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Sir Patrick Cormack (South Staffordshire) (Con):
I find this a very sad moment. The House is just making itself look stupid. It seems to me that what the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath) has done is to resort to a stratagem that will have one effect and one effect only: the stifling of debate on an amendment
that you yourself, Mr. Speaker, ruled to be in order. That strikes me as being fundamentally wrong.
The hon. Member for Somerton and Frome made some telling points about the nature of the appointments, the way in which they had been arrived at, and the way in which you, Sir, had agreed to them-but you had selected the amendment, and therefore you clearly believed that it was entirely proper for the House to debate this particular proposition. I came here tonight from the reception which you were graciously and generously hosting for the American ambassador in order to take part in this debate, because I believe it is legitimate for the House to have an opportunity to consider the people who are being proposed as members of this extremely important authority. I do not want to indulge in personalities. All I would like to say is this: I believe that, as it has been decided that one of the members of this important authority should be a former Member of Parliament, it is legitimate to express the view that it would be a good thing if that Member of Parliament had a fairly lengthy experience of this House, and had betrayed a great degree of affection for and knowledge of it.
I regret the fact that my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Sir Nicholas Winterton)-who spoke to his amendment very moderately-had to insert names, but he really had no alternative. That is not a criticism of him. I just think that it would be a good idea for the House to put down some markers, so that those who are to serve on the independent authority-which will have no particular impact on me, as I shall not be here in the next Parliament-are aware that we truly want this Parliament, which I believe is the greatest Parliament in the world, and the House of Commons, which is the most important part of the greatest Parliament in the world, to regain public confidence and trust. That confidence and trust cannot be regained unless those who have the supervisory role that we are discussing understand what being a Member of Parliament is all about, and what the nature of this calling-I do not describe it as a job or an occupation-involves and demands.
I hope that we can discuss this matter sensibly. Whether we need to vote is another matter entirely. I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield has performed a service by tabling this amendment, and that you, Mr. Speaker, have performed a service to the House by selecting it. I also think that it ill behoves any of us to stifle debate or stop discussion on a subject that you yourself have clearly marked as entirely legitimate to be discussed.
Miss Ann Widdecombe (Maidstone and The Weald) (Con):
We are witnessing a very sad exhibition of very unworthy tactics. Unfortunately, all this will do is to compound the reputation that we already have of being in a muddle, and of being untrustworthy in how we handle this wider issue. A motion, of which we all had due notice, was on the Order Paper, and you, Mr. Speaker, had selected an amendment, which means that you considered that amendment to be in order and worthy of debate in this House. Admire as I may anybody who can use "Erskine May" as the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath) has just done-despite my admiration for his technical achievement in that regard-
I think it goes entirely against the democracy of this Chamber when we cannot debate a motion that has been fairly put down, of which we have had notice, and to which you, Mr. Speaker, have approved an amendment for debate. If we vote that this be not now put, the ridicule that we will receive in tomorrow's newspapers will speak for itself.
Mr. Speaker: In these exceptional circumstances, and following the right hon. Lady's remarks, I simply put it on the record that what she said about the selectable character of the amendment is correct. That was also said, I think, by the hon. Member for Macclesfield, and certainly by the hon. Member for South Staffordshire (Sir Patrick Cormack). I hope the right hon. Lady will acknowledge that my concern in this matter must be to do what it is procedurally proper for me to do in the circumstances. Whatever may be said about the motivation for, or the reputation created by, the proposal for the previous question to be put, I have to make a judgment on the basis of what is procedurally proper. Members will no doubt be aware that the last three occasions when the previous question was moved were 20 January 1943, and 20 January and 3 May 1989. It is, therefore, a very infrequent occurrence; this is the fourth such occasion in a period of, I think, 66 years. I am guided, of course, by the advice that I am given, but I have also noted what the right hon. Lady has said.
As no other Member is rising to speak, the proper procedure now is for me to put the Question that the Question be not now put. So that there is no confusion, let me explain that the Question that is to be put before the House is that on the motion supported by the hon. Members for Cambridge and for Somerton and Frome-That the main Question be not now put.
Sir Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I shall be brief. Do you not think it is a sad day for this House when a political party-the Liberal Democrats-seeks to silence transparent, open and important debate? Will you therefore look at what has occurred this evening and study "Erskine May" to see whether the use of this dishonest, devious device can be removed?
Sir Nicholas Winterton: I am happy to do that, Mr. Speaker. May I say "this unfortunate, devious device", and ask that it be removed so that the House can openly debate issues of great importance for the future of Parliament?
Mr. Speaker: It is in keeping with the hon. Gentleman's long experience of this House that he should use that opportunity to make a second point of order. He has exhorted me to do two things: to think and to look at the matter. I think I have to say, in respect of the first, that it is not the obligation of the Chair to think. However, it is perfectly reasonable for him to invite me to look at the matter, and I am always happy to have my eyes open as he advises that I should. Beyond that, the safest thing that I can say is that he has put his views on the record with his customary force and élan.
Mr. Patrick McLoughlin (West Derbyshire) (Con): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Can you confirm that if the Liberal Democrats had been successful in their attempt this evening, the House would not be able to vote on the setting up of IPSA? That party has tonight attempted to stop the setting up of IPSA.
Mr. Speaker: What I would say in response to the right hon. Gentleman's point of order is that I have already said what the consequences of particular votes on given propositions would be. That observation from me is on the record, and it would not be seemly now to go beyond that, but he has, in his point of order, put his views on behalf of the official Opposition very explicitly on the record for others to see. We must now vote on the main motion.
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying that Her Majesty will appoint Professor Sir Ian Kennedy to the office of Chair of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, and the Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Scott Baker, Jackie Ballard, Ken Olisa and Professor Isobel Sharp to the office of ordinary member of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.
That the draft Legal Services Act 2007 (Functions of an Approved Regulator) Order 2009, which was laid before this House on 13 October, in the previous Session of Parliament, be approved.-( Helen Jones.)
That the draft Legal Services Act 2007 (Consequential Amendments) Order 2009, which was laid before this House on 2 November, in the previous Session of Parliament, be approved.-( Helen Jones.)
That the draft Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2009, which were laid before this House on 28 October, in the previous Session of Parliament, be approved.-( Helen Jones .)
(1) the matter of the Government's Legislative Programme as outlined in the Queen's Speech as it relates to Wales and Government expenditure in Wales be referred to the Welsh Grand Committee for its consideration;
(2) the Committee shall meet at Westminster on Wednesday 16 December at 9.25 am and between 2.00 pm and 4.00 pm to consider the matter referred to it under paragraph (1) above.-( Helen Jones .)
That Ms Karen Buck, Jeremy Corbyn, Clive Efford, Siobhain McDonagh, Mr Andy Slaughter and Mr Andrew Pelling be members of the London Regional Select Committee.
(1) Standing Order No. 14 (Arrangement of public business) shall have effect for this Session with the following modifications, namely:
In paragraph (4) the word 'eight' shall be substituted for the word 'thirteen' in line 42 and in paragraph (5) the word 'fifth' shall be substituted for the word 'eighth' in line 44;
(2) Standing Order No. 90 (Second reading committees) shall have effect for this Session with the following modification, namely:
In paragraph (2) the word 'fifth' shall be substituted for the word 'eighth' in line 21; and
(3) Private Members' Bills shall have precedence over Government business on 29 January; 5 and 26 February; 5 and 12 March; 23 and 30 April; and 7 May.
Mr. Speaker: Order. I am sure that Members will want to hear the presentation of the petition by the hon. Member for Bridgwater (Mr. Liddell-Grainger), but if they do not they can always amuse themselves elsewhere.
The Petition of persons resident in the Bridgwater parliamentary constituency,
Declares that they are concerned about the recommendations of the Badman Report, which suggests closer monitoring of home educators, including a compulsory annual registration scheme and right of access to people's homes for local authority officials; further declares that the Petitioners believe the recommendations are based on a review that was extremely rushed, failed to give due consideration to the evidence, failed to ensure that the data it collected were sufficiently robust, and failed to take proper account of the existing legislative framework.
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