Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Lord Renton: My Lords, I welcome the appointment of a joint committee of both Houses to consider parliamentary privilege. Will the noble Lord do everything that he can to increase the number of such joint committees so that Members of another place may benefit from the experience, expertise and wisdom of Members of your Lordships' House?

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, I might be misreading the Motion of the noble Lord, the Chairman of Committees, but in relation to the last paragraph I see that among those who will be entitled to attend the committee and take part in its deliberations are the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor-General for Scotland. Once the Scottish Parliament is up and running and those two officers of state will not be Members of either House but Members of the Scottish Parliament, what will happen to Scottish interests in relation to parliamentary privilege and that committee?

The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, in answer to the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Renton, I am sure that he will appreciate that my own powers in those matters are strictly limited. Any consideration of the points that he has raised will be for at least two other committees of your Lordships' House, namely the Liaison Committee and the Procedure Committee. I shall ensure that what the noble Lord has said will be taken into account by any relevant committees at the appropriate time.

As to the point raised by the noble Baroness, those matters will be for the Scottish Parliament once it is set up. There is nothing I can usefully add to that today.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Delegated Powers and Deregulation: Select Committee

The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, I beg to move the second Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That a Select Committee be appointed to report whether the provisions of any Bill inappropriately delegate legislative power; to report on documents laid before Parliament under Section 3(3) of the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994 and on draft orders laid under Section 1(4) of that Act; and to perform, in respect of such documents and orders, the functions performed in respect of other instruments by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments;

3 Dec 1998 : Column 608

That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following Lords be named of the Committee:

L. Alexander of Weedon (Chairman), L. Ampthill, L. Archer of Sandwell, L. Dahrendorf, L. Dean of Harptree, L. Goodhart, L. Mayhew of Twysden, L. Merlyn-Rees, L. Prys-Davies, L. Waddington.

That the Committee have power to appoint sub-committees;

That the Committee and any sub-committee have power to adjourn from place to place within the United Kingdom;

That the Committee have power to co-opt any Lord for the purpose of serving on the Committee or a sub-committee;

That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the Minutes of Evidence taken before the Committee or any sub-committee shall, if the Committee think fit, be printed and delivered out;

That the Committee do meet on Wednesday 9th December at half- past ten o'clock.--(The Chairman of Committees.)

Lord Elton: My Lords, I apologise for giving very short notice of my question to the noble Lord. It has caught my eye that this committee is to have power to adjourn from place to place within the United Kingdom, a facility which was never required when I was a member of it. I wonder whether this signifies a widening of its remit or whether there is some other reason why it should wish to vacate Westminster.

The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Elton, for giving me notice of that question. This is not an unusual power to give to Select Committees of your Lordships' House. I am sure that he will understand that I would not wish to pre-empt any decisions which the committee might make if your Lordships approve this Motion today. I am sure that that committee will bear in mind the request of the noble Lord, Lord Elton, and will furnish information about the point he has raised once it has considered it.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

European Communities: Select Committee

The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, I beg to move the third Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That a Select Committee be appointed to consider Community proposals, whether in draft or otherwise, to obtain all necessary information about them, and to make reports on those which, in the opinion

3 Dec 1998 : Column 609

of the Committee, raise important questions of policy or principle, and on other questions to which the Committee considers that the special attention of the House should be drawn;

That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following Lords be named of the Committee:

L. Berkeley, V. Bledisloe, L. Borrie, V. Brookeborough, E. Cranbrook, L. Geddes, L. Gisborough, L. Goodhart, L. Grenfell, L. Hope of Craighead, L. Howell of Guildford, L. Hussey of North Bradley, B. O'Cathain, L. Reay, L. Tomlinson, L. Tordoff (Chairman), B. Uddin, L. Wallace of Saltaire, L. Walpole, L. Willoughby de Broke.

That the Committee have power to appoint sub-committees and to refer to such sub-committees any of the matters within the terms of reference of the Committee; that the Committee have power to appoint the chairmen of sub-committees, but that such sub-committees have power to appoint their own chairman for the purpose of particular inquiries; that two be the quorum of such sub-committees;

That the Committee have power to co-opt any Lord for the purpose of serving on a sub-committee;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time;

That the Committee and any sub-committee have power to adjourn from place to place;

That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the Reports of the Select Committee from time to time shall be printed, notwithstanding any adjournment of the House;

That the Minutes of Evidence taken before the Committee or any sub-committee from time to time shall, if the Committee think fit, be printed and delivered out;

That the Minutes of Evidence taken before the European Communities Committee or any sub-committee in the last Session of Parliament be referred to the Committee;

That the Committee do meet on Tuesday 8th December at a quarter-past four o'clock.--(The Chairman of Committees.)

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, I would like to put a question that I have put before to the noble Lord about appointments to this committee. I take it that the usual channels have been involved in the appointment

3 Dec 1998 : Column 610

of new members to this committee. I would remind the noble Lord that opposition to matters stemming from Brussels and from the Treaty of Rome do not run along party lines. Indeed, they have not done so for a number of years. Did the committee, in making these appointments, bear that fact in mind? At first sight the present composition of this committee does not reflect the opposition which runs against the Treaty of Rome in your Lordships' House.

The Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Tordoff): My Lords, perhaps I can assist the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees in replying to that question. Subjects which come before your Lordships' committees do not divide on party lines, nor do they divide on issues of scepticism or non-scepticism. It is the function of your Lordships' committees to take evidence on matters which are brought before them and to make decisions based on that evidence. It is true to say that there are a number of members of all the sub-committees and the Select Committee who have varying degrees of scepticism or support for the European Union. On a day-to-day basis, that does not come into their decision-making processes. They present information to your Lordships' House in a purely independent-minded kind of way on the basis of evidence which is put before them. I do wish that the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, would understand that. It is an answer that has been given to him many times in the past.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, perhaps I may reply to that. I have had the privilege of sitting on your Lordships' Select Committee for a number of years--and indeed one of the sub-committees--and I do not accept the interpretation that the noble Lord has put on the question that I asked.

The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, I am very grateful to my noble friend Lord Tordoff, the Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees, for his intervention. It may be of interest to those of your Lordships who are comparatively new to your Lordships' House to know that he is the one person your Lordships allow me to call my noble friend. I have only one noble friend in your Lordships' House. Your Lordships may feel that that is no more than I deserve.

As to the substance of the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, I would only add to what my noble friend has said. I can confirm that the usual consultations have taken place and that the usual channels have of course conducted those consultations. I am very grateful to them--as I think your Lordships are on a variety of matters--for the work that they undertake in this respect. Different strands of opinion are from time to time taken into account in the proposals for the appointment of members to your Lordships' Select Committees. If I may say so--with the impartiality that your Lordships would expect from the holder of this office--on a day like this, on the afternoon following the night before, it is not always easy to predict the variety of ways in which your Lordships will exercise your Lordships' independence.

3 Dec 1998 : Column 611

It is not always possible to take into account those differences of view. I hope that what my noble friend and I have said will go at least some small way towards satisfying the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch.

On Question, Motion agreed to.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page