HL Deb 29 July 1975 vol 363 cc883-4

2.41 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask the Leader of the House whether he will make a Statement following discussions with all quarters of the House about possible terms of reference for a Select Committee to consider methods of designating Members of this House as members of the European Parliament.

The LORD PRIVY SEAL (Lord Shepherd)

My Lords, discussions are in progress but I can make no statement at this stage.


My Lords, in thanking the noble Lord for that not very informative reply, may I ask him whether he can tell us when he expects these consultations to be concluded? A month has passed since he expressed his view on the matter so forcibly and vividly in this House.


My Lords, I do not think that it is quite a month. It may seem it to the noble Earl, but it is not quite a month. If the noble Earl will look at the Report of what I said in that debate, he will see that I thought we should certainly not create a confrontation between the two Houses. I have had consultation. I am fully aware of the views of those who represent all sections of your Lordships' House. I know that discussions have taken place through the usual channels in another place, and I am hoping that in the not too far distant future the representatives of this House will meet the representatives of another House to see what can be done in this rather difficult situation.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that phrase, "the not too distant future". Can he give us some idea whether that means when we come back in the autumn, Christmas, or this time next year?


My Lords, may I refer the noble Earl to the reply that I gave to him in that debate? I hoped, and it was certainly the Government's intention, that these discussions should be concluded in order that a view would be known before the opening of the new session of the European Parliament, which I think is March 1976.


My Lords, will the noble Lord bear in mind the point of view that the present system has worked very well for some 2½, years, that it has only another 2½ years or so to run if we are to comply with the decision of the Paris Summit meeting about direct elections, and that the great merit of the present system is that it provides not only continuity but a balanced delegation?


My Lords, I feel closer to the noble Lord than to the noble Earl on this matter, but I was responding to what I thought was a wish in the House that there should be consultations.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord whether he is aware that the interest on these Benches remains sustained and has not lapsed as a result of the debates, and that we wish the noble Lord well in his consultations?


My Lords, all I can say to the noble Lord is that I am never quite sure what are the interests of a Bench of Independents, but perhaps one day we may know what they are.