Monday 17 January 2011

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:45 am on 17th January 2011.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Myners Lord Myners Labour 4:45 am, 17th January 2011

My Lords, I speak as someone who did not have experience in the other place. I have been struck throughout this debate by the number of contributors who sat in the other place and the informed experience that they were able to share with this House in talking about this issue. They have also demonstrated the great skills of those who have worked in the other House-their ability to bring persuasive arguments together in a concise, efficient and articulate manner. However, I did not sit in the other place; I joined your Lordships' House in October 2008, at the peak of the banking crisis.

I would like to follow up something that was said by my noble friend Lord Rooker. He mentioned the somewhat intemperate interview that the Leader of the House gave to Sky Television. I was rather impressed by the Leader of the House when I arrived in this House; he was then the Leader of the Opposition. He was rather posh-the sort of person I expected to find in the Lords. He was courteous, considerate and knowledgeable of the etiquette and protocols of the House. I fear that some of those qualities left him during the early stages of today's debate. I was struck at one point, for instance, when he said he had heard "nothing new" from Members in their contributions to the debate.

I have sat on the Front Bench occasionally, taking forward rather tedious but complex legislation, and the temptation to turn and natter to your colleagues alongside you or behind you is high. However, I always tried to resist this temptation, because to do so would have been a discourtesy to the House. Yet that was precisely what the Leader of the House was doing, so when he said "I've heard no new arguments", it was probably because he was not listening to the arguments that were coming from the House. That strikes me as a great act of discourtesy to the House from the Leader. I hope that if he is of intemperate mood at the moment-and the Sky interview might suggest that-we can look upon this as a short aberration, and the great respect I had for this man because of his poshness will return in due course.