Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst) (Con): This is one of those bizarre, virtual reality occasions on which the Minister tells us that the matter has been worked on for so long and that we now have such great detail that we can do nothing other than carry things forward, as wasting all that work would be a tragedy. That is how the Minister set out the matter to us, making the case for this very dubious procedure of carry-over. Immediately afterwards, Member after Member said "Hold on a minute" and suggested that the route should go in a different direction, referred to a capacity problem at Paddington, said that the line should or should not go through their constituency or asked about funding.
7 Apr 2005 : Column 1619

All the careful work that has been done by the thousands of dedicated people to whom the Minister so lovingly referred appears to be not only incomplete, but pathetically misdirected and inconclusive. Why is he trying to con the House into carrying over an incomplete piece of work that has already been in gestation for many years, as we have repeatedly been told, in the expectation that after an election, perhaps regardless of who is returned to Government, it will all suddenly be resolved quickly and expeditiously—something for which Member after Member has pleaded to the House?

I cannot see any reality in that argument at all. That is not unusual for this place—this is a palace of dreams and wishes, as we know—but this is a particularly egregious example of such a debate and occasion. We are all congratulating one another and saying what a wonderful project is involved, but saying almost in the same breath that it is misconstrued and incomplete, and that we have no idea where the funding will come from. On that basis, I should have thought that it would be beneficial if we started all over again. If we did not carry forward this incomplete and rather pathetic piece of work, we could ask the new Parliament—it will, after all, be full of thrusting new Members with exciting new ideas and hopefully many new Ministers as well—to do the job properly. It could take into consideration the points made by the Members present today and perhaps come up with something much more viable and useful. In other words, carry-over would probably be the worst thing to do in this case. A fresh outlook with fresh minds and initiatives would be by far the best.

Mr. Martin Salter (Reading, West) (Lab): Will the right hon. Gentleman give way?

Mr. Forth: I shall give way to the newly arrived Member, who has heard nothing of the debate so far.

Mr. Salter: I thank the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. I have spent an awful lot of time working on
7 Apr 2005 : Column 1620
the Crossrail issue. Is he proposing to divide the House on carrying over the Bill, because it would be very convenient for us if he was?

Mr. Forth: The hon. Gentleman may have put in a lot of work, but not today. We have all been here working for almost an hour, but he has just wandered into the Chamber.

Mr. Oliver Heald (North-East Hertfordshire) (Con): As somebody who was born and brought up in Reading, may I ask my right hon. Friend to join me in recognising that it is the hon. Member for Reading, East (Jane Griffiths), who has been present throughout the debate and who has done a great deal on this issue?

Mr. Forth: Sadly, I have no connections with Reading whatever, and absolutely none with the hon. Member for Reading, West (Mr. Salter), I am very pleased to say.

Rushing into a carry-over on this Bill would probably be completely the wrong thing to do, but I will not be surprised if the House does it anyway.

Question put and agreed to.


7 Apr 2005 : Column 1619

7 Apr 2005 : Column 1621

Points of Order

2.55 pm

Ann Winterton (Congleton) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I seek your advice about the contents of an e-mail sent by Nick Barrett, chief executive of the Ramblers Association, to other staff members, describing the arrangements for leave for the Labour candidate in the Congleton constituency, who is himself an employee of the Ramblers Association. I have just received a copy of the e-mail, in which Nick Barrett, the chief executive, states that Nick Milton, the candidate,

That is all well and good, but the chief executive concludes his e-mail with the following remarks:

While members of the Ramblers Association throughout the United Kingdom, but perhaps particularly in the Congleton constituency, may be interested to hear the views of the chief executive, I believe that two points need to be raised—first, the unwarranted slur on my name, and secondly, the fact that the chief executive of a charity has expressed a political and partisan view in a communication that has been widely circulated.

While it is my intention to refer this matter to the charity commissioners, I seek your advice, Mr. Deputy Speaker, on what action can be taken, even in the dying hours of this Parliament, to prevent such unsavoury
7 Apr 2005 : Column 1622
communications—in this case from the chief executive of the Ramblers Association, acting in violation of the rules applying to charities.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): I thank the hon. Lady for giving me notice that she wished to raise that matter. I am sure that the whole House has heard what she has had to say. She will realise, however, that there is no way in which the Chair has a ruling to make on those matters. She has indicated that there may be possible lines of action open to her. I can only observe that we all have to have very broad shoulders with regard to the names that we are called. No doubt, more will be said during the course of a heated election campaign, but I am sure that she will pursue her own fight with her characteristic vigour.

Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst) (Con): Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Can you confirm that there may be a number of procedural avenues that my hon. Friend can pursue even at this stage? It may well be possible for an early-day motion to be tabled, for example, even if it is not possible for such a thing as an Adjournment debate to be sought. It is particularly unfortunate that this wicked move by someone who is apparently employed by a charity, of all things, should happen at this very moment, probably taking advantage of the fact that little or no parliamentary time is left. My hon. Friend could be urged to see whether any further parliamentary opportunity can be taken even now so that we can put a stop to such wickedness and nonsense.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I am sure that the hon. Member for Congleton (Ann Winterton) is well versed as to what parliamentary procedures may be open to her, but she has received advice from her right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth), who I am sure has equal knowledge of these matters. There are certainly opportunities that she may like to consider taking, even at this late stage of the Session.
7 Apr 2005 : Column 1621

7 Apr 2005 : Column 1623

Gambling Bill

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): Under the Order of the House made on 6 April, any message from the Lords may be considered forthwith without Question put. I have received a message from the Lords. The Lords agree to the Gambling Bill with amendments, to which the Lords desire the agreement of the House.

Lords amendments accordingly considered.

Clause 5

Facilities for Gambling

Lords amendment: No. 1.

3.10 pm

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tessa Jowell): I beg to move, That this House agrees with the Lords in the said amendment.

Next Section IndexHome Page