On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The last century has seen changes to this House, almost all of which have been to the advantage of the Executive and the disadvantage of Back Benchers. One change that has improved that situation has been the allowance of time for Back-Bench debates. I know that the Government’s amendment on the Order Paper today has not been selected, but it would have had the effect of removing the entire motion except for the first three words, and that would be a very bad trend. Can you ask Mr Speaker to look at this issue, consider what would be appropriate in terms of amending Back-Bench motions and make it clear to both Front Benches that such debates are not a second-class Opposition day?
I remind the House that the amendment has not been selected and that Mr Speaker always considers carefully the question of whether to select an amendment. He takes all the relevant factors into account and I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will be reassured that Mr Speaker will continue to do that with the vigilance that he has demonstrated to date.
Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am grateful for your assistance on that matter, but I have had regard to the terms of page 397 of the 23rd edition of “Erskine May” and—while I would of course not seek in any way to challenge the authority of Mr Speaker or the decision that he has made in exercise of that authority today—I struggle to find a precedent for his decision not to select the Secretary of State’s amendment today. I am sure that it would be of enormous assistance to the House—
Order. The hon. Gentleman is challenging the selection decisions of Mr Speaker and that is not in order. I have made it absolutely clear that Mr Speaker has taken the decision on the selection of amendments today taking into consideration all of the relevant factors, and he does not require prompting from the Front Bench on this matter.
I wish to place on record beyond peradventure that I do not seek to challenge in any way the decision that has been made. I merely seek your guidance, Madam Deputy Speaker, or possibly at some later stage the guidance of Mr Speaker himself, as to what new considerations are apparently taken into account in making these decisions.
The hon. Gentleman knows full well that the selection of amendments is not discussed on the Floor of the House. They are a matter for Mr Speaker, having taken into consideration all the relevant factors, which he is perfectly capable of doing. I am sure that he will note the points that have been made today, but no further points can be made to question or challenge the decision by Mr Speaker on this matter. I intend now to make progress with the business.
National Insurance Contributions Bill
Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)
Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer, supported by the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, Secretary Vince Cable, Mr Secretary Duncan Smith, Mr Mark Prisk, Mr Mark Hoban, Mr David Gauke and Justine Greening, presented a Bill to make provision for and in connection with increasing rates of national insurance contributions and a regional secondary Class 1 contributions holiday for new businesses.
Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed (Bill 79) with explanatory notes (Bill 79-EN).