Lords Amendment No. 110

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:45 pm on 22nd July 2002.

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Photo of Lord Renton Lord Renton Conservative 5:45 pm, 22nd July 2002

My Lords, I, too, feel obliged to support the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, as my noble friend has done and as the noble Viscount, who has just spoken, has done. I am sorry to have to say that it seems to me that the Government have failed to apply a well established practice of the constitution. We in your Lordships' House have the right to ask the Members of another place to think again and to change any amendments we have passed. Surely, in doing so, it is not sufficient to deal with the matter in the way that it has been dealt with in this case.

I refer to House of Commons Hansard of 18th July at col. 530 which concerns Lords Amendment No. 110. That was the paving amendment moved by the noble and learned Lord at Third Reading. It is merely stated at col. 530 of Commons Hansard:

"Motion made, and Question put, That this House disagrees with the Lords in the said amendment".

No reasons are given there; there is no prior discussion whatever giving reasons. The result of the Division is set out. In the Commons reasons for disagreeing to certain Lords amendments the Government have put forward a statement which Hansard does not support, stating that,

"The Commons disagree to this amendment for the following Reason—

Because it is not appropriate to provide any such exceptions".

That was not mentioned in the House of Commons and not mentioned by the Government and not, so far as I know, put forward in any document that the Commons had to consider. As the noble and learned Lord pointed out, the reason continues,

"the House having reached its decision without the opportunity for debate".

That ignores a well-established practice of our constitution.

Of course, Members of the House of Commons have the last word but we have the right to ask them to think again—although not again and again—so long as they give their reasons. On this occasion no such reason has been given. That applies to both the paving amendment and the amendment of substance put forward by the noble and learned Lord. Therefore, I most earnestly support the plea made by him and by the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe. Instead of asking your Lordships merely to endorse what the Government have done—Members of another place have not been asked to consider the reasons—let the matter go back to the Members of another place to see what they decide.