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Commons Amendment

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:30 pm on 17th November 2004.

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Photo of Baroness Scotland of Asthal Baroness Scotland of Asthal Minister of State (Criminal Justice System and Law Reform), Home Office, Minister of State (Home Office) (Criminal Justice and Offender Management) 5:30 pm, 17th November 2004

My Lords, I regret that the noble Baroness feels that she has to rise to her feet because we all welcome very much her return to this House and we have missed hearing her voice. However, I have to deal with matters from this Bench as they arise. The noble Lord made a number of comments with which I have now dealt. I regret that the noble Baroness feels that the remarks were cheap. I am afraid that that is not a view which I necessarily share. However, if any inappropriate connotation was put on them that was not my intent.

To consider our present position, this House has spoken and the general nature of the House seems to be that we support the need for having these rights addressed, but it is not for this Bill. The amendments to which the noble Baroness referred are for another day. I have tried to make absolutely clear the way in which the Government have used every opportunity to address these issues. I have also made clear that the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is reviewing the Law Commission's consultation in relation to tenure, which will look at the issues of carers and others and how they will be affected by the legislation.

I remind the House that when this matter first came before your Lordships, not least in the form of the Bill introduced by the noble Lord, Lord Lester, we promised that we would look at this issue and look at it energetically. We have honoured that commitment. Not only do we commend the noble Lord, Lord Lester, for bringing it forward, but I hope he will feel that we on this side can also be commended for honouring our responsibilities. When we say that these issues have been validly raised, that we understand the import of them and that they will be examined, I hope that the noble Lords opposite will be able to take that in the same spirit.

The noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain, has raised an important issue. She has been a standard bearer for and has shone a light on things that needed to be made light. Knowing her, I know that she will not cease in her campaign on the issues; they will doubtless be brought before this House, and we will deal with them. I know how the House operates, and when it makes a commitment on something, it tends to follow through on that. These matters would come forward, whether the Government wanted them to or no—and we want them to.

The amendment would have the effect of a wrecking amendment, as the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, said. I know that that is not what the noble Baroness, Lady O'Cathain, wants, but we cannot postpone justice for one group just because we cannot derive perfection for everyone else. This is a very important moment for this House, because we must act responsibly in discharging our duties as legislators. We cannot add an additional provision to a Bill which is not made for its carriage; we have to find a different vehicle. The amendment may be an important one, but not for this Bill and not for this day.