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Mr. Hogg: I cannot remember whether my hon. Friend was in the Chamber last night, but as I told my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth), such suggestions are becoming the norm for Ministers. During yesterday's timetable motion, the Minister for Public Health said that only two weeks would be sufficient to consider the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Bill in Committee. It is now the habit of Ministers to form a view on how much time is required in Committee.

Mr. Davies: Unfortunately, I have been aware for some time that the procedure has been abused and that timetable

23 Jan 2001 : Column 827

motions are not the exception but the rule. However, until this afternoon, I had not heard a Minister say, with such brutal frankness, that he would determine exactly how long a Committee needs to do its job. Let us briefly examine the statement that the Committee will need only two sittings, or perhaps four if it wants. What does that mean? How can the Minister possibly know that the Committee requires two sittings, rather than any other number?

The Minister is responsible for introducing the Bill, so he presumably thinks that it is perfect. If he had been aware that something was wrong with it, that it had some shortcomings or that it contained inadequacies or contradictions, presumably his duty would have been to get those points right before presenting it to the House. So, in his mind, the House needs no time at all to consider the Bill. He certainly cannot determine how long it needs, but he has said that it needs two days. Let us suppose that, in his modesty, he accepts that the House needs time to consider the Bill, that the job that he and the Executive have done cannot be perfect, that we should not live under an elective dictatorship, that there should be a balance between the Executive and legislature and that the legislature still has a role. If he accepts all that, how can he possibly determine whether the Bill should have two, four or 24 days in Committee?

The Minister cannot anticipate the Bill's shortcomings. If he could do, it would not have those shortcomings. If there are other difficulties that he has not anticipated, how can he possibly determine the time frame that Parliament will need to consider the issues? Therefore, his remarks on behalf of the Executive were not only arrogant and unacceptable, but they were meaningless. They just show that he had not begun to think through the issues before he tried to impose the timetable motion on us. That is extremely sad.

The Government have shown contempt not only for Parliament, but for the 56 million people of this country who still believe that Parliament has a role in the legislative process. If members of the public have a point to make about impending legislation, they look forward to the Committee stage as the only moment when they will have an opportunity to express their ideas to Committee members. The public hope that the Committee will take those ideas seriously and that they will be examined and debated. Clearly, that process is dead; it no longer takes place. All the people with faith in Parliament are under a childlike and naive illusion. That is a sad fact, but we must recognise it.

5.21 pm

Mr. Crispin Blunt (Reigate): I am glad that I shall have more than 10 seconds to speak, which is how long I had when I spoke in the debate on the programme motion on the Armed Forces Bill.

I agree with the arguments put by my right hon. and hon. Friends and particularly with those put by the hon. Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody). The Executive simply sees Parliament ramming legislation through without any amendments of worth being tabled by Members of the legislature. I sometimes wonder whether we are a legislature at all. The way in which the Government have used the programme motions illustrates that.

23 Jan 2001 : Column 828

I want to consider the position of individual Members of Parliament. I wanted to be on the Select Committee considering the Armed Forces Bill, because I know something about the subject and wanted to make a contribution in such a Committee. I have no idea whether I will be appointed to the Standing Committee considering this Bill, but I could be. I am not an expert on social security and national insurance contributions, so it is quite likely that I will be appointed, particularly given the way in which the Government carry on. They are likely to appoint Labour Back Benchers with no knowledge of the subject, because that is precisely what they did on the Armed Forces Bill. The Select Committee on that Bill for which Government Members, in particular, voted comprises seven Members from the governing party and none of them has served in the armed forces or on the Select Committee on Defence. Only two Opposition Back Benchers will be on the Committee considering the Bill.

The Committee structure for the Armed Forces Bill provides one occasion in which a Select Committee can take evidence, go on visits and, to a degree, hold the Government to account. That Bill is different from other Bills. However, the arrangements for this year's Bill show the Government's arrogance.

If a Back Bencher were appointed to the Standing Committee considering this Bill, he would presumably be appointed tomorrow. Therefore, if he is not an expert on the subject, he would have a short time in which to be able to understand the complicated issues involved. I served on the Committee considering the Armed Forces Discipline Act 2000. Even though I was familiar with military law, I had to sit down with a wet towel on my head to work out my own amendments. I tabled about 100 amendments that were not suggested by my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Opposition Front Bench. It took a great deal of work and concentration for me to be able to contribute meaningfully in Committee.

I am a not an expert on the subject covered by this Bill and to invite me to sit on a Committee that would have to complete its consideration by 1 February would be a disgrace. It would be a contempt of the House and its individual Members. The motion should be opposed.

5.25 pm

Mr. Timms: With the leave of House, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I do not recognise the characterisation of our procedures that has been so passionately denounced by--

It being forty-five minutes after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, Mr. Deputy Speaker, pursuant to Order [7 November], put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

The House divided: Ayes 270, Noes 152.

Division No. 76
[5.25 pm


Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Robert (Cov'try NE)
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Rt Hon Donald
(Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Ashton, Joe
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Bailey, Adrian
Banks, Tony
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield)
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Bermingham, Gerald
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Borrow, David
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Butler, Mrs Christine
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Cann, Jamie
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Rt Hon Dr Jack
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Dalyell, Tam
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Dawson, Hilton
Denham, John
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, Rt Hon Frank
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Drown, Ms Julia
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Galloway, George
Gapes, Mike
George, Rt Hon Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr Ian
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Grogan, John
Hain, Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hewitt, Ms Patricia
Hill, Keith
Hoey, Kate
Howells, Dr Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hume, John
Hurst, Alan
Hutton, John
Iddon, Dr Brian
Illsley, Eric
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)
Jones, Mrs Fiona (Newark)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)
Joyce, Eric
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Kelly, Ms Ruth
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Linton, Martin
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas
McCafferty, Ms Chris
Macdonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
McFall, John
McIsaac, Shona
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meacher, Rt Hon Michael
Merron, Gillian
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moran, Ms Margaret
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Perham, Ms Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pope, Greg
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Primarolo, Dawn
Quin, Rt Hon Ms Joyce
Raynsford, Nick
Robertson, John
(Glasgow Anniesland)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Shipley, Ms Debra
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Snape, Peter
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Ms Helen
Spellar, John
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr George (NW Norfolk)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Wood, Mike
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Tony (Cannock)

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Kevin Hughes and
Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe.


Allan, Richard
Amess, David
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon James
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Baldry, Tony
Ballard, Jackie
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Brand, Dr Peter
Brazier, Julian
Breed, Colin
Browning, Mrs Angela
Burnett, John
Burns, Simon
Burstow, Paul
Butterfill, John
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Chidgey, David
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clark, Dr Michael (Rayleigh)
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cotter, Brian
Cran, James
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Donaldson, Jeffrey
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, Iain
Emery, Rt Hon Sir Peter
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Fearn, Ronnie
Flight, Howard
Forth, Rt Hon Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Fowler, Rt Hon Sir Norman
Fox, Dr Liam
Fraser, Christopher
Gale, Roger
Garnier, Edward
George, Andrew (St Ives)
Gibb, Nick
Gidley, Sandra
Gill, Christopher
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Green, Damian
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, Rt Hon John
Hague, Rt Hon William
Hamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Hammond, Philip
Harris, Dr Evan
Harvey, Nick
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Heathcoat-Amory, Rt Hon David
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Horam, John
Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Jack, Rt Hon Michael
Jenkin, Bernard
Johnson Smith,
Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Keetch, Paul
Key, Robert
King, Rt Hon Tom (Bridgwater)
Kirkwood, Archy
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, Oliver
Lewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lidington, David
Lilley, Rt Hon Peter
Livsey, Richard
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)
Llwyd, Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir Nicholas
MacGregor, Rt Hon John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
MacKay, Rt Hon Andrew
Maclean, Rt Hon David
McLoughlin, Patrick
Madel, Sir David
Major, Rt Hon John
Malins, Humfrey
Maples, John
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Moore, Michael
Morgan, Alasdair (Galloway)
Oaten, Mark
Öpik, Lembit
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Portillo, Rt Hon Michael
Randall, John
Redwood, Rt Hon John
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)
Rowe, Andrew (Faversham)
Ruffley, David
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
St Aubyn, Nick
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Shepherd, Richard
Simpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Soames, Nicholas
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spring, Richard
Stanley, Rt Hon Sir John
Stunell, Andrew
Swayne, Desmond
Syms, Robert
Taylor, John M (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Trend, Michael
Tyler, Paul
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Webb, Steve
Wells, Bowen
Whitney, Sir Raymond
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Winterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Yeo, Tim
Young, Rt Hon Sir George

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. James Gray and
Mr. Stephen Day.

Question accordingly agreed to.

23 Jan 2001 : Column 831

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