I beg to move,
That the following provisions shall apply to the proceedings on the Sunday Trading (London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games) Bill [Lords]:
1. (1) Proceedings on Second Reading, in Committee, on Consideration and on Third Reading shall be completed at today’s sitting.
(2) Proceedings on Second Reading, in Committee, on Consideration and on Third Reading shall so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at the moment of interruption.
Timing of proceedings and Questions to be put
2. When the Bill has been read a second time—
(a) notwithstanding Standing Order No. 63 (Committal of bills not subject to a programme order) it shall stand committed to a Committee of the whole House without any Question being put;
(b) the Speaker shall leave the Chair whether or not notice of an Instruction has been given.
3. (1) On the conclusion of proceedings in Committee, the Chair shall report the Bill to the House without putting any Question.
(2) If the Bill is reported with amendments, the House shall proceed to consider the Bill as amended without any Question being put.
4. For the purpose of bringing any proceedings to a conclusion in accordance with paragraph 1, the Speaker or Chair shall forthwith put the following Questions (but no others) in the same order as they would fall to be put if this Order did not apply—
(a) any Question already proposed from the Chair;
(b) any Question necessary to bring to a decision a Question so proposed;
(c) the Question on any amendment moved or Motion made by a Minister of the Crown;
(d) any other Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded.
5. On a Motion so made for a new Clause or a new Schedule, the Chair or Speaker shall put only the Question that the Clause or Schedule be added to the Bill.
6. If two or more Questions would fall to be put under paragraph 4(c) on successive amendments moved or Motions made by a Minister of the Crown, the Chair or Speaker shall instead put a single Question in relation to those amendments or Motions.
7. If two or more Questions would fall to be put under paragraph 4(d) in relation to successive provisions of the Bill, the Chair shall instead put a single Question in relation to those provisions, except that the Question shall be put separately on any Clause of or Schedule to the Bill which a Minister of the Crown has signified an intention to leave out.
8. (1) Any Message from the Lords on the Bill shall be considered forthwith without any Question being put.
(2) Proceedings on any Message from the Lords shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour after their commencement.
9. (1) This paragraph applies for the purpose of bringing any proceedings to a conclusion in accordance with paragraph 8.
(2) The Speaker shall first put forthwith any Question which has been proposed from the Chair.
(3) The Speaker shall then put forthwith the Question on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown which is related to the Question already proposed from the Chair.
(4) The Speaker shall then put forthwith the Question on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown on or relevant to any of the remaining items in the Lords Message.
(5) The Speaker shall then put forthwith the Question that this House agrees with the Lords in all of the remaining Lords Proposals.
10. (1) The Speaker shall put forthwith the Question on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown for the appointment, nomination and quorum of a Committee to draw up Reasons and the appointment of its Chair.
(2) A Committee appointed to draw up Reasons shall report before the conclusion of the sitting at which it is appointed.
(3) Proceedings in the Committee shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion 30 minutes after their commencement.
(4) For the purpose of bringing any proceedings to a conclusion in accordance with sub-paragraph (3), the Chair shall—
(a) first put forthwith any Question which has been proposed from the Chair, and
(b) then put forthwith successively Questions on Motions which may be made by a Minister of the Crown for assigning a Reason for disagreeing with the Lords in any of their Amendments.
(5) The proceedings of the Committee shall be reported without any further Question being put.
11. Standing Order No. 15(1) (Exempted business) shall apply so far as necessary for the purposes of this Order.
12. (1) The proceedings on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour after their commencement.
(2) Standing Order No. 15(1) (Exempted business) shall apply to those proceedings.
13. Standing Order No. 82 (Business Committee) shall not apply in relation to any proceedings to which this Order applies.
14. (1) No Motion shall be made, except by a Minister of the Crown, to alter the order in which any proceedings on the Bill are taken or to re-commit the Bill.
(2) The Question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith.
15. (1) No dilatory Motion shall be made in relation to proceedings to which this Order applies except by a Minister of the Crown.
(2) The Question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith.
16. The Speaker may not arrange for a debate to be held in accordance with Standing Order No. 24 (Emergency debates) at today’s sitting before the conclusion of any proceedings to which this Order applies.
17. (1) Sub-paragraph (2) applies if the House is adjourned, or the sitting is suspended, before the conclusion of any proceedings to which this Order applies.
(2) No notice shall be required of a Motion made at the next sitting by a Minister of the Crown for varying or supplementing the provisions of this Order.
18. Proceedings to which this Order applies may not be interrupted under any Standing Order relating to the sittings of the House.
19. (1) Any private business which has been set down for consideration at 7.00 pm, 4.00 pm or 3.00 pm (as the case may be) on a day on which the Bill has been set down to be taken as an Order of the Day shall, instead of being considered as provided by Standing Orders, be considered at the conclusion of the proceedings on the Bill on that day.
(2) Standing Order No. 15(1) (Exempted business) shall apply to the private business for a period of three hours from the conclusion of the proceedings on the Bill or, if those proceedings are concluded before the moment of interruption, for a period equal to the time elapsing between 7.00 pm, 4.00 pm or 3.00 pm (as the case may be) and the conclusion of those proceedings.
The motion applies to the proceedings on the Sunday Trading (London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games) Bill. I shall not detain the House unduly as I am aware that a number of Members will wish to speak on Second Reading. The motion seeks the approval of the House to consider all stages of this short but important Bill in a single day.
By way of background, briefly, the Bill will suspend the current restrictions that govern when some large shops may open on Sundays for the duration of the London 2012 games period. Currently, the Sunday Trading Act 1994 limits the opening times on Sundays of certain shops with the relevant floor area of more than 3,000 square feet. In particular, the Act restricts them to opening on a Sunday for a maximum six-hour period between the hours of 10 am and 6 pm. The Bill will temporarily ease those restrictions, allowing for a suspension that will be in effect between Sunday 22 July and Sunday 9 September this year. I should point out the inclusion of a sunset clause, which means that the Bill will cease to have effect after that date.
As usual, the hon. Lady is entirely prescient, because that is exactly what I was about to explain. The permanent relaxation of the Sunday trading laws was considered and rejected as part of the Government’s red tape challenge in June last year. A private Member’s Bill subsequently brought forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Fylde (Mark Menzies) proposed the suspension of the rules for the period of the games, albeit in a different form from the one being proposed today. Although his proposal was subsequently withdrawn, it focused our thinking on the issue and we came to the conclusion that we should provide for a temporary suspension of the rules, hence the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s announcement in the Budget.
To take full advantage of the suspension, businesses will need to prepare well ahead. They will need to agree trading hours and working hours with staff and ensure that customers know about their extended hours. More importantly, we believe that we need to ensure that shop workers have time to choose whether to work on those eight Sundays.
I am grateful to the Minister, who is being generous in giving way. Does the fact that he, as a Treasury Minister, is moving this allocation of time motion—[Interruption.] I am sorry. As a Business, Innovation and Skills Minister, can he confirm whether the pressure for this change came from the Treasury and not from BIS, because BIS is more concerned about the effect on smaller shops than the Treasury seems to be?
The hon. Lady’s question might have worked better if she had my correct job title. The point is that this is the policy of the Government, devised by the Government and supported by the Government, and we believe that it will add considerably to the opportunities that the Olympics present.
Using the fast-track legislative process will give businesses and shop workers the necessary time to make their own arrangements for the period of the Olympics and Paralympics. In deciding to use the fast-track procedure, we have consulted those directly affected and Members of both Houses. Indeed, consultations have been held with, among others, representatives from the Association of Convenience Stores, the Federation of Small Businesses, the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, the CBI, leading supermarkets and the unions, including USDAW and Unite. Indeed, Ministers have consulted senior religious representatives, the official Opposition and Members of this House. We are grateful to everyone for engaging in this process in what has been a very positive fashion, regardless of their views on the wider issue of trading or working on a Sunday.
Is not the truth that the Minister had a consultation and then, as is normal for the Government, ignored the views of people, because most of the people he has just mentioned were actually against this happening? If he had listened to the views expressed in the consultation, we would not be debating this tonight.
Again, I do not want to stretch your patience too far, Mr Deputy Speaker, but the fact that the Bill was amended during its passage in the other House after we listened to those representations and on the very question of the notice procedure demonstrates that the hon. Gentleman is wrong on that point.
My point is about the speed and programming of the Bill. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that Sunday trading is one of the most controversial items in this House. I think that I am right in saying that it was the only item on which Margaret Thatcher was defeated when she was Prime Minister. Does he agree that that makes the Bill completely inappropriate for fast-tracking at the last minute and that this is a sneaky way of dealing with a very difficult issue?
I do not accept that at all. This measure does not do anything beyond eight Sundays and the Act will leave the statute book on 10 September, so the idea that it is some kind of Trojan horse is a false argument. As a practising Christian, I understand the concerns, and we have done our level best to ensure that we listen carefully to Members of both Houses.
To conclude, we believe that the Bill strikes the right balance between addressing legitimate concerns and ensuring that retailers have the flexibility to take full advantage of the tremendous commercial opportunities presented by the games. As such, I commend the motion to the House.
I do not wish to speak for long on the programme motion, because I do not intend to extend the discussion beyond what is necessary, having already indicated our agreement to use the fast-track procedure. I shall explain more about that on Second Reading. I have a number of substantive points in relation to the Bill, but again the proper time for me to raise them is on Second Reading. I have a number of things to say about the handling of this matter, which has necessitated the use of the fast-track procedure, but again I shall mention those later.
In relation to the point that my hon. Friend the Member for Blackley and Broughton (Graham Stringer) made, I am happy to confirm that, with an awareness of the sensitivities of this matter, Her Majesty’s official Opposition are going to treat this as a free vote for all concerned on our Benches.
I was not going to make a speech, but the Minister refused to give way, and that forces me to stand at this point.
I shall make two brief points on the programme motion, which is what we are discussing. First, it is interesting that the Minister is proposing to allow shops to open for as long as they like, but allowing us to discuss this matter only until 10 pm this evening.
Secondly, the Minister mentioned all the people whom he had consulted on the matter. I do not think that any of us were surprised that he ignored the work force in shops or some religious organisations, but I was quite surprised that he ignored the chief executive of Sainsbury’s, who said that the measure was unnecessary. What everyone is trying to get to the bottom of is: who is the driving force behind putting through this temporary legislation? Who is really behind it? Perhaps this evening we might discover the answer to that question. I have read the Lords debate and I am none the wiser.
I shall address my comments specifically to the programme motion.
We have known about the Olympics since 6 July 2005. Today, at the fag end of a weary and exhausted parliamentary Session, we are being asked to go through every single stage of a Bill that, as the Minister rightly said, is short but important. It is important because of the effect that it will have on the lives of many thousands of workers and their families in London. For him to say from the Dispatch Box that he does not want to speak for too long but wants to allow the rest of us to have our say, when we have to stop talking about such a massively important Bill at 10 pm, is rather disingenuous. I have a lot of time for the Minister—he is a good Minister, for a Tory—but on this particular issue I do not think that he is being entirely fair.
Is the hon. Gentleman saying that if somebody has a good idea towards the end of a time scale, it should be ignored because it comes at an inconvenient moment? If somebody comes up with a good idea, albeit late in the day, surely it is right that the Government take notice, listen and do something about it. He should commend that, not criticise it.
The hon. Gentleman has a strange idea of what is a new idea. This proposal was debated and defeated under the Thatcher Government, and as the Minister said, one of his own Back Benchers, the hon. Member for Fylde (Mark Menzies), brought forward proposals on it last year. This is not a new proposal; it has been on the take-off ground for a long time.
I am grateful for your instruction, Mr Deputy Speaker.
I also question the fact that this debate is taking place on, essentially, the last day of the Session, given that the issue has always been subject to a one-line Whip and is a matter of conscience. So the Government knew that a great many Members would not be in the Chamber, but would be out campaigning in the local elections. That shows a degree of cynicism that, even for this Government, is quite outrageous.
The Government knew that many people who are opposed to this measure on principle would not be here. That is a question for their business managers. In my notes, I have put an asterisk after the term “business managers”, because when it comes to this Government, that is a very generous term. We have had very many days during this Parliament when the Whips have been frantically running around looking for stuff to vote on and not being able to find it, and we have all been sent home early. Day after day, there has not been a vote, and suddenly an issue of importance comes before us on the last day of the Session and we are all expected to come down to London to vote on it. That is a disgrace.
I, too, oppose the timetable motion. During my years in Parliament, the House has not passed legislation as quickly as this unless there really was an emergency and it was crucial to get it through in a very short time by taking it all on one day. I genuinely think that the Government have messed up on this. The Bill could have come at any time during the past year, or even earlier, particularly once the Back-Bench Bill had been introduced, and there is no need to rush it through like this, leaving aside the principle of the issue, about which I have very strong feelings. As those of us who were around in 1994 remember, it has been an incredibly contentious issue about which people feel very strongly and on which Labour Members have always had a free vote.
I am very concerned that pushing the Bill through in this way is yet another example of the increasing tendency to say, “If it is about the Olympics and the Paralympics, anything can be changed or moved.” I think that the Olympics and the Paralympics are incredibly important to this country and that they will be a huge success, but people could be cynical about the fact that they increasingly seem to be used as excuses for all sorts of things to be done, changed and made different—including those who suddenly discovered at the weekend that they might have missiles of some kind on top of their houses.
We have to be very careful, as a Parliament, that we consider legislation within a time scale that treats it with the seriousness that it deserves. The Bill does not need to be rushed through in this way, and it should not be. I hope that many hon. Government Members—I presume that they have a free vote as well; if not, they should—will join us in opposing the Bill, or at least its timetabling.
I cast my mind back to 1994, when the House passed the current Sunday trading legislation, which has passed the test of time. A good compromise was struck in that legislation—particularly in giving some Sunday lifeblood to small high street traders by preventing the bigger shops, particularly the out-of-town shops, from taking business away from them—but it was achieved only after hours and hours of debate. The Government are making a big mistake in using a procedure that was intended to deal with a national emergency such as a terrorist attack to take through a piece of legislation that it would be very easy to get wrong. Indeed, by rushing it through in a single sitting of the House, there is a danger that the Government will get it wrong.
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Kate Hoey), I believe that the Olympic games are extremely important, but they are a festival of sport, not a festival of shopping. The Government should think again and bring back a proposal when we have more time to debate it after the Queen’s Speech.
My hon. Friend the Minister knows that I have concerns about the Bill, and I wish that more time had been set aside so that amendments about geography could have been debated rather than being perceived as wrecking amendments.
As the hon. Gentleman knows, every vote in the House is a free vote.
I stress to my hon. Friends on the Front Bench that the amendments that some of us thought about tabling would have tried to be helpful. As was mentioned earlier, we are considering a festival of sport—one of the greatest things that will ever happen in our country. The route from Stratford or Pudding Mill takes people through a shopping centre, and it would be odd if they could not buy something on their way home, but I am not sure what excuse there is for some of the shopping centres further afield to be open.
I understand that the matter is important for the Government and I did not table any amendments because I did not want to be perceived as trying to wreck the Bill, but I hope that any other debate on Sunday trading hours will be given time for hon. Members to discuss the subject properly.