HL Deb 04 February 1985 vol 459 cc833-4
Lord Denham

My Lords, it may be for the convenience of the House if I announce that the Committee stage of the Insolvency Bill will be adjourned at approximately 7 p.m. for a short period, and that during this adjournment the Nature Conservation and Amenity Lands (Northern Ireland) Order will be taken.

It may also be helpful if I explain to the House the procedure which has been agreed through the usual channels following your Lordships' acceptance last Tuesday of the amendment standing in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Benson. The suggestion is that the remainder of Chapter I of Part II of the Bill—that is to say, Clauses 9 to 14—should be taken formally this afternoon on the understanding that before the Bill leaves this House, Clauses 7 to 14 will be recommitted to a Committee of the whole House for further consideration. I hope that this arrangement will meet with your Lordships' approval.

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede

My Lords, I am sure that the noble Lord is right to suggest—and indeed it has been agreed—that Clauses 7 to 14 should be recommitted before the Bill leaves this House. For the good order of business I should have thought that it would be useful if the Chief Whip could give an undertaking that this recommitment of Clauses 7 to 14 would take place before the Report stage of the Bill. If this is postponed until after some of the Bill has been considered on Report it would seem that it would lead to confusion. I hope that the Chief Whip can give the undertaking that we shall have the recommitment before Report stage.

Lord Denham

My Lords, I shall certainly take serious note of what the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, says and also of the agreement expressed from beside him on the Bench on which he sits. It is difficult to give a firm undertaking on matters of this kind. The Government have gone some way in agreeing to a recommitment and I think that that is right for your Lordships.

Of course it would be much more convenient if we could do what the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, suggests but it would be better in fact if various loose ends could be tied up before we have the recommitment, and this is what I hope will take place. We have at the moment a quite long period between the scheduled stages for Committee and Report.

Lord Tordoff

My Lords, in joining in this short exchange might I say that the arrangements have our support from this side but we would go along with what the noble Lord, Lord Ponsonby, said, that the recommitment should take place before the Report stage, otherwise we shall be in a very confused state. It would be grossly unfair to those who have already agreed to withdraw their amendments if perchance the Government were not able to come to any clear conclusion on what steps they wish to take until after the Report stage. While understanding the position of the Chief Whip on this matter, I urge upon the Government that this is the course of action which should be carried out.

Lord Denham

My Lords, if I may say so I think that the two noble Lords opposite are being a little less than generous about this. It is quite unusual for a Government to agree to recommitment and we did so on this occasion because we thought it was right for the House. It is possible to recommit any part of the Bill at any stage during its journey through this House. I agree that it would be more convenient and more tidy if we can do as the two noble Lords suggest, but if we could leave it there perhaps we can talk about this through the usual channels at a later stage.

Lord Taylor of Gryfe

My Lords, since a fundamental feature of this Bill has been defeated will there be provision on the recommitment that the Government's alternative to the amendment which has been carried will be available for further amendment by this House? Will he in turn extend the timetable for consideration of this House in view of the fact that we are now about to reconsider fundamental features of that Bill?

Lord Denham

My Lords, I really think that this is a matter best talked about through the usual channels.