HL Deb 26 November 1987 vol 490 cc736-7

3.27 p.m.

Lord Beaverbrook

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

Moved, that it be an Instruction to the Committee of the Whole House to whom the Copyright, Designs and Patents Bill has been committed that they consider the Bill in the following order:—

—(Lord Beaverbrook.)

Lord Tordoff

My Lords, I should like to take this opportunity to raise a matter in relation to the Bill before we pass the Motion that the noble Lord has put forward. Is the noble Lord aware that government amendments to this Bill, which consists of 277 clauses and seven schedules, have not yet been published? I understand that government amendments were tabled yesterday but that they are not yet in the hands of those people who are dealing with this extremely complicated Bill. Rumour has it that the Government have also placed a further batch of amendments today.

The Bill is to be debated in your Lordships' Committee next Monday. The Second Reading was brought forward some days and there have been two weeks in which the Government have had time to table their amendments. Does the noble Lord recognise, and would he care to draw it to the attention of the Leader of the House, that people who are dealing with this extremely complicated Bill are not having a proper chance to look at government amendments before the Committee stage?

Lord Harris of Greenwich

My Lords, I rise only to say in the presence of the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, that the Printed Paper Office appears to be experiencing a number of substantial problems at the moment. I understand that, apart from the problem identified by my noble friend Lord Tordoff, we still do not have the latest print of the Criminal Justice Bill and that there is no certainty that it will even be here tomorrow. It may therefore arrive only on Monday and we are due to discuss the Bill on Tuesday. Given the fact that that legislation, too, requires detailed consideration in respect of a number of issues, will the noble Lord look into all these problems and see what can be done?

Lord Campbell of Alloway

My Lords, may I say with the greatest respect to my noble friend the Leader of the House that the patents and copyright committee of the Society of Conservative Lawyers informed me this morning that there are certainly three amendments of principle that it is seeking to formulate, and that there is rather a short time to consider the complications of the Bill?

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede

My Lords, I support the two noble Lords from this side and the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, in what they have said. This matter has placed a number of peers in very great difficulty. No amendments can be tabled for the Criminal Justice Bill on Third Reading until the reprinted copy of the Bill is available. Therefore that will inevitably hold up the tabling of those amendments. It places peers under very great difficulty.

As regards the Copyright, Designs and Patents Bill, again, peers are placed under very great difficulty as the Marshalled List and therefore the groupings are not available until tomorrow or later. Obviously no groupings can come forward until a Marshalled List is published. One hopes that the Marshalled List will be published by tomorrow. But, of course, many noble Lords will have returned to their homes by then and will not be able to avail themselves of it, in times of uncertain post, until they come in on Monday morning. That does place peers under tremendous difficulty.

The Lord President of the Council (Viscount Whitelaw)

My Lords, I fully accept these points and I shall look into the matter immediately. I was not previously aware of it. I am very grateful to those noble Lords who have now raised the matter. I shall do everything I can to help the House as quickly as possible. If there are some good reasons why these difficulties cannot be rectified, I shall of course ensure that noble Lords know all about any problems that exist through the usual channels.

On Question, Motion agreed to.