HL Deb 15 February 1989 vol 504 cc179-80

3.10 p.m.

Lord Denham

My Lords, after the end of the short debate on the case for increasing the use of the railways and before that on the case for more trained engineers and technicians, my noble friend Lord Hesketh will, with the leave of the House, repeat a Statement that is being made in another place on the phasing in of the new rates system for businesses.

I should also like to say a word about the arrangements for this afternoon's two short debates standing in the names of the noble Lord, Lord Somers, and the noble Viscount, Lord Hanworth. As is customary in short debates, the mover is allowed approximately 15 minutes and the Minister should rise to reply not less than 20 minutes before the scheduled end of the debate. In the case of the short debate in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Somers, all other speeches should be limited to a maximum of seven minutes. This means that noble Lords should sit down while the figure "six" is still standing on the clock. In the case of the noble Viscount's debate, however, the number of speakers is such that it is not necessary to propose any formal time limit, but I know that the House would appreciate it if noble Lords would keep the length of their speeches within limits equally compatible with the spirit of these short debates.

Lord McNair

My Lords, may I ask the Chief Whip a quick question? When we have this situation of one short debate being over-subscribed and the other being under-subscribed, does he not think that we might in the proper forum reconsider the proposal that time should be, as it were, borrowed from one debate and- lent to the other?

Lord Denham

My Lords, that is a matter for the Procedure Committee, but the whole point about these short debates is that speeches should be short. I do not ever remember hearing a 10-minute speech in your Lordships' House that would not have been vastly improved by being limited to seven minutes.