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Lord Simon of Glaisdale: My Lords, I am so sorry to interrupt my noble and learned friend again. He has used the phrase, "before the Bill leaves this House", but there is a Third Reading before then.

The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, my noble and learned friend will know that I understand that. That is precisely why I used the phrase that the matter could be considered before the Bill leaves this House. In other words, there is another opportunity than tonight for the amendment to be incorporated into the Bill if that is what your Lordships want. My noble and learned friend's intervention is extremely helpful and points out what I had in mind. It is for my noble friend to decide what he wishes to do with the amendment.

Lord Finsberg: My Lords, first, having listened to the earlier debate I think that the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, would appreciate that, had the amendment been beyond the scope of the Bill, the Public Bill Office would have said so. It did not, so it is within the scope of the Bill.

Secondly, the question of petitioning the other House was dealt with fully in Committee. The same argument was used, "There are not many people in the House; it is a pity; let's have it again". Here we are a second time. On the last occasion, the amendment received general support, including from the noble Viscount, Lord Tonypandy, who perhaps more than anyone would know the feeling of another place. I am loath to see the amendment withdrawn because that would mean more delay. There is also the fact that I shall be abroad on parliamentary business on 7th May. I have been here twice. I have been able to make that possible twice, but I cannot be here on that occasion. I should feel sad if the amendment were not included in the Bill at this stage.

I remember arguing in another place that if there is a difference of opinion and if there is a later stage, put in the provision in question because that concentrates the

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mind and it can always be taken out. That is the point that I want to make. Including the amendment now gives us an opportunity. It means that no one can say that they did not know; that it was a starred amendment or that they did not have the time to see it. That could not happen if the amendment were included now in the Bill to be considered, if necessary, on Third Reading.

I am not prepared to withdraw the amendment. I hope that it will go into the Bill. It can always be knocked out at the next stage or in another place. The point is quite simple: it affects both Houses. It only affects the privilege of an individual Member who wishes to withdraw his or her privilege. I do not want to repeat what has been said on two previous occasions. I very much hope that the amendment can go into the Bill on the understanding that it can always be pulled out at another stage. I beg to move.

Baroness Seear: My Lords, surely it is absurd for so empty a House to vote on so important a matter. The opportunity to do this again properly on Third Reading is to be preferred to asking so empty a House to vote on so important a matter.

Lord Finsberg: My Lords, I beg to move.

The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, the Question is, That this amendment be agreed to? As many as are of that opinion will say "Content"; to the contrary "Not-Content".

Lord Finsberg: Content!

Lord Simon of Glaisdale: Not-Content!

The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, I think that the "Not-Contents" have it.

Lord Finsberg: Content!

The Lord Chancellor: Clear the Bar.

9.7 p.m.

Division called.

9.11 p.m.

The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, I think it is important to notice that if the amendment is not to be put into the Bill tonight, the obvious answer is that those who may be very content with it need not vote for it tonight.

The Question is, That this amendment be agreed to? As many as are of that opinion will say "Content"; to the contrary "Not-Content".

I think that the correct ruling is that the amendment does not go in the Bill at this stage in view of the fact that there are no voices from either side.

On Question, amendment negatived.

Clause 20 [Short title and saving]:

[Amendment No. 12 not moved.]

Schedule 1 [Qualified Privilege]:

The Lord Chancellor moved Amendment No. 13:

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Page 14, line 27, leave out ("the legislature of") and insert ("a legislature in").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 13 I should like to speak also to Amendments Nos. 14 to 16 and 18. These are all minor drafting amendments to Schedule 1 which sets out the various reports and other materials which may have qualified privilege under Clause 15. I should also like to mention a matter in connection with Clause 14 which deals with another aspect of statutory privilege. The noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, tabled an amendment in Committee with the intention that international war crimes tribunals should be included among those courts to whose proceedings Clause 14 applied so that reports of their proceedings would have absolute privilege, provided the reports were contemporaneous. As I indicated then, I am undertaking further inquiries in connection with that proposal. I hope to be in a position to inform your Lordships of the results of those inquiries when the Bill is next considered by your Lordships. As your Lordships have been recently reminded, that will be at Third Reading. I hope to be able to take it forward at that time.

Amendment No. 13 is a small drafting amendment to change paragraph 9(1)(a) of Schedule 1 so that it can be read more easily as referring to a local legislature, as is provided in paragraph 16(1) of the schedule.

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Amendment No. 14 is a drafting amendment to confirm that this reference, like others in the schedule, to the ECJ will include courts attached to it. Amendments Nos. 15, 16 and 18 are drafting amendments to include references to dependent territories which would not necessarily be implied in references to the member states. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

The Lord Chancellor moved Amendments Nos. 14 to 16:


Page 14, line 34, after ("Justice") insert ("(or any court attached to that court)").
Page 15, line 26, after ("proceedings") insert ("in any of the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man or").
Page 15, line 51, after ("of") insert ("any of the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man or of").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 17 not moved.]

The Lord Chancellor moved Amendment No. 18:


Page 16, line 44, at end insert--
("( ) References in this Schedule to a member State include any European dependent territory of a member State.").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I have already spoken to this amendment. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

        House adjourned at sixteen minutes after nine o'clock.


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