HL Deb 08 July 1992 vol 538 cc1144-5

3.34 p.m.

Lord Hesketh

My Lords, after the short debate on job losses in manufacturing industries and before the short debate on the future of the professions, my noble friend Lady Cumberlege will, with the leave of the House, repeat a Statement that is to be made in another place on The Health of the Nation White Paper.

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I should like to say a word about the two debates standing in the names of the noble Lords, Lord Dean of Beswick and Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank. As the mover is allowed 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 Dean of Beswick, this means that all other speeches should be limited to a maximum of 14 minutes and in that of the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, 11 minutes. If any noble Lord were to speak at greater length, he would be doing so at the expense of subsequent speakers in that debate.

In taking the opportunity to remind your Lordships that when 11 minutes is indicated on the digital device in the House the 12th minute has been entered into, it may be for your Lordships' interest if I give an explanation of the further inconvenience as regards the gothic timepiece that is of the analog variety in the House.

On further investigation it appears that a number of clocks in your Lordships' House of a traditional nature confirm the prejudice of the ghost of Tompion. The mechanical devices were ripped out of them in 1946 and a central battery system installed. Furthermore, the fact of the matter is that these batteries are so rare that replacements have had to be acquired from the Home Office. Your Lordships may also be interested to know that for the period from 1946 until very recently these clocks were preserved and looked after by two directly employed clock keepers. Unfortunately, one has recently retired and the other is on indefinite sick leave. Thus in the period of the Summer Recess a replacement system is to be installed which should ensure that, rather than indicating midday or midnight, there will be for your Lordships' convenience an accurate representation of time as it exists.