HL Deb 18 March 1997 vol 579 cc768-88

3.11 p.m.

Viscount Cranborne

My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the provisions of Standing Order 38 (Arrangement of the Order Paper) be suspended until the end of the Session to give Her Majesty's Government the power to arrange the order of business; and that Standing Order 44 (No two stages of a Bill to be taken on one day) be suspended for the same period.—(Viscount Cranborne.)

Lord Ewing of Kirkford

My Lords, perhaps I may press the Lord Privy Seal a bit further on the business statement. At first sight, it is reasonable to argue that the announcement of the date of the general election is the background to the statement. I shall not detain your Lordships long, but perhaps for a minute we can examine just exactly what has happened. The Government are taking what are really quite draconian powers at this late stage of a Parliament. To be fair to the Prime Minister, he has said repeatedly that the date of the general election would be 1st May. He has said that time and time again. In order to allow for polling day on 1st May, the latest date for the dissolution of Parliament will be Wednesday 10th April. Monday 8th April is the date for dissolution. It has always been known that the Easter Recess was a factor in the business coming before your Lordships' House.

How have the Government got themselves into a position where there is so much business left over at this late stage? When the loyal Address was made at the State Opening of this Session of Parliament, it was assumed that the business in that address was sufficient only to take us up to the date of the general election. These are quite draconian powers for any government to take to themselves. I say in conclusion that my main reason for raising this matter is to say to my noble friends on the Labour Front Bench that it is my earnest hope that the incoming Labour Government will be much better business managers than the outgoing Conservative managers.

Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank

My Lords, I oppose the Motion moved by the Lord Privy Seal. I do so principally on the ground that it requires the House in less than 24 hours to complete the Crime (Sentences) Bill, which has been allocated today as the first day of the Report stage. Those of us who have had responsibility either in this place or elsewhere recognise that there are problems for a government on the eve of dissolution. The noble Lord has said that the problems faced by the present Government, well spelt out in the statement made by the Government Chief Whip, are of their own making. They knew the timetable for the dissolution and, indeed, they could choose the date. Yet they chose at the time of the Queen's Speech to introduce into your Lordships' House or another place, Bills of such complexity and importance that their progress was bound to be slow. So I believe that none of us needs to have sympathy for the Government in their dilemma because they have brought it entirely upon themselves.

I look back to the occasions when it was necessary to discuss with the government of the day what the concluding business should be. It seems to me that the formula which was always adopted was threefold. First, the Government could drop altogether Bills which they felt were too complex, little advanced or so controversial that it was unreasonable to expect them to make progress before the dissolution of Parliament. Secondly, they could allow adequate time for scrutiny and debate even in the few remaining days. I say to the Government that there is no reason why your Lordships' House should not meet next week to conclude this business. There is no reason at all why the business should be crammed in for today, tomorrow and Thursday. Indeed, before the Prime Minister made his announcement and visited Her Majesty the Queen, it was widely understood that your Lordships' House might well return after Easter. So there is no reason at all why the Government should not allow this House to perform its time-honoured task of scrutiny on the basis of its own timetable for the general election.

The third point is this. There are some Bills that should be dropped and some that should be proceeded with. But every government at this juncture surely has discussions in this House not only with the Labour Party but with other parties, the Cross-Benchers and all Members of your Lordships' House as appropriate. It is reasonable to discuss a compromise which will give the Government at least some of what they want, but nevertheless recognising the strength of opinion elsewhere.

As regards the Crime (Sentences) Bill, to which I refer in particular, there is no proposal to drop it, although many of us believe that that would be by far the better course. There is no proposal to allow adequate time for scrutiny and debate. We may find it necessary to debate this measure through the night and into the following day. Neither is there any proposal for compromise.

Your Lordships will remember that on the first day of Committee stage of the Bill we debated a very important amendment standing in the name of the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey. Your Lordships carried that amendment, and not simply in the name of the party of the noble Lord. The majority of those who voted for the amendment, which was 103 Members of your Lordships' House, were drawn from these Benches, the Cross-Benches, the Government Benches and the Bench of Bishops, too.

I had supposed that as regards the third possible course the Lord Privy Seal would inform us this afternoon. Perhaps he is still to inform us—or perhaps that task will fall to the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch—but we still do not know. But if we were told that the Government will not seek to overturn the decision of your Lordships' House and another place at least there would be an element of compromise which could be considered. However, there has been no such breath of change on the part of the Government. So the Bill is not to be dropped or scrutinised and there is to be no compromise.

I revert to what I believe has been the custom and practice. If it has been abandoned in recent years so much the worse and it should return. It is for the Government to look at three kinds of Bills. The first are those Bills which are necessary by common consent during the period of an election; for example, it might be a Bill for revenue purposes. I do not believe that anyone would dispute that your Lordships have a very limited role in that respect and would oppose such a Bill going through the House. There might be a counter-terrorism Bill which needed renewal. Nobody, certainly not noble Lords on these Benches, would dispute the need to make progress on such a Bill. There might be an emergency Bill which comes forward unforeseen and out of the darkness. But there are no Bills here which have come forward as being unforeseen. They are Bills which were laid before your Lordships' House or another place months ago. So there is no emergency in the list of Bills to which reference has been made.

Thirdly, there are Bills on international affairs. The ground for Parliament considering them is that the world will not wait. That is a perfectly reasonable proposition so Parliament must pass the legislation. But the Crime (Sentences) Bill is not a necessary Bill; it is not an emergency measure and has no international implications. If the Government are so confident of their prospects it would be easy to drop it and return to it in the first Queen's Speech of the next Parliament. But if there is doubt about whether the Government will be in a position to introduce the Bill, is it right that at this juncture, at this 11th hour and 59th minute, a Bill with constitutional implications should be carried through the House?

I refer again to those who have spoken against the Bill in whole or in part. There have been speeches against the Bill from the principal Opposition Benches. There have been speeches against the Bill made by those on these Benches which have been loud, clear and persistent. Noble Lords on the Cross-Benches have spoken against it as have those on the Government Back Benches. This is a Bill which is opposed not only by one of the Opposition parties but it is opposed on all sides of the House. It changes the relationship between Parliament and the judiciary. It makes a major change in our penal system in relation to sentencing and it has been criticised heavily inside the House and outside it.

I do not hold the noble Viscount the Lord Privy Seal nor the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, responsible for the problem which your Lordships' House faces. Both noble Lords are very cognisant of the wishes of your Lordships and are very sensitive to the atmosphere of this House. Decisions have been made elsewhere, either by the Cabinet colleagues of the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, or—and I hope it is not the case—with the connivance of one of the spokesmen of Her Majesty's Opposition. We do not know and I make no accusation. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, will confirm his support for my wish and the wish of the House to proceed with this Bill following a reasonable timetable.

I ask the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, to go back to his colleagues and to ask them to think again and to listen to the voice of your Lordships. He knows what your Lordships' House believes. I ask him to reconsider this matter and to make a further Statement later today. Alternatively, many of us will have to vote against the Motion standing in his name.

Lord Barnett

My Lords, perhaps I may say a few words. I have not spoken against the Crime (Sentences) Bill because there are many noble and learned Lords who have much greater knowledge than I do and I respect their views very much indeed, not least those of the noble Lord the Lord Chief Justice, the noble Lord, Lord Carlisle, and many others. Therefore, I have not spoken on the Bill.

However, I understand that there may have been a deal to agree some form of Bill and I should be extremely concerned if that were the case. Whatever deal may or may not have been struck, I hope that noble Lords will ignore any such deal and vote today in the way that they think right. That may mean that the Bill could not go through in the present Parliament. I do not believe that that would be any kind of disaster. I hope that there may be a better Bill in the next Parliament on the same subject, whichever party is in government. I say nothing about that at the moment.

But I am very concerned that your Lordships should not feel bound to agree to the Crime (Sentences) Bill without the amendments which this House wishes to carry. Therefore, I hope that your Lordships will ignore any deals, formal or informal, which may have been made.

Lord Carlisle of Bucklow

My Lords, I rise to support what has been said by the noble Lords, Lord Rodgers and Lord Barnett. Whatever may be one's views of the merits of the Bill, I hope that we all agree that it is a Bill of extreme importance, and it is also a controversial Bill. It is important because it changes in major ways the sentencing policy which has been used in the courts of this country for many years. It introduces principles which have not been part of our criminal law in the past—whether it is in the extension of the number of mandatory life sentences or in bringing in mandatory sentences for other types of offences.

Part II changes completely the proposals for early release which were introduced in this country as recently as 1991 and which are now proposed to be changed totally by the Bill.

One reason that the Bill is controversial is that, in those aspects which I have mentioned, it is in total contradiction to the expressed views of this Government a few years ago in the White Paper and the legislation which they then passed.

Secondly, it is controversial not only because of differences within the party's approach but it is controversial in that it is opposed almost unanimously by those who are required to conduct business in the courts on our behalf. We have heard the views of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chief Justice and many other senior judges. But I believe also that the vast majority of the judiciary as a whole, who will be required to implement it, opposes its principles.

That being so, if ever there was a Bill which required careful and sensible debate and consideration by this House, it is this Bill. I happen to believe that sentencing policy should not be a matter for party political debate. Where possible, it should be a matter for consensus between the parties and, even more so, a policy acceptable to those who are required to impose it. Therefore, it is vital that any such alteration to policy should be considered away from the fevered atmosphere of electioneering and should be given the full and detailed consideration that this House can give to such a Bill. We should take account of the views expressed in this House by senior members of the judiciary who are Members of this House.

What is the position? We have now had four days in Committee. We now start Report stage with 148 amendments on 23 pages, many of which are brought in by the Government themselves. None of those matters has yet been debated. Where we had debates, we made important changes to Clauses 2 and 3. But the whole issue of Part II was taken away to consider what amendments the Government should make. Those amendments were tabled last Thursday. They require greater consideration than can be given to them by taking all stages of the Bill today.

Finally, as the noble Lord, Lord Barnett, said, there is absolutely no emergency or hurry with this Bill. It is accepted by the Government that the implementation of the Bill will depend on resources, and particularly resources within the Prison Service. It is accepted today that those resources of the Prison Service are stretched to a degree and it is not proposed by the Government, in their own White Paper and in the statements made in this House, that the main controversial issues in the Bill—that is, mandatory sentences for burglary and a change of rules regarding early release—should come into force before, at the earliest, October 1999.

In those circumstances, there can be no urgency at all with this Bill and I ask the noble Viscount the Lord Privy Seal to reconsider the matter and to give this House adequate time to take into account the concerns which have been expressed by all those involved in the day-to-day working of our courts and the prison governors who are responsible for the organisation of the new proposals for early release. I see no urgency. Like the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, I believe that this Bill could come back to the House after the general election without any difficulty and loss following further consideration—and in a better form than its present one.

3.30 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, the Motion before the House is not about the Crime (Sentences) Bill but about the business of the House between now and Prorogation and Dissolution. Such a Motion is far from unprecedented. I understand that, if not universal, it is the normal procedure of the House when Dissolution has been announced. However, I well understand the position of those noble Lords who feel strongly that a Business Motion of this kind should not apply to the Crime (Sentences) Bill. They will know that I have felt sufficiently strongly in opposition to the Bill to move amendments, a few of which have achieved the assent of your Lordships but many of which have not.

In these circumstances, it seems to me that there are three possible options for the future of the Crime (Sentences) Bill. One is that it should complete its proper parliamentary scrutiny in both Houses. For that to happen the House would have to sit next week and probably after Easter because the time available for it did not allow for Report stage to be completed before 27th March. That would have meant that Third Reading and Commons consideration of Lords amendments would have had to take place after Easter. It is a fact, which we do not have to applaud or disapprove of, that that option is not open to us.

The second option, as referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, is that the Bill should be subject to what he called "compromise"; in other words, its formal proceedings should be abandoned and agreement should be reached between the usual channels—of course, he would argue that for these purposes the usual channels should be extended—as to which parts of the Bill were generally acceptable and which parts were not.

There is a great deal to be said for that point of view, but the Government have it in their power to reject it and have rejected it. If this Business Motion is carried, the Government have it in their power to complete the stages of the Bill today: to have the Lords amendments considered by another place on Thursday and to have the Bill passed and receive Royal Assent by the end of this week. Many of your Lordships may feel that either of those two options would be better than the option that has been taken. Although I sympathise with that view, those options are simply not available to noble Lords. We must be realistic and accept that the Government have it within their power to complete the business but have not done so. They have it within their power to truncate the business and intend to do so.

Having said that, one is left with a third, inferior option. All I say about it is that, as your Lordships have been forcefully reminded, your Lordships have taken a view in opposition to the major plank of Part I of the Bill. My right honourable and honourable friends in another place will vigorously support your Lordships' decision on mandatory minimum sentences when the Bill goes back to another place on Thursday, if the business proceeds as is now proposed. Noble Lords have our assurance that every step will he resisted which seeks to overturn that important amendment, even if the Home Secretary were to say that it was a wrecking amendment. I do not believe that it is a wrecking amendment, and I said so at the time. We will certainly support the amendments that your Lordships have passed.

I am a realist and I believe in accepting and working with reality. I also believe in looking forward to the future rather than complaining about the past. In looking forward to the future, I refer to the words of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate. In speaking about the Crime and Punishment (Scotland) Bill, he said: None of the provisions of the Bill would be brought into effect until the Government were satisfied that there were sufficient prison resources to cope with any increased prisoner population that might result".—[Official Report, 10/3/97; col. 95.] I believe that those are wise words that apply equally to the Crime (Sentences) Bill as to the Crime and Punishment (Scotland) Bill.

In those circumstances, I believe that it is force majeure. We have no alternative but to accept the Business Motion that the Government have put forward. That has been agreed, and we shall support it. It is necessary for the proper conduct of the great range of business that must be completed by agreement before the end of this Parliament. It is unfortunate that it includes business over which there is no agreement. But that is a fact of life and of politics and we had better face it. Although we on these Benches will support the Business Motion I shall have no appetite for shadow boxing later today. I shall not be moving the amendments tabled in my name on the Crime (Sentences) Bill.

Lord Carr of Hadley

My Lords, I have no objection to the Motion moved by my noble friend the Lord Privy Seal. I shall not vote against it. It seems inevitable in the circumstances in which we find ourselves. But this is perhaps the only opportunity to express my grave concern about the use that is being made of the powers granted by this Motion in respect of the Crime (Sentences) Bill.

When he introduced his Business Statement yesterday my noble friend the Chief Whip ended the exchange of views with the hope that your Lordships would deal with the issue as sympathetically as possible so that the reputation of the House might be maintained. The reputation of our House depends above all on giving a digested consideration to a very major Bill.

It is well known that I am not in favour of some of the provisions in the Bill, but that is not the point that I seek to press at the moment. This is a major Bill with substantial effects on the judicial system, and the basis of justice in this country should not be changed in this or in any other substantial way until Parliament, including this House, has properly digested it. It has not been properly digested.

It is not just a question of mandatory sentences and their extension, which at Committee stage was a major issue and which remains a major issue. There are also issues relating to the Parole Board. Following Committee stage, the Government have tabled amendments which I believe will make improvements in that regard. But that very important aspect of the Bill requires further consideration and digestion. For example, there is the question of the way in which prisoners on release do or do not comply with their conditions of parole and how they should be brought back and dealt with if they break them or threaten to do so. That needs much greater consideration. I do not believe that it is consistent with the reputation of this House to allow this Bill to go forward in its present form. It is much more than the much-contested amendments about mandatory sentences.

I believe that, of the options open to us, the only proper course is for this Bill to be dropped. While I shall support the Motion—this is necessary in order to complete our business before the general election—I urge the Government to think hard about the way that they propose to deal with this Bill. The matter cannot be dealt with on the basis of some unspoken compromise between the Front Benches and another place.

Lord Bingham of Cornhill

My Lords, I hope that your Lordships will permit me to express, quite briefly, the dismay that I feel at the course which it is proposed to adopt in relation to the Crime (Sentences) Bill. This Bill is not put forward as a short-term measure—a quick, overnight panacea, an instant fix. It is put forward as a measure intended to have profound and long-term effects on the lives of our fellow citizens and on the penal arrangements made for those in custody. It is a measure which, if implemented, will affect the lives of our fellow citizens for very many years to come. Surely this is a measure which, in the debt that we owe to them, if not to ourselves, requires us to give its provisions mature deliberation.

The need for such deliberation is greater because the Bill's provisions do not represent the considered conclusions of a Royal Commission or a wide-ranging committee of inquiry. They are not founded upon any independent research. They are not supported by most of those with responsibility for operating the system, and they have been widely condemned by most academic commentators. It is difficult to imagine measures more obviously calling for searching and thoughtful scrutiny in this House. I have a deep fear that if we legislate in haste, we shall repent at leisure.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

My Lords, would not the reputation of your Lordships' House be vastly enhanced if the Crime (Sentences) Bill were excluded from this Motion, which is otherwise wholly acceptable? One of the purposes of this Motion is to restore mandatory sentencing and to defeat your Lordships' amendments.

It is well understood that the Bill will now pass, as the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, has said, with Labour support. I am told—I may have got it wrong, but my information differs from that of the noble Lord. Lord Rodgers—that my right honourable friend the Home Secretary will divide another place on these amendments, and that unless another place rejects the amendments, he will withdraw the Bill. That in effect all but ensures that it is virtually certain that another place will reject your Lordships' amendments. I, too, am a realist.

As to the merits of the Motion as affecting the Crime (Sentences) Bill, if Standing Orders have to be suspended to save the Bill, well and good, so be it, but—there is a but—surely the Government should accept the Bill in the form in which it passes your Lordships' House and should not divide against Lords amendments on mandatory sentencing in another place.

The Bill, if it is withdrawn, will be returned to us before the Dissolution in a day or two—probably in the dinner hour, I expect—rejecting the Lords amendments. We have the right to insist, of course, but to do so would in fact kill the Bill owing to shortage of time. It is a decision which could be described as neither reasonable nor wise in those circumstances. But to reject the Motion, if it includes the Crime (Sentences) Bill, and to decline to barter entitlement for this potage could be—your Lordships may well think—an honourable solution, even if it were to kill the Bill, to return another day, under either this or another government.

For those reasons, speaking personally, I shall be unable to support the Motion unless the Crime (Sentences) Bill were to be excluded. The merit of the Motion, as it stands, could only be to avoid disparity on either side of the Border on mandatory sentencing with the Crime and Punishment (Scotland) Bill, which I gather is due to receive similar treatment under a Motion tomorrow.

3.45 p.m.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

My Lords, I very much agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, has just said. I shall speak as "a usual channel" that did not go along with the Statement made last night by the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde. Indeed, at the meeting we had last evening I made it clear that my noble friends would not be able to agree to the Motion which we are now debating. The reason we took that view was the one expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Carlisle of Bucklow, and the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chief Justice. There is no urgency about this Bill at all. That is the one issue which I believe is common ground with anyone who knows anything about that measure.

I waited with some interest to find out how the noble Viscount the Leader of the House was going to justify the Motion, but in fact, with great respect, he made no effort to do so. He just moved the Motion formally. I very much hope that he will now address the issues which have been raised, as I am sure that he will, by a number of his noble friends and others in this House. As my noble friend Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank said a few moments ago, there is no absolutely no requirement to have Prorogation of this Parliament on Friday of this week—none whatsoever. It meets the convenience of Ministers. It has no purpose other than that. That is the reality, as all of us know perfectly well. If Prorogation took place next week there would have been a serious prospect of some of the issues being debated properly, both on this Bill and its Scottish equivalent.

We of course recognise, as the noble Lord, Lord Carr, did a few moments ago, that Motions of this kind are perfectly understandable at the end of a Parliament, but I must say, having been in this House for a substantial number of years, that I can remember no such Motion being moved in respect of a Bill which is as controversial as this is. There is in my view no precedent whatever. The only precedent I can recall—it is not much of a precedent but, nevertheless, let me mention it—was the Criminal Justice Bill 1987. That had not been carried through this House at the time the general election was announced.

The noble Earl, Lord Caithness, who was a Minister of State at the Home Office, asked my noble friend Lord Hutchinson of Lullington and myself whether we could reach some form of agreement on that Bill: whether there was some parts of the Bill which would be acceptable to us. The view he expressed on that occasion was that matters which were, in our view, controversial would await the new Parliament. We agreed with the clauses in the Bill which dealt with the creation of the Serious Fraud Office, but the rest of the Bill was reintroduced after the general election.

On that occasion, as on this, everyone recognised that there was no urgency with the Bill. The government of the day—the Home Secretary was Mr. Douglas Hurd—handled the matter in a most sensitive fashion. That, unhappily, has not been true on this occasion.

We are either a serious revising Chamber or we are nothing. There is no purpose in this House sitting and discussing matters of great public importance if we do not do our duty properly in scrutinising legislation. Yet the Motion in relation to the application of this Bill which we have been debating this afternoon means that we are in fact surrendering totally to the Executive our rights as regards that Bill. We are surrendering our rights as a revising Chamber. I would say only this to noble Lords opposite who may find the Government's arguments more attractive than I do: remember one thing, precedents are dangerous things. A government may surprisingly quickly become an opposition and they may find precedents of this sort peculiarly uncomfortable in the future.

Lord Ackner

My Lords, I beg to move an amendment to the Motion, at the end to insert, except in its application to the Crime (Sentences) Bill". I suggest the amendment for these reasons: the key proposals in the Bill are threefold—the imposition of automatic life sentences on anyone convicted for a second time of a serious or violent sexual offence; the imposition of mandatory minimum sentences on repeat burglars and drug dealers; and the abolition of parole for prisoners serving determinate sentences, together with the shortening of remission.

In his speech in your Lordships' House on the Second Reading of the Bill, my noble and learned friend the Lord Chief Justice said: it is necessary to test each of the proposals by asking four questions. Will it be just? Will it serve to reduce levels of crime or increase the protection of society? Will it be cost effective? Will it work in practice? The Lord Chief Justice then said: I feel bound to tell your Lordships that in my judgment these measures conspicuously fail to pass all four of those tests".—[Official Report, 27/1/97; col. 984.] In the same debate, the Master of the Rolls said: If this Bill is implemented, it is my fear that it will prove to be an extremely expensive way of making the criminal justice system worse".—[Official Report, 27/1/97; cols. 996–70.] In the other place the Home Secretary said that he was introducing the Bill essentially to improve the protection of the public against serious, dangerous and persistent offenders, and to increase public confidence in the sentencing process. In the course of the Committee stage, numerous speakers have said that the Bill will have the reverse effect. It will deprive the public of protection and in many ways it will make the system a mockery.

Finally, in support of my amendment, I draw your Lordships' attention to the fact that considerable research, considerable consultation and considerable discussion resulted in the 1990 White Paper which was the basis of the legislation in 1991. The proposals in this Bill are diametrically opposed to what was suggested in that White Paper and, as the noble Lord, Lord Carr of Hadley, said in a recent debate: the Government are overturning—there is no other way to describe it—the proposals, principles and philosophies which were put forward as recently as 1990 and embodied in the … 1991 Act". The noble Lord concluded: I do not believe that in respect of such a vital matter the Government can just go into reverse into this way without explaining more deeply and clearly to us in Parliament and to the public as a whole why six years ago they were wrong—not just a little wrong but fundamentally wrong—and are now fundamentally right".—[Official Report, 23/5/96; col. 1051.] They have not provided that information to date, hence my tabling of this amendment to the Motion.

Lord Hughes

My Lords, before the noble and learned Lord resumes his seat—

Noble Lords


The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern)

My Lords, the original Motion was as set out on the Order Paper, since when an amendment has been moved thereto, at the end to insert, except in its application to the Crime (Sentences) Bill". The Question before the House, therefore, is, That the amendment to the original Motion be agreed to:

Lord Hughes

My Lords, all that I wanted to ask the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, was whether his amendment should not include also a reference to the equally controversial Scottish Bill because, as things stand, that Bill would go through along with the rest.

Lord Ackner

My Lords, I am afraid that under pressure of events, I had time only to think of England. However, if the noble Lord wants me to continue speaking while he writes out an amendment, I have plenty of material that I could read out.

Lord Hughes

My Lords, I am sorry, but the noble and learned Lord is asking me to do something which I am not capable of doing at the moment. I am quite sure, however, that if the noble and learned Lord gave a little thought to it, he could make a damn sight better job of it than I would.

Lord Monkswell

My Lords—

Noble Lords

The Leader of the House!

Lord Richard

My Lords, I wonder whether I may say just a few words before the Lord Privy Seal rises to his feet. We would not be in a position to support the amendment just moved by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner—

Noble Lords


Lord Richard

My Lords, I hear the cries from my right and from opposite—

Noble Lords

Behind you!

Lord Richard

and from behind—but I thought that it was sensible for me to set out the Labour Party's position on this issue.

The original Motion is clearly necessary at the end of a Parliament. The timing of the end of this Parliament is not a matter for the Opposition. It is right, however, that an opposition should co-operate with the Government in trying to succeed in providing a sensible ending to the Government's legislative programme. That we have done—not only in relation to the Bills which are before the House today but in relation also to the Bills which will come before the House tomorrow and on Thursday. I do not think that it is possible to unravel the package that has been agreed—

Noble Lords


Lord Richard

My Lords, I know that various noble Lords do not like the agreement, but, with great respect, that is not the point. They may disagree and they may say that they are not party to the agreement, but I say only that the Labour Party has entered into an agreement and that we propose to stick by it.

Baroness Williams of Crosby

My Lords, before the Lord Privy Seal responds to the noble Lord, Lord Richard, perhaps I may make a few additional comments from these Benches. The agreement that has been reached in another place is in no way binding on this House, which did not reach that agreement itself. As I understand it, the purpose of this debate is precisely to determine whether it is the wish of this House to accede to that agreement which was made without discussion or deliberation with other Members of this House, including representatives of the Cross Benches and of some Opposition parties.

There can be almost no example more harsh of the power of the Executive than an agreement made between the two Front Benches without adequate consideration of the much wider considerations which cover this Bill. From all Benches in this Chamber in the past few minutes we have heard very powerful arguments as to why the Bill should not be allowed to go ahead without due further deliberation. The noble Lord, Lord McIntosh of Haringey, put forward what I regarded as a totally unacceptable argument. It went along the lines that if there is not the political will from the Front Benches, it is only realistic to say that there is no way in which their agreement can be overturned. I cannot accept that argument. It is a dangerous argument with the widest possible repercussions for a parliamentary democracy.

Perhaps I may make one further point on the substance of the matter. We know, because we have had evidence directly from the prison governors, that our prison system is in a state of advanced crisis. It may be the case that literally within the next few weeks or months the prison system will be unable to cope with the demands made upon it. We have heard from the Lord Chief Justice that those noble Lords who know most about the criminal justice system are extremely worried about the implications of the Bill. We know from my noble friend Lord Harris of Greenwich that there are the strongest reasons why the Bill should be deliberated at much greater length, in much greater detail and with much greater consideration as regards our own responsibility for those who work in the Prison Service, in the criminal justice system, in the police force and, for that matter, for offenders.

It has been said that this is a revising Chamber if it is anything. However, I also understood that it was a deliberative Chamber if it was anything: a Chamber charged with deliberating about the pressures that are brought to bear on Ministers and Members of another place. All of us know the pressures that are currently bearing upon Ministers and their shadows as a result of trying to show who can be tougher on crime; but it is the job of this House to resist sudden pressures, often driven by the popular media, to consider the long-term consequences of what is done and to consider the effects of the law.

I plead that we give serious consideration to the amendment proposed by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, because, as I understand it, it is an amendment in the true spirit of this House and its responsibility for the constitution of the United Kingdom.

Noble Lords


4 p.m.

Lord Bridge of Harwich

My Lords, I shall be just two minutes or less. The cat is now out of the bag. I am the political innocent who had not seen it all along. The cat is that there has been a satanic pact between the two main political parties to see that this ill-considered legislation is forced through without proper examination by this House, because neither is prepared to forgo the hope of outbidding the other for the populist vote in the law and order debate leading up to the election. That is the truth of the matter and, to my mind, it is a deplorably cynical attitude to the administration of justice.

Viscount Cranborne

My Lords, it is a well-known truism in British parliamentary life for the Back Benches to look more than once when both Front Benches tell the same story. I am fully conscious of the honourable tradition behind that observation, which is one that I know many rebels deployed in their time in the other place. However, despite all the eloquence which we have heard against the Crime (Sentences) Bill during the course of the past 50 minutes, I have to say, notwithstanding my opening observation, that the noble Lords, Lord Richard and Lord McIntosh, were perfectly correct in their fundamental observations.

This Motion is a Motion for the sake of good order and good government.

Noble Lords


Noble Lords


Viscount Cranborne

My Lords, I think it is fair to say that the Government Front Bench, with its usual courtesy, gave a hearing to all noble Lords who have spoken thus far. I am sure, therefore, that noble Lords will wish to do the same for me.

As the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, observed, it is a Motion which tries to ensure that the dying days of a Parliament are conducted with a sense of good order and with decorum. I have not a great length of parliamentary experience, but I find it difficult to remember the end of a single Parliament when there was not a substantial amount of legislation still outstanding, much of it controversial, and when the usual channels in both Houses have not done their best to achieve a practical accommodation in the dying days of a Parliament to try to preserve good sense and dignity to the end.

Lord Taverne

My Lords—

Noble Lords


Viscount Cranborne

My Lords, if the noble Lord, Lord Taverne, will allow me to proceed for a little longer, I shall give way to him with the greatest of pleasure. However, I should like to complete this one point.

I believe it is fair to say that the Motion which I moved earlier, without, as some noble Lords observed, further explanation, is directed at that objective only. We deliberately put on the Report stage of the crime Bill this afternoon knowing that it would be important for noble Lords to consider whether they would like to make further progress on that legislation. If the Motion is passed by your Lordships and we proceed to the Report stage of the Bill, there will be more opportunities for noble Lords from all sides of the House to make speeches of very much the same character as we have heard this afternoon. I make no complaint about that. However, what I do say, with the greatest of respect to the many very distinguished noble Lords and noble and learned Lords who have spoken, is that this is not the Motion upon which to speak, unless it is the desire of noble Lords—and I say this with great diffidence—in some elegant way to begin to filibuster the discussion at every opportunity.

I noticed that the noble Lords, Lord Harris, and Lord Barnett, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, and indeed the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, regard it as the right of this House to kill a Bill should it feel so inclined. Should we ever be so unfortunate as to lose an election, I will remember those observations with some interest under different circumstances. I should also tell the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, that my noble friend the Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms did indeed talk to the Convener and discuss the matter with him. I am assured by my noble friend that that is so. I give way to the noble Lord.

Lord Taverne

My Lords, I apologise for asking the following question. Can the noble Viscount explain to the House what is different in the circumstances of this Bill from the circumstances of the Criminal Justice Bill 1987? The noble Viscount said that there are often such situations at the end of a Parliament, but can he cite any single example where there was such strong opposition from his Benches, from many Members of the Cross Benches, from the whole of the judiciary and, indeed, from so many parts of the House?

Viscount Cranborne

My Lords, as has been made clear by the Benches of the party immediately opposite, there has been an agreement about how the conduct of business should be arranged during the remaining days of this week. It is open to your Lordships' House to reject that agreement, as it is always open to Members of this House to vote against any Motion. I would strongly oppose such a thought but I would certainly support the right of noble Lords—as, indeed, noble Lords would expect me to—to express their opinion by way of voting or any other means. It is on the Motion that we will vote if the noble and learned Lord wishes to press the amendment to a vote. I make no quarrel about that. We have a suggestion which we have put before your Lordships and it is for your Lordships to decide.

I repeat, if your Lordships wish to object to any particular item of business which is before the House during the course of the next two or three days, it is open to your Lordships to do so on the basis of the business before us. However, what I find difficult is what I believe the noble Lords, Lord Richard and Lord McIntosh, also find difficult; namely, to interrupt what has been a well-established precedent that we try to bring our business to a reasonable conclusion in an elegant and agreed way in the last days of a Parliament.

I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Ewing, would not disagree with me, as a parliamentarian of many more years standing than I suspect I shall ever have, that the prerogative of the Prime Minister is clearly to call an election and to ask the Queen for prorogation and dissolution at his discretion. That decision is one which has been granted to Prime Ministers of all parties in power for some time now, as I am sure the noble Lord will agree. It is then, in the light of that decision, a matter of whether or not either House of Parliament wishes to allow the proposed arrangement of business to stand.

If this order of business is to have any chance of standing, and if not only the crime Bill but also all the rest of the Government's proposed legislation—and, indeed, many Private Members' Bills—are to have any chance of becoming law in an agreed and orderly manner, we will have to suspend this Standing Order. We have an opportunity to discuss the crime Bill after that. I suggest to your Lordships that is the moment when objections of a passionately felt kind are appropriate, if your Lordships wish to make them.

I have to say by way of conclusion that, of course, even if we had persisted until 8th April—the last possible date for Parliament to sit if we were to have an election on 1st May—it is highly unlikely that we would have been able to complete consideration of this Bill anyway. If we were to have done so, we would have had to suspend Standing Orders in any case. I say with the greatest of respect to the House that I think perhaps we are mixing apples and oranges here. I am sure there will be much passionate debate later this afternoon should my Motion find favour with the House.

Lord Avebury

My Lords, I hope I may ask the noble Viscount a question. Is he saying that the Prime Minister of the day always has carte blanche to fill up the timetable with masses of legislation in the final Session of a Parliament which he knows cannot be completed in time and then to ramrod it through at the last moment without debate?

Viscount Cranborne

My Lords, it is for promoters of Bills to propose and for Parliament to decide.

The Lord Chancellor

My Lords, the original Motion was as set out on the Order Paper, since when an amendment has been moved thereto at the end to insert, except in its application to the Crime (Sentences) Bill". The Question before this House, therefore, is, That the amendment to the original Motion be agreed to.

4.11 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 137; Not-Contents, 185.

Division No. 1
Ackner, L. [Teller.] Borrie, L.
Acton, L. Boyd-Carpenter, L.
Addington, L. Bramall, L.
Ailesbury, M. Bridge of Harwich, L.
Allen of Abbeydale, L. Bridges, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V. Brightman, L.
Ampthill, L. Brooks of Tremotfa, L.
Annan, L. Browne-Wilkinson, L.
Avebury, L. Bruce of Donington, L.
Baldwin of Bewdley, E. Calverley, L.
Barnett, L. Campbell of Alloway, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Carlisle, E.
Bingham of Cornhill, L. Carlisle of Bucklow, L.
Blease, L. Carnarvon, E.
Bledisloe, V. Carr of Hadley, L.
Blyth, L. Charteris of Amisfield, L.
Chorley, L. Monson, L.
Clancarty, E. Mottistone, L.
Craigavon, V. Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Crook, L. Mustill, L.
Dahrendorf, L. Napier of Magdâla, L.
Darcy (de Knayth), B. Newall, L.
Devonport, V. Nicol, B.
Dickinson, L. Northbourne, L.
Donaldson of Lymington, L. Norton, L.
Dowding, L. Ogmore, L.
Elis-Thomas, L. Oliver of Aylmerton, L.
Emerton, B. Onslow, E.
Exmouth, V. Palmer, L.
Ezra, L. Park of Monmouth, B.
Falkland, V. [Teller.] Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Flowers, L. Phillips of Ellesmere, L.
Gillmore of Thamesfield, L. Pym, L.
Gladwyn, L. Redesdale, L.
Grenfell, L. Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, L.
Grey, E. Robson of Kiddington, B.
Hacking, L. Rochester, L.
Hampton, L. Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Hamwee, B. Russell, E.
Harding of Petherton, L. Sainsbury, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L. St. John of Bletso, L.
Harris of High Cross, L. Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Hayhoe, L. Sefton of Garston, L.
Serota, B.
Hayter, L. Shannon, E.
Hilton of Eggardon, B. Shaughnessy, L.
Hooson, L. Simon, V.
Hope of Craighead, L. Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Howie of Troon, L. Slynn of Hadley, L.
Hutchinson of Lullington, L. Stallard, L.
Hylton, L. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Inchyra, L. Strafford, E.
Jenkins of Putney, L. Swinfen, L.
Kennet, L. Taverne, L.
Kilbracken, L. Taylor of Gosforth, L.
Kinloss, Ly. Tenby V.
Kintore, E. Thomas of Gresford, L.
Kirkhill, L. Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Kirkwood, L. Thurlow, L.
Lane, L. Tope, L.
Leathers, V. Tordoff, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Lockwood, B. Walpole, L.
Longford, E. Warnock, B.
Lowry, L. Weatherill, L.
McNair, L. Wigoder, L.
Mar and Kellie, E. Wilberforce, L.
Masham of Ilton, B. Williams of Crosby, B.
Meston, L. Wright of Richmond, L.
Aberdare, L. Bruntisfield, L.
Addison, V. Butterworth, L.
Ailsa, M. Byford, B.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Cadman, L.
Anelay of St. Johns, B. Caithness, E.
Archer of Weston-Super-Mare, L. Campbell of Croy, L.
Ashbourne, L. Carnegy of Lour, B.
Astor, V. Carter, L.
Astor of Hever, L. Chalker of Wallasey, B.
Attlee, E. Chesham, L. [Teller.]
Balfour, E. Clanwilliam, E.
Barber of Tewkesbury, L. Clark of Kempston, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.
Belstead, L. Clinton, L.
Berners, B. Cochrane of Cults, L.
Blaker, L. Courtown, E.
Blatch, B. Craig of Radley, L.
Boardman, L. Craigmyle, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Cranborne, V. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Brougham and Vaux, L. Cranbrook, E.
Cuckney, L. Macleod of Borve, B.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Malmesbury, E.
Cumberlege, B. Marlesford, L.
Davidson, V. Marsh, L.
Dean of Beswick, L. Mason of Bamsley, L.
Dean of Harptree, L. Merrivale, L.
Denbigh, E. Middleton, L.
Denham, L. Miller of Hendon, B.
Denton of Wakefield, B. Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Dixon-Smith, L. Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Donegall, M. Morris of Kenwood, L.
Donoughue, L. Mountevans, L.
Dormand of Easington, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Downshire, M. Murton of Lindisfame, L.
Dubs, L. Noel-Buxton, L.
Dundee, E. Norrie, L.
Eatwell, L. Northesk, E.
Eden of Winton, L. O'Cathain, B.
Elles, B. Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L. Orr-Ewing, L.
Elton, L. Oxfuird, V.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B. Paul, L.
Feldman, L. Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Ferrers, E. Platt of Writtle, B.
Flather, B. Porter of Luddenham, L.
Fraser of Carmyllie, L. Prys-Davies, L.
Gainford, L. Quinton, L.
Gainsborough, E. Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Geddes, L. Rankeillour, L.
Gibson-Watt, L. Rawlings, B.
Gilmour of Craigmillar, L. Reay, L.
Gisborough, L. Renton, L.
Gladwin of Clee, L. Renwick, L.
Goschen, V. Richard, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B. Ridley, V.
Graham of Edmonton, L. Romney, E.
Gray, L. Rotherwick, L.
Greenway, L. Rowallan, L.
Haig, E. St. Davids, V.
Halsbury, E. Saint Oswald, L.
Haslam, L. Seccombe, B.
Hayman, B. Selsdon, L.
Hemphill, L. Sewel, L.
Henley, L. Sharples, B.
Holderness, L. Shaw of Northstead, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B. Skelmersdale, L.
HolmPatrick, L. Somerset, D.
Howe, E. Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Ilchester, E. Stewartby, L.
Inglewood, L. Strabolgi, L.
Jay of Paddington, B. Strathcarron, L.
Johnston of Rockport, L. Strathclyde, L. [Teller.]
Keyes, L. Swinton, E.
Kimball, L. Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Kitchener, E. Terrington, L.
Knutsford, V. Teviot, L.
Laing of Dunphail, L. Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Lane of Horsell, L. Trefgame, L.
Lauderdale, E. Trumpington, B.
Lindsay, E. Turner of Camden, B.
Lindsey and Abingdon, E. Ullswater, V.
Long, V. Vivian, L.
Lucas, L. Westbury, L.
Lucas of Chilworth, L. Wharton, B.
Luke, L. Whitelaw, V.
Lyell, L. Whitty, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L. Wilcox, B.
McConnell, L. Williams of Elvel, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. Willoughby de Broke, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L. Winston, L.
Mackay of Clashfern, L. [Lord Chancellor.] Wolfson, L.
Wynford, L.
Mackay of Drumadoon, L. Young, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

4.23 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Motion shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 206 Not-Contents, 76.

Division No. 2
Aberdare, L. Dormand of Easington, L.
Addison, V. Downshire, M.
Ailesbury, M. Dubs, L.
Ailsa, M. Dundee, E.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Eatwell, L.
Ampthill, L. Eden of Winton, L.
Anelay of St. Johns, B. Ellenborough, L.
Archer of Weston-Super-Mare, L. Elles, B.
Astor, V. Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Astor of Hever, L. Elton, L.
Attlee, E. Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Balfour, E. Ferrers, E.
Barber of Tewkesbury, L. Flather, B.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Fraser of Carmyllie, L.
Belstead, L. Gainford, L.
Berkeley, L. Gainsborough, E.
Berners, B. Geddes, L.
Blaker, L. Gibson-Watt, L.
Blatch, B. Gilmour of Craigmillar, L.
Boardman, L. Gisborough, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Goschen, V.
Bradford, E. Gould of Pottemewton, B.
Bramall, L. Graham of Edmonton, L.
Brightman, L. Gray, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Gray of Contin, L.
Bruntisfield, L. Greenway, L.
Butterworth, L. Haig, E.
Byford, B. Halsbury, E.
Cadman, L. Harding of Petherton, L.
Caithness, E. Harmar-Nicholls, L.
Campbell of Croy, L. Haslam, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B. Hayhoe, L.
Carr of Hadley, L. Hayman, B.
Carter, L. Hemphill, L.
Chalker of Wallasey, B. Henley, L.
Charteris of Amisfield, L. Hesketh, L.
Chesham, L. [Teller.] Holderness, L.
Chorley, L. Hollis of Heigham, B.
Clanwilliam, E. HolmPatrick, L.
Clark of Kempston, L. Howe, E.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Ilchester, E.
Clinton, L. Inchyra, L.
Cochrane of Cults, L. Inglewood, L.
Courtown, E. Johnston of Rockport, L.
Craig of Radley, L. Keyes, L.
Craigmyle, L. Kimball, L.
Cranborne, V. [Lord Privy Seal.] Kitchener, E.
Cranbrook, E. Knutsford, V.
Crook, L. Lane of Horsell, L.
Cross, V. Leathers, V.
Cuckney, L. Leigh, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Lindsay, E.
Cumberlege, B. Lindsey and Abingdon, E.
Davidson, V. Long, V.
Dean of Harptree, L. Lucas, L.
Denbigh, E. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Denham, L. Luke, L.
Denton of Wakefield, B. Lyell, L.
Dixon-Smith, L. McColl of Dulwich, L.
Donegall, M. McConnell, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. Rees, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L. Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, L.
Mackay of Clashfern, L. [Lord Chancellor.] Renton, L.
Renwick, L.
Mackay of Drumadoon, L. Richard, L.
Macleod of Borve, B. Romney, E.
Malmesbury, E. Rotherwick, L.
Marlesford, L. Rowallan, L.
Marsh, L. St. Davids, V.
Masham of Ilton, B. Saint Oswald, L.
Mason of Barnsley, L. Seccombe, B.
Merrivale, L. Selsdon, L.
Middleton, L. Sewel, L.
Miller of Hendon, B. Sharples, B.
Milner of Leeds, L. Shaw of Northstead, L.
Milverton, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Monk Bretton, L. Somerset, D.
Montgomery of Alamein, V. Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L. Stewartby, L.
Mottistone, L. Strabolgi, L.
Mountevans, L. Strathcarron, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L. Strathclyde, L. [Teller.]
Murton of Lindisfarne, L. Strathmore and Kinghorne, E.
Swinfen, L.
Napier of Magdâla, L. Swinton, E.
Noel-Buxton, L. Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Norrie, L. Terrington, L.
Northesk, E. Teviot, L.
O'Cathain, B. Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Onslow, E. Trefgame, L.
Oppenheim-Barnes, B. Trumpington, B.
Orr-Ewing, L. Turner of Camden, B.
Oxfuird, V. Ullswater, V.
Pearson of Rannoch, L. Vivian, L.
Pender, L. Westbury, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L. Wharton, B.
Platt of Writtle, B. Whitelaw, V.
Prior, L. Wilcox, B.
Pym, L. Williams of Elvel, L.
Quinton, L. Willoughby de Broke, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B. Wise, L.
Rankeillour, L. Wolfson, L.
Rawlings, B. Wynford, L.
Reay, L. Young, B.
Ackner, L. Hooson, L.
Addington, L. Howie of Troon, L.
Allenby of Megiddo, V. Hughes, L.
Avebury, L. Hutchinson of Lullington, L.
Barnett, L. Hylton, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Jenkins of Putney, L.
Blyth, L. Kennet, L.
Bridge of Harwich, L. Kilbracken, L.
Bridges, L. Kirkwood, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Lane, L.
Calverley, L. Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Carlisle, E. Longford, E.
Chalfont, L. McNair, L.
Clancarty, E. Mar and Kellie, E.
Cobbold, L. Meston, L.
Dahrendorf, L. Monson, L.
Devonport, V. Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Elis-Thomas, L. Ogmore, L.
Exmouth, V. Palmer, L.
Ezra, L. Phillips of Ellesmere, L.
Falkland, V. [Teller.] Prys-Davies, L.
Gillmore of Thamesfield, L. Redesdale, L.
Gladwyn, L. Robson of Kiddington, B.
Grey, E. Rochester, L.
Hampton, L. Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Hamwee, B. Russell, E.
Harris of Greenwich, L. [Teller.] Sainsbury, L.
Hayter, L. St. John of Bletso, L.
Hindlip, L. Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Shaughnessy, L. Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Simon, V. Tope, L.
Simon of Glaisdale, L. Tordoff, L.
Stallard, L. Varley, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L. Walpole, L.
Taverne, L. Warnock, B.
Taylor of Gosforth, L. Wigoder, L.
Tenby, V. Williams of Crosby, B.
Thomas of Gresford, L. Wright of Richmond, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Motion agreed to accordingly.