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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, there can be no doubt that Sir Paul certainly has the support of my noble friends in his efforts. There is no doubt that we condemn utterly street crime as we condemn all other crime. But surely we have to be concerned about the effects of what Sir Paul has said because the effect has been to create a general impression that 80 per cent. of young black men are muggers or capable of being muggers, whereas in any analysis of the statistics the
Baroness Blatch: My Lords, Sir Paul did not say that. The noble Lord is putting two entirely different statements of Sir Paul together; in other words, he is putting two and two together and making 95. Perhaps I should explain what happened. Back in Februarythis passed without comment from any member of the publicSir Paul took part in a round robin discussion on crime in general on a programme broadcast by Carlton Television. He mentioned pockets within London where crime was high and where young black males constituted the majority of the perpetrators. That was the context of that statement and it was quite divorced from his letter to leaders in the community inviting them to discuss with him ways in which they can act in partnership to reduce crime in their communities. There is no correlation between those two events. As I said, in February that comment passed totally without notice. Sir Paul has not used the figure of 80 per cent. in the context of this question.
Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove: My Lords, I welcome this Bill. I have two points to make. The bridge will undoubtedly bring great benefit to the area and it will enhance the value of the old national garden festival site on the south bank of the river. I am pleased that the bridge will be of a high standard when it is completed. Much has
The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for the welcome he has given to this Bill and for his welcome of the enhancement that the bridge will bring to the site. I take note of the points he has made. I shall certainly check those points with Scottish Enterprise and pass on the anxieties that he has highlighted. I would expect that the planning authority will insist on the provision of adequate lighting for pedestrians where appropriate. However, as I said, I will pass on the noble Lord's anxieties. I thank the noble Lord for his interest in this subject.
The noble Earl said: My Lords, I seek your Lordships' approval for two emergency orders made on behalf of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland to ban fishing for certain types of shellfish in waters off the coast of Scotland.
Lord Simon of Glaisdale: My Lords, your Lordships will wish to note that once again the Third Reading of an important Bill follows after the bare minimum of three working days after the Report stage. It is particularly unfortunate in this case because a great deal of business was left over from Report. The Committee stage had only two days; the first day concluded at about midnight, the second day concluded at about eleven o'clock. The Report stage went on until after half-past eleven. A number of matters were left in those circumstances not fully discussed at Report stage. We have wished to correspond with the Ministermany of us have in fact done sobut of course he has had no time to answer the letters. That is inevitable when one has a complicated, not simple, Bill following after the minimum period.
What we are doing in this Bill is to correct the culpable errors that were made in the 1991 Act. In the proceedings on that Act your Lordships clearly identified the defects, but it was to no avail; every amendment was brushed aside. Although the defects were clearly identified nothing was done, with the result that administrative chaos followed with an unprecedented apology to the public from a public body for the administrative errors. The director of the agency resigned and one-third of the caseload was simply jettisoned. That was part of the story after 1991. In addition, there was a widespread sense of injustice and the postbags of MPs had never been so full.
It is not the fault of the business managers that we find ourselves in this position again and again. It is simply because we have an overload of legislation, some of it misconceived and ill thought out, as the 1991 Act has certainly proved to be, and much of it unnecessary and due to the ambition of Ministers or the excessive zeal of civil servants tinkering with administration.
I hope that we shall not be told this time that in addition to the three bare days there was a weekend, because when the Companion to Standing Orders indicates that a weekend is to be taken into account it does so explicitly, as with the interval between Second Reading and Committee.
Lord Monkswell: My Lords, we are indebted yet again to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon, for bringing to our attention this short period between Report and Third Reading. While rising to support him
It is also worth reminding ourselves that not only do Members of this House wish to contact Ministers between stages and to receive information from Ministers on the substance of the Bill, but we must also consider members of the public who may have a keen interest and sometimes detailed knowledge of the subject. They do not have the opportunity to see the reports in Hansard, deliberate on them and then contact noble Lords to advise them about the situation as it then applies. One of the characteristics of this House is that our assiduity ensures that almost inevitably there are amendments at each stage of the proceedings of a Bill.
For those reasons we should be thankful that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon, has raised this matter. I hope that Ministers and the usual channels will consider much more carefully before they suggest to the House that different stages of a Bill should be considered in the minimum intervals.
In conclusion, it is worth pointing out that this year we are rising eight days earlier than we did last year. As recently as a few weeks ago it was generally accepted that we would sit into the week after next. It was only fairly recently that it was decided that we would finish next Friday. It would have been possible for there to have been a longer interval to allow better consideration of this Bill in particular.
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