HL Deb 22 September 1971 vol 324 cc4-6

My Lords, in welcoming those of your Lordships who are here to-day (and I am glad to see that so many of your Lordships are here for the very important two-day debate) I should like to apologise for the conditions in your Lordships' House which those who have seen the West Front Corridor and the Library may have observed. I think your Lordships will agree that the building work which has been in progress in your Lordships' House for the past weeks should not have been unnecessarily impeded by our recall. I can assure your Lordships that conditions will be a great deal better when you come back in October; I can also assure your Lordships that conditions would have been a great deal worse if you had come back yesterday. As one of my noble friends put it to me as I came into your Lordships' House,"The House is in curlers"; but it would in fact have been a great deal "curlier" if we had come back yesterday. Having said that, I should not like this opportunity to go by without thanking the Department of the Environment for the way in which they have managed to restore some sense of order in your Lordships' House physically for to-day and to-morrow.

Because of the number of your Lordships who have indicated a wish to speak in to-day's debate, it was decided yesterday, through the usual channels—and it was only yesterday that this became clear—that the House should meet tomorrow and should meet at 11.30 a.m.I hope that this timing is convenient. It was felt that if we were to meet in the morning this would allow the debate on the situation in Northern Ireland to be concluded at a reasonably early time and many of your Lordships who may not have made plans to be here tomorrow will be able to get away reasonably early.

Having said that, I should also like to take this opportunity of reminding the House that the Report stage of the Immigration Bill will take place on Monday, October 11, and Tuesday, October 12; and the Third Reading of the Bill is expected on Monday, October 18.


My Lords, the House is much obliged to the noble Earl the Leader of the House. I think it is an absolute miracle that it has been possible to turn the shambles that existed here 10 days ago into a place where we can operate. My sympathy goes out to those involved in this matter. There are certain mysterious buildings within buildings here which I think are arousing the interest of your Lordships; we want to know what goes on inside them. But I think we have confidence. Meanwhile, I think the noble Earl has taken the right course, after full consultation, so far as possible, with my noble friend the Opposition Chief Whip and othas, in taking a second day for such a very important debate. Finally, I would also congratulate your Lordships on your rapid return from the hills or moors or the south of Spain. I can tell the noble Earl that we shall be here in even greater force for the Report stage of the Immigration Bill.


My Lords, may I join in thanking the noble Earl for this statement and say that we certainly appreciate the degree of order that has been achieved. With regard to the Immigration Bill, I am glad to hear that there will be a space of a few days between Report stage and Third Reading. I think it is questionable whether two days will be sufficient for the Report stage. It is a little difficult to say; it rather depends on circumstances.