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Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down, I should like most respectfully to ask her whether she could reconsider the charge she made that the amendment is a delaying tactic to delay implementation of the Bill. Does she accept that if the Royal Commission reports by December, January or February, concern about time really cannot be fairly considered as a delaying tactic? Certainly, it is not my intention to indulge in that.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I should always accept the contribution of the noble Lord in regard to his own intentions and motivation, as I hope he would equally with me. I was not making the broad point that this was a delaying provision, merely that that would be the effect. Whether or not it would substantially delay is a point that we could discus more generally. I was responding to the precise points of the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, which, because they do not require any consideration of the Royal Commission's report but simply that it should be laid before your Lordships, have the effect only of creating a time difference between the implementation of the Bill at the time that the Government would wish to see it and the time proposed in the amendment. Therefore, all the proposal achieves is to delay implementation.

Lord Trefgarne: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for that reply. It is not my intention to inject significant delay into the process. The reason why I changed the terms of the amendment that I moved at an earlier stage to the terms that I have placed before the House today was to respond to the points that had been made by Ministers when we discussed the matter in Committee. I am sorry that I have not gone far enough.

As to the point made by the noble Baroness that the Royal Commission report might be laid before the House on a Wednesday and the Bill come into force on the Thursday, it would of course be in the hands of the Government as to when the Royal Commission report was laid before the House. It could be done sooner or later, as the Government preferred, once it was in their hands. I am sorry that the noble Baroness does not think that that would be a good way to proceed.

I resented the intervention from the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Greenwich. I care for this House. I care for the institutions of Parliament. I am sorry that the noble Lord appears not to.

Lord Harris of Greenwich: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down in a paroxysm of feigned anger, or indignation, is he aware that the noble Baroness read out the terms of the Companion? The speeches that we have heard this evening are totally contrary to the spirit

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of the Companion. If the noble Lord is worried about the reputation of this House, he might at least at some stage read the Companion himself.

Lord Trefgarne: My Lords, I hope that I may be allowed to respond. My anger is not feigned; it is genuine. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

The Deputy Speaker (Viscount Allenby of Megiddo): My Lords, I have to inform the House that if either Amendment No. 66 or Amendment No. 66A is agreed, I cannot call Amendment No. 67 or Amendment No. 67A.

[Amendment No. 66 not moved.]

Lord Boardman moved Amendment No. 66A:

Page 2, line 4, leave out from ("force") to end of line and insert ("upon the date fixed by a resolution of a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament which is appointed after the Royal Commission on the reform and composition of the House of Lords has reported.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the noble Baroness said that this debate had taken place seven times. This amendment came up in Committee. I kept careful note of the points that were made from various parts of the House, and I withdrew it. Amendment No. 66A was therefore constructed to take account of the previous debate. It is only the second time that the amendment has appeared on a Marshalled List.

I am grateful to all noble Lords who took part in that debate. They were unanimous in their feeling that an amendment of this nature is necessary. I am deeply sorry that the Government do not appear to have taken any notice of that. We are looking towards the future of this House--a future in which we all share a belief. It would be a tremendous advantage if we had before us the findings of the Royal Commission. I am sorry that the noble Baroness has preferred to remain blind to that. It is all too often the trend of this Government that they start something without looking forward to see where the objective may lead. It is an unfortunate trend, and one that I regret.

In view of the importance of this issue and the fact that I do not want to raise it again, I beg to move and I believe it is right that I should now test the opinion of the House.

11.44 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 66A) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 32; Not-Contents, 81.

Division No. 5


Annaly, L.
Attlee, E.
Berners, B.
Biddulph, L.
Blatch, B.
Boardman, L. [Teller.]
Bridgeman, V.
Caithness, E.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Carnock, L.
Chalfont, L.
Chesham, L.
Coleraine, L.
Courtown, E.
Cross, V.
Effingham, E.
Ferrers, E.
Gray, L.
Kenyon, L.
Kinnoull, E.
Leigh, L.
Monson, L.
Mountevans, L.
Mountgarret, V.
Norrie, L.
Northbrook, L.
Norton of Louth, L.
Rennell, L.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Stanley of Alderley, L.
Trefgarne, L. [Teller.]
Wise, L.


Acton, L.
Addington, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Alli, L.
Amos, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Bach, L.
Berkeley, L.
Blackstone, B.
Blease, L.
Bragg, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Burlison, L.
Carlisle, E.
Carter, L. [Teller.]
Chandos, V.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clement-Jones, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Crawley, B.
Currie of Marylebone, L.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Gilbert, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grantchester, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hacking, L.
Hampton, L.
Hanworth, V.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Jay of Paddington, B. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Judd, L.
Kennet, L.
Levy, L.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller.]
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Monkswell, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Newby, L.
Nicol, B.
Pitkeathley, B.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Rea, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
Sawyer, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Shepherd, L.
Simon, V.
Simon of Highbury, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Tordoff, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Uddin, B.
Whitty, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

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11.55 p.m.

Viscount Mountgarret moved Amendment No. 67:

Page 2, line 4, leave out ("Session of").

The noble Viscount said: My Lords, with the leave of the House, perhaps I may speak to Amendment No. 68 because the amendments are intertwined.

At the risk of incurring the wrath of the noble Lord, Lord Richard, the amendment is in some way a delaying factor. I recognise that the Government have a mandate to introduce such legislation as is necessary during the lifetime of this Parliament. But I do not think that the manifesto went so far as to state that these measures had to be introduced by the end of the second Session of

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Parliament. I see little difference between the first, second or third Sessions, or however many Sessions one wishes. The reference is to Parliament. Therefore to terminate the hereditary element in your Lordships' House by the end of this Parliament would be entirely in keeping with the election manifesto.

I tabled similar amendments at Committee stage. At the risk of incurring your Lordships' wrath, I have to say that I was ill on the day that they were called. The noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, kindly made reference to the fact that I was not present. I wish to make some points which are not repetitive; and I ask the indulgence of the House.

If the Act were to come into play at the end of this Session of Parliament, it would be interesting to know when that will be. With the number of amendments being debated, I smell a rat or two. I have a suspicion that this Session of Parliament could go on for some time in order to get the Bill passed. It is a matter of regret that we do not have a fixed date for the end of Sessions of Parliament--but that is another matter. If the Bill is enacted at the end of this Session of Parliament there will be a period of time when noble Lords who are not entitled to attend this House will not be represented effectively in Parliament. That is a point which should be borne in mind.

My underlying concern relates to the Writ of the sovereign to noble Lords to attend this Parliament. It says nothing about attending this Session of Parliament. I understand and accept that Parliament is omnipotent. Parliament can, and from time to time does, control--if that is the right word--the sovereign. It calls the sovereign to account and keeps the sovereign within the bounds of our accepted constitutional procedure.

Having said that, and I have said it before in your Lordships' House, if one wields such tremendous power, that power should be exercised with courtesy and discretion. Otherwise the only way that one can govern is by consent. If one does not govern by consent one cannot govern unless it becomes a dictatorship where one dictates what will happen.

The people of this country have accepted the way in which our Parliament, sovereign and constitution work. I am not sure that people would rest content if the heat were turned up and respect for the sovereign were undermined. There is the question of a precedent which may be created.

I am concerned that in enacting the Bill by the end of this Session of Parliament instead of at the end of this Parliament, we shall be going against the command of Her Majesty and Her Majesty's Writ to your Lordships. That is not satisfactory.

I want quickly to refer to something which happened about 15 years ago: the abolition of the Greater London Council. The Conservatives were in power and we got ourselves into a terrible muddle because they said that the Bill would be enacted 11 months after the local elections in May. Councillors were to be elected for only 11 months before everything was abolished. The Government then said, "Look, it is the most frightful waste of money to have all these elections and therefore we will make appointments.". That did not go down too

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well simply because the appointment of councillors would have been politically tainted and where there were Labour elected councils, for some reason a Conservative majority would have replaced them. That was totally undemocratic and I said so at the time.

I came forward with a suggestion which The Times kindly called the "Mountgarret amendment". I have it here, but I shall not bore your Lordships. I said, "Surely, the sensible thing to do is to allow the existing councillors to continue in office for another 11 months until the thing is disbanded and we can all get on.". The long and the short of it was that, broadly speaking, the proposal was accepted.

I feel the same about this amendment. Why not allow our present composition in this House to continue until the end of this Parliament instead of rushing this Bill through at the end of the Session? I try, but I simply do not understand why. I shall be interested to listen to the noble Baroness, Lady Jay, and to know whether she can tell me why it is so necessary to kick us out on the street in July or perhaps November. On that basis, I beg to move.


Lord Richard: My Lords, the noble Viscount, Lord Mountgarret, said that he hoped he would not incur my wrath. Of course, he does not. I remember well that he was not present in Committee to move then the amendments which he has moved tonight, so of course he is entitled to move them. But let us be under no illusion: the issue has been discussed previously on a number of occasions. Whether the Bill should take effect at the end of the Session or at the end of the Parliament is not a new issue for the House, although the advocacy of it by the noble Viscount, Lord Mountgarret, is a new factor in our debates.

What is the effect of the amendment? There is nothing about waiting for the report of the Royal Commission, for the Joint Committee to report or anything of that kind. It is straight, pure delay. During the previous debate, noble Lords heard me say that the effect of the amendments moved by the noble Lords, Lord Trefgarne and Lord Boardman, was delaying and they thought that I had bitterly offended them all personally by saying that. There can be no other description of this amendment other than that it seeks to delay the implementation of the Bill from the end of the Session to the end of the Parliament. It is a very short, very simple issue.

I thought it just a little rich of the noble Viscount, Lord Mountgarret, to complain that we have not put the proposal in the manifesto. For months we have been sitting here listening to torrents of abuse poured on the manifesto from the other side. The first was that the manifesto does not matter because no one reads it. It is said that only 2 per cent of the population pay any attention to it and apparently 70 per cent of the population disagree with it. Although we were elected on it with a somewhat substantial, indeed comforting, majority, now the noble Viscount says, "Ah, you can't do this because it isn't in the manifesto". There seems to be a slight inconsistency in the general approach, if I

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may put it in that way, without dreaming of trying to offend the noble Viscount, Lord Mountgarret. This is a delaying amendment. As such, I cannot support it.

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