HL Deb 13 January 2004 vol 657 cc470-2
Lord Davies of Oldham

My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend the Lord President of the Council, I beg to move the Motion standing in her name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That it be an instruction to the Committee of the Whole House to which the Justice (Northern Ireland) Bill has been committed that they consider the Bill in the following order:

Lord Renton

My Lords, on this occasion we are being asked to consider the clauses and schedules of this Bill out of their numerical order. That has sometimes been done in the past but the advantages of doing so have always been outweighed by the disadvantages. It always caused confusion.

Can the noble Lord say what argument the Government are putting forward to justify taking these clauses and schedules out of order?

Lord Davies of Oldham

My Lords, the noble Lord recognises that it is not unprecedented to move a Motion to indicate that clauses will be taken other than in numerical order. He will of course recognise that this Motion has been the subject of discussion through the usual channels and it is on that basis that I commend the Motion to the House.

Lord Renton

My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that, though that course has been followed in the past, the practice has fortunately fallen into disuse? Why is it being revived on this occasion when no advantage will be gained?

Lord Skelmersdale

My Lords, before the noble Lord answers that question, I observe that Clause 16 is to follow Clauses 2 to 5. Everything else in the proposal is perfectly logical but that appears to be illogical. Can the noble Lord explain?

Lord Davies of Oldham

My Lords, the clauses grouped together relate to the criminal justice system. It was considered therefore that it would be for the convenience of the Committee that debates revolving around this specific area of the Bill should be grouped together. I understand that this procedure was the subject of discussion by the usual channels.

I recognise the point made by the noble Lord that this course should be followed only on exceptional occasions—I agree that it is more difficult for a Committee than going through the clauses in numerical order. However, occasionally there are good reasons why certain clauses should be grouped together and that is the reason on this occasion.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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