Clause 3 - Trial period and review

Daylight Saving Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 7th December 2011.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of William McCrea William McCrea Shadow Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow DUP Leader of the House of Commons

With this it will be convenient to discuss the following:

Government new clause 4—Power to advance time by one hour for trial period—

‘(1) The Secretary of State may by order make provision for advancing the time for general purposes in the United Kingdom by one hour.

(2) An order under subsection (1) is referred to in this Act as a “daylight saving order”.

(3) A daylight saving order may not be made unless a draft of the statutory instrument containing it—

(a) has been laid before Parliament during the period of 12 months beginning with the day on which the report is published, and

(b) has been approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.

(4) Before making a daylight saving order the Secretary of State

(a) must obtain the agreement of the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland, and

(b) must consult the Scottish Ministers and the Welsh Ministers.

(5) The power to make a daylight saving order does not include power to make provision for advancing time—

(a) for only part of the year, or

(b) for only part of the United Kingdom.

(6) A daylight saving order expires at the end of the trial period (see section [The trial period]).

(7) Sub section (6) is subject to any order under—

(a) section [Power to abandon trial] (order abandoning trial), or

(b) section [Power to advance time by one hour permanently] (order advancing time by one hour permanently).

(8) A daylight saving order—

(a) may amend a relevant enactment, and

(b) may make consequential, transitional, transitory or saving provision.’.

Amendment (a), in subsection (4)(a) leave out from ‘Northern Ireland’ to ‘and’ and insert

‘the Office of the First Minister of Scotland and Office of the First Minister of Wales.’.

Amendment (b), leave out subsection (5).

Government new clause 5—The trial period—

‘(1) In this Act “the trial period” means the period—

(a) beginning at the specified relevant time in the specified year, and

(b) ending at the same relevant time three years later.

(2) For the purposes of this Act the following are relevant times—

(a) one o’clock, Greenwich mean time, in the morning of the last Sunday in March;

(b) one o’clock, Greenwich mean time, in the morning of the last Sunday in October.

(3) In this section “specified” means specified in the daylight saving order.’.

Government new clause 6—Duty to monitor effect of order—

‘(1) The Secretary of State must monitor the effect of a daylight saving order throughout the period—

(a) beginning with the time at which the order is made, and

(b) ending with the time at which the Secretary of State complies with section [The end of the trial](1) (end of trial).

(2) The Secretary of State must notify each of the appropriate national authorities of any conclusions reached by the Secretary of State pursuant to subsection (1).

(3) The reference in subsection (1) to the effect of a daylight saving order includes any effect of the order having been made.’.

Amendment (a), in subsection (1) after ‘(1) The Secretary of State’, insert

‘, Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive’.

Amendment (b), in subsection (2) after ‘(2) The Secretary of State’, insert

‘, and the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive’.

Amendment (c), in subsection (2) leave out

‘notify each of the appropriate national authorities of’ and insert ‘meet and discuss’.

Government new clause 7—Power to revoke order—

‘(1) The Secretary of State may by order revoke a daylight saving order.

(2) No order under this section may be made after the day on which the trial period begins.

(3) Before making an order under this section the Secretary of State must consult each of the appropriate national authorities.

(4) An order under this section is subject to affirmative resolution procedure.’.

Government new clause 8—Power to increase length of trial period—

‘(1) The Secretary of State may by order amend section [The trial period](1)(b) (end of trial period) so as to substitute a later relevant time for that for the time being specified in that provision.

(2) No order under this section may be made—

(a) before the day on which the report is published, or

(b) once a daylight saving order has been made, after the day six months before that on which the trial period would otherwise end.

(3) Before making an order under this section the Secretary of State must consult each of the appropriate national authorities.

(4) An order under this section is subject to affirmative resolution procedure.’.

Amendment (a), in subsection (3) leave out ‘consult’ and insert ‘seek the agreement of’.

Government new clause 9—The end of the trial—

‘(1) The Secretary of State must, during the trial period, do one of the following—

(a) make an order under section [Power to abandon trial] (order abandoning trial);

(b) make an order under section [Power to advance time by one hour permanently] (order advancing time by one hour permanently);

(c) publish a notice that no order of the kind mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b) is to be made.

(2) Where the Secretary of State publishes a notice under subsection (1)(c), the Secretary of State may by order make consequential, transitional, transitory or saving provision (including provision amending a relevant enactment) in relation to the expiry of the daylight saving order.

(3) An order under subsection (2) is subject to negative resolution procedure.’.

Government new clause 10—Power to abandon trial—

‘(1) The Secretary of State may, after the trial period has begun, by order make provision for the order to expire at a relevant time that falls on a day before that on which the trial period ends.

(2) Before making an order under this section the Secretary of State must consult each of the appropriate national authorities.

(3) An order under this section may make consequential, transitional, transitory or saving provision (including provision amending a relevant enactment) in relation to the expiry of the daylight saving order.

(4) An order under this section is subject to affirmative resolution procedure.’.

Government new clause 11—Power to advance time by one hour permanently—

‘(1) The Secretary of State may, at any time during the trial period, by order make provision for the daylight saving order to have effect permanently.

(2) Before making an order under this section the Secretary of State—

(a) must obtain the agreement of the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland, and

(b) must consult the Scottish Ministers and the Welsh Ministers.

(3) An order under this section—

(a) may amend a relevant enactment, and

(b) may make consequential, transitional, transitory or saving provision.

(4) An order under this section is subject to affirmative resolution procedure.’.

Amendment (a), in subsection (2)(a)  leave out from

‘and deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland, and’ and insert

‘Office of the First Minister of Scotland and Office of the First Minister of Wales.’.

Government amendment 6, Title, line 1, leave out from ‘to’ to ‘and’ in line 4 and insert

‘prepare and publish a report on advancing the time for general purposes by one hour; to confer power on the Secretary of State to advance the time for general purposes by one hour for a trial period and then permanently;’.

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood Conservative, Bournemouth East

On a point of clarification rather than order, Dr McCrea, will the new clauses be debated later or after we have discussed each individual clause?

Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

Thank you, Dr McCrea. I am glad that you were reading out that grouping. Clause 3 concerns the trial period and review, and provides that if the independent commission judges that advancing time by one hour would be beneficial to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the Secretary of State must make an order to commence a three-year trial, bringing into effect the commission’s recommendations on advancing time for all or part of the year.

The clause also deals with arrangements for the end of the trial. It requires the Secretary of State to review the trial’s success at least six months before it is due to end. No later than three months before its end, he must make an order either for the trial’s provisions to be made permanent or for other permanent provisions relating to the advancing of time by one hour for all or part of the year; or he must make a statement that no draft order is necessary. Orders made under the clause are subject to affirmative procedure.

New clauses 4 to 11 will replace clause 3, and will provide a power to make a daylight saving order, which will implement a trial advancement of time by one hour throughout the year. In addition, they provide various powers associated with any such trial and its length. New clause 4, specifically, gives the Secretary of State an order-making power to advance time in the United Kingdom by one hour. Unlike in the existing clause, which provides for an automatic trial in particular circumstances, the Secretary of State will have discretion about whether to exercise the power. The new clause refers to such an order as a “daylight saving order.”

In the light of the Government’s policy that there must be consensus for any change, a daylight saving order cannot be made unless a Secretary of State has secured the agreement of the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland, and has consulted the Scottish and Welsh Ministers. That reflects the devolution position on time zones in that the subject is transferred in respect of Northern Ireland, but reserved in respect of Scotland and Wales.

Photo of Ian Murray Ian Murray Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills)

This is the crux of the amendments that we are about to discuss. Will the Minister confirm whether, if the daylight saving order were laid before both Houses and approved, the Scottish Parliament would have to pass a legislative consent motion? If so, would it essentially have a veto in all but name when its legislative process was run through?

Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

No, the Scottish Parliament would not have to pass such a motion. There would have to be clarity from Northern Ireland, as I have said, because the Secretary of State would have to secure the agreement of the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, but his duty in the Bill is to consult the devolved Administrations.

Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

We are trying, as near as we can, to reflect the constitutional settlement. I have said—I repeat to the hon. Gentleman to make sure it is clear—that the Government would not expect to carry out a trial or make any change if there were clear opposition from any part of the country. I could not be clearer. I am putting this on record for, I think, the third time during our proceedings, so that carries some weight. I should have thought that would be all the reassurance that the hon. Gentleman would need.

Photo of Angus MacNeil Angus MacNeil Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitutional Reform), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Scotland)

I hear the Minister’s words and I am sure that he is sincere, but sometimes ministerial sincerity can change. Indeed, something unfortunate might happen and the Minister might be moved or the Government might change, so it is better to take a belt and braces approach—and one that we can all understand, rather than a nod and a wink. Something fair, above board and clear should be written down on the table in black and white.

Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

A Minister of the Crown speaking on the record is more than a nod and a wink. Because we are trying to reflect fully the existing constitutional settlement as we see it, our approach is the right one. Yes, a daylight saving order must be agreed in Northern Ireland, because time is devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly. As the hon. Gentleman knows, time has not been devolved in Scotland or Wales. We believe, therefore, that consultation is the right way to reflect the current constitutional situation. I repeat that we would not expect to introduce a trial if there was clear opposition to it in any part of the United Kingdom.

Photo of Angus MacNeil Angus MacNeil Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitutional Reform), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Scotland) 3:45 pm, 7th December 2011

There is perhaps a way to relax me and make me less stressed and pressured. Would the Minister accept a vote in the Scottish Parliament, or indeed the Welsh Assembly, that might indicate the feeling of that Parliament, and would he take such a vote into consideration? Considering only x, y or z, as he loosely puts it, will not tie up the loose ends. As a Minister of the Crown, would such a vote in the Scottish Parliament offer the consideration for which he is looking? If the Scottish Parliament voted no, would he take that as a no?

Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

It is not for a Minister of the Crown in this Parliament to say what votes should or should not take place in the Scottish Parliament or the Welsh Assembly. I imagine—as a politician, I am sure the hon. Gentleman will accept this—that if the Scottish and Welsh Governments were consulted, they would wish to debate the matter to get the opinion of their Parliament  or Assembly. I am not saying the Government require that; it would be up to the Scottish and Welsh Governments. That seems to me the normal way of doing things. I cannot bind the Scottish and Welsh Governments, but I believe that a vote would make an awful lot of sense. I think that it would give greater legitimacy to whatever opinion the Scottish and Welsh Governments wished to give during the consultation, but it is not for me to say there must be a vote.

Photo of Angus MacNeil Angus MacNeil Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitutional Reform), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Scotland)

The operative word is “if”—if such an event were to happen, if there were such a vote and if that vote were to say no. If the vote were to say no, would that indicate to the Minister that there was no consensus, and, therefore, there would be no proceeding with this matter?

Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

I am being specific in what I say to the hon. Gentleman because I think they are words in which he can take a lot of comfort. If there was clear opposition from any part of the country, we would not expect to carry out a trial or make any change. The Bill states that we will consult the Scottish and Welsh Governments, and no doubt if their Parliament or Assembly tells them that the opinion of Scotland and Wales is against proceeding with a trial, that will be a clear indication to those Governments and, through them, to the Secretary of State. The hon. Gentleman does not have to worry on that point, but he obviously wants to worry me again.

Photo of Angus MacNeil Angus MacNeil Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitutional Reform), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Scotland)

Will the Minister take the final step and put my mind at rest? If there was a vote that said no, would that be the end of consensus?

Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

We are saying in the Bill that it is for the Scottish and Welsh Governments to communicate on that consultation. We cannot bind them on how they make their judgment. The hon. Gentleman is a politician, and he knows that votes in Parliaments and Assemblies are important to the Government. We take such votes seriously, of course—we are a democratic country.

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Labour, Exeter

Does the Minister accept that what the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar suggests is totally unconstitutional? He is asking the Minister to give a binding agreement that, were it in any other area of policy, would mean the Assemblies in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland would have a veto on reserved issues, which is completely unacceptable to the people of the United Kingdom as a whole.

Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

We are trying to reflect the current constitutional position, which should reassure the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar. It is unnecessary for the Scottish and Welsh Governments to be required to agree to a daylight saving order because they would be consulted. He should remember that in the money resolution debate the Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, my hon. Friend the Member for Hertford and Stortford (Mr Prisk), said that

“the Government would not expect to introduce a trial if there was clear opposition in any part of the UK.”—[Official Report, 22 November 2011; Vol. 536, c. 256.]

He used the words that I am using today.

Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

The Bill states that they have to be consulted. We have said as a matter of policy that we would not expect to introduce a trial if there was clear opposition in any part of the United Kingdom. That is about as clear as one can be on the issue, given the constitutional settlement.

Photo of Rebecca Harris Rebecca Harris Conservative, Castle Point

Is the Minister aware that the SNP website has a press release quoting something the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar said six weeks ago? He said:

“It would be unacceptable if any move on this was made by Westminster without consultation with the devolved administrations.”

The devolved Administrations will get the consultation he spoke in favour of only six weeks ago.

Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

It is interesting that that is on the SNP website. The SNP talks about consultation, and we want to work with the Scottish Government and SNP colleagues; we want to ensure that this is not a party issue. We are working cross-party in the coalition and in the House. We are trying to take the whole country with us, and that includes the parties in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. This should not be a party political question, and that was a clear issue for us when we were negotiating with my hon. Friend. With respect to her, the issues of consultation with Scotland and Wales, and of the vote in the Northern Ireland Assembly, were not in her original Bill, but the Government insisted on them. We did that for a reason: we think they are important, because we represent all this great country.

Photo of Angus MacNeil Angus MacNeil Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitutional Reform), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Scotland)

For the record, I have not introduced party aspects to this debate; I have introduced the Scottish Government, Welsh Assembly Government and Northern Ireland Assembly aspects. The Minister has said that he has gone as far as he can on the issue, but he could now make it clear—he has refused to do so on several occasions—that if any of those three Governments said no, that would mean there was no consensus. Given that the Prime Minister has said that we will not move without consensus, a no from one of those three Governments would be a clear demonstration of a lack of consensus. Surely the Minister would then have to say that there was no consensus.

Photo of William McCrea William McCrea Shadow Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow DUP Leader of the House of Commons

Order. The hon. Gentleman will understand that the Chair has been very lenient. He can ask the same question only so many times. The Minister has responded, whether the hon. Gentleman accepts that or not. We need to move on.

Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

Thank you for that ruling, Dr McCrea. I respect the hon. Gentleman’s views. I know he represents a particular viewpoint—that of not just his own party, but of members of other parties in Scotland, including my own. I was therefore keen to give him a chance to ask his questions. However, there is no other way I am going to answer them, so we should, as you have ruled, Dr McCrea, move on.

Photo of Ian Murray Ian Murray Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills)

I want to clarify the position on the legislative consent motion. If the research suggested a trial, and the trial suggested that we introduce the changes permanently, at what point would the Scottish Parliament have to look at a legislative consent motion? In the past, it has denied such a motion for various private Member’s Bills. There must be some directive somewhere in the Scottish Parliament to deal with the changes.

Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

Because time is not devolved to the Scottish Parliament, there is no need for it to make a legislative order. That is why the Scottish case is different from the Northern Irish case, where there will have to be a vote in the Assembly.

Photo of Angus MacNeil Angus MacNeil Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitutional Reform), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Scotland)

On a point of information, the hon. Member for Edinburgh South was against moving these powers to the Scottish Parliament, so I find it quite confusing that he is now looking for a legislative consent motion to facilitate the change.

Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

I am sure the hon. Gentlemen will continue that conversation in due course. However, let me make some progress.

The affirmative resolution procedure would apply to a draft daylight saving order. The power in it is time limited. A draft of the order must have been laid before Parliament within 12 months of the day on which the report is published. That means that Parliament will have to consider any decision post-report in a timely manner. However, the possibility of exercising the powers will not continue indefinitely, thus giving longer-term certainty.

New clause 5 deals with the length of the trial period and with when it may start and end. To minimise disruption and keep changes in line with the objective of the directive on summer time, it provides for any trial to commence at either one of the two current points in the year when the clocks change and to end three years later. That will mean that, if there were to be a trial, it would start either in one March by advancing the clocks by two hours, or in one October by not changing the clocks at the point when we would otherwise turn them back one hour.

The daylight saving order would also specify the clock change at which the trial would start. That is because the cost-benefit report will consider how much advance warning should be given of any change to allow people to make any necessary adjustments.

New clause 6 would impose a duty on the Secretary of State to monitor the effect of a daylight saving order from the point at which the order was made until the stage at which a final decision was taken on what the position would be at the end of the trial. That requirement covers monitoring the effects of the order prior to the trial—for example, the costs of preparing for change—as well as the impact of the change during the trial. The Secretary of State must notify the national authorities of the conclusions reached concerning the effects of the order.

Amendments have been tabled to new clause 6, which I want to resist, because it is unnecessary for the devolved Administrations to monitor separately the effect of a trial. The Secretary of State will do that for the whole  United Kingdom, which will be a more cost-efficient approach, as well as ensuring consistency in methodology. The amendments would impose unnecessary and inappropriate costs on the devolved Administrations and I urge the Committee to resist them. The Secretary of State will inform the Administrations of any conclusions reached, so that they can form their own views.

New clause 7 would provide a power to revoke a daylight saving order during the period between its making and the beginning of the trial. The Secretary of State must have consulted with the devolved Executives to make such an order, and the order itself, like a daylight saving order, would be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. There could be a significant gap between making a daylight saving order and a trial commencing, so as to give appropriate warning of the change. It is possible that intervening events might mean that a trial was no longer considered appropriate at the particular time, and this power would allow the daylight saving order to be revoked.

New clause 8 would provide an order-making power for the trial to be extended beyond the three years provided for in new clause 5. There are two reasons for having that power. The first relates to the advance warning that should be given for the arrangements at the end of the trial. It is not clear at this stage how much warning would be appropriate for changes in time. That will be considered further in the report.

The length of advance warning impacts upon the stage during the trial at which the decision on the permanent arrangements must be taken. If the period of warning is significant, there might not be sufficient time prior to then properly to monitor the impact of the change. That is also why the power to amend the length of the trial is exercisable from the report’s publication date, because, at that stage, it may be apparent that longer would be required for the trial to be meaningful.

The second reason is to cater for the possibility of unexpected events, which might make part of the period of trial unreliable for the purposes of measuring impact. An extension to the trial would be implemented by way of an order amending the provision in new clause 5 providing for the trial to be three years. Like the power to revoke a daylight saving order and the power to abandon the trial early, which I will come to shortly, the power to extend would be exercisable only after having consulted the devolved Executives and would be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. The order could not be made during the last six months of the trial, as that would be insufficient advance warning of an extension.

A further amendment on that matter has been tabled by SNP Members. As I have said, the devolved Executives would be consulted upon any proposal to extend the trial period and their views would be fully taken into account. The Secretary of State will monitor the impact of the trial and is in a better position to take an overview for the whole United Kingdom. Also, the power to increase the length of the trial is available from the date of the report. Therefore, if the report indicated that a longer trial was necessary, that power could be exercised to increase the length of the trial before the devolved Executives gave their view on whether to have a trial. That means that they would know, when being  consulted, about a trial’s expected length at that stage, to ensure that they were fully informed of what was going to be proposed.

New clause 9 sets out the ways the trial can end and marks the point at which the requirement to monitor would cease. It would also give an order-making power to make any consequential, transitional, transitory or saving provision in relation to the expiry of the daylight saving order. Essentially, this provision would allow the legislative provisions to be tidied up at the end of the trial. The order would be subject to the negative resolution procedure.

New clause 10 would provide an order-making power to abandon the trial before it would otherwise end. The power would rest with the Secretary of State, but he would be obliged to consult the devolved Executives before making any order and, as with a daylight saving order, any such order would be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. Such a power is desirable for a situation in which it becomes apparent early on in the trial that it has serious detrimental consequences, such that it was no longer considered appropriate for the trial to run its course.

New clause 11 would give powers to make provision for the daylight saving order to have permanent effect. The preconditions mirror those for making the order, given the policy that there should be consensus throughout the UK for any change to the time arrangements. The agreement of the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland would be required, and the Scottish and Welsh Ministers would have to have been consulted. The amendments, which appear to be aimed at requiring the agreement of the Welsh and Scottish Executives, are unnecessary because, as with a trial, the Government would not expect to make a trial permanent if there were clear opposition in any part of the UK. I hope I have reassured the Committee in that if, at that point, there were any opposition to making a trial permanent, they would be consulted and their views taken into account.

Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

I am afraid that that is a similar point to the one we engaged in at Question Time earlier, in the House. In many ways, I reiterate all the answers I gave before. When we are at the stage that the report has been written and the trial period has gone through, the question after a positive report and trial period will be whether we should make the arrangement permanent. Even at that stage, we are saying as a Government that we will consult and, were there any opposition in any part of the country, we would not proceed. That is why the hon. Gentleman can be reassured and comforted, because this is a belt-and-braces approach. While it fully reflects the existing constitutional settlement in respect of our analysis, it also ensures that we are listening to all parts of the United Kingdom, as is our duty.

Having gone through the Government amendments in the group, including new clauses 4 to 11, at some laborious length, I hope that the Committee feels fully informed about our proposals, which I heartily recommend.

Photo of Angus MacNeil Angus MacNeil Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitutional Reform), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Scotland)

I note that the Minister said “any opposition”, but I am not exactly sure what that means. Would Carloway football club in the west of Lewis constitute “any opposition”? I make an exaggerated or illustrative point perhaps, but that would be “opposition”, so would it have the right to veto and say no?

Photo of Stephen Phillips Stephen Phillips Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham

I want to express some sympathy with the hon. Gentleman—welcome or unwelcome—on the point on which he pressed the Minister repeatedly. Could the Government go ahead despite negative resolutions in the Scottish Parliament or the Welsh Assembly? The constitutional answer is the answer that the Minister gave: since time is not a devolved issue, legally at least, the Government cannot give those assurances, which is why the Minister has been reluctant to do so. However, he has gone as far as he can, in my judgment.

Photo of Angus MacNeil Angus MacNeil Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Constitutional Reform), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Scotland)

The hon. and learned Gentleman is right constitutionally and legally, but the point is political. When the Minister talks of any opposition, an elected Parliament saying no would be opposition, and therefore consensus would be over.

Photo of Stephen Phillips Stephen Phillips Conservative, Sleaford and North Hykeham

The hon. Gentleman anticipates to some extent what I was going to say to the Committee. Not only has the Minister gone as far as he can legally, but politically he has gone much further, because what he has essentially said is that if any part of the United Kingdom is not in favour of a trial going forward, the trial will not go forward. Can he bind the Government to not going forward if there were negative resolutions in the either the Scottish Parliament or the Welsh Assembly? The answer is no. Has he been entirely consistent with the assurances that the Prime Minister has given in the House itself? Yes, he has. For that reason, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will be satisfied and that he will neither push his amendment to the vote nor, indeed, oppose the amendments that the Government and my hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point are proposing.

Photo of Edward Davey Edward Davey The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

I am grateful to my hon. and learned Friend, who has helped me no end because I do not have to repeat yet again everything I have already said. He raises an important matter in the sense that the legal point is, in a way, different from the political. We have a coalition Government of two parties making that commitment and, although I would not wish to put words in the mouth of the hon. Member for Edinburgh South, who represents the Labour party, the fact that there is no opposition to our approach suggests commitment from the official Opposition. That ought to give political comfort to other parties that there is a clear political desire to ensure that we take the whole United Kingdom with us.

I am advised that I should clarify a point that I made. I said that the change of the clocks would be on 1 March. That is not quite true. The clocks would change during the trial at 1 o’clock GMT in the morning of the last Sunday in March or October. I hope that that is now clear and that people are reassured.

In light of a positive report, any opposition must be clear and reasoned. The Secretary of State will take a view of representations received and the views of the  Executives would carry great weight. It is not the case, as the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar was tempting me to say, that a football team on the west coast of Scotland would somehow be the type of opposition that the Secretary of State took into account. Clearly, those in the Executives—the elected Governments of Scotland and of Wales—are the people that the United Kingdom Government should listen to. I hope that that reassures him.

After the report is published, if it shows that the proposal is a positive thing for all parts of the United Kingdom, many people hope that those who have doubts about whether the trial is a good thing will be persuaded otherwise. I do not want to prejudge the report or how people receive it, but I hope that, in responding to this large group of amendments, people are reassured and we can move on.

Photo of William McCrea William McCrea Shadow Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow DUP Leader of the House of Commons

Nor should we prejudge the football team that the hon. Member for Na h-Eileanan an Iar talked about.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 3 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.