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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
21 Apr 2009 : Column 189
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 Government’s 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 needn’t have wasted that money”? On balance, the case for revival has unfortunately not been made strongly enough for me to support it.

Question put.

The House divided: Ayes 234, Noes 10.
Division No. 96]
[8.17 pm


Afriyie, Adam
Alexander, Danny
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Austin, Mr. Ian
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baker, Norman
Balls, rh Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barker, Gregory
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Begg, Miss Anne
Beith, rh Sir Alan
Benn, rh Hilary
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Bottomley, Peter
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brake, Tom
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Brennan, Kevin
Brokenshire, James
Brooke, Annette
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Browne, rh Des
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burt, Alistair
Burt, Lorely
Butterfill, Sir John
Byrne, rh Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Rosie
Crausby, Mr. David
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Davey, Mr. Edward
David, Mr. Wayne
Davies, Mr. Dai
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Drew, Mr. David
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Farron, Tim
Fisher, Mark
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flynn, Paul
Foster, Mr. Don
Francois, Mr. Mark
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
George, Andrew
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gilroy, Linda
Goodman, Helen
Griffith, Nia

Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hamilton, Mr. David
Harris, Mr. Tom
Harvey, Nick
Heath, Mr. David
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Holmes, Paul
Hood, Mr. Jim
Hope, Phil
Horwood, Martin
Howarth, David
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Hughes, rh Beverley
Huhne, Chris
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Iddon, Dr. Brian
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, rh Jim
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Laws, Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Leech, Mr. John
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Loughton, Tim
Lucas, Ian
Mackinlay, Andrew
Mactaggart, Fiona
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McFadden, rh Mr. Pat
McGrady, Mr. Eddie
McKenna, Rosemary
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Meale, Mr. Alan
Michael, rh Alun
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moore, Mr. Michael
Morgan, Julie
Mountford, Kali
Mulholland, Greg
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Norris, Dan
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Öpik, Lembit
Owen, Albert
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Pearson, Ian
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penning, Mike
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Rennie, Willie
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Rowen, Paul
Roy, Mr. Frank
Roy, Lindsay
Russell, Bob
Russell, Christine
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Seabeck, Alison
Selous, Andrew
Sheridan, Jim
Simpson, Alan
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, Sir Robert
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Swinson, Jo
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Taylor, David
Taylor, Matthew
Teather, Sarah
Thornberry, Emily
Thurso, John
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Viggers, Sir Peter
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Watkinson, Angela
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Webb, Steve
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willott, Jenny
Wilson, Phil

Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Ayes:

Martin Salter and
Tony Lloyd

Campbell, Mr. Gregory
Chope, Mr. Christopher
Davis, rh David
Donaldson, rh Mr. Jeffrey M.
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Gray, Mr. James
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Walker, Mr. Charles
Winterton, Ann
Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Peter Bone and
Philip Davies
Question accordingly agreed to.
21 Apr 2009 : Column 190

21 Apr 2009 : Column 191


21 Apr 2009 : Column 192

Canterbury City Council Bill, Leeds City Council Bill, Nottingham City Council Bill and Reading Borough Council Bill

Debate resumed.

Question (15 January) again proposed,

8.31 pm

Mr. Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con): In the absence of anybody representing one of the four conurbations involved—

Mr. Julian Brazier (Canterbury) (Con): I am so sorry, Mr. Deputy Speaker—I 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. Deputy Speaker (Sir Michael Lord): That is correct. Mr. Christopher Chope.

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 earlier—the 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 Canterbury’s 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
21 Apr 2009 : Column 193
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 statement—I think it is in the private Bill procedure—suggesting 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.

Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con): As my hon. Friend knows, I always look to him to improve my knowledge of parliamentary procedure.

Mr. Greg Knight (East Yorkshire) (Con): Why don’t you look to me?

Philip Davies: I look to my right hon. Friend as well, of course.

I am a new boy in this place, so will my hon. Friend explain what difference it makes one way or the other whether the Bills that have not yet had a Second Reading are revived?

Mr. Chope: 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,
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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 it—forgive me if my knowledge of procedure is not all that it might be—is 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. Gentleman’s points are debating points.

Mr. Chope: I am grateful for that ruling, if that is what it is.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. I would hate the hon. Gentleman to think that I was making a ruling. I am simply telling him that everything we are doing today is completely in order.

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 House’s attention. The promoters of two of the Bills that have not had a Second Reading have said in discussions and in writing to me—and, we can infer, to other hon. Members who are concerned about the Bills—that 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
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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. Gentleman’s discussions with Reading borough council about the activities of pedlars who act effectively as stallholders—the hon. Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown) mentioned that—showed 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 councils—Reading and Leeds—are 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 put—perhaps I could put it formally in a point of order—is 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 means—this 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.

Martin Salter: 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 council’s 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
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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 council’s 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:

This is the relevant bit:

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