My Lords, a constant theme in your Lordships’ House is that the other place has inadequate opportunity to scrutinise legislation thoroughly. When we say that, we always then go on to say that in your Lordships’ House things are different. In this case, they are not. It is nothing short of disgraceful that the other place has not had an opportunity to debate the fiscal framework. Twenty-nine of us put our views on that on the record when we had a Division a few weeks ago, but it was a vain gesture.
I speak as a Member of your Lordships’ House who feels proud of our reputation for scrutiny and our ability to look at Bills forensically and to get change by either passing more amendments or, more regularly, by getting the Government to recognise that points of substance have been made and that alterations of substance should follow. In this case, that has not been possible.
It is deeply regrettable that that is the case. I make no personal criticism of my noble friends on the Front Bench; they are men of great charm and ability. However, they have been working under orders and have not been able to respond to points of real weight and substance because the brief has not allowed them to do so. In so many ways, this is a one-off Bill. I trust, above all, that in the context of scrutiny it will remain a one-off Bill.