§ The CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES (Lord Aberdare) rose to move, That the Third Report from the Select Committee be agreed to.
§ The Report was as follows:
§ The Committee have considered a proposal to increase the choice of psalms for use at Prayers. The Committee recommended that, for an experimental period of one year, the Bishop reading Prayers should be able to choose from a further ten psalms, or passages from psalms, in addition to the present five.
§ 2. FACILITIES FOR MEMBERS OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
§ The Committee have considered a report from a Sub-committee appointed to advise on what facilities of the House might be made available to members of the European Parliament. The Sub-committee consisted of the following Lords:
- The Chairman of Committees
- L. Ampthill
- L. Denham
- V. Eccles
- L. Edmund-Davies
- L. Hayter
- B. Hylton-Foster
- B. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe
- L. Wigoder
§ The Sub-committee had recommended that the House of Lords should, subject to any relevant security considerations, issue passes to members of the European Parliament to enable them to gain access to the Peers' Lobby and thence to the Galleries of the House, if there were room. The Sub-committee further recommended that, in granting any other facilities, the House should proceed in step with the House of Commons.
§ The Committee also considered a memorandum by Viscount Hood proposing the acceptance by the House of a recommendation made by the European Communities Committee in their 44th Report of Session 1977–78 that members of the European Parliament should be invited to use all the facilities of the House and have seats reserved for them below the Bar and in the Members' Gallery.
§ The Committee are aware of the desirability of fostering a close relationship between members of the House of Lords and members of the European Parliament. It was pointed out, 1664 however, that there are considerable difficulties in extending to members of the European Parliament an invitation to use many of those amenities of the House currently available to Peers. Pressure in the Library, in the Dining Room and on accommodation generally is such that services to Peers would be restricted if members of the European Parliament were entitled to use these facilities. The view was expressed that there were difficulties of principle in inviting members of the European Parliament to use facilities which are not available even to Members of Parliament.
§ The Committee share the view of their Subcommittee that, while progress in the direction proposed by the European Communities Committee is desirable, it should be made in step with the House of Commons. They. therefore, recommend that the Chairman of Committees should consult as a matter of urgency with the appropriate authorities of the House of Commons to determine a joint approach to this question.
§ 3. PARLIAMENT OFFICE.
§ The Committee agreed to an increase in the authorised complement of Clerks to 20, plus one seconded.
§ The Committee were informed of the promotion of Mr. D. Beamish and Mr. J. Maude to Senior Clerk and of the appointment of Miss Meryll Rowena Dean as Legal Assistant in the Overseas Office in the place of Miss P. M. Smith, resigned.
§ 4. LIBRARY
§ The Committee agreed to the installation of a Prestel information service television receiver on a permanent basis.
§ The Committee also agreed that one of the full-time temporary cataloguer posts be made permanent.
§ 5. PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATIONS
§ The Committee approved provision for the payment of revised subsistence allowances to delegates to European Asssmblies.
§ 6. POLICE
§ The Committee agreed to an increase in the administration charge under the agreement with the Receiver for the Metropolitan Police District for the supply of police services.
§ 7. REVISED SCALES OF PAY AND ALLOWANCES
§ The Committee confirmed the application of the following Civil Service Memoranda:—
- (a)CM/379—London Weighting
- (b)CM/390—Responsibility Allowances
- (c)CM/394—Subsistence and meal allowances.
§ 8. OFFICIAL SHORTHAND WRITER
§ The Committee sanctioned a revision in the Official Shorthand Writer's scale of fees.
§ 9. HANSARD REPORTING STAFF
§ The Committee authorised a revision in the fees payable to transcribers and temporary reporters.
§ 10. EXPENSES OF SELECT COMMITTEES
§ The Committee authorised a revision in the rate of pay of temporary Research Assistants.1665
§ 11. SUPERANNUATION
§ The Committee were notified of the following awards:—
- (a) Pension and lump sum to Mr. R. J. Skelton, M.B.E., Higher Executive Officer, who retires on 1st January 1980.
- (b) Revised pension and lump sum to Mrs. K. H. Allen, Cleaner, who retired on 13th May 1979.
- (c) Preserved pension and lump sum to Mr. D. G. Marchant, Executive Officer, who resigned on 12th May 1979.
- (d) Preserved pension and lump sum to Miss A. P. Johns, Personal Secretary who resigned on 9th March 1979.
- (e) Short service payment to Miss P. M. Smith, Legal Assistant, who resigned on 31st August 1979.
- (f) Short service payment to Mrs. E. L. Field, Personal Secretary, who resigned on 7th December 1979.
- (g) Short service payment to Mr. K. J. Hayes, Clerical Officer, who resigned on 6th July 1979.
- (h) Revised short service payment to Mrs. G. Robertson, née Holland, Senior Personal Secretary, who resigned on 11th May 1979.
- (I) Transfer value payment to British Broadcasting Corporation in respect of Mr. M. J. Price, Clerical Officer, who resigned on 22nd December 1978.
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving that the Third Report from the Select Committee of the House of Lords Offices Committee be agreed to, I think I should draw your Lordships' attention in particular to item 2 of the report: facilities for Members of the European Parliament. That raises questions of fundamental importance to this House. When it was considered in the Committee, differing views were expressed. There were those who supported a memorandum which had been submitted by the noble Viscount, Lord Hood, which advocated that Members of the European Parliament should be invited to use all the facilities of this House and have seats reserved for them below the Bar and in the Members' Gallery.
§ There were others who preferred the view that had been taken by a subcommittee of the Offices Committee which, while extremely sympathetic to the wish to keep a good liaison with Members of the European Parliament, took the view that facilities of this House are already under heavy pressure and that it would be unwise to undertake further and as yet unknown commitments. However, that sub-committee recommended that we might consider a special system of passes for the Members of the European Parlia- 1666 ment, which would give them access to the Peers' Lobby and thence into the Galleries.
§ I think I should also point out that the sub-committee, when it deliberated, had available decisions made by the Library Committee and the Refreshment Subcommittee. In the event, the Offices Committee made no decision, but I was invited to consult with appropriate authorities in another place in order that we could co-ordinate our approach to this matter. This I have done, and I have every hope that I shall be invited to attend a meeting next month at which these matters will be discussed. Finally, I should like to say that in my opinion it is of extreme importance that we keep in step on this matter with another place. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the Third Report from the Select Committee be agreed to.—(Lord Aberdare.)
§ Lord PEART
My Lords, may I say that in an odd way I am wearing two hats. I was once Leader of your Lordships' House and also I know the difficulties from the point of view of the other place. However, I think the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, has put it correctly: we must be very careful about this. We do not have the accommodation here, or certain facilities. This applies even to another place. Therefore, I welcome what he has said and I support him wholeheartedly.
My Lords, I had the opportunity of airing the differences between my view and that of the subcommittee of the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, in the Offices Committee last week, and I do not intend to go over the same ground today. However, there is one comment I should like to make on the final paragraphs of section 2 of the report. I am sure it is desirable to keep in step, if we possibly can, with the House of Commons. A joint approach, if it can be contrived, is, I am sure, the better solution, and not least for the Members of the European Parliament. But all that depends on the willingness of the House of Commons to move positively in the desired direction and to move soon, because our whole relationship with the Members of the European 1667 Parliament is liable to go sour if the problem is not tackled positively and quickly. I hope, therefore, that the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, will find the House of Commons authorities receptive and constructive; but if, in, say, two months' time, he is unable to report progress, then I think your Lordships should seriously consider taking independent action.
§ Lord GREENWOOD of ROSSENDALE
My Lords, it is perhaps appropriate that my last appearance as Chairman of the European Select Committee should be in a short debate on the report of the Offices Committee. I have spoken on this subject in your Lordships' House on two occasions and, more numerously, on sub-committees. I would hesitate to run the risk of tiring your Lordships yet again by repeating arguments I have put in the past. However, I was yesterday instructed by the Select Committee, without dissent, to speak in this debate and to put their points of view. When one recalls that the European Committee and its sub-committees muster, above all, the support of over 100 noble Lords, one realises that this is a body of opinion which must be taken into account when important matters are under consideration.
Therefore, I comply with the request of the committee and put my point of view. First, I should like very much indeed to thank the Chairman of Committees, not only for his personal kindness to me but also for the magnificent way in which he serves the interests of the House, and not least in chairing the Offices Committee.
I thank the Committee for the report that he has brought to us. In many respects it is disappointing, but the noble Lords on the Select Committee appreciate the difficulties which have to be overcome and they welcome the fact that the Lord President has stressed the urgency of further discussions with another place. I think it is difficult to exaggerate the tragedy it would be if we got out of touch with our fellow legislators in Strasbourg. They can be of the most tremendous help to us, not least as a channel of information about European thinking and the pressures we are about to be put under by 1668 actions of the European Community. To deny ourselves the contact that would be provided if the report of the European Select Committee had been accepted would be a great disappointment. We have done everything that we can in this House to help European Members of Parliament. They are most grateful for the help they have had from us, but there is nevertheless a feeling of alienation on their part which nobody who has talked to the European Members could fail to detect. I think it would be a very great pity if this alienation continued.
I should like to remind members of Her Majesty's Government that so long as there is no direct personal contact, as there tends nowadays not to be, we are going to see more and more occasions such as the one recently when Parliament and the Council of Ministers fell out with each other. I think that would be a very great pity indeed. We believe in the Select Committee that a sense of shared responsibility, created in an atmosphere of easy informality in the Palace of Westminster, is of the greatest importance. It transcends the various physical difficulties which we appreciate do exist but which nevertheless we do not believe are insuperable. So, my Lords, 1 would thank the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, for having instilled this note of urgency into our consideration of the problem, and express the hope that the practical results will be not too long delayed, because I believe that the European Parliament and this Parliament would both benefit from closer contact than we have at the present time.
§ Lord NUGENT of GUILDFORD
My Lords, I should like to add just a brief word in support of what has been said by the noble Viscount, Lord Hood, and the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood. I do not think we should be too embarrassed if we are in some respects a little ahead of the Commons. In fact, the work that is being done by the Committee of the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood, and by the sub-committees in studying the regulations and proposals of the Commission—the reports that have been made in this House—in their content and interest have really been outstanding. This House has absolutely made the pace. I have not noticed any resentment in the Commons. I think that Members 1669 of the Commons who are interested will be very grateful to your Lordships for the tremendous job that has been done in this respect.
Of course, the fact is that it is common knowledge that there is a great deal of personal political opposition in the Commons to the European Commission and the general concept of the Common Market, which is undoubtedly gumming-up the wheels in all these structures outside the House, and possibly inside the House as well. Therefore, it is not in the nature of things to expect the House of Commons to move quickly on this matter. I very much support what the noble Viscount, Lord Hood, has said, that of course, in principle, we wish to see the House of Commons take a lead in these matters. But if it appears that they really just are not capable of doing so, I feel it is in the interests of Britain and of Parliament as a whole that we should push discreetly on ourselves.
What could be done? Let me briefly say a word. I have had a lot of experience of the Refreshment Committee; and what could be done there quite easily, without inconvenience to ourselves, is to invite MEPs to use the single Peers' side of the Dining Room. There is a very quick turnover. After all, all 61 of them are not coming at once. There probably would not be more than a handful of them at any time. So they could come in, have a meal, rub shoulders with us, and use the guest room and have a drink, on the understanding that they cannot bring in guests because our facilities are too limited.
In the Library, why should they not ask for a book or for information if they want it, provided that they do not try to sit down in the Library, which would be very difficult to do, and are restricted to using the common room upstairs? This is a facility which we could offer them. It seems to me that if we want to do something for them, we can find a way of doing it by giving them some facilities which will make them feel that we want to be friends with them, we want to have contact with them and we see benefit in it for us and for them, as the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood, has said. So I hope that my noble friend Lord Aberdare, having listened to these cogent words from noble Lords and myself, will 1670 be willing, as his last paragraph indicates, to continue to look at this with a view to seeing whether we could do something to make these people feel that we want to have a friendly relationship with them, and are prepared to go to the absolute ultimate to do it.
§ Lord WIGG
My Lords, I should not feel honest if I sat here and did not raise my voice. I am glad to learn that there is political opposition in another place to this proposal. I certainly oppose it, but I am not going to speak for any length of time. I did not vote in the European election. I used all the influence I had to dissuade other people from voting. I am opposed to the Common Market. I think that entry to the Common Market was fatal to this country, and I shall do all I can to take us out. Therefore, I want at least one voice to say, "I am opposed".
§ Lord BETHELL
My Lords, having just returned from a committee meeting at the European Parliament, I should like to say how much I agree with the three speakers, my noble friend Lord Nugent, the noble Viscount, Lord Hood, and the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood, who expressed their disappointment that the House of Lords Offices Committee was not able to go a little further in providing facilities for my colleagues in the European Parliament. I think I can safely say that among my colleagues there is very great admiration for your Lordships' House, and for the work that has been done over Europe since the Lord Maybray-King Committee of 1972. The reports of our Scrutiny Committee are some of the wonders of Strasbourg and have been studied with great care by all the Community institutions. Many of my colleagues hoped that the House of Lords would take a lead over this matter, and were encouraged to believe this by the Forty-Fourth Report of 1977–78.
It is a fact, whatever other noble Lords have said, that our facilities in this House are less stretched than those of another place, and I agree with my noble friend Lord Nugent that if there was a real will to find some place for them in this House a way could be found. But I am afraid that there is more to this than meets the eye. I have been observing the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition during 1671 this short debate. He said very little about the report, but he has been making some noises of disagreement to the previous speakers. I wish that we could have heard a little more about them, because it seems to me that the reasons that have been advocated may be due not entirely to a lack of facilities in your Lordships' House, but to a political disagreement among noble Lords opposite and their honourable friends in another place.
§ Lord PEART
My Lords, may I intervene? I believe that the noble Lord has got it wrong. I am not at all anti-Europe in any way. What I was saying was that I think the report of the Select Committee is sensible. It explains how, even now, we lack accommodation facilities for noble Lords. The facilities are dreadful. With noble Lords sharing desks, the position is disgraceful. I believe that even in the Commons there is still a shortage of accommodation. All I am saying is that if you do this you must go very cautiously, but I think that the report is very sensible.
§ Lord BETHELL
My Lords, with the leave of the House, I had not quite finished my speech. I am very glad that the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition has given that further explanation. I trust that that is the only reason why he advocates caution in this matter, and that it is not because of any opposition to the idea of the European Community on behalf of some of his noble and honourable friends.
I should like to conclude by saying that I thoroughly agree with my noble friend Lord Nugent, that if we are unable to make any further substantial progress during the next few weeks or two or three months, we must seriously consider taking the lead on this matter. We must seriously consider what facilities we can provide for Members of the European Parliament, because if we do nothing, if we wait too long, then this mood of alienation, to which the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood, referred, will grow, further misunderstandings will happen, similar to the one that happened three weeks ago, and the national interest will suffer.
§ 2.57 p.m.
§ Lord SHINWELL
My Lords, to ensure that my noble friend Lord Wigg will not be completely isolated, I want to endorse his remarks 100 per cent. I, too, am opposed to this proposal which I think is a lot of damned nonsense. It certainly is irrelevant. What would we gain by it? So far as I can understand, the European Members of Parliament are going to be able to come and sit alongside us in the Peers' Dining Room and have a meal at somewhat lower cost than they would have to pay outside. I do not see why we should provide them with benefits of that character. Besides, this so-called liaison is a bit of a farce. The other week I read in the newspapers—those organs of unimpeachable veracity, which always tell the truth—that they voted against the EEC budget. Did they consult us before doing so? Are they likely to consult us in future, before taking action of that kind? Are we to understand that "liaison" means that they will ask for instructions before they take action against the Council of Ministers and the Commission? These are very pertinent questions. They may be regarded as impertinent, but I do not mind either. It will suit me.
This kind of thing will not do. After all, what shall we gain by this liaison? What is going to happen? Does it mean that we shall be able to exercise a measure of control over the activities and transactions of the European Parliament? Of course not. They would not agree to that. If we said to them, "Before you do anything come and consult us, take instructions from us. We had something to do with your election, however minimal it might have been. Therefore, take no action before you ascertain the opinion of your superiors—we are the superiors ", would that happen? Of course not. So I suggest that we do not allow this to pass. We should refer it back to the Select Committee and the Select Committee should consider whether this kind of liaison will be effective. Is it going to be relevant? Is it going to produce beneficial results? We are entitled to ask these questions.
Finally, I just want to say this. I fully appreciate that the majority of Members of your Lordships' House are in favour of the Common Market. I deplore it. Many, many years ago I 1673 said in another place that it would prove to be disastrous. If the Common Market has not proved disastrous, it is very near it. Certainly it has not proved to be very effective. I have said much the same in your Lordships' House. I have been against the Common Market from the start. The whole thing has proved to be a farce and of no benefit to us.
I do not suggest, because of my opinion about it, that we should withdraw from the Common Market. Once you have joined it is very difficult to withdraw. We should have thought about that beforehand and also about all the things which have happened since we joined—the high cost of living and the disputes with France. Not a word has been said about that. If we want liaison, that is the kind of liasion to have so that we and our colleagues in the Common Market act consistently and work towards what are supposed to be the beneficial results to be derived from the Treaty of Accession. None of this has happened. I think the time has come to speak out; so I speak out, along with my noble friend Lord Wigg. If there is to be liaison, let it be effective liaison. Let us decide what action should be taken, but before any action is taken the Members of the European Parliament should consider what are our views on this particular subject.
§ Lord ROBERTHALL
My Lords, I, like the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, have had the privilege of serving on one of the sub-committees of the European Communities Committee. From the picture which the noble Lord gave to us, I did not recognise what goes on in those sub-committees. My own feeling and experience is that both the Select Committee representing your Lordships' House and the Members of the European Parliament are trying to make something work and that it is enormously helpful to both sides to be able to put some colour into what otherwise are rather difficult and stodgy documents. I have not the slightest doubt that we, and therefore, to the extent that we serve your Lordships' House, your Lordships' House, have benefited a great deal from these contacts. A good many Members of this House were Members of the European Parliament, though unfortunately there are not so many of them now. I 1674 have not the slightest doubt that they and therefore the Parliament that they were helping to try to work, benefited from being able to talk things over in a friendly, sensible atmosphere. Both sides were trying to make an obviously difficult and experimental institution work.
§ Lord BLYTON
My Lords, I hope that your Lordships will discuss this matter dispassionately. Nobody can accuse me of being a Common Marketeer. I have always been opposed to it. However, when we look at this report, in which it is suggested that Euro-Members of Parliament should invade this place from their own Parliament abroad, I think it is carrying things far too far. If you are a Euro-MP your Parliament is in Strasbourg; it is not here. If Euro-MPs want access to this place, their friends can bring them in as visitors. They can have their contacts in exactly the same way as any Member of Parliament here can bring in a visitor. When all is said and done, we cannot allow Members of the European Parliament to enjoy the privileges of this place after they have been elected to sit in the European Parliament. A terrible fight went on in the House of Commons about this issue and a big fight is still going on. I agree with the Select Committee that we should keep in step with the House of Commons on this big issue.
I think there ought to be a Select Committee made up of representatives of the two Houses to determine what the position ought to be. But I do not think that Euro-MPs should be allowed to come into the House of Lords for, by God!, the facilities are bad enough as it is without making them worse. So I suggest to the Government that they should set up a Select Committee, made up of Members of the two Houses, who could then have a go at this problem. But, by God!, we must not let the European Parliament control either the House of Commons or the House of Lords.
§ Viscount ECCLES
My Lords, because it has been suggested that those who have facilities to offer may not really want to offer them I feel that I must say something as chairman of the Library Committee. That is not true of the Library Committee. We were very sympathetic to the idea that Members of the European Parliament should be allowed to use some 1675 of our facilities, but we had to take into account facts which your Lordships know very well; namely, that the services offered today by the Library are steadily coming into greater demand. It is not as though we can measure the burden on the staff of the Library by what is happening now, because the trend is very definitely upwards. That being the case, and because we are confined on the one hand by accommodation—we have no further accommodation into which to expand—and on the other by the number of our staff, we felt that it was not right at present to throw open the doors of the Library. One of the things which it would be impossible to do would be to allow Members of the European Parliament to come in and ask questions but not to sit down. I do not know what scenes would then take place! My opinion is that, if we could admit them, we could offer certain resources—European documents and so on—which no doubt would be useful. At any rate, we could offer to let them have a terminal link-up with our data base on European affairs. They could have this in a building which I understand they are to have quite close to hand.
I have one other point to make to your Lordships. It is very difficult to envisage going far ahead of the Commons. This is not because I would not wish your Lordships from time to time to take the initiative. But this is only one building. If we were to admit Members of the European Parliament into our part of the Palace of Westminster, who could keep them out of the other part? It would be very difficult. I should like your Lordships to take a lead—and if the other place were to be deeply intransigent perhaps your Lordships should do so—but it is as well to be aware of the fact that we live in one Palace and that this will make difference of treatment very difficult.
My Lords, while supporting those who would like to see greater facilities for Members of the European Parliament, may I ask a short and simple question regarding another paragraph of this report, because there is more than paragraph 2 to this report. Paragraph 6 refers to the increase in the administration charge under the agreement 1676 with the Receiver for the Metropolitan Police District. May I ask what the present charge is and what the future charge is likely to be? It is common talk among police officers of all ranks that this building and its surroundings are more extravagantly staffed with police officers than any other place in London and that it is very hard to justify.
§ 3.10 p.m.
§ Lord WALSTON
My Lords, may I very briefly—because many remarks have already been made on this important matter—support the noble Viscount, Lord Hood, and my noble friend Lord Greenwood in the remarks which they have made and answer one or two of the points which were raised by my noble friend Lord Shinwell. This morning I was at a meeting of Sub-Committee D of your Lordships' European Select Committee and there we had evidence from two United Kingdom Members of the European Parliament. They were vehement in supporting any suggestion which would increase the contacts between them and us. They believed that it would add enormously to the effectiveness of their work and make them—not represent our views; they would not, as my noble friend Lord Shinwell suggested, take instructions from us but they would find it very much easier to understand what was going on in our minds and they paid us the compliment of saying that because of the work of your Lordships' Select Committee we were in a good position to advise them concerning that. Simply coming once or twice a year in order to give evidence, while valuable in itself was no substitute for a much more frequent and informal contact of the sort which could exist if they had certain facilities within the Palace of Westminster. That seems to me to be very strong evidence in favour of taking some positive steps to enable this to be done.
I do not think it is vitally important that they should have access to the Library facilities. They have as good, probably even in some respects better, library and information facilities at their own disposal. I do not think there is any need whatsoever for them to have offices here or to have desks or chairs of their own or anything of that kind, but it is of enormous importance and value that they should feel free to come at least into 1677 our end of the Palace of Westminster—because after all that is all we are concerned with here—not as visitors and asking for cards to be filled in but of their own right, so that they may have at least one place (the Peers' guest room) where they may drink with us and one place where they can have a meal or a cup of tea. There are no great numbers involved. I am ashamed to say that I cannot remember the total number of European Members of Parliament. I believe it is 80 or so.
§ Lord WALSTON
My Lords, we must remember that it is only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays that these facilities are of any significance, and on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for at least three weeks in every month the European Members of Parliament are engaged elsewhere and would never use it: there are very few occasions when more than half a dozen of them would be here at the same time, and to say that we do not have enough room at our bar to allow those half dozen people to have drinks is either a complete misapprehension of the facts or is suggesting that your Lordships are even more alcoholically prone than I think you are. The same goes for the facilities in the dining room.
As to the question of keeping in step with another place, I think there is a lot to be said for keeping in step with all one's partners, but there is no point in keeping in step if the steps which your partners are proposing to take are stationary steps. If they are going to take a step forward, let us step forward with them; if they are going to do no more than mark time, I myself do not wish to hold their hands while we mark time and do nothing. So, while I think it is very reasonable and diplomatic for the noble Lord the Lord Chairman of Committees to talk with them, I think we should take no action until we re-assemble in January. If by that time no agreement has been reached to enable us to make some modest progress along the lines I have outlined, then I suggest that we should forget about keeping in step and should march forward on our own.
Lord CAMPBELL of CROY
My Lords, being a member of the Select 1678 Committee on the European Communities, I should like to make two points very briefly. First, I hope that my noble friend the acting Leader of the House will, as well as the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, take into account and consider carefully what was said by the chairman of the Select Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale. Secondly, as it is the occasion of his last utterance in that capacity, I should like to say how much I, and I think other members of the Committee, have appreciated his chairmanship. I am sure they would agree with me that it has been characterised by his wisdom and his dedication to the effective working of the Committee.
§ 3.15 p.m.
My Lords, I wonder whether I might be permitted to add my remarks of thanks to the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, for what he has done on the European Committees, because he has guided them through very difficult, controversial and extremely complicated legislation, and indeed he has guided the whole House. I think the House owes him a great debt of gratitude for what he has done. I agree so much with what he said, that the House—and indeed Parliament—should not get out of touch with the European Members of Parliament. I think he is absolutely right in that: Westminster should not get out of touch with what goes on in Europe, and the European Members should not get out of touch with what goes on in Westminster. I believe everyone will agree with that, with the possible exceptions of the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, and the noble Lord, Lord Wigg, who feel that they do not like the thing anyhow and want to be shot of it. But to most people the European Parliament is there and we have to make a success of it. It would he a great pity if we could not keep in step.
The difficulty arises as to exactly how we get into step and how we can keep in contact. Some of us, like my noble friend Lord Bethell, have the advantage of being able to keep in contact by coming here, but that does not apply to everyone, and the proposal made by the Offices Committee is clearly one which does not achieve a unanimity of view. That is the reason why I suggest that it is undesirable to proceed too far along the line suggested this afternoon while there is a substantial 1679 section of opinion within the House with serious doubts about offering access to European Members and their using facilities such as the Library and the Dining Room. I can understand the arguments which have been put forward about the Library, but I am bound to say that I thought my noble friend Lord Nugent made an extraordinary suggestion for one who is so generous, namely, to invite them into the Library but to tell them that they cannot sit down. I should always be hesitant if my noble friend were to invite me out to a meal—which I do not expect he would—
§ Lord NUGENT of GUILDFORD
My Lords, is my noble friend the Leader of the House aware that there arc many occasions when I go to the Library to ask for something but when it is impossible to sit down? That must be a common experience for all your Lordships because the accommodation is so limited. So the European Members would be doing no more than anyone else has to do.
My Lords, I hope my noble friend will not have any hesitation in routing me out of a chair if I am occupying it when he wishes to go to the Library.
It is difficult to proceed with this suggestion when there are a number of people who have serious reservations. The noble Lord, Lord Walston, said that if necessary we should go step by step with the House of Commons provided they are moving forwards, but he did not want to be a party to it if they were going to stand still. There again we have the problem mentioned by my noble friend Lord Eccles, that if you give people access to one part of the House how are you going to prevent them from going into another part of the House? If we wish to do this in your Lordships' House we have the problem of thinking how we are to control the situation if those in another place do not wish to take the same action. That is why I think there is much to be said for trying to do this in step with another place.
After all, my Lords, this particular report is not the end of the matter. The noble Lord the Lord Chairman has been asked by the Committee to consult the 1680 appropriate authorities in another place with a view to trying to determine a joint approach to the question. I should have thought that that was really the better way to proceed, to have these joint discussions, and that the Offices Committee might then be able to suggest a further step forward. But as it stands at the moment I hope the House may feel that the best thing to do is to accept the report as it is and to see what transpires after that.
§ Lord WIGG
My Lords, before the noble Earl the Leader of the House sits down I must ask this question. In considering these facilities will he also bear in mind that there are two of us who do not wish to mix with the Members of the European Parliament; and therefore can we be provided with facilities so that we do not have to mix with them?
My Lords, that, of course, is a matter for the whole House, and no doubt the whole House will consider the noble Lord's view.
§ Lord ABERDARE
My Lords, I think I should just thank all those of your Lordships who have taken part in this short debate. I ought to thank the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, for his kind remarks to me, but I think it much more appropriate on this occasion that we should be joining with my noble friend the Leader of the House and others who have thanked him for the very able way in which he has done his duties and for the very balanced speech he made today.
I would just say to the noble Lord, Lord Bethell, that there certainly was no political implication in the consideration given by the Select Committee. If he looks at the membership of the subcommittee he will see that there are people there from all shades of opinion. All that this debate has done is to underline the same differences of opinion as there were in the committee. Obviously these will eventually have to be resolved. The noble Lord, Lord Nugent, seemed to think that I was responsible for the report. This is the report of the Select Committee; I am in their hands and eventually in the hands of the House as to what decision we make. I would suggest that the advice given by the Leader of the House on this occasion is wise advice, to 1681 accept the report for the moment; it does not commit your Lordships in any way. I will continue to see whether I can initially mark time and perhaps later on move forward in step with another place.
Perhaps I may say to the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, who raised the subject of police costs, under paragraph 6, that I have not the figures here at the moment but I shall be delighted to show them to him afterwards if he wishes. This item was gone into very carefully by the Finance Sub-Committee. Of course police costs in this building are very high; this is a very difficult building to protect and it is greatly exposed to possible threats at the moment. I would myself think that the police do an extremely good job in protecting this very difficult place.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.