CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

CABINET OFFICE – PRIVATE MEMBERS' BILLS – 3 December 2001

[Patrick McLoughlin: Will the Minister give way?  

Barbara Roche: Of course I shall give way to the Conservative Deputy Chief Whip. How wonderful to have an all-speaking, all-dancing Deputy Chief Whip!  

Mr McLoughlin: I am grateful for the compliment. Will the Minister now assure us that the Government will not block any private Members' Bills in future?  

Mrs Roche: We will conduct our legislative programme in the normal way. We will also ensure that we give private Members' legislation every consideration. It is very important that we do so.  

Dr Julian Lewis (New Forest, East) rose –   

Barbara. Roche: Another old university friend! How could I resist?]

Dr Lewis: Lest the Minister think the relationship too cosy, may I remind her that during the Government's first year in office I came second in the ballot for private Members' Bills, and introduced a Bill to improve conditions for people who suffer catastrophic mental breakdowns and need institutional care? The Government wasted five hours of precious parliamentary time talking the Bill out. Let us keep a sense of reality in regard to the Minister's claims for the Government's attitude.

[Mrs Roche rose – 

Mr Speaker: Order. I remind the House that we are not discussing private Members' Bills; we are discussing information. Perhaps we should return to the terms of the motion.  

Mrs Roche: Of course the hon. Gentleman's Bill was important, and I am sure that the Government listened to what he had to say, but it is also right for other legislation to be discussed properly.]