Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 6th February 1997.

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Photo of Mrs Ann Taylor Mrs Ann Taylor Shadow Leader of the House of Commons 3:31 pm, 6th February 1997

I thank the Leader of the House. He announced that the Police Bill [Lords] is to be debated on Wednesday. Will he make sure that the Home Secretary makes it clear as soon as possible what he intends to do to resolve the problem that was created by the passage in another place of two important but contradictory amendments? I am sure that he agrees that hon. Members should have as much notice as possible of what is to happen on that matter.

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm when the important Firearms (Amendment) Bill will return to the House? He will be aware that, despite the support of the Opposition, the Government were defeated on several occasions in the House of Lords, mainly by the votes of hereditary peers. Therefore, the Bill is in an unsatisfactory state at present. Will the right hon. Gentleman reassure hon. Members that that very important legislation—there is much agreement about the need for change—will be passed as quickly as possible, and that those defeats will not be allowed to delay its passage?

Will the right hon. Gentleman find Government time for a debate on the current crisis in further education? Hon. Members on both sides of the House have received representations from colleges throughout the country because of the confusion and chaos created by the Government's decision—taken midway through the funding year—to shift the goalposts. Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that an interim decision about future Government policy has been taken within the past 24 hours, although the House has not been told about its possible implications? There has clearly been a significant breach of faith with colleges and students. Neither can plan their future properly until the matter is resolved, and the House is entitled to know exactly what is happening.

Can the right hon. Gentleman shed any light on the Government's intentions in respect of London Underground? Why did the Secretary of State for Transport draft a statement—which I happen to have with me—announcing the privatisation of London Underground, only to back down? What is happening? Will the Leader of the House confirm whether there will be an Opposition day before the Wirral, South by-election—assuming that the House sits that long?