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Procedure

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:12 pm on 27th February 1986.

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Photo of Mr Charles Morrison Mr Charles Morrison , Devizes 7:12 pm, 27th February 1986

I agree with the right hon. Member for Down, South (Mr. Powell) that it is a mistake to assume that the remedy for all the weaknesses, shortcomings and failings in the legislative process lies in Standing Orders. Perfection would be to have no Standing Orders, as is the case in another place, but I suppose that that would be too near to paradise for this House. We had to develop Standing Orders over the years to cope with our procedure. Standing Orders are the framework within which we operate, but there is no reason why the framework should not be renewed and redesigned in the light of circumstances. The proposals of the Select Committee on Procedure, especially the amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Honiton (Sir P. Emery), are aimed at modernising our procedure just a little.

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House said that the proposals were radical. If he believes that, he is being a little unambitious. I regard them as moderate, mild, timely and full of good sense. Some of the speeches that we heard today about the implied perfection of our present procedures almost force me into despair.

My hon. Friend the Member for Honiton argued his case with great dexterity. I repeat what he said about why the recommendations are before the House. The Procedure Committee was specifically instructed to examine the time spent on legislation in Committee because Members of Parliament and the outside world were dissatisfied with the way in which we conduct our business. The proposals contained in the report and my hon. Friend's amendment will go some small way towards improving matters.