HL Deb 30 March 1972 vol 329 cc1189-91

12.25 p.m.

Brought from the Commons.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 1a.—(Lord Windlesham.)


My Lords, I wonder if I might interrupt our discussion for a moment to thank, on your Lordships' behalf, all those at Her Majesty's Stationery Office for the very considerable efforts they have deployed on our behalf since we knew that this Bill was coming to us. I sometimes think that these services are performed so smoothly and so efficiently that we occasionally take them rather for granted. On this occasion a very special effort was made for your Lordships' House by those concerned. They produced drafts of the Bill at very short notice last week, in order that your Lordships should have the chance of considering the text of the proposed Bill over the week-end—and I am sure that this was for the convenience of the House. They produced the No. 2 Bill for consideration by the House yesterday, and, in addition, in the course of last night they made very special efforts in order to make certain that when the Commons Bill, the Bill now receiving its First Reading, reached your Lordships' House it would be available in printed form for us. I am sure that your Lordships will forgive me for drawing attention to the particular efforts that have been made on our behalf by the members of the Stationery Office.

Since I am on my feet—and I promise not to stand between your Lordships and the conclusion of this Bill for more than a further ten seconds—I hope that this is not an inopportune moment for me to express the hope that your Lordships will enjoy a good, although temporary, respite from your Parliamentary duties over the Recess, as I am intending—or, rather, hoping—to do myself.


My Lords, I only hope that the noble Earl finds plenty of snow where he is going. I should like to echo what he has said about our appreciation of Her Majesty's Stationery Office. They always do rise to the occasion, and we certainly are very grateful. Of course, we have not finished with the Bill; we have some more business. Is the Chief Whip going to make a statement about how we proceed further? Is there to be a very short interval? If we can be given assurances that all the Amendments that we have passed are in the new Bill, I do not think that we need a very long interval.


My Lords, it is of course necessary to have an interval between the passing of the Bill and the Lord Chancellor's signifying Royal Assent, but I hope that we may be able to cut that to a comparatively short time—say, 5 minutes.


I am thinking about before we start on the Second Reading of the Bill that has come from another place. Is the noble Earl not proposing any interval at all?


No, my Lords; we go straight on now. After this First Reading, my noble friend will be asking leave to withdraw the No. 2 Bill, and then we shall proceed with the ordinary stages of the original Bill.


My Lords, would it be possible to have copies of the Bill now before us brought into the House? I know that they are available, but some of us have been attending to the business of the House and have not had time to go to the Printed Paper Office.

On Question, Bill read 1a.