HL Deb 08 October 1981 vol 424 cc198-9
Lord Denham

My Lords, it may be for the convenience of the House if I announce that dinner will be available at the usual time this evening. Subject to the progress of the Report stage of the Education (Scotland) Bill this afternoon, the House will adjourn for a short period at approximately 7 o'clock.

My Lords, I should also like to make an announcement about next week's business. It has been agreed through the usual channels, and after consultations, that the House need not sit on Monday of next week, 12th October. The third and final day of the Report stage of the British Nationality Bill will be taken on Tuesday, 13th October. Consideration of Commons Amendments to the Matrimonial Homes (Family Protection) (Scotland) Bill, which was to have taken place as first business on Tuesday, will now take place on Wednesday, 14th October, before the Third Reading of the Education (Scotland) Bill.

I apologise for any inconvenience that this change may cause to any noble Lord; but perhaps I should point out to the House that, so far as the British Nationality Bill is concerned, it had in any event been expected that the Report stage of that Bill would have been continued on Tuesday of next week and this has been reflected on the Order Paper for some time.

Lord Brockway

My Lords, may I ask what will happen to those of us who have Questions for Monday which were put down in the expectation that the House would be meeting? They are important Questions and there is no available time to put them during the rest of the Session. Will the Government provide some facility by which those Questions, rightly on the Order Paper, shall be considered?

Lord Denham

My Lords, I have apologised to the House for any inconvenience that this would cause. I did in fact have the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, among others, in mind when I did so. It is always difficult when business goes rather more expeditiously than one feared; and when there is an opportunity for the House not to sit on a Monday, or, more reasonably, on a Friday, the difficulty of Starred Questions which have been put down for that day always arises. It is very bad luck on those noble Lords who are hit in this way. I believe the House would agree with me that where the other business can be organised in such a way that the House does not have to sit on a particular day the factor of four Starred Questions should not weigh too heavily when taking the decision whether or not the House should sit.

Baroness Vickers

My Lords, would it not be possible to provide Written Answers? Then everybody would know the Answers and it would settle the anxieties of those who have put down the Questions.

Lord Denham

My Lords, I am most grateful to my noble friend Lady Vickers for reminding me that that is of course possible. Also, any noble Lord who has another Question down for reply between now and the Recess, and who believes that a Question lost is relatively more important, can always switch his Questions.