Amendment 1

Part of Census (Return Particulars and Removal of Penalties) Bill [HL] - Report – in the House of Lords at 3:45 pm on 18th June 2019.

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Photo of Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood Chair, Sub-Committee on Lords' Conduct 3:45 pm, 18th June 2019

My Lords, I came here this afternoon intending to support my noble and learned friend Lord Judge. However, something said by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern—who also had the sagacity to promote me—has given me a slight worry. I was going to support my noble and learned friend Lord Judge on the basis that clarity is all important, but I now wonder whether his amendments are sufficiently clear.

It is made plain you do not have to answer the question, but what if you answer it untruthfully? I confess that I have not sufficiently explored the overall legislative context in which this happens, but the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, says that it is made plain elsewhere that not only do you not have to answer a question but also, if it is one of those questions that you do not have to answer, whatever answer you give, however misleading or absurd, will not expose you to prosecution. However, the formulation in Amendment 1, and equally in Amendment 2, begs rather than answers the question: if you choose to answer, must it be a truthful answer? That itself could give rise to a difficulty which may not exist absent these amendments.