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Lord Carter: My Lords, I am in some difficulty. The other place is still discussing the Criminal Justice and Court Services Bill and we have to await the Message that it has accepted the Lords amendments. The best I can do is to move that the House do adjourn during pleasure to await a Message from the Commons. We shall then display on the annunciator screens the time at which we expect to receive that Message. I believe I am correct in stating that once we have received it, I can then adjourn the House to await Prorogation.

Lord Henley: My Lords, before the noble Lord moves that Motion, I wonder whether he can give the House some idea as to when he thinks the other place might be sending forward the amendments. Could he suggest that we adjourn for two hours, three hours or whatever and then come back and let us know?

Lord Carter: My Lords, I think it would be safer to adjourn for the moment during pleasure so that I can find out what is happening. The procedure in the other place is not nearly as well whipped as ours! The debate on the Lords amendments to the Criminal Justice and

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Court Services Bill is taking longer than we expected. I believe that a number of Conservative Members are taking a particular interest in it. There is also a Business of the House Motion and another matter to be dealt with. Rather than adjourn for two or three hours and then find that we could come back at 7 p.m., it would be easier to adjourn during pleasure. The moment we are able to place a time on the annunciator screens, we shall do so.

Lord Henley: My Lords, the noble Lord the Government Chief Whip is a member of the Government. Therefore, we presume that he has some idea of what his colleagues are doing in another place.

Noble Lords: Oh!

Lord Henley: No, my Lords, I am serious. The Government have total control over their business in another place. They seem to be issuing guillotines every day, night and day. Can the noble Lord give us further advice as to when we might come back? There is no point in saying one hour or two hours. I cannot say. It is up to the Government, who control the other place, to say when we might come back. Can the noble Lord assist us?

Lord Carter: No, my Lords, I cannot. It is as simple as that. I understand that there is not a timetabled Motion on the Bill which is being discussed. That has to be completed in order for a Message to be sent, and I understand that it is open ended. I assure noble Lords that it would be simpler to adjourn the House during pleasure while we await a Message from the Commons. The moment we know that we will receive that Message, we can come together, receive it and adjourn for prorogation.

Lord Henley: My Lords, how will we know when we are coming back? Would it not be better if the noble Lord said that that would be at least one hour?

Lord Carter: My Lords, if it is easier, I can adjourn the House for one hour. If we find that we could have returned at 6.15 p.m., I think that the House will be cross. I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until 6.30 p.m.

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

[The Sitting was suspended from 5.49 to 6.30 p.m.]

Lord Carter: My Lords, I am reliably informed that the other place will be able to send us a message at 7 o'clock on the Criminal Justice and Court Services Bill. At that time I shall be able to tell the House at what time we will prorogue.

I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until 7 p.m.

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

[House adjourned during pleasure from 6.31 to 7 p.m.]

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Lord Carter: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until 7.30 p.m. for the Royal Commission.

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

[The Sitting was suspended from 7.1 to 7.30 p.m.]

Criminal Justice and Court Services Bill

Returned from the Commons with the amendments agreed to.

Royal Commission

7.30 p.m.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): My Lords, it not being convenient for Her Majesty personally to be present here this day, she has been pleased to cause a Commission under the Great Seal to be prepared for proroguing this present Parliament.

Then, the Lords Commissioners (being the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington), the Lord Marsh, the Lord Strathcylde and the Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank) being present and the Commons being at the Bar, the Lord Chancellor said: My Lords and Members of the House of Commons, Her Majesty, not thinking fit personally to be present here at this time, has been pleased to cause a Commission to be issued under the Great Seal, and thereby given Her Royal Assent to divers Acts, the Titles whereof are particularly mentioned, and by the said Commission has commanded us to declare and notify Her Royal Assent to the said several Acts, in the presence of you the Lords and Commons assembled for that purpose; and has also assigned to us and other Lords directed full power and authority in Her Majesty's name to prorogue this present Parliament. Which Commission you will now hear read.

A Commission for Royal Assent and Prorogation was read.

The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, in obedience to Her Majesty's Commands, and by virtue of the Commission which has been now read, We do declare and notify to you, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons in Parliament assembled, that Her Majesty has given Her Royal Assent to the several Acts in the Commission mentioned; and the Clerks are required to pass the same in the usual Form and Words.

Royal Assent

The following Acts received the Royal Assent:

Race Relations (Amendment) Act,

Children (Leaving Care) Act,

Freedom of Information Act,

Countryside and Rights of Way Act,

Transport Act,

Insolvency Act,

Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act,

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Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act,

Disqualifications Act,

Criminal Justice and Court Services Act,

Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act.

Prorogation: Her Majesty's Speech

Her Majesty's most gracious Speech was then delivered to both Houses of Parliament by the Lord Chancellor (in pursuance of Her Majesty's Command) as follows:

"My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

    "My Government have taken action to secure economic stability and steady growth, based on their long-term objectives for monetary and fiscal policy. The goal is high and stable levels of growth and employment. My Government have sought to secure the conditions which enable them to increase investment in public services.

    "Improving education continues to be my Government's highest priority. An Act has been passed to establish a new Learning and Skills Council to secure high standards for post-16 education and training and a new emphasis on securing skills needed in the economy.

    "Legislation has been passed to improve health and social care, reforming the system for protection of vulnerable people.

    "My Government have published an NHS Plan, setting out a programme of investment and reform for the health service. The plan will redesign NHS services to focus on the needs of patients, and will be supported by a sustained increase in NHS funding.

    "To ensure high levels of employment, my Government are continuing the New Deal to help more young people and the long-term unemployed, and announced the creation of a new Working Age agency to continue the progress made on developing Welfare to Work policies.

    "My Government are continually looking for ways to improve productivity, including in the public sector. The spending plans announced in July were accompanied by Public Service Agreements setting out targets for service improvement. An Act has been passed to introduce the latest accounting methods in Whitehall.

    "My Government are committed to delivering a competitive and well-regulated economy. An Act has been passed which reforms the regulatory framework for the gas and electricity sectors in England and Wales. Legislation has been enacted to transform the Post Office into a plc owned by the Government. Legislation has also been passed to improve the regulation of financial services and markets, establishing the Financial Services Authority as the single statutory regulator.

    "An Act has been passed to remove legal barriers and create a framework of trust to make it easier for commercial transactions and government services to take place electronically.

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    "An Act has been passed to reform the child support system. It also reforms the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme through the introduction of a State Second Pension and provides for the withdrawal of benefits from offenders who fail to complete community sentences.

    "Measures have been put forward to reduce crime. An Act has been passed to improve the protection of children from violent and sex offenders and to strengthen community sentences. Legislation has been enacted to provide new powers for the police and courts to tackle disorder connected with football matches.

    "An Act has been passed to put in place permanent UK-wide legislation against terrorism. Legislation has also been passed to update and regulate law enforcement capabilities to address changes in technology and the introduction of the Human Rights Act.

    "An Act has been passed which fulfils my Government's promise to legislate on a range of transport issues. This reforms air traffic control, railways and local transport services. My Government have published a 10-year plan for the modernisation of the country's transport system.

    "My Government have continued their plans for the reform of local government. An Act has been passed to improve its accountability and innovation.

    "An Act has been passed to give the public a new right of access to open countryside. It also improves the law on rights of way and the management of Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and strengthens the enforcement of wildlife law.

    "My Government have continued their programme of constitutional reform. Legislation has been enacted which will give the public a statutory right of access to information held by public authorities.

    "An Act has been passed to regulate the funding of political parties and campaign expenditure and to ensure the fair conduct of referendums.

    "My Government are determined to improve equality of opportunity. An Act has been passed outlawing race discrimination in certain public functions and placing a duty on specified public authorities to promote race equality.

    "My Government have continued to co-operate with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the interests of all the people of the United Kingdom.

    "In Northern Ireland my Government have worked closely with the Irish Government to secure full implementation of the Good Friday agreement. They have fulfilled their commitment to transfer powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly in accordance with the wishes of the people as expressed in a referendum.

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    "An Act has been passed to implement recommendations of the Report of the Independent Commission on Policing in Northern Ireland. My Government will continue to implement other parts of the Good Friday agreement within their responsibility.

    "Members of the House of Commons,

    "I thank you for the provision you have made for the work and dignity of the Crown and for the public service.

    "My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

    "The Duke of Edinburgh and I were pleased to receive the State Visit of Her Majesty Queen Margrethe of Denmark and Prince Henrik in February.

    "We recall with pleasure our Visit to Australia in March. Similarly we were delighted to pay a State Visit to Italy and a Visit to the Holy See in October.

    "My Government have continued to take a leading role in the European Union. The Special European Council in Lisbon signalled new developments in Europe's approach to economic and social reform.

    "Preparing for enlargement is a challenge for the European Union, and my Government are playing a key role. My Government have worked for practical measures to strengthen the European Union's foreign and security policy and continue to work with our allies to strengthen and modernise NATO.

    "My Government have made a large political, military and financial commitment to build peace and stability in the Balkans. They have played a leading role in helping to rebuild Kosovo.

    "My Government have taken decisive action in support of the UN operation in Sierra Leone, and continued to support the UN in bringing self-determination to the people of East Timor.

    "In the G8 and other forums my Government have taken a leading role in tackling issues of poverty eradication, debt relief and the causes of conflict.

    "My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

    "I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may attend you".

After which the Lord Chancellor said:

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons, by virtue of Her Majesty's Commission which has been now read We do, in Her Majesty's name, and in obedience to Her Majesty's Commands, prorogue this Parliament to the 6th day of December, to be then here holden, and this Parliament is accordingly prorogued to Wednesday, the 6th day of December next.

        Parliament was prorogued at one minute before eight o'clock.


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