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1.17 pm

Mr. Crispin Blunt (Reigate) (Con): I entirely agree with the hon. Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart). On any reasonable assessment of the House’s consideration of the Bill, the arguments made particularly well by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Harborough (Mr. Garnier) when he set out the case against the programme motion are overwhelming. It is almost certain that the hon. Lady’s amendment will not be reached for debate. It would be a great surprise if it were.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd) said, on 27 June we were promised a new beginning for the House, which was to be treated with respect. If the Government intend to insist on the disgraceful programme motion and their disgraceful treatment of the House of Commons, will the Prime Minister at least come to the House, less than an hour after he was here to answer questions on his own account, and vote for the motion?

9 Jan 2008 : Column 318
1.18 pm

Mr. Roger Gale (North Thanet) (Con): When the Minister moved the motion, he suggested that the Government had to terminate their business today in order to get such an important Bill through. All the arguments that have been deployed suggest that the Bill is a mess, that it has been and will further be severely amended, and that it is being railroaded through.

When the Minister responds, will he deal with this question? Tomorrow’s business in the House is a debate on the Adjournment. There is no vote. It would have been perfectly possible to reschedule that important debate in order to debate the Bill tomorrow. It would have been equally possible to suspend the 7 o’clock rule, as we shall in fact do, and to sit, if necessary, later into the night in order to debate these matters properly. Why are the Government not prepared to do that?

1.18 pm

Mr. Nick Hurd (Ruislip-Northwood) (Con): I, too, wish to place on record my extreme disquiet about the programme motion. All the other speakers have been experienced Members of the House, but I speak as someone who was elected only at the last election. I came to this place to play whatever part I could in effective scrutiny of legislation, to make sure that laws came out of this place as good as they could be. I find this process utterly demoralising, and a disgrace. When the Minister winds up, will he tell us what possible reason there is for not suspending the increasingly irrelevant gimmick of a topical debate tomorrow to make room for a proper debate on some of the measures before the House?

1.19 pm

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North) (Lab): As my hon. Friend the Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart) said, all Governments have programme motions, and there is nothing unique about this one. We saw that when we were in opposition. Usually, rightly or wrongly, I vote for programme motions, but I have the greatest hesitation in doing so today. The debate on industrial action by prison officers must end at 2.43, and whatever view one takes on whether the Government’s proposal should be pursued, surely there should be more time. If there is a Division on the programme motion, there will be less than one hour to debate that important issue. The Government are wrong on this matter. There are many other important issues, as my hon. Friend and others have mentioned, and not to provide anywhere near adequate time to debate them shows a lack of sensitivity towards the House of Commons. For that reason, I will not be able to support the programme motion.

1.20 pm

Mr. Oliver Heald (North-East Hertfordshire) (Con): I add my voice to those that have already been raised against the programme motion. It is particularly important on Report that all hon. Members have an opportunity to debate some of the detail of the Bill, and—

Mr. Speaker: Order. I know that the hon. Member does not mean to be discourteous, but I have already prevented an hon. Member from entering the debate
9 Jan 2008 : Column 319
because she was not here for the opening speeches, and it has been brought to my attention that that is also the case with the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Heald: I apologise.

1.21 pm

Mark Durkan (Foyle) (SDLP): I was here at the start of the debate, Mr. Speaker, and I simply wish to make the brief point that, as legislators, we will be voting ourselves into disrepute if we vote for this programme motion. Whatever the requirements and pressures of government, we as legislators are charged specifically with care and consideration for the law of the land. The Bill contains wide-ranging and deep-reaching changes to the criminal law that affects so many aspects of individual life and community and national life. Under the programme motion, new clauses and amendments will be microwaved on to the statute book, undebated, untested and unread by many hon. Members, and that is a democratic scandal. When many parties are competing as to who will tell people who are not working that they must work, we as a democratically elected Chamber should not be shirking our work and leaving it to unelected people in another place to give more care and consideration to what goes into the law of the land. We as legislators should pass only that which we, according to our conscience and consideration, deem fit to be in the law of the land. More consideration and care has been given to who stays in various celebrity television reality shows than hon. Members are prepared to give to what should be in the law of the land. I appeal to hon. Members to vote not according to party but as conscientious legislators, and to reject this programme motion.

1.23 pm

Mr. Hanson: With the leave of the House, Mr. Speaker, I shall respond to the debate. I said at the start that I understood that there would be concerns on the part of the official Opposition and other hon. Members about the nature of the programme motion, but I also said that I agreed wholeheartedly with my right hon. Friends the Lord Chancellor and the Chief Whip that every effort has been made to give sufficient time today to debate these matters. We will continue beyond the normal time of interruption, to 8.45.

I have been in the House only 16 years, which is not as long as some hon. Members who have spoken, but I can recall five years of opposition with guillotine motions from the Conservative Government, and there has been no discussion by the Conservative party about repealing the ability to table programme motions. Any Conservative Government, if there ever were one in the future, would have the same regard to getting legislation through this House and the other place within time, as we seek to do today. We have had 47 hours in Committee, when we sat late into the night, and the House has eight hours today for consideration—

Mr. Shepherd: This is a question not of programme motions but of rationality. Everyone who has spoken on the matter has criticised the rationality of the process of dealing with the matter before us today. The
9 Jan 2008 : Column 320
Minister referred to the Chief Whip, who is not present, and the lord high panjandrum, but neither has spoken on this matter and we know nothing about their arrangements; that is the essence of the indignation and anger that some of us feel, particularly after all the promises made by the new Prime Minister. It is a question of trust.

Mr. Hanson: As has been said, the hon. Gentleman makes the same speech on such matters on every occasion—occasionally with some justification. But we had 47 hours in Committee and we will have eight hours today. We have had trailed before the House in statements by my right hon. Friend the Lord Chancellor the measures that we are bringing forward today on the Prison Service, on imprisonment for public protection and on the Carter reforms. On Monday, my right hon. Friend made a statement to the House giving hon. Members an opportunity to comment—unheard of in normal practice.

Mr. Garnier: I do not want the right hon. Gentleman to lose his rag, because he contained himself admirably in Committee. As I said, we had a happy Committee, although we had a very unhappy Bill to deal with. But it will not do for him to pray in aid the amount of time that we spent in Committee, because we were dealing with matters that are completely outside the ambit of today’s debate. Regardless of the merits of the measure on prison officers’ right to strike, we are debating today a wholly new addition to the Bill. There are hundreds of new clauses and amendments, and if he cannot get that into his head we are in trouble.

Mr. Speaker: Order. Interventions should be brief.

Mr. Hanson: On Monday my right hon. Friend the Lord Chancellor, in an unprecedented way, made a statement to the House telling hon. Members that he was introducing the clauses that are before us today. We have an opportunity today to debate those clauses and the points brought before the House, and I repeat that we had 47 hours in Committee, with late nights—which as the hon. and learned Member for Harborough said, it was a very friendly Committee, and—

Mr. Hurd: Did the right hon. Gentleman, or the Lord High Chancellor, ask for more time than the Chief Whip has given?

Mr. Hanson: These matters are for discussion and agreement, and the Chief Whip, my right hon. Friend the Member for Ashfield (Mr. Hoon), and my right hon. Friend the Lord High Chancellor, and I, as the Minister responsible, are content with the motion before the House today. If we were not content, I would not be standing at the Dispatch Box proposing that motion.

The question before the House today is whether it supports the motion. I contend that we have had considerable time in Committee, and we have today opportunities to debate the key issues: indeed, we have until 8.45 to complete our proceedings on the Bill. I commend the motion to the House.

Question put:—

The House proceeded to a Division.

9 Jan 2008 : Column 321

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Michael Lord): I ask the Serjeant at Arms to investigate the delay in the Aye Lobby.

The House having divided: Ayes 279, Noes 224.
Division No. 038]
[1.27 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Anderson, Janet
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Balls, rh Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burnham, rh Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, Mr. Liam
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Caton, Mr. Martin
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, rh Yvette
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Darling, rh Mr. Alistair
David, Mr. Wayne
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Goggins, Paul
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Patrick
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Havard, Mr. Dai
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay

Hughes, rh Beverley
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Ingram, rh Mr. Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kennedy, rh Jane
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall, Mr. David
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Meale, Mr. Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Milburn, rh Mr. Alan
Miliband, rh David
Miliband, rh Edward
Miller, Andrew
Moffat, Anne
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Morley, rh Mr. Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, Mr. George
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
Olner, Mr. Bill
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, rh James
Rammell, Bill
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Roy, Mr. Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Salter, Martin
Seabeck, Alison
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Snelgrove, Anne
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan

Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, Mr. Michael
Wilson, Phil
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Woodward, rh Mr. Shaun
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Bob Blizzard and
Steve McCabe

Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Amess, Mr. David
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, Mr. John
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Beresford, Sir Paul
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Bottomley, Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brake, Tom
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brokenshire, James
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Browning, Angela
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Alistair
Burt, Lorely
Butterfill, Sir John
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Cameron, rh Mr. David
Campbell, Mr. Gregory
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Cash, Mr. William
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clappison, Mr. James
Clark, Greg
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Conway, Derek
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Curry, rh Mr. David
Davey, Mr. Edward
Davies, Mr. Dai
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice and Howden)
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dodds, Mr. Nigel
Donaldson, rh Mr. Jeffrey M.
Duddridge, James
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Durkan, Mark
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Foster, Mr. Don
Fox, Dr. Liam
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Mr. Christopher
Gale, Mr. Roger
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
George, Andrew
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Greenway, Mr. John
Gummer, rh Mr. John
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hammond, Stephen
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harvey, Nick
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Heath, Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, Nick
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holmes, Paul
Hosie, Stewart
Howard, rh Mr. Michael
Howarth, David
Huhne, Chris
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hunter, Mark
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart

Jones, Mr. David
Jones, Lynne
Kawczynski, Daniel
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Kramer, Susan
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Maclean, rh David
Mactaggart, Fiona
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Maples, Mr. John
Mates, rh Mr. Michael
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McCrea, Dr. William
McDonnell, Dr. Alasdair
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Mercer, Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Moore, Mr. Michael
Mulholland, Greg
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Oaten, Mr. Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Paice, Mr. James
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rennie, Willie
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Angus
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Rogerson, Dan
Rowen, Paul
Ruffley, Mr. David
Russell, Bob
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, David
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Smith, Sir Robert
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs. Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swinson, Jo
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Mr. Ian
Taylor, Matthew
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Tredinnick, David
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Viggers, Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Walter, Mr. Robert
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve
Weir, Mr. Mike
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willis, Mr. Phil
Willott, Jenny
Wilshire, Mr. David
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Wilson, Sammy
Winterton, Ann
Wright, Jeremy
Yeo, Mr. Tim
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Richard Benyon and
Mr. Crispin Blunt
Question accordingly agreed to .
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