HL Deb 22 July 1996 vol 574 cc1173-4

3.7 p.m.

The Lord Privy Seal (Viscount Cranborne)

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I should like to redeem my undertaking given last week to the noble Lord, Lord Richard, and make a brief Statement about the position in regard to your Lordships' reaction to the recommendations of the SSRB. When I moved the Motion to approve the Ministerial and other Salaries Order last Tuesday, a number of your Lordships understandably raised questions about Peers' expenses. I indicated then that I was looking to hold discussions with the other leaders and Whips and with the Convenor of the Cross Benches. I indicated also that I hoped to be able to give a progress report of those discussions before the House adjourned for the Summer Recess. It is for that purpose that I crave your Lordships' indulgence this afternoon, although I hope your Lordships will understand that I cannot be too specific at this moment.

The meeting to which I referred has now taken place. I was most grateful to my opposite numbers for the constructive view that they took and the number of suggestions that they made. A number of concerns were of course raised. I have undertaken to consult further on those particular matters. In particular, I have agreed to explore, through the appropriate channels, whether it would be possible for the SSRB to look further at a number of those points. I hope therefore that your Lordships will be content to leave the matter there for the moment, on the clear understanding that in the light of progress, or indeed the lack of it, I should be able to report further to the House in due course.

Lord Richard

My Lords, perhaps I may say on behalf of this side of the House that we are grateful to the Lord Privy Seal for making that Statement. He is accurate. The meeting did take place. I am glad that he thought that it was helpful. I thought that it was helpful. I hope that he came out of it feeling that his elbow had been strengthened. I hope that he will now continue to use his elbow in the direction that the people who took part in that meeting obviously thought that it should be used. Having said that, I wish him joy!