Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill

– in a Public Bill Committee at on 25 April 2006.

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[David Taylorin the Chair]

Photo of David Taylor David Taylor Labour, North West Leicestershire 10:30, 25 April 2006

I remind the Committee that there is a money resolution in connection with the Bill and copies are available in the room. I also remind hon. Members that adequate notice should be given of amendments. As a general rule, my co-Chairman and I do not intend to called starred amendments. In addition, I ask hon. Members please to ensure that mobile phones, pagers and so on are turned off or on silent mode during Committee sittings. Finally, I am content on this occasion for hon. Members to remove their jackets if they so wish. We come now to the programme motion, on which debate may continue for up to half an hour.

Photo of David Hanson David Hanson The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office

I beg to move,

That the order in which proceedings in Standing Committee on the Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill are to be taken shall be Clauses 8 and 9, new Clauses relating to Part 2, new Schedules relating to Part 2, Clauses 13 to 17, Schedule 1, Clause 18, new Clauses relating to Part 4, new Schedules relating to Part 4, Clauses 23 to 27, Schedule 3, Clauses 28 to 31, Schedules 4 and 5, Clauses 32 to 34, remaining proceedings on the Bill.

I welcome you, Mr. Taylor, and your co-Chairman, Mr. Atkinson, to the Committee. I have served under you on several occasions and I know that you will discharge your duty fairly and efficiently.

The debate in the Programming Sub-Committee took less than 30 seconds, so I assume that there is no opposition from the Official Opposition or others to the programme motion and I hope that the Committee will support it. It gives us scope for two days of consideration, although I hope that we can finish earlier.

Photo of Laurence Robertson Laurence Robertson Shadow Minister (Northern Ireland)

I join the Minister in welcoming you to the Committee, Mr. Taylor. I have also had the pleasure of serving under you and I am sure that this, too, will be a pleasurable experience.

The Minister is right in assuming that we have no objection to the programme motion, but I should make just one point, which I have raised before in Committee and in the House. We have rather a lot of Northern Ireland business to consider at the moment. We were due to sit today and on Thursday, but the introduction of another Bill means that we will now not sit on Thursday. In addition, we had a rather ridiculous  situation on Tuesday or Wednesday last week, when an important statement was made in the Chamber at the same time as an important statutory instrument Committee was beginning—the two items of business overlapped, even though both were extremely important.

I therefore ask the Government to be a little sympathetic to Opposition parties, which do not have as many Front Benchers and officials as the Government. I also ask them to think about their timetabled legislation. The Bill deals with important issues, such as devolving policing and justice matters to the Assembly. The other Bill, which will be introduced tomorrow, deals with the important issue of setting up the Assembly. Such issues are not trivial, and I ask the Government to give a little more thought to the timetabling of Northern Ireland business. Having said that, I have no objection to the programme motion.

Question put and agreed to.