HL Deb 21 July 1993 vol 548 cc713-4

3.29 p.m.

Lord Hesketh

My Lords, it may be for the convenience of the House if I were to suggest the procedure to be followed on the Railways Bill today. Your Lordships will recall the discussion on the Floor of the House last Monday when the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, raised a point on the government amendments to Schedule 10 of the Bill. My noble friend Lord Caithness and I undertook to reflect further on that discussion in conjunction with the usual channels.

In the light of our discussions, I suggest to your Lordships that the most convenient way of now proceeding with the Bill, and one which meets the concerns expressed by your Lordships on Monday, would be as follows. First, as regards today, I should emphasise to your Lordships that it is not the intention of my noble friend to invite your Lordships to decide on any of the government amendments which have been tabled to Schedule 10. With the leave of the House, my noble friend intends to move the first of those amendments, and in doing so to speak briefly to it and to the subsequent amendments to Schedule 10. However, following that debate he will withdraw that amendment, and he will not move any of the subsequent amendments to the schedule.

Secondly, it has been agreed through the usual channels that the House should be invited to recommit the Bill in respect of Schedule 10 early in the spillover before proceeding to the Report stage. That does, I hope and believe, meet the suggestion which was originally put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd. At that time the House will have an opportunity to consider the government amendments, together with any other amendments to Schedule 10, with the benefit of further and maturer reflection than your Lordships may feel it would be possible to bring to bear today.

Lord Shepherd

My Lords, as the noble Lord the Chief Whip referred to my initiative on Monday, I thank him and the other usual channels for the way in which they have responded to what I believe was the genuine anxiety felt throughout your Lordships' House.

Perhaps I might make one suggestion. In view of the fact that the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, will not be moving the amendment, it may be helpful at a later stage, before recommittal, if we could see the new schedule with the government amendments included. We may then have a better feeling for the schedule as it would be if the Government moved their amendments. I put that forward as a suggestion. I believe it would be helpful, and I express my appreciation for what the noble Lord said this afternoon.

Lord Tordoff

My Lords, I echo those thanks. I know that it is not easy for Ministers to change plans in that way. I am aware that the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, probably had to use a certain amount of leverage to achieve the present position. I am sure that noble Lords on all sides of the House are extremely grateful. It is a far better way to proceed. We shall have the opportunity of considering what the government amendments mean. As we know, they are in response to promises made in another place. The noble Earl, Lord Caithness, says that they meet requirements—well, he would say that, wouldn't he? I am not saying that he is wrong. But we need time and I am grateful that time has been found.

Lord Clinton-Davis

My Lords, I echo the remarks of my noble friend Lord Shepherd and the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff. It is helpful that the Government have responded effectively to the representations made.

Perhaps I can add one comment. It would be helpful and consonant with the Government's practice so far, particularly in a context of great complexity, if the Minister could ensure that full explanations in writing of the Government's amendments are set out and placed in the Library.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, as one of those who supported the noble Lord, Lord Shephe;:d, on Monday, I too express my gratitude to my noble friend and the Government for their proper and generous response to those representations.

Lord Elton

My Lords, perhaps I too may endorse the request for a schedule. A Keeling schedule is too rarely used for complicated amendments to Bills. If my noble friend can arrange for the publication of a Keeling schedule to come before the House at the recommittal stage, that would be a great help.

Lord Hesketh

My Lords, speaking personally, I am extremely grateful for the kind remarks passed. I thank also the other connections within the usual channels who made this all possible. I am sure that the suggestions made this afternoon will be heard and considered by my noble friend the Minister.