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Peter Bottomley (Worthing, West) (Con): I am grateful to the Liberal Democrat spokesman for anticipating a possible result of the certain general election. The problem here is caused by the expiry of Parliament in May. The
6 Jan 2010 : Column 231
Government, who must have known that this was coming, ought to have suggested that there be two private Members' days in each sitting month. That would have solved the problem. It would give us roughly the 13 days that we want by working out the number of private Members' days in proportion to the number of weeks on which we are sitting.

That does not mean that all private Members' Bills would be either discussed or necessarily passed. In memory of Eric Forth, there is what I call the Chope-Dismore choke. Any private Member's Bill has to get through this little parliamentary interest. Many of the concerns of those who promote these Bills are not about the people who object sitting down but about those who discuss the merits of the Bills and their possibilities on their feet-clearing their throats, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Bone) did with some distinction and effect this afternoon.

Mr. Chope: My hon. Friend is not suggesting, is he, that he does not think it a good idea that such Bills should be properly debated in the House?

Peter Bottomley: I certainly think it right that such Bills should be discussed, and I admire the way in which my hon. Friend manages to do that so effectively and, often, so extensively.

Mr. Heath: If the amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Bone) were passed today, one of its inadvertent consequences would be that most of those days would be devoted to consideration of the nine Bills presented by the hon. Member for Hendon (Mr. Dismore) earlier today.

Peter Bottomley: I will not deviate from what I intended to say, which is not as extensive as it would be if I followed every remark that the hon. Gentleman felt he ought to have made in his speech and that he has decided to put into mine.

The reason for supporting the amendment is a simple one. Liberty and responsibility are things that people take; they are not things that are given. We should be saying to the establishment, which is represented at the moment by the Deputy Leader of the House and rather elegantly by my right hon. Friend the Member for North-West Hampshire (Sir George Young), the shadow Leader of the House, who can see all the proper considerations, that if this House-that basically means those who are free to vote as they wish-votes as my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough suggests, we will be taking responsibility for our affairs and using the liberty of our votes to say that we want those days for ourselves. I believe that we should do exactly that.

I finish by making an observation that was made yesterday as well. It is rare that a Government motion, whether it be a motion on a Bill or a motion such as that which we are debating now, is discussed in the House-not put through on the nod, but discussed-and not a single Government Back Bencher speaks in favour of it.

4.11 pm

Mr. Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con): Very briefly, I should like to put on record my admiration for my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Bone), who ensured that we got this debate by
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persistently blocking the motion on the Order Paper and not allowing it to go through on the nod. His amendment is first class. I am delighted that I was able to support it, and I look forward to voting for it soon.

Question put, That the amendment be made.

The House divided: Ayes 78, Noes 254.
Division No. 30]
[4.12 pm


Alexander, Danny
Amess, Mr. David
Baker, Norman
Barrett, John
Beith, rh Sir Alan
Binley, Mr. Brian
Bone, Mr. Peter
Bottomley, Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brake, Tom
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Campbell, Mr. Gregory
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Cash, Mr. William
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Davies, Philip
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Flynn, Paul
Foster, Mr. Don
Gale, Mr. Roger
George, Andrew
Gidley, Sandra
Goldsworthy, Julia
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harvey, Nick
Heath, Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hopkins, Kelvin
Horwood, Martin
Hosie, Stewart
Howarth, David
Hughes, Simon
Huhne, Chris
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Kawczynski, Daniel
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Kennedy, rh Mr. Charles
Key, Robert
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Kramer, Susan
Lamb, Norman
Laws, Mr. David
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Mason, John
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moore, Mr. Michael
Öpik, Lembit
Ottaway, Richard
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Pugh, Dr. John
Rennie, Willie
Robertson, Angus
Russell, Bob
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Short, rh Clare
Spicer, Sir Michael
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Swinson, Jo
Taylor, Mr. Ian
Taylor, Matthew
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Walter, Mr. Robert
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Williams, Mark
Williams, Stephen
Willott, Jenny
Wilshire, Mr. David
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Christopher Chope and
Mr. Philip Hollobone

Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Alexander, rh Mr. Douglas
Anderson, Mr. David
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Bain, Mr. William
Baird, Vera
Baldry, Tony
Balls, rh Ed
Barron, rh Mr. Kevin
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benn, rh Hilary
Benton, Mr. Joe
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Blunkett, rh Mr. David
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des

Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burt, Alistair
Butler, Ms Dawn
Byrne, rh Mr. Liam
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Caton, Mr. Martin
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Clark, Greg
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Connarty, Michael
Corbyn, Jeremy
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
David, Mr. Wayne
Davies, Mr. Dai
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Mr. Brian H.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Etherington, Bill
Fabricant, Michael
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, rh Caroline
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
Garnier, Mr. Edward
George, rh Mr. Bruce
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gilroy, Linda
Goodman, Helen
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Gwynne, Andrew
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Harris, Mr. Tom
Hayes, Mr. John
Healey, rh John
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Hesford, Stephen
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoey, Kate
Hood, Mr. Jim
Howells, rh Dr. Kim
Hoyle, Mr. Lindsay
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Keen, Ann
Kelly, rh Ruth
Khan, rh Mr. Sadiq
Kidney, Mr. David
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lammy, rh Mr. David
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Lazarowicz, Mark
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Mackinlay, Andrew
Mactaggart, Fiona
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCabe, Steve
McCafferty, Chris
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McFadden, rh Mr. Pat
McGuire, rh Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Meacher, rh Mr. Michael
Meale, Mr. Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, rh Edward

Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Morgan, Julie
Morley, rh Mr. Elliot
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
O'Brien, rh Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Osborne, Sandra
Owen, Albert
Pearson, Ian
Penrose, John
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, John
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Roy, Mr. Frank
Roy, Lindsay
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Seabeck, Alison
Selous, Andrew
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, rh Angela E. (Basildon)
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Taylor, Ms Dari
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Timpson, Mr. Edward
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Twigg, Derek
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, rh Mr. Michael
Wilson, Phil
Winnick, Mr. David
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Young, rh Sir George
Tellers for the Noes:

Helen Jones and
Mr. George Mudie
Question accordingly negatived.
6 Jan 2010 : Column 233

6 Jan 2010 : Column 234

Main Question put and agreed to.


6 Jan 2010 : Column 235

Election of the Deputy Speakers

4.25 pm

The Parliamentary Secretary, Office of the Leader of the House of Commons (Barbara Keeley): I beg to move,

The motion on the Order Paper has been brought before the House at the request of the Procedure Committee. The Leader of the House is therefore facilitating that request, which I believe has cross-party support. On 2 July last year, Mr. Speaker proposed that Deputy Speakers should be elected. The Procedure Committee then conducted an inquiry, and on 2 November published its report, "Election of the Deputy Speakers: Principles". In the report the Committee recognised that further work was needed, and before taking that work forward, it asked the House to endorse the principles that it has identified: that the Deputy Speakers should be elected; that they should be elected by the whole House in a way that ensures that the party balance within the House is respected; that the Procedure Committee should prepare detailed proposals for the House to consider at the start of the next Parliament; and that the Procedure Committee should examine the idea of adopting term limits for the Speaker and the Deputy Speakers, and make recommendations. I commend the work of the Procedure Committee in producing its report.

Mr. Andrew Pelling (Croydon, Central) (Ind): In giving consideration to the acceptance of these principles, there are two important concerns. First, the Speaker and the Deputy Speakers clearly need to work as a team; therefore, although we have had the very successful election of a Speaker, there will be issues of compromising that teamwork if elections for Deputy Speaker take place. Secondly, on term limits for Speakers and Deputy Speakers, the House should give consideration to the impact that that might have on the ability of the Speaker's team of Deputy Speakers to be sufficiently independent of the House to be able to maintain its proper discipline and order.

Barbara Keeley: I acknowledge the hon. Gentleman's point, and I am sure that the Chair of the Procedure Committee, who is here with us, has heard it. However, it would not necessarily be appropriate for me to respond, as I am moving this motion on behalf of the Leader of the House, to facilitate the further work of the Procedure Committee in taking it forward.

Mr. Pelling: Will the Minister help me to understand this clearly? In her speech she said that we were accepting the principles; subsequently, in answer to my intervention, she said that this was purely a matter of process. Could she explain whether in supporting the motion we are accepting the principles of elections and term limits?

Barbara Keeley: As I said, we are accepting the idea that the Procedure Committee should examine the issue of adopting term limits. That is not to say that we are accepting term limits. We are adopting the principle as
6 Jan 2010 : Column 236
laid out but there is further work to do, and the Procedure Committee will be taking that forward. I hope that that is clear to the hon. Gentleman. If the House agrees to the motion the Procedure Committee will produce a further report. The motion simply asks the House to endorse this decision, and I commend it to the House.

4.28 pm

Mr. Shailesh Vara (North-West Cambridgeshire) (Con): The motion reflects changing times, and Conservative Members support it. As the Deputy Speakers serve the whole House, there is merit in the argument that the whole House should have a say in who they are. Moreover, this is consistent with the arguments for reform of the House of Commons, in that there are proposals for the election of the Chairmen of Select Committees.

By passing the motion, we will allow the Procedure Committee to continue urgent work to create the mechanism required for the election of Deputy Speakers. It will not be an easy task, as there are several matters to consider, not least to ensure that the party balance is maintained with the final result. Given that the aim is to ensure that the proposals are in place for the start of the new Parliament later this year, I wish the Procedure Committee well with all its deliberations.

4.29 pm

Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome) (LD): I, too, support the motion. It is sensible for the Procedure Committee to be given the green light to proceed with its deliberations. I had the great pleasure of discussing these matters with members of that Committee this afternoon, and I know that they are taking great care in looking at all aspects of the issues. The issues are complex; deciding the details of the scheme that will be put before the House is not as simple as might at first be perceived, and the Committee members are taking great care to consider all the implications. Nevertheless, it is right that today the House as a whole should give its imprimatur to the direction of travel that the Procedure Committee is taking.

The one caveat that I enter is that there will be an impact on some of the procedure that will be needed in respect of the exact role of the Deputy Speaker. We are not, of course, discussing the Wright Committee today, but if its proposals for the future role of Deputy Speakers are adopted by the House in respect of giving the Chairman of Ways and Means greater influence over the programme and business of the House, that will have an impact on the eventual proposals put before the House. I am a little worried about the timing of those two factors and the impending general election. It would be greatly to the advantage of the House to have the matter determined before Dissolution, so that the new Parliament has the opportunity to elect the Deputy Speakers in good order at the start of the new Session. With that one caveat, I shall certainly advise my right hon. and hon. Friends to support the motion.

4.31 pm

Mr. Greg Knight (East Yorkshire) (Con): I thank the Deputy Leader of the House, my hon. Friend the Member for North-West Cambridgeshire (Mr. Vara), her shadow, and the Liberal Democrat spokesman, the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome (Mr. Heath),
6 Jan 2010 : Column 237
for their support for the motion. In answer to the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome, I should say that the Procedure Committee shares his view that this matter will best be settled as soon as possible-certainly during the lifetime of this Parliament. The Procedure Committee is currently meeting weekly to try to meet that goal.

As has been said, the motion is an endorsement of the principle of election for Deputy Speakers. I say to the hon. Member for Croydon, Central (Mr. Pelling) that I suppose some academic might say that we already have a system of election in place, in that the motion that comes before the House for their appointment may be voted on, and is amendable. However, the last time such a Division took place was in 1962. The downside of our current procedure is that such a motion is tabled without notice, so no Member in any part of the House has any time to reflect on whether he or she wishes to support the names being put forward. Indeed, on the day when it normally occurs-the day of state opening-there is no Order Paper. Members do not even get five minutes' thinking time, because the motion is moved without any notice at all. Some may say that the nominations are cloaked in secrecy.

So the procedure is not transparent. However, I have to say that it has worked well in the past, and has delivered a number of excellent Deputy Speakers; I include the present incumbents in that description. However, I do think that it is now time to update our procedure to make it more transparent, and to give Members time to think about their choice.

I do not intend to dwell in detail on the proposals because, as the Deputy Leader of the House has made clear, the motion is an endorsement of principle. If the House supports the motion, it will have an opportunity to go into greater detail at a later date. The hon. Member for Croydon, Central (Mr. Pelling) mentioned term limits; I should tell him that all the motion does is authorise the Procedure Committee to give "consideration" to the introduction of term limits. If the motion passes, the matter will not be concluded one way or the other today. The motion asks, and authorises, the Procedure Committee to look into the matter and make recommendations to the House.

Today is not the day for detailed debate. The motion merely endorses the work we have done so far and authorises the Procedure Committee to continue. I would like to place on the record my thanks to all members of the Committee, of all parties, for the excellent work they have done so far. I support the motion, and urge the House to do so.

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