HL Deb 26 May 1960 vol 223 cc1294-6

3.9 p.m.

Order of the Day read for the consideration of the Second Report from the Select Committee.

The Committee reported as follows:


The Committee record their opinion that it is undesirable for a Peer to advocate, promote or oppose in the House any Bill or subordinate legislation in or for which he is or has been acting or concerned for any pecuniary fee or reward. The Committee do not, however, feel that it is necessary to frame a Standing Order or pass a Resolution in this connection.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Report be now considered.

Moved, That the Report be now considered.—(Lord Merthyr.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Report be now agreed to. I think it may be for the assistance of the House if, briefly, I point out in what respects the wording of this recommendation has been changed from the wording which was previously before the House. The words "or oppose" have been inserted after the words "advocate or promote"; the words "any Bill or subordinate legislation" have been inserted in place of the words "any proceeding or measure", and the words "for any pecuniary fee or reward" have been inserted in place of the words "in a professional capacity."

There are other quite minor differences, but those are the principal changes in the wording from that which was before the House on April 28. Your Lordships will remember that on that date the paragraph of the Report of the Committee was referred back to the Committee because, I think I should be right in saying, the House thought that the wording was not sufficiently precise and was perhaps too wide. The Committee have done their best to deal with the matter, and have re-worded the original Report in the manner which I have just outlined. My Lords, if there are any questions which any noble Lord would like to ask me I will do my best to answer them. In the meantime, I beg to move that the Report be now agreed to.

Moved, That the Report be agreed to.—(Lord Merthyr.)


My Lords, as I was concerned in this matter on the previous occasion, I should like to say that I think the Committee have interpreted quite admirably what was obviously the sense of the Whole House, and I think that the wording now ought to be entirely acceptable. I would also say that I think the Committee are entirely right in their recommendation to the House that this should not form the subject of any Standing Order or Resolution, but should be treated, as so many matters are in this place, just as a matter of common convention.


My Lords, as the person who was principally responsible for having put the Procedure Committee of your Lordships' House to so much trouble about this matter, I should like to express my appreciation of the results which they have achieved. As the matter stood before, I found myself in an exceedingly embarrassing position upon one occasion, and I am quite sure that if the recommendation now before us is adopted by your Lordships, such an occasion will not be able to arise for any of your Lordships again.

With regard to the earlier recommendation, I myself shared the opinion which was expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, that it might possibly have been too wide, and, if strictly adhered to, might have debarred most professional Members of your Lordships' House from being able to contribute to discussions on matters before your Lordships which involved the use and benefit of the experience which they had gained in their professional capacity. In my submission the recommendation which is now before your Lordships does not go so wide as that, and so will enable professional Members of your Lordships' House to submit such experience as they have gained in their professional capacity, so long as it is not directly concerned with any particular matter in which they have been in receipt of a definite fee or emolument. For these reasons, I hope that the recommendation is one which we shall all be able to accept.


My Lords, we on this side of the House entirely agree with the recommendation of the Committee. And may I take this opportunity of telling the noble Viscount, Lord Brentford, that we on this side greatly appreciated the case he put in the speech he made which raised the whole subject, and therefore agree with what he has just said about leaving professional experience for the use of the House in subsequent debates. It is something we ought not to forgo. All the way through there has been nothing, from my point of view, on which the noble Viscount's action on that occasion could be criticised.

On Question, Motion agreed to.