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Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, can the noble Baroness the Leader of the House help me with one of the names on the list; namely, Sir Kenneth Munro? No one seems to know exactly who Sir Kenneth is. Is it the Ken Munro who is currently the chairman of the Labour think-tank in Scotland who was formerly the European Union representative in Scotland? If so, I give him a reasonable welcome as he was a crony of mine at university and it is always gratifying if one's cronies are appointed. However, does the noble Baroness realise that if she had wished to have one of my Scottish cronies, and had asked me, I could have nominated, for example, two of her colleagues: the noble Baroness, Lady Ramsay, and the noble Lord, Lord Gordon? I could have nominated the former Permanent Secretary at the Scottish Office, Sir Russell Hillhouse. I could have nominated the Principal of St. Andrew's University. There is a whole list. Why not one of them? Why is it Ken Munro; and why give him a bogus knighthood?
Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, the noble Lord having moved his seat to sit next to the noble Lord, Lord MacLaurin, I thought that they were going to ask a collective question about having some member of the English cricket team on the Royal Commission. However, the noble Lord asks about Mr. Ken Munro. It is regrettable that a press release suggested that he had been given a knighthood. The giving of the knighthood is not regrettable--I am sure he is well deserving of it. However, the press release was inaccurate. As regards the suggestions of different names from Scotland, the noble Lord will know that the system of approval and recommendation of names for a Royal Commission is not, alas, in my hands.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, in response to previous questions, I am sorry that I may not have made clear the position that I feel is appropriate. That is a matter for the chairman of the Royal Commission and his colleagues.
The Countess of Mar: My Lords, following the question of the noble Lord, Lord Renton, is it the Government's wish that the Royal Commission gets the matter right first time, or that it gives a rushed decision, fitting it in before 31st December in order to accommodate the Government?
It is appropriate to point out that unlike other royal commissions--for example, on the criminal justice system or the one commission currently reporting on long-term care for the elderly--the basic arguments that the Royal Commission will need to discuss are well
Lord Richard: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that the composition of the Royal Commission is reasonably well balanced? Mr. Ken Munro will make an excellent member of it. I heard the answer my noble friend gave twice in response to questions from the Opposition. However, is she aware that it is important that as much evidence as possible is taken in public by the Royal Commission? After all, I had always understood the object of the exercise to be that between stage one and stage two there was to be a major exercise in public consultation. That was one of the reasons that the Government, I think sensibly, moved away from a joint committee to a Royal Commission. While my noble friend cannot commit the Royal Commission, can she give a gentle steer, in her usual elegant and gentle way, in the direction of evidence being heard in public?
Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I am happy to respond to my noble friend's kind remarks. I am glad he supports the appointment of Mr. Ken Munro and others who have been suggested for the Royal Commission.
I believe that we may be making slightly heavy weather of the question of evidence. There is no reason why oral evidence in particular should not be held in public. If that is the wish of the chairman and his colleagues, nothing I can suggest would inhibit him from so doing--not least any negative position from the Government.
Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, can the noble Baroness the Leader of the House confirm that the terms of reference are sufficient to enable the Royal Commission to consider the powers of the new second chamber as well as its functions and composition?
Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, implicit in the answer given by the noble Baroness the Leader of the House to the noble Countess, Lady Mar, is the presumption that the Royal Commission will come up with "the right answer". What happens if it comes up with "the wrong answer"? How can the noble Baroness be so confident?
Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, the point is not that people are represented. Individuals with, as I said, particular expertise and experience which we thought relevant, were invited to serve on the commission.
Earl Russell: My Lords, no one dissents from what the Minister said about another place remaining the pre-eminent Chamber of Parliament. However, does she agree that active membership of this House involves a great deal of work and the reason many of us undertake that work is the hope of occasionally inducing the Government to change their mind when they are conspicuously reluctant to do so?
Baroness Ludford: My Lords, will the Minister confirm that what she regards to be the right answer would be an effective second Chamber which is able to challenge the elected Chamber, challenge Executive power and ensure that we do not have an authoritarian government who are able always to get their own way?
Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I am sure that the noble Baroness has read the White Paper on the House of Lords, which we will have the opportunity to debate at some length next week. I am sure that she will recognise that within that document there is a requirement that the second Chamber, however it is constituted and with whatever role and function, should be effective.
Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, in view of the Minister's reply about a member with experience of life in Northern Ireland, can she say whether the Government believe that experience and understanding of the situation in that Province within the United Kingdom has nothing to do with the work of the Royal Commission?
Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, no, that was not the answer that I gave nor the suggestion that I made. In reply to the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, I said that no one had been appointed to the Royal Commission as a representative of any particular body. It is true that there are members who are in a sense related to different parts of the country and have other expertise and experience to bring to the commission. It is, of course, relevant that those devolved assemblies and institutions which are included in the terms of reference are considered appropriately, and that would obviously include that in Northern Ireland.
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