Lord Mancroft (Conservative)
The timetable problem is not a new problem. At the request of the Captain of the Gentleman-at-Arms, I met him on two occasions some two or three weeks ago. He was always aware, as were the Whips of all the usual channels—that is, the noble Lord, Lord Roper, and my noble friend Lord Cope—that we on the Back Benches involved had always said that we thought that this Bill would take three and possibly even four days in Committee. That was several weeks ago. We always said that this was going to happen.
The reality also is that not only did the Bill spend 27 sittings in Committee in the House of Commons, but, as my noble friend Lord Jopling reminded the House at Second Reading, there was also 70 days between Committee and Report in the House of Commons. I suspect that the purpose of the Minister's comments at the start of the Motion for this short debate was simple: it was to lay the blame for the death of this Bill at the door of this House. That is perfectly clear and the facts are perfectly clear. The whole world knows it. The reason that the Bill is where it is tonight is because the Government have chosen to delay their own wrecked Bill.