Housing and Planning Bill - Commons Reason

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:50 pm on 11th May 2016.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord True Lord True Conservative 3:50 pm, 11th May 2016

My Lords, I know that the House will want to proceed. However, I am very glad that, with the House of Commons having for the third time cited financial privilege, the noble Lord, Lord Kerslake, has not again pressed an amendment. To what purpose was the amendment pressed yesterday, with the minimal support it had from non-aligned Peers? Also, the noble Lord may be president of the LGA but I am leader of a local authority and he is not alone in wrestling with the difficult issues to which he alluded. He set a political testament of a sort before the House. This House, collectively, had to wrestle with this, as it does with every piece of legislation.

I rose to answer the diatribe from the noble Lord, Lord Beecham, who I respect very greatly. He mentioned my noble friend Lord Forsyth, who is not in his place. If there is one thing about my noble friend, it is that he certainly does need anybody to stand up and defend him. Were he here, he would have spoken for himself.

However, on the question of financial privilege, I make the following submission. I said in my remarks that this House is perfectly at liberty—and the noble Lord, Lord Kerslake, is perfectly within his rights—to propose an amendment in lieu. The question is not one of rights but of what is right in the circumstances. A wise House and any wise Member of it would measure the proportion and wisdom of the action taken. Sometimes, to exercise one’s rights is not the right thing to do. This great House, with the leadership that it looks to very often from the Cross-Benchers, whom we all esteem so much, expects that that point of balance is always recognised and understood. Sometimes we press things, sometimes very strongly. I remember cases when we did, on 90-day detention and things like that which affected really deep, fundamental liberties. Was this a case in point? I submit that it was not. I do not believe that the financial privilege asserted by the Commons now three times should have been challenged. I hope that all of us will reflect on that on future Bills.