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23 Jan 2003 : Column 473—continued

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. We are not discussing individual clauses or amendments but the programme motion.

Mr. Bercow: I am grateful to you, Madam Deputy Speaker, but the significance of the argument lies in the importance and the number of the proposals that the Government are putting to the House. As you can readily testify, I am being customarily fair-minded about it. I could be extremely hostile to the Bill. No doubt I would be if I had been on the Committee or were going to take part in detailed debate on every aspect of it, but I am making the point that the proposals before us are important. The Government have a mandate, and it is entirely legitimate for them to put forward these proposals.

Dr. John Pugh (Southport): Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Bercow: I will in a moment if the hon. Gentleman will contain himself for a few moments.

What is not legitimate is for the Minister, suffused with the importance of his proposals and with a righteous indignation welling up in him at anyone's daring to contest their content, should object to other right hon. and hon. Members fulfilling their responsibilities. I do not know, and I doubt that the Minister, despite his estimable talents, could possibly know, how many hon. Members present have received representations on these matters, what those representations have been and whether those representations have necessitated right hon. and hon. Members further debating them on Report. This is the gravamen of the argument against what the Government are arrogantly proposing. It is unacceptable so to truncate consideration of these important matters as to allow approximately three hours for seven new clauses and 20 amendments to be considered on Report.

Dr. Pugh: The hon. Gentleman has said three or four times what the Front-Bench spokesman said once. I see little merit in repeating an argument that was put eloquently from the Front Bench about 10 minutes ago.

Mr. Bercow: The hon. Gentleman never disappoints: he is almost invariably wrong. On the ground of statistical probability, it is conceivable at some stage in the unspecified future that on the law of averages—

Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. That may well be the point, but once again I bring the hon. Gentleman back to the motion.

Mr. Bercow: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. I was saying that the hon. Gentleman might one day be right by accident, but not today. I am sorry that he does not think the matter important. My thesis—

Dr. Pugh: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

23 Jan 2003 : Column 474

Mr. Bercow: No. The hon. Gentleman is hoist by his own petard and cannot have it both ways. He says that we are taking too long, then prolongs matters with inconsequential and irrelevant interventions. My concern is that we shall have only some six and a half minutes to consider each new clause and amendment. I am not a qualified mathematician or statistician, but that is a generous assessment: it assumes that there are no Divisions, and that we have a seamless debate on all the groups of amendments. However, votes will be held, as part of the healthy tradition of British democracy, which retains some pride and vitality in its lungs. That means that the debating time will be even shorter.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) has often pointed out—he did so at business questions today—we are again witnessing the triumph of ministerial arrogance over parliamentary propriety. That is unacceptable. It is a derogation of our duty to constituents. It must be steadfastly opposed.

2.31 pm

Mr. Kevan Jones (North Durham): I rise to support the programme motion. I had the privilege of serving on the Standing Committee considering the Bill. There was a lot of filibustering in our debates, including an hour spent on the word "but". The Opposition put forward no substantial alternative to the proposals for regional assemblies, although the Liberal Democrats made some vague attempts. A lot of time was spent on anodyne points. This afternoon, the nearly 32 minutes spent filibustering on this motion will eat into the main debate, because the Tories have nothing to say about regional government. They fear that a proper three-hour debate would expose them on this issue.

Jim Knight: Does my hon. Friend recall that, in the debate on the programme motion in respect of the clauses to be debated in the Chamber, we had the same rigmarole, with Opposition Members arguing against the motion but then not staying to take part in the debate?

Mr. Jones: I do recall that. My constituents in the north-east want this Bill, which they consider to be important. The Conservatives are wasting time, and that will not help tackle some of the problems faced by regions such as the north-east. When a referendum is held, I hope that people remember that the Opposition had no alternatives to propose.

2.33 pm

Mr. Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight): I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to the programme motion, and shall begin by dealing with a couple of the points raised by the hon. Member for North Durham (Mr. Jones). First, I do not believe that even using the time spent on the programme motion would give us enough time to debate adequately all the substantive business set down for this afternoon.

Mr. Kevan Jones: How will the hon. Gentleman justify wasting time this afternoon to my constituents in the north-east, who are keen for the Bill to become law and who have the right to say what happens in their region?

Mr. Turner: I am not sure that it is my duty to justify that to the hon. Gentleman's constituents. My duty is to

23 Jan 2003 : Column 475

represent my constituents. The hon. Gentleman must justify to his constituents the business and decisions of the House, and especially the way in which he votes. I would not dream of treading on his toes by expostulating to his constituents—or to the constituents of any other hon. Member—about the direction in which the House is going.

The House is keen to proceed to the main business, and I shall not detain it any longer. However, many hon. Members not yet present in the Chamber may be aching to contribute, especially in connection with regional boundaries. That applies to those hon. Members who represent parts of the county of Durham that used properly to be part of the north riding of Yorkshire, and to my hon. Friend the Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale (Mr. Collins), who represents people detached by the appalling Heath-Walkerian reforms from North Yorkshire. It applies also to my hon. Friend the Member for Ribble Valley (Mr. Evans), some of whose constituents used to be in North Yorkshire.

I could go on, but I see that that would not be welcome. I am sure that the House takes my point, and I hope that the programme motion will be defeated.

Question put:—

The House divided: Ayes 292, Noes 153.

Division No. 60
[2:36 pm


Adams, Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Anderson, rh Donald (Swansea E)
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Barnes, Harry
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Benn, Hilary
Bennett, Andrew
Best, Harold
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Borrow, David
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, rh Nicholas (Newcastle E Wallsend)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Caborn, rh Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian (Brigg)
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann (Cynon V)
Coaker, Vernon
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Cooper, Yvette
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, hon. Ross
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Davis, rh Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, rh John
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Donohoe, Brian H.
Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Drew, David (Stroud)
Drown, Ms Julia
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Frank (Birkenhead)
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flint, Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, rh Derek
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings & Rye)
Foulkes, rh George
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Galloway, George
Gapes, Mike (Ilford S)
George, rh Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hanson, David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Havard, Dai (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
Healey, John
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Margaret
Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall)
Hope, Phil (Corby)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N & Sefton E)
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hurst, Alan (Braintree)
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead & Highgate)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Eric (Falkirk W)
Kaufman, rh Gerald
Keen, Alan (Feltham)
Keen, Ann (Brentford)
Kelly, Ruth (Bolton W)
Kemp, Fraser
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green & Bow)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom (High Peak)
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Liddell, rh Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham)
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McCartney, rh Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
MacDougall, John
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNulty, Tony
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, rh Peter
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, David (Glasgow Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Martlew, Eric
Meale, Alan (Mansfield)
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Alan
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Moran, Margaret
Morgan, Julie
Morley, Elliot
Morris, rh Estelle
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan (Wansdyke)
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Edward
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Diana
Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Perham, Linda
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter (Burnley)
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris (Gravesham)
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Prescott, rh John
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Purnell, James
Quin, rh Joyce
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd (Portsmouth N)
Raynsford, rh Nick
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Reid, rh Dr. John (Hamilton N & Bellshill)
Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Roy, Frank (Motherwell)
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (City of Chester)
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheridan, Jim
Shipley, Ms Debra
Simon, Siôn (B'ham Erdington)
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, rh Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh John
Squire, Rachel
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark (Alyn)
Taylor, rh Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark (S Derbyshire)
Touhig, Don (Islwyn)
Trickett, Jon
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tynan, Bill (Hamilton S)
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Robert N.
Watson, Tom (W Bromwich E)
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Williams, Betty (Conwy)
Wills, Michael
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike (Batley)
Woolas, Phil
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)

Tellers for the Ayes:

Joan Ryan and
Derek Twigg


Allan, Richard
Ancram, rh Michael
Arbuthnot, rh James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Barker, Gregory
Baron, John (Billericay)
Beggs, Roy (E Antrim)
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom (Carshalton)
Brazier, Julian
Brooke, Mrs Annette L.
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Malcolm
Burns, Simon
Burstow, Paul
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Cameron, David Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Conway, Derek
Cran, James (Beverley)
Curry, rh David
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice & Howden)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Doughty, Sue
Duncan, Alan (Rutland)
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London & Westminster)
Flook, Adrian
Forth, rh Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Fox, Dr. Liam
Francois, Mark
Gale, Roger (N Thanet)
Garnier, Edward
George, Andrew (St. Ives)
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James (N Wilts)
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Hammond, Philip
Hawkins, Nick
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David
Hendry, Charles
Hermon, Lady
Hoban, Mark (Fareham)
Hogg, rh Douglas
Holmes, Paul
Horam, John (Orpington)
Howard, rh Michael
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Jack, rh Michael
Jenkin, Bernard
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, rh Charles (Ross Skye & Inverness)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Greg (E Yorkshire)
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lansley, Andrew
Laws, David (Yeovil)
Lewis, Dr. Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell-Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter (M-Worcs)
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Mackay, rh Andrew
McLoughlin, Patrick
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
May, Mrs Theresa
Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield)
Moore, Michael
Moss, Malcolm
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Norman, Archie
Oaten, Mark (Winchester)
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Price, Adam (E Carmarthen & Dinefwr)
Prisk, Mark (Hertford)
Pugh, Dr. John
Redwood, rh John
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Hugh (Faversham & M-Kent)
Roe, Mrs Marion
Rosindell, Andrew
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Selous, Andrew
Shephard, rh Mrs Gillian
Shepherd, Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns & Kincardine)
Smyth, Rev. Martin (Belfast S)
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob (Castle Point)
Spring, Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Steen, Anthony
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Swire, Hugo (E Devon)
Syms, Robert
Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Dr. Richard (Wyre F)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Thurso, John
Tonge, Dr. Jenny
Tredinnick, David
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Whittingdale, John
Wiggin, Bill
Wilkinson, John
Williams, Roger (Brecon)
Willis, Phil
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Sir Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Noes:

Angela Watkinson and
Mr. Laurence Robertson

Question accordingly agreed to.

23 Jan 2003 : Column 478


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