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However, the worrying possibility arises that Her Majesty the Queen might be kept waiting in Buckingham Palace, without knowing what is to happen. I do not know whether Her Majesty has been told by the Government or by the Prime Minister during his extremely brief visit yesterday what he thinks will happen, but I hope that she has been warned that, as a result of the defective nature of the motion, she might be kept waiting longer than she anticipated to give Royal Assent, if any of the ghastly Bills proceeds in that direction, as I hope none will.
Having explored the questions raised by paragraph (6), let us move on swiftly to paragraph (7), which rests on the assumption that there will be a sitting on Friday 11 May--a large question mark hangs over that one now, I grant. In the statement:
Leaving that question to one side, because it is not for me to delve too deeply into the extent to which Government Members welcome their Government's measures, we come to the most puzzling aspect of all. My question is largely technical in nature, but worth asking none the less. Paragraph (8) states
Mr. Forth: My hon. Friend has been here since the beginning of the debate and it has taken him nearly half an hour to mention Macclesfield and its interests, which he has looked after for 30 years. That must be something of a record. Although I welcome paragraph (2), I appreciate his intervention because the extent to which Government business might include items other than those mentioned by the Leader of the House needs clarification. She verified that there will be Treasury questions tomorrow and gave a list of the business to be dealt with. It remains to be seen whether it is an exhaustive list, although it certainly sounds as though it might be exhausting. The key consideration is that we could have another business statement tomorrow to change or add to business on Friday 11 May, were that to exist as a parliamentary day.
Although it is not for me to answer my hon. Friend--this is, after all, a Government motion--I shall do my best because I am the only person who has shown any interest in the debate, which I am also trying to initiate. I believe that Macclesfield could find its way on to the Order Paper on Friday as part of a Government business motion. He has got from now until the rising of the House to persuade the Government to do that. That is the best advice--as if he needed it--that I can give.
Mr. Stephen O'Brien: I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for giving way a third time, especially as I follow my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton), who also represents the good county of Cheshire. I note that as the hon. Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Mr. Miller) was fortuitously sitting behind the Treasury Minister, he was able to be briefed. With so many Ministers present on the Front Bench, we may well get an answer to my hon. Friend's query through the combination of our interventions.
I want to drag my right hon. Friend--possibly kicking and screaming--back to paragraph (7). On Royal Assent, the Government's plan to scrap community health councils is close to my heart and those of my constituents. Cheshire has excellent examples of community health councils. The other place has also shown grave concern on patients' behalf about the proposals to scrap those august institutions. They are worried about how they will operate. Does my right hon. Friend think that we will have
Mr. Forth: I shall do my best to oblige my hon. Friend. It is like the old days--I used to answer questions regularly at the Dispatch Box. It is with a sense of nostalgia that I find myself doing it today. I shall try to get myself back into that mood.
The Health and Social Care Bill, which covers community health councils, was mentioned by the Leader of the House as part of tomorrow's business. That much we do know. So an opportunity--I suspect that it might be limited--will arise to deal with such matters. As Cheshire is so generously and magnificently represented today, I assume that the same will apply tomorrow and that it will be possible for hon. Members to raise such issues. Whether the hon. Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Mr. Miller) will be in critical or obsequious mode tomorrow remains to be seen. Only time will tell. I have been dragged back reluctantly to considering paragraph (2)--I welcomed it earlier--but its wording suggests that the issue that my hon. Friend has mentioned will be covered because the Bill is Government business. We will certainly oppose the aspect of the Bill that he mentioned, and my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton and Honiton assured us that we shall oppose vigorously almost everything in sight. That is very welcome news, so I believe that my hon. Friend the Member for Eddisbury (Mr. O'Brien) has grounds for optimism.
Mr. Swayne: My right hon. Friend will acknowledge that he rather skated over the provisions in paragraph (3). Having decoded the paragraph, my understanding is that it will allow us to have proper Divisions and that there will be no deferred Divisions. I hope that he will have a few words of welcome for that even though it clearly suggests that we might have to decide on any number of Government orders.
Mr. Forth: I am grateful to my hon. Friend. He is quite right. In my anxiety to skip quickly through the motion and to give ample time for other hon. Members to speak, I probably did not do justice to paragraph (3). Like him I had some difficulty decoding it, but if it means that these ghastly, irrelevant nonsenses of deferred Divisions are to be put aside, I will very much welcome the provision. I do not take part in deferred Divisions as a point of high principle. They are an insult, an irrelevance and nonsense--I do not do them. I strongly recommend that approach to all my right hon. and hon. Friends. If we are given an opportunity to vote properly on matters that would normally be deferred, that will be a welcome step. Subject to clarification from Ministers--as opposed to me answering all the questions--we could give a rather generous welcome to paragraph (3).