HL Deb 18 November 1998 vol 594 cc1287-9

3.54 p.m.

Read a third time.

Clause 5 [Emblems]:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn) moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 2, line 18, leave out ("two") and insert ("three").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this group consists of Amendments Nos. 1 and 2. If it is to your Lordships' convenience, I shall speak to both.

These amendments leave out "two" and insert "three". At Report, your Lordships agreed to a series of government amendments, the effect of which was to increase from one to two the number of emblems a party may register. That was done specifically at the request of the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, and the noble Lord then in charge on behalf of the Liberal Democrat party, the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, who stood in for his noble colleague. Having agreed to two, as an extraordinarily generous concession, it was then realised that the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats might require three. In the spirit of conciliation which so pervades our present discussions, I beg to move the amendment.

Lord Goodhart

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for meeting the difficulties of both my party and the Conservatives. The provision will now allow all parties to have separate emblems for England, Scotland and Wales, which some have already or wish to have. In those circumstances, we are pleased that the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, has taken this further step.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish

My Lords, I am delighted, especially in the circumstances of the past week or two, to be able to thank the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, for listening to our concerns about emblems. It does not seem much of an issue, but I can assure noble Lords that it could have become a major issue and the noble Lord, Lord Williams, and I might have been in deep water. I realised that the Scottish Conservative Party had its own emblem, different from the torch of the Conservative Party in England. I suggested to the noble Lord that it was not the intention of the Registration of Political Parties Bill to be restrictive, and that perhaps he might take that on board. He did so.

Much to my horror—and I suspect to his embarrassment for obvious reasons as your Lordships will see in a moment—we discovered that the Welsh Conservative Party also had a symbol. The thought of the Celtic divisions of the Conservative Party lining up in battle to decide which would be the second symbol caused me some interest. I am grateful to the noble Lord for preventing me having to buy grandstand tickets for the fight over who could have the second emblem. It is nice to be able to say that I much appreciate what the noble Lord has done.

Lord Williams of Mostyn

My Lords, I am grateful to both noble Lords for their generosity. Your Lordships will realise that there is a deeper agreement here on the basis of quid pro quo because I understand that later on the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, may be able to help me when something comes back from another place.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 6 [Changes to the register]:

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 2:

Page 2, line 39, leave out ("two") and insert ("three").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Williams of Mostyn

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

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Lord Williams of Mostyn.)

On Question, Bill passed and returned to the Commons with amendments.

The Lord Advocate (Lord Hardie)

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do adjourn during pleasure.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

[The sitting was suspended from 3.59 p.m. to 4.1 p.m.]