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Mortgage Interest Payments

Part of Orders of the Day — Finance Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:45 pm on 15th July 1997.

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Photo of Mr Patrick Nicholls Mr Patrick Nicholls Conservative, Teignbridge 7:45 pm, 15th July 1997

The hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) said that he had not intended to make a speech at all, but felt provoked to do so. I noticed, however, that he had sheafs of notes to call to his aid. I, too, am minded to say that I had not intended to speak but was suddenly provoked by the hon. Gentleman and I, too, have the benefit of being able to produce spontaneous notes.

I want to follow on from what the hon. Gentleman said in a completely spontaneous way, because it just happens to fit in with what I might have said had I intended to speak in the first place. However, I want to say a word first about the context in which the debate is taking place.

We are here today because of the way in which the Bill has been guillotined. I am old-fashioned enough to remember a time when Bills were guillotined because of filibustering or, at the very least, because debates had been going on for so long that it was only right that the Government should be entitled to draw things to an end. That clearly is not the position in this case

We have some three hours to talk about MIRAS and what has been done to it, but it might have been appropriate had we debated it in Committee Upstairs where the measure could have been examined at far greater length and where we could have tabled a series of amendments in order not only to find out exactly what the Government had in mind but to suggest ways in which the measure might have been adjusted, which might even have appealed to Labour Members.

Sadly, when the Committee stage is taken on the Floor of the House, the debate has to be far more general and it is not possible to have such a specific debate. One of the consequences is that it is not so easy for Labour Members to make the sort of contributions that I am sure they would have wanted to make had the matter been dealt with in Standing Committee. Such an opportunity would have given Labour Members the chance to show that they can think and speak, a talent which many will find particularly useful after the next election.