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Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords--

Lord Redesdale: My Lords, the Minister said that there will be a review of the--

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, perhaps we should hear the noble Lord, Lord Howell.

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, is it not the position that the policy of critical dialogue and quiet discussion with Zimbabwe has failed? Has not President Mbeki of South Africa admitted that it has failed? Is it not now time for a much firmer policy? Given that all the principles outlined by my noble friend Lord Blaker are being flouted by President Mugabe, is it not time for the Commonwealth leaders to warn that if things have not improved by the time of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Zimbabwe will be asked to leave the Commonwealth?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, perhaps I am not making myself absolutely clear. The Commonwealth

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works by consensus. Britain is a part of a much wider group. We have to ensure that we work with those in the Commonwealth and our other international partners who have expressed concern about this matter.

Business of the House: Standing Order 46

3.18 p.m.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That Standing Order 46 (No two stages of a Bill to be taken on one day) be dispensed with to enable the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill to be taken through its remaining stages this day.--(Lord Williams of Mostyn.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Procedure of the House: Select Committee Report

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Tordoff): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the First Report from the Select Committee (HL Paper 9) be agreed to.--(The Chairman of Committees.)

Following is the report referred to:


    1. Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee: terms of reference


    Before the dissolution of Parliament, and without a formal meeting, the Procedure Committee agreed revised terms of reference for the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee (formerly the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee). Because there was no time before the dissolution to report these new terms of reference to the House, the Committee is doing so now. The Committee also recommends that the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee should be subject to a 4-year rotation rule.


    The revised terms of reference are:


    to report whether the provisions of any bill inappropriately delegate legislative power, or whether they subject the exercise of legislative power to an inappropriate degree of parliamentary scrutiny; to report on documents laid before Parliament under section 3(3) of the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994 and on draft orders laid under section 1(4) of that Act; to report on documents laid before Parliament under section 1(1) of the Regulatory Reform Act 2001 and on draft orders laid under section 6(1) of that Act; and to perform, in respect of such documents and orders, and of subordinate provisions laid under section 4 of the Regulatory Reform Act 2001, the functions performed instruments by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments.;


    (the words in bold are new)


    Additionally, the Committee recommends the following changes to standing orders necessitated by the Regulatory Reform Act 2001:


    Standing Order 40(6) to read as follows (new words are in bold):


    "Any motion relating to a report from the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee on a draft order laid under section 1 of the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994 or on a draft order laid under the Regulatory Reform Act 2001 shall be entered before a motion to approve that draft order."

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    Standing Order 72(1) to read as follows (new words are in bold):


    "No Motion for a resolution of the House to approve an Affirmative Instrument shall be moved until:


    (a) except in the case of any Order in Council or draft Order in Council made or proposed to be made under paragraph 1 of Schedule 1 to the Northern Ireland Act 1974, or a draft order proposed to be made under section 1 of the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994, or a draft order proposed to be made under section 1 of the Regulatory Reform Act 2001 there has been laid before the House the report thereon of the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments;


    (b) in the case of a draft order proposed to be made under section 1 of the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994, or a draft order proposed to he made under section 1 of the Regulatory Reform Act 2001, there has been laid before the House the report thereon of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee; and


    (c) in the case of a Hybrid Instrument, the proceedings under Private Business Standing Order 216 or 216A have been terminated."


    2. The printing of explanatory notes to bills


    Standing Order 50 provides that a public bill brought up from the Commons when this House is not sitting may be printed and circulated before first reading. The Committee recommends that the standing order should apply also to any Explanatory Notes accompanying such a bill and that the words "and any Explanatory Notes thereto" should be added at the end of Standing Order 50(1).


    3. Human rights declarations and second readings of bills


    The Committee recommends that the minister in charge of a government bill, who gives the statement required by s. 19 of the Human Rights Act 1998 on whether the provisions of the bill are compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, should under normal circumstances move the second reading of the bill. If that minister is unable to do so, another minister should do so on the basis that he or she is acting on behalf of the minister who has given the statement.


    4. Appellations


    The Committee recommends that Members of the House who hold or have held the office of Chief of the Defence Staff should be entitled to the appellation "noble and gallant".


    5. Repeating the oath in Gaelic


    Members of the House must take the oath of allegiance or make the solemn affirmation before they can sit and vote in the House. The oath or affirmation must be taken in English, but since 1982 any Member of the House who wishes to do so has been allowed to repeat it in Welsh. The Committee recommends that a Member of the House should be allowed to repeat the oath or affirmation in Gaelic.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill

3.19 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time.--(Lord McIntosh of Haringey.)

On Question, Bill read a second time; Committee negatived. Then, Standing Order No. 46 having been suspended (pursuant to Resolution of this day), Bill read a third time, and passed.

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Land Registration Bill [H.L.]

3.20 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.--(Baroness Scotland of Asthal.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES in the Chair.]

Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.

Clause 4 [When title must be registered]:

Baroness Buscombe moved Amendment No. 1:


    Page 3, line 8, leave out "seven" and insert "fourteen"

The noble Baroness said: In moving Amendment No. 1, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 4, 11, 23, 33, 35, 40, 41, 42, 48 and 76. However, I should like to point out to the Committee that I propose to speak separately with regard to Amendments Nos. 35, 40 and 41. Therefore, although the amendments are grouped together and are connected, my introductory remarks will focus initially on all the amendments other than Amendments Nos. 35, 40 and 41. The amendments in this group are designed to reinstate the proposal in the consultative document that the length of lease that must be registered should be reduced from 21 years, as at present, to 14 years rather than the seven years stated in the Bill.

It is acknowledged in the report at paragraphs 1.17 and 3.14 that there was no consensus on consultation for an immediate reduction to seven years. The amendment would reduce the immediate change in the law and impose a smaller initial burden on the property industry, the conveyancing profession and the Land Registry's resources than the proposal in the Bill. If experience of that limited change suggests that a further reduction is desirable and will not overstretch the industry, the professions and the registry, it will then be possible after consultation under Clause 5(4) to make that reduction by order. We believe that that would be much more practical.

If, initially, only 14-year and longer leases are compulsorily registrable, and seven-year leases are only required to be registered as from a later date, for a while there will be unregistered leases of between seven and 14 years in existence that will have been granted before the further change is made. However, this will not delay the time when unregistered conveyancing becomes obsolete, because there will anyway, for 21 years after the date on which the legislation comes into force, be unregistered leases still in existence which were granted before that date for terms of up to 21 years.

The proposal to make all seven-year and longer leases compulsorily registrable is a major change in the law. It will cause equally major changes in practice, all of which are best introduced by stages thereby

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enabling the industry and the professions to become familiar with the new system without undue pressure, and also enabling any problems that may emerge to be tackled before they become widespread. Any leaseholders who wish to apply for voluntary registration of seven-year leases will be able to do so under Clause 3(3), if they believe that the benefits of registration are worth having. A number of organisations have been in contact with us, including the Country Landowners Association, which also feels quite passionately that the amendment should be accepted by the Government.

Amendments Nos. 35, 40 and 41 are specifically intended, first, to apply to leases of manors the principle suggested for leases generally--namely, that, in the first instance, compulsory registration should apply to leases of 14 years or more rather than seven years or more; and, secondly, to exclude altogether from registration leases of manors for five years or less, which are unlikely to be dealt with. I beg to move.


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