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2 Mar 2010 : Column 821

Surely a better way forward, especially on such Bills as the one before us, would be much more consultation on the time that is needed and the use of time elsewhere in the week, when business collapses early. The Library and the Clerks have identified huge chunks of days on which business collapses early, and that time would be available to extend our debates on Report.

In addition, the Lord Chancellor should understand, in respect of his answer to me, that there is a proposal from the Wright Committee for speech-length restrictions on Report. We could get through the business that is before us much more quickly without the need for knives, or at least by having knives for any proposal that was multi-consenting, as it were, without the need for them late in proceedings in order to get through the Bill.

There is a holistic solution, and it could be made available if we reform, but even if we do not reform there are ways in which we can improve such matters. It is extremely sad that critical matters of parliamentary reform and matters relating to referendums and to discrimination against Catholics and women in our constitution, to which I referred earlier, will not even be debated-especially when they are the subject of Government amendments, which will be voted through.

This is probably the 12th time that I have made such points on Report, and the House should not have to suffer that. The solution is in our hands not just today, but on Thursday, and I hope that we take it. I hope also that on Thursday, as a consequence of hearing such complaints so often, the Lord Chancellor will find himself in the right Lobby when it comes to a full-time permanent cure that involves not a complete shortage of time but more consensual undertakings and the reform of our procedures to ensure that we do our key job properly.

4.37 pm

Lynne Jones (Birmingham, Selly Oak) (Lab): I noticed that the Secretary of State seemed to be having consultations during the speech by the hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Dr. Harris), so I hope that my right hon. Friend will respond positively to the suggestions that the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) made. I share colleagues' concerns about the inadequacies of this Report stage and many others in which I have felt forced to vote against the Government on programme motions.

The Government set up the Wright Committee, and I very much hope that on Thursday all parts of the House will agree to the Committee's significant proposals. I hope also that, having set up that Committee, the Government will accept the spirit of its recommendations and act accordingly this afternoon.

4.38 pm

Bob Spink (Castle Point) (Ind): I, like all other contributors to the debate so far, rise to speak against the programme motion. We have before us a constitutional Bill that is far-reaching and of great importance to the House and to our constituents. It is of fundamental importance, and we need to debate it thoroughly and properly, so I am exasperated by this programme motion, which is far too tight. I support the suggestion of an extraordinary resolution of the House to continue beyond 10 pm, if we need to, in order to debate all the clauses
2 Mar 2010 : Column 822
that need to be debated. I have two petitions at 10 o'clock tonight, but I would be very happy to present them at 4 o'clock tomorrow morning, if necessary.

In earlier Parliaments, such as the 1992 to 1997 Parliament, we used to stay up all night, if necessary, in order to get better legislation and properly debate the motions before us. Today's final group of amendments contains about 70 new clauses and amendments to be debated in what will end up being only a few minutes. They are on matters such as the conduct of referendums and elections and public order. The hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Dr. Harris) mentioned new clauses 2 and 3, which he has tabled, regarding royal marriages and succession to the Crown. Those are most important matters, but they will not be debated at all.

The Bill has grown like Topsy since it first came before the House, and it is nothing like the Bill that we first debated. For that reason, too, we need to spend sufficient time examining the new clauses. That is why I oppose the programme motion and hope that we will be able to extend our debate so that we can properly consider the important matters before us.

4.40 pm

Mr. Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills) (Con): I have noticed with a sinking heart that everyone has referred to this as a programme motion. That tells us how, by usage and custom, we have come to accept something that is wholly unacceptable. In a more robust age, which the Secretary of State will remember, as we came to the House on the same day, it was cried out that such motions were guillotine motions, and they were shouted against.

The public at large understand the purpose of a guillotine-to cut off debate at a certain point. It is as simple as that. The word "programme", and the language that surrounds it, suggests that this is a careful form of art, in which all the considerations are weighed up, and that the important issues are discussed for individual Members to balance. But who determines what will be discussed? It is, of course, the Executive-the Crown-who control the business that comes before the House and set down these guillotine motions. There is no serious intent whatever to enable us to debate all the amendments on the paper, should that be our wish.

The concept that everyone in the House could participate in debates on a constitutional Bill was inviolate until, I believe, the Single European Act. There were no guillotine motions. Now we accept a new guillotine motion each day to ensure that the Government control everything and that proceedings will happen to a timetable. For many reasons, which the Secretary of State was quite right to point out, none of us wants to sit here and toil through the night as repetitive speeches are made, but that was not the point in question. He said that this motion will assist us in debating the business of the House, no less. That is like the prosecution in a court saying, "In order to assist the defence, we will deny them anything other than 10 minutes to present their case."

If we think about the balance of the argument, what is the purpose of the House? It is to test the propositions that the Executive put in front of us, but there are now knives, as well, a new construction that does not even
2 Mar 2010 : Column 823
allow the role of a debate to determine itself naturally. As a new departure or refinement, they have been imposed alongside the concept of guillotining. It is a most unsatisfactory process, but we wish it upon ourselves every time a huge Government majority marches through the Lobby to impose the will of the Executive. Yet the division between Back-Bench Members in all parts of the House and the Executive grows.

When do we have the opportunity to tease out the Government's argument, and see them win an argument through debate? That is the other consequence-the Government themselves are often cut out. That is a matter of no consequence to them, because their objective is merely to have the vote. That is why the House is now scorned.

The hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Dr. Harris) talked about his amendments, and many Members have been frustrated in the same way. In saying that, I notice too that people look forward to Thursday, as if it will change that situation, but none of it will change, and we need not think that a new Government will necessarily change things either. The convenience to the Executive is so great and the damage to the House of Commons is even greater, yet this is the only democratic institution in this country that determines what the law should be.

I shall therefore gladly vote against this guillotine motion, and I hope we all remember that our subservience-on both sides of the House-has brought this Parliament low to the ethos of executive government.

4.45 pm

Mr. Gordon Prentice (Pendle) (Lab): I, too, shall vote against the programme motion. There is simply not enough time for us properly to consider all the proposed new clauses and amendments, including the proposals from the Select Committee on Public Administration, which is chaired so ably by my friend from Cannock Chase (Dr. Wright). Those proposals are in the fifth group, which includes my proposal-new clause 7-on the Ashcroft scandal, which is supported by 84 Members of Parliament. I have made it clear that there are Members of Parliament down the other place who are here under false pretences, and it is not acceptable for me to vote for a programme motion that extinguishes any possibility of considering new clause 7, so I shall be voting against it.

4.46 pm

Mr. Straw: I urge the programme motion on the House. I understand the House's frustration about the time, but I repeat the point that however we cut the time, it will always be limited.

I look forward to the votes on Thursday, but if we are to move to more open-ended debates on Report, in Committee and on the Floor of the House, we will have to have restrictions on the time that individual Members speak. Otherwise, we will have the kind of filibustering in which I participated very happily-but not to any great effect-in opposition. That was not particularly productive, and it led to more severe guillotines than anything we have faced under programming.

Mr. Redwood rose-

2 Mar 2010 : Column 824

Mr. Straw: If the right hon. Gentleman will excuse me, I will not give way.

My hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Selly Oak (Lynne Jones) is back. I am perfectly happy, as a loyal member of the Government, to be here till 11 o'clock, midnight or 1 o'clock in the morning to vote for the Government. I look forward to her-in a new incarnation-voting for the Government in the small hours with the same enthusiasm that I have showed and continue to show.

Lynne Jones: I must tell my right hon. Friend that most of the time, I vote for the Government, and I will do so, if it is appropriate, whatever time the vote is called.

Mr. Straw: Methinks my hon. Friend doth protest too much, because I was not saying anything different.

Lastly, reference was made to the number of pages of amendments. The Government's proposals on a wholly new subject-the Dacre review-run to three pages. The other Government proposals have been tabled in response to the concern expressed in earlier debates in the House, for example on Kelly and protests around Parliament, which has certainly been the subject of huge and extensive debate. I commend the motion to the House.

Question put.

The House divided: Ayes 272, Noes 226.
Division No. 92]
[4.48 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Ainger, Nick
Allen, Mr. Graham
Anderson, Mr. David
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, Mr. Ian
Austin, John
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Bain, Mr. William
Balls, rh Ed
Banks, Gordon
Barlow, Ms Celia
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Benton, Mr. Joe
Berry, Roger
Betts, Mr. Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Bradshaw, rh Mr. Ben
Brown, Lyn
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, rh Andy
Butler, Ms Dawn
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Clark, Ms Katy
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, rh Yvette
Cousins, Jim
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, Mr. Quentin
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Dismore, Mr. Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dowd, Jim

Drew, Mr. David
Durkan, Mark
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Etherington, Bill
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flint, rh Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gardiner, Barry
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gilroy, Linda
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Grogan, Mr. John
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Mr. Mike
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hanson, rh Mr. David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Mr. Tom
Henderson, Mr. Doug
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Heppell, Mr. John
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Hill, rh Keith
Hillier, Meg
Hodge, rh Margaret
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Hoey, Kate
Hood, Mr. Jim
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hutton, rh Mr. John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Ingram, rh Mr. Adam
Jackson, Glenda
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Alan
Kelly, rh Ruth
Kemp, Mr. Fraser
Kidney, Mr. David
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, rh Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Mr. Ivan
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Love, Mr. Andrew
Mactaggart, Fiona
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Mallaber, Judy
Mann, John
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Marshall-Andrews, Mr. Robert
Martlew, Mr. Eric
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McFadden, rh Mr. Pat
McFall, rh John
McGuire, rh Mrs. Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, rh Edward
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Morden, Jessica
Morgan, Julie
Mudie, Mr. George
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, rh Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
O'Brien, rh Mr. Mike
O'Hara, Mr. Edward
Olner, Mr. Bill
Osborne, Sandra
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pope, Mr. Greg
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Purnell, rh James
Rammell, Bill
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, rh John
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robertson, John
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Roy, Mr. Frank
Roy, Lindsay
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad

Seabeck, Alison
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Simpson, Alan
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, rh Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, Geraldine
Smith, rh Jacqui
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Stewart, Ian
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Tami, Mark
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Ussher, Kitty
Vaz, rh Keith
Walley, Joan
Waltho, Lynda
Ward, Claire
Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, rh Malcolm
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Mrs. Betty
Wills, rh Mr. Michael
Wilson, Phil
Winnick, Mr. David
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, Mr. Anthony
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Bob Blizzard and
Steve McCabe

Afriyie, Adam
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Alexander, Danny
Amess, Mr. David
Arbuthnot, rh Mr. James
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Baron, Mr. John
Barrett, John
Beith, rh Sir Alan
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Beresford, Sir Paul
Binley, Mr. Brian
Bone, Mr. Peter
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Bottomley, Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brokenshire, James
Brooke, Annette
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Browning, Angela
Bruce, rh Malcolm
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Alistair
Burt, Lorely
Butterfill, Sir John
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Cameron, rh Mr. David
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Carmichael, Mr. Alistair
Carswell, Mr. Douglas
Clappison, Mr. James
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Clegg, rh Mr. Nick
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cox, Mr. Geoffrey
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Curry, rh Mr. David
Davey, Mr. Edward
Davies, Mr. Dai
Davies, David T. C. (Monmouth)
Davies, Philip
Davis, rh David
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dorrell, rh Mr. Stephen
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Farron, Tim
Field, Mr. Mark
Foster, Mr. Don
Fox, Dr. Liam
Francois, Mr. Mark
Fraser, Christopher
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian

Greening, Justine
Grieve, Mr. Dominic
Gummer, rh Mr. John
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hammond, Stephen
Hancock, Mr. Mike
Hands, Mr. Greg
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Dr. Evan
Harvey, Nick
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Heath, Mr. David
Hemming, John
Hendry, Charles
Herbert, Nick
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Holmes, Paul
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howard, rh Mr. Michael
Howarth, David
Howell, John
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hunter, Mark
Hurd, Mr. Nick
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
Jenkin, Mr. Bernard
Jones, Mr. David
Jones, Lynne
Kawczynski, Daniel
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Kennedy, rh Mr. Charles
Key, Robert
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Kramer, Susan
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Laws, Mr. David
Leech, Mr. John
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Luff, Peter
Mackay, rh Mr. Andrew
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
Main, Anne
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Mason, John
Maude, rh Mr. Francis
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McDonnell, John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Milton, Anne
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Moore, Mr. Michael
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Mulholland, Greg
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
O'Brien, Mr. Stephen
Oaten, Mr. Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Mr. George
Paice, Mr. James
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penning, Mike

Penrose, John
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Price, Adam
Prisk, Mr. Mark
Pritchard, Mark
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, Mr. John
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Reid, Mr. Alan
Rennie, Willie
Rifkind, rh Sir Malcolm
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Rogerson, Dan
Rosindell, Andrew
Rowen, Paul
Russell, Bob
Sanders, Mr. Adrian
Scott, Mr. Lee
Selous, Andrew
Shapps, Grant
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Smith, Sir Robert
Soames, Mr. Nicholas
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Streeter, Mr. Gary
Stuart, Mr. Graham
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swinson, Jo
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Syms, Mr. Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Matthew
Taylor, Dr. Richard
Teather, Sarah
Timpson, Mr. Edward
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Vaizey, Mr. Edward
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Viggers, Sir Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Walter, Mr. Robert
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve
Weir, Mr. Mike
Whittingdale, Mr. John
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Willetts, Mr. David
Williams, Mark
Williams, Stephen
Willott, Jenny
Wilshire, Mr. David
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Winterton, Ann
Wishart, Pete
Yeo, Mr. Tim
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard
Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Roger Williams and
Jeremy Wright
Question accordingly agreed to.
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