1. The proceedings on Consideration of Lords Amendments shall be completed at this day's sitting and, subject to the provisions of the Order of 9th March, each part of those proceedings shall, if not previously brought to a conclusion, be brought to a conclusion at the time specified in the second column of the Table set out below.
3. For the purposes of bringing any proceedings to a conclusion in accordance with paragraph 1 above—
5. For the purpose of bringing those proceedings to a conclusion—
(6) If the proceedings are interrupted by a Motion for the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 (Adjournment on specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration) a period equal to the duration of the proceedings on the Motion shall be added to the period at the end of which the proceedings are to be brought to a conclusion.
The order will ensure that the House has the opportunity to decide at a reasonable hour this evening the few important issues that are still to be resolved, so that the Bill can complete its remaining stages before the Summer Recess. In the arrangement of the proceedings we have sought to meet the wishes of the House and the Opposition. The order will bring proceedings on the first nine Lords amendments, which are entirely technical, to a conclusion by 5.30 pm and the proceedings on Lords amendments Nos. 10 and 11, which deal with powers of entry, to a conclusion by 6.30 pm. We have sought to meet the wishes of the Opposition spokesman.
Given the Government's sad record of restricting debate on every other Commons stage of the Bill, with the exception of the Second Reading, one comes to a further guillotine motion with an appalling sense of inevitability. I shall not rehearse the classic and valid objections to guillotines which are normally deployed.
I object strenuously to what the Secretary of State has just said about the time provided. He suggests that we have between now and 5.30 pm to debate the first nine amendments. That would be true only if we gave up our right to debate the guillotine motion. If we took only an hour to debate the guillotine motion and took advantage of that limited right, we should go past the first guillotine slot in the proposition.
To introduce a guillotine motion on a day when the Government have so staged the business as to have two statements and a Ten-Minute Bill to eat into the time to debate the order of our business is an affront to the rights of the House. The Government have tabled the guillotine motion on the day that we are to debate the Lords amendments. Inevitably, if we exercise our right to debate the guillotine we do so at the expense of debating the Lords amendments. It is unreasonable and improper to table a guillotine motion in a way that takes time out of guillotined debate.
The terms of the motion are designed, as are other guillotine motions, to protect the Government's interest in their business and in the Lords amendments with which they wish the House to deal. The motion also protects the Lord's interests by instructing you, Mr. Speaker, to put before the House those Lords amendments that are not covered by the Government.
The guillotine motion does not offer protection to Back Benchers in the time that they can spend debating the issues. If the Bill had not already been subject to the guillotine that might not be such an important issue. However, the Bill was guillotined in its Committee stage and on Report. As a result, some of the issues in the Lords amendments have not yet been debated in the House, although they would have been debated if the Bill had not been guillotined. When hon. Members wish to raise issues on Lords amendments which they have not yet had time to debate, it is a bit much of the Government to suggest that the restriction is reasonable.
I congratulate the Secretary of State on executing a perfect 180 degree U-turn from the position that he took when we discussed the last guillotine motion. The right hon. Gentleman will remember that my hon. Friends and I sought to persuade him that if there were to be a guillotine motion, he should apportion the time to allow the House to take a decision on seat belts. We sought to persuade him to do that. We believed it to be the will of the House, but that was frustrated in Committee. The Secretary of State said "No", that the Government could not do that, and that if they did it would be interfering with the business of the House in favour of hon. Members who wanted to debate that issue. He was referring to those who had had the audacity to take a new clause to encapsulate their views on seat belts.
The Secretary of State said that the Government could not table a timetable motion that would facilitate the House of Commons to reach a decision, but he has tabled just such a motion today. It will facilitate the House to debate the views not of hon. Members, but of the House of Lords on seat belts. That shows that the Secretary of State has a total disregard for the rights of hon. Members. I do not make any distinction between Opposition and Government Back Benchers for this purpose. The Secretary of State has disregarded the rights of hon. Members to express their views. He should at least have allowed the House of Commons to come to a decision. However, when hereditary peers, or those appointed to another place, take a view, the right to have a debate is protected. Such issues have not arisen on any other guillotine debate in which I have been involved. That is why the guillotine motion is unreasonable.
I rise to support my right hon. Friend the Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Mr. Booth), if he will forgive me, on this issue. It is not a party political matter. It is a House of Commons matter. I would also ask Conservative Members to bear in mind the history and background of guillotines. All hon. Members know how and why they arise. In this case, however, my right hon. Friend has, I believe, proved his case.
The Government themselves say in their motion that Lords amendments Nos. 1 to 9 should be concluded at 5.30 pm. Obviously, they were under the impression when making that proposal that hon. Members would have begun their discussion at about 3.30 pm. We have not started at about 3.30 pm. Able and efficient though you are, Mr. Speaker, even you cannot ensure that our business begins at 3.30 pm. It is now 5 pm. Hon Members are now told, in effect, that the two hours originally to be allowed for discussing the nine amendments have been reduced to half an hour—or less than half an hour if my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) starts interrupting.
Paragraph 6(6) of the supplemental order shows that the Government took precautions in providing that any time allocated by you, Mr. Speaker, to a motion for the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 would have been allowed for. Why could not the. Government also have included wording to the effect that if Lords amendments Nos. 1 to 9 could not be allocated two hours before 5.30, time could be added? I do not think that any hon. Members would have objected.
I should like to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether you would be prepared to accept a manuscript amendment from my right hon. Friend specifying that the originally expected time of two hours should be allowed on the first batch of Lords amendments. I assume that the timing for debates on the remaining Lords amendments would have to be altered which would upset all the dinner arrangements and cocktail parties of hon. Members. The Government should examine the matter. All hon. Members know that the Government manoeuvre and manipulate these things. A question or a statement is often arranged. It is often welcomed when a matter is put off from Monday to Tuesday. I do not believe that any Government should be allowed to get away with what has happened today. It deprives Back Benchers of the limited rights that they possess. The Government should be opposed.