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Point of Order

Volume 574: debated on Thursday 30 January 2014

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. As other hon. Members have pointed out, the Government are heavily amending the Immigration Bill on Report, which means that a substantial Bill is skipping the normal process of scrutiny and extra time is not being given. To make matters worse, the Government have not even bothered to table explanatory statements. They promised that they would do that, when they opposed making them mandatory. Do you agree, Mr Speaker, that their failure to do so now on such a complex measure at the very last moment is a serious abuse of our legislative process, and is there anything you can do about it?

I thank the hon. Lady for her point of order. I am bound to say that she both looks and sounds very shocked. I hope she will understand when I say that, although she is a very seasoned politician with experience in another Parliament, I have been here a little bit longer and have therefore seen quite a lot of things before and am perhaps not quite as regularly shocked and astonished as she is.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. Just so the hon. Lady understands and the House is aware, on explanatory statements on amendments, the Government have made it clear that we will attach explanatory statements on amendments in relation to any Bills introduced after 1 January. The Immigration Bill was not introduced after 1 January.

I am grateful to the Leader of the House, because that coheres with something I was about to say in any case. There are really two points. First, it is up to Ministers to decide what programming arrangements to put before the House. On 22 October, as the hon. Lady will doubtless recall, the House agreed to a day for Report on this Bill. It is up to Ministers whether to propose any further time. Secondly, on explanatory statements, the House decided that they would not be mandatory. It is indeed up to Ministers, and not to me, whether they are tabled or not. I had been intending in any case to say, and will now do so, that it is my understanding that Ministers will soon be providing such statements as a matter of routine. It would not have applied, as the Leader of the House has explained, in this case. I hope that that is helpful. At any rate, the matter is on the record.