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Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I am glad that I am giving the noble Lord the opportunity to rest for a moment. I do not believe that there is an inconsistency. I do not believe that referendums have a part to play in our democracy. But if we have to have them, then the issues addressed by the commission are absolutely correct and ought to be addressed by the Government.
I echo the tributes paid to the two maiden speakers. It is rather presumptuous of me to add my mite or two, but both speakers were, as always, a pleasure to listen to. The noble Lord, Lord Steel, said that there had been a clear-cut and resounding indication in Scotland and Wales in favour of the Government's proposals. Yes, but we still think it prudent, appropriate and right to have the further consent of the public in both countries by this simple referendum.
The noble Lord, Lord Shore, asked about the pre-legislative referendum. This is perfectly simple as we see it. We say that it is right to offer the question to a mature electorate in as simple a form as this. It is exactly the form that the Lord Privy Seal put on an earlier occasion in your Lordships' House. How can it be wrong to ask an educated electorate directly, "Do you want us to proceed with our proposals for constitutional reform?" That is all the Bill empowers the Government to do--to ask that simple question. We trust the people to come to their own view--their own informed view--informed by a wide variety of opinion and by a wide variety of channels. That is the answer which I offer to the noble Lord, Lord Shore.
The noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, shocked me, as he shocked the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, with the admission that he had voted for public houses to open on Sundays in Wales. I am bound to say that, despite the suggestion from the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, to the contrary, I always voted to keep public houses closed in Wales on Sundays, mainly, I must say, to annoy my friends like the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford.
There were other questions with which I believe I have dealt, because, I repeat--this is not frivolous--the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, set out a fairly full spectrum by way of menu. On the questions about majority, we are not having a fancy franchise. We are looking for positive support. It is perfectly correct that in some cases some people wish to abstain as a positive act. Others want to turn up and vote. I think the argument put forward by my noble friend Lord Ewing is completely unanswerable.
The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, asked us to give particular scrutiny to Clause 1(1) and (3) and to the question in Part II of Schedule 1. He will know that I shall pay careful attention to what he has said. We have worked together in the past and I hope to improve in small ways legislation in this House. I cannot give him any guarantees except that I have listened carefully and will re-read carefully in the morning what he has said.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, he will not be embarrassed in the slightest way. The trouble with sotto voce comments is that I happen always to hear them. It was a very considerable and informed speech. It comes from a knowledge of government--not, after all, a Labour government--and it comes from a deep experience of Wales. It was extremely impressive to hear a contribution of that kind.
We have had, by and large, a good natured debate and we are on the edge of an extremely important constitutional change. Of that there is no doubt. Some will be passionately for it and some equally passionately against. I impugn no one's motives. There are many areas in politics and human activities where honourable people can honourably disagree. I commend the Bill to your Lordships.
The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, perhaps I may press the noble Lord on tax, because I did ask a question to which I do not believe I received an answer. The question in the schedule does not echo the promise set out in the manifesto in terms of having a limited and defined tax-raising power. Can the Minister reassure us that the only tax-raising power that the Government are thinking of relates to the standard rate of income tax and that it is confined to the threepence in the pound variation?
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, the varying ability in respect of tax, up or down, will be in the White Paper and I confirm the understanding of the noble Earl, Lord Lindsay, when he put the question to me.
(1) the Promoters of every Private Bill which originated in this House or was brought from the House of Lords in the last Parliament shall have leave to proceed with that Bill, if they think fit, in the present Session;
(3) there shall be deposited with every Bill so presented a declaration signed by the Agent for the Bill, stating that the Bill is the same, in every respect, as the Bill at the last stage of its proceedings in this House in the last Parliament;
(6) paragraph (2) of Standing Order 166 relating to Private Business (First reading) shall not apply to any Bill brought from the House of Lords in the present Session and to which this Order relates;
(7) when any Bill which was brought from the House of Lords in the last Parliament and to which this Order relates is brought from the House of Lords in the present Session, the Agent for the Bill shall deposit in the Private Bill Office a declaration, signed by him, stating that the Bill is the same, in every respect, as the Bill which was brought from the House of Lords in the last Parliament and, as soon as a
(i) unless the Examiner had reported pursuant to Standing Order 74 relating to Private Business (Examination of bills brought from the House of Lords, etc.), the Bill shall stand referred to the Examiners;
(iii) if the Bill had been reported by a Committee with Amendments in the last Parliament it shall be committed to the Chairman of Ways and Means who shall make only such Amendments to the Bill as had been made thereto by the Committee in the last Parliament, and shall report the Bill to the House forthwith, and the Bill shall be ordered to lie upon the Table;
(8) any Bill which under the provisions of this Order is deemed to have been read the first time, or the first and second time, or the first, second and third time, shall be recorded in the Journal of the House as having been so read;
(9) without prejudice to the provisions of paragraph (5) of this Order, only those Petitions against any Bill which stood referred to the Committee on the Bill and which had not been withdrawn or had been deposited pursuant to paragraph (b) of Standing Order 126 relating to Private Business (Reference to committee of petitions against bill) shall stand referred to the Committee on the same Bill in the present Session;
(10) in relation to any Bill to which this Order applies Standing Order 127 relating to Private Business (Right of audience before committees on opposed bills) shall have effect as if the words "under Standing Order 126 (Reference to committee of petitions against bill)" were omitted;
(11) where any Standing Order had been dispensed with in respect of any private Bill in the last Parliament, those Standing Orders shall be deemed to have been ordered to be dispensed with in respect of any such Bill presented or brought from the Lords in pursuance of this Order;
(12) any Standing Orders complied with in respect of any Bill originating in the House of Lords to which this Order relates shall be deemed to have been complied with in respect of such Bill if the same is brought from the House of Lords in the present Session, and any notices published or given and any deposits made in respect of such Bill in the last Parliament shall be held to have been published, given and made, respectively, for the Bill so brought from the House of Lords in the present Session;
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