Political Parties and Elections Bill

– in a Public Bill Committee at on 11 November 2008.

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[Sir Nicholas Winterton in the Chair]

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton Conservative, Macclesfield 10:30, 11 November 2008

As I normally do, I welcome hon. Members to the Committee, which is considering the Political Parties and Elections Bill. This is the first time that we have sat in the traditional situation of a Public Bill Committee, having previously acted as a Select Committee to take evidence from distinguished witnesses.

Before we begin consideration of the Bill, I have a few preliminary announcements to make. I am always concerned about the comfort of hon. Members. Although conditions might not be quite so typical of this time of year, hon. Members may take off their jackets during Committee sittings, if they so wish. Will all members of the Committee ensure that electronic gadgets, such as mobile phones and pagers, are turned off or switched to silent mode during our proceedings?

I also wish to inform the Committee that, in accordance with Mr. Speaker’s statement last Wednesday on arrangements for today, 11 November, I shall interrupt proceedings at precisely 11 o’clock and invite hon. Members to observe two minutes’ silence.

Several amendments were signed by hon. Members last night, making some of them selectable today. A revised selection list is available in the room, and it sets out the list of amendments that have been selected. Members of the Committee signed some of those amendments late last night, so that list is the one that should be used.

We shall now proceed with clause by clause scrutiny of the Bill. In accordance with the programme motion agreed by the Committee, we will deal first with clause 4 and amendment No. 16, tabled by the hon. Member for Epping Forest, who I am delighted to call to speak.