Political Parties and Elections Bill

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Mr. Wills: Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the hon. Member for Huntingdon was not strictly accurate in his description of the Government amendments? They were tabled last Thursday. Was he aware of that?
Pete Wishart: I am grateful to the Minister. I have absolutely no problem at all with the process of the Government tabling their amendments. The Conservative party seems to have a massive issue with that. If that is why the Conservatives have failed to bring forward their amendments and to make progress on the Bill, their approach is absolutely disgraceful. It has not been in good faith and we should have made further progress. Having to listen to the hon. Member for Epping Forest—whom I usually enjoy listening to—for 50 minutes on what I assumed was an inconsequential group of amendments is unbelievable and shocking. The Conservatives have done the public a massive disservice in terms of making progress on the Bill. We ought to reconvene at the earliest opportunity to discuss these vital issues, because it will be a total dereliction of duty if the Committee fails to address the important issues of the Bill. I have spent several hours with the hon. Member for Chichester discussing some of the issues, and I was looking forward to his contribution. I thought that we had some sort of arrangement or agreement about where we would move forward with the Bill, but nothing has been put forward by the Conservatives. I hope that one of the Conservatives will now get up and tell us exactly what their intentions are on the Bill. It is inconceivable that we cannot deal with those main issues. I agree with the hon. Member for Cambridge that we must come back and discuss the vital measures.
7.30 pm
Mr. Alan Reid (Argyll and Bute) (LD): I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge and with the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire that we should reconvene later tonight to discuss these important issues. I have little sympathy with the Conservative viewpoint. My hon. Friend and I have tabled amendments to later clauses in the Bill and have submitted new clauses. We did not wait to see what the Government were planning to do. We put forward our own ideas, and Conservative Members could have done exactly the same.
Sir Nicholas, during your chairmanship, you have tried to usher us on as quickly as possible, but Conservative Members have spent a great deal of time debating their amendments. They are perfectly entitled to do so, but the logic of their choosing to spend a lot of time debating their proposals is that they will vote to continue consideration of the Bill tonight. It would be an outrage to democracy if we could not discuss the important amendments and clauses that are still to be debated, so I urge members of the Committee to vote to continue discussion of the Bill this evening, especially those Conservative Members who have hogged most of time in Committee so far.
Question put,
The Committee divided: Ayes 14, Noes 3.
Division No. 7]
Ainger, Nick
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Duddridge, James
Hesford, Stephen
Kidney, Mr. David
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Lucas, Ian
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wills, rh Mr. Michael
Howarth, David
Reid, Mr. Alan
Wishart, Pete
Question accordingly agreed to.
The Chairman: This Public Bill Committee is breaking new ground in modern times. I have just consulted the Clerk sitting on my left, and this is the first occasion for many years that a motion to adjourn the debate has been opposed.
Adjourned accordingly at twenty-seven minutes to Eight o’clock till Thursday 20 November at Nine o’clock.
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Prepared 19 November 2008