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Earl Russell: My Lords, further to the remarks that the noble Lord, Lord Renfrew, has made, it is at present a Standing Order of this House that all peers count equal, and has been so since 1621. I recognise that what the House does, the House can undo. I recognise that what Parliament has done, Parliament can undo. But at present that is the position. Were I to listen to too many speeches from ministerial Benches implying that I am in some way a second-class Member of this House, I might be slightly less ready to inconvenience myself to vote in the Government Lobby when I agree with them than I have hitherto been.

Let that pass. There is also a further procedural unusualness--shall I say?--in a Minister in this House announcing while the Bill is still in this House that an amendment carried here will be reversed in another place. It has in the past been the custom here--although I admit it has been honoured in the breach as well as in the observance--that we recognise the basic parliamentary principle that each House is sovereign over its own proceedings and therefore any announcement about what another place will do with our amendments is not made until another place has possession of the Bill. That, I think, was a good custom and I am sorry to see it broken.

To come to the specific matter of the amendment, in a rather unexpected speech which the Minister made on the previous amendment she complained constantly of an open-ended commitment she believed it imposed on the state. I do not entirely understand this because it was not my understanding that the previous amendment did anything to repeal anything in Clause 18. She might think about this from the other end. If you look at this from the university point of view, when we have a Government who believe--as the noble Baroness clearly does--that government have sole and unfettered authority to decide what

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things will cost, you are living in an open-floored room and dancing on the few remaining rafters comes to seem--shall I say?--a little uncertain. It is essential that government of any party should from time to time have to listen to other expert opinion, with an authority that they cannot ignore, on what things cost. If the Government cannot or will not absorb that principle, relations between universities and the state are likely to be very near their end. That, I believe, would be a desperate loss to us all.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I have been surprised--as I know other noble Lords must have been--that this debate, which seemed to be about a relatively straightforward series of amendments (albeit, in my view, unnecessary amendments) has turned into a semi-constitutional debate. First, we have the spectacle of noble Lords opposite posing to be the students' friends. The very same noble Lords--

Earl Russell: My Lords, may I ask the Minister to withdraw the charge of posing to be the students' friends?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I do not think it is appropriate to withdraw that charge. The noble Earl and others who have spoken in this debate claim that they are protecting the students' fear of some Australian menace which is not likely. I shall give way in a moment. They are the very same Members of this House who have voted on previous occasions to prevent the Government stopping universities charging top-up fees which would hit in particular parents of poorest families. It is a hypocritical attitude. I think, therefore, that it is appropriate for me to say that those arguments are not in reality on behalf of the students of this country.

Earl Russell: My Lords, once again I request the Minister to withdraw that. It is a charge I do not believe he would risk repeating outside this Chamber.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I am not prepared to withdraw the charge. It is on the voting record and on the speaking record that noble Lords have spoken in this House against the Government's proposals in Clause 18 which would hit individual students--I have given way twice.

Earl Russell: My Lords, I move that the Standing Order on asperity of speech be read.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I have no doubt that the Clerk will find the appropriate place in a moment.

Noble Lords: Order!

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, perhaps I may advise the House on this matter. The Motion that the Clerk reads the Standing Order which relates

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to asperity of speech is debatable; and the Clerk may only read the Standing Order if it has been agreed to by the House.

Earl Russell: My Lords, I move that the Standing Order be read.

6.53 p.m.

On Question, Whether Standing Order 30 shall be read?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 169; Not-Contents, 98.

Division No. 4


Addison, V.
Aldington, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E.
Anelay of St. Johns, B.
Annaly, L.
Astor, V.
Astor of Hever, L.
Baker of Dorking, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. [Teller.]
Beaverbrook, L.
Bellwin, L.
Beloff, L.
Belstead, L.
Berners, B.
Biddulph, L.
Birdwood, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Boardman, L.
Bowness, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L.
Butterfield, L.
Byford, B.
Cadman, L.
Caithness, E.
Calverley, L.
Carlisle, E.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Carnock, L.
Chesham, L.
Clanwilliam, E.
Coleraine, L.
Colville of Culross, V.
Courtown, E.
Craigavon, V.
Cranborne, V.
Crickhowell, L.
Cross, V.
Darcy de Knayth, B
De L'Isle, V.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Derwent, L.
Dholakia, L.
Dilhorne, V.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Dudley, E.
Eccles of Moulton, B.
Ellenborough, L.
Elles, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Falkland, V.
Feldman, L.
Fookes, B.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Gage, V.
Geraint, L.
Glentoran, L.
Goodhart, L.
Grimston of Westbury, L.
Hamwee, B.
Harding of Petherton, L.
Harlech, L.
Harmar-Nicholls, L.
Hayhoe, L.
Higgins, L.
HolmPatrick, L.
Hope of Craighead, L.
Howe, E.
Inglewood, L.
Jacobs, L.
James of Holland Park, B.
Kenyon, L.
Kilmarnock, L.
Kingsland, L.
Kinnoull, E.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Knutsford, V.
Lane of Horsell, L.
Lauderdale, E.
Lawrence, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Lewis of Newnham, L.
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Liverpool, E.
Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Luke, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Macleod of Borve, B.
Maddock, B.
Mancroft, L.
Marlesford, L.
Massereene and Ferrard, V.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Middleton, L.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Montrose, D.
Mottistone, L.
Naseby, L.
Newby, L.
Norfolk, D.
Northbrook, L.
Norton, L.
Onslow, E.
Oxfuird, V.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Pender, L.
Perry of Southwark, B.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Platt of Writtle, B.
Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Pym, L.
Rawlings, B.
Reay, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rees, L.
Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, L.
Renton, L.
Renwick, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Rochester, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Rotherwick, L.
Rowallan, L.
Russell, E. [Teller.]
Saatchi, L.
Seccombe, B.
Selborne, E.
Selkirk of Douglas, L.
Sempill, L.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Skelmersdale, L.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Stewartby, L.
Stodart of Leaston, L.
Strange, B.
Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.
Suffolk and Berkshire, E.
Swinfen, L.
Teviot, L.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Thurso, V.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.
Trefgarne, L.
Tugendhat, L.
Vinson, L.
Vivian, L.
Waddington, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Warnock, B.
Weatherill, L.
Westbury, L.
Wharton, B.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Willoughby de Broke, L.
Wise, L.
Woolton, E.
Wrottesley, L.
Wynford, L.
Yarborough, E.
Young, B.


Acton, L.
Amos, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Barnett, L.
Berkeley, L.
Blackstone, B.
Blease, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Burlison, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.
Carter, L. [Teller.]
Castle of Blackburn, B.
Chandos, V.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Desai, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Elis-Thomas, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Gallacher, L.
Gilbert, L.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grantchester, L.
Gregson, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hardie, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howell, L.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Islwyn, L.
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jeger, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Judd, L.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
Kilbracken, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Levy, L.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller.]
Mallalieu, B.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Molloy, L.
Monkswell, L.
Montague of Oxford, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Nicol, B.
Paul, L.
Peston, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rea, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Sefton of Garston, L.
Sewel, L.
Shepherd, L.
Shore of Stepney, L.
Simon, V.
Simon of Highbury, L.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Thomas of Macclesfield, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Varley, L.
Walker of Doncaster, L.
Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whaddon, L.
Whitty, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Young of Old Scone, B.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Motion agreed to accordingly.

10 Mar 1998 : Column 170

7.4 p.m.

The Clerk of the Parliaments: "To prevent misunderstanding, and for avoiding of offensive speeches, when matters are debated, either in the House or at Committees, it is for honour sake thought fit, and so ordered, That all personal, sharp, or taxing speeches be forborn, and whosoever answereth another man's speech shall apply his answer to the matter without wrong to the person: and as nothing offensive is to be spoken, so nothing is to be ill taken, if the party that speaks it shall presently make a fair exposition or clear denial of the words that might bear any ill construction; and if any offence be given in that kind, as the House itself will be very sensible thereof, so it will sharply censure the offender, and give the party offended a fit reparation and a full satisfaction."

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