HL Deb 25 November 1981 vol 425 cc762-3

3.8 p.m.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Aberdare)

My Lords, I beg to move the first Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That a Select Committee on Personal Bills be appointed, to which all Petitions for Personal Bills shall stand referred; and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the Lords following, with the Chairman of Committees, be named of the Committee:—

—(Lord Aberdare.)

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

My Lords, I wish to raise a matter on this Motion. It is with some diffidence that I offer one or two comments upon the Motion before the House. Three years ago I was asked whether I would serve on the Select Committee on Personal Bills and I consented to do so. I was assured that it would meet only rarely because Personal Bills were few in number. In fact, it met once during the period of my three years of membership. That was on an application by a man to marry his stepdaughter, which was forbidden by statute law and for which a Personal Bill had to be promoted. I sat zealously through the whole of one Session in order to reach a unanimous and sensible conclusion on that application.

I am sure that there must be some reason for a noble Lord to find that his name is omitted from the list recommended by the Committee of Selection, without warning, without reference, and without anything except the surprise of finding that a list is included in the Order Paper which omits the name of a noble Lord who has served previously. I fully accept that no noble Lord should be asked to accept the onerous burden of membership of a Select Committee that sits rarely and to do it indefinitely; but the courtesies of this House are well renowned both in Parliament and outside and there must surely be some more courteous way of telling a noble Lord that he has been displaced on a Select Committee than his discovery that his name is omitted from the list of members proposed in a Motion of this kind. I leave it there. I have no undue complaint to make about it, but I do think there is a better way of doing it than this.

Lord Aberdare

My Lords, I am sorry the noble Lord feels like that. I can only draw his attention to the Companion to Standing Orders where it is perfectly clear that in nearly all Select Committees the members retire after three years' service. This is part of the rotation rule in order to allow all Members of your Lordships' House to take part in various committees. It is the normal procedure that after three years a member retires from the committee. That is the reason why the noble Lord's name does not appear on this particular committee; but of course, having been off the committee for a year or so, he certainly will be eligible to rejoin it. That is the reason for his name not appearing, and of course this is all decided by the Committee of Selection. That committee has only met recently, as it does at the beginning of every Session. I am afraid I cannot offer the noble Lord any more comfort than that.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

My Lords, if I may be permitted to say so, I fully accept the explanation. As I said, I have no grievances about it and I apologise for not being familiar with the Standing Order to which the noble Lord has referred. It may be that I expect rather more courtesy than is available in your Lordships' House on a matter of this kind. A word to the effect that I retired under Standing Orders would have set my mind at rest. However, this is rather an embarrassing subject to raise. I tried to raise it in some other way. However, I have no more to say and I thank the noble Lord for his explanation.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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