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Mr. Hogg: There is a related point, is there not? If members of the public wish to express a view, one of the few ways in which they can do so is to have it articulated by their representative Member in this place. If we
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reduce the opportunities for Back Benchers to participate, we reduce the public’s ability to communicate with other right hon. and hon. Members through their elected representative.

Mr. Harper: My right hon. and learned Friend makes a good point. A lot of debates in this House, many of which will be affected by the motions on the Order Paper, are complex. They involve Members of Parliament being given the opportunity to relate the experiences of constituents, particularly with regard to how we ensure accountability for regional business. Our constituents will want to make sure that we have a proper ability to do that. Those issues need to be teased out in full.

Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con): Does my hon. Friend agree that it is all the more important that Back Benchers get adequate time to debate the matter, given that the majority of Back Benchers on the Modernisation Committee, on which I sit, voted against regional select committees? The vote was only tied because the Deputy Leader of the House, who was the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Leader of the House at the time, voted with the Government, allowing the Leader of the House to use her casting vote. If just non-payroll, Back-Bench MPs had voted, the proposition would have fallen at the Modernisation Committee stage. Does that not make it all the more important that Back Benchers get adequate time to debate the matter?

Mr. Harper: My hon. Friend makes a range of good points in his brief intervention. On his first point, we have already highlighted the procedural absurdity, or unwelcomeness, of the Leader of the House using her casting vote as Chairman of the Modernisation Committee to push the proposal through against the wishes of the Committee. There is another problem; my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Philip Davies) highlighted the fact that a PPS served in the Committee and, indeed, enabled the Chairman to use her casting vote. Both positions are unwelcome.

Mr. Gummer: Has my hon. Friend noticed that the Leader of the House and the Deputy Leader of the House have found all this incredibly amusing, and have laughed at it, not realising how serious the matter is? Is that not typical, coming from the first Leader of the House to have the party to which she belongs on the notice outside her office? She is the only person in the House who refers to herself officially by the party to which she belongs.

Mr. Harper: My right hon. Friend makes an excellent point. When the Leader of the House was appointed to her position, a number of voices were raised in the House about the undesirability of the deputy leader of a party holding the position of Leader of the House and chairman of the party, for the reason identified by a number of Members who have contributed to the debate. The Leader of the House is of course a member of the Government and a partisan politician, but she is also responsible to all Members on both sides of the House; she has that responsibility, too. It is a challenge for her—perhaps a challenge to which she has not risen—properly to combine the role of deputy leader of the Labour party and her role in the House. Mr. Deputy Speaker, I will move on.

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Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I think that the hon. Gentleman knows where I am coming from. Perhaps he should stick to the terms of the motion.

Mr. Harper: I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and am sorry that I did not move on quickly enough to save you from rising from your seat. I will take that point, and hopefully will not test your patience again.

Let me come back to the business motion and the time available to us. It is clear from the papers made available to the House on the Table that the motions have significant financial implications that are not at all straightforward. The Leader of the House may say that the issues are clear, but I say that they are not. The Management Board presented a paper to the House about the potential costs. I have already said that the potential cost of just the regional Select Committees and regional Grand Committees meeting a relatively limited number of times each year is £1.3 million—a charge on the taxpayer.

A whole range of underlying assumptions about those costs are set out in the fairly complex paper. Each of those assumptions might need to be tested, but under the terms of the business motion, we are not to be given the opportunity to come close to testing those assumptions, so that we could get an idea of the costs to the taxpayer of the motions on the Order Paper. We in the House are charged with the proper expenditure of public funds; the money, of course, does not come from us, but from taxpayers generally. We will not be able to undertake that responsibility properly in the limited time available.

In an intervention, I briefly mentioned the issue of the way in which the time is split between the groups of motions. Although the Speaker’s Conference motion may not be as controversial as the others, it touches on some incredibly important issues that could affect the electoral system, the way in which the House of Commons is composed and the extent to which the House of Commons is felt to be representative. That debate has been allocated only one hour, which indicates that, in the view of the Leader of the House and the Deputy Leader of the House, it is less important than the other debates. However, the questions of whether Mr. Speaker shall have his conference set up and of the terms of reference may make the motion the most important on the Order Paper, but it may not be given proper time for debate.

I want to mention one or two issues pertaining to the time available for the debate on regional Committees. The hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath) drew attention to the fact that the party balance in the regions differs from the balance in the House and that the balance in each region is different. We should have proper discussion about whether it is appropriate for the regional Select Committees to reflect the balance of party opinion in the House, as opposed to in a region, and whether Members from outside a region should be on that region’s Select Committee. The nature of the argument will be different for each region. Given that the proposal is to set up eight such Committees, it does not seem possible to discuss that properly and to allow Members from each region to participate—each region will be affected—in the time available.

My right hon. Friend the Member for North-West Hampshire drew attention to the amendments on the Order Paper; there are a number of amendments on the
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motion on regional Select Committees, including an amendment on whether London should be included. There is a big debate to be had on that, but there is also concern about whether the mover of the amendment will even get the opportunity to be called to speak.

Mr. Bone: Would it not have been more helpful if, in the programme motion, every regional Select Committee had had its own individual motion? The House might want a regional Grand Committee for certain regions but not for others. As drafted, however, it is a take-it-or-leave-it motion, and we cannot debate separately every individual Select Committee.

Mr. Harper: My hon. Friend makes a very good point, because there may be differences in regional opinion. I forget which hon. Member mentioned this point, but it may have been the hon. Member for Castle Point (Bob Spink) who said that, after all, members of the public in the north-east were given the opportunity to pronounce on the regional accountability of the regional development agencies, and they said very clearly that they did not want a regional assembly. If this House were given the time in the business motion to debate the Select Committees on a regional basis, it might come to different conclusions, but, sadly, the terms of the motion are so limited that we will not have the opportunity to have that debate. And we are certainly not going to have the opportunity to have it during the debate on this business motion.

Simon Hughes: I rise to add one very simple point. Eight regions are being debated, but even if there were only one speech with a five-minute limit from every main party, not including the hon. Member for Wyre Forest (Dr. Taylor), by definition, that would mean 15 minutes per region, and the debate would amount to two hours without any participation by hon. Members from any of the affected regions.

Mr. Harper: The hon. Gentleman makes a very good point, demonstrating that if Members from all regions in this House, representing all parties in this House, are to have a proper opportunity to contribute to the debate, we will need a lot longer than one and a half hours. It behoves the Leader of the House and the Deputy Leader of the House, in their capacity as guardians of the interests of the whole House, to listen to the debate so far. I have been listening very carefully, as have you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and as did Mr. Speaker, and I have yet to hear from anyone, other than from the Deputy Leader of the House, any support for the business motion and the way in which the Government have chosen to arrange business. I therefore repeat the suggestion from my hon. Friend the Member for South Staffordshire (Sir Patrick Cormack) that the Government take this opportunity to listen to the mood of the House and amend the business motion to allow a proper opportunity to have a debate on the substance of the motion that does this House justice.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Nicholas Brown) rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put.

Question put, That the Question be now put:—

The House proceeded to a Division.

12 Nov 2008 : Column 805

Ms Dawn Butler and Mr. Dave Watts were appointed Tellers for the Ayes; but no Member being willing to act as Teller for the Noes, Mr. Deputy Speaker declared that the Ayes had it.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: We now come to motions 3 to 7.

Simon Hughes: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I understood that the motion on which we were voting was that the Question be now put, and that we had not yet had a vote on the motion—on the business and on the timetable. I presume that you are just about to put it.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman. I did not mean to jump further forward; I was not assisted by the absence of key personnel at that particular time.

Question put accordingly :—

The House divided: Ayes 258, Noes 223.
Division No. 316]


Ainger, Nick
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Banks, Gordon
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byers, rh Mr. Stephen
Byrne, rh Mr. Liam
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, rh Yvette
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dowd, Jim
Drew, Mr. David
Durkan, Mark
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Goggins, Paul

Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Havard, Mr. Dai
Healey, rh John
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hood, Mr. Jim
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jowell, rh Tessa
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Lammy, rh Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Mackinlay, Andrew
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, Dr. Alasdair
McDonnell, John
McFadden, rh Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGrady, Mr. Eddie
McGuire, rh Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Meale, Mr. Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moran, Margaret
Morgan, Julie
Morley, rh Mr. Elliot
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Owen, Albert
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
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Roy, Mr. Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, John
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Taylor, David
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Thornberry, Emily

Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Walley, Joan
Watson, Mr. Tom
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, rh Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, rh Mr. Michael
Wilson, Phil
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Woodward, rh Mr. Shaun
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Bob Blizzard and
Mr. Dave Watts

Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Amess, Mr. David
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, Mr. John
Barrett, John
Beith, rh Sir Alan
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Binley, Mr. Brian
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brokenshire, James
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burt, Alistair
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Cameron, rh Mr. David
Campbell, Mr. Gregory
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Clappison, Mr. James
Clark, Greg
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Curry, rh Mr. David
Davies, Mr. Dai
Davies, Philip
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dodds, Mr. Nigel
Donaldson, rh Mr. Jeffrey M.
Dorries, Mrs. Nadine
Duddridge, James
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Farron, Tim
Featherstone, Lynne
Field, Mr. Mark
Foster, Mr. Don
Fox, Dr. Liam
Fraser, Christopher
Gale, Mr. Roger
Gauke, Mr. David
George, Andrew
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Gummer, rh Mr. John
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Dr. Evan
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Heath, Mr. David
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, Nick
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Holmes, Paul
Horam, Mr. John
Horwood, Martin
Howard, rh Mr. Michael
Howarth, David
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Howell, John
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hunter, Mark
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart

Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Jones, Mr. David
Kawczynski, Daniel
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Kennedy, rh Mr. Charles
Key, Robert
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
Maclean, rh David
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
Main, Anne
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Maples, Mr. John
Mason, John
Mates, rh Mr. Michael
Maude, rh Mr. Francis
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Mercer, Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Moore, Mr. Michael
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Mulholland, Greg
Mundell, David
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Mr. George
Ottaway, Richard
Paice, Mr. James
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Price, Adam
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rennie, Willie
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Angus
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Robinson, Mrs. Iris
Robinson, rh Mr. Peter
Rosindell, Andrew
Rowen, Paul
Ruffley, Mr. David
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
Stanley, rh Sir John
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swinson, Jo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Teather, Sarah
Thurso, John
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Viggers, Sir Peter
Walker, Mr. Charles
Walter, Mr. Robert
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Webb, Steve
Whittingdale, Mr. John
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
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Wishart, Pete
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Richard Benyon and
Jeremy Wright
Question accordingly agreed to.
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