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Lord Howell: My Lords, I thank the noble Earl for allowing me to intervene. As I said a week ago, I have every affection for the noble Baroness, and if we have to have a substitute I cannot think of a more able one. My complaint is that departmental Ministers who are responsible for creating departmental thinking should be in this place answering for their departments when they are the subject of debate. That is all. I am in no way complaining about the noble Baroness who has provided an admirable exposition of government policy, even if I do not agree with it.

The Earl of Swinton: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord. That is the only part of his speech with which I disagree. I supported the rest of it. Unfortunately, since I have had my stroke I cannot write. I have tried to write some notes but I cannot read them. The noble Lord, Lord Addington, said that he regrets the necessity for the Bill. I, too, regret it. It has been 100 years before Rugby Union has done anything about this, and I am not prepared to wait another 100 years before it does something else, although I regret it.

My noble friend Lord Lyell seemed to be worried about the Bill's financial effects. He went into a long exposition on Clause 3 which provides the remedies,

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but there is no sign there of any money being asked for anyone. So he need not worry too much about that.

The noble Lord, Lord Ashley, is a Widnes fan. It is not as good a team as Featherstone, but it used not to be a bad side. He supported the Bill fully as did the noble Lord, Lord Dean. They, and the noble Lord, Lord Donoughue, made much of the Murdoch position. I happen to know that the debate is being broadcast on Sky TV on Friday. I know that because before the debate I had to give an interview at the Sky TV studios. I do not know what it is going to make out of this debate, because there has not been much support for Mr. Murdoch here. It will have a bit of fun trying to organise that. If in Committee any noble Lord were brave enough to table an amendment about Mr. Murdoch I should welcome it. I know that I am not clever enough to table an amendment and I shall leave it up to others.

My noble friend Lady Trumpington said that she did not wish to support one authority in a takeover battle for another. However, I believe that Rugby Union is making the rules as regards Rugby League and I must press on with the Bill. I shall not withdraw it and I commend it to the House.

On Question, Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

        House adjourned twenty-five minutes before ten o'clock.

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