§ 3.15 p.m.
§ Lord Grocott
My Lords, before my noble friend Lady Amos repeats the Statement made in another place on the UN: Terrorism and Iraq, I wish to say a few words about the debate on Lords reform. I emphasise that I am only too well aware that it is not a timed debate. I simply report the arithmetic to the House. I hope that that is helpful.
There are 99 speakers on the speakers' list for the two-day debate. The tireless staff in the Whips' Office have worked out the arithmetic. If speeches, apart from those of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe of Aberavon, and of those who will wind-up the debate, were to last about 10 minutes, today's debate 564 should finish at 1 a.m. tomorrow morning and tomorrow's debate should finish at 11.30 p.m. That is purely advice. It is way beyond my remit to go any further. But, speaking from my experience of life as well as from my experience in this House, we are universal in our belief that we love short, succinct speeches by others.
§ Lord Elton
My Lords, will the noble Lord the Chief Whip tell us what would be the effect on the arithmetic if noble Lords' speeches averaged eight rather than 10 minutes?
§ Lord Grocott
My Lords, I am glad that I was asked that question. If speeches were restricted to eight minutes, the House would rise at 11.15 p.m. this evening and 10 p.m. tomorrow. I shall answer further questions on the arithmetic if any noble Lord wishes to ask them.
§ Lady Saltoun of Abernethy
My Lords, does the estimate of rising at 1 a.m. take the Statement into account?