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Lord Campbell of Alloway: I oppose that suggestion. With respect the noble Lord is being unfair and unrealistic. My noble friend the Minister never said that she would not debate this matter. She is fully prepared to give the Government's answers and debate this matter on or before Report. It is unrealistic to suggest that there will be no parliamentary opportunity for a full debate. It is unnecessary to adjourn these proceedings at this moment.
Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank: There is every reason for doing so. I do not want to pursue further the substance of the matter. Members on all sides appreciate the problem that the Minister has. On the other hand, the sense of frustration that noble Lords must feel at finding the Minister obliged to be agnostic on, if not all, virtually all the important issues in relation to the code of practice, is acknowledged.
The advantage of a short adjournment would be not merely, as the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, said, to find some way out of the dilemma, but perhaps to allow us all to cool a little and to see how we can continue with the Bill; otherwise I see little advantage in pursuing the Bill. Although it is entirely a matter for the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, were I in his position I should be loath to move any amendment to the Bill which refers to the code of practice, if at
Baroness Blatch: First, the amendments are to incorporate onto the face of the Bill parts of the code of practice. I have made the Government's position on that clear. Secondly, given that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, has used this mechanism to put these matters before the House, I have said that they are interesting points. I have said that they must be reflected upon. I have said that people who will have to work under the code of practice must be given an opportunity to consider the points. We must consider them ourselves. Consultation on the code of practice will continue in that way.
Not only that, I have given an absolute undertaking that any suggestion contained within the amendments will be considered, and I will respond in detail. If I write to any noble Lord, I shall ensure that copies of the correspondence are placed in the Library and will be available to all Members of this place. I have also said that I will take away Amendments Nos. 97, 99 and 100 which suggest a new procedure for dealing with the code of practice. I shall respond as soon as possible on that.
What I believe the noble Lord is suggesting is a wholly new procedure for considering codes of practice. That is not a matter for a half-hour adjournment. It is certainly not a matter to be considered across the Dispatch Box. It may be a matter--I look to the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, opposite--for the usual channels to consider, because I know it is not the first time that this matter has been a point of contention.
I am here to discuss the Committee stage of the Bill. I have responded to the aspects that apply to the Bill. I believe that the Committee should get on with considering the Bill. I hope that Members will follow me into the Lobby against the Motion that the House should adjourn to consider this matter.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Minister is briefed to speak on the Committee stage of the Bill as it has been presented by the Government. Parliament has the responsibility and the duty to put into the Bill whatever it thinks proper and to debate whatever it thinks proper on the Bill. What we are proposing are entirely reasonable amendments. We are perfectly willing to be told by the Minister, with her usual courtesy, that she is willing to take away some amendments and discuss them. What we are not willing to be told is that the Minister will not on principle answer the points made in these amendments and in debate. That is what is not acceptable.
It may be that the Minister is right in saying that a 30 minute adjournment is not suitable. It may be that after an adjournment the usual channels will decide that the proper thing to do is to recommit Part II of the Bill. I do not know what the outcome would be because I am not part of the usual channels. However, I do know that the House authorities have to think about this matter because we are being denied the opportunity to have a constructive debate. I beg to move that the House do now resume.
Resolved in the negative, and Motion disagreed to accordingly.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: It is my understanding that we have not yet disposed of Amendment No. 70. Before I withdraw that amendment, as it is my intention to do, I wish to make a few remarks about the procedure.
First, I made it clear in moving the Motion that the House be resumed that it is not my intention to damage or disrupt the work of the Committee but rather to secure that it is done more effectively. If that Motion had been agreed to, it was my intention to move that the House be adjourned for a period of about 30 minutes in order for the Leaders and the usual channels to consider the best way forward. That may have included a decision to re-commit Part II, with discussions to enable the Government to suggest to us how we could discuss effectively not just the code of practice but Part II as a whole because that is the shell of which the code of practice is the oyster.
I failed to achieve that. Under those circumstances, I have no alternative but to say that I shall not continue with a debate on Part II in which I make points, my noble friends and the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, make points and from time to time the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, makes helpful points, on which we receive no answer from the Government. I am not prepared to continue with that and I shall not move the remaining amendments to Part II which stand in my name.
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