading it through?

Mr. Beith: That letter illustrates the point that I was making earlier, which was that we are in danger of arriving back at the point from which we started, namely that the legislation is not correctly drafted, and that a judge would be unable to construe its purpose from wording so different from the purpose intended. We are getting into the complex territory of Pepper v. Hart, and we should not spend too much time on that this afternoon. Suffice it to say that we cannot rely on a judge interpreting a statute to mean what we meant it to say, if it can clearly be seen not to. That may not be apparent at the initial stages of drafting.

My plea to Labour Members is to recognise the reality of life in Government. Governments get legislation wrong and it is, therefore, important that the legislative process enables mistakes to be spotted, amendments to be made and other relevant issues to be raised. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak made the significant point that the matters on which the Government are launching an appeal this afternoon are those to which the issue of urgency apply. It may be the preference of the

29 Nov 2001 : Column 1150

Government—and, perhaps, of many people in the House—to confine the Bill to one part of the problem, but if it becomes apparent in the course of this appeal that that was ill advised, we shall have made an error by rushing the Bill through without at least considering the inclusion of some of the other issues.

The House has left itself without any process by which to protect the concept of an emergency or of urgency. Most legislative assemblies have some way of distinguishing processes of urgency or emergency. In many cases, they require the agreement of more than one of the parties, or weighted majorities. In some legislatures, the occupant of your office, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and the others who occupy the Chair in the House, have a role in deciding whether a Bill should be certified as appropriate for emergency status. We lack any such procedures. I have given three examples, of which this is one, in which legislation—or parts of legislation—to which no one could reasonably apply the concept of urgency has been brought in under urgency procedures.

Mr. Heald: Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that one of the concerns is that Lord Brennan—who is, after all, a former chairman of the Bar Council and an extremely eminent lawyer—tabled amendments in the other place that were not accepted? His final words in the debate were to the effect that he hoped that the Government would consider the arguments more fully and come up with their own amendments. Of course, none of that has been done.

Mr. Beith: That point is well made and reasonable, and comes from a source who has no partisan motive, only a desire to get the law right.

There are only two ways in which we can now halt this process. One is for the House to defeat this motion, and I appeal to Labour Members who take a close interest in these proceedings to use their votes accordingly and to ignore their pagers. I suspect, however, that more people have been reading their pagers than have been following the proceedings, even on television around the building.

Secondly, the Government have limited means of bringing the proceedings to a halt, because they alone can introduce dilatory motions on the Bill which would alter the way in which we carry on the proceedings from here. But if the Government are not to create further bad precedents, and further increase their reputation for abusing processes designed for emergencies or urgency, they must change the proceedings on this Bill. Never at any stage in our argument today has the Minister adduced substantial reasons to treat this as a matter of urgency. It is not a matter of urgency. It is important, and should be dealt with reasonably expeditiously, but not in a way that prevents us from getting the legislation right.

3.15 pm

Mr. David Amess (Southend, West): There has been just one voice in favour of these shabby proceedings this afternoon—that of the Minister. Having listened to many guillotine debates, I think that these proceedings have been historic. We have listened to hon. Members from all parts of the House express outrage about them. In particular, I commend the speeches by the hon. Members for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Lynne Jones) and for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Mr. Marsden).

29 Nov 2001 : Column 1151

There is no doubt that this is a dreadful Government. The Minister, in trying to justify herself, wrote us all a letter, to which my hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Bob Spink) referred earlier.

Mrs. Anne Campbell (Cambridge): Will the hon. Gentleman accept that there are hon. Members in the House who approve of the motion, but who are not speaking because they want more time to get on to the main business?

Mr. Amess: Oh, for goodness sake. It is a pathetic argument to say that we should not speak on the motion because hon. Members want to get on with the Bill.

In the letter that the Minister sent to hon. Members she gives the impression that she and her colleagues have taken the time to listen to the points made in the House of Lords, so that the Government could reflect on the issues and the democratically elected Members of the House of Commons could consider this important moral measure. Does the Minister honestly think that these shabby proceedings fulfil the intentions set out in that letter?

The Government were given a great deal of expert advice, but they failed to listen to it. Who is to blame for this crisis? None other than this rotten Government. They are absolutely incompetent, and they specialise in rubbishy legislation. They have excelled themselves today in showing how low they are prepared to stoop.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Is the hon. Gentleman giving way?

Hon. Members: He has finished.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: In that case, I will put the question.

Mr. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I wonder whether, perhaps, the Minister had not indicated quite decisively enough that she wished to intervene to deal with the point that I addressed to the Advocate-General? I wonder whether you could establish whether the Minister or the Advocate-General wished to reply.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Had the Minister indicated that she wished to address the House, I would, of course, have called her.

Mr. Heald rose

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Is this on a point of order?

Mr. Heald: Actually, I was going to ask leave of the House to make one or two remarks.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: We have gone past that point now.

Sir Patrick Cormack: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it not a further insult to the House that the Minister has declined to reply to this debate?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: That is not a matter for the Chair.

29 Nov 2001 : Column 1152

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 259, Noes 171.

Division No. 93
[3.19 pm


Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Anderson, Rt Hon Donald
(Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Barnes, Harry
Beckett, Rt Hon Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Stuart
Bennett, Andrew
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Blunkett, Rt Hon David
Borrow, David
Bradley, Rt Hon Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Rt Hon Nicholas
(Newcastle E & Wallsend)
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Casale, Roger
Cawsey, Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clelland, David
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cook, Rt Hon Robin (Livingston)
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom
Crausby, David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Dhanda, Parmjit
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flint, Caroline
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foulkes, George
Galloway, George
Gardiner, Barry
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hanson, David
Havard, Dai
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, Rt Hon Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N)
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, Rt Hon John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Ingram, Rt Hon Adam
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead)
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Joyce, Eric
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kemp, Fraser
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Andrew
Luke, Iain
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDonald, Calum
MacDougall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacShane, Denis
McWilliam, John
Mahmood, Khalid
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Martlew, Eric
Meale, Alan
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Miliband, David
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin (Gt Grimsby)
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moran, Margaret
Morley, Elliot
Morris, Rt Hon Estelle
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
Oaten, Mark
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Organ, Diana
Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Owen, Albert
Pearson, Ian
Perham, Linda
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Plaskitt, James
Pope, Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Purnell, James
Quin, Rt Hon Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Robertson, John
(Glasgow Anniesland)
Roy, Frank
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Shipley, Ms Debra
Simon, Siôn
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Southworth, Helen
Squire, Rachel
Steinberg, Gerry
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr Howard
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Taylor, Rt Hon Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Taylor, Dr Richard (Wyre F)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, Don
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tynan, Bill
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watson, Tom
White, Brian
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Ivor Caplin and
Mr. Tony McNulty.


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Amess, David
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Baker, Norman
Baron, John
Barrett, John
Beggs, Roy
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bellingham, Henry
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom
Brazier, Julian
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Malcolm
Burnett, John
Burns, Simon
Butterfill, John
Cable, Dr Vincent
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Cameron, David
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney
(Chipping Barnet)
Chidgey, David
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth
Collins, Tim
Conway, Derek
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cotter, Brian
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Dobbin, Jim
Dodds, Nigel
Doughty, Sue
Drew, David
Duncan, Alan (Rutland & Melton)
Duncan, Peter (Galloway)
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London)
Flight, Howard
Flook, Adrian
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Fox, Dr Liam
Gale, Roger
Gibb, Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, Rt Hon John
Hammond, Philip
Harris, Dr Evan (Oxford W)
Harvey, Nick
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David
Heathcoat–Amory, Rt Hon David
Hoban, Mark
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Horam, John
Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson, Boris (Henley)
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, Rt Hon Greg (E Yorkshire)
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, Oliver
Liddell–Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Llwyd, Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir Brian
May, Mrs Theresa
Mercer, Patrick
Murrison, Dr Andrew
Norman, Archie
Oaten, Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paisley, Rev Ian
Pollard, Kerry
Price, Adam
Prisk, Mark
Pugh, Dr John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
Rendel, David
Robertson, Angus (Moray)
Robertson, Hugh (Faversham)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Roe, Mrs Marion
Rosindell, Andrew
Ruffley, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Selous, Andrew
Shepherd, Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Keith (Mid–Norfolk)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Soames, Nicholas
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Swire, Hugo
Syms, Robert
Taylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Thurso, John
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Tredinnick, David
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyler, Paul
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Weir, Michael
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Wilkinson, John
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Willis, Phil
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Wishart, Pete
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George
Younger–Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Charles Hendry and
Mr. Laurence Robertson.

Question accordingly agreed to.

29 Nov 2001 : Column 1155


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