HL Deb 27 March 2002 vol 633 cc246-7

3.53 p.m.

Lord Carter

My Lords, perhaps I may interrupt the debate extremely briefly. I earlier promised the House that I would reflect on the points raised by a number of noble Lords on the timing of the Second Reading of the Justice (Northern Ireland) Bill. Having reflected further—and I am extremely grateful for the cooperation of the usual channels—I am now in a position to make a further suggestion. If the House would find it more convenient, the usual channels have agreed that we should sit on Friday 3rd May to take the Second Reading.

I should make it clear that the House will sit tomorrow. As I mentioned earlier, Starred Questions have been tabled and a number of important orders await your Lordships' consideration. I believe that some of the orders must be cleared before Easter.

I hope that your Lordships will find that an agreeable arrangement and that it will assist colleagues from Northern Ireland who, I now discover, would have had great difficulty with their travel arrangements tomorrow.

Lord Cope of Berkeley

My Lords, that is a wise and correct decision and the House will appreciate it. I am grateful to the Chief Whip for his co-operation in this matter. As he said, travel arrangements are particularly difficult to make just before Easter and it was impossible for people to change those arrangements to Northern Ireland. That factor also entered into the decision.

Lord Kilclooney

My Lords, I want to thank the Chief Whip for that decision. Clearly, he has reflected on what everyone said and his decision will be well received by the Ulster Unionists and people throughout Northern Ireland.

Lord Roper

My Lords, we on these Benches welcome the fact that the Chief Whip has had a chance to reconsider the matter. I believe that the proposals he has made will be for the convenience of Members from all parts of the House in order that we can have a proper and useful debate on a most serious and important Bill.