New Clause 8 - Judicial tenure

Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:45 pm on 9 March 2006.

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‘Provision under section 2(1) may not affect the appointment, terms of engagement, dismissal or tenure of any judge.’.—[Mr. Murphy.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Motion made, and Question put, That the clause be read a Second time:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 6, Noes 9.

Division number 18 Nimrod Review — Statement — New Clause 8 - Judicial tenure

Aye: 5 MPs

No: 8 MPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

No: A-Z by last name

NOES

Question accordingly negatived.

Question put, That the Chairman do report the Bill, as amended, to the House.

Photo of Oliver Heald Oliver Heald Shadow Secretary of State (Justice), Shadow Secretary of State 3:00, 9 March 2006

We have been as well guided by you, Sir Nicholas, and your brother Chairman, Mr. Caton, as we predicted that we would be. On behalf of those on the Opposition side of the Committee, thank you for all that you did to keep us in order and ensure that we behaved ourselves, although I do not think that we were too bad.

I also thank the Clerks, who have been extremely helpful with drafting and with the inquiries that the Opposition Members often have, so I thank Mr. Cranmer and Mr. Farrar for what they have done for us. I thank the Minister for the courteous way in which has dealt with matters. Although we would hope for more to come in terms of concessions, he has been helpful and offered us a meeting. I thank all the other members of the Committee for the way in which the Committee has been conducted, and I thank the Doorkeepers and the police. Finally, I hope that the Bill will go forward and be improved.

Photo of David Heath David Heath Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, Shadow Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

I associate myself with the thanks that have already been offered by the hon. Member for North-East Hertfordshire to you, Sir Nicholas, and to Mr. Caton, for your chairmanship, and to the Officers of the House who have assisted us with the Committee.

We have had a very positive Committee in many ways. The arguments that have been adduced by the Opposition have been extremely cogent and well argued. I single out for thanks my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge, who has done a very good job in presenting arguments that are very relevant to the Committee. I should also like in passing to note the contributions of the hon. Members for Plymouth,  Devonport (Alison Seabeck) and for Edmonton, who were prepared to engage in debate on some of the issues. We had a degree of engagement from the Minister too. I am not entirely convinced that I have to thank him a great deal for the one concession on the veto, because it is what he thought was in the Bill originally when he appeared before the Committee. We are now back to where we were before the Committee started.

My hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge had some fun suggesting a name for the Bill. To me it is quite clear. It is the Parliamentary Scrutiny (Abolition or Avoidance) Bill. Part 1 will not do. It will not pass unless we have substantial amendments on Report. I am quite sure that my noble Friends and others will fillet the Bill unless the Minister has some substantial amendments to make on Report.

Photo of Jim Murphy Jim Murphy Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Cabinet Office)

It is noticeable that we have finished, perhaps a little unpredictably, almost an hour early, which is testimony to the usual channels and the fact that we have a had a good debate on the different clauses without any knives. You were in the Chair at our first Programming Sub-Committee meeting, Sir Nicholas, and you were keen to ensure that we had no knives. Your guidance has been helpful because we have had ample opportunity to debate matters and there has been some good humour on occasion.

As the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome said, the Government have agreed to reflect on a number of areas including the commitment to a veto and nine of the amendments about the procedures recommended by the Regulatory Reform Committee. We have given a commitment to come back on Report with specifics on that. We will consult the Opposition Front Benches and others about the nature of that veto. I thank you, Sir Nicholas. In addition to your duties here you had duties at “Question Time”. I know that it may have been difficult that morning to keep your mind on the discussions in Committee when you were preparing for that engagement.

I thank the Bill team, who have been of great assistance, the Clerks, and the Officers of the House. I thank the hon. Member for Somerton and Frome for announcing his deputy leadership bid during our proceedings. While the hon. Member for Cambridge deserves the compliment, he should be wary about why  it is offered; he has a vote. He could have adopted the same approach as his hon. Friend and refused to commit to anyone.

I see from my notes that the hon. Member for Cambridge married a Murphy.

Photo of Jim Murphy Jim Murphy Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Cabinet Office)

Although there was not a meeting of minds with this Murphy, I see from the notes that the hon. Gentleman conceded the constituency of Peterborough at a previous election. Until I read my notes this morning, I was not aware that the father of my hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport was the Member of Parliament for Peterborough. I have no idea why I am saying that—perhaps for the sake of saying it.

We have 50 minutes left, and I have no intention of filling them. I thank everyone associated with ensuring that the Committee made good progress. I particularly thank Members on both sides, who have fulfilled their duty during our eight sittings.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton Conservative, Macclesfield

May I have the last word? I thank the Committee for the quality of debate and for the good humour displayed throughout our eight sittings. I join those who have thanked the Officers of the House, the Clerks, the police, the Hansard writers and the Doorkeepers for ensuring that we had orderly debate at all times.

I take up the Minister’s remark by saying that we have shown what a Committee can do without knives if there is proper consultation about how the Bill should be handled in Committee. If that was followed by all members of Committees once the Programming Sub-Committee has met, knives would be used far less; and I believe that the quality of debate and the way in which the House deals with such important matters in Committee would be much more constructive. I have enjoyed it.

Finally, I thank my co-Chairman, Martin Caton, for the exemplary way in which he handled the duties with me of chairing a Committee considering such an important Bill. Before the Clerk intervenes to say that I have one further thing to do, I now put the question.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill, as amended, to be reported.

Committee rose at twelve minutes past Three o’clock.