§ The First Report from the Select Committee was as follows:
§ 1. QUESTIONS ON NATIONALISED INDUSTRIES
§ The Committee have considered the practice of the House with regard to the asking of questions on the day-to-day running of nationalised industries. They were advised that while there are no written conventions relating to the tabling of such questions, successive Governments have refused, on grounds of public policy, to answer them.
§ The Committee consider the tabling of questions on nationalised industries undesirable, save for those asking for statistical information on a national basis or those which raise matters of urgent public importance.
§ 2. QUESTIONS FOR WRITTEN ANSWER
§ The Committee have considered whether it is necessary to place any restriction on the number of Questions for Written Answer which may be placed on the Order Paper by a Lord at any one time.
§ While the Committee do not, at this stage, recommend such a restriction, they strongly deprecate
- (a) the simultaneous tabling of large numbers of Questions for Written Answer, and
- (b) the tabling of what is, in effect, a series of different requests for information under the guise of a single Question for Written Answer.
§ 3. CONDUCT IN THE CHAMBER AND THE RULES OF DEBATE
§ The Committee wish to draw attention to certain conventions of the House which are often disregarded. They would remind Lords that the observance of the rules and customs of the House is the responsibility of all Lords and should not be left entirely to the Leader of the House.1158
§ (a) Attendance at Debates
§ The Committee wish to draw to the special attention of the House the passage on page 87 of The Companion to the Standing Orders, which reads as follows:—
§ "A Lord who is taking part in a debate is expected to attend the greater part of that debate. It is considered discourteous for him not to be present for the opening speeches, for at least the speech before and that following his own, and for the winding-up speeches.
§ A Lord who has missed the speeches before his own must rise to speak in ignorance or partial ignorance of what has already been said. This may lead to repetition of points already made and to silence on points which need to be replied to. A Lord who leaves soon after he has spoken is lacking in courtesy to subsequent speakers, who may wish to question, or reply to, points raised in his speech. The failure of speakers to attend throughout the debate has the undesirable consequence of encouraging the debate to degenerate into a series of set speeches".
§ (b) Speaking after the Minister has sat down
§ The Committee consider it undesirable for Lords to continue the debate on a Motion or Unstarred Question after the Government's reply has been given, save for Questions to the Minister before he sits down.
§ (c) Maiden Speeches
§ Lords are expected to remain in their seats when a maiden speech is being made and not leave the Chamber. Those entering the Chamber are expected to remain by the Steps of the Throne or Below the Bar.
§ (d) Order in the House
§ The Committee remind the House of the distraction caused to other Lords by casual conversation or movement in the Chamber. They therefore draw to the special attention of the House Standing Order 17 (Order in the House) and Standing Order 19 (Lords not to converse whilst the House is upon business).
§ 4. USE OF THE TERM "STAGE OF A BILL" IN STANDING ORDERS 53 AND 54
§ The Committee have considered the meaning of the term "stage of a Bill" in Standing Orders 53 (Equality of Votes) and 54 (Quorum for division on Bills and subordinate legislation). They consider it should be made clear, in the context of the Standing Orders, that the term "stage of a Bill" refers only to the customary stages of a Bill, i.e. the three Readings, Committee, Report, Passing and Consideration of Commons Amendments or Reasons.
§ They recommend therefore that Standing Order 53 should be amended by the insertion of a new paragraph as follows:—
- "In this Standing Order ' stages of a Bill ' means First Reading, Second Reading, Committee of the whole House, Report, Third Reading, Passing, Consideration of Commons Amendments and Consideration of Commons Reasons".
§ and that Standing Order 54 should be amended by the deletion of the words "any stage of" in line 1.1159
§ 5. CONTINUITY OF SESSIONAL COMMITTEES
§ The Committee recommend that Standing Order 61 (Continuity of Select Committees) should be amended to include the Select Committee on Sound Broadcasting.
§ 3.19 p.m.
§ The CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES (Lord Aberdare)
My Lords, I beg to move that this Report be agreed to. I was specifically asked by the Committee to draw special attention to Item 3 of the Report, which covers four different subjects. The first is attendance at debates. The Report quotes page 87 of The Companion to the Standing Orders, which reads as follows:A Lord who is taking part in a debate is expected to attend the greater part of that debate. It is considered discourteous for him not to be present for the opening speeches, for at least the speech before and that following his own, and for the winding-up speeches".Secondly, the Committee reported that they consider it undesirablefor Lords to continue the debate on a Motion or Unstarred Question after the Government's reply has been given, save for Questions to the Minister before he sits down".Thirdly, in respect of maiden speeches:Lords are expected to remain in their scats when a maiden speech is being made and not leave the Chamber. Those entering the Chamber are expected to remain by the Steps of the Throne or Below the Bar".Lastly, on the subject of order in the House:The Committee remind the House of the distraction caused to other Lords by casual conversation or movement in the Chamber".My Lords, I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the First Report from the Select Committee be agreed to.—(The Chairman of Committees.)
§ Lord CLITHEROE
My Lords, may I ask whether many noble Lords have yet had the opportunity to read this document, which was ordered to be printed only today? I entirely agree with what the noble Lord has said, but paragraph 1 is highly controversial and I wonder whether an opportunity might be given for us to discuss it at some other time.
§ The CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES
My Lords, the noble Lord the Leader of the House is here. I am sure he will have taken note of what the noble Lord has said, and if there should be an opportunity to discuss it then I am sure that will be arranged.
§ The CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES
Yes, my Lords, I agree it is entirely undesirable that it is spelt in two different ways in three places.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.