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Lord Grocott: My Lords, as the House will recall, I have twice had to postpone the start of our proceedings. On behalf, I think that it is fair to say, of the usual channels and not simply myself acting singly, we shall have to ask for a further 30 minutes' postponement. The reason is to ensure that when the House comes to consider its business, everything will be in order so that we can do so in a coherent way. I

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say that with every finger crossed, but I really believe this time that when I say 1.15 p.m., that will actually mean 1.15 p.m. I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until 1.15 p.m.

Moved, That the House do now adjourn during pleasure until 1.15 p.m.—(Lord Grocott.)

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, will we have 10 minutes to look at the amendments before we come back into the Chamber? It is pretty hopeless trying to put one's mind to something handed to one only three minutes before. They are not available now.

Lord Grocott: My Lords, the purpose of the delay is to ensure that the amendments can be considered properly, and that noble Lords can see what is tabled before the House sits again at 1.15. I hope that the House will believe and trust me that the adjournment will be for its convenience.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, I concur with that. The adjournment will be for the convenience of the House. Some of the amendments are very complicated. It would be very unsatisfactory to deal with them as manuscript amendments, which is a theoretical possibility open to us. Given the complexities of some of the amendments and the attempts being made to reach agreement, it is in the interests of the House that the Public Bill Office has time to do its work properly. That is what we expect from it, and we get such excellent service from it. If it has the time to do that work, we can proceed with our business. Like the noble Lord the Government Chief Whip, I believe that this will be the last postponement.

Lord Roper: My Lords, I support what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Cope. We are obviously all very distressed at the further delay, but we believe that it was inevitable, unfortunately, because of the complexity of the amendments. The Public Bill Office is certainly doing its best to try to get them to us as soon as possible.

The Earl of Onslow: My Lords, not a smidgen of criticism attaches to the noble Lord or the noble Baroness, Lady Scotland. That is acknowledged by everyone. However, is it not the case that someone slightly higher up—I would hesitate to name him or her—has in effect been withdrawing agreements that were already made? That is why the pickle in which the noble Lord finds himself is as big, vinegary and full of gherkins as it is possible to have.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, I was careful to minimise the possibility that anything that I might have said might make it more difficult to reach agreement in the very near future. It is in the interests

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of both good legislation and the House that agreement should happen, which is why I support the further adjournment. I hope that we can agree to it.

Lord Elton: My Lords, in the most irenic sense, when will the newly printed amendments be available, so that we can converge on them and read them for as long as possible?

Lord Grocott: My Lords, the answer to that has to be the standard one; namely, as soon as anyone humanly can deliver them. That will be in time for us to start our proceedings at 1.15.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

[The Sitting was suspended from 12.49 to 1.15 p.m.]

Lord Grocott: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lady Scotland of Asthal, I beg to move that the Commons amendments be now considered.

Moved, That the Commons amendments be now considered.—(Lord Grocott.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

[The page and line references are to HL Bill 69 as first printed for the Lords.]

32Clause 41, Leave out Clause 41 The Commons disagree to this amendment for the following reason—

32ABecause it should be possible for a defendant to apply for a trial to be conducted without a jury. The Lords insist on their amendment to which the Commons have disagreed, for the following reason—

32BBecause it is inappropriate to make provision for applications by the defendant for trials to be conducted without jury. The Commons insist on their disagreement to this amendment but propose the following amendment to the words so restored to the Bill—

32CPage 27, line 40, leave out "must" and insert "may"

Lord Grocott: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 32 and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 32C.

Moved, That the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 32 and do agree with the commons in their Amendment No. 32C.—(Lord Grocott.)

32DLord Hunt of Wirral rose to move, as an amendment to the Motion that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 32, and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 32C, leave out from "House" to end and insert "do insist on its Amendment No. 32, and do propose Amendments Nos. 32E to 32L as consequential amendments to the Bill"—
32EClause 41, page 29, line 40, leave out paragraph (a)

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32FPage 30, line 19, leave out "41"
32GPage 30, line 40, leave out "41"
32HPage 31, line 25, leave out "41"
32IPage 32, line 9, leave out "41"
32JPage 33, line 6, leave out paragraph (a)
32KPage 33, line 33, leave out "41"
32LPage 33, line 41, leave out "41"

The noble Lord said: My Lords, before I speak further, I want to inform the House of recent events. Since the very sensible decision to adjourn last night to enable discussions to take place, we have, with the Government and our colleagues in opposition, used every moment late into the night and earlier this morning to reach agreement on the outstanding issues in a constructive atmosphere.

An agreement was reached with the noble Baroness and her Home Office colleagues and I would like to pay tribute to them for working hard and at such a late hour. I am grateful to them. In the light of that agreement, the Government tabled a series of amendments to Clauses 41, 43 and 45 in your Lordships' House.

By way of explanation, to our surprise we then learnt from the Public Bill Office that the amendments were suddenly withdrawn. I do not believe it would be beneficial or helpful to your Lordships' House if I were to pursue the matter any further or to speculate why. Nor would it assist an amicable settlement of the outstanding issues if I were to reveal any further details of the agreement that was reached, which we still hope even at this moment can be revised.

In the light of the Government's withdrawal, we immediately tabled the Government's amendments in the name of my noble friend Lady Anelay. The Government had agreed that they would not insist on Clause 41 going into the Bill in this House. As a consequence of that agreement, we agreed on the amendments necessary to Clauses 43 and 45 on jury tampering. I believe that we have already explained in this House why we feel strongly that jury trials should not be optional and that jury tampering must be dealt with effectively. That is our position.

On Clause 42, the Government are aware how strongly we feel that the principle of jury trials should not be eroded in serious fraud cases. I beg to move.

Moved, as an amendment to the Motion that the House do not insist on its Amendment No. 32, and do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 32C, leave out from "House" to end and insert "do insist on its Amendment No. 32, and do propose Amendments Nos. 32E to 32L as consequential amendments to the Bill".—(Lord Hunt of Wirral.)

Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, I confirm that I was a party to the agreement to which the noble Lord has just referred. So far as I was concerned, there was no qualification at that time, as evidenced by the

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amendments set down by the Government; nor did we on these Benches receive any notice of the withdrawal of those amendments.

We hope that this action on the part of the Government has not derailed the negotiations which were going on and which, we believed, with the co-operation of the Government Front Bench, were very close to an agreement being reached. However, we must say that the authority of the Government Front Bench has been undermined to a degree by what has happened.

So far as concerns the amendments, the merits of the issues have been fully canvassed and I do not propose to go into them again. However, I believe it is important that your Lordships deliver a message that this House is not to be treated with contempt. Although we concede authority to the elected Chamber, we nevertheless have a constitutional duty not simply to act as a revising Chamber but to protect the ancient rights and modern civil liberties of the people of this country, which attacks on the jury system constantly seek to undermine.

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