[Miss Ann Widdecombe in the Chair]

2:30 am
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Miss Ann Widdecombe (Maidstone and The Weald, Conservative)

Following Mr. Hurst's ruling this morning, the Government have tabled manuscript amendments. They will be taken during the debate on clause 36 and they are available to the Committee on the Table.

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Mr Simon Burns (West Chelmsford, Conservative)

On a point of order, Miss Widdecombe. As you were not in the Committee this morning, you may not be aware that we held a further meeting of the Programming Sub-Committee when we had before us the motion

''That, pursuant to Sessional Order . . . of 28th June 2001, the Committee recommends that, notwithstanding the Order of the House of 20th November, proceedings on Consideration and Third Reading of the National Health Service Reform and Health Care Professions Bill be completed in one and a half days.''

My hon. Friend the Member for North-East Hertfordshire (Mr. Heald) and I requested that because we felt that the way in which the programme motion for the Committee had been set provided insufficient time to debate important issues such as clauses 8, 20 and 21. We did not have the opportunity to scrutinise those clauses at all, which it is the Opposition's duty so to do, and we thought it reasonable to request that on Report, instead of having the proposed one-day debate, we should have a one-and-a-half day debate so that we could properly scrutinise those important clauses. Regrettably, the Programming Sub-Committee, with a Government majority, did not agree with that view, so the status quo remains. However, I want to put on the record that we are most unhappy at the way in which those crucial clauses at the heart of the Bill will not have any scrutiny whatever in Standing Committee.

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Miss Ann Widdecombe (Maidstone and The Weald, Conservative)

That is not a matter for the Chair. The Programming Sub-Committee met and came to a conclusion in a way that was completely within the rules. I certainly have no jurisdiction to do anything about it. If the hon. Gentleman is dissatisfied, no doubt he will make that known on the Floor of the House in due course.Schedule 8 Minor and consequential amendments