Committee (and remaining stages)

Part of Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill – in the House of Lords at 2:15 am on 7th April 2010.

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Photo of Earl Ferrers Earl Ferrers Conservative 2:15 am, 7th April 2010

I agree with both the noble Lords who have just spoken that it is a terrible thing that all these important matters dealing with the constitution are being done in the course of a wash-up. It is not only the two noble Lords who have so complained but also the Select Committee on the Constitution. I remind noble Lords of what it said at paragraph 45:

"The House may take the view that the consequence of the Government tabling so many late amendments to the Bill is that the parliamentary consideration given in both Houses to the important aspects of constitutional reform which this Bill is likely to effect has been substantially curtailed".

It goes on:

"In any event, we consider it to be extraordinary that it could be contemplated that matters of such fundamental constitutional importance as, for example, placing the civil service on a statutory footing should be agreed in the 'wash-up' and be denied the full parliamentary deliberation which they deserve".

In paragraph 47, the report states:

"This is no way to undertake the task of constitutional reform".

Both noble Lords who have just spoken made that point, and many other noble Lords feel the same. Although we have done the best with the Bill that is in front of us, it is wrong to try to alter the constitution in such a hurried and undebated way.