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Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare: I too am grateful to the Minister for his serious response. I am equally grateful to those Members on both sides of the Committee who joined in this debate. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, that I think the mayor of London should certainly be in the House of Lords and it would perhaps be convenient for him to be there at the beginning rather than immediately after he is elected.

I say to the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, that the overriding purpose of this amendment is to try to make people think about what the new Chamber should look like. I take the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Gould. It is hard to find a wording that includes reference to the number of times one attends, the number of times one speaks and the amount of work one does. I have wrestled with this matter and I know that it is not easy. I just wanted to place firmly on the record how much I disapprove of people who take the honour that this House offers, and the great distinction with which it is viewed by the rest of the nation, and then make no attempt to give back benefit to that nation by attending this Chamber or working for it. That was the purpose of this amendment. I thank the Minister for taking it in that vein. With that in mind, I shall withdraw my amendment but I may bring it back on Report. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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10.45 p.m.

Lord Lucas moved Amendment No. 79:

After Clause 2, insert the following new clause--


(" .--(1) There shall be an Appointments Commission.
(2) The Appointments Commission alone shall make recommendations to Her Majesty for the conferment of life peerages in accordance with the Life Peerages Act 1958, and shall determine various matters in relation thereto.
(3) The Appointments Commission shall consist of eight members, one to be nominated by each of--
(a) the Prime Minister,
(b) the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons,
(c) the Leader of the second largest opposition party in the House of Commons,
(d) the Convenor of the Cross Bench peers in the House of Lords,
(e) the Leader of the House of Lords,
and three members, known to be independent of any political party, to be nominated by the House of Lords and approved in each case by a majority of two thirds of those voting.")

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 79 I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 80 to 83. I may be able to be quite brief. I was very impressed by what the Leader of the House said in answer to Amendment No. 75. I thought she set out a thoroughly commendable approach to the way in which Peers would be selected in the future. However, I am sure she will recognise that that is subject to executive discretion and that it has no statutory underpinning. I am sure she will also recognise that I and many other Members of the House feel that that is not good enough. There has to be something in the Bill that gives us a greater sense of security that the arrangements she so ably outlined could survive a change of government or a change of opinion by a government, something that gives us a stage better reliance.

If the Leader of the House will agree to meet a group of noble Lords between Committee stage and Report stage to discuss how we might moderate our demands and how we might find some way of satisfying our justifiable fears in a way that is acceptable to the Government, I, and I hope other of my colleagues, will feel able to leave discussion of these amendments to another day, or perhaps not at all. I beg to move.

Lord Henley: Before the noble Baroness replies, perhaps I may take this opportunity to ask either the noble Baroness or the Government Chief Whip about their intentions as to how late we should sit. There has been a general understanding that we should not sit too late on such a major constitutional Bill. I appreciate that we have a great deal to get through; I also appreciate that we have Monday and possibly other days for debate. I think at this stage it is important to know the Government's plans. Obviously that will influence us as to how we deal with certain of our amendments, particularly those amendments that we wish to deal with on Monday.

Lord Carter: We have been sitting for almost exactly seven hours. We are just starting on the seventh group of

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amendments. I do not think that we have made enough progress on an important constitutional Bill. I wish to make more progress tonight.

Lord Henley: Is the Government Chief Whip suggesting that we sit for another seven hours tonight? I am not sure that he would have agreement from his own Back Benchers--certainly he would not have it from ours--that we sit for another seven hours.

Lord Carter: I am finding it hard to restrain my enthusiasm. It certainly will not be for another seven hours.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: Perhaps I may reply to the Amendment No. 79, which has been moved by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas. The noble Lord was gracious enough to say that he would not speak in detail to these amendments if I responded favourably to his suggestion. I am grateful to him for saying what he did about my response to the earlier amendments of the noble Lords, Lord Waddington, and Lord Crickhowell.

We agree that what the noble Lord has attempted to do in his series of amendments--I think there are five altogether--is impressive. But it is fairly lengthy. I would suggest that that illustrates the particular problems of trying to put into a statute the issues which we discussed at some length before the break for dinner. He has graciously suggested that, rather than going through the details this evening, we might discuss the matter privately. I am happy to pursue that course. I draw his attention and the attention of the Committee to the letter which I wrote at the beginning of the Session to say that Ministers were always anxious to meet other Members of the House and to try to accommodate their concerns, particularly at this stage of proceedings. If that is the way the noble Lord, Lord Lucas, wishes to proceed, I am happy to do so.

Lord Lucas: I am grateful to the noble Baroness. If the Committee is agreeable, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment Nos. 80 to 83 not moved.]

Earl Ferrers moved Amendment No. 84:

After Clause 2, insert the following new clause--


(" .--(1) A member of the Scottish Parliament is disqualified for sitting and voting in the House of Lords.
(2) Where an individual is disqualified under this section, the disqualification ceases on the day he ceases to be a member of the Scottish Parliament.
(3) No writ of summons shall be issued to a person who is for the time being disqualified under this section.")

The noble Earl said: In moving Amendment No. 84, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 85. I am a bit apprehensive about doing this because, when the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, last spoke about hereditary Peers, I think he said that they make no contribution; and if they do make a contribution it is of

13 May 1999 : Column 1418

no noticeable effect. That is rather like the bully at school who asks: "Why don't you say something?" and, if you do, says: "Shut up".

With these amendments we enter slightly sensitive ground and I hope the Committee will not mind my doing so. I should let Members into a secret, I may have sat next to the noble Lord, Lord Williams, at dinner, although I did not realise it, and I found my glasses had been smashed. I thought he might have done it, but I was not sitting next to him, so it must have been a poltergeist.

Amendment No. 84 proposes the following:

    "A member of the Scottish Parliament is disqualified for sitting and voting in the House of Lords". Amendment No. 85 states:

    "A person who is entitled to vote in elections for membership of the Scottish Parliament is disqualified for sitting and voting in the House of Lords". They are two fairly modest amendments with clear objectives. In the early stages of the Bill we heard much about the manifesto and what it said. I remind the Committee of what was said in the Government's White Paper on House of Lords reform. On the very first page it states:

    "Parliament is the central element of Britain's democracy. Britain needs a two-chamber legislature". Having said that, what do the Government do? They devolve powers to Scotland and make a single-chamber legislature. So there is a single-chamber legislature in Scotland and a two-chamber legislature in England. That does not bode well for the unity of the United Kingdom.

The Earl of Errol: Perhaps I may interrupt the noble Earl. This is not the English Parliament, it is the Parliament of the UK here. I wish to point that out, it is a misconception which I have noticed entering the debate from time to time.

Earl Ferrers: It is kind of the noble Earl to remind us that it is a United Kingdom Parliament and he has courteously drawn me on to the next part of my remarks. If a Bill is passed in the Scottish Parliament, concerning health, education or social security, it goes through the Scottish Parliament and that is that. If you pass a Bill on education, health or social security in the House of Commons, it has to go through your Lordships' House. So there is a two-chamber system here and a single-chamber system in Scotland. I suggest that that is wholly divisive. The Government have constantly refused to address their minds to the point and that is what we are left with. We have the position of a single chamber in Scotland.

Some noble Lords have thought it desirable to stand for election to the Scottish Parliament and some have succeeded. All credit to them. The noble Lord, Lord Steel of Aikwood, has been successful and achieved what I understood to be his ambition, becoming the Presiding Officer, the equivalent of being Speaker of the Scottish Parliament. That is fine.

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Using him as an example, why then should he come to your Lordships' House and decide on what your Lordships and England should do on matters respecting England? If he does, should he sit as Lord Steel of Aikwood or as Sir David Steel, as he intends to do in Scotland? Alternatively, does he sit as both Sir David in Scotland and Lord Steel in England? If he sits in your Lordships' House, will he sit on the Liberal Democrat Benches, where we are used to seeing him, or on the Cross-Benches? Can one imagine Madam Speaker in another place leaving the House of Commons going to the Scottish Parliament and sitting as a Labour Member of Parliament, giving Labour views? Of course not. Lord Steel has sanitised himself by becoming a Speaker, therefore theoretically he ought to sit on the Cross-Benches.

Then there is the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice. It is curious how they all come from the Liberal Democrat Benches. The Liberal Democrats try like mad to get positions of authority in the United Kingdom Government and always fail. Having failed there, they try Scotland, where they seem to be successful, or Wales, where they are also successful. Now the other part of my glasses has gone, so the noble Lord, Lord Williams, need not worry too much!

The noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, has been successful in Northern Ireland. What does he do? Does he come and sit on the Cross-Benches, or the Liberal Democrat Benches? There is quite a difficulty here. Why should people who have stood for a regional parliament and been elected to that parliament, and have in some cases become administrators of the regional parliament discussing regional matters, in which this House has no part, then come to this place and discuss and take part in matters which are outside their region but reflect the rest of the United Kingdom--England for example? It is the old West Lothian question. It has gone completely unanswered and unaddressed by the Government. That is a great pity.

People have climbed up rather like a monkey going across the trees in the rain forest, swinging from branch to branch, and they have swung from another place into this House and from this House to the Scottish Parliament. They have succeeded in doing all that. Why do they still continue to come to this House and discuss English matters?

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