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Points of Order

Volume 450: debated on Friday 20 October 2006

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I came in this morning at half-past 7, as I usually do on a Friday, to prepare for today’s business. I particularly wanted to prepare for the Bill that I thought would be first on the Order Paper, bearing in mind that it was listed first yesterday—the Income Tax (Earnings Exemption for Persons Living in Poverty) (No. 2) Bill, promoted by the hon. Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown). I wanted to compare his Bill with the Opposition’s proposed tax package of £21 billion-worth of tax cuts to see whether there was anything to be gained from their proposals that might help me in today’s debate, particularly as regards their impact on people in poverty. I see, however, that that Bill has been withdrawn from today’s agenda. Is that because the Opposition are frightened of debating their tax plans, or is there some other reason? Is there any way, Mr. Deputy Speaker, in which we could get that Bill back on to the Order Paper today so that we can examine those tax plans as against the hon. Gentleman’s Bill?

I think that the House would wish to commend the hon. Gentleman on his dedication to duty in being here so early, but sometimes hon. Members have to move very fast indeed to keep pace with what may be happening as far as their colleagues are concerned. It is not a matter of order for the Chair if an hon. Member chooses to withdraw a Bill. A certain number seem to have disappeared from the Order Paper in the past 24 hours.

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not test the Chair too far too early, because it was not a very good point of order.

May I draw your attention, Mr. Deputy Speaker, to column 1026 in yesterday’s Hansard, where the Leader of the House said in response to a question from me:

“I very much hope that we can find time for a debate on tax policy”.—[Official Report, 19 October 2006; Vol. 450, c. 1026.]

These are important issues. I am sure that all hon. Members would agree that we want to encourage the usual channels to facilitate such a debate, because when I asked that question there was general agreement throughout the House.

The hon. Gentleman is in danger of flogging a dying horse. That is not a point of order for the Chair, but it may be a matter that could be pursued in future business questions or in other ways that I am sure the hon. Gentleman is well capable of identifying.