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Private Members’ Bills

Volume 616: debated on Thursday 27 October 2016

4. Whether he plans to provide an opportunity for the House to vote on the proposals from the Procedure Committee on reform of the private Members’ Bill system. (906846)

As I confirmed to the House on Tuesday, and to the Procedure Committee last week, the Government are currently considering the Procedure Committee’s report, and will respond in detail within the normal two-month timeframe.

Before Christmas, there will be important private Members’ Bills on the minimum wage, disability equality, awards for valour, and violence against women. To save us all a repeat of last Friday’s farce, can the Government just tell us now which ones they plan to talk out?

If the promoters and sponsors of any of those Bills command widespread support across the House, they should ensure that their supporters turn up on the day and vote, whether on procedural motions or on the substance.

While the Leader of the House is right on that point, there are reforms to private Members’ Bills that are important, and we need the House to look at them. We need the Government to bring forward a package of proposals, which we could then amend and vote on in the House. We need to have a debate and a vote on this. Could he please arrange that?

As my hon. Friend knows, the Procedure Committee has, indeed, proposed such a package. The Government will want to consider the Committee’s recommendations carefully, including its recommendation that the decision on this be placed before the House. We will, as I said earlier, respond to the Committee in detail in due course.

6. Sticking with the subject of the private Member’s Bill from last Friday, the Leader of the House said on Tuesday that there was no complaint during the debate. I was there, and I was complaining—I was one of dozens who were complaining—about the farce that was opening up in front of us. Does he stand by the actions of the Minister in this case, or does he agree with me and with people across the country that it was an absolute farce—a shameful, embarrassing disgrace? (906849)

No; as I said on Tuesday, there was no argument last Friday that any hon. Member on any side of the argument was engaged in filibustering. When 2.30 pm came, the Under-Secretary of State for Justice, my hon. Friend the Member for East Surrey (Mr Gyimah), as the Minister responsible, had spoken for only one minute more than the Bill’s promoter and for a shorter time than one of the Bill’s main supporters. He sought to respond in detail to the many questions raised, and he gave way seven times to interventions. It seems to me that he behaved in a thoroughly reasonable manner.

In order to guarantee the fairness that the Leader of the House spoke about earlier, is it not time that English votes for English laws was extended to private Members’ Bills?