HL Deb 15 February 1995 vol 561 cc751-62

6.51 p.m.

Report received.

Clause 1 [Limitation]:

Lord Wilberforce moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 1, line 6, leave out ("the passage of this Act") and insert ("this Act comes into force").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I shall also speak to Amendment No. 2, which is in my name, together with that of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway. At the same time, noble Lords may also care to cast an eye upon Amendment No. 3 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, which relates to the same subject. I need not explain the amendments; they are completely self-explanatory. I should just like to add a word or two as to the motivation for putting them forward.

As noble Lords will know very well, the War Crimes Act 1991, to which this Bill is supplementary, was a House of Commons measure; it was passed there by a large majority, and was not welcomed by this House. However, it became law under the constitution and it must be accepted as such. I feel absolutely convinced that none of your Lordships would wish to treat it otherwise. It is the law, and we would not wish in any way to undermine it or stultify it at this stage. It was in that spirit that I looked at the Bill.

When I first saw Clause 1 as originally drafted, I must say, with all respect to the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, that I thought it was perhaps a little confrontational. I am sure that noble Lords would not wish it to be so. I am also sure that noble Lords would wish to avoid any appearance of confrontation or of attempting to stultify the Act of 1991. In that spirit, I thought of introducing the idea of a closing period—a decent period after the Bill comes into force—which would establish a limit for prosecutions under the Act.

The fact that I introduced this clause in the amendments was intended to reflect the opinions of many noble Lords who spoke on this Bill at Second Reading, when, as noble Lords will remember, there was a very extended debate. It was also my intention to reflect a good deal of the feeling in the other place when the 1991 Act was debated, and when it was emphasised, not once but many times, that there was a need for urgency and speed in disposing of this matter.

I note also that the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, in his Amendment No. 3, follows in effect the language of Amendment No. 1 and does not seem to disagree in principle with the establishment of a time limit—though the noble Lord has a different period to put before your Lordships. I note also that there is no amendment before the House to delete Clause I of the Bill, which is the clause that would remain were neither of our amendments to be accepted. The principle of introducing a moderate—a reasonable—period might be acceptable to the House.

As to the period itself, I chose the period of three months: one has to think of some figure, and that seemed reasonable, giving us in effect about six months or slightly longer from this time. It also seemed to bear some relation to the timetable, in so far as we know it, of the investigations, the prosecution considerations by the CPS, and so on. I will not enlarge upon that; noble Lords will have the dates in mind, and the noble Lord, Lord Campbell, or the noble Baroness may wish to amplify the point. That was the basis on which I ventured to select the period of three months.

I suggest with all respect that this is not an undermining amendment. It is not one that stultifies or repeals the Act of 1991. (I take those words from previous debates.) It is well within the intention of the present Bill, as expressed by many noble Lords at Second Reading, and I believe that it reflects a good deal of the intention of the other place as expressed in 1990. So far as concerns the Government, I think I can safely say that the amendment renders the present Bill less unacceptable than it would be without it. I do not pretend that I shall go over the edge to "acceptable", but it makes it "less unacceptable".

I shall pay very great attention to what is said about the amendment by the noble Lord who is the sponsor of the Bill. I was very cheered and heartened when he decided to add his name to it. If he has any comment or suggestion as to its future course, I will of course pay very great attention. At this point I beg leave to move Amendment No. 1.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

My Lords, the Government are committed to opposing Amendments Nos. 1 and 2, and also Amendment No. 3, for the reasons already given at Second Reading. The Government will countenance for all time, without limitation, that suspects who have the presumption of innocence, however so long investigated, and whensoever investigated, or to be investigated, may be charged and tried under the Act. In so doing, they will keep, so to speak, the cell door ever open, if not, at least, ajar.

Noble Lords may well think that the crucial point in the speech of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wilberforce, on his motivation for introducing Amendments Nos. 1 and 2 was the affirmation of the rectitude in introducing some period of limitation to end an extraordinary situation which could not have been envisaged. For, as noble Lords may remember, when this Bill was before Parliament some five years ago, both Houses were assured that, on the evidence then available but not disclosed, these trials were then warranted. It was assumed that they would ensue with dispatch in accordance with our concepts of justice, and that they would be fair.

That point was strongly insisted upon by the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, whom we are delighted to see in his place this evening. We hope that he has recovered from his unnerving experiences. By his amendment, as I understand it, he accepts, as my noble and learned friend said, the principle of Clause 1 of the Bill as well as its other provisions. I shall listen, as I always do, with deference and respect to what the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, may say in due course. But, as at present advised, I should not be prepared to accept his amendment, for reasons which perhaps I may give later. However, I am very much indebted to the noble Lord for his support in principle, of the Bill.

With regard to proceedings before Parliament, some five years ago it was not envisaged by another place that the police investigations, which were set up in 1988, would continue in one form or another until today; that, notwithstanding the ending of the specific police grant funding for the unit on 31st March this year, the investigations would continue thereafter; that no steps would be taken to expedite any decision by the CPS on whether to seek the consent of Mr. Attorney to the institution of proceedings; and that the Government would be content to be unable to say when any such decision would be made. To save time, I refer your Lordships to the Official Report of the other place on 12th January at col. 266 and to a letter dated 13th February 1995 that I received yesterday from the Home Office.

Again, some five years ago it was not envisaged by the other place that today there would still be 21 suspects in England, 15 of whom have been under investigation since 1988, and who had been candidates for prosecution since before 29th June 1994, when all those living in Scotland had been excluded by the Lord Advocate. It was not envisaged that two investigations would have been instituted as late as last year, 1994; nor indeed that further investigations could be initiated for all time in the future. That was never within the possible contemplation of the other place or indeed of your Lordships' House, having regard to the manner in which the Government then put forward this Bill.

If charges are to be laid this year within the period of the proposed amendment, we are looking at a delay of some 52 to 57 years before substantive trial. Your Lordships may well feel that these amendments, as the noble and learned Lord said, afford a modest and reasonable opportunity for the CPS and Mr. Attorney to decide whether to charge on the available evidence. They are not stultifying amendments; they are not confrontational amendments; and they are not unreasonable amendments. Indeed, they all but commend themselves in the name of justice.

7 p.m.

Lord Mishcon

My Lords, having been engaged in activities which I assure your Lordships in some cases were not so pleasant as addressing your Lordships' House, I was not able to participate in the previous proceedings on the Bill. I appreciate the courteous remarks made by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, who always speaks with courtesy. Sometimes he makes comments with which I do not agree, but they are always said with great moderation.

I should like to make it absolutely clear—otherwise I should be insincere—that I have never liked this Bill. Having said that, I believe it to be the duty of this House, when a Bill is presented to it, whether it be a private or a public Bill, to ensure that it is in the best possible state before it goes to another place. I have taken it for granted that when your Lordships allowed the Second Reading of the Bill, they approved of the principle of the Bill. I am sure that every Member of your Lordships' House takes a respectful view of what the House did at Second Reading. Accordingly, in my judgment, it is the duty of every Member to try to ensure thereafter that, if the principle has to be admitted, at least the Bill leaves this House in the best possible state. Therefore, my amendment is not meant to be a wrecking amendment. It is meant to be an improving amendment.

Perhaps I may give your Lordships my reasons. In the first place, as a lawyer—a humble one in the presence of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wilberforce, and the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, but one who, in all humility, insists upon saying what he has to say—I find that at the very least the House should be very wary about the question of limitation in regard to heinous offences, which has not been admitted in our law over the centuries. There is no statute of limitations that applies to murder, manslaughter or culpable homicide in our law. But we have made an exception, in agreeing to the principle of this Bill, so that the heinous war crimes of which this House is very well aware should have a limitation period attached to them.

Therefore, my first reason for tabling my amendment is to ensure that, if we have to admit that principle, as long a period as is reasonable ought to be put on the face of the Bill, so as at least to show the Bill's unusual nature. When it goes to another place, we should realise that we are doing something very exceptional, as I said, by allowing as long a period as is reasonable. I should have thought that a 12-month period, from the date of Royal Assent, was right.

My second reason advanced for that period is that it does no harm. If we agree to the limitation period and that Clause 1 of the Bill provides adequate time for a prosecution to be brought, we ought to give as long a period as we reasonably can. Your Lordships will bear in mind that there are investigations taking place and it would be quite wrong to cut them off if they are likely to lead to a prosecution out of respect for those who are conducting the inquiries. I refer, of course, to the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and thereafter the final sanction of the Attorney-General, for whose judgment I hope your Lordships would always have respect.

Are we doing any harm as regards the rest of the Bill by allowing 12 months after Royal Assent? Clause 2 declares that the Crown Court can have jurisdiction to quash the indictment on the grounds it sets out. It was conceded on all sides that although the insertion of that clause does no harm, it certainly adds nothing to our law because that is the right of the Crown Court in any event. There is thereby no harm done in regard to Clause 2 in having an extended period of limitation.

When we consider Clause 3—the only other operative clause in the Bill—we see that it gives a certain jurisdiction to the Court of Appeal to deal with cases where there is doubt as to whether there is likely to be a fair trial. Either that is something which ought to be given in all criminal cases because it is a just procedure, or it is not. As it stands, it is a right which is limited to war crimes. Either it is right that the Court of Appeal should have that jurisdiction—at the moment it only has jurisdiction after conviction—or it is not. If it is right and it is a sensible procedure, then we should have time to consider the matter in Parliament and apply it to all criminal cases. Why should it be selected only for war crimes? Again, an extended period would give the opportunity, if Parliament so decided and so wanted, to deal with that procedural point which may or may not be an improvement to our criminal law.

Having spoken to Amendments Nos. 1 and 2, I tabled my amendment for consideration by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wilberforce, as to whether, having heard what I have to say —I say this with great respect to them—they can concede the amendment so that it will go to another place with your Lordships at least having shown that, when admitting this principle, your Lordships have been careful to ensure that an unjust precedent is not set.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, perhaps I can ask him formally to move his amendment in due course so that I may reply to it.

Lord Mishcon

My Lords, as I understand it, Amendments Nos. 1 and 2 must be taken first and I cannot formally move my amendment now. However, if the noble Lord wants me to make a promise to him, I shall promise to move my amendment.

7.15 p.m.

Earl Russell

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, is naturally entirely correct that there is no limitation of actions in cases of murder or manslaughter. He asks what is the distinction. I think there is an answer. Murder and manslaughter can be, and regrettably are, committed at any time. I can think at the moment—though I am sure somebody may put me right—of no other crime which in its nature cannot have been committed less than 50 years ago. That is why war crimes are peculiar. That is why a distinction does, in logic, have a place.

I am glad that the Bill was tabled. The 1991 Act was passed at very nearly the last moment when it could effectively have been put into execution. Our expressions and appearances change with the passage of time, and so do our memories. It is entirely compatible with the passage of that Act to hold that it may have been enforceable at the time, but that as time goes on so we reach a point where it cannot practically be done. It is a valid principle that there is no such thing as a crime so dreadful that an innocent person should be convicted for it.

The noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, asked what harm it could do. But he answered the question himself. He said that accepting the amendment would put a special mark on the Bill; he did not say a mark of disapproval, but he came very near to saying that—so near that he answered his own argument.

Lord Clinton-Davis

My Lords, I have not previously participated in debates on this Bill. I hasten to say that I do so now in a purely personal capacity and certainly not from the Front Bench. These issues are not within my responsibilities. But I wish to add my support to what was said by my noble friend Lord Mishcon. I notice that he said that he rose with great humility because of his modesty as a solicitor in the presence of some extremely distinguished lawyers in this place. Where that puts me I am not quite sure because I was his articled clerk only a few years ago. However, while I did not always agree with him then, I do so in relation to this matter.

Looking back to the time when we debated this issue when the War Crimes Bill was before us, like him, I was not unduly enamoured of the Bill. I felt that there was a danger that there would be a transfer of sympathy from the true victims of these horrendous crimes to people who may not deserve that sympathy. I felt too—I say this with great respect to some noble Lords who spoke in that debate—that in the light of some of those contributions I was impelled to vote for it, notwithstanding my reservations about it.

I also felt, perhaps as a former Member of another place and still having some of the sensitivities of that place, that it was a dangerous precedent to engage in a confrontation with the will of the House expressed not once but on several occasions. I believe, notwithstanding what the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, said in a very moderate way, that this is close to becoming precisely that all over again. This House must watch itself. We must be extremely careful about engaging in confrontations of this kind.

Something was said tonight, notably by the noble Earl, Lord Russell, about the danger of an unfair conviction after all this time. That depends on the evidence, the view that the jury takes of the evidence and the way in which the jury is directed on the evidence. Consequently, I do not believe that there is a risk of a miscarriage of justice in the way that the noble Earl envisages. One of the points which the learned judge presiding over the trial will make is that the jury must be extremely careful because of the passage of time. That goes to the heart of the matter.

We are dealing with crimes of unprecedented savagery. Therefore, in my judgment we must take careful note of the will of the Members of another place who expressed strong views about the matter with overwhelming majorities. I believe that it is an abuse of our criminal law to talk of periods of limitation. I may have strayed over the bounds of propriety because this House has—in my view misguidedly—given a Second Reading to the Bill. I believe that it is a thoroughly bad Bill and I hope it will go no further once it reaches another place.

I fall back on the position that my noble friend adopted, he probably shares my views in principle about the matter. Today we are constrained and I support the constrained amendment that he put forward.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, I rise without premeditation and with considerable trepidation to disagree with one point only in the speeches of my noble friends Lord Mishcon and Lord Clinton-Davis. It is about the status of the Second Reading of the Bill in this House. Those of us who did not oppose the Second Reading cannot be said thereby to have given approval to the Bill in principle. In my brief intervention when the Bill came before us a second time, having received a large majority vote in the elected Chamber, I said—and my noble friend Lord Clinton-Davis said much the same thing—that it was extremely unwise of this House to oppose the Second Reading again and thereby bring into play the Parliament Act 1911. It was unwise and I still hold that view. At the same time, I have to recognise as a matter of practical legal possibility that the chances of a significant number of successful prosecutions under the War Crimes Act 1991 are very low. They are low for the reasons that have been expressed.

However, the Bill is a Private Member's Bill. It did not seem to me to be appropriate—speaking from the Front Bench in a personal capacity, as we always do on Private Members' Bills—to suggest that your Lordships should reject this Private Member's Bill at Second Reading and therefore exclude the possibility of amendment at Committee, Report and later stages. Therefore, with the deepest respect, I say to my noble friend Lord Mishcon that he need not worry about this House having given approval to the Bill in principle. His amendment is a modest one because he thinks that that is how the Bill should be amended. But he should not be deterred from even wrecking amendments if he believes them to be necessary, just because the House has given the Bill a Second Reading.

The amendment is at least an improvement on the rather dangerous confrontational precedent which is introduced by the Bill. I therefore hope that the House will support it and that the movers of the first amendments will agree that it is an improvement, particularly on Amendment No. 2.

Lord Houghton of Sowerby

My Lords, it takes a prosecution to bring to an end the false hope that one can punish people for crimes committed over half a century ago. We are dealing with the unreality of the present situation in the false hope that if we bring someone to trial, our sense of duty and our conscience will be at rest.

In Canada, the first and only case showed how futile the whole process of prosecution was. The last time I spoke on the subject I asked noble Lords to bear in mind one practical aspect—the position of the jury with whom rests the duty of reaching a verdict. Experience has shown that such trials last month after month, imposing on a jury an almost impossible mental, emotional and physical strain. When we hear the verdict, it may give rise to a feeling of deep resentment, not that there has not been a fair trial, but that the verdict has not been right.

In Canada, after months of reflection on their verdict, the jury came to a unanimous decision—to find the accused not guilty on a large number of charges. There was an immediate reaction among the representatives of the Jewish fraternity in Canada, demanding that the Government should exercise their right under the constitution to order a new trial. It is incredible how far human emotion will drive people along the path of futility and purposeless endeavour. We all feel strongly about what happened, but we were not part of it. We hoped that punishment would come to those guilty long ago. I fear that we shall continue toying with the subject of war crimes indefinitely until there is no one left or there is a disinclination on the part of society to continue that futile course any longer.

I cannot think that noble Lords, with their keen imagination and great experience, could contemplate going into a trial which could last six to nine months. It would take six months to hear the evidence in trials of unprecedented complexity, with problems of language, of bringing witnesses hundreds of miles, of video tapes and all that apparatus, to try to bring to bear upon the jury the idea that the evidence is conclusive.

I support the amendments. I supported the amending Bill, I opposed the original Bill. I felt that it was a great privilege to submit to your Lordships the course of understanding but of sanity. We accepted it but the House of Commons overruled our decision and we had to accept that. But the efflux of time is rendering the proceedings sad and useless. Can we not bring down the curtain on the attempt to bring war criminals to trial? History has its verdict, there is little one can do to ageing people to make them feel the horror and shame of what they did.

I do not know whether we are old enough yet to remember some of the things that we did years and years ago. I have memories of things that I did that I cannot comprehend. I cannot believe that I did them. The person who committed some of the things I did was not me! Fifty, 60 and 70 years go by-96 years go by—and we change in that time and we are not the same people. It is playing about with the emotional make-up of humanity to go on with this.

I am sorry to take that view but I wish that world Jewry would accept the fact that history must now bury its own dead and let us get on with life as it is with thousands of war crimes having been committed in the meantime. It is war which is the crime, and as long as there is war, crimes will be committed. There was Bosnia and the Gulf. It is shameful and shocking. There is a catalogue of crimes of recent wars which we shall never be able to tackle. I wish that we could see the sense of this matter and lead world opinion on it. I wish that we could tell the Australians and Canadians that they can bring their responsibilities in this direction to an end with honour and understanding.

I hope that we shall take a decision in the interests of our own integrity. The elected Chamber has not got all the sense in the world. I used to hear that 50 million people cannot be wrong—50 million people can be wrong! They are mostly wrong. It is here, with our sense of reality and common sense and our vast experience of life, that we can express the true verdict on this situation. For heaven's sake, let us do it!

7.30 p.m.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch)

My Lords, perhaps I may start by associating myself with the good wishes and the pleasure which we all take in seeing the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, back in his seat and participating in our debates.

The effect of Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 would be that the investigating and prosecuting authorities would have three months—or if we accept the other amendment, 12 months—longer than otherwise to continue with inquiries and bring charges as appropriate in relation to the War Crimes Act 1991.

The noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, was absolutely right. Clause 2 is a declaratory clause and that point was made by my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor when he referred to it. However, there is an anomaly, in that Clauses 2 and 3 would apply in relation to applications to quash indictments made three, or 12, months or more after Royal Assent, but not to applications in the immediately preceding three-month or 12-month period. I am sure that that was not the intention of my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway. If that needs putting right I am sure that he will see to it at further stages of the Bill.

I should perhaps emphasise lest there be any doubt whatsoever, that it should not be assumed that war crimes investigations will necessarily be concluded when funding, in the form of police specific grant for the Metropolitan Police War Crimes Unit ends on 31st March 1995. As to whether police officers will be made available beyond that date to finish investigations and support any prosecutions, that would be a matter for the Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

But the Government's position remains that the investigating and prosecuting authorities should not be subject to a time bar on their inquiries or the bringing of charges. These amendments in no way therefore overcome the principled objection which the Government have to Clause 1 of the Bill, which, with or without the amendments to Clause 4, would effectively repeal the War Crimes Act 1991.

Amendment No. 1 is merely a consequential amendment. It does not affect the principle behind the clause, which is that, with the coming into force of the clause, no proceedings may be instituted in relation to the War Crimes Act 1991.

Therefore, with or without the amendment, the clause is unwelcome to the Government as it stands. My noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway reminded us that I said on 7th December 1994 at col. 1007 of Hansard that the clause would set a most unfortunate precedent. We do not have a time bar on the institution of proceedings in the United Kingdom for murder, manslaughter or culpable homicide nor do we wish to depart from that principle.

The clause, if enacted, would create an exception for people who did not have British nationality at the material time. They would again be immune from prosecutions, thus rendering the War Crimes Act ineffective. Parliament did not intend at the time when the War Crimes Act was enacted that the police and the independent prosecuting authorities should have a prescribed period of time in which to carry out their investigations into war crimes and bring charges as appropriate. The Government's position in relation to the Act is clear. It is that those who committed most terrible crimes in Nazi-occupied Europe during the Second World War cannot be allowed to use the privilege of residence in the United Kingdom to escape justice.

In response to the comments made by the noble Earl, Lord Russell, and the noble Lord, Lord Houghton, justice and fairness must be a matter for the Crown Prosecution Service, the work of the police, that of my right honourable and learned friend the Attorney-General and, if appropriate, the courts themselves. This is a Private Member's Bill and, as is consistent with the conventions of this House, I shall not be opposing these amendments.

Lord Wilberforce

My Lords, I am very much indebted to all those who have spoken on these amendments. As between the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, and myself there is no difference whatever. I am very happy to agree with the way in which he put the case, which was far better than I did in opening. On principle we are totally agreed. The only difference is the period and whether it should be three months or 12 months.

As regards other noble Lords who have spoken, we have had the consolation of hearing some of them say that at least these amendments make the Bill better. The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, like many of us, did not like the Bill at all. He said that at least it was a great improvement to take either our amendment or that of the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon. On that basis I am content to commend the matter to the House.

With reference to the danger of confrontation which was emphasised by the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, of course that is a very real consideration. I mentioned it in opening. I suggest that the point I made is a valid one; namely, that our amendments make the Bill less confrontational than it was before. It may be that it is still open to objection and it may be that another place will turn it down. This is an improvement on the Bill and as such we commend it to the House.

As regards Clauses 2 and 3, it is clear that Clause 2 is not affected in any way by either amendment because it states only the common law anyway. As regards Clause 3 and our three-month amendment, it is very unlikely to cause any difficulty because, for a case to get to the Court of Appeal after a hearing by a judge of first instance, three months is bound to have elapsed anyway. Therefore there is no practical problem. If 12 months were chosen, there might be a difficulty. In that case it would be necessary either for the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, or the noble Lord, Lord Campbell, to produce an adjustment to Clause 3 at Third Reading to take account of that difficulty.

I suggest that your Lordships need not be worried as to the implications of Clauses 2 and 3, but should vote on the simple question whether my amendment or that of the noble Lord, Lord. Mishcon, is or is not an improvement to the Bill. On the basis that it is, although no doubt a modest one and one that leaves difficulties with the Bill, still an improvement, I commend Amendment No. 1 and later Amendment No. 2 to the House.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 4 [Short title and extent]:

Lord Wilberforce moved Amendment No. 2:

Page 2, line 1 at end insert: ("(3) This Act shall come into force three months after Royal Assent.").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I have already spoken to this amendment. I beg to move.

Baroness Blatch

My Lords, I shall be guided on this point. I understand that my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway was anxious to speak to Amendment No. 3 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon. I am not sure whether he was hinting that 12 months is preferable to three months, but my understanding is that if we accept this amendment, the next amendment may fall—

Noble Lords


Baroness Blatch

My Lords, I am advised that it will not, and that it is possible to speak to both amendments.

Lord Campbell of Ahoway

My Lords, with the leave of the House, perhaps I may explain my position. I, so to speak sub silentio, in view of the way in which the debate ranged and the time available, have waived my respectful request and I personally am prepared not to reply to the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon. The noble arid learned Lord, Lord Wilberforce, has, in effect, dealt with the situation.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Mishcon moved Amendment No. 3:

Page 2, line 1, at end insert: ("(3) This Act shall come into force twelve months after Royal Assent.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I certainly do not intend to address your Lordships again on the amendment, but there is something that I feel that I must say and I think that it will meet with the approval of the whole House.

We have been discussing the dreadful effect of the passage of the years. When I heard the speech of my noble friend Lord Houghton of Sowerby, I realised that years mean nothing to some Members of your Lordships' House. Although he spoke in terms which were contrary to the view that I put, I pay him the respect which I believe the House always has for his speeches. We hope that he will go on making them for many more years to come. Having said that, I beg to move.

7.42 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker (Viscount Allenby of Megiddo)

My Lords, it may be for the convenience of the House if I inform your Lordships that, having agreed Amendment No. 2, the wording of Amendment No. 3 is changed as follows: Amendment proposed: Page 2, line 1, leave out the words last inserted and insert the new words as printed on the Marshalled List.

The Question is, That Amendment No. 3 be agreed to? As many as are of that opinion will say, "Content"; to the contrary, "Not-Content". I think that the "Not-Contents" have it. Clear the Bar.

Division called.

Tellers for the "Contents" have not been appointed pursuant to Standing Order No. 51. A Division therefore cannot take place, and I declare that the "Not-Contents" have it.

Amendment negatived.