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--procedure in the Joint Committee should follow the procedure of Select Committees of the Commons when such procedure differs from that of Select Committees in the Lords, and the chairman of the Joint Committee should have power to select amendments to the Bill;
--the Committee stage of a tax simplification Bill, being a money Bill, should normally be negatived.
It is intended that the first tax simplification Bill should he introduced early next Session. The Committee therefore recommends that the Joint Committee on Tax Simplification Bills should have the following orders of reference:
Joint Committee on Tax Simplification Bills
(1) That a Select Committee he appointed to join with a committee appointed by the Commons as the Joint Committee on Tax Simplification Bills to consider tax simplification Bills, and in particular to consider whether each Bill committed to it preserves the effect of the existing law, subject to any minor changes which may be desirable;
(2) That the quorum of the committee shall be two;
(3) That the committee have leave to report from time to time;
(4) That the committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;
(5) That the minutes of evidence taken before the committee shall, if the committee think fit, be printed and delivered out; and
(6) That the procedure of the Joint Committee shall follow the procedure of Select Committees of the House of Commons when such procedure differs from that of Select Committees of this House, and shall include the power of the chairman to select amendments.
3. Northern Ireland Assembly legislation
The Northern Ireland Assembly legislates on transferred or devolved matters, and the United Kingdom Parliament has no part to play in the enactment of such legislation. However, certain matters such as policing and criminal justice, taxation and international relations, are excepted or reserved for legislation by the United Kingdom Parliament. The Northern Ireland Assembly can legislate on excepted and reserved matters with the consent of the Secretary of State.
In such circumstances, which may be very rare, Section 15 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 provides that the Secretary of State may not submit for Royal Assent a Bill of the Northern Ireland Assembly touching on an excepted or reserved matter unless he has laid the Bill before the United Kingdom Parliament. In an urgent case, the Secretary of State may submit the Bill for immediate Royal Assent; but he must then lay the Act before both Houses at Westminster. Either way, when such a Bill or Act has been laid at Westminster, each House has 20 sitting days within which a Motion to oppose the Bill or Act may be tabled.
Under the Act, any such Motion must be signed by at least 20 Members of the House. This is contrary to the present rules of the House which provide that "Motions are tabled on the Order Paper in the name of one Member only. It is not the practice to add names of other Members in support of a Motion" (Companion, paragraph 4.115). In view of the statutory requirement for at least 20 names to appear on Motions opposing Northern Ireland Assembly Bills and Acts, the Committee recommends that the House's usual practice should not apply to such Motions. This departure from present practice would be strictly limited to Motions on Northern Ireland Assembly legislation touching on excepted or reserved matters.
The Committee recommends the following mechanism for handling these Motions:
--when a Northern Ireland Assembly Bill or Act is laid before the House, its arrival will be recorded in the Minutes, and in a new table analogous to Bills in Progress. This table will show the expiry date of the 20-day statutory period. If 20 sitting days pass and no Motion is put down the table will disappear and the House's involvement will be at an end.
--if within the 20 days a Member of the House tables a Motion to oppose the Bill or Act, the Motion will be printed in No Day Named, under the following rubric:
--signatories to the Motion will, exceptionally, be listed in No Day Named. If further Members of the House add their names, they will be added to the list. Once 20 have signed, the list will be replaced with a total number.
The following rules should apply:
--A signature will be required, either on a copy of the Motion, or on a note clearly indicating the Lord's wish to be associated with the Motion. Fax, e-mail and phone will not be acceptable.
--The master copy of the Motion, with a consolidated list of signatures, will be kept in the Minute Room, and will be open for inspection without restriction.
--A Lord may withdraw his signature at any time, by giving written authority.
If, on the 20th day, the number of signatories has not reached 20, the Motion will be ineffective. If it has reached 20, the Motion may be put down for a day and debated in the usual way. When the Motion is put down for a day, only the name of the person who originally tabled the Motion will appear on the Order Paper as the person who is to move the Motion. The total number of signatures which the Motion has attracted will be indicated.
The Committee deliberated on a memorandum by the Government Chief Whip proposing changes to the times of sitting on Thursday. After debate, it was moved by the Lord Carter that the Committee should recommend to the House that on Thursday business should start at 11.30 a.m. and conclude not later than 7.30 p.m; which being objected to, the Question was put thereupon and the Committee divided:
L. Clarke of Hampstead
B. Gould of Potternewton
L. Irvine of Lairg (L. Chancellor)
B. Jay of Paddington (L. Privy Seal)
V. Allenby of Megiddo
B. Anelay of St Johns
L. Craig of Radley
L. Harris of Greenwich
L. Mackay of Ardbrecknish
L. Rodgers of Quarry Bank
Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I wonder whether I may crave the indulgence of your Lordships to speak on this Motion. The Bill had a fairly good run in Grand Committee and the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, was enormously kind and exceedingly helpful. Perhaps I may say that she conducted herself in a delightful fashion.
However, I felt that I must say a few words on this Motion because not many people know about the Bill or what it is concerned with. The Bill puts 13 people out of business. It criminalises an activity which has previously been perfectly legal on the basis that mink farming is immoral.
We all have ideas as to what we like and do not like. Some people do not like eating meat and they become vegetarians. Some people do not like the way that chickens or pigs are kept. Some people may not like the way that mink are kept. But that has nothing to do with morality. I am astonished that that should be the basis upon which the Government have brought forward this Bill.
Apparently, it is morally acceptable to wear a sheepskin jacket but it is not morally acceptable to wear a mink jacket. It is morally acceptable to wear the hide of an animal on your feet but not on your back. With the greatest respect to the noble Baroness, the morality argument is deeply spurious.
The simple matter is that if the Government had not produced an argument of that nature, they would have fallen foul of European Union legislation. The noble Baroness and other Members of the Government have said that the mink farmers welcome this measure because of the compensation. Of course they welcome the compensation. But as they are being put out of business, that is the least that could be expected. The compensation is the result of the Government's policy; it should not be the motivator of it.
When agriculture is going through an unprecedented time of disaster and depression, when one farmer a week is committing suicide, farmers are told to diversify. But curiously, when they diversify in this direction they are told, "You must not do it. What is more, if you have done it, henceforth keeping mink will be a criminal offence for which the fine is £20,000".
Fur farming is carried on all over the world--in Canada, Russia, Denmark, Holland, and the United States of America. Are all those people immoral? Of course not. I reckon that that is a farcical argument. The majority of the world's mink is farmed in Denmark, Holland and the United States. As a proportion of the total, few mink are farmed in the United Kingdom.
The ban will have hardly any effect on the numbers produced, but the majority of all trade in fur takes place through London at a value of £400 million. Banning the farming of mink will have little effect on the fur trade but it will give huge encouragement to animal rights activists.
The European Union Secretary-General said that the United Kingdom should wait for the proposed European Union legislation on fur farming before taking any unilateral action. That follows opposition to the Government's proposals from France, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Spain and Greece. However, the Government did not take any notice and they produced this Bill.
I am bound to tell your Lordships that the Bill has a nasty provenance. Unilaterally it destroys people's businesses and it tries to pretend that it will all be done on the altar of morality. I do not believe that the Government should feel at all proud of this Bill. The Government should be in the business of protecting people's businesses, not destroying them and turning them into criminal activities.
The noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, must regret the day she became involved with this Bill. Some noble Lords have not made it easy for her to get this Bill through the House. As I said earlier, she was enormously courteous in Grand Committee, as she has been throughout all the stages of this Bill. However, I did not feel it possible to let this Bill pass on to the statute book without noble Lords realising what an unpleasant Bill it is and what a nasty provenance it has.
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