HL Deb 31 July 1984 vol 455 cc651-3
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Aberdare)

rose to move, That the Third Report from the Select Committee be agreed to.

The report read as follows:


The Committee have reviewed their recommendation of a year ago (First Report from the Committee on Procedure of the House, Session 1983–84, item 1, agreed to on 21st July 1983) that for an experimental period until the end of this session it should be open to a Lord, when moving the first of a group of linked amendments, to indicate subsequent amendments which he wished, by leave of the House, to be printed together in the Official Report. The experiment was proposed because of the inconvenience which may arise from the fact that where the first of a group of linked amendments (which is often simply a paving amendment) is disagreed to, the succeeding amendments are not printed in the Official Report. By indicating subsequent amendments to which a Lord wishes to speak, he gives authority to the Editor of Debates to print those amendments at the first point at which they are discussed. The text of the subsequent linked amendments, which may be agreed to later in the proceedings, is not reprinted at the point at which they are actually moved. Instead they are identified simply by their number in the Marshalled List, and where possible, by the column number in the Official Report where the text of the amendment has originally been printed. The Committee recommend that the experiment should be continued for a further session so as to enable members of the House to become more familiar with the procedure, and to allow further time in which to judge whether it should be made permanent, with or without variation.

The noble Lord said: My Lords. I beg to move that the Third Report from the Select Committee on the Procedure of the House be agreed to, and may I draw very special attention to this report? It relates to the method of printing linked amendments in Hansard, because it was clear to the Procedure Committee that the present system, which is an experimental system. is not fully understood by your Lordships and more time is needed to assess its value. The point arises when a Peer moves one amendment and speaks to one or more other amendments that are linked to it. The first amendment may be, and very often is, a very minor paving amendment, whereas the substantive amendment which appears later in the Marshalled List may be a whole new clause, or indeed a new schedule.

Under the previous arrangement, if the first amendment was withdrawn or if it was disagreed to, then the linked amendments. which would not therefore be moved, were not printed at all in Hansard. Under our present arrangement, if a Peer in moving a paving amendment says that he is speaking to a number of other linked amendments, then Hansard will print all those amendments together at the start of his speech. Later in the proceedings, when the linked amendments are reached, then Hansard will refer to them by their number on the Marshalled List and, if possible, by the column number where they were originally printed.

Finally, I would emphasise that the responsibility lies with your Lordships and that, when you are moving a paving amendment, you should specify the other amendments to which you are speaking: that, then. is the authority to Hansard to print all those amendments together at the beginning of the proceedings. My Lords, I beg to move.

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

Lord Airedale

My Lords, we are grateful to the noble Lord, the Chairman of Committees, for having explained to us so clearly what is a slightly intricate matter, but may I suggest that what applies to linked amendments which are likely to be agreed to should equally apply to linked amendments which are withdrawn? Perhaps I could give an example. During the Committee stage of the Ordnance Factories and Military Service Bill, which began on 19th July, my noble friend Lord Mayhew moved Amendment No. 22 and said that it was just a paving amendment for Amendment No. 32. Accordingly, Amendment No. 32 was printed in Hansard at that point and was discussed at some length by the Committee. At the end of the discussion my noble friend was satisfied with undertakings that the Government had given and withdrew his paving amendment, Amendment No. 22.

After Amendment No. 24 had been disposed of, Hansard had its cut-off point. Therefore, my noble friend's substantive Amendment No. 32 would have been printed not in the Daily Report for 19th July but in the Daily Report for 20th July. Of course, my noble friend did not move Amendment No. 32 because it had already been discussed and, so to speak, withdrawn. All that Hansard printed was: [Amendment No. 32 not moved] It would have been quite easy, I suggest, for Hansard to have referred back to the column in the previous day's report in which that substantive amendment had been discussed, because the reader is just as interested in the argument whether the amendment is agreed to, disagreed to, or not moved. Therefore, I put this forward as a suggestion: that if Hansard might be encouraged—I appreciate that they are extremely hard worked. and do a wonderful job—also to perform this little chore, I believe that it would be a great advantage.

Lord Aberdare

My Lords, these are the kinds of points which I hope will arise from the experiment. It is a little complicated to go into now, but in the instance given by the noble Lord, Lord Airedale, the two amendments occurred on two different days. so it would have been possible to indicate the column number of the original amendment. However, that would not be possible if all of the amendments were to be dealt with on one day. We must be very careful not to lay extra burdens on Hansard, who have a very hard and difficult task as it is. Nevertheless, I shall certainly look into the point.

On Question, Motion agreed to.