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The President of the Council was asked—

Government Amendments

29. Mr. Graham Allen (Nottingham, North): If he will make a statement on the number of Government amendments made to each Government Bill passed by this House in this Session. [114247]

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The Parliamentary Secretary, Privy Council Office (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): The number of Government amendments made to each Bill is not held centrally, but the information is available from the Official Report, and from the Votes and Proceedings or the Standing Committee proceedings.

Mr. Allen : I was a member of the Standing Committee on the Criminal Justice Bill, which was one of the most excellent Standing Committees on a Bill that I have ever had the privilege to serve on. The Bill is now back before the House yesterday and today, and, unfortunately, about half of it is new to the House and to members of the Standing Committee—[Hon. Members: "Disgraceful!"]—although Opposition Members who are always crying wolf do not do us any favours when there is a genuine problem about parliamentary accountability.

Will my hon. Friend tell the House whether he feels that pre-legislative scrutiny of all Bills will help the House to scrutinise Bills effectively and to reduce the unacceptably high number of Government amendments that are made to all Bills these days?

Mr. Bradshaw: Yes, I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. He will probably know that we have already published four draft Bills this Session; we expect to publish several more in the next few weeks. I am confident that significantly more Bills will have been published in draft this Session than ever before. On my hon. Friend's specific point about the Criminal Justice Bill, I am please that his experience on the Standing Committee was a positive one, and I would remind the House that the Government have given an unprecedented amount of time to the Report stage in the Chamber—

Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst): What?

Mr. Bradshaw: Yes, they have. No previous Bill has had three full six-and-a-half-hour days on Report on the Floor of the House.

Mr. Forth: Today's running order for the Criminal Justice Bill—by the way, it carries the words, "By Order of the Speaker", although that should read, "By Order of the Government", if I may say so, to protect you, Mr. Speaker, and your impartiality—shows, by my calculation, that the Government are allowing the House of Commons two and a half hours to consider 16 new clauses and more than 30 amendments, an hour and a half to consider three new clauses and more than 100 amendments, and a further hour and a half to consider four new clauses, one schedule and one amendment.

How on earth do the Government expect the House to discharge its responsibility for proper scrutiny of legislation when they are imposing such a timetable on our deliberations? Are not the Government yet again trampling gratuitously all over the House of Commons and denying Members of Parliament the opportunity to

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discharge our responsibility to our voters by properly scrutinising legislation? When is the Minister going to do something about it?

Mr. Bradshaw: The right hon. Gentleman's fake outrage might carry more credibility if the Opposition had used the full six and a half hours that we gave them yesterday. They did not; the business ended early.

Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome): I am dumbfounded by that comment from the Minister. The fact remains that nearly 500 amendments and 28 new clauses have been tabled to the Criminal Justice Bill, dealing with the most crucial issues of life and liberty. The Government have effectively introduced a new Criminal Justice Bill on Report, so should there not be a process whereby the Bill is automatically referred back to a Standing Committee to receive proper consideration before going to another place, which, I might remind the Minister, is not elected and therefore does not have the same credentials as this House to examine those essential issues?

Mr. Bradshaw: Many of the changes to that Bill came out of the 32 Standing Committee sittings to which my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Allen) referred. [Interruption.] Yes, they did. Others have been introduced as a result of legal necessity, because of judgments in the courts outside this place. Would the hon. Gentleman like to suggest which other important measures, such as those on getting to grips with the scandal of killer drivers who get off with lenient sentences or the problem of firearms, his party does not want on the statute book?

Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (West Derbyshire): Does the Minister believe that two and a half hours is adequate for talking about life sentencing, road traffic offences and firearms offences? Is it sufficient for the House of Commons? Will he assure us that, if the House of Commons gets that time, the House of Lords will get something similar?

Mr. Bradshaw: The Opposition did not use their full allocation of time yesterday when we were debating the Bill, and the hon. Gentleman's false outrage would be more credible if they had. As I said in answer to an earlier question, no previous Government allowed nearly 20 hours on Report on the Floor of the House for any Bill. This is unprecedented.


The hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, was asked—

Child Care

30. Mr. Bill Wiggin (Leominster): If he will bring forward proposals to increase child care provision in the House of Commons. [114248]

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Sir Archy Kirkwood (on behalf of the House of Commons Commission): The House provides help with child care through a child care voucher scheme for staff of the House, and also makes places available in a subsidised holiday play scheme for children of school age during the summer recess. This is open to children of Members, their staff, and staff of the House. The Administration Committee, however, is reviewing options for the possible extension of child care provision on the parliamentary estate and off site. The Commission expects to receive the Committee's findings before the summer recess.

Mr. Wiggin : I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that reply, but I am curious as to whether the Commission has considered the use of allowances to pay for such child care. Could Members do that?

Sir Archy Kirkwood: I understand that Members can use allowances for child care for members of their staff, but they cannot do so for their own children. If the hon. Gentleman has any other suggestions to make about such matters, it would be helpful for the Administration Committee to have access to his views so that they can be taken into account in the finalisation of the review before the report comes to the Commission.

Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham): What objection is there to the establishment and maintenance of a crèche?

Sir Archy Kirkwood: There are constraints on the House. There is no space available for the proper provision of child care facilities on site or immediately off it. However, phase 2 of our review of space is being undertaken by the House authorities, and I confidently expect that the provision of such accommodation for child care facilities can be taken account of in the review.


31. Sir Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield): What recent representations he has received on the modernisation of the House of Commons. [114249]

I am grateful to be called again, Mr. Speaker. May I—

Mr. Speaker: Order. The Parliamentary Secretary should reply first.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Privy Council Office (Mr. Ben Bradshaw): That is what happens when one gets two bites of the cherry. In the past month, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has received four letters on modernisation of the House of Commons, one of which was from my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody). Modernisation issues have also been raised with my right hon. Friend in informal conversations in the House and elsewhere, including during meetings of the Modernisation Committee, of which the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Sir Nicholas Winterton) is a member.

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Sir Nicholas Winterton : I am grateful for that reply, but bearing in mind the Minister's response to earlier questions relating to the Criminal Justice Bill and the huge number of additional clauses and amendments introduced by the Government, a very good case clearly exists for the House's finding additional time. Is it not sensible that the Modernisation Committee should give early consideration to this matter, to ensure that Parliament can do its proper job of adequately and fully scrutinising legislation that is of critical interest not only

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to this House, but to the people outside? I shall certainly use my good offices as a member of that Committee and as Chairman of the Procedure Committee to ensure that that happens.

Mr. Bradshaw: I am pleased that the hon. Gentleman, who is a distinguished member of the Modernisation Committee, will use his position on it to make that very point.

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