HL Deb 11 June 1964 vol 258 cc987-1001

Leave out Clause 1"


Amendment No. 24 is called and disposed of.

Amendment No. 25 is called by reference to the result of Amendment No. 24, thus either—

"leave out the original Clause 1 and insert …"


"leave out new Clause 1 and insert …"

When Amendment No. 25 is disposed of and whichever way the vote has gone, the next question is:—

"That Clause 1 stand part of the Bill—

The Lord A".

It will be noticed that when there is more than one composite or "substitution" amendment, each succeeding composite amendment is called by reference to the result of its predecessor. This dispenses with the need to divide amendments.

The Committee are of the opinion that the same principle should be applied to composite amendments of any kind—at whatever stage of the Bill they may be moved—(i.e. to subsections and to single words in a Bill as well as to whole clauses); and they recommend accordingly.

Where alternative composite amendments are proposed e.g.



1 Line 1, leave out ("four o'clock") and insert ("five o'clock")
2 Line 1, leave out ("four o'clock") and insert ("six o'clock")
3 Line 1, leave out ("four o'clock") and insert ("seven o'clock")

the procedure would be as follows:—

If amendment No. 1 is carried, amendment No. 2 is called thus:—

"Amendment proposed, leave out ('five o'clock') and insert ('six o'clock')".

Similary, if amendment No. 2 is carried, amendment No. 3 is called thus:

"Amendment proposed, leave out ('six o'clock') and insert ('seven o'clock')".


The Committee had referred to them the question whether peeresses should be described in division lists and other House papers by a senior title (if they have one) by which they are ordinarily known. The Committee recommend that there should be no change in the existing practice.


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

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


My Lords, I am not seeking to move your Lordships not to accept this Report. All I want to do is to point out to your Lordships its limitations, and I refer only to the final paragraph of the Report.


My Lords, the Question I was putting was, whether the Report should be now considered. If the noble Lord is against it being considered, no doubt his speech will be relevant to that issue. The Question is: That the Report be now considered.

On Question, Motion agreed to.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Report be now agreed to. Your Lordships will see that there are two paragraphs—one short at the end and one, I am sorry to say, rather long at the beginning. I hope I shall be forgiven for the length of the first paragraph, but I did not think the matter could be compressed into a shorter space without making it less comprehensible than I hope your Lordships will find it. I believe that it is now in a form which can be readily understood; but if there are any points which any noble Lord wishes to raise, or any question which your Lordships wish to ask, I will of course do my best to answer them. I beg to move.

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


My Lords, I beg your Lordships' pardon, and that of my noble friend Lord Merthyr also, for getting off "before the gun". It is a fault which a great many of us have committed in a great many circumstances and it has always found ready pardon. I hope that your Lordships will grant me pardon on this occasion.

I do not seek to say anything against the Report, but I wish to draw your Lordships' attention to the limitations contained in the last paragraph. The last paragraph continues an ancient practice of your Lordships, and when it was discussed in the Procedure Committee it was decided that a Life Peeress should be referred to as "noble Baroness". I am not seeking to traverse that in the least; it is practically contained in the Life Peerages Act. But your Lordships should remember that every Lady who addresses you is not necessarily a noble Baroness. There are a great many Peeresses of Scotland, and "Barony" is not a title of Peerage in Scotland. There it is entirely lacking. For that reason something will have to be done about those Peeresses of Scotland who appear here. The number is not likely to be small. A few years ago there would have been Lady Gray. There is at present Lady Kinloss, and I think there are others. And if the Lady Nairn were to take her seat, though she is a Baroness by marriage, she would sit here as a Lord of Parliament.

Your Lordships will remember that a little time ago the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, in referring the question of Scottish Peerages to the Committee for Privileges, pointed out to your Lordships that if he were to issue a Writ to a Peer who was not a Peer he would thereby create a Peer- age; and in consequence of what I told your Lordships it happens that if the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor had issued a Writ to a Scottish Peer as a Baron, that Peerage not finding any place in the Peerage of Scotland, he would in fact have created, as he told your Lordships he would, a Peerage in the United Kingdom, had that Writ been accepted. The noble and learned Lord avoided that trap which, had he fallen into it, would have led to a great deal of speculation, especially as to the succession to Peerage which had been created by a Summons and for which there was no precedent Writ.

Also, there is another practice, which has always been the practice in your Lordships' House in the past and which I think will save difficulty in cases of uncertainty, and it is this. If your Lordships look at the Peerage Act and the Life Peerages Act you will find that both Acts refer to "the House of Lords", and "the House of Lords" is a title which your Lordships' House has held, and held with credit, for many centuries. I submit that every Member of the House of Lords is thereby a Lord, and that it is proper for us to continue the ancient practice of your Lordships' House in referring to any noble Lord who has spoken, without reference to sex, as "the noble Lord". I have adopted this practice myself. The noble Lord, Lady Summerskill, who is sitting here will remember that I have often referred to her in that way. No noble Lords have objected, and I propose to continue the practice. After all, parity is the essence of Peerage, and there is far more parity between one noble Lord and another noble Lord than there is between a noble Lord and a noble Lady. I suggest that in this matter we continue the practice of many centuries, which not only is in accordance with the Statutes but is also in accordance with common sense, convenience and consistency.


My Lords, in support of what the noble Lord has said, I should like, in all seriousness, to refer to the fact that, from the time that women have been Members of this House, Her Majesty when she opens Parliament has continued the practice of using the words "My Lords, pray he seated", and that both sexes have obeyed the Royal command immediately.


My Lords, the point I wish to raise is slightly less involved than that to which we have just listened. I wish to refer particularly to the second paragraph of section 1 of the Report. While being wholly in support of the recommendation of the Procedure Committee as to the stupidity of perhaps having two Divisions on what is virtually the same Motion, I have some doubt about the recommendation here as to a noble Lord putting down a Motion which is to be italicised, so as to give him an automatic right to be called on the Motion "That the Clause stand part of the Bill". In the past we have always had the right to be called without having given any prior notice whatever of our intention to speak. All that one has done, in courtesy to the Chairman, is to indicate to him that one proposes to raise a point on the Question, "That the Clause stand part", and automatically at that point the Chairman has hesitated and permitted one to rise and make the point.

I am suggesting that either we should delete this whole reference to someone putting down a notice on the Order Paper and having it italicised, or alternatively we should include here, somewhere, a phrase to the effect "without prejudice to the right of any other Member to speak on the Motion, 'That the Clause stand part of the Bill'." I realise that this is a small point, but the recommendation appears to alter the procedure and to make it necessary to put down something on the Order Paper indicating that you propose to speak on a Motion. That would appear to me to be quite unnecessary and, indeed, quite wrong, because occasionally a clause is amended, and the very fact that it has been amended might alter the purpose of the clause in such a way that a speech on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill" would be completely justified. I am not sure whether this matter can be taken back and looked at again in the light of what I have said, but I feel that it merits some consideration because, trifling though it might appear, it is a point of Order.


My Lords, may I say one word on this question, because the Committee took an enormous amount of trouble over this particular problem? We considered it once in Com- mittee, then were not quite satisfied with what we had done, and we had it back again and considered, with enormous care and for many hours, exactly how we were to deal with the matter in order to meet just that point to which the noble Lord has referred: that everybody should be heard. Under the old procedure there was the risk that if you put the Question, "That the Clause stand part" and then somebody wished to have a new clause it might not be discussed. Those of your Lordships who also have been Members of another place would agree that we are following as near as we can the procedure there, procedure which has proved to be satisfactory.

The result of what is now recommended in the Report, although it looks rather complicated, is this. It gives everybody a chance, first of all, not to start rejecting a clause if somebody wants to put down a new clause; it gives a chance for the new clause to be moved as an alternative. It gives the opportunity for every sort and kind of Amendment that can be made to that alternative clause to be moved and voted upon. If the new clause is accepted by the House with Amendments, there it is—it is accepted. If not, then the Question is put that the original clause shall stand part. It gives every possible opportunity to everybody to express an opinion on every issue that can be raised and prevents any clause or Amendment from being cut out. We took such an enormous amount of trouble, under the guidance of the Lord Chairman, on this and it is very important to get it settled. I am sure noble Lords on all sides of the House will be quite unanimous on this point, and I hope we can accept it.


My Lords, we always listen with respect to the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, upon matters of procedure. He is a former Deputy Leader of the House and has long experience of this House. I am sure the Procedure Committee devoted careful attention to the recommendations now before the House, but, with respect, I do not think the point which was discussed by Lord Swinton was really the point that was raised by my noble friend Lord Champion. I do not disagree with what the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, has said, and indeed I do not disagree with the essentials of the Report; nor does my noble friend. But the point raised by Lord Champion is a simple one—namely, he was conceding the right of a noble Lord who has given notice to leave out a clause to speak and to be called first. He does not dispute that, but he wants to protect the rights of other noble Lords to speak on the Question, "That the Clause stand part" whether or not they have put an Amendment down.

Whilst probably the Committee intended it to go the way that my noble friend Lord Champion wants, that is not absolutely clear from reading the Report. I wonder whether the Lord Chairman could add a few words, and then if it is permissible in this place, as it was during the London County Council proceedings, we could agree to the Report as submitted by the Chairman. At the end of the second paragraph on page 2, after the words "That the Clause stand part of the Bill' and call the Peer who has given such notice of his intention to speak", could the noble Lord not add the words: "without prejudice to the right of other Peers to speak whether or not they have given such notice", or words to that effect? I think that is what the Committee means, but it would be wise for it to be clear in this place where, as the Leader of the House knows, we look after our own procedure. We do it very well. It is a most remarkable institution because we get along so well without a decisive presiding officer.


My Lords, with great respect to the noble Lord, there is nothing to stop any Peer from speaking. You do not have to put in a special provision that a Peer should be able to speak. He has the right to speak when the Bill is before the House in Committee; indeed, if it is in Committee he has the right to speak as often as he wants. Not only would it be tautologous but rather dangerous to put in a provision that a Peer should have the right to speak, when the right exists automatically.


My Lords, with respect to the noble Earl, I was putting the point to the Lord Chairman of Committees who is, I understand, in charge of the Report. I should have thought that as there is this theoretical element of doubt, to which my noble friend has drawn attention, if the noble Lord would add words to the effect that I have indicated it would remove all such doubts, without doing harm and without necessarily upsetting the noble Earl, Lord Swinton. Naturally, we all want to get agreement about these things and your Lordships usually do get agreement, and it occurred to me that if that could be done then the point raised by my noble friend Lord Champion would be fully met.


My Lords, would not the noble Lord's suggestion possibly have the effect of limiting any noble Lord who wished to speak on the point to only one speech? In Committee every noble Lord has a right to speak on any point that is raised as often as he pleases, unless the House wishes to stop. That is already the right of the House, and I think any words that seemed to grant a limited right would impair that right of your Lordships.


My Lords, I am much obliged to the noble Lord. But the point he has raised is the point about which my noble friend is trying to safeguard the House. The words that I have suggested do not limit rights; on the contrary, they establish in words that the right is not limited, The point of my noble friend Lord Champion is that the paragraph as it is submitted might be interpreted to limit the right to speak to the Peer who had put down the Amendment, and we want to preserve the right of any Peer to speak, and to put that in words in the paragraph. I merely submitted the idea to the Lord Chairman of Committees, who I know is always willing to consider suggestions, to improve the wording of the document which otherwise might be read as limiting the right of Peers. My suggestion would not improve the Report submitted, but would amply meet the point which I think has been legitimately raised by my noble friend Lord Champion.


My Lords, may I ask the Lord Chairman, when he replies, to confirm this? I am completely in agreement with the purpose of what the noble Lord, Lord Champion, asked, as I think we all are, but I should have thought that it would not be possible for his intention to be thwarted by anything in this document, which I am looking at for the first time. What this says is that the Chairman should put the Question, and then, call the Peer who has given such notice of his intention to speak. He calls that Peer, but the rest of us speak normally on all these occasions without being called at all, and this only indicates who shall be called to initiate the discussion on that particular Amendment. I cannot see why any alteration is needed and, if no such alteration is needed, I agree with my noble friend Lord Swinton that it might be dangerous to put words just in this place which would throw doubt on so much of our proceedings.


My Lords, if I may just say so in one sentence, I agree with my noble friend Lord Swinton beside me. Surely the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, will agree that, whether or not there be danger in it, it is hardly necessary to write into this Report that Peers shall have a right to exercise a right which they already possess by right.


My Lords, dealing, first of all, if I may, with the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, I hope he will allow me to say, with the greatest respect, that I think the point which he raised was a point substantially different from the point in the Report.


It had nothing to do with it.


The point in the Report is of a very limited nature and extent. I need not say what it is, because I think the words are really perfectly clear and your Lordships can read them. I submit that the point about which the noble Lord spoke is quite a different one, and I would only say this to him, with great respect: if he would like me to put it down on the Agenda for the next meeting of the Committee I shall be only too happy to do so. Perhaps we could leave it at that for this afternoon. It is really quite a different point.

The noble Lord, Lord Champion, raised one or two points about the second paragraph of the numbered paragraph 1, and that has been dealt with by some other speakers. I should like to say to the noble Lord, Lord Champion, that the words, and call the Peer who has given such notice of his intention to speak and the reference to italics, were put in purely for convenience and for no other reason at all. The fact is, my Lords, that your Lordships do from time to time put down Amendments to leave out a clause of a Bill in Committee. Your Lordships could effect exactly the same result by not putting down any such Amendment at all, but debating the Question, which inevitably must be put in any event, That the Clause stand part of the Bill. That could be done to-day, whether or not this Report was passed. To-day, it is really never necessary to put down an Amendment to leave out a clause, but it does have the useful result that it directs the attention of the Committee to the fact that a Member of the Committee does not agree with the clause. It has that useful result, and it lets Members of the Committee know that there may be controversy. It is merely to perpetuate that useful result that this little device of the italics has been thought out.

I should like to say, in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Champion, that when the Chairman puts the Question, That the Clause stand part, of course anyone can speak, as has been pointed out by more than one speaker to-day. It always has been so and it always, I think, will be so. It certainly will be so if this Report is agreed to. Anyone can speak on that Question. I take the point that is made by the noble Lord. I think he is saying: "If you go out of your way to put in italics that one noble Lord wishes to speak, it might conceivably be construed as depriving other noble Lords of the right to speak.




I think that is going very far, and quite unnecessarily far, and it certainly has no substance in fact. Therefore I would ask your Lordships to say that the words proposed to be added are entirely unnecessary. I thought everyone realised—and I say this without any disrespect to anyone—that everybody can speak, not merely once but several times over, in Committee, on the Question, That the Clause stand part. I repeat that it is purely for convenience that we thought out the idea of putting in italics the name of the noble Lord who is to speak first. If your Lordships insisted on a change in this Report, I would say: do not add any words at all as suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Morrison of Lambeth, but rather leave out the last line, and call the Peer who has given such notice of his intention to speak". I do not recommend the House to do that this afternoon, and I hope it will not be done, but I would much prefer that that should be done rather than that it were done the other way round. I hope I have answered the points that have been raised, and that your Lordships will agree to the Report as it stands, though of course I am always prepared to consider suggestions for improvement.


My Lords, may I ask this question of the Lord Chairman, in regard to the Amendment that is to be printed in italics? Will this be regarded as a normal Amendment? Because we may, in fact, wish to delete a clause, let us say, on Report stage. It is recognised on Report stage that the mover of the Amendment has a right to speak a second time, and I should like to know whether the Lord Chairman can give an assurance that the fact that the Amendment becomes italicised and therefore does not stand as a normal Amendment will not restrict the mover of the Amendment from replying, either on Report or on Third Reading.


My Lords, if I may speak again, the answer is, No, it would not in any way restrict Amendments on Report. This Report which your Lordships are asked to pass to-day has nothing to do with the Report stage of a Bill. There will be no change whatsoever in the Report stage—and I take the noble Lord's point. If a noble Lord wishes, after the Committee stage—say, on Report—to leave out a clause, not only can he move that but he can reply when the debate has concluded, although other noble Lords do not speak more than once.


I must apologise for not being au fait with this matter, because I have had a long absence. I fully accept the explanation that there will be no difficulty if any noble Lord wishes to speak on the Motion, "That the Clause stand part". On the other hand, how many more Amendments do you think (this is supposed to be for our increased convenience) are likely to be printed in italics? I do not see what extra convenience is accorded to the Members of the Committee at all by a notice of that kind. We can put down as many ordinary Amendments to a clause as we like for the Committee stage of a Bill, so far as I can tell, and I do not see the point of adding Amendments in italics to give a preference in calling.


My Lords, the answer to the noble Earl is that no more Amendments are likely to be put before the Committee. It will not affect the number of Amendments at all.


There will be those in italics.


No. The so-called Amendment in italics is, in effect, not an Amendment at all. It is not numbered. It does not add to the number, and it will not have a number, as the Report states. If your Lordships will look at page 3, you will see that where italics are used there is to be no number; and we purposely designed it in that way so that an Amendment would not be numbered. In fact, it is not an Amendment at all. This is merely a way of telling the Committee that the noble Lord who is named, in speaking on the Question, "That the Clause stand part", wishes to speak in favour of the omission of the clause and against the clause's standing part of the Bill. That is all that it is meant to do.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord one question? If one wishes to omit a clause and substitute a new clause, how must one phrase it in future? Must one first of all move that the clause should not stand part, and then put separately the new clause, or can one just move, "Leave out Clause so-and-so and insert the new clause"?


My Lords, if the noble Lord will read page 3, I think he will see the answer to his question clearly set out—"Leave out Clause 1 and insert" another clause. It is at about the middle of the page. It is really all set out in the Report. I do ask the noble Lord to rest assured that the question he has raised has been dealt with.


My Lords, may I, in accordance with Standing Orders, say one word in explanation and extenuation? I raised this point at this time because it was a limitation on what was discussed in the Procedure Committee, because it may be many months before there is another Procedure Committee, and because when people get into bad habits those habits are very difficult to break. Therefore, I have taken the opportunity of putting before your Lordships what I think is the right view, and I hope your Lordships will forgive me if, on the narrow meaning of the words, it has not been done exactly correctly.


My Lords, may I just say one word on this point? As a matter of fact, the last item in the Committee's Report is, I think, one of the most important that is in the Report; and, of course, the noble Lord who has just spoken entirely failed to see that there was a nice little feminist point here, which should have appealed to him. The fact is, of course, that it has to be established by what name a new Baroness should be called in this House. It is quite clear that a female Life Peer is called by the name by which she is known when she enters the House; but, of course, there is this other difficulty, and my noble friend Lady Swanborough will not mind if I refer to her as an excellent example. In this House she has been called by the name of "Swanborough" because her services to the country as a woman have been admired and respected and the country has thought fit that she should be made a Peeress in her own right. I think I know her well enough to be able to say that she would not ask, therefore, to be called by the name of "Reading". This is the point that is made in the Report here. And again it is a pity that the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, who crosses swords with me so often on these matters, particularly on matters of intestacy affecting wives in Scotland, should not have realised that we are to-day establishing a very important point—namely, that when a woman is called to this House, under no circumstances will the ghost of a male ancestor sit at the same time by her side, but that she will be called by the name she assumes when she comes into this House as an individual.


My Lords, may I put to the Lord Chairman of Committees one point that puzzles me very much? He says that in every case the Question, "That the Clause stand part" must be put, but I seem to recollect a number of Bills in respect of which the Chairman has said, "I understand that no Amendments have been set down to the Bill. The Question is, therefore, that I report it to the House without an Amendment." In such a case, so far as I can see, there is no opportunity at all to put the Question, "That the Clause stand part". Hitherto, we have dealt with that quite neatly by putting down an Amendment to omit the clause; but if an Amendment to omit the clause is no longer to be considered an Amendment, where are we?


My Lords, if I may speak again—I know I have already exhausted the number of times I am allowed to speak—


Do it in italics.


—the noble Lord, Lord Conesford, is, I think, quite right. He has mentioned what is an exception to the rule. I can only plead that for so long as I have known the House the practice which we follow to-day has always been followed. When no notice of any Amendment to a Bill has been put down, it has always been the custom, for as long as I can remember, for the Chairman to say that, because he understands no Amendments have been put down, the Bill can be reported without an Amendment, and he does not, in the Committee stage, affirmatively put the clauses into the Bill. That, I think, can be classed as an exception to the rule; but I can only plead that, whether it is right or wrong, it has always been so for as long as I can recall.


My Lords, is the position not this?—because I think I recollect this having happened. In a case where no Amendments had been set down, but one Member of the House had intimated in advance that he wished to say something about one of the clauses in the Bill, the course that the Lord Chairman look was simply to go through the Bill in the ordinary way until he came to that clause, when a debate was then held upon it. In that case, the custom of dealing with the matter quickly, simply because no Amendments had been set down, was not followed, making it seem that it was a mere custom which could be waived if anybody wanted to speak on a Motion, "That the Clause stand part."


My Lords, what I do in that event is to treat the Bill as if there had been an Amendment put down, and in that case we affirmatively put all the clauses into the Bill. It has happened frequently.

On Question, Motion agreed to.