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Moved, That in the event of the Consolidated Fund Bill being brought from the Commons, Standing Order 44 (No two stages of a Bill to be taken on one day) be dispensed with to enable the Bill to be taken through all its stages tomorrow.--(Viscount Cranborne.)
Viscount Cranborne: My Lords, my noble friend's intervention was not altogether unexpected. I am sure that he will need no reminder from me that the Companion to the Standing Orders sets out that it is the convention that proceedings on the Consolidated Fund are taken formally. I refer my noble friend to page 124. Guidance was considered and endorsed by the Procedure Committee as recently as March 1994.
I know that my noble friend and noble Lords in all parts of the House are anxious that the House should be given a full opportunity at reasonably regular intervals to debate economic matters. I fully share that desire. Under the new unified Budget arrangements, we will have an opportunity to debate the Finance Bill on Second Reading before 5th May next year. There was in opportunity to do so during debates on the Queen's Speech. That is in addition to opportunities that noble Lords have to raise these issues by means of Starred and Unstarred Questions and on Wednesday debates.
Lord Graham of Edmonton: My Lords, perhaps I may say from these Benches that we have the understanding which the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, has; namely, that if the letter of the law is to be applied to the Consolidated Fund Bill and thereby an opportunity to debate it is denied, that is on the clear understanding that the business managers will provide adequate opportunities to debate fully economic matters.
I assure the noble Lord, Lord Boyd-Carpenter, that the Leader of the House will not need to be reminded that that is very much in the minds of the business managers and will not be lost sight of from this side of the House.
Perhaps your Lordships will allow me to explain the Motion. As your Lordships will be aware, its purpose is to allow us to take the Committee and remaining stages of the European Communities (Finance) Bill on Tuesday, 10th January, following the Second Reading debate on the previous day.
That course has been agreed through the usual channels in recognition of the very strong interest in the Bill which has been expressed in various quarters of your Lordships' House and of the importance of the matters at issue. I believe that that importance has been underlined in the public press of late.
Your Lordships will be aware that it is most exceptional for a Money Bill to be considered in Committee in your Lordships' House. I hope that your Lordships will agree that it is not a course that we should usually follow in respect of Money Bills. But I felt that, in view of the public interest and the interest in your Lordships' House--I believe that that has been endorsed by the usual channels --it is worth making an exception in this case. I hope that your Lordships will agree with that course of action.
Moved, that Standing Order 44 (No two stages of a Bill to be taken on one day) be dispensed with to enable the Committee and remaining stages of the European Communities (Finance) Bill to be taken on Tuesday, 10th January 1995.--(Viscount Cranborne).
Lord Bruce of Donington: My Lords, will the noble Viscount confirm to the House that it is still Her Majesty's Government's intention to proceed further with this Bill at all in the light of the blackmailing activities of the Spanish Government, who have refused to agree to the enlargement of the membership of the Community unless we give way to Spain on the question of fishing rights in the Irish box and the Bristol Channel?
Lord Harris of Greenwich: My Lords, this is a Business Motion. We are not being invited to discuss the merits of the proposal. All I can say is that I agree entirely with what the noble Viscount the Leader of the House has suggested.
Lord Monkswell: My Lords, bearing in mind that this is a Business Motion, perhaps the noble Viscount will advise the House with regard to it. If amendments were made to the European Communities (Finance) Bill during the Committee stage, would it be possible for the House to delay consideration on Report and Third Reading to enable a period of reflection to take place?
I can quite understand that the business managers, and probably most of us, do not expect any amendments to be made in Committee. Therefore, the Motion before us would be perfectly sensible. But perhaps I may ask the Leader of the House whether a period of reflection would be possible if amendments were agreed by the House.
Lord Richard: My Lords, as I understand the Motion, it is purely a Business Motion in relation to the way in which the House wishes to handle this Bill. I do not propose to follow my noble friend Lord Bruce of Donington along the maritime ways down which he started to sail a few moments ago.
As I understand the position, what is being suggested in this Motion is very simple; namely, that Second Reading should take place on Monday and that all the remaining stages of the Bill should then take place on Tuesday, 10th January. If my noble friend Lord
Personally, I should not be in favour of doing anything other than that which is proposed in the Motion; namely, that the Bill be disposed of on 9th and 10th January of next year. Since I understand that that is what the noble Viscount the Lord Privy Seal proposes, on these Benches we support that.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, I thank my noble friend the Leader of the House for his explanation. Perhaps I may point out what may be a small difficulty, the way round which I am not sure has yet been found, which is that, were any amendments to be tabled for the Committee stage, they might not be available until the morning of the debate itself. If it were possible to have some system whereby draft amendments could be tabled in advance for the convenience of the House, perhaps all of your Lordships would be grateful.
Viscount Cranborne: My Lords, with the permission of your Lordships, the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, tempts me strangely to tread on the coat that he trailed but I shall take the advice of the noble Lord, Lord Richard, and eschew that option, if the noble Lord will forgive me. I am sure that we shall have an opportunity to have exchanges at other times on that subject, on which I disagree with him.
With regard to my noble friend Lord Pearson, I am sure that the learned Clerks will have heard what he said and that it would be open to my noble friend, or indeed other noble Lords, to proceed in the way in which he suggests.
I am particularly grateful to the noble Lords, Lord Harris and Lord Richard, for their support for the way in which we propose to proceed. I shall attempt to follow the advice of the noble Earl, Lord Russell, by reminding the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, that, so far as I understand it, when a Money Bill which has been certified by Madam Speaker as a Money Bill when it left the other place is presented in this House, it is automatic after a calendar month has elapsed, even if that Bill has not had the advantage of being debated in your Lordships' House, that it can move to Royal Assent without further reference to your Lordships' House. Therefore, the advice of the noble Lord, Lord Richard, is advice which I suggest strongly the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, should follow.