Backbench Business — House of Commons Administration and Savings Programme

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 12:38 pm on 8th November 2012.

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Photo of John Thurso John Thurso Chair, Finance and Services Committee 12:38 pm, 8th November 2012

I am happy to agree with the hon. Gentleman.

I am conscious that I have occupied the crease for far longer than I had intended and do not wish to upset you any further, Madam Deputy Speaker, so I will crack on. My last point regarding the amendment tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow is that it essentially asks for more time. I say to him, with the greatest respect, that I have spent two years circulating e-mails, writing reports and seeking to consult Members, some of whom have engaged and some have not—he has been a great engager. We have had a Westminster Hall debate on the matter and today we are debating it in the Chamber on an amendable motion. It does not get any better than that, as far as parliamentary time is concerned, so I suggest that now is the time to make the decision, whatever the House chooses.

Two other amendments have been tabled. I have already referred to that tabled by my right hon. Friend Sir Alan Haselhurst, who chairs the Administration Committee. I believe that other members of the Committee are content to accept it if the House wishes. The other amendment was tabled by my hon. Friend Adam Afriyie and relates to an extremely important point about the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. I know he is hoping to catch your eye, Madam Deputy Speaker, so I will not go into detail. Suffice it to say, on the basis of the briefing he gave me, I have talked at length with officials and am certain that we will be able to secure the necessary discussions between him, his board and the relevant people to ensure that those points are properly taken on board. I hope that the result will be the correct accommodation.

Members have an historic opportunity to take their destiny in their own hands in considering what services we want and how they should be funded. I am delighted to see so many Members in the Chamber and delighted that there are so many amendments, even though I ask the House to reject at least one of them. Let us have a debate, make a decision and settle the matter. I end by thanking the members of the Finance and Services Committee and the officials who have helped them, both at Management Board level and below, to ensure that the work we have done has been thorough and solid, which has enabled me to lay before the House a report and plans that are well considered, well structured, thoroughly thought through and that, I think, offer a solid way forward. I commend them to the House.