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Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank: The noble Lord's remarks are the perfect preface to what I am about to say. I am very glad that I carry him with me. The other day I had the opportunity of hearing someone who had been for many years the property manager of a major university, during which time he placed many contracts with architects and other professions. I have no idea of his profession, though it is highly probable that he is a chartered surveyor. But not for one moment would I consider him an unsuitable person to be a member of the board. He would be there not as a chartered surveyor but as someone who has experience as a client, and he would be there in an individual capacity.
As so often, the noble Lord, Lord Howie, was outspoken where I was conciliatory; passionate where I was emollient; and quoted R.H. Tawney where, as always, I seek to represent the moderate centre in such matters. But what he said about self-governing professions is very important indeed. It would apply not only to architects but to others as well.
In his closing remarks, the Minister made a very important and reassuring remark. He said that appointees should be independent and not representative. That is the heart of the matter. When men and women from other professions sit on the board, even if in one or two instances those professions may be competitive, if they are truly independent and do not seek to represent their professions, I do not feel that there could be any complaint.
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Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, before we start the next business, perhaps I may make a brief statement following a Statement made in another place earlier today. It may be for the convenience of your Lordships if I explain briefly the arrangements that are being made for consideration of a Bill to provide additional powers to the police for the prevention of terrorism.
Copies of a draft Bill are now available in the Printed Paper Office. The Bill itself will be published tomorrow and it is expected that it will pass through all its stages in another place tomorrow. It is intended that your Lordships will be invited to take all stages of the Bill on Wednesday before the business already on the Order Paper for Wednesday. My noble friend the Leader of the House has tabled a Business of the House Motion to that effect.
The purpose of this very brief statement is to give noble Lords as much advance notice of the likely effects of the Statement made in another place earlier today on the business in your Lordships' House.
Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank: My Lords, I thought that the statement by the Government Chief Whip would be responded to by Her Majesty's Opposition. There is a very important point to make about the statement.
I speak on behalf of these Benches in so far as this is a matter that I anticipate will be dealt with by Home Office Ministers. We are disturbed about bringing forward this legislation in the closing days of this parliamentary period. When the Bill comes before the House, we shall want to explore the point at which the Government found it necessary to bring it forward.
The Government will recall that when the original legislation on terrorism was brought before the House 20 years ago, it was immediately after the Birmingham bombings. Your Lordships' House very readily agreed with the other place, in view of the acute urgency of the matter and the new situation that had just arisen, that it was right to take that Bill through all its stages in a single day. I am not aware, unless we can be presented with evidence for it, that there has been any event (I am glad to say) within recent days which would appear to justify passing a Bill through this House with great haste in the closing stages before the Recess.
As I understand it, the Bill inescapably involves some restrictions on the individual. And your Lordships' House and Parliament generally have been cautious about agreeing such matters without careful discussion. Indeed, in 1975, when the original legislation on the
That is a view which we expressed in this House when we debated the renewal order only a month or so ago. I do not understand why, when we had that debate, no hint was given to your Lordships' House that new legislation of this kind was being brought forward. If it was not urgent one month ago or there was no justification for setting the Bill before the House then, why do we have to have it in the closing days before the Easter Recess? It will be difficult for a number of noble Lords to be present and to give the Bill the treatment it deserves.
I say that without prejudice to the contents of the Bill, the necessity for it or the debate which we shall have on it. However, I should like an explanation because noble Lords have been taken by surprise by the announcement just made. We should like to know why we should consider the Bill on Wednesday and why it cannot be postponed until the House returns. That will depend on whether the House is told of a new emergency which we had not anticipated and of which we are not aware which justifies bringing the legislation forward.
Lord Graham of Edmonton: My Lords, the reason neither I nor a colleague rose to speak when the Government Chief Whip made the announcement was that I had been advised that my colleagues in another place, who are fully apprised of the importance of the issue, were satisfied that this business merited the exceptional course upon which the Commons decided.
The noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, is correct in saying that it is a surprise. I await, as he does, with a great deal of interest the cause for the urgency and the issues themselves. That is understandable. But it is within my memory in this House in the past 10 or 12 years that on perhaps two or three occasions the House agreed, in the specific atmosphere and on the specific subject of terrorism, to take new legislation. We are therefore conscious of the fact that if the Government feel it necessary and if my colleagues in another place had not been consulted far more fully than we have been as yet--I make no complaint about that--and are satisfied in relation to the need for the legislation, then we are in the hands of the Government.
If the Government wish to deal with the matter in all stages in the other place tomorrow and if the House has already determined to rise on Wednesday, then the two options are quite clear. First, we could do as the Government suggest and deal with all stages on Wednesday; or, secondly, we could find some other day. The other day may be Thursday, Friday, or it may be that we have to wait until after the Recess. I imagine that all those matters were considered by my colleagues.
We on these Benches recognise that it must be important for the Government to propose what they have. We trust that they are conscious of the niceties of procedure in both Houses and especially in this House.
Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, perhaps I may be permitted to reply briefly. I am grateful for the words of the Opposition Chief Whip and for those of the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Graham, that we all share in the interests of the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank. If we did not regard this matter as important, we would not bring it forward in the manner that we have.
A great deal of discussion and thought has taken place. There has been consultation with the police and, I understand, consultation between the Home Secretary and his opposite number in the shadow Cabinet. The conclusion is that the Bill is needed and needed now. The police want it as quickly as possible. I hope that the House agrees that if the enactment saves one life over the Easter break, then the speed of the Bill's passage will have been more than justified.
There will be time for debating some of the issues on Wednesday. I am sure that my noble friend Lady Blatch, who will be dealing with the Bill on behalf of the Government, will be able to reply more substantively to the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank.
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