Tabling of Amendments

Oral Answers to Questions — Leader of the House – in the House of Commons at 9:30 am on 12th September 2013.

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Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Deputy Leader, Liberal Democrats 9:30 am, 12th September 2013

If he will make it his policy to encourage his ministerial colleagues to table Government amendments to Bills whenever possible in the House of Commons rather than the House of Lords; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake The Deputy Leader of the House of Commons

It is usual practice for Government to make amendments, where possible, in the House of introduction. However, the Government are rightly expected to listen and respond to debates on Bills in both Houses of Parliament, and it is, of course, the core strength of our Parliament that any amendments made to Bills in the other place must also be agreed by this House.

Photo of Simon Hughes Simon Hughes Deputy Leader, Liberal Democrats

Obviously, all Governments try to introduce perfect legislation the first time around, but very few succeed. I hope that my right hon. Friend and his colleagues understand that it is really important that the democratic House has the opportunity to look at any changes that are found to be necessary as a result of the work of Select Committees and others. I hope that this Government will try very hard to ensure that we see amendments first and that they are not left as a sort of teaser at the other end of the building late in the day.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake The Deputy Leader of the House of Commons

I agree with my right hon. Friend that it is very important that this House is given an opportunity to consider amendments but, as I said in my earlier response, it is inevitable that matters will be raised in the other House that will need to be addressed there. I understand what my right hon. Friend is saying and I will ensure, as far as I can, that what he seeks actually happens.

Several hon. Members:

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Photo of Angela Smith Angela Smith Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons

There are rumours in this place that the Government intend to table a number of amendments to the lobbying Bill and to make a number of concessions. Given what the Deputy Leader of the House has just said, will he commit to ensuring that those amendments are tabled in this House and not in the House of Lords? Even better, why do they not just withdraw the Bill?

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake The Deputy Leader of the House of Commons

Clearly, the Government will not withdraw the Bill. It has been made very clear over the past couple of days that the Government will bring forward an amendment on Report to address the significant issue that charities have raised with us. We hope to come to a conclusion that they think is satisfactory.

Photo of Peter Bone Peter Bone Conservative, Wellingborough

Does the Deputy Leader of the House agree that a more important reform with regard to amendments would be to allow Members on both sides a free vote in Committee and to not subject them to whipping? Would that not produce better legislation?

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake The Deputy Leader of the House of Commons

That is an interesting point. I suspect that allowing free votes on amendments in this place would lead to chaos.