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Lord Archer of Sandwell: I believe that we have had a valuable debate, nothwithstanding the approach of midnight. Unusually, I have the misfortune to differ from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon, who did not see why mediation was necessarily voluntary. I echo the views very respectfully of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor. Surely the answer is that the mediator has no power to make a mandatory order. He can seek only to bring parties to an agreement and he depends upon their participation in the process and upon their acceptance of what he recommends. I suspect that the noble and learned Lord is in a minority on that issue.

Having accepted that mediation should be a voluntary process, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said that he would be prepared to trust the judges. With the exception of those provisions in the Bill which--if I may use an expression which has been used more than once in the course of our debates--send a signal that pressure may be placed upon people to participate in mediation, I would share the views of the noble and learned Lord. I would only point out that some of the proposed amendments actually widen the discretion of the judge. I hope that when he considers these matters he takes that into account.

I am grateful for his offer to consider the various amendments which have been put forward, and perhaps even he will welcome an opportunity to do so after a night's sleep. I cannot speak for other noble Lords who have moved amendments but, speaking for myself, I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment No. 127.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 127A to 140 not moved.]

23 Jan 1996 : Column 1026

Clause 12 agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 141 and 142 not moved.]

Clause 13 [Adjournments]:

[Amendments Nos. 143 to 146 not moved.]

The Lord Chancellor moved Amendments Nos. 147 to 149:

Page 8, line 4, leave out ("made by the Lord Chancellor") and insert ("of court").
Page 8, line 3, at beginning insert ("If the court adjourns any proceedings connected with the breakdown of a marriage for either purpose").
Page 8, line 1, leave out subsection (3).

The noble and learned Lord said: My recollection is that these are drafting amendments which are reasonably self-evident in their application. I have left out subsection (3) as being unnecessary, and then put into the later lines enough to deal with the matter without the use of subsection (3). These are drafting amendments and with your Lordships' leave, in order to save time, I would move them en bloc.

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 150 to 153 not moved.]

Clause 13, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 14 [Financial arrangements]:

[Amendment No. 153A not moved.]

Clause 14 agreed to.

Baroness Trumpington: I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.

        House adjourned at two minutes before midnight.

23 Jan 1996 : Column CWH1

Official Report of the Committee on the

Reserve Forces Bill [H.L.]

Tuesday, 23rd January 1996.

The Committee met at half past three of the clock.

[The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Amptill) in the Chair.]

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Ampthill): Before I put the question that the Title be postponed, it may be helpful to remind your Lordships of the procedure for today's Committee. Except in one important respect our proceedings will be exactly as in a normal Committee of the Whole House. We shall go through the Bill clause by clause, noble Lords will speak standing, all noble Lords are free to attend, and participate, and the proceedings will be recorded in Hansard. But the House has agreed there shall be no Divisions in this Committee. Any issue on which agreement cannot be reached should be considered again at the Report stage when, if necessary, a Division may be called. Unless, therefore, an amendment is likely to be agreed to, it should be withdrawn.

I should also explain what will happen if there is a Division in the Chamber while we are sitting. This Committee will adjourn as soon as the Division bells are rung and will resume after 10 minutes.

Lord Williams of Elvel: Perhaps I can explain how the Opposition intend to conduct themselves today. Your Lordships will be aware that we have had many government amendments produced at a very late stage. It has therefore been agreed through the usual channels that this session of the Committee will be one which will hear government amendments.

As far as the Opposition are concerned, I shall be moving the first group on the grouping list, starting with Amendment No. 4, which the Government have agreed and therefore there will be no question of a Division. After that the Opposition will neither move any amendment nor speak to any other amendment moved by a noble Lord.

The object of the exercise, as agreed through the usual channels, is that we get through the government amendments this afternoon, that the Bill should be re-printed tonight and that the Leader of the House will make a business Statement tomorrow indicating that the Bill, revised by the Committee if the government amendments are accepted, is to be re-printed, and that there will be re-commitment of the reprinted Bill, which means that we shall meet again on Thursday with that re-printed Bill before us. That is the Opposition's view, agreed through the usual channels. I would only say one other thing. I am working on the assumption that there will be no more government amendments tabled in the meantime.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe): I shall respond

23 Jan 1996 : Column CWH2

briefly to the noble Lord, Lord Williams. He is absolutely correct. The Government have agreed that, in view of the circumstances, we shall seek to move all government amendments today and that the Bill will be re-committed on Thursday following re-printing.

On Question, Title postponed.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 [Membership of the reserve forces]:

[Amendments Nos. 1 and 2 not moved.]

Earl Howe moved Amendment No. 3:

Page 2, line 5, leave out from ("force") to end of line 6.

The noble Earl said: This amendment removes unnecessary words from Clause 2(3), because their effect is achieved by paragraph 1(2) of Schedule 8 to the Bill. Subsection (3) currently provides that men of the volunteer reserve forces will have been listed or re-engaged in those forces. The amendment removes the provision from Clause 2(3) that there will be some men of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force who will have transferred to that force by paragraph 7(2) of Schedule 8. Schedule 8 already makes this provision, so the reference in Clause 2(3) is unnecessary. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 3 [Control of numbers in the reserve forces]:

Lord Williams of Elvel moved Amendment No. 4:

Page 2, line 10, leave out subsection (1).

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 4 standing in my name and that of my noble friends Lady Turner of Camden and Lord Judd. It may be for the convenience of the Committee if I also speak to Amendments Nos. 5 to 7, 60 and 61. I should emphasise that the amendments following Amendment No. 4 which I have just mentioned are consequential on Amendment No. 4, and therefore if the Committee agrees to Amendment No. 4, provided I am alert enough on my feet to move Amendments Nos. 60 and 61 when they are called, those will be passed.

This amendment is really quite simple. It seeks to establish parliamentary control of the numbers in the reserve marine forces and put them on the same basis as the Army and Air Force. This amendment, as I understand it, has been agreed by the Government and therefore I hope very much that the Committee will agree to it. I beg to move.

Earl Howe: The Government had already considered whether we should have uniform provisions for controlling the maximum numbers of all the reserve forces. We were initially hesitant in removing a distinction which has been maintained for over 300 years but, having been encouraged by the tabling of this amendment, we gladly support it.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

23 Jan 1996 : Column CWH3

Lord Williams of Elvel moved Amendments Nos. 5 to 7:

Page 2, line 14, leave out ("land and air").
Page 2, line 15, leave out ("such a") and insert ("a reserve").
Page 2, line 17, leave out ("any of the reserve land and air forces") and insert ("a reserve force").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

[Amendment No. 8 not moved.]

Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 4 [Orders and regulations concerning the reserve forces]:

[Amendments Nos. 9 to 11 not moved.]

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause 5 [Organisation of the reserve forces]:

Earl Howe moved Amendment No. 12:

Page 2, line 41, after ("by") insert ("or in accordance with").

The noble Earl said: In speaking to this amendment, I will also speak to Amendment No.17. These amendments will avoid bureaucracy by allowing delegation of procedures to those more closely affected by them, leaving the Defence Council to regulate the over-arching framework within which those procedures are carried out. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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