HL Deb 28 June 1979 vol 400 cc1613-5

3.27 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move the second Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. In doing so, I should like briefly to explain why I am moving this Motion. The Message from the House of Commons that they have appointed their Committee on Statutory Instruments was received only yesterday. This House has therefore proposed that the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments should meet next Tuesday, and a message from the Commons responding to this proposal is expected this afternoon. This means that there has not been time for the Joint Committee to consider and report on the Iron Casting Industry (Scientific Research Levy) (Amendment) Order as required by Standing Order No. 68. It was for this reason that the Army, Air Force and Naval Discipline Acts (Continuation) Order 1979 was withdrawn by the Government from the Order Paper on Tuesday. In that case, as my noble friend Lord Strathcona indicated at the start of the defence debate, there was no immediate urgency to approve the order. But in the present case there is urgency.

The order raises a levy which supports the British Cast Iron Research Association, whose existence depends upon it. Under the Industrial Organisation and Development Act 1947, the order must be made by the end of June so that the levy can be collected from 1st July. If the order is not made, the levy will be lost for the period until the order is made, and this delay could be a matter of weeks as it would be necessary to lay a new order which would then have to pass both Houses in the usual way.

The present order has been approved in another place. Given all the circumstances, I would ask your Lordships to agree to dispense with Standing Order No. 68 in order to enable my noble friend Lord Trenchard to move the Motion to approve the order this afternoon. I beg to move.

Moved, That Standing Order No. 68 (Affirmative Instruments) be dispensed with for the purpose of enabling the motion to approve the draft Iron Casting Industry (Scientific Research Levy) (Amendment) Order 1979 to be moved this day notwithstanding that there has not been laid before the House a report thereon of the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments.—(Lord Soames.)


My Lords, I think that this Motion should not be agreed to without it being pointed out that the members of the Joint Committee from this House were appointed on 14th June, and that would have enabled the usual weekly meetings of this busy Joint Committee to have taken place both last week and this week. But, as it is, the first meeting of the Joint Committee cannot take place, as the noble Lord the Leader of the House has said, until next Tuesday.

I understand that there will be 119 Statutory Instruments to be considered at the first meeting of the committee. This will be a heavy burden upon it and a particularly heavy burden upon the new chairman to be appointed, who will be chairing his first meeting of the committee. None of this is the fault of anybody in this House, but this fact should be on the record before we agree to the Motion.


My Lords, it is obvious that we should approve the dispensation of Standing Order No. 68 on this occasion, because the timetable insists that that should be done. However, I should be grateful if my noble friend would give some indication of how many other orders are likely to be affected. Is the Joint Committee likely to be established so that this is a once-for-all situation? This scrutiny is vital because it is no use our criticising later after the horse has bolted. While, on this occasion, it is right that we should face up to the circumstances of the timetable, may we be told whether any more orders will be caught in this trap?


My Lords, in reply to my noble friend Lord Harmar-Nicholls, I can assure him that all the other horses will remain in the stable and that this is a once-for-all situation. I do not think he need worry about that, although I take his point that it would have been worrying had it so been. To answer the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, he is right to say that it is not the fault of anybody in this House, but I think it would be hard if one were to infer therefrom that it was the fault, in the sense of the word "fault", of another place; during these weeks they have been reconsidering the whole of their committee structure. This will not, we hope, happen frequently in future. It is a once-for-all situation and I agree with the noble Lord that the fault does not lie with us; it is the fault of circumstances rather than people.

On Question, Motion agreed to.