|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, I am grateful for the explanation given by the noble Lord the Government Chief Whip. I understand that the Government have a more significant problem, which is one of the reasons why the noble Lord led us through the explanation in response to the question of the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton; namely, that the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, who has been the subject of this small debate, has been delayed and is therefore unable to start the Second Reading of the Bill on which he is due to speak in a few minutes' time.
A Statement is due to be taken after the speech of my noble friend Lady Young. If the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, is likely to be delayed much longer, is there any possibility of taking the Statement earlier rather than later? That would allow the noble Lord, Lord Williams, to return from his luncheon engagement in a sedate fashion and would also allow us to get on to the important issue of Kosovo. We suggest, in a spirit of helpfulness and co-operation, that we should take that course rather than continue with this slight charade.
Lord Carter: My Lords, I am amazed that the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition describes this as a charade. I thought that the whole House was absolutely fascinated by my explanation. I think that it could be known as the "M.4 explanation". My noble friend Lord Williams is delayed in a hold-up on the M.4. We have some other business to deal with. While that is being taken, I will see whether the Leader of the House can come to the Chamber so that we can perhaps move to the Statement earlier than intended.
Lord Richard: My Lords, before we move on to other business, I listened, as I always do, with very close attention to what my noble friend the Chief Whip had to say on this Motion. I did not regard it as a charade, and I did my best to understand it, but I found it somewhat incomprehensible. I wonder whether, in all the circumstances, he would care to repeat it.
Lord Carter: My Lords, there have been occasions over the years when I have listened with great interest to the noble Earl's questions; we all benefit from sitting at his feet. When he asks that kind of question, I am always reminded of the Danish proverb which says that you have
Lord Carter: My Lords, I am afraid that there has been a serious hold-up on the M.4. My noble friend Lord Williams of Mostyn is returning from Windsor Castle and has been held up in that traffic jam. I suggest that we move on with the interim business before the Second Reading.
Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, I am afraid that my contribution will not be as fascinating as the previous ones. I understand that no amendments have been set down to this Bill and that no noble Lord has indicated a wish to move a manuscript amendment or to speak in Committee. Therefore, unless any noble Lord objects, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Macdonald of Tradeston, I beg to move that the order of commitment be discharged.
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I understand that no amendments have been set down to this Bill and that no noble Lord has indicated a wish to move a manuscript amendment or to speak in Committee. Therefore, unless any noble Lord objects, I beg to move that the order of commitment be discharged.
Lord Ackner: My Lords, I understand that no amendments have been set down to this Bill and that no noble Lord has indicated a wish to move a manuscript amendment or to speak in Committee. Therefore, unless any noble Lord objects, I beg to move that the order of commitment be discharged.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, for bringing forward this Bill and for the very clear way in which he introduced it at Second Reading. The noble Lord's keen interest in the provisions of the Bill was reflected in the speech he made at Second Reading, and we are most grateful to him. I also take this opportunity to thank your Lordships, in particular those noble Lords who took part in the debate at Second Reading, for their interest in the provisions of the Bill as evidenced by that debate.
As the noble Lord explained when he introduced the Bill, this measure will extend the important principles of equality and choice in the use of the Welsh language and in the range of birth or death certificates which will become available. Without in any way seeking to delay the House by going over the provisions, in summary the Bill makes it possible for births or deaths that take place in England to be registered also in the Welsh language with the co-operation of a registration officer from Wales. It does not apply to marriages. Marriages can take place at the location chosen by the participants, whereas that is not true for births and deaths. For citizens who choose to take advantage of its provisions, the Bill will provide welcome enhancement of a public service.
As I told the House at Second Reading, the Government warmly support the Bill. I understand from the tone of the debate that took place at Second Reading that the Bill also has cross-party support. We therefore wish to see the Bill passed by the House and given a speedy passage in the other place. It would be helpful if the noble Lord could assure us that he has made suitable arrangements for it to proceed in another place.
Lord Elis-Thomas: My Lords, I am very grateful to the noble Lord. I had not intended to make a major speech because clearly it might contravene the provisions of the Representation of the People Act. As noble Lords will be aware, currently I am standing in another election and I do not want to take advantage of the platform that has been offered to me for whatever reason. However, I thank the Government, the Treasury and in particular the Office for National Statistics for their careful co-operation in the drafting of the Bill. I also thank my former colleagues on the Welsh Language Board, from which I have now happily retired, for their activities in assisting in the preparation of the Bill and in the implementation of the principle of
As the noble Lord said, this Bill had all-party support and that was something I warmly welcomed initially. I am grateful to Members who have seen the very speedy passage of this Bill through your Lordships' House. I earnestly hope and pray, and any other verbs that I can think of, that the Bill will have an equally rapid passage through another place. I have obtained the potential support of an experienced lawyer. I refer to the Labour Member of Parliament for Clwyd West, Mr. Gareth Thomas, who I understand is prepared to introduce the Bill in another place. I hope that it will have all-party support and that some of the acrimony that we have seen recently in public debates in Wales about bilingualism will not be repeated when the Bill goes to the Commons. I shall not enter into details.
Earl Russell: My Lords, I believe that my noble friend Lord Hooson, who extended the welcome of these Benches to the Bill when it was last before the House, is no longer in the Chamber. Perhaps the House will allow me to repeat on behalf of these Benches our welcome for the Bill. The right to keep one's records and to have one's families' births, marriages and deaths recorded in one's native language is a fundamental one. I believe that the Bill has the confidence not only of all parties but, I understand, of those concerned professionally in the vital work of preserving archives. We have been practically reminded in the past few weeks of how vital to a nation's identity are its collective memory and records. Anything which contributes to keeping them in a form where they may be consulted for serious research or other purposes and which helps to preserve the collective memory of a nation is to be welcomed. We congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, on the work he has done in steering the Bill through the House.
Back to Table of Contents
Lords Hansard Home Page