As I have said several times this afternoon, I am aware of the work done and the points made about the Bill, specifically about its timing, in the Chamber this afternoon and by your Lordships' Constitution Committee. I understand the concerns and the genuine desire to see legislation taken through Parliament in a measured and considered way. However, I am also aware, as anyone in this House or, especially, in the other place must be, of the strength of public feeling on these issues and the desire not just for reform and improvement but for that reform and improvement to be put in place as soon as possible. The public want action and they want it now. The Constitution Committee wants due process properly considered. However, I do not believe that the two positions are incompatible. It is not impossible to bring the two positions together, which is exactly what the Government are trying to do. We are trying to strike the right balance between the genuine public desire for urgent reform and the equally genuine constitutional call for due process. I believe that, in the arrangements that we are proposing for the Bill, we are indeed striking that balance and striking it correctly. Accordingly, I urge the House to pass the Motion that I am moving.
Amendment to the Motion
Moved by Lord Norton of Louth
At end to insert "and that the Committee shall not meet until 14 days from the date of Second Reading, in accordance with the House's recommended minimum intervals between stages of bills".
Lord Norton of Louth: My Lords, I made the case for the amendment in my speech earlier in the debate and I do not propose to repeat that speech. All I will say is that I think that the case for the argument that I advanced has been made considerably by the speeches that we have heard this afternoon. They have convinced me that this is the right step to take. As I argued, I
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believe that fast-tracking the Bill would be counterproductive, perverse and dangerous. The noble Baroness the Leader of the House said that the public want action. I am sure that that is true, but the danger is in taking action in a way that appears to be action for the sake of action. What the public deserve is good legislation. It is up to us to ensure that we deliver that. We need to get it right and that takes time.
Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: My Lords, I have not spoken until now, but the noble Lord says that he made his points earlier. Since he made his speech, however, the Leader of the House has given a number of important assurances. In the light of those and the extra time that will be made available over the next two weeks, does he not think that the challenge to this House is to make this legislation proper and good? That can be done over the next two weeks. In the light of the assurances given by the Leader of the House, will he not consider withdrawing his amendment?
Lord Norton of Louth: My Lords, I am not sure whether the noble Lord heard my speech, but the assurances from the noble Baroness have not addressed the points that I made. I hear what she said about going away and seeing what she can do and, like other noble Lords who have spoken, I have the utmost respect for her; she does great work on behalf of the House and I trust her in everything that she says. However, that has not answered the points that I made earlier, which have been reinforced by the speeches made in this debate. We need the time to get this right and I invite the House to ensure that we have that time in accordance with our normal rules. I beg to move the amendment.
Division on Lord Norton of Louth's amendment
Contents 88; Not-Contents 110.
Division No. 1
Armstrong of Ilminster, L. Barnett, L. Brougham and Vaux, L. Burnett, L. Butler-Sloss, B. Chidgey, L. Chorley, L. Clark of Windermere, L. Clinton-Davis, L. Cobbold, L. Colville of Culross, V. Colwyn, L. Crickhowell, L. Denham, L. Desai, L. Dundee, E. Eccles, V. Eccles of Moulton, B. Eden of Winton, L. Elton, L. Elystan-Morgan, L. Exeter, Bp. Falkland, V. Fookes, B. Forsyth of Drumlean, L. Geddes, L. Gilbert, L. Glenarthur, L. Goodlad, L. Greenway, L. Grenfell, L. Higgins, L. Howe of Aberavon, L. Howe of Idlicote, B. James of Blackheath, L. Jenkin of Roding, L. Kirkham, L. Knight of Collingtree, B. Laird, L. Linklater of Butterstone, B. Liverpool, E. Low of Dalston, L.
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Lucas, L. Lyell of Markyate, L. McAlpine of West Green, L. MacGregor of Pulham Market, L. Mancroft, L. Mar, C. Maxton, L. Mayhew of Twysden, L. Miller of Hendon, B. Monson, L. Montgomery of Alamein, V. Morris of Aberavon, L. Neill of Bladen, L. Nicholls of Birkenhead, L. Nicholson of Winterbourne, B. Norton of Louth, L. [Teller] O'Cathain, B. O'Neill of Bengarve, B. Onslow, E. [Teller] Palmer, L. Pannick, L. Pearson of Rannoch, L. Perry of Southwark, B. Peston, L. Pilkington of Oxenford, L. Prashar, B. Rea, L. Reay, L. Roberts of Conwy, L. Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L. Rooker, L. Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly. Selkirk of Douglas, L. Sharples, B. Shaw of Northstead, L. Shephard of Northwold, B. Shrewsbury, E. Slim, V. Stewartby, L. Stoddart of Swindon, L. Taylor of Warwick, L. Temple-Morris, L. Waddington, L. Wakeham, L. Walpole, L. Woolf, L.
Addington, L. Adonis, L. Amos, B. Anderson of Swansea, L. Archer of Sandwell, L. Bach, L. Bassam of Brighton, L. [Teller] Berkeley, L. Bilston, L. Blackstone, B. Borrie, L. Boyd of Duncansby, L. Brett, L. Brooke of Alverthorpe, L. Brookman, L. Browne of Belmont, L. Campbell-Savours, L. Carter of Coles, L. Corbett of Castle Vale, L. Crawley, B. [Teller] Darzi of Denham, L. Davies of Abersoch, L. Davies of Coity, L. Davies of Oldham, L. Dholakia, L. Drayson, L. D'Souza, B. Dubs, L. Elder, L. Evans of Parkside, L. Falconer of Thoroton, L. Farrington of Ribbleton, B. Faulkner of Worcester, L. Foulkes of Cumnock, L. Gale, B. Giddens, L. Golding, B. Goodhart, L. Gould of Potternewton, B. Graham of Edmonton, L. Greaves, L. Griffiths of Burry Port, L. Grocott, L. Hamwee, B. Harris of Haringey, L. Harris of Richmond, B. Hart of Chilton, L. Haskel, L. Haworth, L. Henig, B. Hilton of Eggardon, B. Howells of St. Davids, B. Hughes of Woodside, L. Hunt of Kings Heath, L. Hylton, L. Inge, L. Jones, L. Jones of Whitchurch, B. Judd, L. Kerr of Kinlochard, L. Kinnock, L. Kinnock of Holyhead, B. Kirkhill, L. Layard, L. Lea of Crondall, L. Lester of Herne Hill, L. Lipsey, L. Livsey of Talgarth, L. Lofthouse of Pontefract, L. McDonagh, B. McIntosh of Hudnall, B. Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L. McKenzie of Luton, L. McNally, L. Mandelson, L. Mar and Kellie, E. Meacher, B. Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B. Mitchell, L. Morgan of Drefelin, B. Morgan of Huyton, B. Morris of Yardley, B. Morrow, L. Myners, L. Pitkeathley, B. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. Quin, B. Richard, L. Roberts of Llandudno, L. Robertson of Port Ellen, L. Rosser, L. Royall of Blaisdon, B. Sawyer, L. Scotland of Asthal, B. Sharp of Guildford, B. Shutt of Greetland, L. Simon, V. Snape, L. Soley, L.
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Stone of Blackheath, L. Thomas of Walliswood, B. Thomas of Winchester, B. Thornton, B. Tunnicliffe, L. Tyler, L. Wallace of Saltaire, L. Watson of Invergowrie, L. West of Spithead, L. Whitaker, B. Whitty, L.
Main Motion agreed. Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.
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The Bill was brought from the Commons, read a first time and ordered to be printed.