§ 3.24 p.m.
§ Lord Hesketh
My Lords, it may be for the convenience of your Lordships to know that my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has today asked Her Majesty The Queen to proclaim the Dissolution of Parliament. Her Majesty has been graciously pleased to signify that she will comply with this request.
Parliament will be prorogued on Monday 16th March. The Dissolution will take place on the same day. The general election will take place on Thursday 9th April. The new Parliament will be summoned to meet on Monday 27th April when the first business will be the election of the Speaker in another place and the swearing-in of Members of both Houses. The state opening will be on Wednesday 6th May.
Today's business will remain as it appears on the Order Paper, though in the light of this announcement it is proposed to adjust the rest of this week's business in your Lordships' House.
With the leave of the House, I propose to make a further Statement about those adjustments later this afternoon. I shall arrange for adequate warning of that Statement to be given on the annunciators, but I can tell your Lordships now that it is likely to be after the first debate this afternoon, that in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, which is limited to three hours. I therefore expect that the further Statement will be made at about six o'clock this evening.
It may, however, be for the convenience of the House to know that the only change proposed to tomorrow's business is that the Third Reading of the Further and Higher Education (Scotland) Bill will be taken immediately after the Report stage. My noble friend the Lord Privy Seal will this evening table a Business of the House Motion to suspend Standing Order 44, no two stages of a Bill to be taken on one day, which is usual in these cases, to be taken after Starred Questions tomorrow.
I observe that it is now 25 minutes past three and so the Statement will be made closer to 6.30 p.m. than six o'clock, as I mentioned earlier.
With the leave of the House, I should also like to say a word about the two debates standing in the names of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, and the noble Baroness, Lady Robson of Kiddington. 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 both debates this means that all other speeches should be limited to a maximum of six minutes. If any noble Lord were to speak at greater length, he would do so at the expense of subsequent speakers in that debate. With the greatest deference, I draw your Lordships' 1329 attention to the fact that when the sixth minute is indicated on the electronic clock we have entered the seventh minute.