‘The Secretary of State shall not make any order or regulations under this or any other Act of Parliament that has the effect of imposing lower standards on Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, in any area for which a common framework—
(a) has been agreed,
(b) is in development, or
(c) becomes necessary,
unless, where subsection (b) or (c) above applies, the Secretary of State judges that a reasonable period has passed and the negotiations have failed to reach agreement, and a draft of the order or regulations has been laid before and approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.’ .—(Lucy Powell.)
This new clause puts common frameworks on a statutory footing. Where there is a common framework agreed, Ministers would not be able to override them through secondary legislation to impose lower standards on devolved nations. Where a common framework was in development, or a new common framework became necessary, Ministers could not impose standards until the negotiation of common frameworks had taken place between the nations of the UK and failed to reach agreement after a reasonable period. The UK Parliament would be the ultimate arbiter of standards if reasonable agreement could not be reached.
Brought up, and read the First time.
Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—
The Committee divided: Ayes 195, Noes 356.
Question accordingly negatived.
The list of Members currently certified as eligible for a proxy vote, and of the Members nominated as their proxy, is published at the end of today’s debates.
The occupant of the Chair left the Chair (Programme Order,
The Deputy Speaker resumed the Chair.
Progress reported; Committee to sit again tomorrow.
On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Can you help Back Benchers, please? A number of Back Benchers who wanted to come into the Chamber for this part of tonight’s business were prevented from coming in, and we now have a scenario in which almost the only people in the Chamber are members of the Government and Whips. As I understand it, their plan is to try to distort the votes that may take place on some of the remaining orders, which were originally going to be the subject of deferred Divisions. It seems that, as the business has finished early, the Government are intent on preventing our having a physical Division on some of the remaining orders.
I understand the hon. Gentleman’s point. Perhaps I have a better view of the Chamber than he has because I have the advantage of being in the Chair, but it would appear to me that there are several spaces in which Members could sit on the Government Benches and a great many in which Members could sit on the Opposition Benches. I point out to the hon. Gentleman, and to the House, that if there were too many members of the Government party on the Government Benches, I would not stop Government Members sitting on the Opposition Benches, given the unusual circumstances under which we are now operating.
I have to say that I do not understand the hon. Gentleman’s point. No one can be prevented from coming into this Chamber and—I will say this quite loudly—if there is anyone who feels prevented from coming into the Chamber right now, they should come and see me. People can come into the Chamber right now.
I am not sure that there can be anything further to that point of order, but out of courtesy and given the hon. Gentleman’s seniority in the House, I will take his point of order.
I am grateful to you, Madam Deputy Speaker.
First, there was an attempt physically to stop me coming into the Chamber. When I said that I wished to come into the Chamber to shout “Object”, I was allowed in.
You just said, Madam Deputy Speaker, that there are spaces in the Chamber, and so there are, but that was not my point. My point is that while Back Benchers were discouraged or have been kept out of the Chamber, I can count the Government Whips—there are one, two, three on this Bench and four, five, six, seven, eight—
Order. How many people with particular duties in the House there are sitting in the Chamber is not a point of order. Any Member can sit in this Chamber. The hon. Gentleman’s presence in the Chamber is itself evidence of the impracticality and impossibility of any Member—be they a Whip, a Minister or anything else—trying to prevent any Member, but especially a Member with the hon. Gentleman’s seniority, from entering the Chamber. I have just said it and will say it again: if there is any Member out there who feels prevented from coming into the Chamber and wishes to come in, let him or her come in now and I will protect them.
Let us proceed.