The Social Fund

Part of Orders of the Day — Schedule 3 – in the House of Commons at 9:15 pm on 14th March 1988.

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Photo of Robin Cook Robin Cook , Livingston 9:15 pm, 14th March 1988

In view of the new doctrine that surfaced earlier in our debate — that when the Opposition say nothing, they have entered into a binding agreement — I must say that we are not persuaded by the case for the amendment.

It is instructive to notice how difficult the Government are finding it to make the social fund proposal a practical proposition. At this late stage, with an amendment tabled only last Thursday, they are obliged to produce a whole new stream of guidance for the people who will try to turn into reality the Government's legislation. For several months, comments have been offered on the draft manual of guidance for the social fund. It is extraordinary that quite different guidance should now be proposed. However, there is no time adequately to press Ministers on the measure, which goes to prove the point that I made this afternoon—that the guillotine motion does not provide the House with an adequate opportunity to scrutinise the legislation, and I regret that we cannot go into the matter more deeply.