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Before we begin, I have a few preliminary announcements. Hon. Members may take off their jackets if they so please. Will hon. Members please ensure that their mobile phones, pagers and so on are off or switched to silent? The Committee will first be asked to consider the programme motion, copies of which are available in the Committee Room. The debate on the programme motion is limited to half an hour.
I beg to move,
(1) the Committee shall (in addition to its first meeting at 8.55 am on Tuesday 11 December) meet
(a) at 2.00 pm on Tuesday 11 December;
(b) at 11.30 am and 2.00 pm on Thursday 13 December;
(c) at 8.55 am and 2.00 pm on Tuesday 18 December;
(2) the proceedings shall be taken in the following order: Clause 1; Schedule 1; Clauses 2 to 4; Schedule 2; Clauses 5 to 9; Schedule 3; Clauses 10 to 26; new Clauses; new Schedules; remaining proceedings on the Bill;
(3) the proceedings shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at 6.00 pm on Tuesday 18 December.
I thank the Minister for giving way so early. She will know that the title of the Bill is the Groceries Code Adjudicator Bill, which is shortened to the groceries Bill. Many hon. Members have approached me to say that that sounds silly, so may I offer an alternative name? As it is a regulatory Bill, could it be called “Off-trolley”?
I welcome the hon. Gentleman’s suggestion, and take it in the spirit in which it is offered.
I am delighted, Mr Williams, to serve under your chairmanship today and for the rest of the Committee’s proceedings. I am sure that they will be enjoyable. I apologise for having a horrible cold; I fear that other hon. Members, being trapped in a room with me, may contract it, so the sooner we conclude our proceedings, the less likely it is that they will have a grumpy Christmas.
The programme motion is appropriate. We want to ensure proper scrutiny of the Bill, and I hope that the motion will be agreed and that we can proceed to discussing the Bill.
It is a great pleasure, Mr Williams, to serve under your chairmanship for the first time, and I welcome you to the Chair. I have no problems with the programme motion, but Opposition Members are already disappointed, before we even hit 9 o’clock, to find that we are not sitting on the Tuesday following 18 December. Given the amount of groceries that are purchased at this time of year, it would have been great to sit then, but I will not press the matter to a Division.
Before we begin our scrutiny of the Bill, a brief explanation may be useful to hon. Members who are unfamiliar with Public Bill Committees. The selection list for today’s sitting is available in the Committee Room, and shows the amendments selected for debate, and those that have been grouped together for debate. Amendments grouped together are generally on the same or similar issue; so far all amendments have been selected. The hon. Member who moves the amendment makes an opening speech, and proposes the amendment. Other hon. Members may then speak to the amendments in that group. When all hon. Members have spoken, and the Minister has replied, if appropriate, I will again call the hon. Member who moved the amendment. It will be useful if hon. Members indicate whether they wish to withdraw an amendment before the Committee or to seek a decision. The same applies to the amendments in the group.
Hon. Members should note that amendments are voted on in the order they come in the Bill, although they may have been debated in an earlier group. Amendments that have been debated are called formally. As a rule, my fellow Chair and I do not intend to call starred amendments that have not been tabled with adequate notice. The required notice in Public Bill Committees is three working days, so amendments should be tabled by the rise of the House on Monday for consideration on Thursday, and by the rise of the House on Thursday, for consideration on Tuesday. The House is expected to rise at 5.30 pm on Thursdays.
Finally, there is an error on the amendment paper. The amendments to schedule 1 have been incorrectly marshalled in the amendment paper, so hon. Members should consult the end of the amendment paper for amendments 1, 62, 32, 33 and 34. I hope that that explanation is useful.