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28 Nov 2002 : Column 461continued
Recently, we in the House of Commons have been through a so-called modernisation process. Our shift patterns have been changed, and we have a new single control centrethe Government Whips office. We have reduced the opportunities for second jobs and we are
Mr. Cook: I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for inciting bids for a 16 per cent. pay rise. I have consulted the representative of the control centre with me on the Front Bench, and he wishes to discourage any such anticipation on the part of my colleagues.
Like many other Members, I have been offended to see claims that Members of Parliament have had a 40 per cent. pay increase. That may have come as something of a surprise to them. For the record, and for the avoidance of doubt, since the 1997 election, the first four years showed an average increase in MPs' pay of 3 per cent. In 2001 and again in 2002 we have had increases of around 5 per cent., which were, of course, the product of precisely the kind of independent review that is being resisted by the Fire Brigades Union. I hope that that will restore some balance to some of the imbalanced reports that we have seen.
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving me this opportunity to explain to him the principle of collective responsibility, which is the basis on which the Secretary of State for Wales and the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs work in total harmony. It is a principle that may have escaped the
Mr. Cook: The Deputy Prime Minister speaks, as always, with great wisdom on these matters. I do not resile at all from what he said on that point. Indeed, if hon. Members consult Hansard about our debate on the change of hours, I made the very point that those who choose to spend their morning working on other matters should not dictate the hours for those in the House who are full-time professional Members of Parliament. The balance of the House has changed during my membership of it. The majority of Members are full-time Members of Parliament who are here on the precincts in the morning, and that certainly includes those on the Labour Benches. Of course we have no proposal to ban those who carry out other work. It is a matter for them and also for their constituents, who will no doubt bear it in mind.
Mr. Paul Tyler (North Cornwall): The Leader of the House has, on many occasions since he took up his present post, emphasised the need for better scrutiny of the Government's legislation and has said that better scrutiny makes for better government. Can I draw his attention to the fact that the Criminal Justice Bill, which was published a week ago, with 293 pages, 273 clauses and 26 schedules, still has no explanatory notes? Members of Parliament who seek to get to grips with this controversial and complicated Bill are receiving no help whatever. Since it is not apparently to be the subject of any pre-legislative scrutiny, does the right hon. Gentleman think that this is a good example of what he has been promoting? Does he not think that Ministers should be told firmly that they are not to publish Bills until the explanatory notes are available?
I draw the attention of the Leader of the House to the fact that, despite the useful change to ensure that written ministerial statements are listed properly instead of being hidden in the charade of planted questions, of the 22 listed in today's Order Paper only 18 were available in the Library immediately preceding business questions. I know that he understands that the purpose of the changeas the Modernisation Committee pointed outwas to ensure that all Members of the House, not just those who planted questions, were made aware of what was intended in the written statements. Will he please examine the matter again?
I understand that yesterday there was a written statement on wind power policy, which was accompanied by a useful briefing document. However, sufficient supplies of that document were not available yesterday for all Members to be able to read it. That completely undermines the proposals made by the right hon. Gentleman and his Committee, so will he look into that?
I am aware of the difficulties in providing an explanatory memorandum for the Criminal Justice Bill and I have expressed my concern that it should be made available to Members at the earliest stage. I am advised that the text will be supplied today to the Clerk of Legislation in the Public Bill Office who is responsible for ordering it to be printed and laid before the House, and it will be available from tomorrow. However, I take the hon. Gentleman's point. It should have been made available sooner.
I felt that the hon. Gentleman slightly forced his point when he said that only 18 of the 22 statements were available. To put it the other way around, it means that when he inquiredthe situation may have changed since thenonly four of the 22 were not available. The House should keep a sense of perspective. As I have said before, we aim to get all the written statements in by 12.30, but in the old days of planted questions, the planted answers would have been available only from 12.30 and many of them would not have been produced until long after that. We should not regard the change as a step backwards; on the contrary, it is very much a step forward in terms of transparency and ease of access and identification in Hansardwitness the way in which Members are now able to tease me on the point.