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House of Lords

Thursday, 14th November 2002.

The House met at eleven of the clock: The CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES on the Woolsack.

Prayers—Read by the Lord Bishop of Gloucester.

Licensing Bill [HL]

The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Baroness Blackstone): My Lords, I beg to introduce a Bill to make provision about the regulation of the sale and supply of alcohol, the provision of entertainment and the provision of late night refreshment, about offences relating to alcohol and for connected purposes. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a first time.—(Baroness Blackstone.)

On Question, Bill read a first time, and to be printed.

Arms Control and Disarmament (Inspections) Bill [HL]

The Minister for Trade (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): My Lords, I beg to introduce a Bill to make further provision relating to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe signed in Paris on 19th November 1990. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a first time.—(Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean.)

On Question, Bill read a first time, and to be printed.

Waste and Emissions Trading Bill [HL]

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Whitty, I beg to introduce a Bill to make provision about waste and about penalties for non-compliance with schemes for the trading of emissions quotas. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a first time.—(Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton.)

On Question, Bill read a first time, and to be printed.

High Hedges Bill [HL]

Baroness Trumpington: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lady Gardner of Parkes, I beg to introduce a Bill to make provision for dealing with complaints about high hedges; and for connected purposes. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.

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Moved, That the Bill be now read a first time.—(Baroness Trumpington.)

On Question, Bill read a first time, and to be printed.

Committee of Selection

11.8 a.m.

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

Moved, That in accordance with Standing Order 64 a Committee of Selection be appointed to select and propose to the House the names of the Lords to form each Select Committee of the House (except the Committee of Selection itself and any committee otherwise provided for by statute or by order of the House) or any other body not being a Select Committee referred to it by the Chairman of Committees, and the panel of Deputy Chairmen of Committees; and that the following Lords together with the Chairman of Committees be named of the Committee:

L. Cope of Berkeley, L. Craig of Radley, L. Dubs, L. Grocott, L. Roper, V. Slim, L. Strathclyde, L. Trefgarne, B. Williams of Crosby, L. Williams of Mostyn (L. Privy Seal).—(The Chairman of Committees.)

Lord Barnett: My Lords, I am sorry to intervene, especially as the noble Lord is making his first appearance as the new Chairman of Committees. I congratulate the noble Lord on assuming that office but I must ask him to think again about the Motion. We are appointing a Committee of Selection that will decide on the membership of all Select Committees. The role of Select Committees is to hold government to account for much of the time. Should that selection be done wholly by the Front Benches? There are only three non-Front-Benchers on the list all of whom, I am sure, will do an excellent job. The committee will be totally dominated by the Front Benches. The new Chairman of Committees will be conscious of the problem. When my noble friend Lord Sheldon was chairman of the Liaison Committee in another place, he fought very hard to ensure that the Government did not dominate the selection of members of committees.

I hope that noble Lords will consider this matter and that the Chairman of Committees will do so further. We are today starting for the first time on a Thursday at 11 o'clock, and it cannot be right or the best way to proceed if we also continue with the same procedure. Is the Chairman of Committees willing to think again?

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Lord Peyton of Yeovil: My Lords, I associate myself very much with the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Barnett. He is a very wise man and although I cannot always follow him in the restraint that he shows, on this occasion I applaud it and am doing my best to copy it.

Lord Sheldon: My Lords, I add to the comments of my noble friend Lord Barnett. I was chairman of the Liaison Committee in another place. We produced a unanimous report that these matters should be decided by the whole House of Commons. The present Leader of the House agreed with that, and there was a vote in the House of Commons. Under a surprisingly whipped vote—done from behind the scenes—the proposal was lost although the Leader of the House wished it to be implemented. I hope that we shall not proceed along similar lines here. Members of this House need to have control of these matters.

Lord Roper: My Lords, before any vote, it is important to read what the Committee of Selection does. It does not make decisions; it makes recommendations and proposes to this House. The composition of Select Committees in this House is in the hands of noble Lords.

Lord Peston: My Lords, I find the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Roper, very puzzling. I normally agree with what he says. Would any of us ever name a Member of your Lordships' House as someone whom we should rather not have on a committee and—even more preposterously—name someone else whom we should prefer? The fact is that the usual channels dominate this matter. My noble friend is simply asking for some further thought in view of our total commitment to modernisation and similar matters. Everyone on my own committee, of course, is quite perfect. It would never occur to me to criticise any of them. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Roper, is not suggesting that we should get into the business of discussing named persons. I should find that deeply disturbing.

The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, first, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Barnett, for his kind words, although perhaps I do not thank him so much for his intervention on my first outing. I take his point. I say only that there are three Back-Bench Peers on the committee: the chairman of the Conservative Peers, the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne; the noble Lord, Lord Dubs; and the noble Viscount, Lord Slim. Therefore, it is not entirely a "usual channels" affair. However, it is for the parties to decide how they proceed in this matter, and this is the way proposed today. At this stage, I cannot say much more than that. I commend the Motion to the House.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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House of Lords Reform: Joint Committee

11.13 a.m.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion on the Order Paper standing in the name of my noble and learned friend the Leader of the House.

Moved, That it is expedient that a Joint Committee of Lords and Commons be appointed—

(1) to consider issues relating to House of Lords reform, including the composition and powers of the second Chamber and its role and authority within the context of Parliament as a whole, having regard in particular to the impact which any proposed changes would have on the existing pre-eminence of the House of Commons, such consideration to include the implications of a House composed of more than one "category" of Member and the experience and expertise which the House of Lords in its present form brings to its function as the revising Chamber; and

(2) having regard to paragraph (1) above, to report on options for the composition and powers of the House of Lords and to define and present to both Houses options for composition, including a fully nominated and fully elected House, and intermediate options; and to consider and report on— (a) any changes to the relationship between the two Houses which may be necessary to ensure the proper functioning of Parliament as a whole in the context of a reformed second Chamber and, in particular, any new procedures for resolving conflict between the two Houses; and (b) the most appropriate and effective legal and constitutional means to give effect to any new parliamentary settlement; and, in all the foregoing considerations, to have regard to—

(i) the report of the Royal Commission on House of Lords Reform (Cm 4534);

(ii) the White Paper, The House of Lords—Completing the Reform (Cm 5291), and the responses received thereto;

(iii) debates and votes in both Houses of Parliament on House of Lords reform; and

(iv) the House of Commons Public Administration Select Committee report, The Second Chamber: Continuing the Reform, including its consultation of the House of Commons, and any other relevant Select Committee reports.—(Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean.)

Lord Wigoder: My Lords, perhaps I may ask the noble Baroness for her undertaking that the items set out in paragraphs (i) to (iv), to which the committee shall have regard, are not intended to be an exclusive list and that the committee can have regard to any other matters that it considers appropriate.


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