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      2.   Proceedings in the Committee, any proceedings on consideration and proceedings on Third Reading shall be completed in three days.

      3.—(1)   The following shall apply to proceedings in the Committee.'

2.   In the Table, at the end there shall be inserted—

'ProceedingsTime for conclusion of proceedings
Third day                  
Clauses Nos. 8 to 10, Schedule No. 1, Clause No. 11, Schedule No. 2, Clause No. 12, Schedule No. 3, Clause No. 13, Schedule No. 4, Clauses Nos. 14 and 15, Schedule No. 5, Clause No. 16, Schedule No. 6, Clauses Nos. 17 to 19, any remaining new Clauses relating to Part 2, any new Schedules relating to Part 2, Clauses Nos. 22 and 23, Schedule No. 7, Clauses Nos. 24 to 36 and 38 to 53, Schedule No. 9, Clause No. 54, any remaining new Clauses relating to Part 3, any new Schedules relating to Part 3, Clause No. 55, Schedule No. 10, Clause No. 56, Schedule No. 11, Clauses Nos. 57 to 74, Schedule No. 12, Clauses Nos. 75 to 93 and 96 to 104, any new Clauses relating to Part 4, any new Schedules relating to Part 4, Clause No. 110, Schedule No. 13, Clauses Nos. 111 to 117, Schedule No. 14, Clause No. 118, Schedule No. 15, Clauses Nos. 119 to 121, remaining new Clauses, remaining new Schedules, remaining proceedings on the BillFive hours after the commencement of proceedings on the Bill'

      '4.—(1)   This paragraph applies to any proceedings on consideration and proceedings on Third Reading (together referred to as "remaining proceedings").

      (2)   Remaining proceedings shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion—

            (a)   at the moment of interruption on the third day, or

            (b)   one and a half hours after the commencement of remaining proceedings,

whichever is the later.'

Following the comments made by some hon. Members during the Second Reading debate on the Bill on 17 January, the Government and Opposition have had further discussions through the usual channels and agreed to change the programming of the Bill. The motion will allow the entire Committee stage to take place on the Floor of the House, rather than some of the Bill's constituent parts being debated upstairs in Committee. The third day will now consist of the remaining proceedings in Committee, followed by
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proceedings on consideration and Third Reading. Many hon. Members expressed the view that that was a more appropriate arrangement. They prefer to see this constitutional matter taken through completely on the Floor of the House.

I am happy to compromise and make that change and I hope that we can move on to the debate proper.

4.29 pm

Mr. Oliver Heald (North-East Hertfordshire) (Con): I thank the Minister, as I did the Leader of the House, for agreeing that all stages of this Bill, which is of high importance, should take place on the Floor of the House. I am glad that it has been possible to reach agreement. It is an important convention of the House that goes back to 1945. Its genesis lies in the comments of Herbert Morrison to the Procedure Committee. In those circumstances, I am pleased that the convention will continue and that this important Bill will be debated on the Floor of the House.

Mr. Paul Tyler (North Cornwall) (LD): We, too, welcome the Government's change of heart; it would be churlish not to do so. On both sides of the House, we recognise that the Bill is an important measure and I believe that there is a now a broad sweep of agreement on many of its provisions, but that is not to deny the fact that it is useful, on constitutional matters, to decide the issues on the Floor of the House in line with the convention. I am not a particularly conventional Member and I hope that we can make speedy progress on the Bill. The sooner it reaches the statute book, the better.

4.30 pm

Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire) (Con): I briefly add my thanks as one of the Members who was particularly angry that the Bill was not to be taken on the Floor of the House. I would say to the Minister, in the same spirit of constructive conciliation, that it is a pretty tight timetable—today, tomorrow and on the third day. I hope that the Government will take note of that and, if necessary, introduce a supplementary motion.

4.31 pm

Mr. William Cash (Stone) (Con): Although I am glad that we are taking these proceedings on the Floor of the House, I have to say that the time allotted is absurd, given the depth of the issues involved. I believe that we will end up finding it increasingly difficult to get to the bottom of many of the issues of constitutional supremacy, which many people would like to be buried at the bottom of the sea.

4.32 pm

Mr. Edward Garnier (Harborough) (Con): I am delighted that the Government have granted a third day on the Floor of the House, but I regret the fact that, with a Bill of such importance, only three days have been provided. It is a large Bill and it carries with it huge implications for the future of our country. I hope that the Government will allow further days of debate on the Bill; if we do not do a proper job here, it will have to be considered at greater length in the House of Lords.

Mr. Leslie: I hear what hon. Members are saying. We have moved a great deal on the main principle of the
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Committee stage, which has been widely welcomed. Only after we start the debate and find out how much progress is being made will we be in a position to judge whether the time allotted—always a matter of contention—was adequate for all hon. Members. The broad consensus is, I think, that it will be.

Question put and agreed to.
31 Jan 2005 : Column 592

Orders of the Day

Constitutional Reform Bill [Lords]

1st Allotted Day

(Clauses Nos. 1 to 7, 20, 21, 37, 94, 95 and 105 to 109, Schedule No. 8, any new Clauses amending section 12 of the Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002, and any new Clauses relating to matters connected with the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom as reserved or excepted matters under the Northern Ireland Act 1998).

[Relevant Documents: First Report from the Constitutional Affairs Committee, Session 2003–04, HC 48 I and 48 II, on Judicial appointments and a Supreme Court (court of final appeal), and the Government's response thereto, Cm 6150; and the Third Report, Session 2004–05, HC 275 I and 275 II, on the Constitutional Reform Bill [Lords]: the Government's proposals]

Considered in Committee.

[Sir Alan Haselhurst in the Chair.]

Clause 1

The rule of law

4.33 pm

Mr. William Cash (Stone) (Con): I beg to move amendment No. 364, in clause 1, page 1, line 7, at end add—

'(2)   In this section "the rule of law" means in particular the sovereignty of the Queen in Parliament in making the law and the sovereignty of the Queen's courts in interpreting and applying both that law and the common law.'.

The Chairman of Ways and Means: With this it will be convenient to discuss new clause 8—The rule of law (No. 2)—

'(1)   Together with the sovereignty of Parliament, the rule of law shall continue to be a central principle of our constitution.

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