Higher Education Bill

– in a Public Bill Committee on 24th February 2004.

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[Mr. Roger Gale in the Chair]

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale Conservative, North Thanet 9:10 am, 24th February 2004

Before we commence, I have a couple of housekeeping announcements to make.

Hon. Members will notice that there is a rope across the Room. I am sorry that it is not bullet-proof glass, but it is the best that we can do at short notice. As I said at the Committee's first sitting, it is my intention to allow members of the public to occupy the seats beyond the rope if the Public Gallery becomes full. That being so, hon. Members bar one will already have worked out that until the rope becomes unnecessary, the centre Door will be for use by Members only. It will not be locked during Divisions because we have only two Badge Messengers to man the entrances. The Chairmen—Mr. Hood and me—will therefore deem the centre Door to be locked at any time that we choose to do so, and thereafter, no Member will be allowed to enter through it.

One other matter that requires the Committee's attention concerns the debate on clause 22. Members will not be surprised to know that I have read the Hansard report with great care. At the start of our debate on the current group of amendments, the hon. Member for Epsom and Ewell (Chris Grayling) said that he expected to have the opportunity to discuss the principles behind clause 22 on a stand part debate. He then went on to discuss the principles of the clause, as did several other hon. Members. Having read Hansard at length, I have concluded that most of the matters arising from the clause, save those that are about to be discussed, have already been debated. I propose therefore not to permit a stand part debate on clause 22. I give hon. Members warning of that now in case there are other matters on which they seek to prevail on the Chairman's leniency to raise. That does not mean that they may cover matters that have already been discussed.