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Lord Peyton of Yeovil: My Lords, I am most grateful to my noble friend for his courtesy and for the genuine attempt he has made to understand our difficulties. I was deeply touched by the moving tribute paid to me by the noble Lord, Lord Morris of Castle Morris. To say that I had improved him was indeed

25 Mar 1996 : Column 1480

attributing to me almost miraculous powers. Persuaded, as I partially am, that I possess them, I shall certainly endeavour to pursue this high purpose in the future. I hope that the noble Lord will benefit from my efforts.

Our problem today is that there is a trebly blank cheque: payee, amount and date are left open. There will, I understand, be no new regulations called for. Therefore, there will be no opportunities under laid-down procedures for Parliament to scrutinise what has occurred.

My noble friend Lord Beloff, in one of those splendid interventions which are always so welcome, declared that we were all wasting our time because it will never happen. I am sure that my noble friend will agree that, if because a thing was unlikely to happen we did not take due precautions against the event, that would be to let governments loose in a way which I am sure that he would be the first to deplore. He said that it will never happen and that it has no "dignity of ancestry". What a splendid phrase! I am grateful to my noble friend for not inquiring into the dreadful possibilities of what that ancestry may be if it were revealed.

I made it quite clear to your Lordships the other day that I divided the House in anger and protest because the Government did not seem to understand the point at which the amendments were aimed. Today my noble friend has shown that he has moved quite a long way and that he understands the need for parliamentary scrutiny. I am not quite clear whether he understands that parliamentary scrutiny does not just involve being told; it also involves the opportunity to express an opinion. Therefore, I am still much concerned about the form that this special statement will take. An entry in the appropriation accounts does not have a deep or sufficient appeal to move me all that much.

What worries me very much is that Parliament will have less scrutiny when we have possibly new arrangements coming into being than it had when the old Student Loans Company had the handling of the matter. As I said to my noble friend, I have no desire to divide the House this afternoon. But I ask him, as a reward for my restraint, for an undertaking to take this matter away, look at it again and have sensible discussions with us as to the form that the arrangements which he has in mind might take. I hope that he will regard that as free from any aggressive intent.

Lord Henley: My Lords, with the leave of the House, and this being Report stage, I give an undertaking that the noble Lord and myself can have further discussions between now and next Monday.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil: My Lords, I welcome the opportunity of seeing my noble friend so soon. As regards free and meaningful discussions, I ask him to give a clear undertaking that they will have as a firm objective finding some acceptable form in which the special announcement can be made. We have had discussions before.

Lord Henley: My Lords, again with the leave of the House, I do not believe that my noble friend will expect me to set out my negotiating position in advance of

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those discussions. I made a promise to my noble friend and the House that we shall find some way of making a statement to the House after we have made the contracts. I gave some indication as to what information I believe could be available in that. I do not believe that I can go much further than that, other than to say that I am prepared to have discussions with my noble friend, should he so wish, between now and the next stage of the Bill.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil: My Lords, I am the first to sympathise with my noble friend for the shackles imposed on him from elsewhere which restrain him from doing what he would obviously accept is the right thing to do. In the circumstances I do not wish to divide the House because I have some burgeoning confidence--I may yet be proved an idiot--that in the course of the week we may be able to shift the Government into a more acceptable position. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Noble Lords: No!

The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, the Question is, That this amendment be agreed to. As many as are of that opinion will say "Content"?

Noble Lords: Content.

The Chairman of Committees: To the contrary, "Not-content"?

Noble Lords: Not-content.

The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, I believe that the "Not-contents" have it.

Noble Lords: Content.

3.45 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 1) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 95; Not-Contents, 119.

Division No. 1


Ackner, L.
Allen of Abbeydale, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Avebury, L.
Barnett, L.
Beloff, L.
Berkeley, L.
Blease, L.
Blyth, L.
Borrie, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Carter, L.
Castle of Blackburn, B.
Chalfont, L.
Charteris of Amisfield, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
David, B.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Diamond, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Elis-Thomas, L.
Ezra, L.
Falkender, B.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Gallacher, L.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Grey, E.
Hanworth, V.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Healey, L.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Ilchester, E.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Kilbracken, L.
Kirkwood, L.
Laing of Dunphail, L.
Lauderdale, E.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lovell-Davis, L.
McCarthy, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
McNair, L.
Mallalieu, B.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Mayhew, L.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Merrivale, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Molloy, L.
Monkswell, L.
Moore of Wolvercote, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L. [Teller.]
Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Nelson, E.
Nicol, B.
Oliver of Aylmerton, L.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Peston, L.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Rea, L.
Redesdale, L.
Richard, L.
Sainsbury, L.
Seear, B.
Serota, B.
Sharples, B.
Shaughnessy, L.
Shepherd, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Taverne, L.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Tope, L. [Teller.]
Tordoff, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
White, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.
Winston, L.


Aberdare, L.
Addison, V.
Ailesbury, M.
Alexander of Tunis, E.
Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Belhaven and Stenton, L.
Blaker, L.
Blatch, B.
Bledisloe, V.
Boardman, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Cadman, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Campbell of Croy, L.
Carnock, L.
Chelmsford, V.
Chesham, L. [Teller.]
Chorley, L.
Clanwilliam, E.
Cockfield, L.
Constantine of Stanmore, L.
Courtown, E.
Cranborne, V. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Crawshaw, L.
Cuckney, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L.
Cumberlege, B.
Davidson, V.
De Freyne, L.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Denham, L.
Derwent, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Elibank, L.
Ellenborough, L.
Elles, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Forbes, L.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L.
Gage, V.
Gainford, L.
Gerard, L.
Goschen, V.
Granard, E.
Gray of Contin, L.
Haig, E.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L.
Halsbury, E.
Hamilton of Dalzell, L.
Harding of Petherton, L.
Hayhoe, L.
Hayter, L.
Henley, L.
HolmPatrick, L.
Howe, E.
Hylton-Foster, B.
Inglewood, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Johnston of Rockport, L.
Kimball, L.
Kintore, E.
Kitchener, E.
Knollys, V.
Lane of Horsell, L.
Lindsay, E.
Long, V. [Teller.]
Lucas, L.
Lyell, L.
McConnell, L.
Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.
Mackay of Clashfern, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Mackay of Drumadoon, L.
Manton, L.
Mersey, V.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Milverton, L.
Mountevans, L.
Moyne, L.
Munster, E.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Noel-Buxton, L.
Norrie, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Oppenheim-Barnes, B.
Orkney, E.
Oxfuird, V.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Pender, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Rankeillour, L.
Rawlings, B.
Rees, L.
Renton, L.
Romney, E.
St. Davids, V.
Seccombe, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Skidelsky, L.
Stanley of Alderley, L.
Strange, B.
Strathclyde, L.
Sudeley, L.
Swinfen, L.
Tebbit, L.
Terrington, L.
Teviot, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Tollemache, L.
Trefgarne, L.
Trumpington, B.
Vivian, L.
Westbury, L.
Whitelaw, V.
Willoughby de Broke, L.
Wise, L.
Young, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

25 Mar 1996 : Column 1483

[Amendment No. 2 not moved.]

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