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Lord Kingsland: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for giving way. In fact, I did not quote from that evidence. I quoted from the White Paper, not from the evidence to the Royal Commission itself.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I apologise. I misunderstood the noble Lord. I thought he mentioned the evidence to the Royal Commission. However, he was reopening some of the general points about the longer-term issues that we have discussed at length. As he rightly says, we accept the broad principles, but do not feel that they are immediately relevant to the proceedings on this Bill.

In our previous debates on the subject of a purpose clause--the point behind these amendments--we had the authoritative view of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale (I am glad to see him in his place) who explained why purpose clauses should not be entertained in respect of Bills of the simplicity and clarity of the one we are discussing today. As he quite rightly said, they are unnecessary. I could perhaps also draw on the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Renton, who is not in his place this afternoon, who chaired the previous committee on the preparation of legislation and recommended that purpose clauses should be used only when they are the most convenient method of clarifying the scope and effect of the legislation.

I suggest also that the present purpose clause is describing purposes to this Bill which are simply wrong. They may describe the political effect of the Bill, but they do not describe its purpose which is a much more narrowly defined issue. The purpose of the Bill, in law, is to remove the automatic right to be a Member of this House by virtue of a hereditary peerage. In this country it is not practice--I argue this point with some trepidation with the noble Lord--to add extraneous provisions to Bills just to make those types of political points. There is no ambiguity in this Bill that such a purpose clause might help the courts in interpreting. There is no external obligation to which it gives effect which it would be worth specifically linking to the Bill. I do have the courage to assert, as a non-lawyer, that otiose law is bad law in all instances.

That is why we continue to think that the Bill should not contain a purpose clause. Perhaps I may say to the noble Lord who moved the amendment that it is emphatically not because we are embarrassed by any of the sentiments expressed in the amendment, or indeed embarrassed to have our general remarks recalled. We agree, of course, with those remarks and we agree with some of the sentiments which are expressed in the amendment. We are delighted that the Official Opposition are prepared to assert in amendments that

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those are worthwhile aims. They are indeed. They will indeed be the political effect of the Bill but they are not its purpose.

I also remind your Lordships that simply to say something is the case does not make it so. We all have before us the example of the 1911 Act to make us understand that. I remind your Lordships that the preamble to the 1911 Act famously promised that it was the first step on the way to a more democratic popular Chamber. The fact that after 88 years nothing has been done about that until now indicates just how pointless that kind of declaratory purpose may be.

What I have said about Amendment No. 1 applies also to Amendment No. 3, which is labelled the "Purpose of Act (No. 2)", and that is also in the name of the Official Opposition. I concede that in that second version they have done rather more redrafting of the propositions than they did both in the first amendment and those that we debated at Committee stage. However, I must tell your Lordships that they have not made enough changes to overcome our conviction that putting such a clause in the Bill is unnecessary and undesirable. Again, I would say to them that this is not because we regard the aims of the amendments as being anything other than consistent with the long-term policy objectives that we have put on the record. I merely repeat that we are not embarrassed by either version. We stand by either version as a long-term objective. But we feel that the amendment is inaccurate in not describing the limited purpose of this Bill and is superfluous in asserting its political effects.

The Government have the proper respect for the law and for the purpose of law. I urge the noble Lord to withdraw the amendment. If he does not wish to do that, I would urge the House to reject it.

Lord Kingsland: My Lords, the noble Baroness the Leader of the House says that this Bill does not, unlike the Parliament Act 1911, contain a preamble. That is perfectly true. But this Bill goes much further than the Parliament Act 1911. Therefore, in our judgment, for reasons even more powerful, it should have either a preamble or a purpose clause. But the noble Baroness will not accept that.

Unless the noble Baroness's reasons for introducing this Bill to your Lordships' House were wholly arbitrary, then the Bill must have a purpose. That purpose has been made very clear to your Lordships' House on several occasions during the many debates we have had on it; it is that the removal of hereditary Peers, in the Government's view, and the reduction in the Conservative majority, in the Government's view, will produce a more democratic and legitimate House.

I happen not to agree with that, because I do not understand the distinction between a nominated Peer and the son of a nominated Peer. It seems to me that they are both equally legitimate or equally illegitimate, both equally democratic or equally undemocratic. I do not see the distinction.

The Government's belief is that there is a distinction. The Government are clearly on record as saying that the reason for this Bill is that they want the House to be

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more democratic and more legitimate. It must follow that, once this Bill is operational, the House will be more democratic and more legitimate. Why are they so frightened of saying that in the Bill if they have said that about the Bill in every single speech they have made?

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I shall make only one point. I do not wish to weary your Lordships with the familiar repetition that this is the first stage of a process of reform. The purposes of this Bill are very clear, and are set out in Clause 1. I do not think there is any argument about that.

Lord Elton: My Lords, at the risk of interfering in an almost private exchange, perhaps I may--

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, it may be helpful to remind the House that we are at Report stage and that, on a government Bill, only the mover of an amendment should speak after the Minister.

Lord Kingsland: My Lords, in those circumstances, and despite the Opposition's strong feelings about this point, I beg leave to withdraw this amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Campbell of Alloway moved Amendment No. 2:


Before Clause 1, insert the following new clause--

REFERENDUM

(" .--(1) This Act shall not come into force until the people of the United Kingdom have approved its coming into force in a referendum.
(2) The question to be put on such referendum shall be--
"Do you wish to retain the House of Lords as constituted with the Hereditary Peerage until enactment of a Bill to establish a successor House [YES/NO].")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 63, which is consequential. These are not probing amendments to find out where the Government stand. I think we all know where the Government stand in the measure of their opposition to these amendments. These are Back-Bench, Cross-Bench amendments. They are not politically motivated. A free vote has been conceded on our Back Benches and I understand today that my own Front Bench will neither oppose nor support these amendments.

These amendments are concerned with the exercise of the powers of governance. As such, they enter inevitably the domain of party political contention. The question is, having regard to the apparent state of public opinion, whether, on these matters substantially affecting the constitution, there would be a deprivation of entitlement of the people if referenda were not to be held in the due exercise of the powers of governance. The questions arising on these amendments are not the same as those arising on the transitional House.

In deference to the decision of your Lordships' House on the transitional House amendment, it is not to be called in question. Your Lordships are nonetheless

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invited to consider whether Clause 2 should not be qualified by these referendum amendments. The arguments in support of these amendments and the transitional House amendments are distinct, free- standing and not mutually inconsistent. Such is the authoritative advice.

The Government, in breach of their own manifesto commitment, by introducing their own wrecking amendment as Clause 2 have shot their own manifesto fox. Only the broadest assent of the people can now salvage this wreck of a Bill. Let it be said, to deflect the scatterchaff of misinformation and confusion, first, that these referendum amendments do not wreck the transitional House amendment but could afford legitimacy without appreciable delay if such is the wish of the people. Having supported the transitional House amendment, which was not amended in Committee and may not be amended thereafter, your Lordships may well now conclude that this Bill as amended is not acceptable to your Lordships unless it is also acceptable to the people. Your Lordships may well prefer that this situation should be resolved by the people at the behest of your Lordships' House and not by your Lordships' House as a self-interested party. Even noble Lords who are minded to reject the Bill on Third Reading--and I see some of them present in the Chamber--might, if I may respectfully suggest, prefer to allow the people to decide whether or not this legislation should come into force. For are we not all but the servants of the people?

A "yes" vote on the question to be put would inhibit the Act from coming into force. No doubt that is why it is opposed by the Government. A "no" vote would enable the Act to come into force at once under Amendment No. 63, with the broad assent of the people. The dust-ridden area of the Amendment No. 31, upon which 230 noble Lords--that is, over one third of those attending--abstained, including the noble Lord, Lord Barnett, and the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, needs not to be revisited in this debate, and thank heavens for that!

However, the people should know that the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan, and many other noble Lords have recognised that no firm assurance can be given as to whether, when and in what form a successor Chamber may be established. As yet, the people are aware--they have not been consulted on it--of the setting up of a transitional House with 92 hereditary Peers to sit for life, until an Act of Parliament provides to the contrary, as a process of self-selection on a provisional 13th draft of standing orders not yet approved by the House.

What is the current apparent state of public opinion? To begin with, two-thirds favour retention of your Lordships' House as constituted, with the hereditary Peers, until full details of reform are known. Over half--that is, 58 per cent--reject retention of the hereditary entitlement in any successor Chamber. On the assumption that a transitional House were to be set up, two-thirds considered that it was about right, not too many and not too few, in answer to questions put. But no question was put as to whether a transitional House should be set up nor any question such as is proposed in the amendment; and no such question has been put since the two-thirds favoured retention of your

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Lordships' House as constituted, until the details of reform were known. Therefore, it is idle to suggest, as has been suggested, that there is some general public support for keeping hereditary Peers in a transitional House until reform has been fully worked out. Such is not the case.

Having regard to that state of public opinion, is it acceptable to your Lordships that this Bill, as amended, should be imposed without regard to the wishes of the people? At least those who wrote to me since the Committee stage, some of whom voted Labour, should know that their representations for a referendum have been brought to your Lordships' attention and that the Government, according to their stated intention, are not minded to accept their representations on this amendment or, indeed, any other amendment.

Although on the referendum debate on 12th May it was accepted that referendums have now become part of our political process, the view of many noble Lords, which I share, is that, in general, referendums are not to be favoured. But where provisions substantially affecting the constitution on which the people are divided against the Government are concerned, where a simple, readily intelligible question can be put, such as was not the case on Maastricht, where the referendum is conducted under fair and proper ground rules, which will soon become generic, and where a threshold--a fence--to be jumped has been erected, then, as in this case, your Lordships may think that a referendum is not only right, proper and reasonable but part of the political process within the power of governance.

As my noble friend Lord Strathclyde said in Committee, why are the Government in such a flap unless they are nervous about the proposition? It cannot be beyond the wit of government or Parliament to pass a short referendum Bill, or to attach such a measure to this Bill. Almost exactly two years ago we passed a referendum Bill in less than two months. In Committee, my noble friend Lord Cranborne said that if this amendment were to be accepted on the first day of Committee, it would make it more difficult to amend the Bill in other ways and that, after the Committee stage, this "admirable proposal", as he then called it, would be set in context.

The rectitude of such advice and, indeed, the advice given by the noble Baroness the Leader of the House that I should take a rain check and return, was much appreciated and is acknowledged with gratitude. Taking account of the constructive criticism, these amendments have been redrafted to strip them down to matters of essential principle. First, the referendum will not be delayed until after the report of the Royal Commission. Secondly, provisions as to the conduct of the referendum have been omitted; and, thirdly, a simple question, all but incapable of misunderstanding, to be put on the referendum is proposed.

We are told by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, who I no longer see in his place--


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