On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am mindful of the fact that my right hon. Friend Mrs Gillan yesterday raised the point that the Report stage of the Local Government (Review of Decisions) Bill had been scheduled ahead of the HS2 Funding Referendum Bill this morning. You will not be surprised to learn that I wish to participate in the debate on the HS2 Funding Referendum Bill of my hon. Friend Mr Chope. I fully understand why the Report stage of the other Bill should come in first, but does this not highlight the fact that we ought to find a better way for our Standing Orders to operate? The HS2 Funding Referendum Bill has been first on the Order Paper for the past few days, and this unpredictability results in the inability of MPs to make sensible plans, particularly on a working constituency Friday, because of having to juggle being present in the House for an important debate with serving their constituents’ interests. This is a continuing problem.
Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. My right hon. and learned Friend Mr Grieve has made an entirely sensible point. I have tabled one or two amendments to the first Bill, but I very much hope that they will not take up too much time and that my right hon. and learned Friend will have ample time in which to discuss the important matters that he wishes to raise.
That is characteristically solicitous of the right hon. Gentleman, and I am sure that it will be appreciated by Mr Grieve and the right hon. Member for
Chesham and Amersham (Mrs Gillan), not to mention Mr Chope. In answer to the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield, I note his point and it is certainly something that the Procedure Committee could usefully consider. I know that he will not take it the wrong way when I say that he might not have had cause to raise this point before now, but because the way in which this operates affects him adversely, it is now a source of grievance in a way that it might not previously have been. However, that does not automatically negate its value, and it might even be thought that he has done us a public service in highlighting it. I hope that Mr Walker will be similarly minded when he hears of the right hon. and learned Gentleman’s concern.