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Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:30 pm on 18th March 2004.

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Photo of Mr Paul Tyler Mr Paul Tyler Shadow Leader of the House of Commons 12:30 pm, 18th March 2004

May I refer the Leader of the House to the announcement he has made today that we are to have only one day for all the remaining stages of the Higher Education Bill? It is clear to Members on both sides of the House that this legislation is still extremely controversial, not least, of course, because of the lack of representation in Committee from a number of his colleagues who have concerns about important aspects of the Bill.

Will the Leader of the House look again to see whether he can find extra time for those remaining stages? Can he also give an absolute guarantee that there will be no Government statement on that day, if we have to remain with just one day for consideration? Will he also consider the special case for allowing extra time to replace any time taken for Divisions during the debate, because there may be a number of them, which could take up precious debating time?

Can the Leader of the House confirm the report in today's edition of the Financial Times that the plans for the reform of the House of Lords have become "absolutely shambolic"? No doubt he was involved in the meeting of the Cabinet Sub-Committee that took place this week and where, we understand, the whole issue was shunted up a siding. Can he tell us when and if the Bill will ever appear—he has previously referred to it in the House—and can he, at long last, confirm that, if it does reach the House, consideration in Committee will be taken in full on the Floor of the House, as was the case with the last reform Bill, which took the bulk of the hereditaries out of the House of Lords?