Committee (and remaining stages)

Part of Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill – in the House of Lords at 12:30 am on 7th April 2010.

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Photo of Lord Tyler Lord Tyler Spokesperson for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Constitutional Affairs 12:30 am, 7th April 2010

As one who served with the noble Lords, Lord Armstrong and Lord Norton, on the Joint Committee on the draft Bill-which, it is perhaps appropriate to remind your Lordships, reported in July 2008; there has been a long period during which its conclusions could have been acted upon by the Government-I want particularly to say a word about Amendment 5, with which I have a great deal of sympathy. The Minister may recall that the Joint Committee exercised considerable concern on the issue of special advisers, and I think that that concern remains in many parts of your Lordships' House.

I am not sure whether the amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Norton, meets all of the Joint Committee's anxieties, but I ask the Minister to take very seriously the concerns that have been expressed this evening on the issue. It may not be that this amendment precisely meets all of those concerns, but somehow or other the way in which special advisers are appointed and their number-which has grown so dramatically in recent years, not least of course in No. 10-is a matter of considerable public as well as parliamentary concern. I hope that the Minister will address that point.