I am sorry, Mr. Deputy Speaker. We are dealing with an exceptional situation.
I was under the impression, as were most of my hon. Friends, that the Instruction had to be specific. I still do not understand what the Instruction means. Time after time hon. Members on this side have asked for it to be explained whether the Clause that the Committee is to deal with is Clause 1 as the Government first intended or Clause 1 as amended by defeat in Committee on an Amendment tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Hands-worth.
The Leader of the House said that the Committee would meet without further delay. What does "without further delay" mean? Are the Government thinking that we shall sit tomorrow morning or shall we start sitting next Tuesday?
Different phrases have been used in the Motion. At one time the words "the former Committee" were used. The words now are "Standing Committee A". I think that the Committee which was dealing with the Bill is to deal with it again, which could present difficulties. That Committee began its deliberations several weeks ago. Its members knew what their obligations were and whether they would be able to serve for the full term of the Committee. Circumstances have changed. Thinking that they would be able to see it through to the end, hon. Members on both sides may have commitments to go on parliamentary delegations soon; or they could be ill. Are they to be excused from the Committee?
I hope that when the Committee reconvenes we shall have a full debate on whatever is put in the place of what was Clause 1 in the original Bill. When we were discussing Clause 1, the Donnison Report was published. The Minister of State made veiled references to the report, because she had advance knowledge of what was in it, whilst Opposition Members had no idea. The fact that we will now be armed with the report will lead to a more informed debate.
I am sorry that the Government have been driven to this expedient. I would have been much happier if they had dropped the Bill and accepted the wish of the Committee.