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Page 11, line 33, at beginning insert (“section 85(2A) or")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, this is the last of the notorious group. I hope that the noble Baroness will feel moved at the end of this grouping to agree that such groups should not be imposed upon this House again in the course of the Bill. It really would be much simpler and easier if we rattled through these questions with a separate subject for each group, rather than having a mishmash of what has turned out to be half a dozen good and important debates within one group. In particular, when discussing issues on Report, we cannot come back in the course of the debate. It is extremely difficult to handle portmanteau groups effectively. When amendments involve matters which we have not seen before, I think that the Government owe us the courtesy of presenting them to us in a way which is reasonably digestible.

I have a very simple question for the noble Baroness and I hope that she will be able to solve it for me. Can she say what Section 85(2A), which, apparently, was forgotten by the draftsmen in their previous attempts at this Bill, will do?

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I apologise to the noble Lord. There was a sound of paper being rustled and I did not actually hear his question.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, the amendment would bring Section 85(2A) of the Representation of the People Act into the disqualification provision. I would be grateful to know what this section does and why it was previously omitted.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the noble Lord ought perhaps to consider my remarks on the previous amendment. All we are trying to do here is to bring in a form of the Representation of the People Act which is applicable to the London elections. I do not have any trouble with the Representation of the People Act or with the other legislation to which there is a cross-reference. I can assure the noble Lord that we are doing nothing underhand here. Therefore, if he requires further clarification and is not satisfied with that clarification, we will return to the matter on Third Reading.

I believe that the whole episode of the past hour or so has indicated that we have not sufficiently communicated our intentions to the House, and I apologise for that. Nevertheless, this is a fairly straightforward transposition of pre-existing electoral legislation upon which I would have thought we could have reached a consensus. However, that may be partly through the late tabling of our own amendments and partly because of a suspicion on the other side of the House that we are trying to pull a fast one--and we are not. I think that such groupings could be done better in the future. For the moment, I commend Amendment No. 49 to the House. In the same light as I replied to the

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noble Lord, Lord Bowness, I should tell the noble Lord that if he is not satisfied with my subsequent reply, we will return to the matter on Third Reading.

Baroness Miller of Hendon: My Lords, I am absolutely certain that there is no suggestion that anyone from any part of the House is trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes. However, the fact remains--and this point was made very early on in the proceedings--that very many amendments were tabled at a late stage. The Chief Whip said that something like 80 per cent of those amendments were in response to points that we had made.

The point we would now like to make is that none of these issues that have been discussed over the past hour are in response to any points that we made. As they appear to be so necessary and the Minister wishes to move them before we have actually seen the documentation--he feels that there is nothing much in them and that they are quite simple, and so on--we would like to point out that it really does look like legislating on the hoof. This Bill has been through the House of Commons; indeed, as I said before, it has been through the Committee stage, the Report stage and Third Reading. It has also been through the Committee stage here. It seems extraordinary to us that, all of a sudden, things arrive which apparently are so obvious and simple. We have had no time to discuss them.

Noble Lords, like my noble friend Lord Lucas, have only seen such amendments today and it is very difficult to deal with them. Quite frankly, with all the other amendments that we have had to consider, noble Lords on the Opposition Front Bench have not really had the time to take note of these issues. Indeed, we have had since Friday. It has been impossible. We do not have the officials. We are not blaming the Ministers and we are not singling out any officials. I think that the Ministers have been ill-served in this matter. I feel very sorry for them. Nevertheless, the fact remains that it has not been right for us and it is not right for the House. This whole group of amendments ought to have been taken away, looked at again and the necessary advice taken as regards the questions that noble Lords have asked.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, with the leave of the House, I must say that I have huge sympathy for the Minister's position. I readily accept that we on these Benches should have looked up Section 85(2A). We, too, have been overwhelmed. However, as I read it, this is an amendment to Clause 20, which deals with disqualification of someone who is elected as mayor or as an assembly member. I believe that to be so serious that it is not a matter upon which the House should be asked to take a decision.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I am not sure whether or not we are all abusing the procedural rules relating to the Report stage of a Bill. However, it is logical that I rise to speak at this point, even if it is not entirely procedurally in order. Again, all we are doing here is dealing with the disqualification proceedings which are at present in existing legislation and transposing them into this legislation by means of amendment. If noble Lords do not agree with that, I think that they had better vote against the

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amendment. I wish to press the amendment now. If further issues arise as a result of subsequent correspondence between us, they can be dealt with on Third Reading.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, I hope that he agrees that nothing said during the course of the past few minutes has answered my question as to what this amendment actually does. We are being asked to insert something into the Bill about which we are entirely in the dark. We have received no explanation from the Government as to what it will do. If the Government do not know what it does, I really do not think that they have any business voting on it.

7.37 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 49) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 96; Not-Contents, 93 .

Division No. 2


Acton, L.
Ahmed, L.
Alli, L.
Amos, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Bach, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Blackstone, B.
Blease, L.
Bragg, L.
Brett, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L.
Burlison, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Chandos, V.
Christopher, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Crawley, B.
Darcy de Knayth, B.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Gilbert, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hacking, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Islwyn, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
Kennet, L.
Kilbracken, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Kirkhill, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Mallalieu, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Molloy, L.
Monkswell, L.
Orme, L.
Palmer, L.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rea, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Renwick of Clifton, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Sawyer, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Thornton, B.
Turner of Camden, B.
Varley, L.
Walpole, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Winston, L.
Young of Old Scone, B.


Alderdice, L.
Astor of Hever, L.
Avebury, L.
Baker of Dorking, L.
Barker, B.
Bathurst, E.
Belhaven and Stenton, L.
Berners, B.
Biddulph, L.
Blatch, B.
Boardman, L.
Bowness, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L.
Buscombe, B.
Byford, B.
Calverley, L.
Carlisle, E.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Carnock, L.
Chesham, L.
Clancarty, E.
Clement-Jones, L.
Coleraine, L.
Cross, V.
Dholakia, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Ellenborough, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Elton, L.
Falkland, V.
Ferrers, E.
Geddes, L.
Geraint, L.
Goschen, V.
Gray, L.
Hamwee, B.
Henley, L. [Teller]
Hogg, B.
Hooper, B.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Kinnoull, E.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Lamont of Lerwick, L.
Leigh, L.
Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Lucas, L.
Lyell, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
McNair, L.
McNally, L.
Maddock, B.
Mancroft, L.
Mar and Kellie, E.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Monk Bretton, L.
Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Montrose, D.
Mountevans, L.
Moyne, L.
Moynihan, L.
Munster, E.
Norrie, L.
Northbourne, L.
Northesk, E.
Norton of Louth, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Onslow, E.
Oxfuird, V.
Perry of Southwark, B.
Phillips of Sudbury, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Radnor, E.
Renton, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Rotherwick, L.
Russell, E. [Teller]
Selsdon, L.
Sharples, B.
Skelmersdale, L.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Strathclyde, L.
Swinfen, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Thurso, V.
Tope, L.
Tordoff, L.
Torrington, V.
Wise, L.
Young, B.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

12 Oct 1999 : Column 283

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I beg to move that further consideration on Report be now adjourned and that we resume again not before 8.50 p.m.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

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