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Finance Bill (Amendments)

Volume 951: debated on Friday 9 June 1978

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Yesterday I was asked by the hon. Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins) to rule on whether amendments or debate on certain topics would be in order on Report or Third Reading of the Finance Bill. I undertook to consider this, and have done so, and fear that there is little assistance that I can offer to the hon. Member.

As far as amendments are concerned, my predecessors in the Chair have always been disinclined to rule hypothetically and have confined their attention to particular amendments when they have appeared on the Paper. I should be doing no service to my successors or, I firmly believe, to the House by departing from this well-understood manner of proceeding.

In regard to Third Reading, the general doctrine is set out on page 543 of "Erskine May", where it is stated:
"Debate on Third Reading … is more restricted than at the earlier stage, being limited to the contents of the bill."
It is my impression, however, that over the last 15 years or so my predecessors have been reasonably liberal in their interpretation of this rule, and I hope to follow in their steps.

May I express, on a point of order, Mr. Speaker, my appreciation of the careful consideration which you have given to this matter?

I also asked whether you could tell the House whether there were any precedents for amendments on those two specific subjects being debated on a Finance Bill. I wonder whether you have had an opportunity to look into that.

I am afraid that it is not my duty to explain to the House whether there are precedents. That duty lies elsewhere. I was afraid yesterday that the hon. Member had bowled me middle stump.