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Programming of Bills

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): We now come to the main motions. It may be for the convenience of the House if I say that the motion on deferred Divisions may be debated together with the motion on programming of Bills although, of course, there will be scope for separate Divisions. I must also announce to the House that the Speaker has been unable to accept the amendment tabled to the motion on programming.

2.26 pm

The President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Robin Cook): I beg to move,

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It might help the House if, before I turn to the substance of the motion before us, I respond to some of the comments that have just been made.

First, my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe and Nantwich (Mrs. Dunwoody) asked whether the motion had been before any Committee of the House. Motions that are before the House this afternoon flow from the recommendations of the Modernisation Committee in two successive reports, and fairly faithfully carry through the recommendations of both those reports.

Secondly, the terms of the motions before us are very close to those of the motions that the House has debated previously. The first, on programming, is similar to the one carried in the last Session; the second, on deferred Divisions, is identical. The only difference between the debates on the motions that we have debated in the past and tonight's debate is that the time for tonight's debate is longer than the time for debate when the House last passed these motions. When it last debated them, it did so on a half day, starting at 7 pm. On this occasion, because of the importance of these issues and because hon. Members would wish to express themselves, we have allowed a full day for debate.

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