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:
8th Clause 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) - 9th Clause 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 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.
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.
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.