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Lord Williams of Mostyn: If the noble Earl reads Hansard tomorrow, he will note that I did not impeach the integrity of the Secretary of State. What I have questioned is his judgment. That is quite different. What we want in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) in the subsection is a useful harness to circumscribe the exercise of that judgment. There is no suggestion of any attack on the Minister's personal integrity. I made none, nor did I intend any.
Lord Judd: Before I deal with our debate, I hope that it is in order to say how much I appreciate these kinds of Committee stages in the Moses Room. They are a good development in this kind of legislation. I do not believe that that is my view alone, and I would like to thank those who have been advancing this experiment, because it is a civilised and constructive way to approach our responsibilities. I thought that this might be a good opportunity to say that.
One of the things that sometimes goes wrong in democratic discussion in general is the primadonnish way in which, inexcusably, Government or Opposition spokespeople become attached to the words that they have used, and in the end they are defending the words they have used rather than finding a way of fulfilling the objective that is established. I would be the first to
In that context, I would say again, as my noble and learned friend has said, that at least to the eye of the layman--and it is important that, while legislation stands up legally for the legal experts, it is also comprehensible to the layman and clearly establishes the principles about which the layman is concerned--we still have a problem in the Bill. It is not manifestly clear that, having regard to certain considerations that Members on all sides of the Committee have said are important, the Secretary of State then necessarily has to act in compliance with those principles. What we want to establish more clearly is that he has--I put it as a layman, if my noble and learned friend will forgive me--a compulsion to act in such a way. We would ask the Government to look at this a little further.
If the Government could come forward at Report stage with some wording which bridged the gap, the rejoicing would be unlimited and the Government would find themselves on a pinnacle of popularity on this issue. I therefore believe that, at a time when pinnacles of popularity may be rather hard to come by, this is a thought worth taking seriously.
I thank the Minister most warmly for the way in which he has responded not only to this debate but to all the others. While I retain the right to come back to it at Report stage, I now beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Lord Kennet: I did not realise that my noble friend intended to withdraw his amendment at that point. The noble Earl said that my noble friend's formulation which lays an increased duty on the Secretary of State in this matter would take it over the threshold of hybridity. I may be obtuse but I did not understand that at all. This is of course a Public Bill and it could not be more public as regards the Armed Forces in changing the powers and duties of the Secretary of State. That is Public Bill material. As I understand it, a hybrid Bill is one which not only is a Public Bill but which also affects the rights or duties of an individual, whether a person or a corporation. In what respect does my noble friend's wording do that?
Earl Howe: I will be subject to correction, in which case of course if I am wrong I will write to the noble Lord. My understanding is that the rights of the individuals, to which the noble Lord rightly referred, are in this case those of Greenwich Hospital Crown Charity
Lord Kennet: I am very grateful to the noble Earl for that explanation. Perhaps at the next stage the noble Earl will be able to give us an example of the manner in which the rights of the charity would be affected by the slight modification of the Secretary of State's publications.
Lord Judd: Without unnecessarily prolonging our proceedings, I wonder whether I may help on this point. There is an issue to be addressed here and I would be the first to address it. As I understand it--I have spent quite a lot of my life with professional responsibilities in the world of charity, on which I declare an interest--the trustees of a charity have a responsibility to maximise the income to the charity and the purpose for
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