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Interpretation Of General Enactments

Volume 175: debated on Monday 25 June 1990

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Lords amendment: in page 3, line 10, leave out '85' and insert '85E'.

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

There are two amendments to page 3——

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will come to his point of order this time.

Order. I have answered the hon. Gentleman's point of order. I have a point of order from the hon. Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy).

My point of order follows on from the point of my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. Cryer). You have decided, Madam Deputy Speaker, that the six amendments should be taken together, even though we shall divide separately on them. That would make for a complex and convoluted debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South has properly pointed out that, although the Chairman of Ways and Means regards the amendments as slight and technical, nevertheless they are sufficiently important to merit the attention and attendance of a substantial number of right hon. and hon. Members. In view of that, it is reasonable for my hon. Friend to require a full presentation of the amendments. I see no reason why the amendments should not be specifically spelt out. If one looks at the first amendment——

Order. I think that I understand the hon. Gentleman's point of order. [Interruption.] Order. I am sure that I am entitled to give the hon. Gentleman an answer. I have answered the points of order. I refer the hon. Gentleman and the House to recent precedents on the Isle of Wight and the International Westminster Bank Bills. All the Lords amendments were taken together. We are following a precedent of the House.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am not challenging your ruling, but may I ask your guidance on how we are to proceed with the amendments? Do I take it that we shall debate them in the pendulum manner that was outlined by my hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy), so that we shall move from one amendment to the other, with the whole lot being voted on at the end of the debate? Is it possible to deal with the amendments individually and not consider them in their proper order?

The amendments will be taken en bloc. Hon. Members will debate the amendments collectively. At the end of the debate, any hon. Member who wishes to divide the House on any of the amendments——and I will go through them individually——will have the opportunity to do so.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I did not quite hear everything that you said, for the very good reason that Liberal Democrat Members were discussing why they vote with Conservative Members. The drift of what I heard you say was that precedence suggests that all the amendments should be taken together and then votes taken separately, if required. You used arguments about the Isle of Wight Bill and so on——

It being Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.

Debate to be resumed on Thursday next.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The Leader of the House knows very well that there is a great deal of disquiet in all parts of the House about reports of an explosion in central London. I think he shares my view that it might help the House to progress and help to allay some of the disquiet if he made a brief statement on the subject.

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
(Sir Geoffrey Howe)

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I was close to the scene of the explosion a little over an hour ago. The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and I went as close as was judged prudent. We could not get a view of the scene, nor is it possible——I have consulted subsequently my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary——to give any definite information about the scale of the damage, its cause or the number of casualties. I am afraid that I cannot give any more information to the House tonight. Obviously, my right hon. and learned Friend will, in the light of further information as it becomes available, consider whether he should make a statement to the House tomorrow in the usual way.