Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): My Lords, discussions are continuing. National Health Service managers aim to improve the educational position and remedy the poor accommodation of the London Foot Hospital, while maintaining its high quality services for patients.

Baroness Seear: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that Answer, but I must say that I do not find it very informative. Can we rely upon the fact that the Government realise that it is important to keep the links with University College, which provides theoretical training and is close to the existing foot hospital; that it is essential for the proper training of podiatrists that they should have the best possible mix of theoretical and practical training; and that it is also essential to keep the highly specialist staff together there rather than have them dispersed throughout the country?

Baroness Cumberlege: My Lords, yes. I always find the noble Baroness a doughty debater. I should like to

18 Dec 1995 : Column 1406

say that even more so since I understand that she is this year's joint winner of the Spectator special parliamentarian of the year award. I congratulate her.

Noble Lords: Hear, hear!

Baroness Cumberlege: My Lords, I congratulate also my noble friend Lady Trumpington, who I understand shares the award. The answer is yes.

Baroness Seear: My Lords, I am tempted to say that I do not think that the answer has anything to do with the question.

Baroness Cumberlege: My Lords, yes, to keeping close links with University College London; yes, to trying to keep the staff together; and yes, to trying to keep the standards as high as they are now.

Baroness Seear: My Lords, perhaps I may thank the Minister very much. That is a much better answer.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, is the word "podiatrist" becoming commonly used in this country? We have normally called people chiropodists. In Australia everyone is now a podiatrist. Is this new terminology widely in use here?

Baroness Cumberlege: My Lords, I understand that it is widely in use here, except for my late father-in-law who insisted on calling his chiropodist his corn merchant.

Police Bill [H.L.]

3 p.m.

The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, I beg to introduce a Bill to consolidate the Police Act 1964, Part IX of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, Chapter I of Part I of the Police and Magistrates' Courts Act 1994 and certain other enactments relating to the police. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a first time.-- (The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Bill read a first time, and to be printed.

Arbitration Bill [H.L.]

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: My Lords, I beg to introduce a Bill to restate and improve the law relating to arbitration pursuant to an arbitration agreement; to make other provision relating to arbitration and arbitration awards; and for connected purposes. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a first time.-- (Lord Fraser of Carmyllie.)

On Question, Bill read a first time, and to be printed.

18 Dec 1995 : Column 1407


Church of Scotland (Property and Endowments) Amendment Order Confirmation Bill

Considered on Report.

Criminal Procedure and Investigations Bill [H.L.]

3.3 p.m.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.--(Baroness Blatch.)

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, during the past couple of weeks I have been sorely tempted to move a procedural Motion to prevent the House moving itself into a Committee on the Bill. The way in which the House and Parliament have been treated as regards the introduction and first debates on the Bill is quite deplorable. The Bill was printed long before it was ready and before the supporting material necessary for proper debate in your Lordships' House was made available.

I shall deal first with the issue of whether the Bill was ready to be printed. On Second Reading the Minister said that there were three subjects on which the Bill needed to be amended. She properly gave notice that she would be proposing amendments on those three subjects. We now have almost 100 government amendments at the Committee stage of the Bill in the first Chamber. We are used to government departments consulting and producing amendments late in the proceedings of a Bill. We know that that happens and that sometimes there is good reason for it. However, for a Bill to be introduced and printed when almost 100 government amendments are needed immediately following Second Reading is not acceptable.

I deal secondly with the code of practice. On Second Reading many noble Lords, not only from these Benches and the Liberal Democrat Benches but from the Government Benches--the noble Lords, Lord Renton, Lord Alexander of Weedon and Lord Campbell of Alloway--and from the Cross-Benches the noble Viscount, Lord Runciman of Doxford, said that without the code of practice, which is the basis of Part II, it would not be possible to have a sensible debate on Part II. Of course, Part II, which deals with the initial preparation of the disclosure of material by the police and its disclosure to the prosecution, affects Part I, which depends on information that has not already been disclosed.

We wrote immediately to the Government Chief Whip and made it clear that in our view the code of practice should be made available in very good time before the Committee stage. Despite all the Minister's best efforts--I am sure that she used her best efforts and that the same is true of the Government Chief Whip--we received on Wednesday 13th December a document dated 11th December which is the code of practice. That is quite inadequate to enable us to put down

18 Dec 1995 : Column 1408

amendments to Part II, and therefore to Part I, and the major controversial matters on which the Bill is based. Already our debates on Parts I and II are less effective because we have not been given the material.

I return to the government amendments, which virtually rewrite large parts of the Bill from Part III onwards. We had prepared a number of amendments to those parts of the Bill. They have had to be torn up and thrown away, the Government having written in a large number of new clauses and a complete new schedule, presenting not a fixed target, which we could effectively address, but a moving target. That is not good enough.

Tomorrow we shall debate the code of practice. We have taken the initiative of making it available to your Lordships by writing it into the Marshalled List as a new schedule. However, that code of practice conflicts in a dozen, 20 or 30 places with the text of the Bill in Part II. Whereas the Bill in Part II is acceptable in many ways, the code of practice is much more vague and is not acceptable. In other words, as regards every part of the Bill, proper debate in your Lordships' House has been inhibited by the inefficiency of the Home Office and its unwillingness to delay printing and presenting it to Parliament until it was ready to do so properly. That is not satisfactory. We need at the very least profound apologies from the Government.

Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank: My Lords, on behalf of Members on these Benches, I strongly support what has been said by the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh. In some 25 years of parliamentary life I can remember no occasion on which a Bill that was not urgent has come forward so ill prepared and carelessly drafted. The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, described the events of last week when the Government tabled 102 amendments in a single day. The Minister kindly sent to me copies of the letter which she wrote to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, as she had on the previous day when the code of practice became available. However, we are dealing not only with the convenience of this place but, as regards a Bill of this kind, the legitimate interests of outside organisations.

The Bill is not substantially controversial as between the political parties. I wish that we had a procedure by which such a Bill could be considered at leisure upstairs when outside organisations could make their representations. If for whatever reason that were not possible, this House should have been given a full opportunity to consider the amendments, to hear what the Minister had to say about them and to consult widely.

The truth is that the Bill has been rushed forward in a most extraordinary way. The disclosure consultation document was published in May and consultation continued until the end of July, which was entirely proper. However, those Members of your Lordships' House, and there are many, who have experienced these things, know that if consultation is completed at the end of July there must be interdepartmental discussions and decisions by Ministers before the Bill goes for drafting. On that timetable the Bill should not have received its Second Reading three weeks ago but should have been in the pipeline for Second Reading early in 1996.

18 Dec 1995 : Column 1409

If for whatever reason the Government believed that the Bill should come forward earlier there was a simple solution which would have avoided many problems. If we were having the Second Reading today the Minister and her department would have had three weeks in which to bring forward the amendments incorporated in the delayed Bill. Then we would have proceeded to the Committee stage immediately after the Christmas Recess. The Government would have lost at most two days of parliamentary time, which could have been filled with other business. They could easily have restored the timetable of the Bill.

This is a deplorable proceeding. I wish only that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, had chosen, with our full support, to endeavour to prevent the Committee stage taking place today.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page