HL Deb 15 February 1973 vol 338 cc1687-9

3.24 p.m.


My Lords, I wonder whether, with the permission of the House, I could make a rather special appeal to your Lordships? I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to the Order Paper, where you will see that the last two items are the Second Reading of the Badgers Bill and the Motion standing in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Beaumont of Whitley. As things stand at present, I understand that there may be no fewer than 35 speeches on the Second Reading and the Motion together, and I am sure it would be in the general interests of the House if those noble Lords taking part in those two important debates could restrict the ambit of their speeches as much as possible.


My Lords, would not the noble Earl the Leader of the House consider something very much fairer than that proposal? Could we not have half the speakers in the first debate and then postpone the remainder until after we have had the debate on the Motion, when we can finally complete the debate on the Bill?


My Lords, on a more serious note, as we are not sitting on Monday could not the usual channels have considered putting the very important Motion on the situation in Greece on to the Order Paper for Monday?


My Lords, I think that a great many speakers have put their names down rather at the last moment, and although there would certainly have been a case for taking this Motion on Monday, at this eleventh hour those noble Lords who have made arrangements to attend to-day would probably be inconvenienced if we were now to change. Obviously, if we had known there was going to be so much interest in these two debates that could have been done.


My Lords, having sat on Monday until 10.7 p.m., on Tuesday until 9.19 p.m. and last night until 9.37 p.m., is there any possibility of our being able to get anything to eat to-night?


My Lords, this is an extremely difficult problem. When there are likely to be Divisions and obviously a fairly large number of your Lordships present it is perfectly easy to arrange for dinners. When we have a debate with the probability of no Division at the end of it, the tendency is for those noble Lords who are not actually taking part—and I am afraid, to a certain extent, even some of those who do take part—to leave and to dine elsewhere even if dinner is arranged here. Therefore we are left with the position of the Refreshment Department having to bring in maybe half a dozen waitresses to provide food for perhaps half a dozen Peers whose combined contribution to the refreshment fund would barely pay the wages of one of the six waitresses. This is one of the problems we have to consider. I appreciate that this is a very difficult matter for those who are actually taking part in the debates, but I can assure your Lordships that my noble friend Lord Nugent of Guildford, the Chairman of the Refreshment Committee, is giving it urgent consideration.