Skip to main content

Report Stage of Legislation

Volume 507: debated on Thursday 11 March 2010

23. If she will bring forward proposals for the amendment of Standing Orders to prevent programme motions applying to the Report stage of legislation. (321528)

The House has recently agreed to new procedures for managing its own business, including establishing a House business committee in the next Parliament. That Committee would make decisions about scheduling business, including the Report stage of Bills. I know that the hon. Gentleman will not be here to see the new Committee operate, but I am sure that he is pleased, as we are, with our progress on Commons reform.

Does not the Deputy Leader think it, both constitutionally and democratically, utterly wrong and unacceptable that a Bill should go to the other place with new clauses and Government and Opposition amendments undebated in this place? Members whose constituencies might be affected by the Bill have no opportunity whatever to participate in the debate.

I have answered questions on this matter time and again. Programming does not always work perfectly, but it does serve to provide great certainty in timetabling the different stages of a Bill; it is, for instance, very helpful in timetabling Public Bill Committees. We must see these changes in the context of the other steps forward that we have taken in improving scrutiny, especially pre-legislative scrutiny and the introduction of evidence taking. Therefore, there are now many more opportunities for the scrutiny of Bills than previously.