Debates between Christopher Chope and Lindsay Hoyle

There have been 12 exchanges between Christopher Chope and Lindsay Hoyle

1 Wed 13th January 2021 Sittings in Westminster Hall (Suspension) (No. 2)
Leader of the House
9 interactions (1,044 words)
2 Tue 1st December 2020 Points of Order 3 interactions (237 words)
3 Tue 17th November 2020 Points of Order 3 interactions (468 words)
4 Fri 25th September 2020 Forensic Science Regulator and Biometrics Strategy Bill
Home Office
2 interactions (96 words)
5 Tue 15th September 2020 Point of Order 2 interactions (200 words)
6 Fri 11th September 2020 Speaker’s Statement 2 interactions (336 words)
7 Tue 19th May 2020 Coronavirus and Care Homes
Department of Health and Social Care
2 interactions (63 words)
8 Fri 15th June 2018 Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill
Department of Health and Social Care
7 interactions (788 words)
9 Mon 21st May 2018 Health and Social Care (National Data Guardian) Bill (Money)
Department of Health and Social Care
2 interactions (74 words)
10 Wed 28th March 2018 Local Government Funding
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
2 interactions (64 words)
11 Wed 28th February 2018 Middle Level Bill
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
15 interactions (1,938 words)
12 Fri 2nd February 2018 Licensing of Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (Safeguarding and Road Safety) Bill 3 interactions (884 words)

Sittings in Westminster Hall (Suspension) (No. 2)

Debate between Christopher Chope and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 13th January 2021

(1 week, 4 days ago)

Commons Chamber

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Leader of the House
Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con)
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I beg to move amendment (a), in line 3, leave out from “until” to end and insert “Monday 22 February”.

May I first thank you, Mr Speaker, for selecting the two amendments in my name and those of my right hon. and hon. Friends, and for facilitating this debate? It is a pity, in my view, that this debate was not volunteered by the Government and that it had to be forced on them by us objecting to the motions that were put down on the Order Paper for yesterday. One consequence of that is that at least we were able to have debates in Westminster Hall today, which otherwise would have been curtailed by the Government.

This is an important issue because we are talking principally about Back-Bench scrutiny. The Leader of the House, in his opening remarks, which I thought were very reasonable, said that he recognises the importance of Back-Bench scrutiny. What we have on the Order Paper at the moment is a proposal that will remove 21 hours a week of scrutiny of the Government—16 hours in Westminster Hall and five hours in private Members’ Bills each week. My right hon. Friend is reluctant to do that and he has said that he will come back to the House as soon as he can to bring forward alternative proposals. What I would like him to do tonight is to guarantee that the Standing Order that requires that there should be 13 sitting Fridays where private Members’ business takes precedence will be complied with in any event in this Session, and that if it cannot be complied with in this Session, the Government will honour the spirit of the Standing Order and allow for the carry-over of those Bills that are set down for days that are not able to be used.

If my right hon. Friend gives me that guarantee, in a sense, it will negate the need for amendment (a) to the second motion, because that amendment is designed to ensure that we can carry on with private Members’ Bills between the period after half-term and the end of April, and it is modelled on the previous motions brought forward by him, most recently on 30 December, when he arranged for the Friday sitting scheduled for 8 January to be moved to 15 January. That system was working perfectly all right and my question is, why, in one week, has it not been possible to replicate the same motions that were put forward previously?

The Prime Minister said today that he will be reviewing, for example, what happens in our schools after half-term. Surely it is appropriate that we should, in any event, have a guarantee that these issues will be revisited by the Leader of the House after half-term. We are talking about no fewer than 151 private Members’ Bills. I have received stick from the Government and colleagues in the past for having insisted that individual private Members’ Bills are debated, but never did I think I would be in the Chamber when the Government put down on the Order Paper a proposal that has the effect for the time being —unless it is ever amended—of depriving 151 private Members’ Bills of any opportunity to be heard and discussed in this Chamber.

I wait to hear from my right hon. Friend—I am happy for him to intervene to give me this guarantee, because I am concerned that we will get to the end of this debate and there will not be an opportunity for him to respond, and this question will go unanswered. I hope that it will not.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I might be able to help to reassure the hon. Gentleman on that, because I will be bringing the Leader of the House in at 7.50 pm, so whoever may be speaking I would expect to sit down. Let us go to the Chair of the Petitions Committee, Catherine McKinnell.

Break in Debate

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I call Sir Christopher Chope to move his amendment (a) to motion 4.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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In the light of this debate, I am going to put my trust in the Leader of the House; if that trust is not well founded, I will behave like the late Sir Alan Herbert. Having said that, I will not move my amendment.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I think we will leave it that the amendment will not be moved.

Question put and agreed to.

Ordered,

That, notwithstanding Standing Order No. 10 (Sittings in Westminster Hall) and the order of this House on 23 September 2020, there shall be no sittings in Westminster Hall with effect from Thursday 14 January until the House otherwise orders.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We now come to motion 5. Sir Christopher, I take it that you will not move your amendment (a), so I will put the Question, with your agreement.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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indicated assent.

Business of the House (Private Members’ Bills) (No. 9)

Ordered,

That the Order of the House of 16 January 2020 (Business of the House (Private Members’ Bills)), as amended by the Orders of the House of 25 March, 22 April, 12 May, 10 June, 1 July, 3 November and 30 December 2020, is further amended as follows:

leave out “15 January 2021, 22 January 2021, 29 January 2021, 5 February 2021, 26 February 2021, 5 March 2021, 12 March 2021 and 26 March 2021”.—(Mr Rees-Mogg.)

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Can I just say to everyone that the Commission of this House takes seriously its role as an employer and its duty of care to all who work here? At its most recent meeting, as has been the case many times before, we have been guided by Public Health England’s advice. We want to do everything in our power to make our workplace as safe as possible for both Members and staff alike, even if at times that means we have to put some limits on our activities, which goes against all our instincts as parliamentarians.

I am thinking of the tragic loss of one of those people who serve this House, so at this time my thoughts are with their family and their colleagues. All I can say is that it is not a great time for this country—it is a sad time—and as soon as we can, I want this House back to normal. That is an assurance from myself, as well as from the Leader of the House.

Points of Order

Debate between Christopher Chope and Lindsay Hoyle
Tuesday 1st December 2020

(1 month, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber

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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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Order. I am sorry, but this is not a point of order for me; it is a continuation of the debate. I cannot take it as a point of order.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con)
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On a point of order, Mr Speaker. You will recall that on 19 November you were kind enough to grant me an urgent question on the performance of the Department of Health and Social Care in answering written questions. The Minister, in responding, said:

“We have instituted a parliamentary questions performance recovery plan”.—[Official Report, 19 November 2020; Vol. 684, c. 461.]

I then put down a question asking for that plan to be put in the House of Commons Library, so that we could all see it. Late last night, I received a reply saying that it was not possible to answer that question yet. Surely this now means that the whole issue of stonewalling has become farcical, particularly when we take into account that a lot of the other outstanding questions are highly relevant to the debate we will be having this afternoon.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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I have a lot of sympathy with Members. All Members are answerable to their constituents, and if they cannot get answers their constituents are not getting the service that should be provided. I do not think that that was a satisfactory answer, and the hon. Gentleman will no doubt wish to put in for another urgent question if the situation does not improve later today.

Points of Order

Debate between Christopher Chope and Lindsay Hoyle
Tuesday 17th November 2020

(2 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber

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Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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As I know the hon. Member will expect me to say, that is not a point of order, but of course it is important that she has raised the issue. I hope that the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs and the Ministers who now have that responsibility, have been listening to what she said. If there is going to be a policy change, I would expect the House—not the media—to hear it first, as we keep emphasising. It is media speculation at this time. The hon. Member has some good avenues through which to pursue the matter; some named day questions would be a good start. However, I am sure that it is only media speculation. Surely a Government would not use this House as a secondary vehicle, when it should be the primary one.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con)
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17 Nov 2020, 12:05 a.m.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Following on from your reference to named day questions, may I ask what can be done to ensure that we get timely responses to those questions? I have 12 outstanding named day questions to the Department of Health and Social Care, one of which is over six months late. Others are over a month late, including questions the answers to which I think might be of interest to the Prime Minister—for example, about policy relating to those who are immune through antibodies. I have also raised one matter not just as a named day question, but twice during debates on the Floor of the House, when I have asked the Department, and the Secretary of State in particular, for the evidence in support of the assertion made to the House on 1 October that

“hundreds of thousands of deaths…would follow”

if the Government

“just let the virus rip”.—[Official Report, 1 October 2020; Vol. 681, c. 503.]

Where is the answer to the very reasonable question that I submitted?

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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17 Nov 2020, 12:05 a.m.

I know that the hon. Gentleman—as a person of long standing in this House, and great knowledge —knows that there are other avenues to pursue. Let me say once again that it is totally unacceptable for Members of Parliament not to get responses within the named time. The Procedure Committee will be listening to what we have already said, and I know that the Leader of the House is very concerned. The title is “named day questions”, and those questions should therefore be answered as such. It is completely unacceptable for questions not to be answered after six months. I am tempted to say that if there were an urgent question to be asked on the subject of named day questions, one could be tempted.

In order to allow the safe exit of hon. Members participating in this item of business and the safe arrival of those participating in the next, I am suspending the House for three minutes.

Forensic Science Regulator and Biometrics Strategy Bill

(2nd reading: House of Commons)
(2nd reading: House of Commons)
Debate between Christopher Chope and Lindsay Hoyle
Friday 25th September 2020

(4 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Home Office
Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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25 Sep 2020, midnight

Just to say the hon. Gentleman’s calling is Friday.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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25 Sep 2020, 12:01 a.m.

I am very grateful to my hon. Friend, and I look forward to hearing the outcome of his further enquiries. His strategy seems to be to supress my scepticism by using charm and flattery, which I am sure are important weapons in his armoury.

I am conscious that lots of people want to participate in this debate. I hope we will be able to get on to some of the later debates on the Order Paper, so having expressed some of my scepticism, I will now sit down.

Point of Order

Debate between Christopher Chope and Lindsay Hoyle
Tuesday 15th September 2020

(4 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber

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Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con)
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On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can you advise me how I can ensure that the record is corrected in relation to Division No. 94 yesterday? I spoke in support of the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill on Second Reading and I voted on all three occasions, but one of my votes has not been recorded. I suspect that the circumstances relate to the fact that there was a Government Whip there who said he could not see whether my vote had been properly recorded, but he did not give me any advice as to what would happen if there was a problem. I falsely, and quite wrongly, relied upon the Whips, and I hope that you will remind hon. Members that there is no point in relying on the Whips in the Division Lobbies.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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The hon. Gentleman has now put that point on the record and it will be investigated. All the Whips Office are now being sent to Specsavers to have their eyes tested.

In order to allow the safe exit of hon. Members participating in this item of business and the safe arrival of those participating in the next, I am suspending the House for three minutes.

Speaker’s Statement

Debate between Christopher Chope and Lindsay Hoyle
Friday 11th September 2020

(4 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber

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Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con)
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On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have been looking at today’s Order Paper and particularly at the remaining orders, where I had expected to see the statutory instrument that the Government must lay for the draconian new rules they are bringing in on Monday to be lawful. It does not appear to have been laid, despite the Prime Minister making an announcement about it on Wednesday and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care having made a statement yesterday. I am very concerned about the lack of opportunity for the public to see the text of these new regulations and about the Government’s continuing reluctance to give any opportunity to Members to debate this. Yesterday, my right hon. Friend the Member for New Forest West (Sir Desmond Swayne) asked when we could have a debate on it, and he was told that he could apply for a Backbench Business debate. That hardly fits in with the sense of urgency about all this. When my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale West (Sir Graham Brady) then raised the matter with the Secretary of State yesterday, he was told that the Secretary of State would take it away and think about it. That is not satisfactory, as we are talking about the most draconian introduction of new restrictions on our liberty, with criminal sanctions. We need to be aware of what is happening and given the opportunity to debate it.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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May I say that I share your disappointment? I think that we should all be informed and the country should also know what is going on. The laying of this instrument is a matter for the Government, but I would say that you know and I know that other avenues could be taken on Monday to tickle this little item out, if required. So I will leave it with you to ponder what you want to do next. The Clerk has made a note, and we will come back with further information.

Coronavirus and Care Homes

Debate between Christopher Chope and Lindsay Hoyle
Tuesday 19th May 2020

(8 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department of Health and Social Care
Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Speaker
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We now go to birthday boy Sir Christopher Chope.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con) [V]
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Will my right hon. Friend pay tribute to the owners and managers of care homes who put the safety of their residents first and refused to admit any of the 15,000 hospital patients who had been exposed to covid-19, whom the Government were forcing to be discharged from hospitals at the end of March?

Mental Health Units (Use of Force) Bill

(Report stage: House of Commons)
Debate between Christopher Chope and Lindsay Hoyle
Friday 15th June 2018

(2 years, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department of Health and Social Care
Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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Some people looking at today’s proceedings may say that my hon. Friend has been speaking for a long time, but we need to remember that when Bills are considered, the amendments are often grouped so that we do not consider all amendments in one discussion. Today, we are considering all the amendments to the Bill in one group, which I think explains why he has spoken for a bit longer than he might sometimes do.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Sir Lindsay Hoyle)
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15 Jun 2018, 12:30 p.m.

Order. May I just say that we do not need to be reminded of how long the hon. Member for Shipley (Philip Davies) has spoken? All that does is use up precious time, and I know you would not want to do that, Sir Christopher.

Break in Debate

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Sir Lindsay Hoyle)
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15 Jun 2018, 1:29 p.m.

If it goes wrong, it is obviously going to come back on me. In the end the right hon. Gentleman must make the decision, but overall I would say yes; my view is that the actions he mentioned would lead to more time for a better debate.

If there are no further points of order, I call Sir Christopher Chope to speak—briefly, I presume, because I know that he wants to get on with the amendments.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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15 Jun 2018, 1:29 p.m.

There is only a bare hour left, Mr Deputy Speaker.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker
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15 Jun 2018, 1:29 p.m.

Twenty-five minutes will do you, then. Come on, Sir Christopher!

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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15 Jun 2018, 1:29 p.m.

It is a pleasure to follow the Opposition spokesman. He was right to pay tribute to the work of the hon. Member for Croydon North (Mr Reed), because this is a really good example of how somebody who is successful in the private Members’ ballot can bring forward a Bill that is to the benefit of their constituents and arises from a constituency case. The right hon. Member for North Norfolk (Norman Lamb) put the issue in context by saying that in the last year for which figures are available, more than 3,500 patients and more than 2,500 staff were injured in mental health units. It is therefore an issue of quite considerable significance.

I intervened on the Minister when she was dealing with new clause 1, and I want to say a little more about timescales for the independent investigation of deaths. As I said, I have a constituency case in which the coroner ordered an investigation that went out to an independent forensic person, who then became ill and has not been able to complete her work. It has not been possible, for all sorts of reasons that I cannot really fathom, to get anybody else to take over the responsibility for that work, with the result that my constituents—and, indeed, other families in Dorset—are waiting for results of post-mortems in respect of loved ones’ deaths many, many months ago. That is intolerable.

I therefore tabled some questions to the Ministry of Justice. In fact, they were among the last questions answered there by my hon. Friend the Member for Bracknell (Dr Lee). He said that there was a provision in the Coroners (Investigations) Regulations 2013 that reports must be made as soon as practicable after the examination, but there is no absolute time limit. He also said that he would raise the question of timeliness with the Department of Health and Social Care and write to me. I hope that that question of timeliness will be on the Minister’s desk soon and that she will then also be able to write to me to explain what could be done to ensure that there is a finite period for these very sensitive post-mortems, and the investigations that flow from them, to be carried out. It would be very useful if we can achieve some progress on that.

The hon. Member for Croydon North says at paragraph (5) of his new clause:

“A person appointed under this section must provide a report within three months of that appointment.”

That is a clear time limit. If the Minister thinks that that is reasonable, then there is no reason why it should not be applied more widely. That could certainly address the problem that I have identified.

I now turn to my amendments. I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Minister for responding, in anticipation, to some of them. Amendment 86 is designed to extend the operation of the Bill to all mental health units in England and Wales, not just to those that in national health service hospitals or those where treatment is provided, or is intended to be provided, for the purposes of the NHS. I still do not understand this: my hon. Friend seems to be saying that she would like to extend these provisions to the independent sector—to all mental health units—but is inhibited in being able to do so because of the constraints of the need to consult on the legislation. Is that correct?

Health and Social Care (National Data Guardian) Bill (Money)

(Money resolution: House of Commons)
Debate between Christopher Chope and Lindsay Hoyle
Monday 21st May 2018

(2 years, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department of Health and Social Care
Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

21 May 2018, 9:51 p.m.

We have just allowed a money resolution to go through on the nod in relation to the Tenant Fees Bill and I think the sums involved are much higher than £700,000, yet under Standing Orders we were not allowed any separate debate on that. Can my hon. Friend explain why his Bill for £700,000 has 45 minutes but a much more expensive Bill has nothing?

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Sir Lindsay Hoyle)
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I do not think we need to consider that.

Local Government Funding

Debate between Christopher Chope and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 28th March 2018

(2 years, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Sir Lindsay Hoyle)
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28 Mar 2018, 4:27 p.m.

Order. Just one second. We are not going to be able to get Members in. Members have had six minutes each and I have now dropped the limit to four minutes. We are in danger of being self-indulgent if we are not careful. Some people will not get in and that is unfair when this issue matters to every constituency.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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28 Mar 2018, 4:27 p.m.

I withdraw my intervention.

Middle Level Bill

Debate between Christopher Chope and Lindsay Hoyle
Wednesday 28th February 2018

(2 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Sir Lindsay Hoyle)
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28 Feb 2018, 5:33 p.m.

Normally I would not take a point of order at this stage, but as Sir Christopher has only just cleared his throat in making his speech, I recognise that it would be frustrating for the hon. Gentleman not to get in. The matter is on the record now. I have been given no notice of a ministerial statement about the serious issue at Toys“R”Us. I do recognise that you are representing your constituents. I hope that the message has gone out loud and clear that Toys“R”Us should be linking up with the Member of Parliament to ensure that you can represent the rights of the workers there.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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28 Feb 2018, 5:33 p.m.

Unfortunately my children and I are so old that they do not benefit from visits to Toys“R”Us, but it is very sad when any long-established business goes into administration.

Break in Debate

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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28 Feb 2018, 5:34 p.m.

If I may say so, that is a more plausible explanation than the one being put forward by my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay, but I think we have said enough about that. We will hear what he thinks when he responds to the debate.

I turn to amendments 6, 7 and 8 to clause 3. The petitioners are concerned that the requirement that the commissioners must take the committee’s views into consideration has limited use, because the commissioners could say that they have taken those views into consideration but found them to be of no value. The only remedy for any such failure to take the committee’s views properly into account would then be judicial review, which is strictly time-limited, expensive and hugely unreliable, with historical bias, they think, in favour of authorities. I do not know about that, but certainly they are right in saying that judicial review is a long-winded and potentially expensive way of seeking redress.

In the light of those concerns, I have tabled amendment 7 to clause 3(6), which would mean that instead of the commissioners being required to “take into consideration” any matter, they must “give full” consideration. There is a difference between taking into consideration and giving consideration. If the commissioners gave full consideration to any matter, that would be useful.

To reinforce that point, amendment 8 would add a sentence to the end of subsection (6), which would then say that the commissioners give full consideration to any matter, recommendation or representation which may from time to time be referred or made to them by the committee

“and in the event of not accepting such a recommendation or representation give full reasons for that decision.”

That would provide the sort of protection that the petitioners seek and would strengthen clause 3 and make it an even more effective addition to the Bill.

Amendment 9 to clause 4 would leave out subsection (2). It is in essence a probing amendment, to draw attention to the whole issue of charges and constraints upon the way in which charges can be made, which, as has been said, is a useful amendment to the Bill. I am suggesting that it could be linked more specifically with each of the different uses for which charges will be recoverable.

Amendment 10 would mean that in exercising the power under clause 4(1)(a), rather than the whole of subsection (1),

“the Commissioners must aim to secure that, taking one financial year with another, the income from charges under that subsection does not exceed the annualised costs incurred by the Commissioners in exercising their functions in respect of navigation under the navigation Acts.”

It seems that that relates to the use of any waterway by any vessel. Those would be the charges for the use of the waterway, and they would link in directly with the functions in respect of navigation under the navigation Acts.

I am much more dubious about linking in the reasonable charges for the provision of services and facilities in respect of the waterways and their banks, because they are not separated out from the more general, nor is the requirement for registration of any vessel under navigation byelaws. Those charges should be separately identified and accounted for, and they should undergo this test: taking one financial year with another, the charges under those subsections should not exceed the annualised costs. This is a refinement of clause 4, and I think that it would improve the clause significantly.

Amendment 11 also deals with the annualised issue. The effect of amendment 12 would be as follows:

“The Commissioners may revise, waive or remove any charge fixed under subsection (1)(a), and different charges may be fixed for different cases or classes of case.”

The amendment would extend the commissioners’ discretion, while making sure that it was specific to the different categories of activity for which they can recover charges.

Amendment 13, which is a probing amendment, would leave out subsection (4). I hope that we will hear further explanation of why the commissioners want to

“make the use of the services and facilities referred in subsection (1)(b) subject to such terms and conditions as the Commissioners may specify in writing.”

The most radical amendment that I have tabled to clause 4 is amendment 14, which I hope will find favour with Members from across the House. The amendment would add, at the end of the clause:

“No charge shall be payable in respect of the use of a waterway by a vessel being used by a person who is registered disabled”.

I raise that because there is quite an issue about disability, the use of waterways and the use of powers similar to those sought by the promoters of the Bill. Such powers have been abused on occasions, and disabled people have been severely pilloried and discriminated against. Why should it not be possible to exempt disabled people from these charges?

I have been sent a press cutting dated April 2015 from Wiltshire, where a disabled boat owner who lived on the Kennet and Avon canal faced costs of up to £76,000 as a result of action that was taken against him by the Canal and River Trust. The individual was living on incapacity benefit and disability living allowance. Instead of allowing him to repair his boat over a period of time, the trust strictly imposed the conditions of his licence and required him to vacate his boat, which was also his home. Insult was added to injury by the fact that he was denied legal aid, and he was instead represented by the legal officer of the National Bargee Travellers Association.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Sir Lindsay Hoyle)
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Order. Sir Christopher, I am just waiting to see how this links in with the Bill.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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It links in with my amendment 14, Mr Deputy Speaker, because amendment 14 would exempt—

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker
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Order. I am more bothered that this is about the Avon canal and that particular individual, who is not actually on the Middle Level or affected by it. I understand you making a reference, but not in detail.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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I accept that we do not want to go into any more detail than I have already, but the analogy is that the powers that are being sought in the Bill by the Middle Level Commissioners are almost identical to the powers that have already been obtained by other organisations, such as the Canal and River Trust, which operates on the Kennet and Avon canal.

Break in Debate

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker
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This is the Middle Level Bill!

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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28 Feb 2018, 5:49 p.m.

It is very important that my hon. Friend has been able to put his interest in this subject matter on the record.

Amendment 17 relates to clause 9, which addresses stranded, grounded and sunken vessels and vehicles. The amendment would remove the subsection 3, which states:

“Whenever any vessel is, without lawful authority, left or moored in any waterway the Commissioners may after serving not less than 28 days’ notice on the owner of the vessel, unless it is not practicable after reasonable inquiry to ascertain the name and address of the owner, raise and remove the vessel.”

As set out in the rest of clause 9, it is perfectly reasonable for a vessel that is stranded or abandoned in a waterway and is interfering with navigation to be removed quickly. However, when one takes into account the very wide definition of “waterway”, the inclusion of subsection 3 is potentially oppressive. It could mean that the commissioners could, for example, go into a marina and raise and remove a vessel at considerable cost after no more than 28 days’ notice. The amendment would therefore remove that power from the Bill.

Clause 11 relates to the requirements for registration and incorporates a very important amendment promoted by the March Cruising Club and others on the charges and the amount by which they could be increased in any one year. It introduces a requirement that such charges should not increase above the rate of inflation as defined by the consumer prices index. Many boaters—some may be represented by my hon. Friends here this evening—are not very well-off in financial terms and need to be able to plan their budgets ahead. When they work out the costs of having a vessel on the waterway, they need to have the certainty that the charges levied cannot be increased by more than the rate of the CPI each year. By analogy, the Government have said that council tax should not increase by more than the CPI. They have made some exceptions to that recently, but the general proposition is that they cannot be increased by more than the CPI.

Break in Debate

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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28 Feb 2018, 5:54 p.m.

Much as I would like to agree with my hon. Friend, there has to be some discretion, because the fees needs to relate to the powers and duties that will be carried out and funded by them. One of the clauses that we looked at earlier specified that the money for the fees had to be spent on various things, particularly, for example, on navigation.

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Sir Lindsay Hoyle)
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28 Feb 2018, 5:55 p.m.

Can I just help a little? In fairness to Mr Bone, he was not here, but you do not need to explain what we have already discussed and we do not need to go back over it. I know that you were not attempting to do so—come on, Sir Christopher!

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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28 Feb 2018, 5:54 p.m.

Okay, amendment 26 is to clause 15, line 38. The clause, on the protocol of removal of vessels, states:

“The Commissioners must, in consultation with the Navigation Advisory Committee, prepare, publish and maintain a protocol on the use of powers under or by virtue of this Act to remove vessels.”

My amendment proposes to change “in consultation with” to “in conjunction with”, because it seems to me that the Navigation Advisory Committee should work jointly with the commissioners rather than just in consultation with them on this important matter. Again, amendment 25 tries to reduce the powers conferred upon the commissioners under clause 14(4) and how they can be exercised.

As I said at the beginning, this is a much improved Bill, compared with how it was. It has now reached the stage where, because all the amendments have been grouped together, it would not be sensible to test the will of the House on each one—I am glad that you agree with me on that proposition, Mr Deputy Speaker. However, the Bill’s promoters are worried about whether the fact that we are discussing these things in the House today means that they cannot be discussed further when the Bill gets to the other place. My understanding is that when it goes to the other place, there is a fresh opportunity for people to put in petitions, in which they can include whatever they wish to, and I am sure that the other place will build upon the discussions that we are having this evening and have had prior to it, so that eventually, the Bill will be even better than it is now.

Licensing of Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (Safeguarding and Road Safety) Bill

(2nd reading: House of Commons)
Debate between Christopher Chope and Lindsay Hoyle
Friday 2nd February 2018

(2 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text Bill Main Page
Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con)
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2 Feb 2018, 2:15 p.m.

I have several concerns about the Bill. As with many Bills that were drafted with good intentions, the proposed remedy is disproportionate to the problem. The hon. Member for Cambridge (Daniel Zeichner) accepts in his explanatory notes to the Bill that to obtain a licence to drive private hire vehicles or taxis, people have to show that they are of good character and that they are fit and proper persons. I have no problem with that, and I would have no problem with requiring all 293 licensing authorities to use the same test to ensure that an applicant was a fit and proper person and had not been ruled out by another licensing authority.

The key to my concern is apparent in the long title, which talks about making

“provision about the exercise of taxi and private hire vehicle licensing functions in relation to persons about whom there are safeguarding or road safety concerns”.

What do we mean by “concerns”? Concerns may be irrational. The hon. Member for Dover (Charlie Elphicke) has been waiting for three months to find out the nature of the concerns about his conduct. Would the Bill prevent him from applying for a private hire licence?

Clause 1 states:

“In this Act “relevant information”, in relation to a person, means information indicating that the person…has committed a sexual offence.”

“Indicating” is a very weak word; if the word was “proving” or “showing”, I would be much happier. Why should the relevant information include an indication that that person has committed a sexual offence, when that can be established without any difficulty?

Then we get on to an indication that an applicant “has harassed another person”. That is incredibly wide, and we are not talking about a court appearance or any sort of offence. It means that somebody simply could allege to the licensing authority that they or somebody else had been harassed by the applicant. That licensing authority and others could use that indication as grounds for refusing the applicant a licence, thereby preventing him from becoming, or continuing as, a taxi driver or private hire driver. We are talking about depriving licensed drivers of their livelihood or preventing others from taking up the profession. If we are going to introduce a rule book, it needs to contain rules rather than rumour or smear. I would be interested to hear the hon. Member for Cambridge explain why he has chosen to use such a wide expression.

I am equally unhappy about clause 1(1)(c), which concerns an indication that an applicant

“has caused physical or psychological harm to another person”.

What will be the test for that? There is no requirement for it to be proven, either beyond reasonable doubt or on the balance of probabilities; there simply has to be an indication that it has happened. An indication can come from someone who makes an anonymous telephone call. That is open to massive abuse by people who, for reasons best known to themselves, may have a grudge against somebody who is already a taxi driver or licensed private hire vehicle driver, or they may wish somebody else not to come into that competitive profession. That provision really must be tightened up if the Bill is to get on to the statute book.

We then get to clause 1(1)(d). The “relevant information” would be an indication that a person

“has committed an offence that involves a risk of causing physical or psychological harm to another person (whether or not the person was charged with, prosecuted for or convicted of the offence)”.

That is so widely drawn as to be downright oppressive. Why do we need to include that in the Bill at all? An indication that a person “has committed an offence”—I think there should be proof that they have. It goes on to say that the consequence of that offence involves not actual physical or psychological harm, but a risk of physical or psychological harm. That is so ludicrously widely drawn that is unfit to be the subject of legislation in this place.

Clause 1(1)(e) is equally wide. There has to be an indication that somebody

“has done anything that, for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010, constitutes unlawful discrimination against”

someone. If there has been “unlawful discrimination” in breach of the Equality Act, let it be established, but let us not have a smear that something may have happened or that there is an indication that it happened. Let us require proof of all this before we take away the livelihood of a driver or deprive somebody else of the ability to become one.

Clause 1(1)(f) talks about an indication that a person

“has threatened, abused or insulted another person”.

I think that would rule out anybody who has been in the Whips Office, either in opposition or government. I speak as somebody who has never been granted such a privilege, but what person who has served in the Whips Office can say hand on heart that they have never threatened, abused or insulted another person?

Lindsay Hoyle Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Sir Lindsay Hoyle)
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2 Feb 2018, 2:23 p.m.

Order. I think we are drifting a bit from where we should be in talking about the Whips Office. I do not want to concentrate too much on the Whips. They are getting rather perplexed down here.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope
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2 Feb 2018, 2:23 p.m.

I will not press the point about the Whips, because there is actually no requirement of proof. All one needs is an indication.