Amendment to the Motion (2J)

Part of Business of the House - Motion on Standing Orders – in the House of Lords at 12:00 am on 4th September 2019.

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Photo of Lord Mancroft Lord Mancroft Conservative 12:00 am, 4th September 2019

My Lords, my noble friend has made an important, useful and helpful point to the House, which needs addressing. When noble Lords introduce Motions or move amendments in your Lordships’ House, the normal course of events is that they explain their purpose—what wrong they are trying to right and what purposes and effects they will have. The noble Baroness, Lady Smith, in moving her Motion talked generally about its effect, and we understand that, but she did not mention this at all.

This is a significant change and it is not quite clear why it is necessary. This area of the Standing Orders—the arrangement of business—is quite an old one and the reason why it has not been changed is that it works very well. It is, as my noble friend said, a tradition, but that is probably not its most important point. Standing Orders are practicalities, there for the practical purposes and workings of the House so that we all know how business is arranged, how it is conducted and why it is set out. There is a helpful little book, which I am sure all your Lordships have read—the Companion to the Standing Orders—which explains why those things are and how they work.

If we are suddenly going to change Standing Orders, it is not unreasonable that the House should have it explained why this change is necessary, what effect it might have and what the advantages and disadvantages are. That has not yet been done. It is not unreasonable that that should be done now. The House should have it explained why this change is required, as it would be deeply inconvenient to have changes where none of us really understood what they were for or why they were needed without having them explained. We should be reasonably confident that they are for the better management of business in this House and not to the detriment of it.