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Earl Ferrers: I was glad when the noble Lord, Lord Howie, said that he enjoyed being congratulated. I enjoyed congratulating him. He was quite right to say that he had not heard the expression "bumping along the bottom". I believe it is an expression that sailors sometimes use when they think that their craft is not working as well as it should. In the days when they sailed boats and something went wrong, they bumped along the bottom. I was suggesting that if the draft proposals had been included in the Bill we would have been bumping along the bottom and that it was much better to discuss the matter under the Question of whether the clause should stand part of the Bill.
It was not a matter of my not wanting to discuss the proposals. The noble Lord wags his finger at me as if I am a sort of wicked old master, but I can tell him that the proposals are available to be discussed. However, what we do not want to do, as has been suggested, is to include them even in a schedule and set them in stone. What we want to do is to have in
The statutory details are in the clause and not in the draft proposals. There is a duty to consult in the Bill. That can only become effective on Royal Assent. Therefore, however much we consult before Royal Assent, we still have to consult afterwards. Therefore the final version could not be in the Bill.
I hope that I can persuade the noble Lord, Lord Howie. I find it somewhat difficult to persuade him when he sets his mind on something. However, I assure him that we want to consult. We want to ensure that the legal process, the statutory wording, is correct. There is nothing new here. One has the statute saying one thing, and then the guidance or codes of practice putting the statute into effect--the flesh on the bones, as it were. That is what we do here. We are undertaking quite a lot of consultation on the issue.
It is not that we wish to bounce anyone. We do not wish to place draconian measures on anyone. We want some form of background so that when there is a dispute, if people have been unwise enough not to include in their contract some form of resolution of disputes, they can fall back on this part of the Bill. I hope that I have persuaded the noble Lord, Lord Howie, even if somewhat reluctantly, to accept that this is the right clause to have in the Bill.
Lord Howie of Troon: I am no more set in my ways than is the noble Earl. However, my objection to the procedure is quite simple. The way in which the Government have gone about the matter evades proper parliamentary scrutiny. That is what is wrong with it. I do not believe that it is the right way to go about parliamentary business.
The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe): As it appears that fewer than 30 Lords have voted, in accordance with Standing Order No. 55 I declare the Question not decided and, pursuant to the standing order, the House will now resume.
Lord Monkswell: My Lords, we have an almost unprecedented situation where the Government have not achieved success in what may be described as a small part of the Bill. I am wondering how they will react. Perhaps I may make a suggestion as to how the Government might recoup the day in the eyes of the House.
It seems to me that there are two issues. One is the substantive question itself, which is that Clause 111 should stand part of the Bill. There was an extensive debate about the inadequacy of the scheme referred to in the Bill, but also about the lack of facility for Members of your Lordships' House to have sight of the scheme. A number of suggestions were made as to how the Government could ensure that the text of the draft scheme was put in front of your Lordships so that every noble Lord had access to it. The Government initially, prior to the current situation, appeared to suggest that they would not entertain any of the mechanisms to ensure that your Lordships' House was fully apprised of the scheme. We hope that the Government can give us a response at this point as to how they envisage the House having in front of it the scheme under discussion. That is the first substantive point.
The second substantive point is a situation which is almost unprecedented; at least it is very rare. The Government have effectively lost further consideration of the business in front of the House because there were insufficient Members present. It is only 10.33 p.m., which is not a late hour for the House. The House has on other occasions sat well after midnight with a goodly attendance. The question arises whether the Government have effectively either felt that the Bill was not worthy of their maintaining sufficient numbers to ensure that they could carry it through or, because of this stage in the Government's lifecycle, there is a tiredness on the Government Benches to support them.
It would be useful if the Government could give some indication of how they explain themselves in this situation, so that the House, at some later stage or even tonight, can consider that and respond accordingly.
Lord Williams of Elvel: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord the Chief Whip for moving the adjournment of the House. As I understand it, our standing orders are such that, if there is no quorum in the Lobbies in a Division, the House must adjourn. However, as I understand it, the business that is unresolved at that point comes up as the first business on the next convenient day. I should be grateful if the
I also hope that the Chief Whip can confirm that it is up to the Government to keep a House and that it is up to the Government to ensure that enough people are around, in whatever part of the Palace may be appropriate, for the House to continue to operate as a House of Parliament. I hope very much that nothing we have achieved this evening, or nothing we have not achieved this evening, will derogate from that basic principle.
Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank: My Lords, there will be 30,000 very disappointed registered architects tonight. They all believed that by the end of the day Part III of the Bill would have passed its Committee stage. As the noble Lord, Lord Williams, made clear, the responsibility lies with the Government Chief Whip. That should be fully understood.
It has crossed my mind that it might be appropriate, even at this late hour, not of course, because it would not be permitted, to move the six amendments which stand in my name, but at least to make the speeches that I intended to make. Then there would be some reassurance to all those 30,000 registered architects that whatever the shortcomings of Part III of the Bill it has many virtues too. That is what I principally intended to say.
I am delighted that the Government have included in the Bill, though it is something of a rag-bag, provisions for the future registration of architects. Indeed, Part III is the most important legislation that the registered architect in this country has experienced for 60 years. That is another reason why there will be great disappointment about what happened this evening.
I also believe that the important matters raised on Part II were worthy of greater consideration. I know that the noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, showed great restraint in not arguing more strongly and at greater length for the very many important points that he made.
I come back to what the noble Lord, Lord Williams, said in asking when we shall return to these matters. There is provision for further proceedings on Monday, but, as I understand it, that time was restricted to half the day. It would be helpful to know from the Government Chief Whip whether that time will now be extended to a full day and whether, because we have not completed the business before us this evening, the Report stage of the Bill might be postponed. I had in mind to ask the Government whether they would consider that because clearly there is such a mess over Part II of the Bill that it would be quite wrong to leave the House in its present state. If the Report stage were delayed until after the date that is at present fixed it would then be possible to put the Bill in good order. The Government could then bring it back to the House and I am sure that it would have a better reception than hitherto.
I am sorry that it has been necessary to prolong the Sitting for a little while. This was a totally unanticipated event and a matter of the deepest regret, I am sure, to us all.
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