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-- an additional Assistant Archivist / Records Manager in the Record Office;
-- an additional personal secretary in the Committee Office;
-- four Legal Assistants to the Law Lords, the posts to be held for up to one year at a time, with effect from September 2000.

    The Committee agreed to the following increases in fees, broadly in line with inflation over the period 1995-99:

    Current FeeProposed Fee
    Payable on First Reading of Private Bill£3,500£4,000
    Payable on Third Reading of Private Bill£3,500£4,000
    Payable on Second Reading of Provisional Order Confirmation Bill£3,500£4,000
    Payable on appearance at Joint Committee on Special Procedure Order£1,750£2,000
    Payable on appearance at Select Committee on Hybrid Instrument£1,750£2,000
    Taxation fee per £100 of any bill of costs allowed£1.40£1.60

    5. Emergency Medical Services--Defibrillators

    The Committee took note of the decision of the Medical Advisory Panel that the House should hold two defibrillators, one in Peers' Lobby and the other in 1 The Abbey Gardens. The defibrillators and trained personnel will be in place by Easter.

Lord Barnett: My Lords, I should like to raise two points with the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees. Perhaps I should declare an interest, in that the first section of the report will allow my own daughter to sit on the Steps of the Throne. I very much applaud that ruling.

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However, I believe that many other matters should be of concern to the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees and the House authorities. First, what facilities will be made available for those sitting on the Steps of the Throne? Secondly, and more important, are we pressing the other place--when they have acquired 200 offices at a cost of £1 million each in Portcullis House--to concede 200 offices to your Lordships' House? If not, why not?

The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, as regards the first point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Barnett, it is proposed that those mentioned in the report of the House of Lords' Offices Committee should be given the facility of being allowed to sit on the Steps of the Throne, if that is acceptable to your Lordships this afternoon. No other facilities were envisaged in relation to those concerned.

So far as concerns office space, which the noble Lord, Lord Barnett, has mentioned, that is not a matter which arises out of this report. I believe that I would be trespassing on the indulgence of noble Lords were I to venture into that matter this afternoon. However, perhaps I may indicate that matters connected with accommodation are very much in the minds of those committees of your Lordships' House which are concerned with these issues.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil: My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees will agree that it would be wise if he were to take away the question put to him by his noble friend and give it a great deal more thought than he has been able to give it so far? Personally, I should hate it if he were to leave the Chamber without having it clearly in his mind that a great many noble Lords agree with what has been said by the noble Lord, Lord Barnett.

Lord Peston: My Lords, will the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees explain the meaning of the word "or" used in the sentence quoted at the end of the first point, where it states, "or the eldest son"? "Or" can mean one of two things: it can mean one but not both, or it can mean "and/or". Am I right to assume that here it means "and/or", in that, where an eldest son is sitting but his sister is older, she will be able to sit on the Steps as well? That would seem to me to be an entirely correct recommendation.

Lord Bruce of Donington: My Lords, can the noble Lord, Lord Boston, give the House an indication as to whether or not the committee discussed the agenda of its next and future meetings? Also, will the whole question of repairing and bringing up to a tolerable standard the acoustic properties of the various committee rooms of this House receive more than a perfunctory consideration?

The Countess of Mar: My Lords, I take this opportunity to thank the committee for extending the rights of females to sit on the Steps of the Throne. Perhaps I may remind the noble Lord that new incumbents will have will far less of a battle than I had

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with the noble Lord, Lord Denham--I see he has just taken his seat--when he was Chief Whip. When I sought to persuade him that my daughter, who is also my heir, should be allowed to sit on the Steps of the Throne, after a lot of excuses which did not stand up, he said that I might produce a son. I said that I could produce a certificate to prove that I could not and he finally gave way.

Lord Boardman: My Lords, as hereditary Peers who have been excluded from this House were granted as a concession the right to sit on the Steps of the Throne, should not the order be amended?

The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, perhaps I can deal with the last point first; that is, the one raised by the noble Lord, Lord Boardman. Hereditary Peers in fact already had the right to sit on the Steps of the Throne. On the point raised by the noble Countess, Lady Mar, I can only say that I am grateful to her for what she said, and am happy that she is happy.

The noble Lord, Lord Peyton of Yeovil, mentioned the matter of the House of Commons and House of Lords offices arising from the question raised by the noble Lord, Lord Barnett. There is no lack of interest in your Lordships' committees on this matter; indeed, it is being actively dealt with in the committees. I can give the noble Lord that assurance. However, I hope he will forgive me if I do not go further today because these matters will be referred to at a later date, though they are very much in people's minds.

The noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, raised the question of repair of committee rooms. As your Lordships will be aware from earlier reports, there is a continuing and extensive programme of work along the lines mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Bruce. I can assure him that those are being pursued with vigour. If he has any problems in mind relating to specific rooms and will let me know outside the Chamber what they are, I will look into those to see whether they are being dealt with.

The noble Lord, Lord Peston, raised a point in relation to the word "or". That word has its legal connotation and therefore it is used to indicate the alternative, not both.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Financial Services and Markets Bill

3.14 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.--(Lord McIntosh of Haringey.)

Lord Saatchi: My Lords, the Minister proposes that we should now go into Committee. The House should be aware that we have some difficulty with this.

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There is deep concern on these Benches in relation to the conduct of this Bill through this House. This Bill changes the face of regulation of Britain's most successful industry. The Government take the view that this Bill is the best of all possible Bills in this best of all possible worlds. So it should be; it is the single biggest piece of legislation that this Government have introduced.

The Bill is 215 pages and 408 clauses long. In its epic 18-month passage through another place it attracted 1,450 amendments. The standing committee sat for 17 hours in 35 sessions and a fine Joint Committee of both Houses, chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Burns, prepared a set of 37 recommendations. Yet after all that, the Government have now tabled 254 more amendments and say that they have hundreds more to come. Few of those amendments are in response to the Opposition's substantive amendments in another place.

I stress that this is not a complaint about the Minister, who graciously apologised to the Committee for the scale of government amendments we are being asked to consider. Nevertheless, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Government are almost redrafting the Bill as it goes along. First, the Government seem to be trying to correct bad drafting; secondly, they are introducing new concepts, some of which they say we shall not see in their final form until Report stage.

This is a complex and technical Bill whose 30 parts are highly interconnected, but under the avalanche of government amendments the Committee of your Lordships' House is unable to see the Bill in the round. I therefore ask for the Government's co-operation in this because we support the primary effect of this Bill; that is, the creation of an overarching financial services authority. But what explanation can the Minister give for the large number of government amendments, given the level of pre-legislative scrutiny this Bill received?

If the Bill is as perfect as the Government claim, one is entitled to ask why they are having so many second thoughts about it. To express our concern, I give notice of our intention to vote against the first government amendment in Committee this afternoon as a form of gentle protest.

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