HL Deb 03 July 1995 vol 565 cc941-2

Read a third time.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Lord Trefgarne.)

Lord Judd

My Lords, I shall not detain the House for many moments but there are some things that should be said before the Bill leaves this House. We express our appreciation for the way in which the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, has gone to pains to ensure that we can all understand the purpose of his Bill and for the commendable way in which the Minister explained the Government's support for it. However, it is important to recognise that there are certain points which still need consideration.

First, all of us on this side of the House who have unqualified admiration for the work of the Commonwealth Development Corporation remain convinced that its role is to increase the number of people participating in the real economies of the third world countries in which it operates. Therefore, the way in which the Bill enables the corporation to function must be judged by how far that objective is or is not fulfilled. It is because of the assurances we received in that respect that we have seen fit to give the Bill a speedy passage through this House.

One other point should be made at this juncture. Since we began debating the Bill the announcement of the name of the new chairman of the corporation has been made. I believe that all of us who have the privilege of knowing the noble Earl, Lord Cairns, and of his distinguished record not only as a merchant banker but as the chairman for many years of Voluntary Service Overseas and indeed also as a board member of the Overseas Development Institute will feel encouraged that he has the purposes of the corporation, as we understand them, very much at heart. Had we known of his appointment in advance I am sure that it might have encouraged us to give even speedier assistance to the Bill.

However, we must learn two things from the experience of this Bill. First, if the Bill is so important to the corporation, why was it that Members of this House on all sides were only acquainted of the burning significance of the issues covered by the Bill when it arrived in this House? Why were those who were so well disposed towards the corporation not briefed long before that this was something about which the corporation was frustrated?

Secondly, why was it that while the Government's own Bill on the future of the corporation was still before both Houses of Parliament we saw this Private Member's Bill brought forward, covering an essential element of the corporation's future which the Government had not seen fit to include in their own Bill, accompanied by protestations from them at every stage that the Bill was essential to the future of the corporation? It seems to us to display some confusions, which are not altogether reassuring, about relationships between the corporation and the Government. We have given a speedy process to the Bill despite our anxieties on that front.

In recognising that the Bill now goes forward to an inevitably more hazardous phase before the other place, perhaps I may conclude by emphasising that the role of the corporation, as we see it, is a commitment to development, taking the disciplines of good business and the marketplace very seriously rather than being just another business with a development interest.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I am greatly obliged to the noble Lord for his friendly remarks towards me and the Bill. I hope that that friendliness is repeated by his honourable and right honourable friends in another place when the Bill comes to be considered there, as I hope it will. As regards the reasons why the Bill came forward as it did, rather than as part of the earlier government Bill, the noble Lord may recall that many of us had hoped that it would be possible to amend the government Bill to take into account the proposals contained in my Bill. Sadly, that was not possible within the rules of this House. Those circumstances gave rise to the Private Member's Bill which I have taken the liberty of bringing before your Lordships' House. I am most grateful to the noble Lord for what he said. I hope that your Lordships will now allow the Bill to pass. I commend the Bill to your Lordships.

On Question, Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.