Motion made, and Question proposed,
(1) during proceedings on the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Bill the Standing Committee shall (in addition to its first meeting on Tuesday 18th January at 9.25 a.m.) meet on—
(a) Tuesday 18th January at 2.30 p.m.
(b) Thursday 20th January at 9.25 a.m. and 2.30 p.m.
(c) Tuesday 25th January at 9.25 a.m. and 2.30 p.m.
(d) Thursday 27th January at 9.25 a.m. and 2.30 p.m.
(e) Tuesday 1st February at 9.25a.m. and 2.30 p.m.
(2) The proceedings shall be taken in the following order—
Clauses 1 to 18, Clauses 20 and 21, Clauses 25 to 27, Clause 19, Clause 22, Clause 24, Clauses 28 to 30, Clause 23, Clauses 31 to 84, Schedule 1, Clauses 85 to 87, Schedule 2, Clauses 88 to 92, Schedule 3, Clauses 93 to 106, Schedule 4, Clause 107, Schedule 5, Clauses 108 to 111, New Clauses, New Schedules, Remaining proceedings on the Bill.
(3) The proceedings on the Bill shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at 5.30 p.m. on Tuesday 1st February.—[Alun Michael.]
I most warmly welcome you to the Chair, Mr. Taylor. It will be a privilege and a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, albeit for the brief time that has been made available. I am grateful to the Minister for the informal and formal discussions that we had yesterday and for the flexibility that the Government have shown at the outset.
This is an important Bill. It is clear that we will be hard pressed to get through every aspect of it, as it has more than 100 clauses and a significant number of schedules, and several new clauses have been tabled. I hope that the Minister will agree to allow a little spillover if that is clearly necessary, either through the debate or the number of amendments tabled, in order to maintain flexibility and a spirit of co-operation during the proceedings.
For the record, it is interesting to note that the Railways Bill, which has only 40 clauses and is probably less contentious and less controversial—it merely puts shape to a series of announcements that the Government have made on transport policy—was allocated 12 sittings. It is a little disappointing that we have been allocated only 10 sittings for a controversial Bill that extends the powers of local councils and others. I simply note that for the record. The Minister may wish to comment on it for our guidance and better understanding of the way in which the Government operate.
I look forward to working with you, Mr. Taylor. This is the first opportunity that I have had to do so, and, as you are such an active Member of Parliament, I am sure that the Committee will function successfully. I, too, would like to thank the Minister for the formal and informal discussions that we have had on programming. We all agreed in those discussions that knives would not be necessary, given a certain amount of give and take. We believe that discussion of the amendments that we want to table can be fitted into the time allowed, but we are grateful that the Government have chosen not to put in knives and to allow some flexibility as we go along.
I join the general chorus of approbation of your chairmanship, Mr. Taylor. This is the first time that I have had the pleasure of serving under your chairmanship, and I look forward to it.
At the start, we thought that eight sittings would be reasonably generous for dealing with a Bill which I am rather surprised to hear described as controversial or contentious. I assure the hon. Member for Vale of York (Miss McIntosh) that the issues are not contentious or controversial on housing estates in inner cities or rural areas up and down the country, where the Bill will be appreciated. There has been a little misjudgment on the part of the Conservative party about the importance, popularity and effectiveness of the measures that we shall be considering.
Nevertheless, we have extended the number of sittings to a generous 10. We have made it clear that the purpose of the Committee is to consider the details of the Bill and consider alternatives. I am grateful to the hon. Lady and the hon. Member for Guildford (Sue Doughty) for confirming that, with a bit of good will on all sides, we can ensure that all Members are able to probe the issues that they believe to be important in order for the Bill to come through its Committee stage as an effective piece of legislation. There will be a certain amount of banter over points on which we disagree, but it seems that the Committee stage will be constructive and that we shall co-operate, at least to the extent of looking for flexibility, if it is needed, to ensure that everybody can get in their two penn'orth.
The Committee divided: Ayes 8, Noes 2.