Previous SectionIndexHome Page

5.21 pm

Mr. Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills): Things have come to an extraordinary pass when I am the only one who is going to compliment the Secretary of State on moving this motion. The House has reduced itself to such an extent that the Government do not, as a rule, even trouble the House with a Secretary of State in command of a Department giving the reasons why they should truncate debate. Having heard his inadequate explanation, however, I well understand why many Secretaries of State do not advance such arguments. He has given no real explanation as to why there is such a supernatural necessity to deal with this matter within the terms of this extraordinary guillotine motion, which truncates debate in as reckless a manner as any that we have seen under this Government.

The Secretary of State suggested that he was bringing to an end expense for parties and for individuals, but he is already making provision in the Bill to ensure that such expenses are met. So that is not a reason for the urgency. We know that the Government, who operate the majoritarian principle with such ruthlessness, will be assured of securing their business. Some sophists have tried to distinguish between a timetable and what we in the House have always known colloquially as a guillotine. There is no attempt at serious timetabling here. The Government have not sought consultation, or asked the participating parties for their views on this matter. There has been no endeavour whatever to suggest that this is a timetable motion. It is simply, in the oldest expression of the House, a guillotine.

Mr. Deputy Speaker, you very kindly submitted to the Modernisation Committee a memorandum on the operation of timetabling and the use of the guillotine, which was published in the report on the proceedings of that Committee. One of your objections—I will give you the reference if you wish, Sir—reflected something that many of us on both sides of the House fear, namely the exclusion of Back Benchers from the debate. Every amendment on the Order Paper, with the exception of amendment No. 2, tabled in the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr. Duncan Smith), has been tabled in the names of Back Benchers. It is the simplest thing for a Government with a great majority to determine that the matter in hand shall be dismissed without regard to the calibrations which individual elected Members of the United Kingdom Parliament may wish to raise in respect of part of their country and which deeply affect those they represent. That is the most profound statement of why we are here, and we have made it time and again.

I do not think for one moment that the Secretary of State will relent on timetables or whatever, as the Government march to another drum. In fact, his audacity is such as to commend the fact that, due to necessity, unelected people elsewhere, who are now mostly appointed, will have two days to discuss the measure. That puts the matter in perspective.

Mr. Bercow: Further to the speech of our hon. Friend the Member for Worthing, West (Peter Bottomley), does my hon. Friend agree that even if the Government were not prepared to recommend to the House a reconsidered motion allowing for debate until midnight,

12 May 2003 : Column 57

there is no good reason whatever why full consideration of the measure should not take precedence over this Thursday's proposed debate on a motion for the Adjournment of the House on developing a national skills strategy—an important matter, but palpably not urgent?

Mr. Shepherd: I have experience of guillotine motions and debates that take place under them, and I honestly have no idea how long it would take to debate the measure sensibly and within terms, as I understand them from the amendments. I do not know whether we would finish by 10 o'clock, but I am interested to note that, often, when I have opposed a guillotine motion on the basis that a matter should be allowed its time, the debate has dried up within the time allotted.

We are talking not about the measurement of time, but about the principle as to whether serious Members of Parliament should be allowed the flow and the proper time in respect of passing legislation. That is the profound matter of principle involved when we discuss such a guillotine motion. Having read the amendments—some of which I support—my guess is that the matter would perhaps have been disposed of in the time ordinarily available for the business of the House. Of course, two statements have altered the tempo and timing of the day.

My last point involves not a discussion of your memorandum, Mr. Deputy Speaker, but a reflection on the fact that we have come to a serious pass when leaders of great parties—for instance, the Ulster Unionist party—say, "We accept that we are working under such a burden as this guillotine motion. Accepting that, and knowing that the matter will be dealt with in the House of Lords or wherever else, we would rather get on and will not vote against." Surely that relates to as profound a principle that secures and supports the rights of the Ulster Unionists as any I know in the House.

In the Division, I hope that the Ulster Unionists will join Conservative Front Benchers and all those good Members of the House who stand up for the principle of freedom of speech on parliamentary business.

5.29 pm

Mr. Kevin McNamara (Hull, North): I had not intended to speak, but the comments of the hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd) cannot be allowed to pass. I well remember a Conservative Government taking through the House in a day a manuscript Bill that sought to justify all the actions of the British Army in Northern Ireland from the outbreak of the troubles until 1971. The Chair accepted no amendments, bar one, which would have allowed us to look at it again after six months. Only 15 Members voted for it, and not one Tory Member was there to fight for Parliament's right to consider every single matter.

Having said that, I shall vote against the motion, because I think that it is wrong. It little behoves the Tory party in particular to be arguing this case, and it little behoves the Ulster Unionists to be arguing that we should not vote against the motion. We know that all these proceedings favour the position of the Ulster Unionists, and that that is why we are here in the first place.

12 May 2003 : Column 58

The House divided: Ayes 274, Noes 175.

Division No. 182
[5:30 pm


Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham
Anderson, rh Donald (Swansea E)
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Barron, rh Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Bell, Stuart
Benn, Hilary
Benton, Joe (Bootle)
Berry, Roger
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Bradley, rh Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, rh Nicholas (Newcastle E Wallsend)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Bryant, Chris
Burden, Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, Dr. Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann (Cynon V)
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cooper, Yvette
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Dalyell, Tam
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Davies, rh Denzil (Llanelli)
Davis, rh Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, rh John
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Brian H.
Doran, Frank
Drew, David (Stroud)
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff (Barnsley E)
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Frank (Birkenhead)
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike (Ilford S)
Gardiner, Barry
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hain, rh Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hanson, David
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Havard, Dai (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Hinchliffe, David
Hope, Phil (Corby)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, George (Knowsley N & Sefton E)
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Hurst, Alan (Braintree)
Hutton, rh John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead & Highgate)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Johnson, Alan (Hull W)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Kaufman, rh Gerald
Keen, Alan (Feltham)
Keen, Ann (Brentford)
Kemp, Fraser
Khabra, Piara S.
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green & Bow)
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom (High Peak)
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Liddell, rh Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham)
Luke, Iain (Dundee E)
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McCartney, rh Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDonald, Calum
MacDougall, John
McFall, John
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, Tony
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, rh Peter
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Martlew, Eric
Miliband, David
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr. Lewis
Morley, Elliot
Morris, rh Estelle
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Murphy, rh Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan (Wansdyke)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Diana
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Perham, Linda
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter (Burnley)
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris (Gravesham)
Pope, Greg (Hyndburn)
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quinn, Lawrie
Rapson, Syd (Portsmouth N)
Raynsford, rh Nick
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Reid, rh Dr. John (Hamilton N & Bellshill)
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Roy, Frank (Motherwell)
Ruane, Chris
Ryan, Joan (Enfield N)
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Singh, Marsha
Smith, rh Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Straw, rh Jack
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark (Alyn)
Taylor, Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Tipping, Paddy
Touhig, Don (Islwyn)
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton Kemptown)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Tynan, Bill (Hamilton S)
Vaz, Keith (Leicester E)
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Claire
Wareing, Robert N.
Watson, Tom (W Bromwich E)
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Alan (Swansea W)
Williams, Betty (Conwy)
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike (Batley)
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Ivor Caplin and
Gillian Merron


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Allan, Richard
Ancram, rh Michael
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, John (Billericay)
Barrett, John
Beggs, Roy (E Antrim)
Bellingham, Henry
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, rh Virginia (SW Surrey)
Brady, Graham
Breed, Colin
Browning, Mrs Angela
Burns, Simon
Burnside, David
Burstow, Paul
Butterfill, John
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Cameron, David
Campbell, Gregory (E Lond'y)
Campbell, rh Menzies (NE Fife)
Carmichael, Alistair
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clarke, rh Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Conway, Derek
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cotter, Brian
Curry, rh David
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham & Stamford)
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice & Howden)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Dodds, Nigel
Donaldson, Jeffrey M.
Duncan, Alan (Rutland)
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Fabricant, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London & Westminster)
Flook, Adrian
Forth, rh Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Fox, Dr. Liam
Gale, Roger (N Thanet)
Gibb, Nick (Bognor Regis)
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Gray, James (N Wilts)
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Grieve, Dominic
Hague, rh William
Hammond, Philip
Harris, Dr. Evan (Oxford W & Abingdon)
Harvey, Nick
Hawkins, Nick
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh David
Hendry, Charles
Hermon, Lady
Hoban, Mark (Fareham)
Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall)
Holmes, Paul
Horam, John (Orpington)
Howard, rh Michael
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, rh Michael
Jenkin, Bernard
Keetch, Paul
Kennedy, rh Charles (Ross Skye & Inverness)
Key, Robert (Salisbury)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lansley, Andrew
Laws, David (Yeovil)
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, rh Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell-Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Lilley, rh Peter
Llwyd, Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter (M-Worcs)
McGrady, Eddie
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Mackay, rh Andrew
Mackinlay, Andrew
Maclean, rh David
McLoughlin, Patrick
McNamara, Kevin
Malins, Humfrey
Mallon, Seamus
Maples, John
Maude, rh Francis
Mawhinney, rh Sir Brian
Mercer, Patrick
Moss, Malcolm
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Oaten, Mark (Winchester)
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paisley, Rev. Ian
Portillo, rh Michael
Price, Adam (E Carmarthen & Dinefwr)
Prisk, Mark (Hertford)
Redwood, rh John
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Robinson, Mrs Iris (Strangford)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Roe, Mrs Marion
Rosindell, Andrew
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Selous, Andrew
Shepherd, Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Keith (M-Norfolk)
Smyth, Rev. Martin (Belfast S)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spring, Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Swire, Hugo (E Devon)
Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Thurso, John
Trend, Michael
Trimble, rh David
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyrie, Andrew
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, David
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Willis, Phil
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Sir Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Wishart, Pete
Yeo, Tim (S Suffolk)
Young, rh Sir George

Tellers for the Noes:

Hugh Robertson and
Mr. Mark Francois

Question accordingly agreed to.

12 May 2003 : Column 61


12 May 2003 : Column 62

12 May 2003 : Column 63

Next Section

IndexHome Page