Northern Ireland (Monitoring Commission etc.) Bill (Allocation of Time)
Mr David Trimble (Upper Bann, UUP)
I wish to congratulate the Secretary of State on one point. During his contribution, the word "guillotine" fell from his lips. I was delighted to hear that instead of the rather ugly new Labour phrase "timetable motion." Guillotines are what they are. It is wrong to guillotine legislation, but the Government routinely guillotine everything. As a consequence, the opportunity for scrutiny in this House has been greatly reduced.
Many people outside this place are talking about the ineffectiveness of Parliament. People do not realise that the main reasons for the decline of Parliament are the so-called modernisation ideas introduced by this Government, every one of which has disadvantaged the House in carrying out its functions.
Some hon. Members have referred to the contrast between this House, where this Bill is to be rammed through in one day, and the House of Lords, where it has received more serious consideration. Some may think that that is due to the fact that the Government have a huge majority in this place but not in the other place. I do not think that that is the case; it is simply that the House of Lords has retained greater control over its own procedures than we have. I suspect that the so-called reforms that the Government are proposing for the other place largely have the purpose of trying to subject it to the same amount of control as they exercise here. I very much hope that they will be unsuccessful.