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House of Commons Hansard
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Programming (Bills)
26 November 2009
Volume 501
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24. How many clauses of Bills were not debated as a result of the provisions of programme orders in the 2008-09 Session. [301689]

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All parts of a Bill are subject to parliamentary scrutiny at all stages of its passage. In many cases, Bills also undergo pre-legislative scrutiny. Elements of a Bill that are not debated in detail at one stage may clearly be considered at another stage and, in any event, may be divided on. It is therefore difficult to say with certainty which clauses of a Bill were not considered at all as a result of programming, but in Public Bill Committees no clauses were not reached for debate.

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Is the Deputy Leader of the House not totally embarrassed by that answer?

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No, I am not. The important thing is the last point that I made—that, in Public Bill Committees, there were no clauses that were not reached for debate.

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Will the hon. Lady give thought to the suggestion from the noble Lord Rooker that, when a Bill has been inadequately discussed or not discussed at all in this place, a certificate should accompany it when it is sent to the other place? In that way, the other place can know which parts of the Bill have not been discussed or need to be discussed more fully.

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Many of the things that we are talking about this morning in respect of reforming how Bills progress through the House are under consideration at the moment, but I do not think that there is anything specific on that particular recommendation. However, the other place knows how much debate on a Bill there has been here, so the process that has been described does tend to happen anyway.

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The Deputy Leader of the House should know that Government new clauses and amendments are not discussed in Public Bill Committees—clearly they cannot be, because they are moved after that stage. The Library has told me that, on four Bills alone, nearly 200 amendments, including 50 Government new clauses and amendments, were not scrutinised. Does she accept that we cannot go on like this? The Wright Committee has set out a way to avoid the problem so that we do not have to demonise Government and the Government do not have to infantilise Members of this House.

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We have had a number of exchanges this morning about the Reform of the House of Commons Committee. We have had the Committee’s report for two days, and we will be considering the recommendations in it that relate to the hon. Gentleman’s question.