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Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:37 pm on 27th February 1986.

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Photo of Mr William Benyon Mr William Benyon , Milton Keynes 5:37 pm, 27th February 1986

I see that I must address my remarks to Buster Keaton. My right hon. Friend has got into a mess, but he will find it very difficult to get out of. I support the amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Sir P. Emery). In this short debate I see no point in rehearsing the arguments that were considered so extensively by the Select Committee on Procedure. I congratulate the Committee upon its work.

I am a vice-chairman of the all-party House of Commons reform group, where I sit under the chairmanship of the hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley), who has had to leave the Chamber. It is no secret —it is in our evidence to the Select Committee—that we wished to go much further than the Select Committee has gone. We wanted to entrench the 10 o'clock rule. We wanted also to have fixed Sessions of Parliament to achieve a better balance vis-à-vis the Executive. However, it is abundantly clear from the circular that we sent to all right hon. and hon. Members that the vast majority of Back Benchers accept and support the generality of the Select Committee's recommendations.

This is a House of Commons day, a Back-Bench Members' day. If this amendment is lost, I make so bold as to say that we shall not see reforms of this nature for many a long day. What a farce it is that this first hesitant step towards a more sensible arrangement has brought down on itself the full force of Her Majesty's Government and Her Majesty's loyal Opposition.

Yet even in my relatively short time in the House, as my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton said, a guillotine has passed from being a major parliamentary occasion to being absolutely an inevitable, boring routine, with predictable speeches from hon. Members on both sides of the House.

We all know that the present arrangements——