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Mr. Garnier: I am afraid that I cannot echo the enthusiastic praise for the Bill expressed by the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey (Simon Hughes). I can, however, join in the general feeling of warmth shown towards the Minister, who has done his best in a difficult job. No doubt he had to comply with some pretty unattractive instructions, not least of which was ramming the Bill through Committee as quickly as possible with minimum inconvenience to the Government or anyone else, save for those who care about the courts, the office of Lord Chancellor and the creation of a judicial appointments commission.

I shall make my next point briefly because I gather from a Government Whip that the Labour party wants to get away early, having done its business. I am sorry that food takes a greater precedence over a debate on an important constitutional issue, but that is the Parliament we now have.

The judicial appointment commission is unnecessary, but it is the least harmful of the measures. The supreme court is an utterly unnecessary and hugely expensive way of so-called reforming the highest appeal court in our land. It is no more than an artificial way of resolving a dispute between the former Home Secretary and the former Lord Chancellor. It has produced a great deal of sadness and upset, and no identifiable benefit. I do not buy the line produced by the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey that it is necessary to have the highest court of appeal outside Parliament. No one who has thought about that for more than 30 seconds has ever thought that the Judicial Committee
1 Mar 2005 : Column 923
of the House of Lords was anything other than a court and that its judgments were anything other than legal judgments, rather than political speeches, but the majority have had their day and that is the end of that, at least until we know the result of the general election.

On the Bill's contents—this is allied to my remarks on the supreme court—the office of the Lord Chancellor, in every sense of the word as it has been understood for many years, has been destroyed. The description of the pubic office that will be wrapped with the words "Lord Chancellor" is unrecognisable to anyone who has any interest in the history of the office. Indeed, in another guise it is possible that the Government could be sued for passing off the post-Bill Lord Chancellor as the Lord Chancellor. He is nothing of the sort.

There is some importance attached to that position beyond the point about the new role of the Lord Chancellor. He has traditionally been the protector of the rule of law, protector of the judiciary against political interference, and upholder of the independence of the judiciary at the highest levels of government. Of course, that will go because he will not be anything other than a political Secretary of State, and good luck to him. He will not, however, have the authority, either as a politician and still less as the head of the judiciary, to speak for it on such issues. We will have to rely on the Attorney-General who, at the moment, is a Member of the other place.

I am sad to say that we no longer have lawyers on the Labour Benches who appeal to the Prime Minister and are up to doing the important job of the Law Officer in this House. I regret the fact that the hon. and learned Member for Dudley, North (Ross Cranston) is no longer the Solicitor-General. He was extremely good at it. He was not an aggressive "punch you in the face" politician. He made the grave mistake of thinking about what he wanted to say before he said it, which did not necessarily appeal to the Government.

At the moment we are blessed with the right hon. and   learned Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman) as our Solicitor-General. No doubt she will long be in that office, and, if not long in that office, long remembered for her tenure of that office. However, I cannot put much faith in the Attorney-General's ability to protect the judiciary and uphold the rule of law when he suggested in the House of Lords today that the so-called précis of his advice on the legality of the invasion of Iraq was not a précis of anything that he ever said or wrote. It is extremely worrying that that is the quality of person who currently holds that office—irrespective of the Attorney-General's other merits—and that that is the state of affairs in which we find ourselves. I am not sure that I want to trust the independence of the judiciary to that sort of muddle.

I have said quite enough about the content of the Bill, and I want briefly to comment on the process by which we have reached its Third Reading. You, Mr. Speaker, will not have been present during the Committee stage, but will no doubt have had reported to you the fact that one of your deputies spoke for about half an hour simply to read out a list of clauses, amendments and other procedural material that we had no opportunity to debate. I congratulated him on making his longest contribution to the House since he became a Deputy
1 Mar 2005 : Column 924
Speaker. It is utterly regrettable that the House should allow itself to debate without proper consideration a book that claims to be a Bill and is as long and as thick as it is.

Those points are reinforced by what happened yesterday in this place, when we had to discuss the Prevention of Terrorism Bill in undue haste and when, in my submission, the procedures of this place were roundly abused by the Executive and the majority of Members of Parliament were prepared to let it happen, as they have again today. I do not know, Mr. Speaker, whether there is anything that we can realistically do about this suborning of the proper processes of deliberation in this place.

I am surprised that a Government with a majority of 165 do not have the self-confidence to allow their ideas, policies and legislation to be discussed and tested. It seems to me that a majority of 165 should allow a Government to be generous in their accommodation of other people's arguments, because they always know that they will win—that the compliant majority will deliver—and ought occasionally to do the decent thing and listen to arguments that they find unattractive. [Interruption.] I am hearing sedentary remarks from across the Chamber to the effect that tummies are rumbling, so I shall stop now and allow those Members to go away, enjoy whatever dinner it is that they wish to go to, and think a little more about the possibility that if they are re-elected, either as individuals or collectively, they may be forced to consider whether they have properly fulfilled their functions as Members of Parliament in holding the Executive to account. My view is that they have not, but should, and my concern is that this Bill and these proceedings are evidence of a total thoughtlessness—indeed, reckless disregard—for the people of this country in terms of how this House produces legislation.

I wish the House of Lords every opportunity to think hard about the Bill and to restore some common sense and constitutional propriety to our parliamentary procedures.

Question put, That the Bill be now read the Third time:—

The House divided: Ayes 280, Noes 118.

Division No. 109
[7.23 pm


Adams, Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale & Darwen)
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Banks, Tony
Barron, rh Kevin
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bennett, Andrew
Benton, Joe (Bootle)
Berry, Roger
Betts, Clive
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Borrow, David
Bradley, rh Keith (Withington)
Bradley, Peter (The Wrekin)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, rh Nicholas (Newcastle E Wallsend)
Browne, Desmond
Bruce, Malcolm
Buck, Ms Karen
Byrne, Liam (B'ham Hodge H)
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies (NE Fife)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Caton, Martin
Cawsey, Ian (Brigg)
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, Dr. Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann (Cynon V)
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cooper, Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Corston, rh Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cranston, Ross
Cummings, John
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Curtis-Thomas, Mrs Claire
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
David, Wayne
Davies, Geraint (Croydon C)
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, rh John
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobson, rh Frank
Donohoe, Brian H.
Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Drew, David (Stroud)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff (Barnsley E)
Farrelly, Paul
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Fitzsimons, Mrs Lorna
Flynn, Paul (Newport W)
Follett, Barbara
Foster, rh Derek
Foster, Don (Bath)
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foulkes, rh George
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Gapes, Mike (Ilford S)
Gardiner, Barry
George, Andrew (St. Ives)
George, rh Bruce (Walsall S)
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gill, Parmjit Singh
Gilroy, Linda
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hanson, David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Harvey, Nick
Heath, David
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, rh Keith (Streatham)
Hinchliffe, David
Holmes, Paul
Hood, Jimmy (Clydesdale)
Hoon, rh Geoffrey
Hope, Phil (Corby)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, George (Knowsley N & Sefton E)
Hughes, rh Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hutton, rh John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Eric
Ingram, rh Adam
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead & Highgate)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, rh Alan (Hull W)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jones, Lynne (Selly Oak)
Jones, Nigel (Cheltenham)
Joyce, Eric (Falkirk W)
Keeble, Ms Sally
Kennedy, rh Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S.
Kilfoyle, Peter
King, Andy (Rugby)
Kirkwood, Sir Archy
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lamb, Norman
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Lepper, David
Leslie, Christopher
Levitt, Tom (High Peak)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Liddell, rh Mrs Helen
Lloyd, Tony (Manchester C)
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham)
Luke, Iain (Dundee E)
Lyons, John (Strathkelvin)
McAvoy, rh Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDonald, Calum
McDonnell, John
MacDougall, John
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
Mactaggart, Fiona
McWilliam, John
Mallaber, Judy
Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Marshall, David (Glasgow Shettleston)
Martlew, Eric
Meacher, rh Michael
Meale, Alan (Mansfield)
Michael, rh Alun
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moore, Michael
Moran, Margaret
Morgan, Julie
Morley, Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mudie, George
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, Jim (Eastwood)
Olner, Bill
Öpik, Lembit
Organ, Diana
Owen, Albert
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Perham, Linda
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Prescott, rh John
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purchase, Ken
Quinn, Lawrie
Rapson, Syd (Portsmouth N)
Raynsford, rh Nick
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Coventry NW)
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Roy, Frank (Motherwell)
Ruane, Chris
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Russell, Ms Christine (City of Chester)
Ryan, Joan (Enfield N)
Sanders, Adrian
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Sheridan, Jim
Simpson, Alan (Nottingham S)
Singh, Marsha
Skinner, Dennis
Smith, rh Chris (Islington S & Finsbury)
Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, John (Glamorgan)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns & Kincardine)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Helen
Steinberg, Gerry
Stewart, David (Inverness E & Lochaber)
Stewart, Ian (Eccles)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Sutcliffe, Gerry
Tami, Mark (Alyn)
Taylor, rh Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, Dr. Richard (Wyre F)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thurso, John
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark (S Derbyshire)
Touhig, Don (Islwyn)
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Tynan, Bill (Hamilton S)
Vaz, Keith (Leicester E)
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Wareing, Robert N.
Watson, Tom
Watts, David
Webb, Steve (Northavon)
Weir, Michael
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Williams, rh Alan (Swansea W)
Williams, Betty (Conwy)
Willis, Phil
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Wood, Mike (Batley)
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Iain (Hartlepool)
Wyatt, Derek

Tellers for the Ayes:

Gillian Merron and
Paul Clark


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Amess, David
Arbuthnot, rh James
Atkinson, David (Bour'mth E)
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Baron, John (Billericay)
Beggs, Roy (E Antrim)
Bellingham, Henry
Bercow, John
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Bottomley, rh Virginia (SW Surrey)
Brazier, Julian
Burns, Simon
Burnside, David
Butterfill, Sir John
Cameron, David
Campbell, Gregory (E Lond'y)
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)
Chope, Christopher
Clappison, James
Clarke, rh Kenneth (Rushcliffe)
Clifton-Brown, Geoffrey
Collins, Tim
Conway, Derek
Davies, Quentin (Grantham & Stamford)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Donaldson, Jeffrey M.
Duncan, Peter (Galloway)
Duncan Smith, rh Iain
Field, Mark (Cities of London & Westminster)
Flight, Howard
Forth, rh Eric
Francois, Mark
Garnier, Edward
Gibb, Nick (Bognor Regis)
Gillan, Mrs Cheryl
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James (N Wilts)
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Grieve, Dominic
Hammond, Philip
Hayes, John (S Holland)
Hendry, Charles
Hoban, Mark (Fareham)
Howarth, Gerald (Aldershot)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, rh Michael
Key, Robert (Salisbury)
Kirkbride, Miss Julie
Knight, rh Greg (E Yorkshire)
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lansley, Andrew
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, rh Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell-Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Llwyd, Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter (M-Worcs)
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Malins, Humfrey
Maude, rh Francis
Mercer, Patrick
Mitchell, Andrew (Sutton Coldfield)
Moss, Malcolm
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Norman, Archie
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paice, James
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Price, Adam (E Carmarthen & Dinefwr)
Randall, John
Redwood, rh John
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Angus (Moray)
Robertson, Hugh (Faversham & M-Kent)
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Robinson, Mrs Iris (Strangford)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Ruffley, David
Salmond, Alex
Shepherd, Richard
Simpson, Keith (M-Norfolk)
Smyth, Rev. Martin (Belfast S)
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spink, Bob (Castle Point)
Spring, Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Steen, Anthony
Swayne, Desmond
Swire, Hugo (E Devon)
Syms, Robert
Tapsell, Sir Peter
Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Sir Teddy
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Tredinnick, David
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Waterson, Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Whittingdale, John
Wiggin, Bill
Williams, Hywel (Caernarfon)
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Ann (Congleton)
Young, rh Sir George

Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Mark Prisk and
Andrew Selous

Question accordingly agreed to.

1 Mar 2005 : Column 927

Bill read the Third time, and passed, with amendments.

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