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The first question is whether the promoters of the Bills have made a case for bringing them back. The Standing Orders suggest that such Bills should not be
brought back, because the process would not exist if Parliament thought they should automatically be brought back. The argument is a technical one about whether the promoters have made the case that there is an exceptional reason to bring the Bills back, and whether anything has changed. The Minister put the Governments case succinctly. Clearly, things have changed and there may well be national legislation.
Would the promoters of the Bills lose out by not having them revived tonight? We heard that the cost of bringing the Bills back at a later stage would not be significant, but that proceeding with the Bills now in Committee would be very expensive for the councils. Is it possible that taxpayers in those areas would say, If my council had only waited a little while, there would have been national guidelines and a national process, and we neednt have wasted that money? On balance, the case for revival has unfortunately not been made strongly enough for me to support it.
That the promoters of the Manchester City Council Bill [ Lords] and Bournemouth Borough Council Bill [ Lords], which were originally introduced in the House of Lords in Session 2006-07 on 22 January 2007, should have leave to proceed with the Bills in the current Session according to the provisions of Standing Order 188B (Revival of bills).
That the promoters of the Canterbury City Council Bill, Leeds City Council Bill, Nottingham City Council Bill and Reading Borough Council Bill, which were originally introduced in this House in Session 2007-08 on 22 January 2008, should have leave to proceed with the Bills in the current Session according to the provisions of Standing Order 188B (Revival of bills).
Mr. Julian Brazier (Canterbury) (Con): I am so sorry, Mr. Deputy SpeakerI was at the other end of the Chamber waiting for the second vote when this business was called, which is why I have decided to explain to my hon. Friend that I was not absent, but here. Of course, he has the Floor at the moment.
Mr. Chope: I meant to indicate, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that as nobody representing any of the promoters of these Bills had risen to speak, I thought it important that I should do so in order to ask some questions. I hope that the promoters and their representatives will not feel too modest about being prepared to share with a wider public the reasons why they think that their Bills should be revived.
The arguments in relation to these four Bills are slightly different from those relating to the two that we discussed earlierthe Bournemouth Borough Council Bill and the Manchester City Council Bill. Although they are all included in one motion, Mr. Deputy Speaker, you will know that one of them, the Canterbury City Council Bill, has already received a Second Reading and is therefore, it might be argued, in a category more similar to the other two Bills. On the other hand, one might say that during that previous debate there was unfinished business between my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Mr. Brazier) and me, and that there would be an opportunity to develop the arguments as to why the situation in Canterbury warrants a revival. The difference between the Canterbury Bill and the Manchester and Bournemouth Bills is that the Canterbury Bill has not yet been to the other place and is therefore on a slower time scale than the other two. Therefore, the arguments that were deployed in the previous debate for giving the promoters a chance to rethink their strategy in light of the Durham university report weigh more strongly against the case for Canterburys revival than in respect of Manchester and Bournemouth.
As regards the arguments made by my right hon. Friend the Member for East Yorkshire (Mr. Knight) about the relative costs of going back to square one if the promised Government initiatives in the form of legislation or guidance are not forthcoming, those cost penalties will be less in the case of Canterbury because the proceedings have reached an earlier stage than in the
case of Manchester and Bournemouth. However, the other three Bills that we are considering have not yet received their Second Readings.
When I examined the guidance in relation to the revival of Bills, I found a statementI think it is in the private Bill proceduresuggesting that if a Bill had not made any progress at all during a Session of Parliament, the House would be reluctant to allow it to be revived in a subsequent Session or carried over from one Session to another. Of course, the Nottingham City Council Bill, the Leeds City Council Bill and the Reading Borough Council Bill did not receive a Second Reading in the last Session, so they are completely de novo and would need a Second Reading in this Session. The question one asks is why, if they did not make any progress in the last Session, they should be allowed to be revived at this stage.
Mr. James Gray (North Wiltshire) (Con): I hope that my hon. Friend will forgive me if I am asking a foolish question as a relative novice at these procedural matters. Is it not odd that although the Bills whose revival we are discussing reached different stages of their lives in the last Session, they should all be brought together in a single revival motion? It is a sort of hybrid motion, bringing together some rather good things that are more advanced in their considerations with some things that are bad. Procedurally, would it not have been better had the promoters brought forward different motions so that it was possible to consider each Bill separately?
Mr. Chope: My hon. Friend makes a very fair point, but I am in no position to comment, because the decision on how this business should be dealt with was taken by the Chairman of Ways and Means, and the decision was to have all four Bills put together. In fairness, if my hon. Friend or myself had wanted to table an amendment, for example to delete one or more of the Bills from the motion, we would probably have been able to do so and have it debated. His point may give grounds for seeking from you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, a ruling as to whether there could be separate Divisions on each individual Bill, or on the Bills that are in separate categories with separate arguments relating to them. My hon. Friend would probably have to raise that with you on a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker.
The main difference, as I understand it from looking at the precedent, is this: if a promoter has not made any progress with their Bill in one Session,
why should they be able to crave the indulgence of the House to have it carried over or revived in a second? Where is the evidence that they will be able to make any more progress in that Session? Does there come a stage when what is happening is a bit of an abuse of the process and procedures of the House? In the previous debate I cited the example of what happened with the Northern Bank Bill, which was a private Bill in the previous Session. It did not make any progress and was blocked at the end of the Session. As a result, the promoters of the Bill had second thoughts and decided to withdraw it.
Mr. Gray: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I would be grateful for your guidance on the procedural matter that my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch (Mr. Chope) has been roaming around a little bit. I am sure that he is not calling into question the way in which the Chairman of Ways and Means brought forward the motion, which of course was perfectly proper. However, the point that my hon. Friend is making, as I understand itforgive me if my knowledge of procedure is not all that it might beis that there are differences between the various Bills that the motion would revive. Some might be better than others and some have gone further than others in their process through Parliament. I am not sure whether it is allowable under the procedures, but would it not be sensible to allow several Divisions on the four Bills that we are considering?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: The short answer is no. In the revival motion, there is no distinction between the Bills that we are discussing. Everything has been done in order. As the hon. Member for Christchurch (Mr. Chope) said, the Chairman of Ways and Means agreed that the motion should go forward. Everything is in order, and I suspect that the hon. Gentlemans points are debating points.
Mr. Chope: I do not believe that anyone is suggesting that what we are doing is not in order. I was trying to explain that there are distinctions between the four Bills, which are grouped together, in that only one has had a Second Reading.
Another distinction is worthy of the Houses attention. The promoters of two of the Bills that have not had a Second Reading have said in discussions and in writing to meand, we can infer, to other hon. Members who are concerned about the Billsthat they are willing to compromise significantly about the content of the clauses in the respective measures on pedlary. If the promoters of those two Bills have expressed a willingness to compromise on the main subject of my objections to the measures collectively, might not it possible to examine the two Bills separately from the others in the group? If the promoters of two measures are prepared to compromise, thereby shortening the Committee proceedings and possibly Second Reading, through responding to concerns and the findings of the Durham
university report, when the promoters of the other Bills are not willing to do that, why is not it possible for hon. Members to adjudicate about the Bills that merit a revival?
Martin Salter (Reading, West) (Lab): To revert to a point that I tried to make earlier, is not it the case that the hon. Gentlemans discussions with Reading borough council about the activities of pedlars who act effectively as stallholdersthe hon. Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown) mentioned thatshowed that the council was prepared to negotiate and be flexible? That is an argument not for opposing the revival motion, but for allowing it to go forward so that we can reach Committee as soon as possible.
Mr. Chope: The hon. Gentleman anticipates my point, which I am getting around to raising with you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. If the two councilsReading and Leedsare prepared to compromise, to respond to public opinion, as reflected in the Durham university report, and to council tax payers concerns about possible abortive costs incurred, and to consider amending clause 5 of the respective Bills, should not they be given preferential treatment, compared with councils that still have their heads in the sand, believing that they can carry on regardless, as though the Durham study had never been conducted, there were no findings in its 90-odd pages and no issues had arisen from it? The Minister said in the previous debate that the Government acknowledged that the study raised issues which merited their attention and would be subject to consultation.
The question that I would like to putperhaps I could put it formally in a point of orderis this. Is there any scope for the revival of the Reading Borough Council Bill and the Leeds City Council Bill to be considered in separate votes from those on the other two Bills, in respect of which there are different considerations?
Mr. Deputy Speaker: I thought that I had made it clear to the hon. Gentleman that we are dealing with one motion this evening that deals with four councils. It either goes through on that basis or it does not, but tonight is not the night to divide them up. The Bills may receive different treatment further down the line if they are revived, but tonight we have one motion before us dealing with four councils and they cannot be dealt with separately.
Mr. Chope: I am grateful to you for that ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker. What it meansthis will disappoint the hon. Member for Reading, West (Martin Salter)is that were there to be a Division in respect of the group, hon. Members who were against the revival of one or more of the Bills would be obliged to vote against the revival motion, notwithstanding the fact that they might have sympathy with the approach adopted by the imaginative councils of Reading and Leeds.
Does the hon. Gentleman recognise that I am obliged to point out the complete nonsense of his seeking to impugn the motives of Reading borough council? The councils willingness to be flexible is based not on 90 or 19 pages of the Durham university report, but on a problem on the streets of Reading, which is that of pedlars fraudulently acting as stallholders. Does
he agree that it is not for Reading borough council to ascribe motives to Nottingham, Canterbury, Leeds or any other authority, but to argue its case, and that the issues are not related?
Mr. Chope: The hon. Gentleman is being unnecessarily adversarial, because I think that we are both on the same side, although that may be a surprise to him. However, if he says that Reading borough councils attitude is unrelated to the report produced by Durham university, all I can say is that that is certainly not the case for Leeds city council. I have with me an e-mail from Leeds city council sent on 6 March that says:
I refer to our meeting in Januaryregarding the street trading legislation proposed by Leeds City Councilwhen we agreed to consider the possibility of amending Clause 5 of the proposed legislation.
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