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My Lords, I had already arranged with my noble friend Lord True that I would speak to Amendment 2K. It is similar to Amendment 2J, which I moved on behalf my noble friend. It relates again to Standing Order 40. Paragraph 1 of the Motion tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, dispenses with Standing Order 40(3) to 40(9). This amendment would dispense with Standing Order 40(3) and 40(5) to 40(9) but would leave in place Standing Order 40(4), which says:
“On all sitting days except Thursdays, notices and orders relating to Public Bills, Measures, Affirmative Instruments and reports from Select Committees of the House shall have precedence over other notices and orders save the foregoing”.
As I said when I moved the previous amendment, we should play around with Standing Orders only when it is absolutely necessary. I do not think that we had a convincing explanation from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, as to why these parts of Standing Order 40 have been chosen to be dispensed with to speed up the Bill that has come from the other place.
Standing Order 40(4) says that,
“On all sitting days except Thursdays”,
these notices and orders are important. Of course, the Motion relates only to Thursday and Friday, which is not a normal sitting day. It is open to question why the preparers of this Motion have decided to eliminate Standing Order 40(4). We should override Standing Orders, which are there to help us to do business efficiently and properly on a regular basis, only when we completely understand why they are being removed. Amendment 2K is designed to ensure that Standing Order 40(4) remains intact despite the Motion proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Basildon. I beg to move.
My Lords, the answer on this amendment is the same as that on the last amendment. The Motion tabled by my noble friend Lady Smith of Basildon has been drafted to ensure that this House will have the maximum time to consider the Bill that has come from the other place if the Motion is passed and be able to complete the Bill before Prorogation. The need to avoid that problem is at the heart of all this. Those who are experienced in the procedures of the House know that there are ways in which time can be taken and things can be undermined so that the House will not have the time to consider the Bill. That is what this is all about.
I have to say to the noble Baroness that this is no different from the previous amendment. She has seen what the House thought of that. It was rejected overwhelmingly. In those circumstances I respectfully suggest that the noble Baroness have the courtesy to accept that that is what this House will do on this amendment—and indeed the subsequent amendments which are in exactly the same form—and withdraw it.
My Lords, I understand that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, wishes to curtail discussion on this Motion. However, I do not think that he has explained why we should dispense with Standing Order 40(4) and I wish to test the opinion of the House.
Ayes 64, Noes 242.
My Lords, I am pleased to say that we have concluded our usual channels conversations. Subject to confirmation by the Leader of the Opposition, we have agreed that consideration of the current Business of the House Motion will be adjourned and a new Motion tabled tomorrow to allow the Bill to complete all stages in this House by 5 pm on Friday
This agreement also has implications for noble Lords who have tabled amendments to the Motion today. I hope that they will support the agreement reached in the usual channels and not seek further to frustrate the process at either Second Reading or at the amending stages on Friday.
I thank the noble Lord in what is probably his first major outing as Chief Whip in your Lordships’ House. It has been quite a night. This has been a long debate and I am grateful to all noble Lords who have stayed the course and are still here. It shows how much this House values both the importance of the work we do and of the issue we are debating.
We can now confirm that we shall be able to complete all the stages of the Bill in your Lordships’ House in a time-honoured way by 5 pm on Friday. It was not an easy decision to table a Motion to ensure that we could continue our deliberations on the Bill and conclude them in good time. I understand the anxieties that were so eloquently stated by noble Lords who spoke in support of the amendments that this House has considered this evening. We recognise that such a Business Motion is a wholly exceptional response to the very unusual circumstances of the imminent Prorogation. We hope that it will not be treated as a precedent and that it will not have to be deployed again.
I thank all noble Lords for their patience. I had hoped to come back to your Lordships’ House earlier about the arrangements that were being made. Tomorrow morning, I shall be tabling a new Business Motion, which will confirm that we shall complete our consideration of the Bill by 5 pm on Friday
My Lords, I endorse the words of the Government Chief Whip and of the Leader of the Opposition. Passions run very high on this issue in your Lordships’ House, as they do across the country. It is not surprising that they have been high today. Carrying on through 24 or 48 hours, as we have been doing, in a sort of pathetic attempt to set a new Guinness world record for consecutive votes in your Lordships’ House, would not do anybody any favours.
These Benches felt it was key to ensure that this Bill, which we shall be receiving tomorrow, was able to finish its passage in your Lordships’ House before the weekend and that it would then get Royal Assent before Prorogation. With the assurances that we have had from the Minister, I feel confident that this will happen, so this is a positive outcome.
I cannot finish without thanking colleagues on my and other Benches who have supported us during a very long period. I am pleased that I will not be needing to use my duvet.
My Lords, I am grateful for what has been said. I had my toothbrush as well. I think that we were in a good place some hours ago. In this House, it is always wise to reach agreement. I believe that I speak for all my colleagues, who never had any intention to frustrate.
It is extraordinary that, when one is trying to round something off amicably, some people mutter in that way. The purpose of all the amendments—the noble Baroness on the Front Bench opposite was extraordinarily gracious on this point—was to guard against the guillotine, something that the noble Baroness said was not desirable in this House. As far as I am concerned, we will give an undertaking that we will abide by any usual channels agreement, as Back-Benchers in this House always do. Certainly, if another attempt is ever made to bring forward a guillotine Motion of this kind, it can expect the same sort of resistance, irrespective of the issue concerned.
I am grateful to those who have been tolerant and to those who have not been quite so tolerant. I am grateful to those who have been kindly and to those who have been less than kind. Everybody wishes the best for this great House and I think that a sensible deal has been reached. I thank all my colleagues who have stayed, supported, thought and voted. I hope that they will support 100%, as I do, the spirit and letter of the agreement. I thank all those involved.
My Lords, I omitted to say that I am very grateful to all noble Lords on all sides of the House for staying so long. For the avoidance of doubt, we are not taking the rest of the business tonight.
I beg to move that further debate on the Motion standing in my name be adjourned.