HL Deb 16 February 1999 vol 597 cc550-1
Lord Carter

My Lords, at a convenient moment after 3.30 p.m. my noble friend Lord Donoughue will, with the leave of the House, repeat in the form of a Statement an Answer to a Private Notice Question in another place on the safety of genetically modified foods.

Lord Henley

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord the Chief Whip for that statement. However, may I ask him to cast his mind forward to the business for next week? As the noble Lord and the House are aware, on Monday we are to debate the Motion in the name of the noble Baroness the Leader of the House on the White Paper on the Royal Commission and reform of this House. When I last looked at the list of speakers just before lunch it contained some 75 names and I think that it is now somewhat longer. I am sure that most noble Lords would agree that it would be regrettable if we debated such an important Motion very late into the night. Of those 75 noble Lords, who represent all sides of the House, I believe that about one third are Privy Counsellors. It is a very impressive list of speakers. Therefore, I wonder whether the noble Lord will agree now to offer the House—I think that this is what the House would like—an extra day for debating that important Motion.

Lord Carter

My Lords, the noble Lord is correct that the number of speakers on such lists tends to increase after lunch. I am aware of the length and the quality of that list of speakers, which now numbers 79. I am also aware that an official request has today been received from around the House for a second day of debate on the Motion in the name of my noble friend the Leader of the House which is currently scheduled for Monday. I shall need time to reflect on that request and to consider carefully the other pressures on the time of your Lordships' House and on those who wish to participate in debates. I am sure that discussions can proceed within the usual channels and in the usual way. I undertake to ensure that the House receives an answer to those requests, one way or the other, after Question Time tomorrow.

Lord Harris of Greenwich

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for what he has just said. Will he recognise that there are many others in the House who take the view that it is essential to have a second day for this debate? With great respect to him, it would be absurd for us to attempt to have a one-day debate when in fact 79 people have already put down their names and that almost certainly a great many more will do so before the end of the week.