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Lord Jenkins of Putney: My Lords, perhaps I may clarify just one point. There is no connection whatever between what I said on Thursday and what has been said today. Today we are discussing procedure; on Thursday we were discussing substance. I still disagree with my noble friend on substance although I may agree with him on procedure.
Lord Harmar-Nicholls: My Lords, following the line of thought presented by the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, perhaps I may ask my noble friend who is to reply to this short debate whether, if we decided not to pass his Motion, that would mean that we would revert to the position which existed previously, which has served us well and done its work effectively and to the highest standard for so long. If that would be the result of not passing the Motion, is not that course of action worth a second thought and might it not be the line to follow?
Lord Richard: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Stoddart said that certain people had been "converted", as he put it, from their views of last week. Perhaps I may advise him that I have not been converted. My views remain the same today as they were last Thursday. If he had wanted to, my noble friend Lord Stoddart could have made his speech in the debate on the Griffiths report. If he had wanted to, the noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, could have said exactly what he has said todaybut no doubt at much greater lengthin the debate on the Griffiths report. The noble Lord, Lord Monson, could have made his points in the debate on the Griffiths report also.
Perhaps I may make just two points. In the debate on the Griffiths report, the House was virtually unanimous in saying that this is a matter that the House should get on with. I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, was the only dissenter. We are getting on with it.
I heard what the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, said. He may, or he may not, have a point. With great respect I do not think that it has helped the Business of the House to put it down as a formal amendment this afternoon, and I hope that he will not press it. My plea this afternoon is the same as it was before: that the House having willed the principle, it is right that this afternoon we should will the means.
The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, for notifying me before he tabled his amendment that he was thinking of doing so along these lines. I should like to thank him also for the way in which he proposed his amendment. For one thing, it provides an opportunity for clarification on this point, if there is a need for clarification. I am happy to confirm that his interpretation of what is in the first of the Motions is correct, and that was the intention also of the sub-committee chaired by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Griffiths, of which of course the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, was a member. It is the case, as he said, that in taking part in various stages of a Bill a Member who has an interest to declare should declare that interest at each stage.
The question of avoiding unnecessary repetition comes in for exampleand I instance this as only an exampleif a Member of your Lordships' House has several amendments tabled at, say, the Committee stage of a Bill. In that case he would not be expected to declare an interest each time he moved one of his amendments, unless perhaps they occurred on different days. That is where the avoidance of unnecessary duplication comes in. As I said, I am happy to confirm that the interpretation and explanation that the noble Lord gave is correct.
Perhaps I may deal briefly with certain other points which have been raised. The noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, raised a point on financial matters and so on. The intention here has been to follow as closely as possible the wording used by the report of the sub-committee chaired by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Griffiths, and that is why we have stuck to that. If in the light of experience, changes in future yearsif your Lordships pass the Motions this afternoonbecome necessary, no doubt they can be attended to. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, for nodding his head in, I hope, acceptance of that explanation.
The noble Lord, Lord Monson, raised a point about groups and other matters. If he and your Lordships will forgive me, I do not believe that I should venture this afternoon into questions of individual interpretation of
The noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, raised a matter to which he referred in your Lordships' House last Thursday. I understand his point. He is not completely alone in raising that point, but I feel that I should remind your Lordships that in our debate last Wednesday there was an overwhelming preponderance of feeling in support of these proposals and recommendations. Indeed, by the end of the debate 23 out of the 24 noble Lords who took part supported the principle of these resolutions. The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, in what I thought was his most generous intervention towards the end of the debate, just as his noble friend the Government Chief Whip had completed his remarks, indicated, as the noble Lord, Lord Richard, said this afternoon, that he was prepared to defer to the views as heif I may say soso elegantly put it of your Lordships' House.
There was that remarkable consensus of feeling in favour of these proposals. Let me say something else which I hope will bring some comfort, although I appreciate that the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, is not likely to depart from his pointthe noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, raised a similar point. The terms of these proposed resolutions have been known to your Lordships since 17th July, which was the date of the Procedure Committee's last meeting before we rose for the Summer Recess, and since the meeting of the Procedure Committee on 16th Octoberthe day we resumed. I take the noble Lord's point about the amendment of course, but the terms of these proposals have been well known to your Lordships for quite a period of time. That has enabled us all to get to grips with our thoughts and reactions to these proposals.
The noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, raised a slightly different point. He asked whether, if your Lordships decided not to pass these resolutions, we would return to the previous position. That would be the case, subject of course to the views expressed in your Lordships' debate last Wednesday. We should be left with the guidelines and other rules of order which we now have. I would hesitate to repeat the remarks, but I would briefly remind the noble Lord, Lord Harmar-Nicholls, that in view of the strong, widespread and overwhelming reactions of noble Lords in all parts of your Lordships' House in favour of the proposals, I believe the will of the House is probably, as indicated last Wednesday, to proceed with them with all speed. I hope that I have answered sufficient of your Lordships' points to satisfy your Lordships, so far as your Lordships can be satisfied. I hope that what I have said in answer to the moving of the amendment by the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, will satisfy him.
Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank: My Lords, I am most grateful to the Chairman of Committees for that helpful reply. I had no wish to cause a fuss in your Lordships' House, and I strongly support the course
The noble Lord said: My Lords, during the first part of the proceedings on these matters we seem to have drifted to some extent over both Motions. However, it is probably necessary for me to say a word or two in explanation of this Motion. Without wishing to attempt in any way to suggest to your Lordships that your Lordships should stifle any remarks that you may wish to make, perhaps this Motion, as we have drifted across parts of it, might be taken relatively shortly.
The purpose of this Motion is to establish a register of interests in accordance with the recommendations of the sub-committee chaired by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Griffiths. The text of the Motion is substantially that which appeared in the annex to the fifth report from the Procedure Committee with only minor drafting changes. As recommended by the sub-committee, the Motion gives to the Committee for Privileges the task of overseeing the registration arrangements. If your Lordships agree to the Motion today, that committee will be invited at the beginning of the new Session to approve the detailed arrangements for the establishment and operation of the register. It will of course be up to the committee to determine what those arrangements should be but it may be helpful if at this stage I say that it is likely that your Lordships will in due course be sent a notice explaining the detailed arrangements for initial registration and giving a date by which existing interests should be registered. After that, as stated in the Motion, your Lordships will be expected to register within one month any new interests which are required to be registered.
If your Lordships agree to this Motion today, I should tell the House that the Clerk of the Parliaments has it in mind to appoint as registrar Mr. James Vallance White, the Fourth Clerk at the Table and Principal Clerk in the Judicial Office. In moving the Motion, perhaps I may take the opportunity of thanking the noble Lords, Lord Williams of Elvel and Lord Cockfield, for their helpful suggestions. As I have indicated, small changes to the texts have been put forward and it is those that I have in mind when thanking the two noble Lords.
I believe that it is the general wish of your Lordships that the register should be introduced without delay and I am sure that the Committee for Privileges will deal with the matter as expeditiously as possible.
Existing arrangements falling within categories (1) and (2) above shall be registered within one month of the register being established. Subsequent arrangements falling within those categories shall be registered within one month of their being made.
The register shall be available for public inspection in accordance with arrangements to be made by the Registrar. The register shall also be published annually. The annual edition shall include all arrangements registered since the previous edition; and all continuing arrangements unless their termination has been notified to the Registrar.
The Committee for Privileges shall investigate, and report to the House on, any allegation of failure to register interests within categories (1) and (2); provided that the Committee shall first satisfy itself that an allegation has sufficient substance to warrant investigation.