Trade Bill - Committee (1st Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:30 pm on 21st January 2019.

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Photo of Lord Strathclyde Lord Strathclyde Conservative 3:30 pm, 21st January 2019

My Lords, am I alone in finding this a most extraordinary debate? It is deeply disappointing given the eminence from which it comes. The noble Baroness, as Leader of the Opposition, is a leading light of the usual channels. She could have raised any of these issues—perhaps she did—during the course of discussion through the usual channels.

The great principle which underlies the work we do on legislation in this House is that we believe and understand that the Queen’s business should be carried. That means we scrutinise and revise legislation. The amendment—the Motion—says that there should be a full stop. We will do all the work in Committee, we have agreed the business on Second Reading but after Committee, a full stop. There is a theme here: a couple of weeks ago, we had the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, saying that we should all go on holiday. Now, the noble Baroness is asking us to stop work after Committee.

There is another practical aspect to this. For many years, I was a member of the usual channels. We did not always get it right, but we worked in the interests of the whole House—every aspect of us—to try to find the right time and the right stages to do various bits of business. This Motion drives a coach and horses through all that. For the noble Lord, who was formerly my noble friend, to pray in aid the kind of behaviour that we have seen in the House of Commons and saying that what they are doing there, we should do here, is completely ridiculous and absurd. The noble Lord said that we should take over the running of all this. In this House, the Government have no majority. It proceeds only because we have the agreement of the whole House. We trust and ask the usual channels to do this.

Perhaps the second most disappointing thing which the noble Baroness said is that she will ask the opinion of the House and have a Division. If the business of the House will always be decided by a Division, then God help us. I really hope that she will consider, however important the great issues are, that they can be dealt with in the Bill by amendment in the usual way; they should not be decided like this.