Clause 10 — Proceedings in Parliament

Bill Presented — Sustainable Energy (Local Plans) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:13 pm on 1st July 2009.

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Amendments made: 23, page 7, line 8, after 'evidence', insert

'of words spoken by, or any other conduct of, a Member of the House of Commons in proceedings in Parliament'.

Amendment 24, page 7, line 8, leave out 'a' and insert 'that'.— (Sir Stuart Bell.)

Question put, That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.

The House divided: Ayes 247, Noes 250.

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Question accordingly negatived.

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Photo of Gerald Howarth Gerald Howarth Shadow Minister (Defence)

On a point of order, Sir Alan. Notwithstanding the splendid outcome of that Division, which surely represents the passion of the House on this matter and is a serious affront to the Justice Secretary, I believe that it is a constitutional outrage that a clause described by the learned Clerk as possibly having

"a chilling effect on the freedom of speech of Members" has not had a moment's debate in this Chamber. If it was not for right hon. and hon. Members having voted against the clause by three votes, despite the Government Whips' attempts to stop them, we would not be able to debate it.

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The Chairman:

Order. I think that the hon. Gentleman has got away with quite a bit there—on a point of order that is not strictly so. He knows that I cannot respond to that.

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Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Chair, Justice Committee

On a point of order, Sir Alan. I wonder whether I might give you notice that I am very happy that my amendment on Report, amendment 16, now falls, because it was an amendment to leave out clause 10. I hope that the Justice Secretary, rather than treating the situation as an affront, will take it as a recognition that the primary purpose of the Bill did not require clause 10, that we can set up the necessary body without it, and that he should now get on and do so to the general satisfaction of the House.

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The Chairman:

I assure the right hon. Gentleman that the necessary changes to the order of selection will take place on Report.

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Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Shadow Attorney General, Shadow Secretary of State

Further to that point of order, Sir Alan. I appreciate that we are about to embark on the Report stage of the Bill, but considerable consequences, in the form of consequential amendments, might flow from the disappearance of clause 10. We are about to embark on the process that will result in the Bill's leaving this House in about an hour and 20 minutes' time. Have you had any notice of a statement from the Secretary of State about how the Government wish to proceed with this legislation, in view of what has happened?

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Photo of Jack Straw Jack Straw The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice

Further to that point of order, Sir Alan. It is fair to say that you have not had notice of such a statement, because we have only just learned of the decision of the House, by 250 votes to 247. Of course, I understand the concerns of the House. We will respect the decision. [Interruption.] The Opposition Chief Whip is supposed to be silent, as he knows—that is what he is paid for.

I say to Sir Alan Beith that although we will not be able to do so on Report, we will take full account of the decision of the House in the consequential amendments in the other place.

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The Chairman:

The Secretary of State said that he had no notice of the situation; no more did I. I am sure, however, that our advisers will ensure that we do everything in order henceforth.

The Deputy Speaker resumed the Chair.

Bill, as amended, reported.

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Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Conservative, Stone

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. In 1993, Speaker Boothroyd gave a warning that, in respect of article IX of the Bill of Rights, the courts should not interfere in the proceedings of the House. New clause 7 deals with article IX of the Bill of Rights and new clause 8 deals with the supremacy of Parliament. They go to the very heart of how we are governed in this country. Some 40 Members of Parliament have signed the new clauses, which are, furthermore, in the name of the official Opposition. Against that background, may I ask for your ruling on how it can be that those two new clauses have not been selected for debate, as a result of which the House has been put in peril?

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Photo of Alan Haselhurst Alan Haselhurst Chairman of Ways and Means

The hon. Gentleman is a very experienced Member and he knows that no explanation is given for the selection of amendments. I did not participate in the decision, and there is nothing that the Chair can say. It is customary for the selection to be made and for the House to accept the consequences. Whether there will be further opportunities in the course of proceedings on the Bill is another matter. I cannot go further than that.

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Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Conservative, North Essex

Further to that point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Without wishing to ask you what the rationale might be, I speculate that aspects of the Bill—

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Photo of Alan Haselhurst Alan Haselhurst Chairman of Ways and Means

Order. The hon. Gentleman is also a very experienced Member, and he is not going to get away with that.

Consideration of Bill, as amended in the Committee (Programme Order of 29 June)

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