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Marine Wildlife Conservation

Volume 422: debated on Wednesday 16 June 2004

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Mr. John Randall accordingly presented a Bill to amend the law relating to nature conservation and the protection of wildlife in respect of the marine environment; to provide enforcement powers for marine wildlife conservation to competent marine authorities; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on Friday 16 July, and to be printed [Bill 119].

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Those of us who were deeply upset by the treatment, particularly by certain Members of the other place, of the private Member's Bill of the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Randall) last time round were a little sad that no DEFRA Minister was to here to hear him present his ten-minute Bill. In view of the history of this saga in which his other Bill was scuppered against the overwhelming majority will of the House of Commons by certain maverick elements in the House of Lords, can we examine the procedure of this business, and express the hope that the Government on this occasion will consider a ten-minute Bill favourably, to see how its objectives, which many of us think are extremely important, should be progressed?

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker—

Order. Let me answer the point of order from the Father of the House. I make no comment on the merit of the hon. Gentleman's Bill—that is for the House to decide, and it has already done so. There is a courtesy that must be observed, however, which is that the appropriate Minister should be in his or her place when a ten-minute Bill is introduced. Certainly, I hope that the Whip on the Treasury Bench will send my message, in no uncertain manner that that courtesy must be observed at all times.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Your guidance is useful on that, and your ruling is useful. May I remind you, however, that DEFRA is a serial offender on this point? You had to make the same point about six or seven weeks ago about the same Department. Rather than the Whip on the Treasury Bench communicating your message, would it not be more appropriate for the Speaker's Office to communicate it strongly?

I have a good memory, and this is the first time that I have come down so hard on any Minister. There is therefore no need for my Office to do anything—the message will be arriving as we speak.

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker—

Order. We are finished with this point. The hon. Gentleman should not milk it.