Police (Northern Ireland) Bill [Lords]

– in a Public Bill Committee on 6th March 2003.

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[Mr. Roger Gale in the Chair]

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale Vice-Chair, Conservative Party 8:55 am, 6th March 2003

I must report that the Programming Sub-Committee met earlier this morning and agreed the resolution that has been circulated. Copies of it are available on the Table.

Photo of Angela Smith Angela Smith Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Northern Ireland Office, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office)

I beg to move,

That the order of the Standing Committee of 25th February 2003 be further amended as follows—

(1) in paragraph (1) after ''half-past Two o'clock'' insert '', except that the Committee shall not meet on Thursday 6th March 2003 at half-past Two o'clock'';

(2) in paragraph (2) for ''Eight sittings'' substitute ''Nine sittings'';

(3) in the Table for the entry for the 8th sitting substitute:

8thClause 19, New Clauses relating to Part 1, New Schedules relating to Part 1, Clause 23, Schedule 1, Clause 4, Clauses 24 and 25, Schedule 2, Clauses 26 to 36, New Clauses relating to Part 2, New Schedules relating to Part 2, Clauses 37 and 38, Schedule 3, Clauses 39 and 40, remaining New Clauses, remaining New Schedules, remaining proceedings on the Bill (so far as not previously concluded)-
9thClause 19, New Clauses relating to Part 1, New Schedules relating to Part 1, Clause 23, Schedule 1, Clause 4, Clauses 24 and 25, Schedule 2, Clauses 26 to 36, New Clauses relating to Part 2, New Schedules relating to Part 2, Clauses 37 and 38, Schedule 3, Clauses 39 and 40, remaining New Clauses, remaining New Schedules, remaining proceedings on the Bill (so far as not previously concluded)5.00 p.m.
I thank you, Mr. Gale, for your assistance. We did not expect to be here at this hour on a Thursday morning. I thank all parties for their co-operation. The usual channels have been involved in the discussions and were immensely grateful for the way in which all parties wanted to move forward and be co-operative. It is important that members of the Committee want to ensure that adequate time is available to discuss the Bill. The Government are committed to the Bill and we are grateful to members of the Committee.

Photo of David Wilshire David Wilshire Conservative, Spelthorne

I am nothing if not a realist. The Government have a majority in Committee, so I took it on myself to tell my colleagues that they need not come out at such an anti-social hour because, even if we did not wish to adjourn, we would

lose the vote. It is my fault that my hon. Friends are not in Committee, not because of a lack of interest in our proceedings.

I shall not take up the Committee's time other than to say that what we are going through this morning, what we went through on Tuesday and what will happen next Tuesday is certain proof of why guillotine motions are wrong. If such a motion had not been tabled, we would not have had to experience such a fiasco. We would have just been able to adjourn and meet again when necessary. However, because of the stupidity of the Government in tabling guillotine motions, we have to go through such an experience. Knives have the same result. I have made that point many times; I want to put on the record the fact that nothing has changed. This stupid way in which to do business was proposed by a stupid Government.

Photo of David Wilshire David Wilshire Conservative, Spelthorne

Yes. It is the Minister's fault. She dragged me out of bed early. I was here at 20 minutes to 9 o'clock. If I am in a bad mood, she has to take the consequences.

Photo of David Wilshire David Wilshire Conservative, Spelthorne

Well, I dragged myself out of bed on account of the stupid time that the Committee had to meet. You can see what happens when I get up early, Mr. Gale. I am in such a mood. However, I seriously want to register the fact that we object to such proceedings. As I said, I am a realist. We are where we are. Given what has happened, it is right not to meet until such time that we can sort ourselves out. I do not therefore intend to vote against the motion.

Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael Shadow Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change)

Some of us have suspected that there was a certain cosiness between the Minister and the Treasury Front Bench. Until I heard the remarks of the hon. Member for Spelthorne (Mr. Wilshire), I had not realised just how far such matters had progressed. As for the conduct of members of the Committee, I am astonished that members of the official Opposition play fast and loose with the important business of scrutinising Bills. I wish to place on the record the fact that 50 per cent. of the Liberal Democrat representation on the Committee is ready to go to work. In view of what has been said, however, I shall not oppose the motion.

Question put and agreed to.

Further consideration adjourned.—[Gillian Merron.]

Adjourned accordingly at one minute to Nine o'clock till Tuesday 11 March at five minutes to Nine o'clock.