European Parliamentary and Local Elections (Pilots) Bill

Part of the debate – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:45 am on 30th October 2003.

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Photo of Mr Teddy Taylor Mr Teddy Taylor Conservative, Rochford and Southend East 9:45 am, 30th October 2003

I want to make two brief points. First, I hope that the Government will bear in mind the fact that their defeat happened for a good reason. We had the emergence of a popular front, with parties that differ enormously on many issues coming together because they felt so strongly on this issue. Another reason for the defeat was the absence, to which I referred, of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart. He is one of the most conscientious Members in the House, and I now understand that he was not present because he was attending the funeral of the wife of a dear colleague. Obviously, I am sorry for any misunderstanding over that. My first basic point to the Minister is that people felt very strongly, and were united in saying that the timetable was wrong.

My second point is to ask why we cannot alter the timetable to try to get agreement between the popular front and the Government. Why can we not meet next Thursday as well, rather than have an open-ended meeting tonight? My hon. Friend the Member for Surrey Heath is so committed to politics that he says that he will wait here all night if need be but, quite honestly, many of us have other obligations. There are other obligations in the House of Commons, and I have an obligation in Southend tonight. I am meant to be there at 9 o'clock, and I should like to be able to let my people know whether I will be there. It would be useful if the Government could either say that we will stop at 5 o'clock tonight and meet next Thursday as well, which would be ideal, or give us some idea of what work they want to get done by 5 o'clock. I should like to know. It is not satisfactory for you, Mr. Cook, and it is not satisfactory for hon. Members and their parties to be told that we might be going all night, but we have no idea. It would be far, far better if we could simply alter the timetable and have a sitting next Thursday as well.