(Except clauses Nos. 9 to 18; any new clauses or new schedules relating to part 2 or part 3 of the Bill; any new clauses or new schedules relating to the procedure to be followed at an election on the death of a candidate; and any new clauses or new schedules relating to candidates standing in more than one constituency at an election.)

Electoral Administration Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 10:30 am ar 15 Tachwedd 2005.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Edward O'Hara Edward O'Hara Llafur, Knowsley South 10:30, 15 Tachwedd 2005

Order. I remind the Committee that there is a money resolution in connection with the Bill, copies of which are in the Room. I also remind Members that adequate notice of proposed amendments should be given, and that, as is the normal convention, my co-Chairman and I will not, as a general rule, call starred amendments. Will Members please ensure that pagers and mobile phones are either turned off or in silent mode during Committee sittings?

Our first business is to consider the programme motion, debate on which may last for up to half an hour.

Photo of Harriet Harman Harriet Harman Minister of State (Department of Constitutional Affairs), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

I beg to move,

That—

(1) during the proceedings on the Electoral Administration Bill, in addition to its first meeting at 10.30 am on Tuesday 15th November, the Standing Committee shall meet at:

(a) 4.00 p.m on Tuesday 15th November,

(b) 9.00 am and 1.00 pm on Thursday 17th November,

(c) 10.30 am and 4.00 pm on Tuesday 22nd November,

(d) 9.00 am and 1.00 p.m on Thursday 24th November;

(2) the Bill be considered in the following order, namely, Clauses 1 to 8, Clauses 19 to 66, Schedules 1 and 2, Clauses 67 to 71, new Clauses, new Schedules, remaining proceedings on the Bill;

(3) proceedings on the Bill shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at 4.00 p.m on Thursday 24th November.

I welcome you to the Chair, Mr. O'Hara. Issues of electoral administration are close to all our hearts. I know that barely a waking moment goes by in which you do not think about achieving a complete and accurate register in Knowsley. There are keen volunteers on both sides of the Committee who are well experienced in these matters and who will bring to bear their experience of electoral administration in their constituencies.

On Second Reading, we said—we shall keep true to it—that we in the Department of Constitutional Affairs are simply custodians of this issue for the House; we do not regard it as a totally owned issue. We will be open-minded. If Back Benchers from either side of the Committee table amendments that make sense and support them with strong arguments, we will accept them. We will listen to the argument and make our case.  

Photo of Eleanor Laing Eleanor Laing Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland

I, too, welcome you to the Chair, Mr. O'Hara. I am sure that the Committee will be a constructive one. We had a good debate on Second Reading. There are certain matters upon which the Opposition disagree with the Government, but they are not enormous. I look forward to dealing with those matters in Committee, and I hope that the Minister and her colleagues will listen to arguments from both sides, as she kindly and courteously said that they would. Likewise, I hope that we will achieve a degree of consensus by the end of the Committee stage, because as the Minister said, the general purport of the Bill is good and necessary, and close to all our hearts. I support the resolution of the Programming Sub-Committee.

Photo of David Heath David Heath Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, Shadow Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

I, too, welcome you to the Chair, Mr. O'Hara. I have served under your chairmanship on long and complex Bills, but I hope that this Committee will be a shorter affair. I see no reason why the Committee should spend a great deal of time on its deliberations, although there are important matters to consider. We must deal with those expeditiously—thoroughly, but without unnecessarily prolonging the time that we spend here. I am happy with the programme motion and look forward to consideration of the many important amendments before the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Photo of Edward O'Hara Edward O'Hara Llafur, Knowsley South

Before we commence our consideration of the Bill, I remind Members that parts 2 and 3 have already been considered by a Committee of the whole House, and that this Committee may not rehearse matters that have been discussed in the Chamber. I shall be vigilant, as will my co-Chairman, to ensure that debate does not stray into those areas.