[Mr. Edward O'Hara in the Chair]

2:30 pm
Photo of Mr Edward Davey

Mr Edward Davey (Kingston and Surbiton, Liberal Democrat)

On a point of order, Mr. O'Hara. Welcome back to this afternoon's sitting. I imagine that your break was more enjoyable than mine, but it is good to be back in Committee.

What will happen if we reach 7 o'clock and have not finished the business? I do not recall whether the sittings motion that we discussed on 18 June made provision for that. In case of such an eventuality, will it be in order for me, after discussing the matter with colleagues, to draft a new sittings motion? I should be grateful to receive advice on what action you would like us to take if we reach 7 o'clock without having completed our proceedings.

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Mr Edward O'Hara (Knowsley South, Labour)

There are two responses to that point of order. First, we are not bound to finish our proceedings by 7 pm. The Committee may proceed until any hour. Secondly, should it be necessary for me to receive a new sittings motion, it is desirable that it should come from the promoter of the Bill. I give the hon. Gentleman that advice in answer to his question, but he should wait to see how we go.

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Mr Edward Davey (Kingston and Surbiton, Liberal Democrat)

Further to that point of order, Mr. O'Hara. You will have noted that our numbers have become depleted since the morning sitting. We have also lost the promoter of the Bill, the right hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field), although he may return at any second. This is the first private Member's Bill that I have had the pleasure to discuss in Committee—despite this being my second term in Parliament, it is a new experience—and I do not know the procedure. Can we continue our deliberations in the absence of the promoter of the Bill, who will not hear our arguments and thus will not be able to decide whether he wishes to amend the Bill? It seems rather odd on first principles that someone who is pushing through a Bill is not here to listen to it being debated. That seems to go against the whole process of democracy.

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Mr Edward O'Hara (Knowsley South, Labour)

The hon. Gentleman may hold that opinion, but my duty is to proceed with the business if I see five members of the Committee in the Room—and I do.

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Mr Edward Davey (Kingston and Surbiton, Liberal Democrat)

I am grateful for those two clarifications, Mr. O'Hara. They will help me to decide how to proceed during the next few hours.