Lord Cope of Berkeley moved Amendment No. 36:
Clause 4, page 2, line 1, after ("Disqualifications") insert ("(Ministers and Members of the Legislature of Ireland)").
The noble Lord said: This amendment seeks to make the citation under which the Bill is to be known, if it is passed, which I hope it is not, that much clearer. It suggests that it should be cited as the
"Disqualifications ... Ministers and Members of the Legislature of Ireland Act 2000".
Otherwise it will not be clear to anyone who looks at the Bill among others what it is all about. That is the purpose of the citation. It seemed to me that slightly fuller wording was necessary. I beg to move.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: This would have been a consequential amendment required only if amendments relating to Irish Ministers and members of the Irish parliament had been accepted. As no amendments to the Bill referring to Ministers and members of the legislature of Ireland have been accepted, we believe that this amendment is unnecessary. For those reasons, it should be rejected.
Lord Cope of Berkeley: We accepted Amendment No. 25 as regards Ministers and the Government of Ireland not very long ago. The amendment may not be perfect, but it is not quite as bad as the Minister suggests. I shall consider the drafting between now and Report stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 4 agreed to.
In the Title:
[Amendment No. 37 not moved.]
Lord Cope of Berkeley moved Amendment No. 38:
In the Title, line 2, after ("Commons") insert (", the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly").
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The noble Lord said: The purpose of this amendment is to make the Title more accurate. I beg to move.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: Again, this is a consequential amendment which would have been required if Amendment No. 33 had been accepted. However, as Amendment No. 33 was not accepted there is no good cause to have a reference to the Scottish Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales. The amendment is both irrelevant and unnecessary and I ask the Committee to reject it.
Lord Mayhew of Twysden: I invite the noble Lord to say whether he recognises that some of us feel, not altogether light heartedly, that it might be justified to insert into the Title the words "and who has asked for it?". Throughout our proceedings today we have tried, I hope courteously, and, alas, at the expense of inciting the wrath of the noble Lord, Lord Smith, on the Liberal Democrat Benches to discover who has asked for the Bill. We have not succeeded.
Will the Minister say that between now and the next stage of the Bill, whenever that might be--I hope it will not be the usual period of six months--that the answer, or the refusal to answer, will be reconsidered? It is high time that we were told who has asked for the Bill. Failing that, we should be told why it is considered to be irrelevant, if that be the case.
During our debate today I have had in mind the couplet from a hymn which I believe was written by the divine John Donne.
"Who sweeps a room as for Thy laws
Makes that and th' action fine".
My noble friend Lord Cranborne tells me that it was written by George Herbert. The Bill is said to be a tidying up operation and today we have been looking at the room which the Government seek to tidy up. No one in living memory has occupied that room; no one sweeps a room which has never been occupied unless they have a good reason for supposing that it will be--and that quite shortly. If so, by whom?
We want to know in whose name is the room being swept. If the Minister cannot answer tonight--I should have thought that it was a simple question--I hope that he will answer as soon as an opportunity arises at the next stage.
Lord Cope of Berkeley: I had thought that the Minister, or the noble and learned Lord, was going to answer.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: I was simply going to observe that the noble and learned Lord's speech was entertaining and consistent in its persistency, but it did not address the matter before the Committee, which was the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Cope.
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Lord Cope of Berkeley: That produced a short if more interesting debate than I had anticipated. It also left unanswered one of the important questions we have asked in different forms all day. That is the question to which we shall continue to seek an answer at later stages. In the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
[Amendment No. 39 not moved.]
Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 40:
In the Title, line 3, leave out ("and").
On Question, amendment agreed to.
[Amendments Nos. 41 and 42 not moved.]
Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 43:
In the Title, line 5, at end insert ("or chairmen or deputy chairmen of committees of the Dail Eireann or the Seanad Eireann or of joint committees of the Oireachtas; and to make provision with respect to who may be chairman or deputy chairman of a statutory committee of the Assembly").
On Question, amendment agreed to.
[Amendments Nos. 44 and 45 not moved.]
Title, as amended, agreed to.
House resumed: Bill reported with amendments.
Greenham and Crookham Commons Bill
A message was brought from the Commons, that they have made the following orders to which they desire the concurrence of this House:
That the promoters of the Greenham and Crookham Commons Bill shall have leave to suspend proceedings thereon in order to proceed with it, if they think fit, in the next Session of Parliament, provided that notice of their intention to do so is lodged in the Private Bill Office not later than the day before the close of the present Session and that all fees due up to that date have been paid;
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That on the fifth sitting day in the next Session the Bill shall be presented to the House by deposit in the Private Bill Office;
That a declaration signed by the agent shall be annexed to the Bill, stating that it is the same in every respect as the Bill presented in this House in the present Session;
That on the next sitting day following presentation the Clerk in the Private Bill Office shall lay the Bill on the Table of the House;
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That in the next Session the Bill shall be deemed to have passed through every stage through which it has passed in the present Session, and shall be recorded in the Journal of the House as having passed those stages;
That no further fees shall be charged to such stages;
That all petitions relating to the Bill which stand referred to the committee on the Bill, shall stand referred to the committee on the Bill in the next Session;
That no petitioners shall be heard before the committee unless their petition has been presented within the time provided for petitioning or has been deposited pursuant to Private Business Standing Order 126(b);
That, in relation to the Bill, Private Business Standing Order 127 shall have effect as if the words "under Standing Order 126 (Reference to committee of petitions against bill)" were omitted.
House adjourned at nine minutes before eleven o'clock.