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House of Commons
Session 1997-98
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House of Commons Votes and Proceedings
Tuesday 21st July 1998

The House met at half-past Two o'clock.
PRAYERS.
1City of Edinburgh (Guided Busways) Order Confirmation Bill,—The House, according to Order, proceeded to consider the City of Edinburgh (Guided Busways) Order Confirmation Bill.
 
        Bill to be read the third time to-morrow.
2First Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation,—Mrs Ray Michie reported from the First Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation the draft Security for Private Road Works (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 1998.
 
        Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee to lie upon the Table.
3Third Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation,—Mr George Stevenson reported from the Third Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation the draft Community Drivers' Hours and Recording Equipment (Amendment) Regulations 1998.
 
        Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee to lie upon the Table.
4Message from the Lords,—A Message was brought from the Lords, as follows:
 
        The Lords agree, without Amendment, to the Amendment made by this House to one of their Amendments to the School Standards and Framework Bill; they do not insist on their remaining Amendments, to which this House has disagreed; they agree, without Amendment, to an Amendment made by this House in lieu of certain of their Amendments; and they agree, without Amendment, to the Amendments made by this House to words restored to the Bill.
5Remission of Third World Debt (Jubilee 2000),—Ordered, That leave be given to bring in a Bill to provide for the remission of debt owed by the poorest developing countries by the year 2000: And that Mr William Cash, Mr Donald Anderson, Mr Frank Cook, Mrs Margaret Ewing, Mr Simon Hughes, Mr Nigel Jones, Mr Peter Luff, Mr Martin O'Neill, Mr Giles Radice, Mr Barry Sheerman, Mr Bowen Wells and Steve Webb do prepare and bring it in.
6Remission of Third World Debt (Jubilee 2000) Bill,—Mr William Cash accordingly presented a Bill to provide for the remission of debt owed by the poorest developing countries by the year 2000: And the same was read the first time; and ordered to be read a second time to-morrow and to be printed [Bill 235].
7Opposition Day [18th allotted day],—It being an allotted day at the disposal of the second largest opposition party in pursuance of Standing Order No. 14 (Arrangement of public business), the House proceeded to consider opposition business.
 
        Relationship of Government to Parliament—A Motion was made, and the Question being proposed, That this House, reiterating the importance of a strong parliamentary democracy in Britain, deplores the fact that successive governments have increasingly diluted the role of Parliament by making announcements to the media before making them to this House; by undermining the legitimate revising role of the House of Lords; by giving access to lobbyists at a time when the representations of elected Members are dealt with in an increasingly dilatory fashion; by inhibiting the rights of backbenchers to make criticisms of their own side; by encouraging planted supplementary questions which fail to hold the Executive to account; and by responding to questions and arguments with meaningless soundbites and partisan rhetoric instead of constructive answers—(Mr A. J. Beith);
 
        An Amendment was proposed to the Question, in line 2, to leave out from the word 'House' to the end of the Question and add the words 'notes that members of the Government are present daily in both Houses, putting forward the case for the Government's legislative and financial proposals and being held to account for its policies and actions; welcomes the all-party support for the establishment of the Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons and the endorsement by the House of key proposals to make Parliament more effective and efficient; notes that more statements have been made by ministers this session than in the equivalent period in 1992-93, and that Cabinet ministers have given oral evidence to select committees on more occasions than the average for the past seven sessions; and believes that the Government has lived up to both its manifesto commitment and the 19th March 1997 resolution on ministerial accountability', instead thereof.—(Mrs Ann Taylor.)
 
        And the Question being put, That the original words stand part of the Question;
 
        The House divided.
 
          Tellers for the Ayes, Mr Andrew Stunell, Mr Donald Gorrie: 42.
 
          Tellers for the Noes, Mr Greg Pope, Mr David Clelland: 310.
 
        So the Question was negatived.
 
        And the Question, That the proposed words be there added, being put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on Amendments):—It was agreed to.
 
        The Deputy Speaker forthwith declared the Main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.
 
        Resolved, That this House notes that members of the Government are present daily in both Houses, putting forward the case for the Government's legislative and financial proposals and being held to account for its policies and actions; welcomes the all-party support for the establishment of the Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons and the endorsement by the House of key proposals to make Parliament more effective and efficient; notes that more statements have been made by ministers this session than in the equivalent period in 1992-93, and that Cabinet ministers have given oral evidence to select committees on more occasions that the average for the past seven sessions; and believes that the Government has lived up to both its manifesto commitment and the 19th March 1997 resolution on ministerial accountability.
 
        European Single Currency,—A Motion was made, and the Question being proposed, That this House believes that membership of the European Single Currency will be in Britain's long-term economic interests because it will promote trade, increase competitiveness, secure inward investment, reduce interest rates, boost economic stability, consolidate the City of London's pre-eminent financial market position, and promote growth, employment and Britain's influence in Europe; calls on the Government to hold a referendum on the principle of the Single Currency during the current Parliament and to join the Single Currency at the earliest practical opportunity; and in the intervening period to implement a series of policies to prepare for Single Currency membership including: joint six monthly reports by the Treasury and the Bank of England on progress towards interest rate convergence with the Euro zone, steps to secure a stable and fairly valued pound, action to align UK and Euro inflation levels and targets, and discussions with the UK's European partners aimed at promoting an accountable structure for the European Central Bank and maximum possible fiscal subsidiarity—(Mr Malcolm Bruce);
 
        An Amendment was proposed to the Question, in line 2, to leave out from the word 'House' to the end of the Question and add the words 'welcomes the Government's conviction to pursue a prudent and balanced policy in respect of United Kingdom membership of the single currency; believes that, in principle, British membership of a successful single currency could bring economic benefits to Britain and to Europe; welcomes the Government's decision to make the national economic interest the key test for British entry; agrees with the Government that, barring some fundamental and unforeseen change in economic circumstances, making a decision to join during the current Parliament is not realistic; commends the actions of the Government to introduce a programme of economic reforms and practical assistance for British business which are both in the national economic interest and will help to create a real option of joining the single currency early in the next Parliament should Government, Parliament and the people so decide; and believes that the Government's policy will bring stability to business and reflects the long-term economic interests of the country', instead thereof.—(Mr Alistair Darling.)
 
        And the Question being put, That the original words stand part of the Question;
 
        The House divided.
 
          Tellers for the Ayes, Mr Edward Davey, Mr Phil Willis: 46.
 
          Tellers for the Noes, Jane Kennedy, Mr Jon Owen Jones: 292.
 
        So the Question was negatived.
 
        And the Question, That the proposed words be there added, being put forthwith, pursuant to Standing Order No. 31 (Questions on amendments):—It was agreed to.
 
        The Deputy Speaker forthwith declared the Main Question, as amended, to be agreed to.
 
        Resolved, That this House welcomes the Government's conviction to pursue a prudent and balanced policy in respect of United Kingdom membership of the single currency; believes that, in principle, British membership of a successful single currency could bring economic benefits to Britain and to Europe; welcomes the Government's decision to make the national economic interest the key test for British entry; agrees with the Government that, barring some fundamental and unforeseen change in economic circumstances, making a decision to join during the current Parliament is not realistic; commends the actions of the Government to introduce a programme of economic reforms and practical assistance for British businesses which are both in the national economic interest and will help to create a real option of joining the single currency early in the next Parliament should Government, Parliament and the people so decide; and believes that the Government's policy will bring stability to business and reflects the long-term economic interests of the country.
8Section 5 of The European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993,—Ordered, That, for the purposes of their approval under section 5 of the European Communities (Amendment) Act 1993, the Economic and Fiscal Strategy Report 1998 and the Comprehensive Spending Review shall be treated as if they were instruments subject to the provisions of Standing Order No. 118 (Standing Committees on Delegated Legislation).—(Mr Jim Dowd.)
9Public Petitions,—Public Petitions from—
 
        (1) residents of Hastings and Rye for an improved transport infrastructure for the area, and
 
        (2) residents and others of the Far Cotton and St. James' areas of Northampton for a comprehensive public inquiry into the floods in the Northampton area in Easter 1998
 
    were presented and read; and ordered to lie upon the Table and to be printed.
10Adjournment,—A Motion was made, and the Question being proposecd, That this House do now adjourn.—(Mr Jim Dowd.)
 
        And the Motion having being made after Ten o'clock, and the Debate having continued for half an hour, the Deputy Speaker adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order, it being then thirteen minutes to Eleven o'clock, till to-morrow.
[Adjourned at 10.47 p.m.
Betty Boothroyd
Speaker        

Madam Speaker will take the Chair at half-past Nine o'clock.

APPENDIX I
Papers presented or laid upon the Table:
Papers subject to Affirmative Resolution:
1Agriculture,—Draft Meat and Livestock Commission Levy (Variation) Scheme (Confirmation) Order 1998 [by Act] [Dr John Cunningham].
2Northern Ireland,—Draft Local Government (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) Order 1998 [by Act] [Secretary Marjorie Mowlam].
Other Papers:
3Audit (Northern Ireland),—Reports by the Comptroller and Auditor General for Northern Ireland on:
 
        (1) National Museums and Galleries of Northern Ireland: Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, and
 
        (2) Northern Ireland Health and Personal Social Services: Controls to Prevent and Detect Fraud in Family Practitioner Service Payments
 
    [by Statutory Instrument]; to be printed [Nos. 916 and 917] [Secretary Marjorie Mowlam].
4Communications,—Paper, entitled Regulating communications: approaching convergence in the Information Age [by Command] [Cm. 4022] [Secretary Margaret Beckett].
5Culture, Media and Sport,—Government Response to the Fourth Report from the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Session 1997-98, on The Multimedia Revolution [by Command] [Cm. 4020] [Mr Secretary Smith].
6Disability Rights Commission,—Paper, entitled Promoting Disabled People's Rights: creating a Disability Rights Commission fit for the 21st century [by Command] [Cm. 3977] [Mr Secretary Blunkett].
7Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster,—Revenue and Capital Accounts of the Duchy of Lancaster for 1997-98 [by Act] [Dawn Primarolo].
8Government Trading Funds,—Reports and Accounts of:
 
        (1) Central Office of Information,
 
        (2) Companies House, and
 
        (3) HM Land Registry
 
    for 1997-98, with the Reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General thereon [by Act]; to be printed [Nos. 978, 824 and 962] [Clerk of the House].
9Home Office Executive Agencies,—Report and Accounts of the United Kingdom Passport Agency for 1997-98, with the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General thereon [by Act]; to be printed [No. 884] [Mr Secretary Straw].
10Hong Kong,—Paper, entitled Six-monthly Report on Hong Kong, January-June 1998 [by Command] [Cm. 4019] [Mr Secretary Cook].
11Housing,—Report and Accounts of North Hull Housing Action Trust for 1997-98 [by Act] [Mr Secretary Prescott].
12Local Government,—Financial Statements of the South Bank Centre for 1997-98, with the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General thereon [by Act] [Mr Secretary Smith].
13National Audit,—Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General on Benefits Agency: Performance Measurement [by Act]; to be printed [No. 952] [Clerk of the House].
14National Heritage,—Accounts of the National Heritage Memorial Fund for 1997-98, with the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General thereon [by Act]; to be printed [No. 1013] [Clerk of the House].
15National Lottery,—Accounts of the National Heritage Memorial Fund Lottery Distribution for 1997-98, with the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General thereon [by Act]; to be printed [No. 1014] [Clerk of the House].
16New Towns,—Accounts of the Commission for the New Towns for 1997-98 [by Act] [Mr Secretary Prescott].
17Northern Ireland Executive Agencies,—Report and Accounts of the Social Security Agency for 1997-98, with the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General for Northern Ireland thereon [by Act]; to be printed [No. 911] [Secretary Marjorie Mowlam].
18Prisons (Scotland),—Report and Accounts of the Scottish Prison Service for 1997-98, with the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General thereon [by Act]; to be printed [No. 808] [Mr Secretary Dewar].
19Transport,—Report and Accounts of British Waterways for 1997-98 [by Act] [Mr Secretary Prescott].
20War Pensions,—List of exceptional awards for 1997-98 [by Statutory Instrument] [Secretary Harriet Harman].
21Welsh Language,—Accounts of the Welsh Language Board for 1997-98, with the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General thereon [by Act]; to be printed [No. 1012] [Clerk of the House].
22Wildlife and Countryside,—Accounts of the Countryside Commission for 1997-98, with the Report of the Comptroller and Auditor General thereon [by Act]; to be printed [No. 1022] [Clerk of the House].
APPENDIX II
Standing Committees
1Draft Pneumoconiosis etc. (Worker's Compensation) (Payment of Claims) Amendment Regulations 1998,—The Committee of Selection has discharged Mr Malcolm Wicks from the Second Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation (nominated in respect of the draft Regulations); and nominated in substitution Mr Paul Marsden.
2Draft International Monetary Fund (Increase in Subscription) Order 1998,—The Committee of Selection has discharged Mr Paul Marsden and Mr John Whittingdale from the Fifth Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation (nominated in respect of the draft Order); and nominated in substitution Mr Gary Streeter and Mr Malcolm Wicks.
APPENDIX III
Reports from Select Committees
1Agriculture,—Memorandum laid before the Agriculture Committee [Flood and coastal defence] [Mr Peter Luff].
2Defence,—Minutes of Evidence taken before the Defence Committee on 21st July [Strategic Defence Review]; to be printed [Nos. 138-xviii and xix] [Mr Bruce George].
3Education and Employment,—Seventh Report from the Education and Employment Committee [Pathways into Work for Lone Parents], together with Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence taken before the Committee; to be printed, with the Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee relating to the Report [No. 646] [Mr Derek Foster].
4Environmental Audit,—Minutes of Evidence taken before the Environmental Audit Committee on 21st July [Trees; and European Environmental Policy]; to be printed [Nos. 1017 and 1018] [Mr John Horam].
5Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs,—Minutes of Evidence taken before the Environment Sub-Committee of the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Committee on 21st July [The Protection of Field Boundaries]; to be printed [No. 969-ii] [Mr Andrew F. Bennett].
6International Development,—Fifth Report from the International Development Committee [Department for International Development: 1998 Departmental Report]; to be printed, with the Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee relating to the Report [No. 711] [Mr Bowen Wells].
7Public Administration,—Fourth Special Report from the Select Committee on Public Administration [Government Response to the Third Report from the Committee on Your Right to Know: the Government's proposals for a Freedom of Information Act]; to be printed [No. 1020] [Mr Rhodri Morgan].
8Social Security,—Minutes of Evidence taken before the Social Security Committee on 21st July [Child Benefit Fraud]; to be printed [No. 1021-i] [Mr Archy Kirkwood].
9Trade and Industry,—(1) Ninth Report from the Trade and Industry Committee [Georgian Nuclear Material at Dounreay], together with Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence taken before the Committee; to be printed, with the Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee relating to the Report [No. 815]; and
 
        (2) Tenth Report from the Trade and Industry Committee [Developments in the Liberalisation of the Domestic Electricity Market], together with Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence taken before the Committee; to be printed, with the Minutes of Proceedings of the Committee relating to the Report [No. 871]
 
    [Mr Martin O'Neill].
10Statutory Instruments,—Forty-Second Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments, together with Memoranda laid before the Committee; to be printed [No. 33-xlii] [Mr David Tredinnick].



 
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