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Business without Debate

Volume 520: debated on Tuesday 7 December 2010

We come now to the 10 o’clock motions and the business of the House motion in the name of the Prime Minister.

Order. The House must calm itself. We will come to other matters in due course—any points of order and so on. The next motion is on Deferred Divisions, in the name of the Prime Minister.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Government are clearly in a state of chaos when it comes to tuition fees. Yesterday, the Leader of the House tried to move a motion and it was objected to, much to the anger of the Chief Whip, as you know. Today, the Leader of the House tabled one motion in his own name and two motions in the name of the Prime Minister but, as we have just seen, did not have the courage to move the motion in his own name.

I am sure that you understand the deep sense of anger that there is in the House at the amount of time that the Government are proposing to give Members on Thursday to debate the biggest change in tuition fees and support for higher education that we have ever seen. Since the House is being treated with contempt by the Government, may we now have a statement from the Leader of the House to tell us what on earth is going on? Will he indicate how much time we will have on Thursday to debate the increase in tuition fees? [Interruption.]

Order. I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his point of order. The concern of the Chair is always that matters should be handled in an orderly manner. [Interruption.] Order. That has happened, whatever the disquiet or consternation the right hon. Gentleman or others may feel. I know that he will understand that it would not be right for me, from the Chair, to say anything more on the matter. His concerns have, however, been forcefully registered.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. I expected to be debating with the Minister for Universities and Science tonight, yet we have not had even the courtesy of an explanation why the Government have not moved their motions tonight. Have you been given an explanation? How can it be acceptable that students will be saddled with £39,000-worth of debt after just three hours of debate in the House—£13,000 of debt for each hour of debate?

My simple response to the hon. Gentleman is that it would not be right now to rehearse matters of substance relating to the tuition fees debate, which there will be an opportunity to develop on Thursday. I am sure the hon. Gentleman looks forward to that opportunity. He, too, has put his concerns explicitly on the record.