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Hunting Bill (Programme) (No 4)

Volume 408: debated on Tuesday 1 July 2003

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10.27 pm

I beg to move,

That the programme order of 16th December 2002 in relation to the Hunting Bill be varied as follows—
  • 1. Proceedings in the Standing Committee on recommittal shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion on Monday 7th July.
  • 2. The Standing Committee shall have leave to sit twice on the first day on which it meets.
  • 3. Proceedings on consideration following recommittal shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion two hours after their commencement.
  • 4. Sessional Order B (programming committees) made on 28th June 2001 shall not apply to proceedings on consideration following recommital.
  • The purpose of the programme motion is to ensure that the consequences of last night's vote are tackled quickly and efficiently. [Interruption.] I am grateful for Opposition Members' support for dealing with something quickly and efficiently; they do not normally offer such backing.

    As I made clear in last night's recommittal motion, the Bill stands recommitted to the same Standing Committee that considered it previously. There should therefore be no steep learning curve, and the Committee will be able to deal with the business that we put to it.

    The Government amendments have been tabled today. They will do three things, which are consequential on last night's votes. First, they will remove all the provisions that relate to the registration and tribunal system. Secondly, they will provide for the amended Bill to come into force three months after Royal Assent. Thirdly, they will amend the exemption schedule to allow strictly limited use of a dog below ground to protect birds for shooting.

    Although there are 22 Government amendments, most are straightforward deletions and there is no reason for the Committee not to deal with them in two sittings.

    When a Minister has had his policy catastrophically defeated in the House and the opposite policy inflicted upon him, should he not resign?

    I will not take that from the right hon. Gentleman, who during his period in office could not even sing the Welsh national anthem. That should have been a resigning matter on the spot.

    I am very grateful to the Minister. Regardless of whether my right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood) knew the words of the Welsh national anthem, will the Minister accept that what is now effectively a private Member's Bill will require a great deal more in the way of detailed consideration than that which he has just suggested?

    I wonder whether the hon. Gentleman can put together two words in the correct order: "vote" and "free". The point is that the House of Commons had a free vote. My understanding is that it was a free vote on the Opposition side of the House as well, but they seem not to understand the nature of the word. This remains a Government Bill. It was the Government who introduced it and who created the opportunity for Members of this House to vote on it. It leaves here as a Government Bill, with the amendment that was decided on by right hon. and hon. Friends on a free vote last night.

    The House voted last night with a majority of more than 200, and the established will of the Commons is for a total ban on hunting. Does my right hon. Friend agree that we now need to ensure that this matter is finally resolved, and that the voice of the Commons prevails?

    I am certain that Opposition Members will have taken that lesson from my hon. Friend about the implications of last night's vote. We are treating with respect the decision that this House took by introducing amendments, as I promised that we would, to tidy up the Bill in a variety of ways.

    I am spoilt for choice. I give way to the hon. Member for Bexhill and Battle (Gregory Barker).

    I thank the Minister for giving way. Can he think of a single precedent on this scale, whereby a Bill has been shredded in the House of Commons, returned to Committee with such indecent haste and bounced out? Can he name a single such precedent?

    There are many precedents in this House for all sorts of things. What we had yesterday was a free vote. This is a Government who are confident enough to allow their Members a free vote on what has been a burning issue in this House for year upon year. It is entirely appropriate for the Government to respect the decision of this House.

    I shall give way to my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman), and then, of course, to the hon. Member for Aldershot (Mr. Howarth).

    Does my right hon. Friend not agree that the hon. Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Soames) should learn from the lessons not only of history but of family relationships? The original Parliament Act was passed not on manifesto commitments of any kind whatsoever—here, we are in fact talking about a manifesto commitment—but in order to assert in all legislative circumstances the supremacy of the House of Commons. What is more, all that the hon. Gentleman has to do is to read his grandfather's memoirs—assuming, because one cannot remember, that he was a member of the Liberal party at the time.

    I cannot improve on the history lesson that my right hon. Friend has contributed to the House. I now give way to the hon. Member for Aldershot.

    I thank the Minister for giving way. Given that this is a Government Bill, the Prime Minister will presumably be supporting it. Or are tonight's television reports correct in saying that in fact, he wants to disown this nasty, illiberal and prejudiced Bill, which will be resisted by the people of England?

    What a confused statement! The hon. Gentleman obviously does not listen to many of the people of England; otherwise, he would not have made such as biased and ridiculous claim.

    I thank the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. He spoke just a few minutes ago about respect for this House. We all recognise that the vote was a free vote and that the House came to a conclusion. However, will he also show some respect to those who took him at face value? When he talked of utility and cruelty, he spoke of two important animal welfare principles that many of us felt could work to the benefit of communities, and particularly to those in upland Wales. Having thrown away that lifeline to those communities, what proposals does the Minister now have to ensure that they are not undermined by last night's decision?

    It is a bit late for a contribution that is really about last night's debate and decision. The hon. Gentleman should recognise that I brought forward proposals to this House in good faith. They were constructed in good faith after a great deal of discussion. I listened to people, including people in his constituency. The House of Commons decided what to do. The House voted as it did, and that should be respected by hon. Members of all parties.

    I know that a day is a long time in politics, but my right hon. Friend said last night that he could not, in all conscience, vote for the full ban on hunting. How can he now, as a Minister, so wholeheartedly ask people to go into Committee and support the Bill?

    I do not think that my hon. Friend has quite understood what happened yesterday. Perhaps a little more history than one day is required. The House of Commons had a choice, and voted. A majority of 209 indicated the nature of the Bill that hon. Members wished to go forward. [Interruption.] As a result—

    Order. I suggest that the debate be conducted in a more orderly manner. The Minister will indicate as much if he is prepared to give way, but we do not want half a dozen hon. Members on their feet at the same time. We also want to hear every word that is being said.

    I am grateful, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I shall respond to as many hon. Members as I can. I give way first to my hon. Friend the Member for Amber Valley (Judy Mallaber),

    Does my right hon. Friend agree that the settled will of the House of Commons is that the best way to get rid of the cruelty inherent in the so-called sport of hunting with dogs is through a total ban? When he introduced the Bill, was it not also his intention to get rid of cruelty?

    My hon. Friend is right. I made it clear that my target was the cruelty associated with hunting with dogs. I succeeded in designing a Bill that was good and strong, as my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks), who moved the amendment last night, acknowledged—[Interruption.] I assure Opposition Members that I shall be generous about giving way to them, but I should be very grateful to be allowed to reach the odd full stop here and there.

    The House of Commons last night had a choice between the Bill that I brought forward and the amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham. The House voted accordingly. What I am moving now is a motion to enable the House to deal with the Bill, to clean it up, amend it and tidy it up so that it can then go forward, in the light of the decision taken by the House last night.

    The House will have noted the enthusiasm with which the Minister is promoting the motion. It stands in stark contrast to his lacklustre performance last night. Is not the reason for that enthusiasm the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has always supported a total ban on hunting? Was not all the claptrap about utility and cruelty designed merely to con the hunting fraternity into thinking that he was interested in its views?

    I expect that the hon. Gentleman can put that in his press release for the hunting supporters in his constituency. I believe in two things, and one is the eradication of cruelty. That is what I targeted in the Bill. There has been a difference between me and some of my hon. Friends about how to do that. The second thing that I believe is that the House has the right to take its decisions, and that the voices of hon. Members must be listened to. That is what I am seeking to do in moving this procedural motion.

    In his famous leaked letter to his Cabinet colleagues, the Minister described what turned out to be new clause 11 as a wrecking amendment. Does he really suppose that less than a week is an adequate period of time in which to put right the consequences of a wrecking amendment?

    The hon. Gentleman should understand that, although of course the architecture of the Bill that I designed was wrecked by that amendment, the will of the House of Commons was made clear. We will be dealing on Thursday with amendments that respect the decision taken by the House of Commons, so that we can take forward a Bill whose architecture does the job in accordance with the House's wishes, as expressed last night.

    Is it not a fact that, by a large majority on a free vote, the House of Commons expressed the views of the large majority of the people of Britain, who want a total ban on fox hunting? Is it not a fact that the majority of MPs now want this to become law as soon as possible?

    It is a fact that I am seeking to amend the Bill in ways that will respect the decision of the House and take the Bill forward so that the House of Lords can consider it on its way to becoming legislation.

    On the basis of the Minister's argument that the House has expressed its will through the exercise of a free vote, may I assume that he will be advising his colleagues not to hinder the Retirement Income Reform Bill, which, on a free vote, received its Second Reading by a majority of 129?

    On the programme motion—I assume that we are discussing that, and that this is not Question Time—the Minister will know that members of the middle way group were acting in good faith, with him, in attempting to reach a solution that took account of circumstances where hunting with dogs was regarded even by Burns as the most effective means of fox control. It does not look like a huge amount if time has been allocated in the motion to finding a solution that is consistent with the will of the House last night and with the Burns report, which all sides accepted was authoritative. Will the Minister consider how we can resolve that serious issue—which Burns highlighted—especially for the upland areas of Wales?

    First, I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on spotting the fact that we are dealing with the programme motion, something that seems to have escaped many of those who have intervened. Secondly, during the many months that we spent in Committee dealing with the issue, the hon. Gentleman and his colleagues in the middle way group spent an enormous amount of time—as did members of the Countryside Alliance and the animal welfare organisations—discussing things around the table; no small thing with something as divisive as this. One of the things that occurred time and time again was the selective quoting of the Burns report. It is ironic that I was invited by both the Countryside Alliance and the animal welfare organisations—and, indeed, by the middle way group—to take the Burns report as the starting point. I did so.

    The hon. Gentleman, who sometimes speaks for the Conservative party and sometimes for the hunts, says that I ignored it. He knows that that is a lie—[Hon. Members: "Oh!"]

    Order. The right hon. Gentleman would be in accordance with the traditions of the House if he withdrew that remark.

    Indeed, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am sorry that I used that terminological inexactitude, or whatever it is. The hon. Member for North Wiltshire (Mr. Gray) is entirely wrong.

    On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The Minister said that he withdrew the term, which is not quite the same as saying that he withdrew the meaning of the remark. I should be grateful for your ruling on that.

    I was seeking not to exacerbate the situation. The Minister reacted as I would have wished him to do in the circumstances.

    If there is any doubt, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I certainly did apologise for using that term, and I apologise particularly to you.

    For my part, I would say that my right hon. Friend the Minister continues to act honourably, as he has done throughout, and continues to do so in recognising the will of the House. In terms of the amendments that the Government are proposing to table, I recognise the amendments to abolish part 2 of the Bill—I tabled amendments to that end myself—and on the three-month commencement; again, I tabled similar amendments this morning. Will he explain why the amendment on dogs below ground that he proposes is consequent upon new clause 11, which is what the recommittal motion—

    Order. I must ask the right hon. Gentleman not to go down that line. We must not discuss at this stage what will be before the Standing Committee. We are discussing, hopefully, just the programme motion.

    Pursuant to the right hon. Gentleman's point, does he agree that the gamekeepers gave the most extensive evidence in the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs consultation? Will he now reconsider that evidence in the light of the new clauses that he proposes under the timetable motion?

    I considered that evidence in assessing the requirements of those clauses, which we will also be able to debate in Committee.

    Although there are 22 Government amendments, most are straightforward deletions and I see no reason why the Committee could not deal with them in two sittings. The programme motion allows the Committee to sit twice on the first day that it meets. I understand that the first sitting will be this Thursday and that the motion requires the Committee to complete its business by Monday 7 July, but it should be able to finish its work on Thursday. I also understand that, following recommittal, Report stage will take place on Wednesday 9 July, and the motion provides for that debate to last up to two hours. The original programme motion, which this motion amends, allows a further hour that evening for Third Reading. To sum up the programme motion, it will ensure that the Bill is tidied up as necessary and sent to the House of Lords on 9 July. It is for that limited purpose that recommital was agreed last night and that is why I have proposed the motion in that way.

    Cannot the Minister see that his golden thread of cruelty and utility has completely unravelled, and that his hard work in trying to produce a compromise Bill has failed? Last night, his Bill was lost and if he honoured his job, the Minister would simply resign.

    The hon. Gentleman merely repeats a few lines that he has tried already. I urge him to keep on practising, and he might get somewhere with them. I have made clear the purpose of a procedural resolution to deal with promises given to the House last night about how we would respect the motion decided by the House.

    The right hon. Gentleman will recall that as long ago as last July I took a very high-powered delegation [HON. MEMBERS: "Ooh"] to see him about the Bill. He gave an absolute assurance then that he would produce a Bill based on the principles of scientific evidence, cruelty and utility. He went through the process of hearings at Portcullis House, Second Reading, then six weeks in Committee in an attempt to produce a Bill on that basis. He now proposes under the programme motion tonight—

    Order. I do not see much connection between what the hon. Member is saying and the motion before us. If he is about to come on to it, it has been a very long preface.

    Having gone through all that procedure, the Minister now expects a totally different Bill to pass through Committee in just one day, or is he expecting members of the Committee to sit throughout the weekend? Is that reasonable under the circumstances?

    Yes, it is reasonable. Indeed, I compliment the hon. Gentleman for tracing through the integrity of the process that led to the Bill being put before this House and then considered in Committee. Last night, the House voted overwhelmingly in favour of an amendment, and I respect the decision that was taken, so I am proposing procedure that will allow the Committee and the House to amend the Bill to make it consistent with last night's decision.

    On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Last night the right hon. Gentleman told the House that the Bill was now defective and required to be submitted to Committee to consolidate the Bill and reinstate it. Is it not therefore in order for the Committee to have the equivalent or same amount of time to examine what is effectively a new Bill, rather than have it railroaded through in an unjust and corrupt parliamentary manner?

    Order. There is no real point of order in what the hon. Gentleman says. The House took a decision on recommital and we now have a motion before us. There may be different opinions about it, but it is a matter for debate, not a point of order for the Chair.

    On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it in order for a Minister of the Crown to prejudge the work of the Programming Sub-Committee tomorrow by effectively instructing that Committee to complete its work in one day?

    Order. I have heard many things ascribed to Ministers of the Crown in my time in this House. I do not believe that any attempt can be made to presume, in effect, what the Committee itself will decide to do.

    Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. In response to the hon. Member for Mid-Sussex, I should say that I did say that there were defects in the Bill as a result of the passing of new clause 11 last night. That is why we undertook recommittal. That is why I propose a process that will enable us to deal expeditiously with all those defects and bring back to the House, in short order, as promised yesterday, a Bill that is coherent and which deals with all the outstanding issues.

    The right hon. Gentleman made play during the Committee stage of his promise that this would be a fair and open process. He was defeated last night and he now intends to railroad through in a day what we took 100 hours to do. Will he reconsider and allow the Committee a minimum of two days?

    I thank the hon. Gentleman for his contribution as a fine thespian. I can be certain that he asks for another 100 hours in Committee in the sure knowledge that he will not be granted them.There are clear reasons for tidying up the Bill. We respect the will of the House. The process before us will allow that to be done, and that is the beginning and end of the matter.

    Will the Minister remove all invective from the debate and instead consider coldly and clearly that we are talking about a Bill that will criminalise a group of people? How can we do that in one day in Committee, given the complete Horlicks that he has presented to us?

    I have always thought it unwise to say "criminalise" in that way. Someone becomes a criminal only when he breaks the law. We keep being told that these are law-abiding people; they will have the opportunity to show it.

    A constituent has been pressing me for some time with extreme scepticism about the Government's intentions, and I have always told him that he can rely on the Government to follow the will of the House. He apologised to me today when he heard that the Minister intended tonight to present a new programme motion, and he asked me to tell my right hon. Friend that his faith in democracy had been restored.

    Order. May I point out to the Minister that this is not Question Time, and we hope that there may be some other contributions to the debate? I call Mr. George.

    Does the Minister agree that many people have repeated many points in our debates and doubtless will want to rehearse them once again? Does he agree that it will be important in the Committee to take a raft of amendments and not to reopen individual issues? I have to say that I did not agree with what we did last night, but we must face the prospect of making sure that we have a watertight Bill that has internal integrity, and that is what we are trying to achieve.

    The hon. Gentleman has played a significant part in debating the issues properly in Committee, which Conservative Members have singularly failed to do. He is right: there will be limited amendments along the lines proposed by the House, and they will respect the will of the House.

    I have responded as generously as I thought appropriate to many Members of the House because I wanted to respect and deal with any points that they wished to raise. However, in view of what you have said, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I think it would be sensible of me to urge the House to support the programme motion and leave my remarks at that.

    10.54 pm

    The Minister described the events of last night in terms of the House of Commons having made a choice between the Government's proposal, which had been through all parliamentary stages, and the option presented by the hon. Member for West Ham (Mr. Banks). In presenting his case in that way, the Minister elided reality; he seemed almost to be trying to tell the House that, all along, we had been presented with two options between which we could come to a cool and rational decision. That was something like the process that the Government adopted in the last Parliament over the so-called options Bill, when the House made its choice, after a debate, from the three options offered by the Government, and proceeded to detailed scrutiny in Committee and on Report of the single option that it preferred.

    By contrast, after last night's shambles, we are left with a situation in which the House has given some detailed scrutiny to the Government's proposals, embodied in their original Bill, but has been given no opportunity to apply comparable scrutiny to the proposal made by the hon. Member for West Ham, which now forms the kernel of the Bill, as amended by the Commons last night. We have before us a programme motion that is draconian, even by the standards of this Administration. We are told that Committee proceedings must finish by next Monday, 7 July. The wording of paragraph 1 of the motion implies that the Committee will commence its sittings on an earlier date.

    That gives rise immediately to an issue on the selection of amendments which I ask you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to bring to the attention of Mr. Speaker. If the Standing Committee were to sit for the first time on Thursday, any amendments would need to be tabled tonight in order to be unstarred for selection by the day after tomorrow. I hope that, in view of paragraph 1, Mr. Speaker and the Committee Chairman will use their discretion to protect the rights not only of Opposition parties but also of Back-Bench members of the Committee on both sides of the House.

    There is a further problem. As the Committee is being reformed at short notice, a number of us—[Interruption.] Quite apart from the intellectual deficiencies of Labour Members, a number of us will be attending other Standing Committees, which may preclude our attending the Committee—[Interruption.]

    Order. One or two hon. Members are making an exhibition of themselves; I shall make a bigger exhibition of them if they cannot keep quiet.

    My point may be of no concern to Labour Members, but it seems a denial of democracy for the Government to railroad the Bill, at very short notice, into another Committee that is subject to timetable problems, when hon. Members may already be serving on other parliamentary Committees.

    Not only my hon. and learned Friend's point but the raucous laughter with which his serious remarks were greeted by certain Labour Members indicate that the programme is a pretence at providing an opportunity for scrutiny; it is nothing like the real thing.

    The truth is that even if the Chair was minded to exercise its discretion, that would leave precious little time either for Members or outside organisations to reflect on the implications of last night's vote and to draft and table amendments to allow debate about their concerns. The situation will be even worse on Report and Third Reading when the proposition before us, that Members will be restricted to a total of three hours, is outrageous and a complete denial of our constituents' right to have their voice heard through their representatives in this place.

    Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the programme motion compresses two years of painstaking work, not least by the Minister, into one day's consideration? In effect, those of us who genuinely accepted at face value the merits of the suffering and utility test will have little opportunity to try to put back the good provisions on the exemption of hunting with dogs that the Minister and even the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Foster) have acknowledged would be acceptable.

    The hon. Gentleman has pursued a consistent course in all the debates on this subject. Not only he but many people both inside and outside the House will feel grievously betrayed by the way in which the Government are now handling the matter.

    My hon. Friend talks of consistency and indeed the middle way group have at least been consistent, but does he agree that a body that has been spectacularly, if predictably, inconsistent is the Liberal Democrat party? The hon. Member for St. Ives (Andrew George), who said that he disapproved of what happened last night, abstained on both new clauses 11 and 14. Is he aware of any morning-after pill that the Liberal Democrats—

    My hon. Friend makes his point in characteristically forceful style.

    The truth is that we now have a Bill whose intentions and consequences are radically dissimilar from those of the Bill that the Minister introduced last year. Until last night, the Minister had followed an approach that I certainly regarded as seriously flawed but at least had about it a measure of logic and coherence. There was the exhaustive evidence of the Burns report. There were three days of hearings in Portcullis House, where the Minister listened to the evidence presented by outside organisations, and the Government's proposals have been examined for 77 hours in Standing Committee.

    On 14 May this year, the Minister wrote in his letter to the Deputy Prime Minister that
    "there is a golden thread from the principles through to the evidence to the conclusion."
    Last night, that golden thread was severed. Last night, the Minister ditched his principles and turned his back on the evidence, and he has finished up in the ungainly position of defending a conclusion this evening that he had denounced just 24 hours previously.

    If the motion is agreed to tonight, we will, in effect, send to the Lords a Bill that the House of Commons has been denied the opportunity to scrutinise and challenge. The House needs more time to carry out that task. For example, we need time to debate the implication for enforcement of what is now clause 6.

    Does the hon. Gentleman recall the comments, which he has made on many occasions, that the House has had far too much time to give to the Bill? He is now arguing that there is too little time. Does he not agree that the time has come to resolve this matter once and for all?

    I believe that the Government's decision to give higher priority to a Bill on hunting than to a Bill on health speaks volumes about the way in which Ministers are now drifting out of touch with the priorities of the British people. I argue that, when the Government choose to set a priority and to introduce legislation, the House should have the time to subject it to proper scrutiny and challenge on behalf of our constituents. Let me give the hon. Gentleman some examples of why that time is needed.

    Does my hon. Friend not agree that one way to ameliorate this draconian timetable would be for the Committee to sit all day Thursday, all day Friday, all day Saturday and all day Monday—four days in Committee? If my hon. Friend cannot get enough hon. Members to serve on the Committee, I volunteer my services.

    I am sure that my hon. Friend's enthusiasm will have been noted by the usual channels.

    The Minister himself said in his letter to the Deputy Prime Minister that the new clause approved last night would
    "undermine the strong, simple framework of enforcement that is set out in the Bill."
    So proper time will be needed in Committee and on Report to consider the implications for enforcement of that new clause. We will also need time to debate the implications for cruelty, since the Minister stated in the same letter:
    "The so-called 'complete ban' amendment would disregard those tests"—
    utility and cruelty—
    "and make it possible that wild mammals would suffer more".
    We need time to debate the implications of that new clause for the livelihood of many of our constituents. There are men and women in this country who stand to lose both their jobs and their homes because of last night's vote. It is frankly a disgrace that the Government's motion is an attempt to deny the elected representatives of those men and women the chance to put their case in the House.

    Why are the Government in such a rush? Perhaps they have changed their mind, although I doubt it. Are they embarrassed, or do Ministers perhaps just want to sweep the Bill out of the way as quickly as possible? After last night's shenanigans, I am tempted to believe that the Government's actions are explained more by cock-up than conspiracy. However, I fear that there is another motive at work. I suspect that the Government are working to an overall timetable that includes plans to apply the Parliament Act and that if it were not for that timetable, the programme motion would be unnecessary.

    I detect a glimmer of hope from No. 10's reluctance today to commit the Government to using the Parliament Act and, indeed, from the omission of any such pledge from the Minister's opening speech. I respond to the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) by saying that Asquith and Lloyd George designed the Parliament Act to deal with a situation in which the House of Lords had rejected not relatively minor legislation—in the overall scheme of things—but a Budget. The proposal to limit the power of the Lords in such a way was endorsed not once but twice by the people after a general election campaign.

    :As the hon. Gentleman refers to me, perhaps he recalls that the last time that the Parliament Act was used was not in the circumstances that he outlined? The Conservative Government used it to put through a war crimes Bill, which was not proposed in any party's manifesto.

    In fact, the Parliament Act was last used by the present Government—I think that they have used it twice since coming to office in 1997. My point is that its purpose was to enable the Commons to assert its will over the Lords if grave issues of policy were at stake and the policy supported by the Commons had been clearly endorsed by the people. However, the Government seem to want to use the Parliament Act to force through a measure that Ministers opposed until last night and that they even now believe to be unworkable and unenforceable, even if they are scared to say so. Using the Parliament Act in such circumstances would be nothing short of a grotesque abuse of parliamentary procedure. On those grounds alone, the House should resist the motion. The fact that the Government insist on trying to ram the measure through is the clearest demonstration yet that they have completely lost touch with the priorities of the British people.

    11.8 pm

    I said earlier that I strongly objected to the fact that we did not have the opportunity to vote last night on new clause 13. I wanted the opportunity to do that, and it was a procedural failure that all the options were not available. I suspect that the new clause would have fallen in any case, judging by the nature of last night's debate, but of course we will never know.[Interruption.] Despite the unwarranted sledging from Conservative Members, important matters must be sorted out prior to the debate in Committee.[Interruption.] Conservative Members appear to be incapable of engaging in intelligent debate.

    Everyone has already said the same things many times in the debate. Many people seem to be determined to rehearse all the arguments all over again, and that will probably happen in Committee on Thursday and up to Monday. I am worried that that will be an abuse of the Standing Committee.

    I want the Government to manage business in the Standing Committee so that we have an efficient use of the available time. It is clear from the vote last night that, despite the Minister's best efforts to persuade his hon. Friends that we should go for a registration scheme, the will of the House has been expressed and it wants what will amount to an outright ban. To achieve the necessary changes in the Standing Committee, over what I hope will be no more than two sittings, it is important that we discuss a raft of amendments rather than reopen debates that we have had many times before.

    I give the hon. Gentleman an undertaking that I will try to ensure that the amendments are tabled to facilitate the process that he proposes.

    No, I have a further point to make.

    Despite the protests and the synthetic objections of Tory Members, we have a responsibility in the Committee not to waste time. We must use the time efficiently so that we end up with—

    On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The hon. Gentleman seems to be talking about what he would like to say in the truncated Committee. I thought that we were talking about the timetable motion.

    I think such matters can be left for the Chair to decide. That is not a point of order.

    I am grateful to you, Mr. Deputy Speaker.

    Although I have misgivings about the programme motion, I will support the Government. In Committee, we want to achieve—

    It being forty-five minutes after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, MR. DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Question, pursuant to Orders [28 June 2001 and 29 October 2002].

    The House divided: Ayes 279, Noes 140.

    Division No. 269]

    [11:12 pm


    Abbott, Ms DianeCryer, John (Hornchurch)
    Adams, Irene (Paisley N)Cummings, John
    Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)Cunningnam, Jim (Coventry S)
    Alexander, DouglasCunningham, Tony (Workington)
    Allan, RichardDalyell, Tam
    Allen, GrahamDavey, Valerie (Bristol W)
    Anderson, Janet (Rossendale &David, Wayne


    Davidson, Ian
    Armstrong, rh Ms HilaryDavis, rh Terry (B'ham Hodge H)
    Atherton, Ms CandyDawson, Hilton
    Atkins, CharlotteDean, Mrs Janet
    Austin, JohnDenham, rh John
    Bailey, AdrianDhanda, Parmjit
    Banks, TonyDismore, Andrew
    Barnes, HarryDobbin, Jim (Heywood)
    Battle, JohnDonohoe, Brian H.
    Bayley, HughDoran, Frank
    Beckett, rh MargaretDowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
    Begg, Miss AnneDrew, David (Stroud)
    Bell, StuartEagle, Angela (Wallasey)
    Benn, HilaryEfford, Clive
    Bennett, AndrewEllman, Mrs Louise
    Benton, Joe (Bootle)Etherington, Bill
    Berry, RogerFitzpatrick, Jim
    Betts, CliveFitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
    Blizzard, BobFoster, rh Derek
    Boateng, rh PaulFoster, Don (Bath)
    Bradley, rh Keith (Withington)Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings
    Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)

    & Rye)

    Bradshaw, BenFoulkes, rh George
    Brennan, KevinFrancis, Dr. Hywel
    Brooke, Mrs Annette L.Gapes, Mike (Ilford S)
    Brown, rh Nicholas (Newcastle EGeorge, Andrew (St. Ives)


    Gerrard, Neil
    Brown, Russell (Dumfries)Gidley, Sandra
    Browne, DesmondGilroy, Linda
    Buck, Ms KarenGoggins, Paul
    Burden, RichardGriffiths, Jane (Reading E)
    Burgon, ColinGriffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
    Burnham, AndyGriffiths, Win (Bridgend)
    Byers, rh StephenGrogan, John
    Caborn, rh RichardHain, rh Peter
    Calton, Mrs PatsyHall, Miks (Weaver Vale)
    Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
    Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
    Casale, RogerHamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
    Caton, MartinHanson, David
    Cawsey, Ian (Brigg)Harris, Dr. Evan (Oxford W &
    Challen, Colin


    Clapham, MichaelHarris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
    Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)Havard, Dai (Merthyr Tydfil &
    Clark, Dr. Lynda (Edinburgh



    Healey, John
    Clark, Paul (Gillingham)Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
    Clarke, rh Charles (Norwich S)Hendrick Mark
    Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)Heppell, John
    Clelland, DavidHesford, Stephen
    Clwyd, Ann (Cynon V)Heyes, David
    Coffey, Ms AnnHill, Keith (Streatham)
    Cohen, HarryHolmes, Paul
    Colman, TonyHope, Phil (Corby)
    Connarty, MichaelHopkins, Kelvin
    Cook, rh Robin (Livingston)Howarth, George (Knowsley N &
    Corbyn, Jeremy

    Sefton E)

    Corston, JeanHowells, Dr. Kim
    Cousins, JimHughes, Beverley (Stretford &
    Cox, Tom (Tooting)


    Cranston, RossHughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
    Crausby, DavidHumble, Mrs Joan
    Cruddas, JonHurst Alan (Braintree)
    Cryer, Ann (Keighley)Iddon, Dr. Brian

    Illsley, EricPrentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham
    Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)


    Jenkins, BrianPrentice, Gordon (Pendle)
    Johnson, Miss Melanie (WelwynProsser, Gwyn


    Pugh, Dr. John
    Jones, Helen (Warrington N)Purchase, Ken
    Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)Quinn, Lawrie
    Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)Rammell, Bill
    Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)Rapson, Syd (Portsmouth N)
    Kaufman, rh GeraldReed, Andy (Loughborough)
    Keen, Alan (Feltham)Reid, rh Dr. John (Hamilton N &
    Keen, Ann (Brentford)


    Kemp, FraserRendel, David
    Khabra, Piara S.Robertson, John (Glasgow
    Kidney, David


    Kilfoyle, PeterRoche, Mrs Barbara
    King, Andy (Rugby)Ross Ernie (Dundee W)
    King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green &Roy Frank (Motherwell)


    Ruane, Chris
    Kumar, Dr. AshokRuddock, Joan
    Ladyman, Dr. StephenRyan Joan (Enfield N)
    Lammy, DavidSarwar, Mohammad
    Lawrence, Mrs JackieSavidge, Malcolm
    Laxton, Bob (Derby N)Sawford, Phil
    Lepper, DavidSedgemore, Brian
    Leslie, ChristopherShaw, Jonathan
    Levitt, Tom (High Peak)Sheridan, Jim
    Lewis, Terry (Worsley)Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
    Linton, MartinSkinner, Dennis
    Love, AndrewSmith, rh Chris (Islington S &
    Luke, Iain (Dundee E)


    Lyons, John (Strathkelvin)Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe &
    McAvoy, Thomas


    McCabe, StephenSmith, Jacqui (Redditch)
    McCafferty, ChrisSmith, John (Glamorgan)
    McDonagh, SiobhainSolev, Clive
    MacDonald, CalumStarkey, Dr. Phyllis
    McDonnell, JohnSteinberg, Gerry
    MacDougall, JohnStewart, David (Inverness E &
    McKechin, Ann


    Mackinlay, AndrewStewart, Ian (Eccles)
    McNully, TonyStinchcombe, Paul
    MacShane, DenisStoate Dr. Howard
    McWalter, TonyStringer, Graham
    Mahmood, KhalidStuart, Ms Gisela
    Mahon, Mrs AliceStunell, Andrew
    Mallaber, JudyTami, Mark (Alyn)
    Mann, John (Bassetlaw)Taylor, Dari (Stockton S)
    Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
    Marshall, David (GlasgowThomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)


    Timms, Stephen
    Martlew, EricTipping, Paddy
    Meacher, rh MichaelTrickett, Jon
    Meale, Alan (Mansfield)Truswell, Paul
    Michael, rh AlunTurner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
    Miller, AndrewTurner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton
    Moffatt, Laura
    Mole, Chris


    Moran, MargaretTurner, Neil (Wigan)
    Morgan, JulieTwigg, Derek (Halton)
    Morley, ElliotTwigg, Stephen (Enfield)
    Mountford, KaliTynan, Bill (Hamilton S)
    Mudie, GeorgeVaz, Keith (Leicester E)
    Mullin, ChrisVis, Dr. Rudi
    Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)Walley, Ms Joan
    Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)Wareing, Robert N.
    Naysmith, Dr. DougWatson, Tom (W Bromwich E)
    Norris, Dan (Wansdyke)Watts, David
    Olner, BillWebb, Steve (Northavon)
    Organ, DianaWhite, Brian
    Owen, AlbertWilliams, Betty (Conwy)
    Palmer, Dr. NickWills, Michael
    Picking, AnneWinnick, David
    Pickthall, ColinWood, Mike (Batley)
    Pike, Peter (Burnley)Woolas, Phil
    Pope, Greg (Hyndburn)Worthington, Tony

    Wray, James (GlasgowWright, Tony (Cannock)


    Wright Anthony D. (Gt

    Tellers for the Ayes:


    Gillian Merron and

    Wright, David (Telford)

    Mr. Nick Ainger


    Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
    Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)Jack, rh Michael
    Bacon, RichardKeetch, Paul
    Baldry, TonyKey, Robert (Salisbury)
    Barker, GregoryKirkbride, Miss Julie
    Baron, John (Billericay)Kirkwood, Sir Archy
    Beggs, Roy (E Antrim)Knight, rh Greg (E Yorkshire)
    Beith, rh A. J.Laing, Mrs Eleanor
    Bercow, JohnLait, Mrs Jacqui
    Beresford, Sir PaulLamb, Norman
    Blunt, CrispinLansley, Andrew
    Boswell, TimLeigh, Edward
    Bottomley, rh Virginia (SWLewis, Dr. Julian (New Forest E)


    Liddell-Grainger, Ian
    Brazier, JulianLidington, David
    Browning, Mrs AngelaLilley, rh Peter
    Bruce, MalcolmLoughton, Tim
    Burnett, JohnLuff, Peter (M-Worcs)
    Burns, SimonMcIntosh, Miss Anne
    Burt, AlistairMcLoughlin, Patrick
    Butterfill, JohnMalins, Humfrey
    Cameron, DavidMarsden, Paul (Shrewsbury &
    Campbell, Gregory (E Lond'y)


    Campbell, rh Menzies (NE Fife)Mawhinney, rh Sir Brian
    Cash, WilliamMay, Mrs Theresa
    Chapman, Sir Sydney (ChippingMercer, Patrick


    Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton
    Chope, Christopher


    Clappison, JamesMoss, Malcolm
    Clarke, rh Kenneth (Rushcliffe)Murrison, Dr. Andrew
    Clifton-Brown, GeoffreyNorman, Archie
    Collins, TimO'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
    Conway, DerekÖpik, Lembit
    Curry, rh DavidOsborne, George (Tatton)
    Davies, Quentin (Grantham &Ottaway, Richard


    Page, Richard
    Davis, rh David (Haltemprice &Paice, James


    Portillo, rh Michael
    Djanogly, JonathanPrice, Adam (E Carmarthen &
    Dodds, Nigel


    Evans, NigelPrisk, Mark (Hertford)
    Fabricant, MichaelRandall, John
    Field, Mark (Cities of London &Redwood, rh John


    Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
    Flight, HowardRobertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
    Flook, AdrianRobinson, Peter (Belfast E)
    Forth, rh EricRosindell, Andrew
    Fox, Dr. LiamRuffley, David
    Francois, MarkRussell, Bob (Colchester)
    Garnier, EdwardSanders, Adrian
    Gillan, Mrs CherylSayeed, Jonathan
    Goodman, PaulShephard, rh Mrs Gillian
    Gray, James (N Wilts)Simmonds, Mark
    Grayling, ChrisSmith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns &
    Green, Damian (Ashford)


    Green, Matthew (Ludlow)Soames, Nicholas
    Greenway, JohnSpicer, Sir Michael
    Grieve, DominicSpink, Bob (Castle Point)
    Hague, rh WilliamStanley, rh Sir John
    Hammond, PhilipSteen, Anthony
    Hawkins, NickStreeter, Gary
    Hayes, John (S Holland)Swire, Hugo (E Devon)
    Heath, DavidTaylor, Ian (Esher)
    Hendry, CharlesTaylor, John (Solihull)
    Hermon, LadyTaylor, Dr. Richard (Wyre F)
    Hoban, Mark (Fareham)Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
    Hoey, Kate (Vauxhall)Tredinnick, David
    Horam, John (Orpington)Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
    Howard, rh MichaelTyrie, Andrew

    Viggers, PeterWinterton, Sir Nicholas
    Waterson, Nigel


    Watkinson, AngelaYoung, rh Sir George
    Willetts, DavidYounger-Ross, Richard
    Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
    Williams, Roger (Brecon)

    Tellers for the Noes:

    Wilshire, David

    Hugh Robertson and

    Winterton, Ann (Congleton)

    Mr. Robert Syms

    Question accordingly agreed to.

    On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. As you know, we have committed the Hunting Bill to a Standing Committee for one day. Last night we substantially altered the structure of the Bill, in such a way that what was permissible in the Bill first introduced by the Government, including a certain type of hunting with dogs, flushing out and so on, in the upland areas of Wales and England, will now not survive the regime. The will of the House having been clearly expressed on these matters tonight, we are now in the uncomfortable situation where Back Benchers cannot table amendments and be sure that those amendments will be unstarred by the Speaker so that they can be discussed in Committee. What advice or guidance can you give to Back-Bench Members, recognising both the will of the House and the need for Back-Bench scrutiny of any Bill going through the House? Will it be possible for us to table amendments first thing tomorrow morning, and for those to have an opportunity of being debated in the one-day Standing Committee?

    The selection of amendments in Committee will be entirely a matter for the Chairman of that Committee, not for me. I am sure he will take into consideration all the relevant factors.

    On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Now that the programme motion has been passed, is there any latitude for the Government to extend the time available to consider the Bill if it turns out that, with the best will in the world, we have not made reasonable progress in the Committee stage?

    That is an entirely hypothetical question, which I am not prepared to deal with this evening.