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Shops (Amendment) Bill

Volume 204: debated on Friday 21 February 1992

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Order for Second Reading read.

On a point of order. Mr. Deputy Speaker. Before I give the date for the Second Reading, I draw your attention to the fact that on this occasion, the Government were asked clearly to define their position. Today we debated a Bill about a referendum, and we talked about votes in this House and in other places. The vote giving permission for me to introduce the Shops (Amendment) Bill was 222 to four.

Order. I am finding it difficult to understand the point of order for the Chair. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will come to it.

I am coming to it, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am a part of the usual channels, and we use the usual channels for debates on Fridays, as you know. You will take cognisance of the fact that, last Friday, through the agreement of the usual channels, two Bills were passed at this time of day. The Second and Third Readings were passed by agreement through the usual channels. Being a part of the usual channels, I took advice and wrote to the Minister with responsibility for the Bill. It is a reforming Bill—

Order. I have been very tolerant. The hon. Gentleman really must come to his point of order for me. I think that I have the drift of it, but he must come to it quickly.

You are most tolerant in the Chair, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I am grateful to you for that. It is very difficult to explain all the complex problems, particularly when it comes to private Members' Bills.

Only yesterday, the Minister of State, Home Office, replied to me in a letter regarding my request for Government co-operation to ensure that the Shops (Amendment) Bill went further than Second Reading. In the third paragraph of her letter, she said that any Bill, unless it had the approval of the Government, would not proceed further. We have ten-minute Bills, private Members' Bills and a ballot for private Members' Bills. The hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills (Mr. Shepherd) was fortunate enough to win a place in the ballot to enable him to introduce his Bill. I stayed up all night to get a spot for my ten-minute Bill. The motion was passed in the House, as I have mentioned—

My point of order is that if it means that we must have Government approval before a Bill may be read a Second time, why do we go to all the trouble of trying to obtain a spot, either in private Members' time or to introduce a ten-minute Bill?

The hon. Gentleman is an experienced and respected Member of the House, and he knows the procedure very well. It does not operate only at 2.30 pm on Fridays; it operates at other times, too. If an hon. Member shouts, "Object," the Bill can go no further on that occasion. That is exactly what happened this afternoon. Second Reading what day?

Second Reading deferred till Friday 28 February.