HL Deb 05 March 1992 vol 536 cc990-1012

3.41 p.m.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, I beg to move that the Commons amendments be now considered.

Moved, That the Commons amendments he now considered.—(Baroness Blatch.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.



[The page and line refer to Bill 49 as first printed by the Commons.]


Clause 1, page 2, line 7, at end insert: `(2A) The Secretary of State may by order made by statutory instrument vary the period for the time being specified in paragraph (b) of subsection (2) above so as to fix the latest time for the publication of information in accordance with that paragraph at any such time, within the period of nine months after the end of the financial year in question, as may be specified in the order; and a statutory instrument containing an order under this subsection shall be subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.'.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 1. This amendment is in response to a proposal made in another place that the Government should look at providing a means of varying the period given to authorities for the publication of information on standards of performance under Clause 1.

As a large part of this information will necessarily be based on accounting information, we believe that it makes sense to give the same period of time for bodies to publish this information as is given for publishing their accounts.

At present it is a requirement of the current accounts regulations that accounts are published within nine months of the end of the financial year. The Bill provides that, similarly, bodies have nine months to publish the performance information required by directions. As amended, it would also allow for this period subsequently to be altered by means of statutory instrument, as is done with the regulations on accounts. I believe that this change will provide a sensible degree of future flexibility, consistent with existing provisions, together with appropriate parliamentary control. I hope that the House will agree the amendment.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 1.—(Baroness Blatch.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

3.45 p.m.


Clause 8, page 8, line 12, leave out from 'make' to end of line 14 and insert 'such provision in relation to proposals for the carrying out of work to which this section applies as he considers appropriate for facilitating or requiring separate procedures to be followed for'.

Baroness Blotch

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 2. Your Lordships will recall that when we considered the Bill in Committee an amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, was made to Clause 8. That amendment was, as I argued at the time, misconceived. It had the effect of removing the power to amend the existing competitive tendering arrangements to allow for the special nature of professional and technical activities and in its place created what was in effect an unusable power to make blanket provision applying in a like manner to all compulsory competitive tendering activities. I made it clear to your Lordships' House that the Government would seek to restore a measure of flexibility at a later stage of the Bill's progress.

Flexibility has been restored by these amendments. But we have listened carefully to the arguments made against the scope of the original Clause 8 and, as amended, it now has a much more limited application. As introduced in this House, Clause 8 contained a wide-ranging power to amend the 1988 Act as the Secretary of State saw fit in connection with an order under Section 2 (3) of that Act adding a professional, financial or technical activity to the list of CCT activities. It did not limit the scope of that power to any particular purpose.

These amendments, however, create a power to make provision only for separate evaluation by local authorities of cost and quality. In other words, when compared with the original Clause 8, they narrow down the scope of an order under this clause to one purpose: ensuring that we will be able to address the particular concerns relating to the evaluation of quality in professional services. Subsection (5) provides that incidental, consequential, transitional and supplementary provision may be made, and that power includes the power to amend the 1988 Act. But such amendments to the 1988 Act may only be made in connection with setting up the separate procedures for evaluation of cost and quality to which I have referred. The power is therefore much more limited in scope than the power in the Bill as originally introduced.

The issue of quality does need to be dealt with differently when we consider the professional services. In the case of the existing manual and direct services which have been exposed to competitive tendering, it is possible for local authorities to set out the level of quality they require—for example in terms of frequency of collection of refuse, or the standard to which cleaning work has to be carried out—in the specifications they draw up for tenderers. Provided a contractor can meet those specifications, the award of the contract can then be on price alone. If a local authority decides that a contractor would not be able to meet the specifications it may rule its bid out, although it would of course need to be able to defend that decision and prove if necessary that it was not anti-competitive. But the question of proof here is much clearer than in the case of professional services and therefore less capable of obfuscation by recalcitrant local authorities.

In the case of professional services, it might be possible for a firm to demonstrate that it could meet specifications—for example, to provide a legal advice service to given deadlines—but for that firm nevertheless not to come up to the standards of professional service a local authority quite legitimately required. For example, the staff used to provide the service might not be sufficiently qualified, or might not have sufficient experience in particular areas, or in the case of architectural services the firm might not be able to demonstrate any experience of designing a particular type of building. It is right that in these sensitive areas local authorities should be able to reject bids which for one reason or another fail to reach the required standard in terms of professional capability.

However, in allowing local authorities these safeguards, we need to ensure that those who would seek to avoid the discipline of competition are not enabled to reject bids on the grounds of spurious—but subjective, and hence largely unchallengeable—grounds of quality. The issue of quality needs to be dealt with openly, clearly and fairly if private sector contractors are to have sufficient confidence in the integrity of the tendering process. Our consultation paper, Competing for Quality: Competition in the Provision of Local Services, suggested that separate evaluation of cost and quality might be achieved through a "double envelope" tendering system. The consultation period on our proposals closed at the end of January. We have now received, and indeed are still receiving, many responses and we are in the process of reading and noting the comments made. We will consider carefully all the representations made on professional services, in particular the suggestion for a double envelope tendering system, before deciding how to proceed.

Some of the proposals in the consultation paper—for example, the extension of CCT to new activities—can be introduced under the existing legislation. Some, such as double envelope tendering, or other methods of separating the evaluation of cost and quality which have been suggested by respondents, would depend on powers under this Bill. But I should make clear that this clause, with the amendments now before us, contains no great advances in principle on the existing legislation. The 1988 Act itself, as noble Lords will recall, contains provision for the Secretary of State to amend by order, subject to affirmative resolution, the list of CCT activities in Section 2(2). That power extends, by virtue of Section 15(8) (a) of that Act, to making certain amendments to the Act in connection with an extension of CCT.

So the principle of extending the statutory list of CCT activities by order has already been accepted, and the principle of making necessary minor adjustments to the legislation has also already been granted. What this clause does is to provide the flexibility which may be necessary to make use of the existing powers in a prudent way in the case of professional activities. The nature of any use of the powers in Clause 8 is clear; it would be to provide for separate and unambiguous treatment of the difficult question of quality in professional services. As I have pointed out before, Parliament would have the opportunity, through the affirmative resolution procedure, to exercise proper scrutiny over any use of the powers.

If your Lordships accept our arguments on the need for separate consideration of quality, and accept that the procedure for such consideration should be capable of being tailored for each new professional service made subject to CCT, then it follows that the House accepts the substantive purpose of Clause 8, which is to allow for those concerns of quality to be appropriately addressed, service by service, in the tender evaluation procedure.

Clearly, there is a strong possibility that the separate evaluation procedures to be established under Clause 8(1), service by service, may not be compatible in all respects with the detailed requirements of the CCT regime set out in Part I of the Local Government Act 1988. Such a conflict between two legislative provisions would not be acceptable. Those detailed requirements were set out on the face of the 1988 Act (although I think the Donoughmore committee would have had no trouble with them had they been left to secondary legislation). Given that potential for legislative conflict, and given the need for separate procedures which are sensitive to the requirements of each new professional service to which CCT is extended, it is therefore not merely convenient to government, but essential to the purpose of Clause 8 that the Secretary of State should have a power to make such incidental and conseqential changes to the 1988 Act as are necessary to remove any conflict. I should stress that any such changes would be purely for the purposes of extending CCT in an appropriate way to the service or activities to which an order under Clause 8 referred; it would therefore not allow the executive arm the power to amend the provisions of the 1988 Act as they apply to the existing activities to which CCT applies or to any new non-professional services.

In view of the narrower scope of this clause, and the need for special treatment of the issue of quality in these services, I have no hesitation in commending the Commons amendments to your Lordships' House, and hope that it will agree with them.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 2.—(Baroness Blatch.)

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, in speaking to the Motion, That the House agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 2, the Minister appeared—unless I misunderstood her—to be speaking also to Commons Amendments Nos. 3, 4, 5 and 6. She referred consistently to "these amendments". Will she make it clear whether she was speaking to all the amendments to Clause 8 or merely to Amendment No. 2?

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, I apologise most profusely to the noble Lord. I was speaking to Amendments Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. I apologise for not saying so to the House. I also understand that the noble Lord knew that that was how the amendments would be taken. That was my understanding before I came into the Chamber.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, there is the classic phrase, "I think I could have been told". I had no idea that such an arrangement had been made.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, then I have been misled, and I shall sort that out, but I apologise most profusely to the House. If the noble Lord wishes to deal with Amendment No. 2 only, when we reach the other amendments I shall take it as read that I have addressed them all.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, all I wanted to know was whether I needed to deal now with my Amendment No. 6A, and it seems that I do. The Minister seems to have spoken to the whole group of amendments, and so it is appropriate that I give notice that it is my intention to move Amendment No. 6A when Amendment No. 6 is reached, and I shall speak to it now.

It was not my intention to challenge at length amendments made by another place to our amendments relating to CCT. It has always been my view that, when such decisions are made by another place on a majority vote, we should not, unless there are issues of constitutional importance, seek to challenge the decisions of the elected Chamber. I must say that I was sorely tempted when I heard the Minister's defence of the quality provisions now being made in Clause 8, in particular, when she referred to architectural services. When she said that, I thought to myself that the decision as between one architectural practice and another was likely to be made on the qualifications of the staff rather than on the quality of the design. That struck me as an extraordinary state of affairs. But that is what the Government have always intended to do under the double envelope procedure. They have stuck to their guns on the matter, through thick and thin, against the united opposition not just of the architectural profession—it might be thought that architects had a professional interest in protecting themselves—but of all those who use the architectural profession. After all, we all use the architectural profession, because we live in and see the buildings that its members put up.

I should have thought that it was the merest common sense to make it possible for the choice of one architectural firm, approach or design as against another, to be made on the basis of the quality of the design rather than on the qualifications of those involved in producing it. That leads me to ask the Minister whether Clause 8, as amended by the Commons, will permit competition, for example, on a fixed-price basis. It does not appear that she has made any provision for that possibility in the amendments that she is now commending to the House.

As I say, the substance of the Commons amendments are not so much our concern; what is our concern, and the reason why I propose to move in due course that this House do disagree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 6 is that Amendment No. 6 revives, in another form, the Henry VIII clause with which your Lordships rightly disagreed in December of last year. It is not exactly in the same form, as I shall explain.

The original Clause 8(1) enabled the Secretary of State to make such modifications of Part I of the 1988 Act (Competition) as he thinks fit for the purposes of. or in connection with, any order under section 2(3) of that Act". That is the section which extends the list of services subject to compulsory tendering, where it was applied to professional services. Clause 8(2), as originally drafted, extended the range of such an order under the Bill to cover procedures concerning the quality and cost of services. The Bill's practical effect would have been that Henry VIII powers—in another words, power to amend primary legislation by regulation made by the Secretary of State—could be applied, first, to the extension of CCT to new professional services; and, secondly, to the procedures under which those services were put out to tender which were to be separate as to the assessment of quality and the cost of bids. Commons Amendment No. 6 brings back, although in a different form, the second of those Henry VIII powers. It expands the scope of the power under the present Clause 8(4), which is to make incidental, consequential, transitional or supplementary provisions.

It is common to have such tidying-up provisions, and I would not object to such tidying up provisions; but specifically and deliberately the Commons have chosen to add to the tidying-up provisions the power,"to modify any of the provisions of Part I of the 1988 Act",as it says, for the purposes of, or in connection with", the new tendering procedures. That amounts to the creation of a new power. It is a new power for the Secretary of State to alter the import of Part I of the 1988 Act. The wording is less provocative than that used in the original provision, but its practical effect is to restore the most important part of the Henry VIII power to which your Lordships took objection in December of last year. If that were not so, surely the Government would have been satisfied with the tidying-up provisions which already exist in Clause 8(4).

It must be asked why the Government have seen fit to return to that contentious constitutional matter—not constitutional as between the two Houses, but constitutional as to the framing of legislation—and under what conceivable circumstances the Government believe that it may be necessary to use such a power. I use the word "necessary" advisedly, because the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, rightly reminded the House on the previous occasion when we dealt with the Bill that the distinction that the Donoughmore Committee drew was as between when a Henry VIII power was necessary and when it was merely convenient to government. I suggest to your Lordships that this is an occasion on which the Henry VIII power is merely convenient and ought not to be agreed to.

4 p.m.

Lord Renton

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, is fully justified in asking us to consider whether the introduction or extension of a Henry VIII power should be approved by your Lordships' House. I am one of those who lean against the use of Henry VIII powers, but we have to face it that the alternative in some circumstances to using such a power is for the government of the day to come back to Parliament to ask for primary legislation. If the matter is of great importance, it is right that the government of the day should do just that or if the Henry VIII power which it is intended to use covers a wide scope of legislation.

However, it follows not only from the speech of my noble friend Lady Blatch but also from that of the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, that the use of the power is intended to be on a narrow point and a technical matter; namely, the procedure for competitive tendering. I am no expert on building contracts, but it is a matter of common knowledge that with them practice varies from business to business and from time to time. It is surely in the public interest that, if it is found that a relatively minor modification of the law is required in order to enable public works to be completed expeditiously, the Secretary of State should have that power to amend the statute in the narrow way.

It is a narrow way because Amendment No. 6 states: the power conferred by virtue of paragraph (a) above"— and I assume that that means paragraph (a) of Clause 8(5) rather than paragraph (a) of Clause 8(1)— shall include power for the purposes of, or in connection with, any separate procedures for which an order under this section provides, to modify any of the provisions of Part I of the 1988 Act". If it were a power to amend any of the provisions of Part I of the 1988 Act—which is an important piece of legislation—in a broad sense, I should be fully in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, and support his amendment. However, frankly, when we find that it is only for the purpose of a power to make an order under the section dealing with competitive tendering, to make incidental, consequential, transitional or supplementary provision", surely it would be right to say that this power should be granted to the Secretary of State. For that reason, despite my normal prejudice against the use of Henry VIII clauses, I feel that on this occasion the other place was fully justified in supporting the Government in asking for the amendment.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, has explained clearly how the provision fits into the Bill. On the last occasion, with his encouragement, I endeavoured to set what was attempted in the original form of the Bill in its constitutional and historical setting. On this occasion I shall not attempt at all to go over the ground that has been covered so well by the noble Lord but deal with the matter in its current constitutional setting.

The noble Baroness and the noble Lord, Lord Renton, are quite right and justified in saying that the provision now brought back to your Lordships' House is much narrower than the one originally framed. There are two points to be made on that. First, that fact abundantly justifies the action your Lordships took, carrying by a majority against the Government the exclusion of the wide Henry VIII provisions. Your Lordships are once again vindicated as the watchdogs of the constitution in a real sense today. Your Lordships are nobody's poodle these days. Unless you perform that role it will not be performed at all.

Secondly, the pattern that we see here is recurrent: namely, an attempt to take the widest powers that can be thought of in favour of executive action. Only when an objection is raised, only when there is parliamentary difficulty, does the department consider whether it needs the wide powers or whether it could frame narrower powers. That is the main constitutional background.

There is also this point. Not for the first time your Lordships have heard the word "flexibility". It comes up every time a Henry VIII provision is discussed before your Lordships. Of course it is more flexible for a civil servant by a stroke of the pen to change the law than to go through the age-old traditional and proved parliamentary processes. Of course it is. It was more flexible when Henry VIII did it; it was more flexible under the Stuarts. No doubt during the great period of parliamentary supremacy in the 18th and 19th centuries some flexibility was sacrificed in the good cause of constitutional propriety. That constitutional propriety was designed for the safeguarding of the individual liberties of the citizen. Thus of course it is more flexible, but that is absolutely no answer.

I want to ask your Lordships to consider the matter not as though it stood alone but in the context today. It is part of a pattern, a resurgence of bureaucracy, an attempt at executive aggrandisement such as we saw 40 or 50 years ago in the surge that broke at Crichel Down with disastrous consequences for the Government at the time. There was the resignation of a popular and able Minister who took responsibility for the high-handed and misconceived actions of his officials. They were doing no more than many of their colleagues had been doing for about a decade.

We now face a new Crichel Down situation. The Henry VIII clauses do not stand alone. There is the persistent downgrading of parliamentary control of regulations. Sometimes there is no parliamentary control, as in this Bill in Clause 26. Sometimes there is a feeble negative resolution procedure where all the constitutional indications are for the more effective affirmative regulation procedure.

Then one also gets, as one has in this Bill, the exclusion of the valuable hybrid instrument procedure. That is a procedure that is peculiar to your Lordships' House and is designed to protect the individual citizen, or body of citizens, when their rights are invaded by a Public Bill. That procedure can be excluded by statute and, sure enough, it has been excluded in this Bill, as it was in a previous local government Bill.

One has seen in recent statutes the replacement by decisions of officials of the decisions of courts of law. That was a marked feature of the so-called Child Support Act of last Session. There, too, one had appeal not to courts of law but to specially set up administrative tribunals. In that Act there were also exceptional powers of entry given to officials. The officials could go into places of employment without a by-your-leave or a thank-you, and interrogate employers and fellow employees on pain of a penalty of refusal of entry or refusal to answer.

That Act also jettisoned the valuable confidentiality of the Inland Revenue in favour of officials pursuing their aims under an Act of Parliament. All this really amounted to putting officials in a special position different from the position of others under the law. That has always been considered as the very negation of the rule of law. However, the matter did not end there. There were swept away, in the interests of officials the safeguards that the law has erected against the harsh self-help remedy of distress. Those safeguards were swept away solely in the case of officials exercising distress.

One must look at all those matters together. One cannot just isolate the Henry VIII clause and say it is now operating under a narrow band. What is being done is a general aggrandisement of bureaucracy and of Executive powers. Unless a stand is made that process will go on and shows every sign of going on.

The right body, in fact the only body, that can make a stand is Parliament. The part of Parliament which is best suited to make that stand is your Lordships' House. Your Lordships' House made such a stand on the previous occasion that this matter arose. I direct my following remarks particularly to those who are on the Bishops' side of the House, on the Government Benches. In condoning and abetting this surge of bureaucracy, and in furthering it, they are manufacturing a harsh rod for their own backs. If another government come to power they will not hesitate to use the powers I have ventured to lay before your Lordships. They will seek to undo many of the measures that have been passed in the past decade—I think they are valuable measures—by means of a skeleton Act with regulatory powers. Such an Act may have 80 regulation-making powers.

The noble Baroness, or someone in her position, may protest if that were to occur. She will be told that in the Child Support Act there were not 80 but over 100 regulation-making powers. When she claims that only perhaps 10 of the powers are subject to the affirmative resolution, she will be met with the reply that not many more were made subject to the affirmative resolution in the Child Support Act. There were about a dozen out of 100. When she claims that some powers are not subject to any parliamentary control, she will be told that in Clause 26 of this very measure that is before your Lordships she framed important regulations which were subject to no parliamentary control at all. I suggest that in supporting the Government's condonation of the serious surge in bureaucracy, any supporter of the Government is manufacturing a severe rod for his own back.

On only one matter did I find myself in disagreement with the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, and that is on what should be the correct relationship between the two Houses. That matter is governed both by statute and by convention. The statute is clear; it is the two Parliament Acts. Your Lordships are entitled to hold up any measure for a year. That is the law and your Lordships can exercise it in this case. If the Government wish to have this clause, they can get it by retabling this measure in the next Session after 12 months. However, the Government will not do so, because they want this Bill. I too wish to see this Bill get through. What the Government will do, if your Lordships stand firm, is to give way.

I mentioned the legal position but there is also the conventional one. I venture on that to differ with the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh. I do not believe your Lordships are bound to give way merely because the elected Chamber has taken a different view. The way it is generally put is that your Lordships are entitled by convention to limit your powers under the Parliament Act and to "ask the other place to think again". But this is the first time that the House of Commons has had a chance to think about this matter. If your Lordships reject this Commons amendment, the Commons will have a chance of thinking again. As I have said, I wish the Bill well and I particularly wish the noble Baroness well. But if the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, divides the House on his Motion not to accept the Commons amendment, I for one shall follow him into the Lobby.

4.15 p.m.

Lord Renton

My Lords, before the noble and learned Lord sits down, I hope he will be so good as to mention an important factor in this matter which he has mentioned on other occasions but did not mention today as far as I could understand. It is this. He knows from experience, and his experience is tremendous, that there are occasions when, for a narrow purpose, a Henry VIII clause should be allowed. Indeed, the noble and learned Lord himself has on several occasions in the past year or two agreed that there should be a narrow power to amend primary legislation in order to avoid the need for the Government to come back to Parliament on a narrow and perhaps technical matter in order to put a point right. Is not this just such an occasion when it would be unreasonable to expect the Government to come forward with primary legislation in the form of an amending Bill?

Lord Campbell of Alloway

My Lords, perhaps I may briefly enter the debate on this matter of prime constitutional importance. A recent example occurred in the Further and Higher Education Bill, in which there was an unprecedented attempt to extend executive powers in the area of academic freedom. If your Lordships' House is the watchdog of the constitution, so be it. As the noble and learned Lord truly said, who else? However, in fairness, it has to be said that another place appears now and then, and certainly in this instance, to heed our bite as well as our bark. That is not a good reason for not continuing to bark or, on appropriate occasions, for not continuing to bite. It is quite wrong that there should be the development to which the noble and learned Lord referred —of which there have been many examples recently—and that administrative powers should be extended in the way in which the noble and learned Lord mentioned.

In that context I do not know whether any of your Lordships have had a chance to read the report of my noble friend Lord Jellicoe on the procedures of the House. There it is suggested that an all-party committee should be set up. I think that it was the evidence of my noble friend Lord Renton in particular which adverted to the practice of increasing the grant of executive power. Perhaps something should be done along those lines.

I venture to disagree with the noble and learned Lord and to agree with one of the views expressed by the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey. Of course the law is as the noble and learned erstwhile Law Lord said, but it is not just a question of law. There is a question of convention and a question of comity between the Houses. Need I say more? For my part I totally support the attitude which was adopted by the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, and repetition is very boring.

In this particular case, what are we considering? My noble friend Lord Renton went straight to the heart of the matter, which is not a Henry VIII clause at all. The heart of the matter is that provision is being made in order to secure some degree of uniformity for competitive tendering for work and labour materials contracts for local government work. Any of us who has had anything to do with such contracts knows that they are not uniform. Any of us who has had anything to do with such contracts knows that some of them contain objectionable clauses—for example, to take only one, the union labour only clause. There are often other discriminatory clauses. It is entirely sensible, constructive and right, your Lordships may think, that in this narrow and specific context, as my noble friend Lord Renton said, there is no objection to the clause as it stands.

Lord Hughes

My Lords, I am tempted to intervene because I have always been impressed by the fact that the noble Lord, Lord Renton, has a well-deserved reputation for advocating simplicity and clarity of language in legislation. Therefore, I wonder why he is so certain that the Commons amendment is confined to a narrow base. Paragraph (a) of Amendment No. 5 refers to work "within a defined activity" and Amendment No. 6 refers to "separate procedures". What is it in the use of those two terms which makes the noble Lord, Lord Renton, so certain that separate procedures will still be within the defined activity? If I understood my noble friend Lord McIntosh of Haringey, he was afraid that that change would be used for the purpose of widening those defined procedures, perhaps to other professions. What makes the Minister and the noble Lord, Lord Renton, so certain that that power does not widen the defined activities in the quoted paragraph?

Lord Renton

My Lords, this is not a Committee stage and I need the leave of the Leader of the House to reply. If I may have that permission, I simply say this. The noble Lord is quite justified in drawing our attention to the expression "separate procedures", which introduces something fresh into Clause 8 of the Bill. However, in doing so, the amendment limits that to the context of paragraph (a) of subsection (4), which in itself is limited in its terms.

Baroness Hamwee

My Lords, I cannot begin to emulate the expertise on constitutional matters which has been demonstrated in the past few minutes. Even to say that I agree with much of what has been said is something of an impertinence. However, the Minister put the amendments in a context which extended beyond the constitutional position and I should like to say a word about that.

We are struggling with this provision for reasons on which we spent some time at earlier stages of the Bill. We were asked to consider legislation while consultation with local authorities and providers of services were still taking place. Had we had the benefit of that consultation, there might have been less concern about what might be needed by way of legislation in order to reflect the new arrangements to be brought into place. I am, of course, glad to hear the Minister say that full account will be taken of the responses to that consultation and I should not have expected otherwise.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, perhaps the noble Baroness will give way. I am grateful to her for doing so. Does she not agree that the provision which has been inserted into Clause 8 applies only to extension of CCT, which itself is subject to secondary legislation which has to come before the House for parliamentary approval? Therefore there is no question of the use of the power until Parliament has expressed its view as to whether CCT may be extended.

Baroness Hamwee

My Lords, yes, and to some extent, no. The provisions in Amendment No. 6 refer back to Amendment No. 2, which makes reference to separate procedures. I believe that it is due to the new arrangements for separate procedures that we are now struggling with Amendment No. 6.

I also have to say that the word "modify" in this context seems to me to be something of a weasel word. Perhaps the Minister can confirm that it means straightforwardly "to amend or change". If it is something less than that, it would be interesting to know that, but I believe that to modify the provisions of legislation means to change the provisions of legislation.

4.30 p.m.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, perhaps I may respond to that question. It means "modify" because the provisions remain the same for other CCT. However, it would be a modification of those provisions which stand in the Bill, which stand in legislation, but a modification for a specific service which would have to come before Parliament for approval.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, we are not at Committee stage. The Minister will have a chance to respond. I have bitten my tongue on a number of occasions. We ought to exercise some discipline.

Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank

My Lords, I am not sure whether the noble Lord addressed the House in general when stating that we should exercise more discipline. I hope that my contribution will be consistent with the rules of order.

When the Bill received its Second Reading and passed through the Committee stage in this House, I was not able to contribute to the debate but I followed it from afar in my capacity as director general of the RIBA. It is in that capacity that I should like to comment on the amendments before the House today with reference to Clause 8. I am aware of the contribution made in earlier debates by my noble friend Lady Hamwee and, among others, by the noble Lord, Lord Howie. I am grateful to them for what they said. I do not seek to detain your Lordships by covering that ground again.

I find it difficult to judge the full significance of the noble Baroness's statement this afternoon from the Government Front Bench. Leaving aside the argument about Henry VIII provisions, I am not clear whether she made a significant statement of policy or was putting in a different way what had been stated at Second Reading and in Committee. I believe that it was probably the latter. Had there been a change of policy it would have been more plainly declared.

I wish to make one comment on the substance of Clause 8 and its implications, to ask a question of the noble Baroness, and to make one request to her. It is germane to the amendments made to the Bill in another place. On the substance of Clause 8, it is less a comment of my own than repeating a comment made by the noble Lord, Lord St.John of Fawsley. I would hesitate to raise the matter now except that his statement was made on 30th January as chairman of the Royal Fine Art Commission some time after the Bill had left the House. Although the noble Lord's remarks are addressed to the Government's consultation paper, they apply equally to the Bill. As my noble friend said, the Bill has been unfortunately brought before the House parallel with the process of consultation. In a statement the noble Lord, Lord St. John of Fawsley, said: The Commission believes that the Government's consultation paper Competing for Quality is a threat to the quality of public architecture and, after studying it fully, rejects the section on Architectural Services". The statement continues: The Commission believes that the status of architecture as a public art is at great risk if competitive tendering … becomes compulsory for all [local authorities]". The rather lengthy statement concludes: Lord St. John said that the Commission believes that CCT would be a false economy and only save small amounts of money". I am aware that that was the substance of the case against Clause 8 of the Bill. Perhaps it was naive of me—it is a reflection of nine years' absence from the process of Parliament—to expect that the Government might have changed their mind. However, that was the nub of the argument at that time. I had hoped that the amendment might have allowed for second thoughts. It has not done so and I greatly regret it.

On consultation, I am not sufficiently clear in my mind whether the noble Baroness's statement today changes the previous position. However, I think not from her remarks in response to my noble friend Lady Hamwee who referred to secondary legislation. The argument from the Government Front Bench was this. Apart from the continuing consultation process, which is not yet complete and of which full accountability will be taken in particular regarding questions of quality, there will be further opportunity for discussion when secondary legislation comes before the House. It is right, proper and inescapable that the Parliament of both Houses will make the final decisions. I appreciate that the Government, even if in parallel, will be consulted widely on competing for quality.

However, when the orders come forward, as I understand it they will be specific to certain services. It was clear from the debate in Committee that those services are very different. It is not for me to argue that other services deserve to be treated differently from the way in which I wish architectural services to be treated. But there is a difference and I should have thought that, for that reason alone, there should be full consultation—not only in this House—before this House decides to agree on any secondary legislation. Will there be further consultation with the specific professions involved before secondary legislation is brought to the House? I hope so. I hope that there will be no attempt to plead that the time needed for such a consultation process cannot be found. I am sure that the noble Baroness would not seek to so plead. Governments can always find time for what they want; and there will be time for such consultation if the Government judge that to be right.

The noble Baroness made a plain statement at Committee stage of the Bill on 17th December. Perhaps I may quote from Hansard at col. 1243. It was a helpful statement because it clarified a misunderstanding. The noble Baroness stated: When an authority intends to put work out to a private supplier, as would be the case in much architectural work, for example, the detailed requirements of CCT legislation do not bite". In other words, she made a distinction between those occasions when a local authority might wish to follow its established procedures for tendering and others when the local authority itself intends to do the work.

I am anxious that we do not have what I call creeping CCT. I hope that there will not be any attempt by local authorities, with overt or covert encouragement from Government, to adopt CCT procedures in advance of any decision by either House on the basis of secondary legislation. Local authorities and others have listened to the proceedings of the House. If the Bill passes its final stages, it might be thought that CCT is already the order of the day, and, despite the remarks by the noble Baroness on 17th December, that it applies to those services which hitherto have not gone out to tender. I do not ask for a specific reply today. However, perhaps the noble Baroness will be kind enough to consider whether it could be made clear to all authorities that creeping CCT would not be appropriate and that they are not required at once to adopt the procedures set out in the Bill, least of all for their existing tendering procedures.

The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, referred to the profession of architecture. Referring to the profession, he stated that it had an objection to the provisions in Clause 8. I simply want to make clear—it is apparent from all the debate that has taken place outside this House and within it, and indeed from the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord St. John of Fawsley—that this is not a question about professional interests. It is about the quality of the built environment. My deepest regret is that if secondary legislation is made under the Bill in respect of architectural services, it will not be this House or the profession that will suffer but the built environment and all those who ought to be able to enjoy it.

Lord Howie of Troon

My Lords, it will perhaps come as no surprise to noble Lords when I say that Henry VIII was never a king of mine. With regard to the constitutional issue, I am perfectly sure that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon, is right and that this House should help the other place to do the right thing. But in fact we are not involved in the constitutional issue. The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, rightly said that this was not a question of law but of the underlying issues of this debate. I paraphrase somewhat crudely what he said and I hope that he will not rise to correct me.

This issue is not about Henry VIII or any such Welsh people. It is about competitive tendering and the Government's obsession with ideology. I support most strongly the speech made by my old personal and professional though not noble friend, Lord Rodgers. Civil engineers have a curious relationship with architects, but as a civil engineer I like them a good deal of the time. This issue is about competitive tendering. I want to ask—perhaps to the annoyance of the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch—two questions which I have raised at every stage of the Bill and to which I have had no answer whatever.

I have said on many occasions that compulsory competitive tendering can have ill effects, although it need not always do so. I have given the Minister two examples of such ill effects and no doubt she is tired of hearing them, but she must listen just once more. One was that of the construction in Canada—I think it was in Vancouver—of a car park which fell down because it was underdesigned owing to competitive tendering. That is one of the dangers which the construction industry faces. Whether we are architects or construction engineers, we believe that that is crucial to the central issue. The desire to win a contract by putting in a low bid can easily lead to underdesign. In the case that I have just mentioned, it led to disaster.

It is interesting that when the case in Vancouver was investigated by the government, the blame was laid directly on underdesign because of competitive tendering. That is one example, which I have raised several times during our debates.

With regard to the other example, the noble Baroness may remember that I read out a letter from a consulting engineer. He was not an acquaintance of mine in any way; the letter came entirely out of the blue following a column that I had written in the New Civil Engineer, a magazine which is widely read among a very small number of people. That engineer said that he had lost a tender but the tender which had been accepted was too low to finance the operation which was required. I admit that it was a fairly small scale operation.

I found it interesting that in the exchange across the Floor of the House the noble Baroness gave me no answer at all except to say that she did not like No. 2 Marsham Street. No doubt many noble Lords would agree with her. But that was not an answer. I thought that it seemed rather disloyal to her own department, but let us leave that aside. That answer is no longer valid because her superior has decided to demolish No. 2 Marsham Street. So that obstacle has now been removed and she may tell us whether it is a good idea that competitive tendering should be pursued when it might lead, as in the Canadian example, to disaster, if not fatal disaster on account of underdesign.

The Government have not made their case in any way other than ideologically. The ideological case does not appeal to me in any case. They have got the ideological bit between their teeth and have gone dancing off madly in the wrong direction. The underlying matter of competitive tendering is much more important than whatever the Tudors may or may not have done while they had their day. I believe that we should dispose of the other place's amendments by rejecting them.

4.45 p.m.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, let me say first to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, that he was absolutely right. Your Lordships have had an effect on this debate and have caused the other place to think seriously again about this power. That is why we are considering this amendment today. To that extent I believe that he is right. He is also right to say that because a question is put to this House, this House has a right to respond negatively or positively.

That is precisely why it is here. In fact, I invite all noble Lords to think very seriously about what we are being asked to do today.

I say to the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, who quoted the words in Amendment No. 6, that I believe he ignored the fact that the power is expressed as being nothing more than one aspect of the power in subsection (4)(a) to make, incidental, consequential, transitional or supplementary provision". It cannot therefore be used, as he suggested, to modify any of the procedures.

My noble friend Lord Renton put the matter in a nutshell. He said that of course this House—I agree with both the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon, and my noble friend Lord Renton—must presume against the prolific use of Henry VIII clauses. Indeed, I attended a Commonwealth conference at which I sat on the scrutinising committee and that point was made very well.

However, in the case of this legislation, the Government have the power to put before Parliament a measure to extend competitive tendering. Once that power has been ascertained from Parliament it is a matter of implementation. This power is simply used to make sense of the implementation of that power, and so it is not as wide as noble Lords would suggest.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon, suggested that these provisions amounted to a wide-ranging power of officials—I understand that that is what he meant—over the lives of private citizens. I do not like to disagree with the noble and learned Lord because I have far too much respect for him, but on this occasion I take issue with his comment. The power that we are discussing, as I have just said, is a limited one which can only be exercised by the Secretary of State—not by officials—of an elected government of the day and must be subjected to the scrutiny of both Houses of Parliament through the affirmative resolution procedure.

The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, posed a straight question: did it allow for fixed price competition? I have to say that yes, it does; nothing here invalidates the provision to do that.

The noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, addressed himself to three points. The first related to substance. He prayed in aid the Royal Fine Art Commission and my noble friend Lord St. John of Fawsley. He made the point that I wish to make; that wide consultation has taken place. Although that consultation period is at an end and the responses have been received we are allowing late responses to be considered. However, I must repeat that there will be no extension of any service—and the matter will be dealt with service by service—without parliamentary approval. All the comments made by my noble friend Lord St. John of Fawsley, the Royal Fine Art Commission and the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, will be appropriate as and when a service comes before Parliament for extension. This power relates to the fact that if and when Parliament agrees the extension of a service for CCT, we should have a system that allows a more sophisticated judgment to be made about quality.

The noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, asked whether there would be further consultation after the general consultation. I can give him an absolute assurance that when separate orders are made to come before Parliament there is a requirement to consult and that that consultation will extend to interested professional associations.

The noble Lord's third point related to remarks that I had made and he went on to talk disparagingly about creeping procedures. They are not creeping; they are put before Parliament. They will come before Parliament and Parliament will agree them. There is nothing furtive about the procedure. Parliament will have a specific opportunity to agree the extension of a service—

Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank

My Lords, I believe that the Minister has misunderstood me. I did not use the word "creeping" in any pejorative sense in respect of the Government. I said only that the local authorities, having watched the passage of this legislation through the House, would begin to use CCT as a result of the example of the Bill and in anticipation of late orders. I was asking her, without further comment, whether she would be kind enough to discourage such use.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, I considered that the word was pejorative. If the noble Lord reads Hansard he will see that he referred to the procedure as creeping. It is not creeping because Parliament will give approval service by service, in particular the professional services.

The noble Lord, Lord Howie of Troon, prayed in aid the Canada case and referred to the tender that was too low. I am not daunted by having to use yet again the example of Marsham Street. Competition in itself is not a bad thing. I would rather have heard from the noble Lords, Lord Howie and Lord Rodgers, that there is a great deal of excitement in competition. A great deal of our architecture needs competition. Marsham Street might not have been built if there had been competition. Some monstrosities have been built without any form of competition. Competition is not bad in itself.

In addressing the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Howie, I must say that in the Canada case competition or competitive tendering was not at fault. In that case either the specification was not specific and clear, and therefore the specification was at fault because the contractor was allowed to get away with a poorly built building, or if the specification was right and written up properly, the contractors were at fault. Mechanisms should exist for doing something about that. That leads me to the noble Lord's second point—

Lord Howie of Troon

My Lords, I take the point which I dare say the Minister will deal with—

Noble Lords

Order! By leave of the House!

Lord Howie of Troon

My Lords, I do not need leave to interrupt—

Noble Lords


Lord Howie of Troon

My Lords, do I? I have been a Member of this House for 17 years and I had not realised that I needed the leave of the House to interrupt. I had thought that one needed the leave of the House in order to make a second speech. I dare say that I am wrong—I am often wrong. Now, where were we? I was interrupting the noble Baroness and noble Lords were interrupting me.

The point is that the inquiry into the Canada case stated that all the errors which the Minister has laid out were due to competitive tendering. The Minister has ignored that point constantly and I dare say that she will continue to do so. I must say that I do not blame her.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, the noble Lord was entirely lucid in making his point and I heard it. I simply disagreed with it. I disagreed with the findings of the inquiry. I said that if the specification for that work was right, the people at fault were the contractors and there ought to be ways and means of dealing with that. If the specification was not clear and the builder built a poor building that fell apart it would have been for the client to draft a specification.

The noble Lord gave an example of a company responding with a price that was too low and being unable to deliver what it had tendered for. There are a number of ways of dealing with that situation. For instance, a bond could be put aside for default of contract, penalty clauses could be included and so forth. There are many ways of dealing with that situation but they are not the subject of the use of the powers which the Government seek today. Today the Government seek to ensure that implementation is done properly.

I can give the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, an absolute assurance that CCT will not apply to any new service until orders are brought forward. However, I hope he will appreciate that we cannot prevent an authority from taking action voluntarily to put services out to tender. Indeed, many are already doing so. Nor would we wish to stop them. However, the terms on which they do so will be entirely for the authorities themselves until the legislation comes into effect. Even if competitive tendering is introduced for architecture, I can confirm that its provisions will apply only where local authorities wish their own workforce to compete for work.

Primary legislation sets down matters of principle but it has been viewed as quite proper for secondary legislation to deal with matters of implementation. That point was well made by my noble friend Lord Renton. That is what orders under Clause 8 and any incidental, consequential, transitional or supplementary amendments to the 1988 Act made in any such orders would do. I must stress again that an order under this section which included such amendments could be made only in connection with an order adding one of the professional services to the list of competitive tendering activities. The power to amend legislation could, therefore, not affect the application of that Act to any of the existing CCT activities or to any activities which did not consist in or involve the provision of professional advice or of other professional services, or the application of financial or technical expertise. In effect, such an order would provide for a modified form of the CCT regime under the 1988 Act to apply to individual new services. The clause lays down clearly what those modifications will he concerned with; provision for the separate evaluation of cost and quality.

Not to include in this Bill the power to make incidental changes to the CCT regime under the 1988 Act would mean that the Government brought forward secondary legislation to bring CCT to new professional activity. They might need to introduce separate primary legislation to make any necessary minor change in tender evaluation. That is the point at issue. It does not appear to me to be a sensible use of the time of this House and of another place. I hope that your Lordships, and in particular the noble and learned Lord, will accept the minor use of this Henry VIII clause. I also hope that that the House will feel able to agree that the requirement of affirmative resolution provides adequate safeguards given the technical and incidental nature of any changes.

On Question, Motion agreed to.


Clause 8, page 8, line 15, after 'evaluation', insert 'for the purposes of Part I of the 1988 Act'. Page 8, line 18, after 'evaluation', insert 'for those purposes'. Page 8, line 19, at end insert: '(1A) This section applies to any work which—

  1. (a) by virtue of an order under section 2(3) of the 1988 Act, falls within a defined activity for the purposes of Part I of that Act; and
  2. (b) consists in, or involves, the provision of professional advice or of other professional services or the application of any financial or technical expertise.'.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, I beg to move that the house do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 3 to 5 en bloc.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 3 to 5 en bloc.—(Baroness Blotch.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.


Clause 8, Page 8, line 34, at end insert— 'and the power conferred by virtue of paragraph (a) above shall include power for the purposes of, or in connection with, any separate procedures for which an order under this section provides, to modify any of the provisions of Part I of the 1988 Act.'.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 6.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 6.—(Baroness Blotch.)


6A Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved, That this House do disagree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 6.

The noble Lord said: I beg to move that the House do disagree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 6.

I am assured by the Minister that my office was consulted about the groupings of amendments. Of course, I accept that assurance and would not cast doubt on it. However, I am bound to say that had I been consulted we could have saved an enormous amount of time by dealing, in a crisp debate, with the quality issues first in Amendments Nos. 2 to 5 and then with the constitutional issue on Amendments Nos. 6 and 6A. Instead, we had a rambling debate which attempted to cover both subjects. However, we are stuck with it.

I shall concentrate only on the constitutional issue and I refer specifically to the claim of the Minister and the noble Lords, Lord Renton and Lord Campbell of Alloway, that the amendment is only a narrow and technical extension use of the Henry VIII power. I remind noble Lords that Clause 8(4) already contains the power to make an order, including the power, to make such incidental, consequential, transitional or supplementary provision as the Secretary of State thinks necessary or expedient". I was not proposing—I have no way of doing so—that that provision should be taken out of the Bill. In moving that we disagree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 6, we object to, the power conferred by virtue of paragraph (a) above shall include power for the purposes of, or in connection with, any separate procedures for which an order under this section provides, to modify any of the provisions of Part 1 of the 1988 Act".

It is common ground that the 1988 Act already conferred the power on the Secretary of State to extend the range of services subject to compulsory competitive tendering. That is water under the bridge. We are not raising that issue again. We are raising the issue concerning the power of the Secretary of State to alter by regulation the provisions on the face of Part I of the 1988 Act; that is, to change the conditions under which such compulsory competitive tendering shall apply.

It is as simple as that. It is still a Henry VIII provision. If it were simply technical or minor then the tidying-up provisions under subsection (4) (a) would be adequate. They are only required because of the Government's intention to go further.

Moved, That the House do disagree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 6.—(Lord McIntosh of Haringey.)

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, I invite the House to disagree with the noble Lord's Motion.

5.3 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Motion (No. 6A) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 75; Not-Contents, 134.

Division No. 1
Airedale, L. David, B.
Annan, L. Dean of Beswick, L.
Aylestone, L. Diamond, L.
Bancroft, L. Dormand of Easington, L.
Blackstone, B. Ennals, L.
Bonham-Carter, L. Ewart-Biggs, B.
Boston of Faversham, L. Ezra, L.
Bottomley, L. Falkland, V.
Bruce of Donington, L. Fitt, L.
Carter, L. [Teller.] Gallacher, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Galpern, L.
Clinton-Davis, L. Gladwyn, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L. Prys-Davies, L.
[Teller.] Rea, L.
Greene of Harrow Weald, L. Richard, L.
Grey, E. Ritchie of Dundee, L.
Hacking, L. Robson of Kiddington, B.
Halsbury, E. Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Hamwee, B. Russell, E.
Hanworth, V. Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Hatch of Lusby, L. Seear, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B. Sefton of Garston, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B. Serota, B.
Holme of Cheltenham, L. Shackleton, L.
Houghton of Sowerby, L. Shaughnessy, L.
Howie of Troon, L. Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Hughes, L. Stedman, B.
Jeger, B. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Jenkins of Hillhead, L. Strabolgi, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L. Turner of Camden, B.
Judd, L. Underhill, L.
Kagan, L. Varley, L.
Kilbracken, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Listowel, E. White, B.
Longford, E. Wilberforce, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. Williams of Elvel, L.
Peston, L. Winchilsea and Nottingham, E
Phillips, B.
Abinger, L. Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Acton, L. Gainsborough, E.
Aldington, L. Gardner of Parkes, B.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Geddes, L.
Ampthill, L. Gisborough, L.
Arran, E. Goschen, V.
Astor of Hever, L. Grantchester, L.
Auckland, L. Gridley, L.
Balfour, E. Grimthorpe, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Hailsham of Saint Marylebone,
Belstead, L. L.
Bessborough, E. Harrowby, E.
Birdwood, L. Haslam, L.
Blatch, B. Henley, L.
Blyth, L. Hesketh, L. [Teller.]
Borthwick, L. Hives, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. HolmPatrick, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Hood, V.
Brigstocke, B. Hooper, B.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Howe, E.
Butterworth, L. Hylton-Foster, B.
Campbell of Alloway, L. Jeffreys, L.
Carlisle of Bucklow, L. Jellicoe, E.
Carnegy of Lour, B. Jenkin of Roding, L.
Carnock, L. Joseph, L.
Cavendish of Furness, L. Kenilworth, L.
Clanwilliam, E. Killearn, L.
Cockfield, L. Knollys, V.
Colville of Culross, V. Lauderdale, E.
Constantine of Stanmore, L. Long, V.
Cork and Orrery, E. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Craigavon, V. Lyell, L.
Craigmyle, L. McColl of Dulwich, L.
Cranbrook, E. Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Crathorne, L. Mackay of Clashfern, L.
Cross, V. Macleod of Borve, B.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Malmesbury, E.
Cumberlege, B. Mancroft, L.
Davidson, V. Merrivale, L.
Denham, L. Mersey, V.
Denman, L. Mills, V.
Denton of Wakefield, B. Monk Bretton, L.
Derwent, L. Morris, L.
Eccles of Moulton, B. Mottistone, L.
Elibank, L. Mountevans, L.
Elles, B. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Munster, E.
Elton, L. Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Fairhaven, L. Nelson, E.
Faithfull, B. Norfolk, D.
Ferrers, E. Norrie, L.
Forbes, L. Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
Orkney, E. Skelmersdale, L.
Orr-Ewing, L. Stockton, E.
Palmer, L. Strange, B.
Park of Monmouth, B. Strathmore and Kinghorne, E
Pender, L. [Teller.]
Prior, L. Swinfen, L.
Rankeillour, L. Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Reay, L. Trumpington, B.
Rennell, L. Ullswater, V.
Renton, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Romney, E. Vivian, L.
St. Davids, V. Waddington, L.
Sandford, L. Westbury, L.
Seccombe, B. Wharton, B.
Selborne, E. Whitelaw, V.
Shannon, E. Wise, L.

Resolved in the negative, and Motion disagreed to accordingly.

5.13 p.m.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, I beg to move the original Motion that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 6.

On Question, Motion agreed to.


Clause 30, page 26, line 4, leave out subsection (6).

Baroness Blatch

I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 7. This privilege amendment was moved at Third Reading in the House of Lords and inserted as Clause 30(6) of the Bill. It is a standard amendment which is always moved at that stage when Bills involving a charge on public funds begin in the House of Lords. The privilege amendment was removed at Commons Committee stage. As it is purely a procedural matter when the Minister has moved that the House do agree with the Commons amendment, there should be no discussion. I beg to move.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 7.—(Baroness Blotch.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.