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Amendment 2

Part of Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill - Committee – in the House of Lords at 4:45 pm on 22nd July 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Scott of Needham Market Baroness Scott of Needham Market Liberal Democrat 4:45 pm, 22nd July 2019

My Lords, I am participating in this debate as one of the four Members of your Lordships’ House on the shadow sponsor body. I speak from that perspective, but I am not speaking for them. I hope that distinction is clear. I am certainly not commenting on the location, or desirability or otherwise, of the Holocaust memorial. I want to reflect on what this debate shows about the extent of the powers of the shadow sponsor body. As far as I can tell, there is no real master plan for the whole world heritage site. Decisions are made in a slightly piecemeal way, involving major players such as the city council and so on, but in so far as there is co-ordination between them, it has always been the authorities of both Houses of Parliament who do it. If under this amendment that locus was taken away from the parliamentary authorities and handed to the shadow sponsor board, I suggest your Lordships would need to reflect on that.

The role of the shadow sponsor body is, fundamentally, to do what Parliament instructs. Therefore, if Parliament wanted us to take on this role, we would obey. However, as a parliamentarian, I would be quite nervous about handing over an important contribution to the overall planning process to the shadow sponsor body, which has been set up for an entirely different purpose: delivering the restoration and renewal of the fabric of this building.

The noble Lord, Lord Cormack, is a thoughtful person who might take away that point and reflect on it, because it is entirely possible for the thrust of his arguments to be fulfilled, but perhaps not by the shadow sponsor body. In many ways, the amendment tabled and spoken to by the noble Baroness, Lady Stowell, is another example—it will not be the only one today—of an interesting relationship between the work of the sponsor body and that of the parliamentary authorities. For me, as both a member of that body and a parliamentarian, what is important is clarity. It is less about who exactly is doing what than being absolutely clear about who is doing it, so that, as decisions are made, we know how they have been made and by whom. The lines between some responsibilities are a little blurred, which makes it quite difficult for us.

We need to be careful not to use this Bill in a way that muddies those waters and makes it less clear where such responsibilities lie. At the end of the day, the shadow sponsor body and the sponsor body when it becomes substantive have their role to play, but the parliamentary authorities and Members of Parliament will also continue to have theirs.