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Mr. Andrew Mitchell: Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I strongly agree with what the hon. Lady has just said. This is an extremely important and topical issue and a matter of great concern to the legal profession and all who care about civil liberties and civil rights. As a result of the draconian programme motion that the Government put before the House last Thursday, we have been deprived of the opportunity to debate these crucial matters. The blame rests squarely on the Government who tabled that programme motion.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: This particular debate is taking place under the rules of the programme motion, which the House itself agreed. It is not a matter for the Chair and the length of the contributions of individual hon. Members is entirely a matter for them.

New Clause 10

Interference with contractual relationships so as to harm animal research organisation

'(1)   A person (A) commits an offence if, with the intention of harming an animal research organisation, he—

(a)   does a relevant act, or

(b)   threatens that he or somebody else will do a relevant act,

7 Feb 2005 : Column 1246

in circumstances in which that act or threat is intended or likely to cause a second person (B) to take any of the steps in subsection (2).

(2)   The steps are—

(a)   not to perform any contractual obligation owed by B to a third person (C) (whether or not such non-performance amounts to a breach of contract);

(b)   to terminate any contract B has with C;

(c)   not to enter into a contract with C.

(3)   For the purposes of this section, a "relevant act" is—

(a)   an act amounting to a criminal offence, or

(b)   a tortious act causing B to suffer loss or damage of any description.

(4)   For the purposes of this section, "contract" includes any other arrangement (and "contractual" is to be read accordingly).

(5)   For the purposes of this section, to "harm" an animal research organisation means—

(a)   to cause the organisation to suffer loss or damage of any description, or

(b)   to prevent or hinder the carrying out by the organisation of any of its activities.

(6)   This section does not apply to any act done wholly or mainly in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute.

(7)   In subsection (6) "trade dispute" has the same meaning as in Part 4 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (c. 52), except that section 218 of that Act shall be read as if—

(a)   it made provision corresponding to section 244(4) of that Act, and

(b)   in subsection (5), the definition of "worker" included any person falling within paragraph (b) of the definition of "worker" in section 244(5).'.—[Caroline Flint.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Caroline Flint: I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: With this we may take the following amendment (b) to new clause 10, after second 'to' insert

Amendment (a) to new clause 10, in line 15, leave out

'loss or damage of any description'

and insert 'significant loss or damage'.

Government new clause 11—Intimidation of persons connected with animal research organisation—

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