Abortion (Amendment)

Abortion (Amendment) – in the House of Commons at 4:52 pm on 17th December 1996.

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Mr. David Amess accordingly presented a Bill to amend section 1(1) of the Abortion Act 1967 in relation to the grounds on which a pregnancy may be terminated: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time upon Friday 24 January 1997, and to be printed [Bill 64].

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh , Gainsborough and Horncastle

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is it not the convention of the House that, if an hon. Member speaks against a ten-minute Bill, he normally votes against it? This is the second time in two weeks that those who oppose us on abortion issues have not had the nerve or the courage to force a Division. The country wants a decision on this matter, but those hon. Members have not had the nerve to force a Division.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse , Pontefract and Castleford

It is a convention that hon. Members can oppose but are not obliged to vote.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton , Macclesfield

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I sat through the debate on the ten-minute Bill. Am I not right in thinking that the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mrs. Campbell) asked the House to oppose the excellent Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon (Mr. Amess)? She made a positive statement to that effect at the end of her speech. It is surely a waste of the House's time to make such a statement and then not carry it through to a vote.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse , Pontefract and Castleford

That is not a matter on which I can rule.

Photo of Mr David Harris Mr David Harris , St Ives

Further to the original point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. For a long time it was a convention of the House—I have heard occupants of the Chair say this—that, if hon. Members opposed a ten-minute Bill, they had to follow their opposition through to a vote. Is that correct?

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse Mr Geoffrey Lofthouse , Pontefract and Castleford

That is not correct. [Interruption.] I call the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) to order. In my time in the House and in the Chair, hon. Members on both sides of the House have opposed such Bills, but have not forced a vote.