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Mr. Tyler: I stand to be corrected but the order simply says that there has to be a motion for each carry-over. That does not mean that there will not be any more motions between now and the end of the Session.
Mr. Tyler: I accept the point. Strictly speaking, the hon. Gentleman is right. Pre-legislative scrutiny implies a draft Bill coming before a Committee and then going through the normal legislative process.
Mr. Tyler: The reason that I am so concerned that we look at the principles is that it is the first time that this particular procedure has been followed. It is extremely important to get it right. I am grateful to the Leader of the House for endorsing my interpretation.
As I have said, I hope that my hon. Friend the Member for Ludlow will catch the eye of the occupant of the Chair in the subsequent debate to deal with details of the Bill. I and my colleagues believe that there is an opportunity and a need for carry-over in certain circumstances to avoid the confusion that we have often had when there has been a great bunch-up of legislation at the end of the sessional programme. We believe that there are great opportunities for developing consensus across the House on the handling of our business. That will benefit not only hon. Members but those whom we represent, who are clearly looking for a better product than we have been able to produce in recent years. However, we require full consent and endorsement, and full implementation not just of the letter of the recommendations put to the House on 29 October but of the spirit.
As I say, I hope that the Leader of the House will revisit the full report of the Modernisation Committee and the full assurances given by his predecessor to the House on 29 October, not only so that we can have positive assurances about what the Bill will do, and what will be done in the coming Session to improve its evident inadequacies, but so that we can have cross-party agreement about the way in which our business is handled in the House. There is much room for improvement.
Sir Paul Beresford (Mole Valley): When the Bill disappeared off the face of the earth, or at least I thought that it had, there was considerable relief. I thought that finally, despite the Minister's protestations, he had bowed to the people sitting behind him. The Bill was a mistake. Sadly, it has reappeared today. My second, hopeful choice is that there will be major changes to the Bill, taking some notice of the opposition: I mean not just the Opposition in the House but that outside. However, it does not sound as if that will be the story. It looks as though new bits will be added and that a complex and difficult Bill will be made several times worse.
What perhaps intrigued me most was that, when the Select Committee was looking at the Bill during the inquiry, one morning, the planning Minister from the Welsh Assembly arrived and made it clear that, from her point of view, essentially, the planning procedures as they stood worked. A few minor changes around the edges here and there were mentioned but a total shake-up was not called for. After that lady finished speaking to the Select Committee, the Minister from the other place spoke. He was typically dramatic. Anyone who knows him would anticipate that from him. There was much arm waving. Adjectives were used heavily. He said that the Bill was going to sweep away all before it.
Many of us had anticipated that, because we had seen that Minister in the Back-Bench local government committee. He told those interested, who included many ex-planning Ministers, that the Bill was the best thing since sliced bread, it was going to rejuvenate everything and that he understood planning now because he had been planning Minister for six weeks. At the very best, there were wry smiles and many wishes of good luck. When the Bill was introduced, an awful situation was landed upon us. My reason for opposing the motion is that there is an opportunity for the Bill to disappear for a total rethink and for Ministers to recognise that dogmatically to push ahead with it is to go against the clear thinking and reaction of local government, which will have to implement it.
Local government planners are dismayed. The House Builders Federation and the builders themselves are dismayed. The Council for the Protection of Rural England is dismayed. Quietly, many of the Minister's Back Benchers are dismayed. Ministers in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister have been notoriously bent on centralisation. Similar warnings were given on the best value Bill, the Local Government Bill, the funding formula and other measures but they have been ignored. Interestingly, if one looks at those previous Bills, many of the predictions are slowly being recognised by Ministers. Those of us who are protesting today and who will vote against the motion are asking Ministers to recognise that they have made a mistake, that there is some genuine and thoughtful opposition and to take the opportunity to forget the Bill and to come back again with something infinitely more sensible that will speed up planning procedures rather than delay them.
Sir Sydney Chapman (Chipping Barnet): I can, I hope, be reasonably brief because much of what I was going to say has been said by my hon. Friends the Members for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown) and for Mole Valley (Sir Paul Beresford). Certain facts about the Bill are beyond dispute. In Committee, we had only 12 short sittings. A
In case there is any misunderstanding, I have been an advocate of every Bill being timetabled ever since I first came to the House in 1970. My quarrel with the Government is that, with the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill, as with so many others they have introduced, there has been totally inadequate time to consider the provisions in Committee. The Bill is important as well as controversial. During the all too short Committee stage, the Government indicated that they had second thoughts and would look again at certain important issues.
I want to make my point by asking some short, direct questions, and when the Minister sums up, I hope that he can give the House the answers. If the Bill is to be recommitted, will it be possible to consider all the provisions? If not, will not only the new provisions introduced, but the 66 clauses that were not adequately discussed
Sir Sydney Chapman: I beg both your pardon and the House's pardon, Madam Deputy Speaker; perhaps I got a little confused by the three separate motions that we are considering this afternoon. However, the Government are clearly going to add provisions to the Bill, and I want to know whether they are going to change any of the existing ones in the light of the discussions that have taken place.
The best course of action that the Government should take, and indeed could take, is to withdraw the current Bill and publish a draft Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny by either the Select Committee or even a Special Standing Committee. Given that there are probably only eight or nine weeks of this Session to go, they should introduce the revised Bill in the new Session, subject to what is said about the draft version. I am sure that that would be the best way to proceed on what is a very important and controversial Bill.