As members of the Programming Sub-Committee know, we have agreed to extend the protected time for Third Reading of the Bill from one hour to two hours. I want to place on the record the reasons for that extension. I am delighted that the Government agree with it. We did not have the benefit of the presence of any Liberal Democrat on the Programming Sub-Committee, but took it that their absence connoted consent for what the Government and the official Opposition agreed.
We wanted to extend the time because both the Government and the Opposition feel that this is a slightly unusual Bill. It involves not a huge number, but a certain number of major issues of principle. The fact that the Committee spent four out of nine sittings debating part 1 on those major issues and one whole sitting debating one clause stand part and two new clauses shows where the burden falls. It is not one of those long Bills with a huge number of issues of principle, and Report takes much longer than Third Reading. Some hon. Members on both sides may not have had a chance to catch the Speakers eye on Second Reading, and may want to contribute on the issues of principle and not just on each individual issue on Report. The Government and the Opposition thought that it would be fair to provide an opportunity for more Third Reading speeches of a general nature.
There is a risk that if there are several statements on urgent matters before the House that afternoon, protecting two hours rather than one hour might result in Report being truncated, but the Government have kindly said that they will use their best endeavours to avoid that, and we recognise that that is all they can say to try to protect Report stage so that we can have a substantive debate on the major issues and still have a bit longer for Third Reading. That is the view of Conservative Members, it is clear that the Liberal Democrats do not disagree, or they would have made their point in the Programming Sub-Committee, and the Government are happy with it. That is why we thought it better to protect a little longer, and I have the approval of my colleagues on the Opposition Front Bench for saying that.