§ 2.53 p.m.
§ Lord Hesketh
My Lords, with the leave of the House, I would like to make a short business statement.
As your Lordships will be aware, a considerable number of your Lordships have indicated your wish to speak in the Second Reading debate today and tomorrow. In the light of that, and following discussions between the usual channels, it is now proposed that the House should sit tomorrow at 11.30 a.m. rather than at 2.30 p.m. Starred Questions will take their usual place after prayers and my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor will resume the Second Reading Debate thereafter.
I hope that that proposal, which will give an extra three hours of debate tomorrow, will enable us to conclude each day of the debate at a relatively reasonable hour.
§ Lord Stoddart of Swindon
My Lords, without wishing to delay the House, will the noble Lord the Chief Whip tell us the criterion for the original two-day debate? Quite clearly, with 130 speakers there is scope for a three-day debate, especially bearing in mind that I made representation to the Leader of the House before the Recess, and indeed during the Recess.
§ Lord Hesketh
My Lords, the noble Lord asks a very good question. Discussions were held on an all-party basis through the usual channels before there were anything like 130 names on the list. I remind your Lordships' House that we have had the Whitsun Recess in the interim. Thus discussion of the business management affairs and the party Whips which had to be sent out were on the basis that there were under 100 speakers. It may also be worth remembering that many noble Lords will have made their plans to speak in the debate on the basis of it being a two-day debate. They might be very severely inconvenienced if they have to abandon commitments made for the Wednesday.
In closing, perhaps I may suggest that, by starting at the earlier hour proposed tomorrow morning, we would effectively achieve the same result as though we had sat on a third day, the Wednesday, up to 6 p.m.