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Mr. Hogg: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. May I build on what my right hon. and learned Friend said?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: No. I have dealt with that.

Mr. Hogg: On a separate point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The right hon. and learned Gentleman begins by saying that he wants to build on one matter and then changes his ground. Can he be clear?

Mr. Hogg: Yes, of course. Mr. Speaker said that it was for the Chairman of Ways and Means to give a ruling. You could give a ruling now on whether you will accept manuscript amendments during the Committee and Report stages--

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The right hon. and learned Gentleman is testing the patience of the Chair. Mr. Speaker said that the matters would be discussed on their merits. That is the exact position.

Mr. Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock): Incidentally, when would you like the election?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: That is most assuredly not a matter for me.

Sir Nicholas Lyell: My final remark was directed at the importance of our ability to table amendments at an appropriate time so that Bills can be properly considered and their errors corrected. All hon. Members will realise that the legislative process is not the monopoly of the Government of the day; it relies on the will of the House. The procedure, which you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, are astute in protecting, is designed to give every Member due opportunity to contribute to proposed legislation in the hope--sometimes misguided; often well directed--that it will better meet the country's needs.

Mr. Forth: Has my right hon. and learned Friend resolved for himself the dilemma that we all face?

3 Apr 2001 : Column 210

Given that the motion allows amendments, new clauses and new schedules to be tabled before Second Reading, is he, like me, going to draft those today speculatively, or does he intend to table them at the last minute when he has heard that debate?

Sir Nicholas Lyell: My understanding is that I am entitled--indeed, encouraged--to table amendments, new clauses or new schedules now and until a decision is made on Second Reading. I also understand that I am entitled to table amendments in Committee for your consideration, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to be dealt with as you think fit. I might be looking too far ahead and further guidance might be forthcoming, but I believe that, in addition, I will be able to do that on Report. I shall do my best to do all those things.

Mr. Forth: Given the circumstances that the motion outlines, does my right hon. and learned Friend believe that he has sufficient opportunity to receive representations from local government interests in his constituency? Such representations would inform the process--

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. That is completely irrelevant to the motion.

Sir Nicholas Lyell: I entirely understand that. The answer to my right hon. Friend's question would depend on the time that was allocated.

One has to have time in which to table sensible amendments; we must also have an opportunity to reflect. I shall determine the amendments that I shall table pursuant to the ruling on which I am concentrating. If I have calculated correctly, the time available lasts until tomorrow night if the Elections Bill receives a Second Reading. Following the Chair's guidance, which we have just received, I anticipate further discussions on timetabling, with which we cannot deal now.

The Bill is complex.

Mr. Dale Campbell-Savours (Workington): On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Some extremely important prospective legislation has been tabled on the Order Paper for discussion today. The whole world awaits it. The measure will be discussed in Parliaments throughout the world. When will we end the nonsensical debate that we are currently holding? Conservative Members are wasting time. Why will they not stop?

Mr. Deputy Speaker: The debate is proceeding in order. When it does not, the Chair takes corrective action.

Sir Nicholas Lyell: The hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) will bear in mind that we are discussing a complex Bill. We want to get it right--

Mr. Deputy Speaker: Order. The right hon. and learned Gentleman is incorrect. We are not discussing a Bill, but a technical motion, which extends the amount of time for tabling amendments. That is the sole, narrow point before the House. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman is not prepared to stay within my ruling, I suggest that he remain seated.

Sir Nicholas Lyell: Of course, I always stay within your rulings, Mr. Deputy Speaker. In directing our

3 Apr 2001 : Column 211

attention to the amendments that the motion gives us an opportunity to table, our objective is to improve the Bill. I hope that the House supports that.

Rev. Martin Smyth: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am trying to keep within the rules of the debate. At the beginning of our proceedings, the Minister apologised to the minority parties. He also said that the Northern Ireland Office or someone else had advised him that we had been given information through our offices late last night. I must put it on record that some of us were here until late last night. I understand through consultation with the leader of the Democratic Unionist party that notice was sent to Stormont. Surely the information should be provided to us here rather than in Stormont.

Mr. Charles Clarke: Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. As the hon. Gentleman acknowledged, I apologised earlier for what had happened. I want to clarify matters further, and I shall write to him and his colleagues with a full account of events.

Question put:--

The House divided: Ayes 325, Noes 11.

Division No. 172
[5.8 pm


Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Allan, Richard
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Rt Hon Donald
(Swansea E)
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms Hilary
Ashdown, Rt Hon Paddy
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Ballard, Jackie
Barnes, Harry
Barron, Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs Margaret
Beith, Rt Hon A J
Bell, Martin (Tatton)
Bell, Stuart (Middlesbrough)
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield)
Bennett, Andrew F
Benton, Joe
Berry, Roger
Best, Harold
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blunkett, Rt Hon David
Boateng, Rt Hon Paul
Bradley, Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Breed, Colin
Brinton, Mrs Helen
Browne, Desmond
Bruce, Malcolm (Gordon)
Buck, Ms Karen
Burgon, Colin
Burstow, Paul
Butler, Mrs Christine
Byers, Rt Hon Stephen
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Rt Hon Menzies
(NE Fife)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Campbell-Savours, Dale
Cann, Jamie
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Caton, Martin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)
Clark, Dr Lynda
(Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, Eric (Midlothian)
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann
Coffey, Ms Ann
Coleman, Iain
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cook, Rt Hon Robin (Livingston)
Corbett, Robin
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, Jean
Cotter, Brian
Cox, Tom
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Darvill, Keith
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Davidson, Ian
Davies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim
Donohoe, Brian H
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim
Drew, David
Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff
Fearn, Ronnie
Field, Rt Hon Frank
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul
Foster, Rt Hon Derek
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Foster, Michael J (Worcester)
Foulkes, George
Fyfe, Maria
Galloway, George
Gapes, Mike
George, Andrew (St Ives)
George, Rt Hon Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gidley, Sandra
Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Goggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs Llin
Gordon, Mrs Eileen
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grocott, Bruce
Grogan, John
Gunnell, John
Hain, Peter
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hanson, David
Harman, Rt Hon Ms Harriet
Harvey, Nick
Healey, John
Heath, David (Somerton & Frome)
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hesford, Stephen
Hill, Keith
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Ms Margaret
Hoon, Rt Hon Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howells, Dr Kim
Hoyle, Lindsay
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Illsley, Eric
Jackson, Ms Glenda (Hampstead)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)
Johnson, Miss Melanie
(Welwyn Hatfield)
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)
Joyce, Eric
Kaufman, Rt Hon Gerald
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)
Keetch, Paul
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S
Kidney, David
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)
Kingham, Ms Tess
Kumar, Dr Ashok
Ladyman, Dr Stephen
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob
Leslie, Christopher
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Livsey, Richard
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Lock, David
Love, Andrew
McAvoy, Thomas
McDonagh, Siobhain
Macdonald, Calum
McFall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
Maclennan, Rt Hon Robert
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Marshall, David (Shettleston)
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Martlew, Eric
Maxton, John
Meale, Alan
Merron, Gillian
Michael, Rt Hon Alun
Michie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Michie, Mrs Ray (Argyll & Bute)
Milburn, Rt Hon Alan
Miller, Andrew
Mitchell, Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Moonie, Dr Lewis
Moore, Michael
Morgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Mountford, Kali
Mullin, Chris
Murphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr Doug
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
O'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
O'Hara, Eddie
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Öpik, Lembit
Organ, Mrs Diana
Osborne, Ms Sandra
Palmer, Dr Nick
Pearson, Ian
Perham, Ms Linda
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter L
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Primarolo, Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Quinn, Lawrie
Radice, Rt Hon Giles
Rapson, Syd
Rendel, David
Robertson, John
(Glasgow Anniesland)
Rooker, Rt Hon Jeff
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Rowlands, Ted
Roy, Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Salter, Martin
Sanders, Adrian
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheldon, Rt Hon Robert
Shipley, Ms Debra
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, Miss Geraldine
(Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Soley, Clive
Squire, Ms Rachel
Starkey, Dr Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Straw, Rt Hon Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Temple-Morris, Peter
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Timms, Stephen
Tonge, Dr Jenny
Touhig, Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tyler, Paul
Tynan, Bill
Vis, Dr Rudi
Walley, Ms Joan
Ward, Ms Claire
Wareing, Robert N
Watts, David
Webb, Steve
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr Alan
Williams, Rt Hon Alan
(Swansea W)
Williams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams, Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Willis, Phil
Wills, Michael
Wilson, Brian
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Wood, Mike
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)

Tellers for the Ayes:

Mr. Kevin Hughes and
Mr. Greg Pope.


Body, Sir Richard
Chope, Christopher
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)
Hogg, Rt Hon Douglas
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Paisley, Rev Ian
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Ross, William (E Lond'y)
Shepherd, Richard
Smyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Taylor, Sir Teddy

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Eric Forth and
Mr. Crispin Blunt.

Question accordingly agreed to.

3 Apr 2001 : Column 213


3 Apr 2001 : Column 214

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