HL Deb 16 November 1971 vol 325 cc570-3

2.55 p.m.


My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Windlesham, I beg to move the Motion standing in his name on the Order Paper; namely, That the matter of the approval of the eleven Parliamentary Constituencies Orders standing in his name this day be moved in one Motion, and put to the House in one Question.

This is the first occasion on which the new procedure for taking en bloc Motions recommended by the Procedure Committee in their Second Report of last Session has been used. I must confess that there is some room for different interpretations to be placed on the procedure recommended by the Committee. The Committee recommended that any Motion for moving en bloc Motions should appear on the Order Paper on at least two consecutive Sitting Days before the day on which it was to be moved. In this case the Motion was tabled on Wednesday night and has therefore appeared in two Order Papers; but not on two consecutive Sitting Days. In my view, the conditions recommended by the Procedure Committee have been fulfilled in this case, but the advice I have received is in the contrary sense. Since this is the first occasion on which such a Motion has been moved, I should like to leave it to the House to decide whether my noble friend Lord Windlesham should be allowed to move these 11 Parliamentary Constituencies Orders en bloc although perhaps the strict conditions laid down by the Procedure Committee have not been complied with.

Of course, if any noble Lord objects to this Motion, either on the ground that the conditions for moving it have not been properly fulfilled or because he wishes to speak on a particular Order, my noble friend Lord Windlesham will move the eleven Orders individually. I think I should make it clear that it is the right of every individual noble Lord to object to this Motion and the Procedure Committee have made it a condition of moving such a Motion that noble Lords should be reminded of their right to object. I beg to move.

Moved, That the matter of the approval of the eleven Parliamentary Constituencies Orders standing in the name of Lord Windlesham be moved in one Motion, and put to the House in one Question.—(Earl St. Aldwyn.)


My Lords, I am sure that it was proper for the noble Earl to make that statement and we are grateful that he should have done so and for the terms he has used. Speaking for my noble friends so far as I can, I think that the procedure he proposes in this particular case should be followed. At the same time, I consider it right that we should reserve the position so far as timing is concerned. It seems to me that we ought to have a proper understanding of what is intended by any Standing Order. Perhaps we could have a discussion on the matter of Notice on some future occasion.


My Lords, I feel that this is a very valuable amendment to the procedure of the House and one which is going to prevent the tedious waste of time that has occurred on previous occasions. There is one point in my noble friend's statement that I should like to raise. He said that if any noble Lord objected to one of the Orders, then all the Orders would have to be put. I should have thought that if there were objection to one of the Orders, that Order could be put separately and the remaining Orders to which there is no objection could be put en bloc. Otherwise, we should lose some of the value of this great improvement to our procedure which the Committee has recommended.


My Lords, the noble Lord has put one of the matters that I wished to raise. May I ask a further question?—this may be due to my complete ignorance of procedure. If on another occasion there are to be put under this procedure, say, Orders Nos. 1 to 11 on constituencies. are we forgoing the right then to have a discussion on, say, No. 5 of that new group if we accede to-day to the request of the noble Earl?


My Lords, as I understand it, and I am open to correction, the Procedure Committee made it clear that if there were any objection to any one Motion, all he'd then to be put separately. I quite see that this does not cover the desire of the noble Lord, Lord Alport, but it is right that this procedure should be used only when there is absolute unanimity in tie House that the Orders should be taken in one. If there is an objection to one particular Order on this occasion, this will not prejudice all being taken together on another occasion.


My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Earl would like to correct something he said at the beginning of his last remarks. He said that if one Order is objected to then each Order would have to be put separately. I am not sure that that is what the Procedure Committee recommended. In fact what they said was: the constituent parts of the motion shall be moved separately to the extent desired. Surely that would be a much more efficient way of dealing with the matter.


My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for drawing my attention to that point. I did not have enough time to check it between my noble friend asking me the question and my having to reply.


My Lords, surely it is desirable to expedite business in the fashion proposed. Could we not adopt this form of procedure? The Motion having been put, before an actual decision is taken by your Lordships' House any noble Lord may rise to object to any one, or a number, of the items. If that should happen, a vote could be taken on those particular items. Having taken that vote if necessary, the Motion itself, the global Motion, could be either accepted or rejected.


My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, said, I had in fact informed the House incorrectly when I said that if there was an objection to one Order they had all to be taken individually; that is not correct. I have now had a chance to verify this point. If there were an objection to an Order—for the sake of argument, say Order No. 5—that would be taken separately and the others would be taken en bloc.

On Question, Motion agreed to.