HL Deb 21 September 1972 vol 335 cc1283-6

2.49 p.m.

THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (EARL JELLICOE) rose to move, That Standing Order No. 44 (No two stages of a Bill to be taken on one day) be suspended until Parliament is prorogued. The noble Earl said: My Lords I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. The purpose of this Motion is mainly to allow us to complete all stages of the Horserace Totalisator Betting Levy Boards Bill to-morrow. I would take this opportunity of informing your Lordships that, subject to our being able to complete the Committee stage of the Local Government Bill tomorrow—as I am confident will be the case—the House will adjourn until Monday, October 16, when we shall reassemble to complete the remaining stages of a number of Bills. I am sure your Lordships will appreciate that it is rather difficult at this stage to forecast how many days we shall have to meet during October, certainly until we know how much work remains to be done during the remaining stages of the Local Government Bill, but it is expected that Parliament will be prorogued during the course of the following week—that is, the week beginning Monday, October 23. The State Opening of the new Session will take place on Tuesday, October 31.

Again with the indulgence of your Lordships, I should like just to touch on one administrative matter, and I do so with regret. It had been hoped to have our existing Dining Room—the Dining Room with which we are all familiar—back in full operation by the beginning of November. However, because of the six weeks' delay which has resulted from the strike in the construction industry this, I fear, will not be the case. It is now expected that the Dining Room will not be ready for use until after the Christmas Recess. I very much regret this, but it is outside my control. I understand that a fuller explanation of the position will be circulated to noble Lords with the Minute sheet to-morrow.

Moved, That Standing Order No. 44 (No two stages of a Bill to be taken on one day) be suspended until Parliament is prorogued.—(Earl Jellicoe.)


My Lords, we are grateful to the noble Earl for telling us about future business. May I ask the Government for an assurance that they will not seek to bring in any major legislation and pass it through all stages in the remaining fortnight, which would be so characteristic of this year's programme—


Without Amendments.


—and without Amendments, as my noble friend says. May I also ask that during the last fortnight in October, when no doubt there may be time to spare for an important debate on some subjects such as violence, none the less the Government will agree not to fill it up unless this is necessary, so that the Local Government Bill, which has been debated in the most unfavourable circumstances, may be dealt with? It is a matter of chance, as to the time of day and so on, whether an Amendment to the Local Government Bill is carried. Of course, a large number of Amendments have been postponed, or at least not pressed, because of the difficulties. I make no reflection on the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare. He, like the noble Earl the Leader of the House, has been landed with this situation. My only complaint is, as I have said before, of this Government. Lord Aberdare has been conducting proceedings on this Bill with his usual consideration, but the fact remains that it has been a heavy strain and we are not doing much credit to ourselves in the way we handle it. May I ask for that point to be borne in mind?

In regard to the Dining Room, I can only say that I regret what has been announced, although I have noticed that most noble Lords seem rather to enjoy having tea in the Cholmondeley Room and find it in some ways rather more congenial. None the less, there are disadvantages and we note the position. These are—I will not say entirely self-inflicted wounds, because the matter has got out of control. I express sympathy to some of our people, such as Black Rod and Miss Wilson, who have had to cope with the situation.

May I finally ask the noble Earl, while naturally agreeing as is traditional, to the suspension of Standing Order No. 44, whether it is not usual at this time of the year also to suspend Standing Order No. 38? I should like to ask him whether the reason for not doing so is the same as that in regard to the giving of the Royal Consent. Is it in fact by design, or inadvertence?


My Lords, I am not quite certain whether I remember all the points which the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition has put to me. But I can give him an assurance that it is improbable that new major legislation will be slipped through by the Government. In fact, that is not the Government's intention, and I do not think that either he or anyone else need fear that a European Communities (No. 2) Bill will come before your Lordships' House during that period. No. I give him the assurance for which he has asked.

Secondly, on his point about allowing as much time as possible for the Local Government Bill, I agree. Certainly if we need what I might term as extraneous debates (and there have been suggestions from your Lordships that there are important and rather urgent subjects which we might well debate in the spillover period) I should have thought that the sensible arrangement would be this. If a feeling is expressed in your Lordships' House that one or more of those subjects should be debated (this matter will of course be discussed through the usual channels) a sensible time to do that would be in the second week of the overspill period, allowing the first week, so far as possible, to be devoted to our further examination of the Local Government Bill.

On the final point which the noble Lord put to me, concerning Standing Order No. 38, I can say that the suspension is not being moved not by inadvertence. It is not being moved, in I think the phraseology of my noble and learned friend who sits on the Woolsack, neither by inadvertence nor by a mixture of design and inadvertence. It is not being moved, in this case, by design.


My Lords, may we get it clear? Is the noble Earl telling us that in no circumstances will his present Motion apply to the Local Government Bill?


My Lords, it could apply to the Local Government Bill; but if, for example, there was a feeling in your Lordships' House that it would be wrong to telescope the stages of the Local Government Bill (I think there is general agreement that we should do so in the case of the Tote Bill) then of course I should not dream of suggesting that we should do so. The Bill could catch this Motion if this was to the convenience of the House and by the general consent of your Lordships' House. But if the feeling was otherwise, I would not dream of suggesting that we should apply this procedure to the Local Government Bill.

On Question, Motion agreed to.