Business of the House: Football (Disorder) Bill
Lord Williams of Mostyn (Attorney General, Law Officers' Department; Labour)
My Lords, I do not disagree with the noble Lord, Lord Lucas. Indeed, I thought that I had twice said that we are the controllers of our own ways. But that as a proposition does not determine all. If we are not able to work with the usual channels in the way we all know, the business of the House will not--and I mean it literally--be manageable.
The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, feels aggrieved on this occasion. I sympathise with and understand that. No one who took part in discussions between the usual channels knew for certain that the sitting yesterday would have continued until 5.20 a.m. but let us not forget that that was partly in order to accommodate other matters in respect of Section 28 about which your Lordships also felt strongly. I do not believe, to coin a phrase, that the argument is answerable by anyone who cares for this House. Unless we stick to and honour our arrangements we shall not be able to run ourselves effectively, efficiently or at all.
Your Lordships will have had two opportunities to amend the Bill. This is not the first time the Standing Order has been dispensed with. The noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, gave certain examples but perhaps I may give another. In February this year, we took Committee, Report and Third Reading stages of the Northern Ireland Bill all in a single day. Whether your Lordships agreed with that decision or not, I am simply pointing out that this is not setting a precedent which will upset the whole of discovered civilisation as we know it. We did it on that occasion because we are masters of our own machinery and business.