HL Deb 08 November 1979 vol 402 cc1038-40

6.5 p.m.

The LORD PRESIDENT of the COUNCIL (Lord Soames)

My Lords, with the leave of the House and for the convenience of the House, I should like to make a Statement on the business for next week. I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Wade, for interrupting his debate and also to the noble Lord, Lord O'Hagan, who is to speak next.

Yesterday I said in my Statement on the proposed arrangements for the Southern Rhodesia Bill that it was expected that the Bill would reach this House in time to be taken through all its stages on Monday. I have now to tell the House that the Bill will still be being considered in another place on Monday. The Official Opposition have, however, given an undertaking that it will reach this House when it sits, to be taken through all its stages on Tuesday, with a view to the Bill receiving Royal Assent on Wednesday. Consequently, this House will not sit on Monday and the Motions for approval of statutory instruments which are on the Order Paper for Tuesday will be postponed until Thursday. I regret the inconvenience which may be caused to the House by this change but I hope that the House will recognise both the business complexities involved and the unusual importance at an international level of the Bill.


My Lords, the House will wish to thank the noble Lord for making that business Statement. We of course understand that the other place should have as much time as possible to deal with a Bill so important as this one. This means that your Lordships' House will have only one day for discussion, but we on this side will use our best endeavours to achieve completion of all stages of the Bill that day.


My Lords, I should like to join with the noble Lord in thanking the noble Lord the Leader of the House for making that Statement. We said from these Benches yesterday that we would be happy to consider the Bill, and consider it very carefully in one d ay on Monday. We see no reason why we should not do so in one day on Tuesday. We realise that a change of business causes a great deal of inconvenience for noble Lords, but we feel sure the House will wish to co-operate as far as possible in clearing the ground for a possible settlement in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.


My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lords from the Opposition and the Liberal Party for what they have said and for the understanding that they have shown in these difficult circumstances.


My Lords, while welcoming the Statement of the Leader of the House, which indicates a much more seemly attitude on the part of the Government towards this very important Bill—and particularly during the visit of President Kaunda—may I ask one simple and indeed simplistic question? A number of us have put Starred Questions down for Monday. What now happens to those?


My Lords, I regret this. I would not have thought that it was advisable for the House to meet just for Starred Questions. I can only apologise for the difficulties involved for noble Lords who have put down Questions. A possible answer, given these difficulties, is for the Questions to be withdrawn and put down for another day, or they may be left and they will receive Written Answers, whichever noble Lords prefer.