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Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, before the noble and learned Lord concludes, perhaps he could answer two questions. He made a very clever and, I thought, broadly very sensible speech--if that is not

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impertinent to the noble and learned Lord. However, am I right in thinking that he said that the Government's position is that stage two reform is an all-or-nothing approach; in other words, there can be no cherry picking? Therefore, as he disagrees with that, does this mean that we can go forward and implement aspects of the Wakeham Commission's recommendations before we see what the final stage two proposal is? Does it also mean that we could go forward and have a constitutional committee, a human rights committee and, possibly, a statutory appointments committee?

Secondly, perhaps the noble and learned Lord could clarify this point, which I did not catch in his response. Is he saying that there can be no Joint Committee of both Houses until all the parties agree on a proposal put before them? Alternatively, does the noble and learned Lord intend to establish the Joint Committee before that position is reached?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, the noble Lord has asked two distinct questions, which ought to be kept separate. The first question was whether there is any area or "aspect" of either the Wakeham recommendations or of our deliberations today that could usefully be put into effect. Plainly, the answer to

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that question is yes. There may be particular aspects of resource as regards committees, and other aspects of that sort. We ought to be very careful about falling into the trap that we know perfectly well of saying, "Let's have an appointments committee", and nothing else would happen. That is the answer to the first question. One would have to look at the matter deliberately, carefully and discreetly--and I use that term in both senses.

I am afraid that I have momentarily forgotten the noble Lord's second question. I am so sorry; it was an involuntary amnesia, not a wilful one. It seems to us that the Joint Committee has work to do of this nature. It needs to establish the general consensus--I imagine that it will never be a perfect one--and then it will have to attend to the parliamentary devices that will be needed to put that consensus into effect. The one thing we do not want is another visitation to the ground that has already been traversed by the noble Lord, Lord Wakeham, to see if those conclusions can be second-guessed. Otherwise, it will be 1968 all over again. Time is passing and my life is simply not long enough to contemplate it.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

        House adjourned at twenty minutes past eleven o'clock.

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