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Orders of the Day — International Criminal Court Bill [Lords] (Programme) – in the House of Commons at 9:59 pm on 3 April 2001.

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7. Paragraphs (6) and (7) of Sessional Order A (varying and supplementing programme motions) made by the House on 7th November 2000 shall not apply to proceedings on any motion to vary or supplement this order for the purpose of allocating time to proceedings on consideration of any messages from the Lords, and the question on any such motion shall be put forthwith.

We consider that 3 May is an appropriate date for the completion of the Committee stage—as the motion sets out. Detailed arrangements for the Committee sittings will, of course, be for the Programming Sub-Committee to decide.

The Bill has already undergone much public debate and scrutiny. We invited consultation and we received more than 45 submissions from legal experts, human rights experts and professional bodies, which helped in drawing up the Bill. The Bill has undergone scrutiny in the other place. The level of concern expressed there and during the passage of the Bill to date leads us to conclude that the date we have proposed gives a reasonable time for its consideration. More important, it will allow us to get on with the Bill so that we, too, can sign up to the statute. It is important that we are among the first 60 states to sign, so that we can be part of the formative process.

I ask the House to accept the motion.

Photo of Dame Cheryl Gillan Dame Cheryl Gillan Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Shadow Minister (International Development) 10:01, 3 April 2001

The way in which the Minister has just moved the motion takes my breath away. He has decided that 3 May is the appropriate date and feels that the Bill has already undergone sufficient public debate and scrutiny.

We are lucky that the Bill is even going into Committee. The Prime Minister's decision to postpone the general election has undoubtedly given us extra time in this Session, for which I suppose we should be grateful. Only two weeks ago, it looked as though we would be unable to examine the Bill as it deserves—given the unresolved concerns that have already been expressed both in the Chamber and, earlier this year, in another place. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Mr. Maude) said in his opening remarks on Second Reading, the concerns of those whom the Bill will most affect—the armed services—should and must receive the full attention and scrutiny of the House.

The Minister claims that the Bill received full scrutiny in the other place and that the fact that it underwent a consultation process, in which 45 submissions were made, is sufficient to justify this appalling timetable motion. Once again, an intellectually bankrupt programme motion is before the House; it effectively restricts the length of time during which elected Members can discuss an important measure.

Even before the measure is out of the starting gate in this place, the Minister tries to set down the parameters that—in his view—give a reasonable time. In whose judgment is the time reasonable? Is it just that of the Minister? Is it that of his advisers? Is it that of the Government? Is it that of No. 10? Is it that of the Minister's Cabinet colleagues? Is it that of the Foreign Secretary, or indeed that of the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. MacShane), whose immature interventions during Second Reading added nothing to the scrutiny process?

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

May I try to help my hon. Friend? She speculates that the date may have been determined by No. 10. I suggest that that is most unlikely as No. 10 is incapable of deciding any date relating to anything at any time.

Photo of Dame Cheryl Gillan Dame Cheryl Gillan Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Shadow Minister (International Development)

My right hon. Friend may say that, but I could not possibly comment—although we all know exactly what he means: No. 10 seems to be incapable of making a decision without consulting ex-Cabinet Ministers and various other people.

The Minister is getting hot under the collar. No doubt he will get even hotter under the collar when he realises that he could have delivered the Bill by taking a much healthier and more mature approach to the scrutiny process. He could have dealt with it in the spirit in which we have tried to co-operate, without using the heavy hand of a timetabling motion at the eleventh hour of this Government.

The Minister's argument relies on the consultation process, during which, he says, he received 45 submissions. I remind him that the original statement on the matter was made on 20 July 1998, but that it took until 25 August last year for a Bill to appear. All that time passed before this desperately required legislation, which has to be rushed through now so that Britain will be among the first 60 countries to participate, emerged. [Interruption.] From a sedentary position, the Minister is shouting, "Consultation, consultation, consultation." Where have I heard a word repeated three times before?

Let me remind the Minister of a few facts about the consultation. The Bill was published on 25 August, and it was announced that the consultation period would last until 12 October. The House was in recess at the time, so Members had a fine chance to be involved in the consultation. I wrote to the Foreign Secretary pointing out that the entire process was taking place during the recess, and he very generously extended it to 27 October. He wrote to me on 9 October about that, but obviously the Department was in recess because the letter did not arrive in my office until 17 October.

The House returned on 23 October, and you, Mr. Speaker, will remember what we were doing on that day because it was a matter of great importance to yourself—we were electing the Speaker of the House. It is hard to imagine that Members would have had the opportunity thoroughly to consult and examine the Bill on the first day back, when they were electing the Speaker. In fact, the Foreign Secretary's generosity gave Members a full three days during which the House was sitting to make their submissions. When the Minister prays in aid the fact that the matter has already had sufficient public debate and scrutiny, he is trying to cheat the public of their debate and scrutiny by giving a false impression.

Photo of Mr Robert Maclennan Mr Robert Maclennan Liberal Democrat, Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross

In the light of the nice remarks that the hon. Lady made about me earlier, I am somewhat reluctant to intervene, but I have to say that, if she continues in this vein, she may give sustenance to the view that is widely held by the public—which in my view is erroneous—that when the House is in recess, MPs are not working. One might draw that conclusion from the fact that neither the hon. Lady nor her party chose to give evidence to the Government during the consultation. However, it was perfectly possible to do so, and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North-East Fife (Mr. Campbell) did.

Photo of Dame Cheryl Gillan Dame Cheryl Gillan Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Shadow Minister (International Development)

It was a great pleasure to give way to the right hon. Gentleman, Mr. Speaker. I assure him that he can be as nasty to me as he likes, even though I made nice remarks about him. I do not think that he was being particularly nasty; it was a gentle savaging of the cotton-wool type.

I would not want to give the impression that hon. Members do not work during the recess, but it is not outwith the bounds of possibility that certain hon. Members who work extremely hard and take their business in this place very seriously will take a few days off from time to time, and it is not outwith the bounds of reasonableness that they should do so during the recess. I feel that a Government who made such a song and dance about introducing legislation as long ago as 20 July 1998 could have managed a consultation process that fell mainly during the time when the House was sitting.

Photo of Martin Smyth Martin Smyth UUP, Belfast South

I appreciate the hon. Lady's giving way on that point because she will remember that she and I debated the issue at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference during the recess in September, and I was on the winning side in saying that such legislation should be introduced. Have we been helped, yet again, by events? If it had not been for recent events, we would not have been able to debate the Bill on 3 May. There is an argument about incisiveness. Why should the Bill be rushed now that it seems we have time left to us that we did not have before?

Photo of Dame Cheryl Gillan Dame Cheryl Gillan Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Shadow Minister (International Development)

The hon. Gentleman makes a powerful point. Indeed, I thoroughly enjoyed debating the merits of the International Criminal Court in the forum of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference last summer. When other hon. Members were in recess, the hon. Gentleman and I were working on behalf of the United Kingdom.

Frankly, as I said in my opening remarks, this is happening by luck, not by judgment. I have no doubt that the Government are trying to slip the Bill through the House, but the fact that the general election date has been delayed to 7 June gives us an opportunity. Why has the Minister chosen the arbitrary date of 3 May? What arrogance leads him to think that he can decide the date on which we shall finish the Bill's scrutiny? What does he know that the rest of us do not? What is he privy to that he is not sharing with the House?

We must find out how the timetable fits in with the general election being called on 7 June, which we all know is the current intention—at least before something else blows the Prime Minister off course. The Bill is to leave the Standing Committee on Thursday 3 May. Monday 7 May is a bank holiday, so there will be no chance of business being conducted in the House, unless the Minister wants to change that convention. The Government think that we will be able to fit in the debate on Report on 8, 9 or 10 May—the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday—on a very tight timetable, in time to call the election on 14 May for 7 June.

In fact, the arbitrary date—3 May—that the Minister, like Solomon, has proposed in his wisdom, is the exact date that fits a possible parliamentary timetable to try to slip the Bill through quickly before an election on 7 June. How convenient. How artificially constructed. The Government have callously arranged to get whatever legislation they want, irrespective of the will of the House. To see the callous objectivity that the Government bring to the scrutiny of legislation, we need only look at the date given for the consideration of the Adoption and Children Bill. Was the date given to that Bill 3 May? That Bill was expected to fall; the general election was expected to occur before it was considered, so an arbitrary date of 12 June was set.

It is obvious that the Government are happy to allocate dates outside the timetable that they have set to Bills that they do not think essential and in reality want to block. We all know that they want to plan the political timetable to their own advantage. That can he seen clearly in this disgraceful timetable motion.

How on earth can the Minister choose the date before we know how many amendments will be tabled? What arrogance makes him think that he can second-guess the will of Members? During the Bill's consideration in another place, more than 100 serious amendments were tabled, and they took many hours to debate, raising some of the most complex and unresolved issues. Those issues still stand unresolved today.

The Minister should hang his head because despite the fact that, according to him, the Bill is supposedly perfect, after the enormously elaborate process of scrutiny to which he referred, the Government still had to amend it in the other place. That shows the irony of having an unreasonably short consultation process and then introducing a Bill that had to be amended in another place because the Government had not thought of everything. Who is to say whether more fundamental flaws in the Bill will or will not be identified? However, before we can see the amendments, the time allowed for the Bill's passage will have been decided by a Minister who has only just taken on this brief. The hon. Gentleman is the third Minister to have handled this business since 1998. The fact that he is the third Minister to have tried to get to grips with it may explain why the Bill has not been introduced in a more timely fashion.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

My hon. Friend is developing a cogent case against the way in which the Government intend to proceed. Does she not agree that it is further evidence of the importance of changing the procedure whereby a Programming Sub-Committee meets in private and has its composition polluted by virtue of the presence of a Government Whip?

Photo of Dame Cheryl Gillan Dame Cheryl Gillan Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Shadow Minister (International Development)

My hon. Friend panders to my prejudices. My first Programming Sub-Committee, which met in secret, was a deeply unsatisfactory occasion. A powerful case has been made for re-examining the procedures that have been thrust on the House and for changing them, so that the will of the House and Members' representations are taken into consideration.

The Bill has six parts, 84 clauses and 10 schedules. By its very nature, it involves serious constitutional issues. Its fundamental aims are not the source of acrimonious dispute within the House or between the parties, but it is a large Bill by any standards and serious concerns were aired on Second Reading, by Government as well as Conservative Members.

Introducing a Bill such as this at the eleventh hour and imposing a timetable motion at this stage is quite inappropriate. The motion flies in the face of the assurances that the Foreign Secretary gave to the House. In a debate on the International Criminal Court, he said: I deal finally with the question of ratification. This will not be a swift or fast-track process. It certainly has not been a swift or fast-track process because the Government themselves have delayed it. However, the right hon. Gentleman added: We are now arranging to draw up the appropriate legislation, but that legislation will be complex. It is not legislation that I would dream of asking the House to pass in a one-day sitting, as happened with the landmines treaty, because I suspect that it will contain many clauses that will give lawyers many hours of fruitful debate as it passes through the House. Therefore, it is not something which the House should imagine will be rushed through".—[Official Report, 20 July 1998; Vol. 316, c. 807.] What price that assurance today? We have a timetable motion that will give the Committee a maximum of 10 sittings before 3 May, the marvellous date that has been plucked out of the air to suit a political timetable and the convenience of the Government.

I agree with the Foreign Secretary that the Bill should not be rushed through. As the right hon. Gentleman said, five weeks of difficult and intensive negotiations led up to the Bill. The Minister is chatting away and is so disengaged from the debate that it is unbelievable, but may I ask him whether any restrictions were imposed on those negotiations at the time? Were they curtailed by a programme motion? Of course not, because that would have been ridiculous, but yet again the House faces the indignity of a forced timetable from this rotten Government.

The erosion of the democratic process under this Government seems to be inevitable. In the House these days, we are asked to deem that we have scrutinised Bills that we have not scrutinised; we truncate the scrutiny by elected Members of legislation that can affect the lives and deaths of individuals; and we refuse to allow elected representatives to fulfil their obligations. All hon. Members are obliged to contribute and do their best to improve legislation. The principles behind the programme motion show the contempt in which the Government hold the parliamentary process and the Chamber. Once again, without an apology, we have a second-rate proposal from a second-rate Government. It will come as no surprise to the Government that we will vote against it.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst 10:20, 3 April 2001

Although the Bill may be lousy, it is substantial. As my hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs. Gillan) said, legislation that contains 84 clauses and 10 schedules should give us pause for thought. Without wanting to go into detail, a mere perusal draws my eye to important matters such as requests for arrest and surrender, bail and custody, entry, search and seizure, fingerprints or non-intimate samples, detention in the United Kingdom in pursuance of an ICC sentence, genocide and "mental element". There is more than enough material to require proper lengthy and detailed consideration, not least, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Mr. Maude) explained at the outset, because the Opposition want to draw the Standing Committee's attention to substantial matters. We will want to persuade the Government that serious and proper amendments should be made before the Bill can receive our support.

If the past is anything to go by, the Bill's size, the nature of its content, and what my right hon. Friend the Member for Horsham said all make it clear that the Committee's consideration will take some time. I assume that the Committee of Selection will meet tomorrow and the Standing Committee will sit next Tuesday. As that will be one of those funny early bunk-off days, it will not be able to deliberate at length and will not sit again until 24 and 26 April and 1 and 3 May. That leads us into interesting and worrisome territory, because 3 May might be too distant.

Let us turn the argument on its head. If the Government are serious about getting the Bill enacted, and given the Prime Minister's intention to hold the elections on 7 June—if we can believe anything he says—and hence the day when dissolution will have to take place, there is a distinct risk that it may not make progress. Frankly, that would not cause me a minute's loss of sleep.

Photo of Francis Maude Francis Maude Shadow Secretary of State (Foreign Affairs)

Many of the concerns that my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) and my hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs. Gillan) raise involve the connection between the timetable and the date of the general election. As the right hon. Member for Hartlepool (Mr. Mandelson) is in the Chamber, would it not be simpler to ask him to confirm the date? We understand that he is pulling the strings from behind the scenes and he could clear the matter up for good.

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Speaker of the House of Commons

Order. This is a programme motion.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

What a pity, because that was getting interesting. I shall try to leave the right hon. Member for Hartlepool (Mr. Mandelson) out of it, unless he wants to intervene.

The date of 3 May is important, not just because its otherwise historic importance slipped by while our vacillating Prime Minister tried to make up his mind. The main question that we must consider is not why the end date is 3 May and whether the Government have made the correct calculations, but whether they have put the Bill at risk by choosing that date. I hope that they have. Worse, they are caught in a dilemma between allowing the Committee reasonable time in which to consider the Bill properly and granting the measure a reasonable opportunity of succeeding.

I believe that the Government have fallen between two stools. We will not get enough time to scrutinise and consider the Bill properly, nor will we give the measure the maximum opportunity of succeeding. That is typical of the Government, who do not understand the operation of the House. They do not care, they are not interested, and, therefore, they are in danger of getting matters tragically wrong yet again.

We have witnessed a succession of cock-ups, misjudgments and Government mishandling, which mean that Bills fail or do not receive proper consideration. If they get pushed through in a peremptory fashion, the Government have to correct them later.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

The need for urgency in legislation is greatly overstated and overrated. I speak as someone who is probably regarded as feeble, pathetic, hand-wringing, moisture-emitting and wet, because I believe that there is much merit in the Bill. There is no urgency about its passage that should prevent lengthy, civilised, detailed and comprehensive discourse on its contents for as long as necessary before deciding whether to pass ut.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

That intervention is helpful because it is made by a self-confessed enthusiast for the ghastly measure. It also puts matters in context.

We have doubts about the Committee stage, but matters get materially worse on Report and Third Reading. This arrogant Government with their hobnailed boots have provided that proceedings on consideration shall … be brought to a conclusion at Nine o'clock on the day on which those proceedings are commenced or, if that day is a Thursday, at Six o'clock on that day. That applies regardless of other business. More emergency measures may have been tabled by then. The Government have turned the emergency into the routine in a way that we could hardly have foreseen.

Moreover, statements may be made. In your generosity, Mr. Speaker, you may grant a debate under Standing Order No. 24. The Government ignore such matters and confidently tell the House that, regardless of proceedings in Committee or intervening events, deliberations on Report and Third Reading will be completed by nine o'clock. That is outrageous for a Bill of this size, even given the truncated Committee stage for which the motion allows. Yet the Government employ that approach time and again. They are not interested in proper scrutiny; they are relaxed about pushing through defective legislation, even on an important subject such as the Bill allegedly is to some people, and then trying to correct it later.

The Minister and his colleagues like to strut around the international stage, attend ridiculous conferences and ludicrous get-togethers and gatherings, puff out their chests and feel important. I should have thought that they would want to tell other important international figures that they had got the measure right—but no. They are so casual about even their international contacts and junketings that they do not care whether the Bill is right.

The measure will be shoved through an inadequate Committee stage, nodded through a ridiculous Report and Third Reading, and the Government assume that they will get it right. I am sorry, not for the Government, but for my country, because it is represented by such inadequates as those on the Labour Front Bench. They affect to strut around the international stage, and put us at risk of getting the measure completely wrong. That would be bad enough with a domestic matter, but with a global, galactic matter such as this, I would have thought that it was rather important to get things right.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

Yes, but I am trying to conclude my speech now.

Photo of Dame Cheryl Gillan Dame Cheryl Gillan Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Shadow Minister (International Development)

My right hon. Friend is making some very important points, but does he agree that one would expect the Government at least to take into account the views of the Chairman of the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, the right hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson), who is in his place now? On 11 December, in this Chamber, he said: there must be proper scrutiny, as the Bill is highly technical and needs a certain legal expertise."—[Official Report, 11 December 2000; Vol. 359, c. 410.] Is that not an admission that even the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee believes that there must be proper scrutiny? Moreover, the Bill is so complex that I understand that the Minister will be joined in the Committee by one of the Law Officers, which goes to show that the right hon. Member for Swansea, East is right. What does my right hon. Friend think of that?

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

Given the Minister's inadequacy, I am not surprised that he needs a crutch or prop, in the shape of one of his colleagues, to help him in the Committee. I certainly agree that the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee is extremely influential, important and senior—

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

And respected—and we should listen to what he says.

This matter now stands exposed for what it is. It is a travesty; it is nonsense. I hope that the House will throw the programme motion out so that we have the opportunity to scrutinise the Bill properly and do it justice.

Photo of Mr Donald Anderson Mr Donald Anderson Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee, Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee 10:31, 3 April 2001

I have never been described as a crutch or a prop before—but in all humility, I have to admit that I agree with those wise words that the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee uttered last December. There is a certain easy familiarity about our debates on programme motions, and I sometimes feel rather as if I am watching one of those bad films and saying, "Isn't this where I came in?". The cast is almost invariably the same. Sometimes the arguments are good and sometimes they are bad. I suspect that tonight they are rather more flimsy than normal—although that does not stop the Opposition dipping into their pool of hyperbole and railing at the Government. Indeed, I believe that as his hyperbole rose to an ever higher pitch, the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) suggested that the programme motion was not only a gross disservice, but a "galactic" disservice to the House.

I shall not be unkind to the hon. Member for Chesham because we all like her, but she was trying to make bricks without straw. I was reminded of a friend who, very nervously, appeared before the Court of Appeal for the first time. After he had been speaking for a quarter of an hour or so, one of the judges said, "Mr. X, is that your best point?". My friend quivered, "My lord, it is my only point."

Similarly, I thought that the hon. Member for Chesham had one good point, which was that the Government were at fault in delaying the publication of the Bill. There may have been good technical reasons for that, because of the pressure from other directions on the parliamentary draftsmen—but the Government were at fault because of the very long delay. We in the Foreign Affairs Committee pointed that out. Indeed, for some time we had been urging the Government to get on with it.

The hon. Lady said, among other things, that two weeks ago it did not look as if the Bill would have the time that it deserved. Since then, however, things have changed. I do not know to what extent the change was influenced by my right hon. Friend the Member for Hartlepool (Mr. Mandelson), but now we have at least the possibility of having enough time, if we act reasonably. The hon. Lady admitted that we now had the opportunity to hold at least 10 sittings. I would have thought that adequate, especially as the Opposition will be able to select the key elements debated within that time, and in view of the fact not only that there has been considerable input from outside specialists during the consultation period—as great, probably, as that regarding any Bill of this nature—but that there has been a very learned legal trawl through the Bill in another place.

Photo of Dame Cheryl Gillan Dame Cheryl Gillan Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), Shadow Minister (International Development)

I would just like to remind the right hon. Gentleman that I am the Member for Chesham and Amersham. The "and Amersham" is very important.

Will the right hon. Gentleman accept that, even though there is a possibility of our having 10 sittings in Committee, there is no constitutional guarantee that any of those sittings will take place? During our deliberations on the International Development Bill, when no Chairman was available to chair the Committee, we lost some time from the scrutiny of that Bill. That time could not be put back into the process later. So even though it might appear that there will be 10 sittings, there might not be. That point was partly made earlier by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth) when he spoke about emergency legislation, SO24s, or whatever, in the House possibly bringing to a halt the anticipated process. Will the right hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) accept that there is no guarantee of 10 sittings taking place and that the programme motion is therefore bankrupt?

Photo of Mr Donald Anderson Mr Donald Anderson Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee, Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee

May I say first that I meant no disrespect to the good people of Amersham, and I hope that the hon. Lady will convey my personal regrets to them for failing to mention them?

Of course there is no guarantee, as the right hon. Member for Chislehurst—

Photo of Mr Donald Anderson Mr Donald Anderson Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee, Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee

I am sorry. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will convey my apologies to Bromley.

Of course there is no guarantee of 10 sittings, but the Government would lay themselves open to criticism if they did not give adequate time for debate. I hope that some parliamentarians on the Government Benches would be equally ready to criticise them if they did not provide that time. The right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst pointed out that there could be a number of occasions on which that time might be truncated because of statements, and so on. However, this is a matter of good faith. Clearly the hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham has no faith at all in the Government, but I tend to have a little more than her.

The key foreign policy point is that if we were not to meet the deadline of 3 May, the Bill would not pass during this Parliament.

Photo of Mr Donald Anderson Mr Donald Anderson Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee, Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee

That, however, would cause considerable difficulty and would be against the interests of this country. The Bill would then have to be revived in the next Parliament, and might not become law thereafter until, perhaps, the end of this year. There would be considerable slippage, and all the advantages of the Bill's becoming law—in terms of providing a model and setting a precedent for other countries, of showing what we can do, and of being among the first 60 states to ratify the agreement—would be lost. That would do a great disservice to this country. I believe that we have sufficient time—Goldilocks-like: not too long, not too short—in the 10 sittings adequately to scrutinise the Bill and to ensure that this country honours its international obligations.

Photo of Gerald Howarth Gerald Howarth Conservative, Aldershot 10:38, 3 April 2001

This is a serious debate on an extremely important Bill. The right hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson)—I shall not forget the "East"—may have recognised that many of us on the Opposition Benches feel that this is yet another example of the Government's arrogance in wishing to steamroller through legislation without giving it proper scrutiny. That has become a hallmark of this Government, and every time they move a programme motion we shall speak against it, even though the journalists have gone to bed.

My hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mrs. Gillan) was absolutely right to expose the Government's intention to shoe-horn the Bill through in time for the general election. Of course the right hon. Member for Hartlepool (Mr. Mandelson) is here, but he is not here just to report back to the Prime Minister. He is also here to report back to Mr. Trevor Kavanagh, the man who really makes the decisions about when general elections are to be held.

My hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham was absolutely right to point out that we have not had the opportunity properly to scrutinise the legislation today and my right hon. Friend the Member for Horsham (Mr. Maude), the shadow Foreign Secretary, has already said that we shall table a number of amendments in Committee. The idea that they can be debated in 10 sittings and receive proper scrutiny in the House on Report was demolished by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth), who said that only four hours may be available to the House to consider amendments that may have been accepted in Committee. However, I have to say that the chances of amendments being accepted are remote, given the way that the Government treated the Bill in the other place.

The Bill is extremely important and it has huge potential consequences for our armed forces. The first duty of the House is to ensure that the nation is properly defended. That means ensuring that our troops have the equipment that they need and proper conditions in which they can serve their country and perform the duties laid on them by this or any Government. This Government have been keen to deploy our troops, so the potential consequences for them when they go into battle are serious indeed.

Photo of Sylvia Heal Sylvia Heal Deputy Speaker

Order. Will the hon. Gentleman please confine his remarks to the programme motion?

Photo of Gerald Howarth Gerald Howarth Conservative, Aldershot

Thank you for reminding me of that, Madam Deputy Speaker, but my point is that although there are serious issues at stake, even some Members who were in the Chamber—let alone those who saw how many hon. Members wanted to speak but left to fulfil other responsibilities after taking the view that they had no chance of getting in—did not have the opportunity to contribute.

Many Members want to speak on the matter. They also want to know how the Bill will be dealt with in Committee and whether the Government will accept amendments tabled by the Opposition. If the Government are not prepared to accept amendments, we shall have not 10 sittings, but perhaps only four or four and a half hours in which to consider the Bill on Report. Certainly, five and a half hours will be available at the absolute maximum. That is a grave discourtesy to the House and a grave discourtesy to our armed forces, which will be much affected by the Bill.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs)

Does my hon. Friend agree that the Government consider their proposed timetable adequate because they envisage not no debate on amendments, but merely, in the style of the Foreign Secretary, their dismissal? Will not their approach be characterised, as was the Foreign Secretary's speech, by arrogance, presumption and disdain for any alternative point of view?

Photo of Gerald Howarth Gerald Howarth Conservative, Aldershot

My hon. Friend's lexicon of adjectives with which to describe the Foreign Secretary is rather meagre. He could provide many more. The debate is extremely important for another reason: the United States has not ratified the treaty. We have not had the opportunity to discourse at length on that matter. Some senior figures in the United States have described the International Criminal Court

It being forty-five minutes after the commencement of proceedings on the motion, MADAM DEPUTY SPEAKER put the Question, pursuant to Order [7 November 2000].

The House proceeded to a Division.

Photo of Sylvia Heal Sylvia Heal Deputy Speaker

I ask the Serjeant at Arms to investigate the delay in the No Lobby.

The House having divided: Ayes 310, Noes 137.

Division No. 173][10.44 pm
Abbott, Ms DianeClwyd, Ann
Adams, Mrs Irene (Paisley N)Coffey, Ms Ann
Ainger, NickCohen, Harry
Anderson, Rt Hon Donald (Swansea E)Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale)Connarty, Michael
Armstrong, Rt Hon Ms HilaryCook, Rt Hon Robin (Livingston)
Ashton, JoeCorbyn, Jeremy
Atherton, Ms CandyCorston, Jean
Atkins, CharlotteCousins, Jim
Austin, JohnCox, Tom
Bailey, AdrianCranston, Ross
Banks, TonyCrausby, David
Barnes, HarryCryer, Mrs Ann (Keighley)
Barron, KevinCryer, John (Hornchurch)
Battle, JohnCummings, John
Bayley, HughCunningham, Jim (Cov'try S)
Beckett, Rt Hon Mrs MargaretDarvill, Keith
Benn, Hilary (Leeds C)Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
Benn, Rt Hon Tony (Chesterfield)Davidson, Ian
Bennett, Andrew FDavies, Rt Hon Denzil (Llanelli)
Benton, JoeDawson, Hilton
Bermingham, GeraldDean, Mrs Janet
Berry, RogerDismore, Andrew
Best, HaroldDobbin, Jim
Blackman, LizDobson, Rt Hon Frank
Blears, Ms HazelDonohoe, Brian H
Blizzard, BobDoran, Frank
Boateng, Rt Hon PaulDowd, Jim
Bradley, Keith (Withington)Drew, David
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)Dunwoody, Mrs Gwyneth
Bradshaw, BenEagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Brinton, Mrs HelenEagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Browne, DesmondEdwards, Huw
Buck, Ms KarenEllman, Mrs Louise
Burgon, ColinEnnis, Jeff
Butler, Mrs ChristineEtherington, Bill
Byers, Rt Hon StephenField, Rt Hon Frank
Caborn, Rt Hon RichardFisher, Mark
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)Fitzpatrick, Jim
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)Fitzsimons, Mrs Loma
Campbell-Savours, DaleFlint, Caroline
Cann, JamieFlynn, Paul
Caplin, IvorFoster, Rt Hon Derek
Casale, RogerFoster, Michael Jabez (Hastings)
Caton, MartinFoster, Michael J (Worcester)
Cawsey, IanFoulkes, George
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)Fyfe, Maria
Chaytor, DavidGalloway, George
Clark, Rt Hon Dr David (S Shields)Gapes, Mike
Clark, Dr Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)George, Rt Hon Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)Gibson, Dr Ian
Clarke, Rt Hon Tom (Coatbridge)Gilroy, Mrs Linda
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)Godsiff, Roger
Clelland, DavidGoggins, Paul
Golding, Mrs LlinMcFall, John
Gordon, Mrs EileenMcGuire, Mrs Anne
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)McKenna, Mrs Rosemary
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)Mackinlay, Andrew
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)McNulty, Tony
Grogan, JohnMacShane, Denis
Hain, PeterMactaggart, Fiona
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)McWalter, Tony
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)McWilliam, John
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)Mahon, Mrs Alice
Hanson, DavidMallaber, Judy
Healey, JohnMandelson, Rt Hon Peter
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)Marsden, Paul (Shrewsbury)
Hendrick, MarkMarshall, David (Shettleston)
Hepburn, StephenMarshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Heppell, JohnMartlew, Eric
Hesford, StephenMaxton, John
Hill, KeithMeacher, Rt Hon Michael
Hinchliffe, DavidMeale, Alan
Hodge, Ms MargaretMerron, Gillian
Hoey, KateMichael, Rt Hon Alun
Hoon, Rt Hon GeoffreyMichie, Bill (Shef'ld Heeley)
Hope, PhilMiller, Andrew
Hopkins, KelvinMoffatt, Laura
Howarth, Rt Hon Alan (Newport E)Moonie, Dr Lewis
Howells, Dr KimMorgan, Ms Julie (Cardiff N)
Hoyle, LindsayMountford, Kali
Hughes, Ms Beverley (Stretford)Mudie, George
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)Mullin, Chris
Humble, Mrs JoanMurphy, Rt Hon Paul (Torfaen)
Hurst, AlanNaysmith, Dr Doug
Hutton, JohnO'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Iddon, Dr BrianO'Brien, Mike (N Warks)
Illsley, EricO'Hara, Eddie
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)Olner, Bill
Jamieson, DavidO'Neill, Martin
Jenkins, BrianOrgan, Mrs Diana
Johnson, Alan (Hull W & Hessle)Palmer, Dr Nick
Johnson, Miss Melanie (Welwyn Hatfield)Pearson, Ian
Perham, Ms Linda
Jones, Rt Hon Barry (Alyn)Pickthall, Colin
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)Pike, Peter L
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)Plaskitt, James
Jones, Dr Lynne (Selly Oak)Pollard, Kerry
Jones, Martyn (Clwyd S)Pond, Chris
Jowell, Rt Hon Ms TessaPope, Greg
Joyce, EricPound, Stephen
Kaufman, Rt Hon GeraldPrentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Keen, Alan (Feltham & Heston)Prentice, Gordon (Pendle)
Keen, Ann (Brentford & Isleworth)Prescott, Rt Hon John
Kemp, FraserPrimarolo, Dawn
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)Prosser, Gwyn
Khabra, Piara SPurchase, Ken
Kidney, DavidQuinn, Lawrie
Kilfoyle, PeterRammell, Bill
King, Andy (Rugby & Kenilworth)Rapson, Syd
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green)Raynsford, Nick
Kumar, Dr AshokReed, Andrew (Loughborough)
Ladyman, Dr StephenReid, Rt Hon Dr John (Hamilton N)
Lawrence, Mrs JackieRobertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Laxton, Bob
Leslie, ChristopherRoche, Mrs Barbara
Levitt, TomRooney, Terry
Lewis, Ivan (Bury S)Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)Rowlands, Ted
Liddell, Rt Hon Mrs HelenRoy, Frank
Linton, MartinRuane, Chris
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)Ruddock, Joan
Lock, DavidRussell, Ms Christine (Chester)
Love, AndrewSalter, Martin
McAvoy, ThomasSarwar, Mohammad
McCafferty, Ms ChrisSavidge, Malcolm
McCartney, Rt Hon Ian (Makerfield)Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
McDonagh, SiobhainShipley, Ms Debra
Macdonald, CalumSimpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Skinner, DennisTruswell, Paul
Smith, Rt Hon Andrew (Oxford E)Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)Turner, Dr Desmond (Kemptown)
Smith, Miss Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)Tynan, Bill
Soley, CliveVis, Dr Rudi
Spellar, JohnWalley, Ms Joan
Squire, Ms RachelWard, Ms Claire
Starkey, Dr PhyllisWareing, Robert N
Steinberg, GerryWatts David
Stevenson, GeorgeWhite, Brian
Stewart, David (Inverness E)Whitehead, Dr Alan
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)Wicks, Malcolm
Stinchcombe, PaulWilliams, Alan W (E Carmarthen)
Williams Mrs Betty (Conwy)
Stringer GrahamWinnick, David
Stuart, Ms GiselaWinterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Taylor, Rt Hon Mrs Ann (Dewsbury)Wood Mike
Woodward, Shaun
Taylor, Ms Dari (Stockton S)Woolas, Phil
Taylor, David (NW Leics)Worthington, Tony
Temple-Morris, PeterWright, Anthony D (Gt Yarmouth)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)Wright, Tony (Cannock)
Thomas, Gareth R (Harrow W)
Timms, StephenTellers for the Ayes:
Touhig, DonMr. Graham Allen and
Trickett, JonMr. Clive Betts.
Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)Fallon, Michael
Allan, RichardFlight, Howard
Amess, DavidForth, Rt Hon Eric
Arbuthnot, Rt Hon JamesFox, Dr Liam
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)Fraser, Christopher
Bercow, JohnGale, Roger
Beresford, Sir PaulGarnier, Edward
Blunt, CrispinGeorge, Andrew (St Ives)
Boswell, TimGibb, Nick
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)Gidley, Sandra
Bottomley, Rt Hon Mrs VirginiaGill, Christopher
Brady, GrahamGillan, Mrs Cheryl
Brazier, JulianGorman, Mrs Teresa
Browning, Mrs AngelaGray, James
Bruce, Ian (S Dorset)Green, Damian
Burns, SimonGreenway, John
Butterfill, JohnGrieve, Dominic
Cash, WilliamHamilton, Rt Hon Sir Archie
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)Hammond, Philip
Hawkins, Nick
Chope, ChristopherHayes, John
Clappison, JamesHeald, Oliver
Clarke, Rt Hon Kenneth (Rushcliffe)Horam, John
>Howard, Rt Hon Michael
Collins, TimHowarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Cran, JamesJack, Rt Hon Michael
Curry, Rt Hon DavidJackson, Robert (Wantage)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham)Jenkin, Bernard
Davis, Rt Hon David (Haltemprice)Jones, Ieuan Wyn (Ynys Môn)
Day, StephenKey, Robert
Donaldson, JeffreyKirkbride, Miss Julie
Duncan, AlanLait, Mrs Jacqui
Duncan Smith, IainLeigh, Edward
Evans, NigelLetwin, Oliver
Fabricant, MichaelLewis, Dr Julian (New Forest E)
Lidington, DavidSt Aubyn, Nick
Lilley, Rt Hon PeterSanders, Adrian
Lloyd, Rt Hon Sir Peter (Fareham)Sayeed, Jonathan
Llwyd, ElfynSimpson, Keith (Mid-Norfolk)
Loughton, TimSmith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns)
Luff, PeterSmyth, Rev Martin (Belfast S)
Lyell, Rt Hon Sir NicholasSpelman, Mrs Caroline
MacGregor, Rt Hon JohnSpring, Richard
McIntosh, Miss AnneStanley, Rt Hon Sir John
MacKay, Rt Hon AndrewStreeter, Gary
Maclean, Rt Hon DavidSwayne, Desmond
McLoughlin, PatrickSyms, Robert
Madel, Sir DavidTapsell, Sir Peter
Maples, JohnTaylor, Ian (Esher & Walton)
Mates, MichaelTaylor, John M (Solihull)
Maude, Rt Hon FrancisTaylor, Sir Teddy
Mawhinney, Rt Hon Sir BrianThomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
May, Mrs TheresaTownend, John
Moss, MalcolmTrend, Michael
Nicholls, PatrickTyrie, Andrew
Norman, ArchieViggers, Peter
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)Walter, Robert
Öpik, LembitWaterson, Nigel
Ottaway, RichardWhitney, Sir Raymond
Page, RichardWhittingdale, John
Paice, JamesWiddecombe, Rt Hon Miss Ann
Paisley, Rev IanWilkinson, John
Prior, DavidWilletts, David
Redwood, Rt Hon JohnWillis, Phil
Rendel, DavidWinterton, Mrs Ann (Congleton)
Robathan, AndrewWinterton, Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)Yeo, Tim
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Roe, Mrs Marion (Broxbourne)Tellers for the Noes:
Ross, William (E Lond'y)Mr. Geoffrey Clifton-Brown
Ruffley, Davidand
Russell, Bob (Colchester)Mr. Owen Paterson.

Question accordingly agreed to.