HL Deb 28 February 1980 vol 405 cc1512-3

3.18 p.m.

The CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES (Lord Aberdare)

My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. I think I should draw special attention to the first item on Unstarred Questions, because this was a matter that was brought up on the Floor of the House by the noble Lord, Lord Derwent, and referred to the Procedure Committee. The Procedure Committee went into it very carefully and, I think I can say, unanimously considered that the Unstarred Question was a very valuable part of the procedures of this House, especially for those who sit on the Back Benches, and that although there had been occasions when they have gone on rather late at night, on the whole it would be a mistake to restrict them at this moment.

I was asked to draw your Lordships' attention to the Resolution of the House of 13th July 1965, That speeches in this House should be shorter", a subject of which we have already heard a great deal this afternoon, and I do not think I need labour it any further. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Third Report from the Select Committee be agreed to.—(Lord Aberdare.)

The report is as follows:


The Committee have considered whether any restriction should be placed on the length of Unstarred Questions. They recognise that Unstarred Questions provide back-bench members of the House with a valuable means of raising a wide variety of subjects and that any restrictions would be an erosion of the rights of members of the House.

The Committee believe that the answer to the problem of lengthy debates does not lie in restricting the length of either Unstarred Questions or Motions but in urging all members of the House to make shorter speeches, especially late at night. They draw attention once again to the resolution of the House of 13th July, 1965, "That speeches in this House should be shorter".


The Committee have considered the terms of Standing Order No. 62 which governs the practice of the House on the attendance of Lords at Select Committees. They consider that the Standing Order should be amended so as to make clear that a Lord who is not a member of a Select Committee may not attend a deliberative meeting of that Committee unless invited by the Committee to do so. They recommend therefore that the Standing Order should be amended to read as follows:—

"At a Select Committee of the House any Lord, though not of the Committee, is not excluded from coming in and speaking, but he must not attend any meeting while the Committee deliberate, unless invited by the Committee to do so, and he must not vote."


The Committee recommend that Standing Order No. 61 (which provides that the orders of appointment of Sessional Committees named in that Standing Order and any of their sub-committees shall remain in force and effect notwithstanding the Prorogation of Parliament, until such time as the House, or Committee, makes further orders of appointment in the next succeeding session) should be amended so as to include the Select Committee on Science and Technology, which the House has recently appointed.

On Question, Motion agreed to.