Holocaust Memorial Bill: Committal

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

Read Full debate
Committal (to a Select Committee)
Wednesday 28th June 2023

(1 year ago)

Commons Chamber
Holocaust Memorial Bill 2022-23 View all Holocaust Memorial Bill 2022-23 Debates Read Hansard Text
Felicity Buchan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (Felicity Buchan)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I beg to move,

(1) That the Bill be committed to a Select Committee of five members, all of whom are to be nominated by the Committee of Selection.

(2) That in determining the composition of the Select Committee the Committee of Selection shall nominate three members from the Government and two members from opposition parties.

(3) That there shall stand referred to the Select Committee—

(a) any petition against the Bill submitted to the Private Bill Office during the period beginning at 10.00am on 29 June 2023 and ending at 5.00pm on 24 July 2023, and

(b) any petition which has been submitted to the Private Bill Office and in which the petitioners complain of—

(i) any amendment as proposed in the filled-up Bill,

(ii) any amendment as proposed by the member in charge of the Bill which, if the Bill were a private bill, could not be made except upon petition for additional provision, or

(iii) any matter which has arisen during the progress of the Bill before the Select Committee, (and references in this paragraph to the submission of a petition are to its submission electronically, by post or in person).

(4) That if no such petition as is mentioned in sub-paragraph (3)(a) above is presented, or if all such petitions are withdrawn before the meeting of the Committee, the order for the committal of the Bill to a Select Committee shall be discharged and the Bill shall be committed to a Public Bill Committee.

(5) That, notwithstanding the practice of the House that appearances on petitions against an opposed private bill be required to be entered at the first meeting of the Select Committee on the Bill, in the case of any such petitions as are mentioned in paragraph 3(a) above on which appearances are not entered at that meeting, the Select Committee shall appoint a later day or days on which it will require appearances on those petitions to be entered.

(6) That any petitioner whose petition stands referred to the Select Committee shall, subject to the rules and orders of the House and to the prayer of that person’s petition, be entitled to be heard in person or through counsel or agents upon that person’s petition provided that it is prepared and signed in conformity with the rules and orders of the House, and the member in charge of the Bill shall be entitled to be heard through counsel or agents in favour of the Bill against that petition.

(7) That the Select Committee shall require any hearing in relation to a petition mentioned in paragraph 6 above to take place in person, unless exceptional circumstances apply.

(8) That in applying the rules of the House in relation to parliamentary agents, any reference to a petitioner in person shall be treated as including a reference to a duly authorised member or officer of an organisation, group or body.

(9) That the Select Committee have power to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of the House and to report from day to day the minutes of evidence taken before it.

(10) That three be the quorum of the Select Committee.

Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

With this, we shall discuss the following:

Motion 6—Holocaust Memorial Bill: Instruction—

That it be an instruction to the Select Committee to which the Holocaust Memorial Bill is committed to deal with the Bill as follows:

(1) That the Committee treats the principle of the Bill, as determined by the House on the Bill’s Second Reading, as comprising the matters mentioned in paragraph 2; and those matters shall accordingly not be at issue during proceedings of the Committee.

(2) The matters referred to in paragraph (1) are—

(a) the Secretary of State may incur expenditure for or in connection with (i) a memorial commemorating the victims of the Holocaust, and (ii) a centre for learning relating to the memorial; and

(b) section 8(1) and (8) of the London County Council (Improvements) Act 1900 are not to prevent, restrict or otherwise affect the construction, use, operation, maintenance or improvement of such a memorial and centre for learning at Victoria Tower Gardens in the City of Westminster.

(3) Given paragraph (2) and as the Bill does not remove the need for planning permission and all other necessary consents being obtained in the usual way for the construction, use, operation, maintenance and improvement of the memorial and centre for learning, the Committee shall not hear any petition against the Bill to the extent that the petition relates to—

(a) the question of whether or not there should be a memorial commemorating the victims of the Holocaust or a centre for learning relating to the memorial, whether at Victoria Tower Gardens or elsewhere; or

(b) whether or not planning permission and all other necessary consents should be given for the memorial and centre for learning, or the terms and conditions on which they should be given.

(4) The Committee shall have power to consider any amendments proposed by the member in charge of the Bill which, if the Bill were a private bill, could not be made except upon petition for additional provision.

(5) Paragraph (4) applies only so far as the amendments proposed by the member in charge of the Bill fall within the principle of the Bill as provided for by paragraphs (1) and (2) above.

That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.

Amendment (a) to motion 6, in paragraph (2)(a), leave out from “memorial” to the end of paragraph (2)(b).

Amendment (b), to motion 6, leave out paragraph (3).

Motion 7—Holocaust Memorial Bill: Carry-over

That the following provisions shall apply in respect of the Holocaust Memorial Bill:

Suspension at end of current Session

(1) Further proceedings on the Bill shall be suspended from the day on which this Session of Parliament ends (“the current Session”) until the next Session of Parliament (“Session 2023–24”).

(2) If a Bill is presented in Session 2023–24 in the same terms as those in which the Bill stood when proceedings on it were suspended in the current Session—

(a) the Bill so presented shall be ordered to be printed and shall be deemed to have been read the first and second time;

(b) the Standing Orders and practice of the House applicable to the Bill, so far as complied with or dispensed with in the current Session, shall be deemed to have been complied with or (as the case may be) dispensed with in Session 2023–24;

(c) the Bill shall be dealt with in accordance with—

(i) paragraph 3, if proceedings in Select Committee were not completed when proceedings on the Bill were suspended,

(ii) paragraph 4, if proceedings in Public Bill Committee were begun but not completed when proceedings on the Bill were suspended,

(iii) paragraph 5, if the Bill was waiting to be considered when proceedings on it were suspended,

(iv) paragraph 6, if the Bill was waiting for third reading when proceedings on it were suspended, or

(v) paragraph 7, if the Bill has been read the third time and sent to the House of Lords.

(3) If this paragraph applies—

(a) the Bill shall stand committed to a Select Committee of such Members as were members of the Committee when proceedings on the Bill were suspended in the current Session;

(b) any instruction of the House to the Committee in the current Session shall be an instruction to the Committee on the Bill in Session 2023–24;

(c) all petitions submitted in the current Session which stand referred to the Committee and which have not been withdrawn, and any petition submitted between the day on which the current Session ends and the day on which proceedings on the Bill are resumed in Session 2023–24 in accordance with this Order, shall stand referred to the Committee in Session 2023–24;

(d) any minutes of evidence taken and any papers laid before the Committee in the current Session shall stand referred to the Committee in Session 2023–24;

(e) only those petitions mentioned in sub-paragraph (c), and any petition which may be submitted to the Private Bill Office and in which the petitioners complain of any amendment proposed by the member in charge of the Bill which, if the Bill were a private bill, could not be made except upon petition for additional provision or of any matter which has arisen during the progress of the Bill before the Committee in Session 2023–24, shall stand referred to the Committee;

(f) any petitioners whose petitions stand referred to the Committee in Session 2023–24 shall, subject to the rules and orders of the House, and to the prayer of that person’s petition, be entitled to be heard in person or through counsel or agents upon that person’s petition provided that it is prepared and signed in conformity with the rules and orders of the House, and the member in charge of the Bill shall be entitled to be heard through counsel or agents in favour of the Bill against that petition;

(g) the Committee shall require any hearing in relation to a petition mentioned in sub-paragraph (f) above to take place in person, unless exceptional circumstances apply;

(h) in applying the rules of the House in relation to parliamentary agents, any reference to a petitioner in person shall be treated as including a reference to a duly authorised member or officer of an organisation, group or body;

(i) the Committee shall have power to sit notwithstanding any adjournment of the House and to report from day to day minutes of evidence taken before it;

(j) three shall be the quorum of the Committee.

(4) If this paragraph applies, the Bill shall be deemed to have been reported from the Select Committee and to have been re-committed to a Public Bill Committee.

(5) If this paragraph applies—

(a) the Bill shall be deemed to have been reported from the Select Committee and from the Public Bill Committee, and

(b) the Bill shall be set down as an order of the day for consideration.

(6)If this paragraph applies—

(a) the Bill shall be deemed to have been reported from the Select Committee and from the Public Bill Committee and to have been considered, and

(b) the Bill shall be set down as an order of the day for third reading.

(7) If this paragraph applies, the Bill shall be deemed to have passed through all its stages in this House.

Other

(8) In paragraph (3) above, references to the submission of a petition are to its submission electronically, by post or in person.

That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.

Motion 8—Positions for which additional salaries are payable for the purposes of section 4A(2) of the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009

That the Order of the House of 19 March 2013 (Positions for which additional salaries are payable for the purposes of section 4A(2) of the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009) be amended, in paragraph (1)(a), by inserting, in the appropriate place, “the Select Committee on the Holocaust Memorial Bill”.

Felicity Buchan Portrait Felicity Buchan
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The instruction motion, tabled in the name of the Secretary of State, sets out the matters that can properly be considered by the Select Committee when it hears petitions against the Bill. It is a custom of the House, and a well-established part of the process for hybrid Bills, that the Select Committee should not hear petitions that seek to challenge the principle of the Bill. The Second Reading debate that just concluded was the opportunity for this House to consider the principle of the Bill, and I am delighted that this House has given such support to the Bill.

It is familiar practice on hybrid Bills, for example with the current and recent High Speed 2 Bills, that the House should pass a motion giving instructions to the Select Committee on what precisely falls within the principle of the Bill. Such a motion helps to provide clarity for the Committee and, of course, for potential petitioners, so that no time should be wasted seeking to raise matters on the Bill’s principle, on which the House has already expressed such a clear view.

In this case, the motion specifies that

“the Committee shall not hear any petition against the Bill to the extent that the petition relates to—

(a) the question of whether or not there should be a memorial commemorating the victims of the Holocaust or a centre for learning relating to the memorial, whether at Victoria Tower Gardens or elsewhere; or

(b) whether or not planning permission and all other necessary consents should be given for the memorial and centre for learning, or the terms and conditions on which they should be given.”

If the House agrees to pass the motion, the Select Committee would still have a good deal of scope to consider matters relating to clause 2 of the Bill—notably, the extent to which the restrictions in section 8 of the London County Council (Improvements) Act 1900 should be removed, and whether there should be any conditions on that removal.

Edward Leigh Portrait Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

It is accepted that there is a principle to memorial, so what about my point on having an overground memorial—like other memorials—but not an underground learning centre? Will the Committee still be able to consider such a detail?

Felicity Buchan Portrait Felicity Buchan
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The Committee can consider the extent and any conditions on the memorial in Victoria Tower gardens, so yes, that can be considered.

The established practice for Select Committees on hybrid Bills is that they consider petitions from people who are directly and especially affected by the proposals in the Bill. I understand that the House authorities will publish guidance for people who are considering whether to petition against the Bill. It will ultimately be a matter for the Select Committee to decide which petitioners to hear and which points in the petitions to consider.

The motion is a necessary and important measure that supports the well-established principles and processes for dealing with a hybrid Bill. The amendments proposed by the Father of the House, my hon. Friend the Member for Worthing West (Sir Peter Bottomley), risks undermining those established principles and processes, and could create confusion on the scope of the Committee’s work, which would be unhelpful to the Committee and all participants, including petitioners. For those reasons, the Government do not accept the amendments. I commend the motion to the House.

Rosie Winterton Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Rosie Winterton)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I call the Father of the House.

Peter Bottomley Portrait Sir Peter Bottomley (Worthing West) (Con)
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I am grateful to my hon. Friend the Minister for the way in which she has introduced these four topics. We are talking mainly about the instruction motion; I do not think that the others are very exceptionable.

I think I may have served on more hybrid Bill Committees—and certainly for longer—than most people, including that of High Speed 2. I doubt that the situation is quite as my hon. Friend described it. Hybrid Bill procedure exists for a reason: to protect the rights of those who are specifically affected by a Bill and allow them to put their case to a Committee. By making clause 2 the principle of the Bill, as well as clause 1—as I said before, there is no controversy about clause 1—the Government have already spent £17 million or more achieving nothing. They are now proposing to spend an extra £80 million to £100 million achieving not very much. I suggested in a previous debate that the Government should consider how to get a national holocaust memorial up—close to Westminster, if they want—within two years. Of course, the Government would not, as I have explained before, achieve it in four to five years extra, over and above the eight years that have been used up so far.

To go back to the hybridity, it is a matter of record that the Government declared in front of the examiners that this was not a hybrid Bill. They were wrong; it is a hybrid Bill. The reason for a hybrid Bill is so that people have the right to petition. The Government tried to stop that. I think that it is fairly clear to anyone who looks at this that the Government are now seeking to achieve the same result by using this instruction. It is up to the Government to decide whether the instruction, as introduced, is an abuse.

It would be quite easy for the Government to stand up and say what things the petitioners might rightfully put in a petition and be heard on, rather than telling the Committee that they cannot be heard. In addition, because this is a local park for local people, I believe not just that advertisements should be put in newspapers or in the gazette, but that a leaflet should be given to every resident, no matter how small or large their home, from, say, Vauxhall Bridge, Victoria station, along Victoria Street and south of Victoria Street up to the embankment. Those people should be told how the procedure works, how they can petition, what they can petition on and how they can be represented together by a common agent, if they want to be. That is what happened in my experience on HS2.

The instruction, as described by the Minister, would make the whole Bill part of the principle of the Bill. That is not common. In fact, I do not know of it happening before. The whole of the Bill cannot be made the principle, because that then makes it impossible for the petitioners to have their cases heard effectively. So I think we need to accept that the petitioners will be heard on nearly everything that is not an abuse. If someone says, “I do not want any money spent on it,” I can understand not allowing that. That is the principle, but the rest of it, I argue, is not.

Paragraph (3)(a) of motion 6 refers to a petition that relates to

“the question of whether or not there should be a memorial commemorating the victims of the Holocaust or a centre for learning relating to the memorial, whether at Victoria Tower Gardens or elsewhere”.

I ask this explicitly: can either the Secretary of State or the Minister stand up and tell me now that, if someone wants to argue in front of the Committee that it would be better to have the basement box somewhere else and just have the memorial, would that petition potentially be heard by the Committee?

Peter Bottomley Portrait Sir Peter Bottomley
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I agree with the Secretary of State that it would be a matter for the Committee, but it is a matter for the Committee under the instructions.

By the way, if it helps those who are concerned about votes and trains, I intend to vote for both amendments, but force a Division only on one of them. I am trying to make sure that these issues will be considered in the House during the Bill’s remaining stages and in the House of Lords as well, where I suspect there will be a degree of scrutiny.

This hybrid procedure gives ordinary people a chance to have their voices heard, and it allows the Committee to insert conditions when the Bill comes back to the House. Those conditions, I believe, could include—I am not going to tell the Committee what it has to do, although I volunteer to be a member if anyone wants to put me on it—saying that the Government should, before this Bill comes back for its further stages on the Floor of the House, show the alternatives to the present plans.

I do not think we should rely on the planning inspector, whose conditions were rather odd before, or on the Secretary of State’s colleague making an independent decision on the Secretary of State’s application. I think that may formally be an acceptable procedure, but it is not one that anyone would justify if we were giving a lecture on democracy in another country.

I believe that the Committee should have the capacity or ability to hear petitions that say, “If the Government say that the memorial only takes up 7.5% of the land in Victoria Tower Gardens, that should be written in as a condition in the Bill.” I believe, notwithstanding the acceptability of paragraph (2)(a) about the money, that the Committee should be able to say that the House can consider the Bill on the condition that the total cost is not more than another £80 million, if we go ahead with the box, or preferably £20 million without the box, whether at the north end of Victoria Tower Gardens, or Parliament Square, or Whitehall, or College Green.

There are a whole series of other things I could say—I have a long, detailed speech and I apologise to those who helped me create the arguments—but I think the House will find it convenient if I leave it with this point. This hybrid Bill must be considered properly by the hybrid Committee, which should allow petitions to be heard. Local people will put their points of view forward. If some duplicate each other, hear them together, but do not exclude any point of practice or of principle if we want to get a holocaust memorial in the next two years. We will not with this process. It needs conditions to change it.

We will not even, in my view, get it within the next four or five years at £120 million, unless the Government wake up to the fact that this is sticking in a big box that does not do what the original plans wanted in a place where it is not appropriate. We can do better than that, and I ask the Secretary of State to recognise that that is the point of moving these amendments. I ask the House not to restrict the petitioners. The Government have now accepted that this is a hybrid Bill, so use the procedures properly and be democratic.

--- Later in debate ---
Felicity Buchan Portrait Felicity Buchan
- View Speech - Hansard - - - Excerpts

I just want to address a few of the points that have been made. I clarify the fact that it is a matter for the Committee, ultimately, which petitioners to hear and which points to consider. This is a direction to the Committee, but, ultimately, especially in some of the examples, it would be for the Committee to decide. On whether to decide to set conditions—for instance, on the area of the garden—that would be within the remit of the Committee.

There was a discussion as to whether clause 2 was within the principle of the Bill. We have to remember that this is a Bill with only three clauses, one of which is about the extent of the Bill, so I would strongly argue that clause 1 and clause 2 are the principles of the Bill. In my mind, that is clear.

There was a concern raised that the planning decision would be made by a Minister in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. I want to reassure the House that we have the strictest processes in place to divide the decision-making principles, so no Minister involved in the Holocaust Memorial Bill will in any way be involved in the planning decision. To use the banking term, there will be the strictest of Chinese walls.

I want to reassure the House that we have done the consultation, as the Secretary of State and I have set out, and that we are launching a very transparent process. However, the purpose of the Committee is not to re-debate the principles in clauses 1 and 2; it is to discuss conditions and extent. I commend the motion to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Holocaust Memorial Bill: Instruction

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That it be an instruction to the Select Committee to which the Holocaust Memorial Bill is committed to deal with the Bill as follows:

(1) That the Committee treats the principle of the Bill, as determined by the House on the Bill’s Second Reading, as comprising the matters mentioned in paragraph 2; and those matters shall accordingly not be at issue during proceedings of the Committee.

(2) The matters referred to in paragraph (1) are—

(a) the Secretary of State may incur expenditure for or in connection with (i) a memorial commemorating the victims of the Holocaust, and (ii) a centre for learning relating to the memorial; and

(b) section 8(1) and (8) of the London County Council (Improvements) Act 1900 are not to prevent, restrict or otherwise affect the construction, use, operation, maintenance or improvement of such a memorial and centre for learning at Victoria Tower Gardens in the City of Westminster.

(3) Given paragraph (2) and as the Bill does not remove the need for planning permission and all other necessary consents being obtained in the usual way for the construction, use, operation, maintenance and improvement of the memorial and centre for learning, the Committee shall not hear any petition against the Bill to the extent that the petition relates to—

(a) the question of whether or not there should be a memorial commemorating the victims of the Holocaust or a centre for learning relating to the memorial, whether at Victoria Tower Gardens or elsewhere; or

(b) whether or not planning permission and all other necessary consents should be given for the memorial and centre for learning, or the terms and conditions on which they should be given.

(4) The Committee shall have power to consider any amendments proposed by the member in charge of the Bill which, if the Bill were a private bill, could not be made except upon petition for additional provision.

(5) Paragraph (4) applies only so far as the amendments proposed by the member in charge of the Bill fall within the principle of the Bill as provided for by paragraphs (1) and (2) above.

That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.—(Felicity Buchan.)

Amendment proposed: (a), to leave out from “memorial” in paragraph (2)(a) to the end of paragraph (2)(b).—(Sir Peter Bottomley.)

Question put, That the amendment be made.

--- Later in debate ---
17:58

Division 276

Ayes: 11

Noes: 379

Amendment proposed to motion 6: (b), leave out paragraph (3).—(Sir Peter Bottomley.)