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Social Security Bill (Allocation of Time)

– in the House of Commons at 5:12 pm on 23rd July 1986.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler Secretary of State for Health and Social Security 5:12 pm, 23rd July 1986

I beg to move, That the Order of the House [15th April] be supplemented as follows:

Lords Amendments1. — (1) The proceedings on Consideration of Lords Amendments shall be completed at this day's sitting. (2) The order in which the proceedings are taken shall be—

  1. (a) the following Lords Amendments—
    1. (i) 1 to 34;
    2. (ii) 94 to 109;
    3. (iii) 135 to 139;
  2. (b) the following Lords Amendments—
    1. (i) 35;
    2. (ii) 42 to 44;
    3. (iii) 36 to 39, 41, 45, 67, 119;
  3. (c) the following Lords Amendments—
    1. (i) 40;
    2. (ii) 46 to 51 (including 48A);
    3. (iii) 84 to 86;
  4. (d) Lords Amendments 52 to 66, 68 to 83, 87 to 93, 110 to 118, 120 to 134 (including 121A), 140 to 184,
and, subject to the provisions of the Order [15th April], each part of those proceedings shall, if not previously brought to a conclusion, be brought to a conclusion not later than the end of such period beginning with the commencement of the proceedings on the Motion for this Order as is of the length specified in the second column of the Table set out below.

TABLE
Lords AmendmentsLength of period from commencement of proceedings on Motion
Amendments up to the end of those listed in sub-paragraph (2)(a) above1 hour 15 mins
Amendments up to the end of those listed in sub-paragraph (2)(b) above.2 hours
Amendments up to the end of those listed in sub-paragraph (2)(c) above.3 hours
Amendments up to the end of those listed in sub-paragraph (2)(d) above.4 hours

2.—(1) For the purposes of bringing any proceedings to a conclusion in accordance with paragraph I above—

  1. (a) Mr. Speaker shall first put forthwith any Question which has already been proposed from the Chair and not yet decided and, if that Question is for the amendment of a Lords Amendment, shall then put forthwith the Question on any further Amendment to the said Lords Amendment moved by a Minister of the Crown and on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown, That this House doth agree or disagree with the Lords in the said Lords Amendment or, as the case may be, in the said Lords Amendment as amended;
  2. (b) Mr. Speaker shall then designate such of the remaining Lords Amendments as appear to him to involve questions of Privilege and shall—
    1. (i) put forthwith the Question on any Amendment moved by a Minister of the Crown to a Lords Amendment and then put forthwith the Question on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown, That this House doth agree or disagree with the Lords in their Amendment or, as the case may be, in their Amendment, as amended;
    2. (ii) put forthwith the Question on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in a Lords Amendment;
    3. (iii) put forthwith with respect to the Amendments designated by Mr. Speaker which have not been disposed of the Question, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendments; and
    4. (iv) put forthwith the Question, That this House doth agree with the Lords in all the remaining Lords Amendments;
  3. (c) as soon as the House has agreed or disagreed with the Lords in any of their Amendments Mr. Speaker shall put forthwith a separate Question on any other Amendment moved by a Minister of the Crown relevant to that Lords Amendment.
(2) Proceedings under sub-paragraph (1) above shall not be interrupted under any Standing Order relating to the sittings of the House.

Stages subsequent to first Consideration of Lords Amendments3. The proceedings on any further Message from the Lords on the Bill shall be brought to a conclusion one hour after the commencement of the proceedings.4. For the purpose of bringing those proceedings to a conclusion—

  1. (a) Mr. Speaker shall first put forthwith any Question which has already been proposed from the Chair and not yet decided, and shall then put forthwith the Question on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown which is related to the Question already proposed from the Chair;
  2. (b) Mr. Speaker shall then designate such of the remaining items in the Lords Message as appear to him to involve questions of Privilege and shall—
    1. (i) put forthwith the Question on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown on any item;
    2. (ii) in the case of each remaining item designated by Mr. Speaker, put forthwith the Question, That this House doth agree with the Lords in their Proposal; and
    3. (iii) put forthwith the Question, That this House doth agree with the Lords in all the remaining Lords Proposals.

Supplement5. — (1) In this paragraph "the proceedings" means proceedings on any further Message from the Lords on the Bill, on the appointment and quorum of a Committee to draw up Reasons and on the Report of such a Committee.(2) Mr. Speaker shall put forthwith the Question on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown for the consideration forthwith of any such Message or for the appointment and quorum of a Committee to draw up Reasons.(3) A Committee appointed to draw up Reasons shall report before the conclusion of the sitting at which it is appointed.(4) Paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 3 (Exempted business) shall apply to the proceedings.(5) No dilatory Motion with respect to, or in the course of, the proceedings shall be made except by a Member of the Government, and the Question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith.(6) If the proceedings are interrupted by a Motion for the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 10 (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.

We have already spent a great deal of time debating the Bill. Up to now, a total of 224 hours have been spent in both Houses on the legislation. The Committee stage in this House alone took over 162 hours. If I may put the figure into context, the 224 hours spent on the Bill are already not far short of the 234 hours spent on four separate pieces of legislation between 1946 and 1948, which followed the Beveridge report. Therefore, more time has been spent on this social security legislation than on any other such legislation since the war.

I believe that the Bill has had a thorough examination, which has come on top of a period of consultation which began in November 1983. A total of 4,500 organisations and members of the public gave evidence in that period. Ministers held 19 public sessions to take formal evidence. In June last year we published a Green Paper, "Reform of Social Security" and in December a White Paper followed. Never before have a Government carried out such an extensive consultation exercise prior to introducing legislation.

Many of the amendments that are before the House are technical changes, which I do not think should delay us. I recognise, however, that a number of the amendments made in the other place raise important questions. The motion has been drafted in such a way as to enable debate on those issues.

In those circumstances, I hope that the House will agree that the terms of the motion are adequate for our consideration of the Lords amendments and that we can proceed to the final stages of this important Bill.

Photo of Michael Meacher Michael Meacher Shadow Secretary of State, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 5:14 pm, 23rd July 1986

There is something rather distasteful about putting a four-hour limit on debates on dozens of amendments received from another place, especially when three of them are extremely contentious. There is something infinitely more distasteful about forcing the measure through when the nation is distracted by the festivities of the royal wedding. But what is perhaps most distasteful of all is that the Government's business managers have deliberately orchestrated this dirty business in order to combine on this day, which might be expected to reflect a spirit of magnanimity and national unity, the imposition of extra rates payments of £300 million for the poorest people on supplementary benefit and cuts in single payments so necessary to their livelihood of some £150 million to £200 million—a total of nearly £500 million of cuts for some of the poorest people in our society.

I believe that any reasonably objective person would acknowledge that four hours in which to debate the amendments is absurdly inadequate. Indeed, it is not even four hours when one excludes the time spent protesting at the guillotine, which protest we are keeping short, but which is certainly necessary. When one excludes the time for votes, debating time is probably down to only two and a half hours. This is a charade when one bears it in mind that these are not some peripheral changes. Major modifications were made to the Bill in another place which have altered its structure and left it fundamentally flawed.

There has been forced retreat from the 2 per cent. personal pensions bribe; forced retreat on the payment of family credit to the father; forced retreat on the state-earnings related pension scheme; inclusion of community care additions for the disabled that the Government never intended; forced retreat on benefits for child minders; retreat on fares for the unemployed who do voluntary work; reversal of the Government's plans to force people, after emergencies or disasters, to apply to a discretionary social fund; defeat over the right to independent appeal from refusals of help under the social fund; and, of course, defeat over the imposition of the iniquitous 20 per cent. rates payment. After all that, the original structure and logic of the Bill are altered beyond recognition, and to allow a mere two and a half hours to debate what is now a largely rehashed Bill is, frankly, a travesty of parliamentary procedure.

That is the main ground on which we protest at the timetabling limit. but there are some others. Amendments from the other place made to other Bills are not being guillotined. Why should this Bill be singled out for such a restriction on debate? Indeed, if there is such a limit on time, how is it that three other major items of business are being taken afterwards? The fact is that the Government are gratuitously signalling their contempt for Parliament by putting a four-hour time limit on extremely contentious social security business, then putting on social security regulations that are also contentious, and following that with amendments from another place to three further Bills.

Another reason why we object to the guillotine is that the only relatively free—I say that as a term of art—and open voting on the Bill, free of the Whipping juggernaut in this House, has been in another place. After that led to such major structural changes in the Bill, it seems particularly offensive to use a 140 Whipped majority in this House to steamroller out all those changes within a debating period of two and a half hours, which is nothing more than an insult to the democratic process.

More specifically, we object because in all three of the main issues being debated today it is not simply a straightforward amendment in another place that is being reversed. In every case the thrust of the amendment made in another place is to be reversed, but in a manner which is not straightforward and which introduces several fresh complications.

On the 20 per cent. rates payment, the Government argue that the amendment from the other place is technically defective, but their own proposal goes far beyond reversing any technical defect and introduces several new questions which need adequate debating time. On the community care additions, the Government have, under the guise of tidying up a loosely drawn amendment, severely restricted the range of the proposal made in another place and have left open major new questions about who should or should not be covered. An entirely new concept is being introduced in the Bill, which it is ludicrous to restrict to a debate lasting three quarters of an hour to an hour.

On the question of independent appeals from social fund decisions, I should like to draw to the attention of the House the fact that since the issue was last debated in the House the European Court has ruled in two cases—one from Holland and one from Germany — that social security can he regarded as a civil right, and that under the European Convention on Human Rights there has to be an independent judicial element in social security disputes. That is very relevant. To restrict debate on this important matter to less than one hour in the light of the latest development from the European Court is, I repeat, a travesty of parliamentary procedure.

It is obvious that the Government have an obsessive determination to push through the reversal of these amendments with what I can only describe as indecent haste. The Government were even prepared in the early hours of this morning to sacrifice the Education Bill and to lose that important measure until October or November in order to get this Bill through at any cost in the next few days. I can explain why the Government are doing this. They are doing it because the Bill imposes cuts of £1,000 million on some of the most vulnerable people in society.

For those reasons, the Opposition strongly reject this unnecessary and offensive timetable motion. However, we do not propose to vote against it, not because of a lack of feeling on our part, but because of the way in which the Government have rigged the four hours of debate. It would take a further 15 minutes out of the debate if we were to divide and that would cut in on what is already less than minimal debating time. Our decision not to divide the House on the motion must not be seen as silent approval of the guillotine. Quite the reverse is true. We strongly condemn and castigate the motion as unnecessary and offensive.

Photo of Mr Archy Kirkwood Mr Archy Kirkwood , Roxburgh and Berwickshire 5:22 pm, 23rd July 1986

I do not wish to detain the House for any longer than the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) did. However, it is important to reinforce some of the points that he made.

The Secretary of State is pushing the position beyond the limits of reasonableness by presenting us with more than 100 amendments to consider this evening. I have tried to count the amendments, but the problem is that many of them are grouped on the selection list in the form, "Nos. 84 to 86". At first sight the position does not seem to be too bad, but if one adds them up one finds that there are dozens and dozens of amendments. I remind the House that the Report stage in the House of Lords finished only this week.

The Secretary of State guillotined the Committee proceedings in a way which inevitably meant that many of the issues were not properly discussed. That inevitably resulted in the Government having to amend the Bill in the House of Lords. I have studied the House of Lords Committee proceedings and the Report proceedings very carefully. It is clear, especially in the pensions provisions, that the Government's proposals were so ill-digested that it was inevitable — and the Secretary of State and his advisers must have realised—that the Lords would be required to insert many technical amendments and tidying up provisions of the Government's own making.

It is right for the House to protest in the strongest possible terms, if only in an attempt to influence Parliament in future and stop it from engaging in a legislative programme which inevitably puts the House in an impossible position when considering technical details, especially in relation to pension provisions.

I completely agree with the hon. Member for Oldham, West. The three other substantive debates this evening are of a political nature. The Government must have known that a great deal of time would be necessary to deal with these technical amendments, and I object more to the lack of time to deal with them than I do to the scant time that is provided for the political debates on these extremely important matters.

Photo of Mr Dale Campbell-Savours Mr Dale Campbell-Savours , Workington

The hon. Gentleman will be aware of the arguments that have taken place over the past week about the funding of the various social security programmes of political parties. How much does the alliance intend to spend on its social security programme? Can he provide us with a figure? During the course of these debates the alliance will climb on to Labour's argument in the country about the nature of the Government's social security proposals—

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. I find it very difficult to relate this intervention to the allocation of time motion.

Photo of Mr Archy Kirkwood Mr Archy Kirkwood , Roxburgh and Berwickshire

I am grateful for your protection, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) will have to wait and see. If I followed him down that avenue, /would inevitably be out of order.

The Secretary of State must accept the point made by myself and others in Committee. We said that the Bill was a mistake. The right hon. Gentleman should have introduced two or three Bills. If he had done that, the parliamentary process in both Houses would have been more sensible and would have given hon. Members a better chance to scrutinise the measures properly.

Photo of Mrs Jill Knight Mrs Jill Knight , Birmingham, Edgbaston 5:25 pm, 23rd July 1986

Listening to some Opposition Members one would imagine that a guillotine had never been imposed before at any time at any stage on any Bill. The hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) repeated himself about six times. Although I was not a member of the Committee, there were more than 160 hours of debate—

Photo of Mrs Jill Knight Mrs Jill Knight , Birmingham, Edgbaston

I was not on the Committee of this Bill.

Photo of Margaret Beckett Margaret Beckett Shadow Minister (Social Security)

The hon. Lady was not here either.

Photo of Mrs Jill Knight Mrs Jill Knight , Birmingham, Edgbaston

If the hon. Lady wants to make a speech later, she will no doubt be able to catch your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker. However, she must learn not to shout from a sedentary position when other hon. Members are trying to make their points.

Every hon. Member with any experience of these matters knows perfectly well that, unless a guillotine is imposed, the Bill will never get through the House. We all know of the ability of Members to make very long speeches to block the passage of Government business. In this instance the guillotine is perfectly reasonable and sensible. I strongly support it.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Central Fife 5:27 pm, 23rd July 1986

I find it especially offensive on this day of all days for Her Majesty's Government to come to the House an hour or two after witnessing the vulgar rich outside engaging in a spree which will cost the taxpayer we do not know what, and state that there will be two hours to debate the clobbering of the poor, as my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) said, to the extent of at least £300 million.

Today's copy of The Guardian contains an article about the Child Poverty Action Group. The CPAG plans to run a campaign about what the Government have been up to since 1979. The article states: The top 2 per cent. of taxpayers (earning £30,000-plus a year) are £2 billion better off this year as a result of tax cuts since 1979. The article goes on to state that the poor are worse off by precisely the same amount. The Bill is part of that exercise.

However the Government wrap this up, they are suppressing debate on a matter about which the Opposition feel very strongly. They are trying to compress debate into one or two hours, because they think that events outside will take precedence in the press over their dirty work today. That is the purpose of today's exercise and that has been the purpose of the exercise since 1979. If the Government were in the dock, by God the whole lot of them would be in Brixton prison tomorrow.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth , Mid Worcestershire 5:29 pm, 23rd July 1986

As one who was not privileged to participate in the Committee stage, I am astounded at the synthetic anger of the Opposition. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has said, there has been more debate on this Bill than on any other measure since the war. My right hon. Friend has explained how the Government's commitment to a thoroughgoing and overdue reform of the social security system has been dealt with in the greatest possible detail both in the Chamber and in Committee.

I am sure that all my hon. Friends are astounded that the Opposition wish so slavishly to adhere to amendments made in another place that they do not want them dealt with as proposed in the timetable motion. I am equally astounded that the Opposition are spending so much time on nonsensical argument about the timetable motion that there will be even less time to debate the substantive issues. I wonder how they will square that with their constituents, having given up the time that we wished to devote to debating the substance of the Bill and wasted it on all this nonsense about the timetable.

For all those reasons, I hope that we can now get on and approve the motion.

Photo of Mr Bill Michie Mr Bill Michie , Sheffield, Heeley 5:30 pm, 23rd July 1986

I think that I am the first Back-Bench spokesman who was a member of the Committee. which is a reflection in itself. The hon. Member for Mid-Worcestershire (Mr. Forth) said that we had plenty of time in Committee. In fact, after the guillotine was introduced, the Government put down about 50 amendments, taking up a great deal of the remaining time.

The reason for the Government's timing is obvious. It is because the eyes of people in this country and the world, for reasons best known to themselves, are marvelling at the event which has taken place today. Whether that is good or bad is a matter of opinion. What is appalling is that the Government should use this day to rob deprived people who have to pay their rents and bills and will be going to the social security offices tomorrow.

The Government have brought in a guillotine because the Bill cannot stand the light of examination, morally or otherwise. There is no justification whatever for this measure. It takes away the rights of the poor in relation to community care, the 20 per cent. rate contribution and the right of appeal.

Many years ago I read a book by a Christian priest entitled "The Confessions of an Ecclesiastical Coward", or something to that effect. He talked about rich and poor and the obscenity of the ring on the bishop's finger when people were dying of starvation. The Bill before us is an obscenity and should be thrown out immediately.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North 5:32 pm, 23rd July 1986

Yesterday, the Tory Benches were packed, mainly by those who wished to retain corporal punishment. They are showing much less concern today. [HoN. MEMBERS: "Where are all the Labour Members?"] We did not introduce the Bill.

If the hon. Member for Mid-Worcestershire (Mr. Forth) does not understand why we are protesting, I will explain. The Bill is a further onslaught on the poorest members of the community. We believe that it is wrong that those whom we seek to protect should be subject to this kind of action from the Government and that we shall not have enough time to make our arguments.

The Report stage was also guillotined, and many issues that should have been debated were not discussed at all while other important issues received insufficient debate.

Any Conservative Member who thinks that our concern is not genuine should appreciate that when we talk about the poorest members of the community we refer not to a generalised problem bur to many of our own constituents. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Huntingdon (Mr. Major), answered a parliamentary question from me about the percentage increase in the number of people of working age — I stress that aspect — receiving supplementary benefit in the west midlands, the black country and my own borough, Walsall, since May 1979. The number in Walsall in 1979 was 6,381. The latest figure, given in the Minister's reply to me, is 20,743. In the black country, the figure has risen from 26,500 in May 1979 to 94,000 today.

Photo of Mr John Major Mr John Major , Huntingdon

I do not wish to detract at all from the seriousness of that situation, save to make one point that the hon. Gentleman would no doubt wish to have on record. The increase in the value of supplementary benefit automatically increases the figures. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will bear that in mind before drawing too many conclusions from those figures.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

I have never heard such a threadbare argument, even from a Tory Minister. The figures show that many more of our constituents are now living in poverty as a result of Government policy. The increase in my borough in seven years of Conservative government has been 225 per cent. In the black country which takes in my borough, Dudley, Sandwell and Wolverhampton, the increase has been more than 255 per cent. Those daunting figures illustrate the poverty and devastation caused by the Government. That is why we want sufficient time to debate amendments and clauses of crucial importance to our constituents.

If the Lords amendments are rejected, the lives of the people whom I have described will be made even more difficult as a result of Government policy. My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) RS absolutely right to protest extremely strongly about the further guillotine proposal before us today.

Photo of Mr Dafydd Wigley Mr Dafydd Wigley , Caernarfon 5:37 pm, 23rd July 1986

I shall not detain the House long as we want to get on with the substantive debates. Nevertheless, it should be on record for the benefit of members of the other place that we have not had time to consider their proposed changes in detail.

It is ridiculous for the Government to talk about the hours of debate in Committee when we have before us 184 amendments from another place which this House has not yet had the opportunity to address at all as well as amendments tabled by the Government yesterday, which have appeared on the Amendment Paper today, dealing with matters of great importance, yet the Opposition have had no opportunity to put down amendments to those proposals.

We have four hours to deal with 30 pages of minute detail, which gives us an average of one minute per amendment. Is that how the Government intend to pass social security legislation? If the Bill goes back to the other place tomorrow after the rejection of the Lords' proposals, they should know that we have not had time to divide the House on all the issues that we wished. I hope that the Lords will insist on their amendments, because we shall not have had time to do justice to their arguments or to the people affected by the proposals.

Photo of Frank Field Frank Field , Birkenhead 5:39 pm, 23rd July 1986

I emphasise the points made by the hon. Member for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) and make one further point in opposing the guillotine.

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Dame J. Knight) said that we had had a record amount of time to consider the Bill. Technically, she is right to refer to it as one Bill but a moment's consideration shows that it is really not one but five major Bills. We have had great difficulty securing sufficient time to debate all the issues involved, either in the Chamber or in Committee.

Like many other hon. Members, the hon. Member for Edgbaston knows that some of the proposals in what is being presented as a single Bill are contentious, to put it mildly. We are aware that the Government got many of them through by using the Whips. When they were taken to another place, however, the Government found it much more difficult to win the argument. As the hon. Member for Caernarfon said, we are supposed to examine the amendments at a rate of one a minute. The Government, far from giving us a free debate, will enforce their will by pushing through the guillotine motion.

As we debate the amendments, one crucial fact will form the backcloth. Many parts of the Bill will disadvantage many of our constituents. We must also remember that, since 1979, the richest 90,000 taxpayers have picked up an average of £12,750 in tax cuts whereas the poorest, who earn less than £5,000 a year, have gained an average of £55. Those are the Government's priorities, and it is those priorities, as they appear in the Bill, which we wish to oppose.

Photo of Mr Dale Campbell-Savours Mr Dale Campbell-Savours , Workington 5:41 pm, 23rd July 1986

I do not wish to detain the House, but I have a special reason for not wanting there to be a guillotine.

It is about time that we were given an opportunity to press the alliance for more information. I do not know whether hon. Members are aware of it, but the alliance is telling people that it intends to raise the level of benefits while, in Conservative-held constituencies which it is setting out to win at the next general election, it is not admitting that it intends to raise taxes. There is a dubious tone to the campaign that it is running. It is important that the alliance is pressed on these matters so that people who intend to vote for it are aware of the implications of their decision.

When people vote Labour, they know that we intend to raise taxes. We have been open and clear about that. It is part of the just arrangements which we say should prevail. The same cannot be said of the alliance. We should be able to press spokesmen for the alliance on every amendment to establish their real policy. It is unreasonable for a political party to talk of increasing provision but to refuse to acknowledge where it will raise the money required.

Some months ago, during Prime Minister's Question Time, I put it to the Prime Minister, from a sedentary position, that she did not care. I never believed that that intervention would catch as much as it did among Conservative Back Benchers. It caught because they knew that it was true. They know what their supporters in the country are saying.

Photo of Mr Dale Campbell-Savours Mr Dale Campbell-Savours , Workington

My hon. Friend is right. The editor of The Sunday Times advises us that his sources are impeccable.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. The hon. Gentleman must stick to the allocation of time motion.

Photo of Mr Dale Campbell-Savours Mr Dale Campbell-Savours , Workington

I was speaking absolutely to order because I believe that there are hundreds of Conservative Back Benchers who are desperate to speak up on these matters, and there will not be time. They know that they have a duty to the House and their constituents to bring to the House's attention the anxieties that are being expressed by their constituents. The hon. Member for Mid-Worcestershire (Mr. Forth) shakes his head. Is he saying that there are not Conservatives, and thousands of them, in Mid-Worcestershire — I hope that I am reported on his local radio station — who are saying, when they gather socially and at political meetings—

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth , Mid Worcestershire

They never mention it.

Photo of Mr Dale Campbell-Savours Mr Dale Campbell-Savours , Workington

—that the Government are being insensitive to the needs of the unemployed?

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth , Mid Worcestershire

They do not say that.

Photo of Mr Dale Campbell-Savours Mr Dale Campbell-Savours , Workington

Is he saying that his local Conservatives are turning their backs on people in need?

Photo of Mr Dale Campbell-Savours Mr Dale Campbell-Savours , Workington

Is he saying that they are not saying that the Government are turning their back on people in need and are refusing to accept that they should make greater provision? The hon. Gentleman does not care because he does not understand what local Conservatives are saying. He does not understand their worries. Every right hon. and hon. Member is being subjected to the same pressures. Conservative Members know that that is true, because they tell my hon. Friends so privately.

Photo of Mr Dale Campbell-Savours Mr Dale Campbell-Savours , Workington

We do not have to catch them in the net in the House — we have millions in the country. They all know the truth, and they should go to Ministers privately and tell them what they are being told. What Conservative Back Benchers are doing is immoral. There is no justification for it. There are many people who believe in one-nation Conservatism and who object to what is going on and say, "Stop it." Why does the Secretary of State not stop it?

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North 5:46 pm, 23rd July 1986

It is right to spend a few minutes debating the timetable motion because it goes to the heart of everything that the Government are trying to do with the Bill. The Bill affects more people than any other legislation that has been passed during the past seven years—it affects the old, the young, the sick, the poor, the out-of-work and people in work. It even affects schoolchildren who will today lose their right to a free school meal because of the votes of Conservative Members.

Consideration of the Bill is to be timetabled because the Government do not want public debate of the matter. It is being timetabled today because they hope that people will be befuddled by the royal wedding and not learn in the newspapers what the Bill really means.

Photo of Dr Norman Godman Dr Norman Godman , Greenock and Port Glasgow

I am getting a little worried by some of my hon. Friends' references to events that have taken place outwith this place today. Is my hon. Friend aware that, in the Department of Health and Social Security parlance, a certain young naval officer will, from today, receive an additional requirement—not a single payment—of some £30,000 a year?

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

I hope that he does not—

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

—ever have to claim social security, because he would have difficulty living on it. His £30,000 is more than many families get over several years. The money that he is getting would keep an awful lot of people for a long time.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Woodspring

Order. I realise that the hon. Gentleman was tempted, but he must speak to the motion.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

The motion is perfectly simple. The House is being gagged by a Tory majority because they do not want public debate on the most vicious piece of social legislation to be introduced by any Tory Government since the days of Neville Chamberlain. We shall oppose it. We will probably be defeated by the willing herd of sycophants behind the Minister, but we shall defeat them in a general election and change the legislation.

Photo of Mr Anthony Favell Mr Anthony Favell , Stockport 5:48 pm, 23rd July 1986

The sooner that this courageous Bill to simplify and modernise the social security system reaches the statute book, the better. No Bill has been better debated inside the House and outside it since I was elected. Every beneficiary group is represented professionally. We have been inundated with correspondence and information. We know very well what the Bill is about and the sooner it reaches the statute book the better.

As for the charge that the Conservative party does not care for the unemployed, I find that the major complaint in my surgeries from the unemployed is that it is not worth while going out to work. That is one thing which the Bill tries to remedy-, and the sooner it is done, the better.

Photo of Dr Norman Godman Dr Norman Godman , Greenock and Port Glasgow 5:49 pm, 23rd July 1986

I wish to voice my dismay and concern at the guillotine on this Bill.

Poverty is not distributed evenly throughout Great Britain. Strathclyde region in Scotland is acknowledged by the European Commission as one of the most deprived regions in the European Community. In my constituency, more than 40 per cent. of those whom I represent, about 33,000 people, live on or below supplementary benefit level. I protest most strongly on their behalf at the way in which the Government have treated the Bill and deliberations on it by introducing this guillotine motion.

Tory Members claim that the Government are a caring, compassionate Administration. If that is so, why is a large part of the electorate outside the deep south so hostile to the Tory party? [Interruption.]

Photo of Mr Dale Campbell-Savours Mr Dale Campbell-Savours , Workington

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Can we be assured that Hansard has recorded the remarks of the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Mr. Spicer)?

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler Secretary of State for Health and Social Security 5:50 pm, 23rd July 1986

I shall respond briefly to the debate. I heard with mounting disbelief what the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) and many of his hon. Friends were saying. It is almost exactly 10 years since the day, in July 1976, when the Labour Government imposed, not one guillotine, but five guillotines in one day. This is the 10th anniversary of that action by the Labour Government. The Health Service Bill was guillotined that day and it had started its Committee stage only four weeks previously. The Minister in charge of the Education Bill was none other than the hon. Member for Derby, South (Mrs. Beckett).

Photo of Margaret Beckett Margaret Beckett Shadow Minister (Social Security)

Will the Secretary of State tell us in how many of those cases the content of the Bill was debated within the same timetable motion?

Photo of Mr Norman Fowler Mr Norman Fowler Secretary of State for Health and Social Security

My point is that there was no precedent for the five guillotine motions imposed that day, and the hon. Lady knows that that is the case.

The Government are simply not prepared to take lectures on imposing guillotines from the Labour party. When the hon. Member for Oldham, West poses as a defender of the House of Lords, this debate has reached an extraordinary stage. We have taken 224 hours to debate this social security legislation. We have taken 163 hours in Committee. That is longer than on any other social security legislation since the war, and it is certainly much longer than on any other social security legislation which was introduced by the Labour Government.

I must say to the hon. Members for Roxburgh and Berwickshire (Mr. Kirkwood) and for Caernarfon (Mr. Wigley) that many of the amendments are, as they well know, technical changes which should not delay the House greatly. I recognise that some amendments made in the other place raise important questions, and the motion before the House has been drafted in such a way as to enable debate on those issues to take place. I suggest that that debate now takes place.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved,That the Order of the House [15th April] be supplemented as follows:

Lords Amendments1. — (1) The proceedings on Consideration of Lords Amendments shall be completed at this day's sitting.(2) The order in which the proceedings are taken shall be—

  1. (a) the following Lords Amendments—
    1. (i) 1 to 34;
    2. (ii) 94 to 109;
    3. (iii) 135 to 139;
  2. (b) the following Lords Amendments—
    1. (i) 35;
    2. (ii) 42 to 44;
    3. (iii) 36 to 39, 41, 45, 67, 119;
  3. (c) the following Lords Amendments—
    1. (i) 40;
    2. (ii) 46 to 51 (including 48A);
    3. (iii) 84 to 86;
  4. (d) Lords Amendments 52 to 66, 68 to 83, 87 to 93, 110 to 118, 120 to 134 (including 121A), 140 to 184,
and, subject to the provisions of the Order [15th April], each part of those proceedings shall, if not previously brought to a conclusion, be brought to a conclusion not later than the end of such period beginning with the commencement of the proceedings on the Motion for this Order as is of the length specified in the second column of the Table set out below.

TABLE
Lords AmendmentsLength of period from commencement of proceedings on Motion
Amendments up to the end of those listed in sub-paragraph (2)(a) above1 hour 15 mins
Amendments up to the end of those listed in sub-paragraph (2)(b) above.2 hours
Amendments up to the end of those listed in sub-paragraph (2)(c) above.3 hours
Amendments up to the end of those listed in sub-paragraph (2)(d) above.4 hours

2.—(1) For the purposes of bringing any proceedings to a conclusion in accordance with paragraph 1 above—

  1. (a) Mr. Speaker shall first put forthwith any Question which has already been proposed from the Chair and not yet decided and, if that Question is for the amendment of a Lords Amendment, shall then put forthwith the Question on any further Amendment to the said Lords Amendment moved by a Minister of the Crown and on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown, That this House doth agree or disagree with the Lords in the said Lords Amendment or, as the case may be, in the said Lords Amendment as amended;
  2. (b) Mr. Speaker shall then designate such of the remaining Lords Amendments as appear to him to involve questions of Privilege and shall—
    1. (i) put forthwith the Question on any Amendment moved by a Minister of the Crown to a Lords Amendment and then put forthwith the Question on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown, That this House doth agree or disagree with the Lords in their Amendment or, as the case may be, in their Amendment, as amended;
    2. (ii) put forthwith the Question on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown, That this House doth disagree with the Lords in a Lords Amendment;
    3. (iii) put forthwith with respect to the Amendments designated by Mr. Speaker which have not been disposed of the Question, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendments; and
    4. (iv) put forthwith the Question, That this House doth agree with the Lords in all the remaining Lords Amendments;
  3. (c) as soon as the House has agreed or disagreed with the Lords in any of their Amendments Mr. Speaker shall put forthwith a separate Question on any other Amendment moved by a Minister of the Crown relevant to that Lords Amendment.
(2) Proceedings under sub-paragraph (1) above shall not be interrupted under any Standing Order relating to the sittings of the House.

Stages subsequent to first Consideration of Lords Amendments3. The proceedings on any further Message from the Lords on the Bill shall be brought to a conclusion one hour after the commencement of the proceedings.4. For the purpose of bringing those proceedings to a conclusion—

  1. (a) Mr. Speaker shall first put forthwith any Question which has already been proposed from the Chair and not yet decided, and shall then put forthwith the Question on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown which is related to the Question already proposed from the Chair;
  2. (b) Mr. Speaker shall then designate such of the remaining items in the Lords Message as appear to him to involve questions of Privilege and shall—
    1. (i) put forthwith the Question on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown on any item;
    2. (ii) in the case of each remaining item designated by Mr. Speaker, put forthwith the Question, That this House doth agree with the Lords in their Proposal; and
    3. (iii) put forthwith the Question, That this House doth agree with the Lords in all the remaining Lords Proposals.

Supplement5. — (1) In this paragraph "the proceedings" means proceedings on any further Message from the Lords on the Bill, on the appointment and quorum of a Committee to draw up Reasons and on the Report of such a Committee.(2) Mr. Speaker shall put forthwith the Question on any Motion made by a Minister of the Crown for the consideration forthwith of any such Message or for the appointment and quorum of a Committee to draw up Reasons.(3) A Committee appointed to draw up Reasons shall report before the conclusion of the sitting at which it is appointed.(4) Paragraph (1) of Standing Order No. 3 (Exempted business) shall apply to the proceedings.(5) No dilatory Motion with respect to, or in the course of, the proceedings shall be made except by a Member of the Government, and the Question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith.(6) If the proceedings are interrupted by a Motion for the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 10 (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.