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Baroness Carnegy of Lour: Before the noble Baroness decides what she is going to do with her amendment, perhaps I may ask the Minister whether she has had an opportunity to read yesterday's discussions in another place in Hansard. I expect that because she has been preparing for this Bill she has not done so. However, other noble Lords may have read those discussions. I beg the Minister to do so.

In the course of the debate yesterday (at col. 79 of the Commons Hansard) Mr. Tam Dalyell, the Member of Parliament for Linlithgow, made a long speech. It was carefully thought out and constructed. It demonstrated a number of political and practical problems that there are in relation to the Scottish Bill, many of which simply were not visible before the Bill was published. It is quite clear to anybody who reads that copy of Hansard that a pre-legislative referendum revealed little or nothing to the people of Scotland.

The Government should learn from that. They have made a great problem for themselves in relation to that Bill, and I am one of those who most regrets it because it will be extremely difficult to sort that out in Committee in another place and at later stages. Will the Minister convey that message to her colleagues, because a pre-legislative referendum is not quite the simple, clever idea which the Government seem to believe?

Baroness Hayman: I am sure that my colleagues will take note of the noble Baroness's remarks, although my impression was that the issues in relation to Scotland and Wales were well understood and debated as regards the pre-legislative referendums. I have not read Hansard because I have been preparing for this afternoon's debate. I believe that I heard something like the speech which the honourable Member made when I was in another place in 1978. The issues are not new.

Baroness Hamwee: First, I should make clear, as I made clear in introducing the amendment, that we are not seeking to slow down the process. I quite deliberately chose the period of 42 days because that reflected the Government's own timetable. It is important to recognise that the procedure should not be slowed down. That matter was made clear throughout this party's comments on the Bill.

My honourable friend the Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey and I, as he has said, want to go on talking and finding the right and best way to deal with this referendum. The Minister seems to be saying

13 Jan 1998 : Column 946

that it is not possible or practicable for a Bill which reflects the White Paper to be prepared and published at the same time as the White Paper. She did not actually say that, but that seemed to underlie her remarks.

I accept that a Bill can be changed. Had I wished to see a purely post-legislative referendum in the sense of an Act which would come into effect only if the referendum gave the answer yes, I should have proposed that. This amendment seeks to find a mechanism which will give as much confidence as possible not just to ordinary Londoners, who of course would not read however many pages of legislation, but to the many experts outside this House and another place who will contribute to this debate and who I suspect will respond very quickly when faced with a Bill.

The combination of the White Paper and the Bill would allow that level of informed debate--much more information than can be obtained in a summary to go through a letter-box--to take place. Perhaps I may put it this way, it would also mean that the Government would not be subject to the suggestion that parts of the White Paper had slid over the more difficult areas of the proposal. I see that the Minister wishes to respond. I give way.

Baroness Hayman: Perhaps I may just respond to those points. I share the noble Baroness's wish that we should have informed debate at all the appropriate levels. Indeed, I very much welcome the prospect of debate in this Chamber and in the other place on the proposals in the White Paper. Obviously that is a matter for the business managers in both places, but I believe that we should look at the precedent as regards the Referendums (Scotland and Wales) Bill. If we are to meet the timetable that we have set ourselves--and, indeed, we want to publish the White Paper as soon as possible--we must recognise that drafting a White Paper is quite complicated in terms of putting together all the responses to the consultation document. The parliamentary draftsmen simply cannot turn that information into a draft Bill contemporaneously with the publication of the White Paper. The weeks that that would take would inevitably delay the Bill. I accept, of course, that the noble Baroness does not wish to do so.

Baroness Hamwee: I am grateful for the Minister's comments. They have indeed helped take the matter a little further. If we can discuss between now and the next stage of the Bill how a debate informed by the White Paper may take place before the referendum, that would certainly enable some of us to review our comments on the process. I hope that the Minister will be able to lean on the business managers in that respect to enable such a debate to take place. On the basis that there is a possibility of such discussions taking place within the next few weeks, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Bowness moved Amendment No. 2:

Page 1, line 8, after ("prescribe,") insert ("but not less than eight weeks after publication of a Bill providing for the establishment of a Greater London Authority and the election of a mayor for Greater London,").

13 Jan 1998 : Column 947

The noble Lord said: I have already spoken to this amendment, but I wish to maintain it because I believe that there is a matter of principle involved. I am most grateful to the Minister for what she said in response this afternoon. I believe the noble Baroness understands our concerns. However, as I said, there is a point of principle at stake; namely, that we have already compromised by asking for a Bill. We have not asked for legislation to be enacted and subsequently approved by a referendum.

We accept that there is a timetable to be met. Indeed, I believe that we should make every effort to get the Bill published. As the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, said, there will be many people at all levels who will want to discuss the legislation, the detail of which will be very considerable. In fact, it is the detail which I believe may change people's views one way or the other on the proposal. It is perhaps not appropriate this afternoon to have a debate on that detail. However, in the light of the experience of previous county-wide government in London and the problems that arose with the division of power, if people were to see such problems being repeated they may well take a different view about the Government's proposal.

With the greatest respect, it is not the same thing to say that a White Paper enables discussion about that kind of detail to take place. It is on the principle that everyone at whatever level of discussion is well informed that I want to see a Bill published, even though that is not perfect. It would enable people to study the detail of the proposals. That is why I wish to move the amendment. I beg to move.

Baroness Hayman: I urge Members of the Committee to reject the amendment. We very much want proper and informed debate to take place. I raised this matter with the noble Lord, Lord Bowness, on a previous occasion. I believe that he is lecturing the Government about the proper amount of consultation and detail which should be available before changing London government. We did not have a great deal of debate about whether Londoners should see the Bill before they voted in a referendum for the abolition of the GLC.

Lord Bowness: The Minister raised that point on Second Reading. At that time, the Conservative Party fought an election and its commitment was to abolish the GLC. Indeed, we fought a general election on the issue. However, the Conservative Party did not then say that it would submit its proposals to a referendum and that it would seek the approval of the people of Greater London. The Conservative Party chose not to take that route whereas this Government have chosen to do so. Therefore, I believe that we are entitled to ask that people should have the detail of the proposals before they express their views.

Baroness Hayman: Indeed, this Government recently fought an election saying that they would bring forward a Bill to recreate strategic government in London and that that authority would comprise a directly-elected assembly with a directly-elected mayor.

13 Jan 1998 : Column 948

We also said that we would introduce a Bill and have a referendum on those proposals which would be put before the people of London. We are trying to keep to that precise commitment. The noble Lord's amendment would wreck that process. It would mean that we could not combine the poll for local government in London and the referendum, which has been accepted as the most efficient way to proceed. As I said, it is a wrecking amendment; it is not about having proper debate to which we are committed. I therefore urge Members of the Committee to reject the amendment.

3.46 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 2) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 128; Not-Contents, 122.

Division No. 1


Aberdare, L.
Addison, V.
Ailsa, M.
Aldington, L.
Alexander of Tunis, E.
Alport, L.
Ashbourne, L.
Astor of Hever, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L.
Beloff, L.
Belstead, L.
Berners, B.
Biffen, L.
Blatch, B.
Bowness, L.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Braine of Wheatley, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Bridges, L.
Bruntisfield, L.
Burnham, L. [Teller.]
Cadman, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Campbell of Croy, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Chalfont, L.
Charteris of Amisfield, L.
Chesham, L.
Clanwilliam, E.
Coleridge, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Craig of Radley, L.
Crickhowell, L.
Cumberlege, B.
Davidson, V.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Denbigh, E.
Denham, L.
Denman, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Downshire, M.
Elles, B.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Erne, E.
Feldman, L.
Ferrers, E.
Fookes, B.
Gage, V.
Gainford, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B.
Garel-Jones, L.
Gilmour of Craigmillar, L.
Gisborough, L.
Gormanston, V.
Gray of Contin, L.
Harmar-Nicholls, L.
Hayhoe, L.
Hayter, L.
Higgins, L.
Holderness, L.
HolmPatrick, L.
Home, E.
Hood, V.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Hunt of Wirral, L.
Hurd of Westwell, L.
Ironside, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Johnston of Rockport, L.
Jopling, L.
Kimball, L.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Knollys, V.
Lang of Monkton, L.
Layton, L.
Lyell, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
Macleod of Borve, B.
Marlesford, L.
Mersey, V.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Milverton, L.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Monson, L.
Montgomery of Alamein, V.
Mountevans, L.
Munster, E.
Naseby, L.
Nelson, E.
Newall, L.
Noel-Buxton, L.
Norrie, L.
Northesk, E.
Onslow of Woking, L.
Oxfuird, V.
Palmer, L.
Peel, E.
Perry of Southwark, B.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Rees, L.
Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, L.
Renton, L.
Renton of Mount Harry, L.
Renwick, L.
Richardson, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Romney, E.
Rotherwick, L.
Rowallan, L.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Sandford, L.
Seccombe, B.
Selkirk of Douglas, L.
Sharples, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Smith, L.
Stodart of Leaston, L.
Strange, B.
Strathcarron, L.
Strathclyde, L. [Teller.]
Sudeley, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Trefgarne, L.
Trumpington, B.
Vivian, L.
Westbury, L.
Wilcox, B.
Young, B.


Allen of Abbeydale, L.
Amos, B.
Ampthill, L.
Annan, L.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Blackstone, B.
Blease, L.
Borrie, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Burlison, L.
Callaghan of Cardiff, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.
Carnarvon, E.
Carter, L.
Castle of Blackburn, B.
Chandos, V.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Currie of Marylebone, L.
Dahrendorf, L.
David, B.
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dubs, L.
Eatwell, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Gallacher, L.
Glenamara, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Gregson, L.
Grenfell, L.
Halsbury, E.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Henderson of Brompton, L.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Hooson, L.
Howell, L.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hylton-Foster, B.
Ilchester, E.
Irvine of Lairg, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Islwyn, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jeger, B.
Jenkins of Putney, L.
Judd, L.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
Kilbracken, L.
Kintore, E.
Levy, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
McCarthy, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller.]
Mackie of Benshie, L.
Mallalieu, B.
Marsh, L.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Merrivale, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Mishcon, L.
Molloy, L.
Monkswell, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Nicol, B.
Orme, L.
Peston, L.
Phillips of Ellesmere, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Plant of Highfield, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Puttnam, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rea, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Renwick of Clifton, L.
Richard, L. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Sandwich, E.
Sefton of Garston, L.
Serota, B.
Sewel, L.
Shannon, E.
Shepherd, L.
Simon, V.
Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Simon of Highbury, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Taylor of Gryfe, L.
Tenby, V.
Thomas of Macclesfield, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Varley, L.
Wallace of Coslany, L.
Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Weatherill, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Wharton, B.
Whitty, L. [Teller.]
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Winston, L.
Young of Old Scone, B.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

13 Jan 1998 : Column 950

3.57 p.m.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): I point out to the Committee that if Amendment No. 3 is agreed to I cannot call Amendment No. 4.

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