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Business Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:32 pm on 2nd April 2001.

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Photo of Margaret Beckett Margaret Beckett Chair, Modernisation of the House of Commons Committee, Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Privy Council Office) 4:32 pm, 2nd April 2001

Opposition Members sometimes ought to give a little more thought to the words that they use. That Act was not badly drafted—that would be an insult to parliamentary draftsmen. Indeed, the issue is one not of the Act, but of the commencement order, which the House must now consider. There was consultation on the handling of the Act and, in particular, on the order. Perhaps Opposition Members did not take part in it, but those who do not take part in the consultation cannot complain about the outcome.

This must be certainly the third time, if not the fourth, in this Parliament that, yet again, on legislation that the Opposition said they would facilitate through the House—the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act and its order—there appears to be a wish to impede it when it is introduced. Finally, the hon. Lady draws attention to my remarks on the seriousness of the decision that has now been announced. She will remember, if she casts her mind back, that I have always referred at the Dispatch Box to the different voices and the different opinions that were being given to the Government and the need to weigh seriously all those voices and opinions, one set of which were not often represented from the Opposition Benches.