§ 11.45 a.m.
§ Returned from the Commons with certain of the Amendments agreed to; one other Amendment agreed to, with Amendments, and with a consequential Amendment; one other Amendment disagreed to, with Amendments to the words so restored to the Bill, and the remaining Amendments disagreed to, with Reasons for such disagreement.
§ THE JOINT PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY OF STATE, HOME OFFICE (LORD STONHAM)
My Lords, I beg to move that the Commons Reasons for disagreeing to certain of the Lords Amendments, the Commons Amendments to certain other Lords Amendments, and the Commons consequential Amendment be considered forthwith.
Moved, That the Commons Reasons for disagreeing to certain of the Lords Amendments, Commons Amendments to certain other of the Lords Amendments and the Commons consequential Amendment be considered forthwith.—(Lord Stonham.)
§ LORD BROOKE OF CUMNOR
My Lords, I must voice the strongest possible protest against this timing. It is treating your Lordships' House with disrespect. 1120 The Commons considered your Lordships' Amendments yesterday, starting at 4 p.m. and going on until some unspecified time in the morning; so much so, that we have not even the advantage of the Commons Hansard for the proceedings in another place on one of these Amendments to which the Commons have disagreed. It will be within the knowledge of the Government that my noble friends and I have taken a responsible attitude to the consideration of this Bill, and I believe that we have effected great improvements in it. I am well aware that it is no part of the responsibility of the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, that so disgraceful a timing is arranged. It is a direct consequence of the mismanagement of Government business at the end of this Session; and here again, neither the former Chief Government Whip in this House nor the present one bears responsibility. The responsibility lies elsewhere. But I sincerely trust that this procedure, too, is not going to be taken as a precedent and that we shall never again have to consider Commons Reasons for disagreeing to Lords Amendments at a time when not even the Commons proceedings on the Amendments in question are available.
§ LORD LEATHERLAND
My Lords, is it proper for Members of this House to criticise the manner in which the other place carries out its business?
§ LORD FERRIER
My Lords, I should like to say a word from the Back Benches in support of what has been said by my noble friend Lord Brooke of Cumnor. I think it fair to say that those of us who give of our time to the business of this House are fully justified in saying that to be treated in this way is almost ludicrous. To have Amendments presented to us without even a Hansard to show what was said on them makes a nonsense of attending your Lordships' House, and I should like to add my protest to the protest made by my noble friend Lord Brooke of Cumnor.
§ LORD STONHAM
My Lords, I think we all agree that it is much to be regretted that we have now to consider this matter at least without having had an opportunity to read the discussions in another place which took place in the early hours of the morning. Nevertheless, I do not 1121 accept from the noble Lord, Lord Brooke of Cumnor, that this is mismanagement. We are here in the position of considering the Commons' views on a Bill to which we, your Lordships, made 262 Amendments after they had been consolidated. This is a matter which I think always affects your Lordships' House, unfortunately, at the approach of the Summer Recess. It is certainly something which should be avoided if at all possible, and it might well have been that this urgency could have been avoided if we had agreed to sit another week. But I remember that when this was discussed by my noble friend Lord Shepherd, when he was Chief Whip, there was no desire on the part of the House as a whole that we should sit another week. Much as I regret the circumstances which have been complained of, I feel that this is a situation which was inevitable.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.