Third Reading

Part of Parliamentary Standards Bill – in the House of Lords at 10:31 pm on 20th July 2009.

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Photo of Baroness Oppenheim-Barnes Baroness Oppenheim-Barnes Conservative 10:31 pm, 20th July 2009

My Lords, with Third Reading we now have a Bill, hatched and dispatched in a great deal of hurry, which I believe is far better than when it started out, thanks to the work of noble Lords on both sides of the House—in particular, those who involved themselves in the complexities of the legal aspects of the Bill, which had to be faced and were faced. The noble Baroness has been of great benefit to those of us who have an interest in the Bill. Her patience has been extraordinary and she has been very relaxed and amenable about the Bill.

We have to face the fact that the Bill has been hatched and dispatched in a great hurry as we were facing, and still are facing, a crisis of confidence in the other place. They had it coming to them. I am sorry that they are depressed; I am sorry that they are having nervous breakdowns; but when I look back some 40 years to when I first went to that House, I remember we had votes every night at 10 o'clock and very much later and we had votes every morning in Standing Committees on Bills. Members of Parliament came from all the professions, from business, from industry and from trade unions and they were an adornment in that House.

What has happened subsequently has not happened overnight but over 20 or 30 years and outside interests are now frowned on. Members bring outside expertise to the House—they have more time to pursue those interests as the House does not sit anything like as long as previously—but in the Bill we still have the provision about outside interests. I am disappointed that we still have the silly provision in Clause 8(10)(b),

"indirect financial interest (such as a financial interest of a member of the family of the member concerned)".

Some families are very large and it seems to me that we are expecting a great deal of them. The noble Baroness, Lady Royall, has helped me to digest the indigestible by dealing with the compliance section in regard to this far more favourably. I am very grateful to her, as I am sure are all noble Lords.