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Earl Russell: My Lords, the noble Baroness would be unwise to forget that the Emperor Nero regarded all Christians as cranks.

Baroness Young: I do not think that Members of this House will consider the opinions of the Emperor Nero

19 Jan 1998 : Column 1348

tonight--except, of course, members of the Liberal Democrat Party. I think we should concentrate on more relevant issues and need not worry about the Emperor Nero, although I recognise that in addressing the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor I am effectively addressing Cardinal Wolsey. Perhaps we should call him Your Eminence instead!

The House should not be taken in by unreal examples which are intended to make the Churches and the arguments that I have put forward look ridiculous. Far from doing that, I believe it has been shown that those are ridiculous examples indeed.

If I may go on to take up the question of employment law, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said in effect: "Don't worry about all this. It's perfectly all right. Everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds and you are making a fuss about nothing". I understand that in Holland an employment law case is pending involving an institute for Bible study at which somebody wishes to be employed to teach who is very knowledgeable about the Bible and is perfectly capable of teaching everything in it from the beginning to the end but who does not happen to believe in anything in it. The organisation does not wish to employ that person and a case is now pending. The idea that all this is illusory is simply not true. Once this provision is on the statute book, unless there are these protections, cases will be brought, there will be litigation and the whole area will be expanded further.

I turn to what the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said in his winding-up speech. He first accused me of having a litany of complaints. I hope that he has understood my complaints; I have not forgotten them. If we had done something like that when we were in government we would never have heard the end of it. He is very lucky that he is replying to somebody as meek and mild as myself.

The fact is that he has already admitted that he did not consult the Churches; he actually told the House that he did not think it was necessary. After all, they are a bit like the privatised water companies; but perhaps those companies are more important in his scheme of things. In any event, he thought that it was not worth consulting the Churches. Now, of course, he has come to the House and it has suddenly dawned on him that perhaps there was a point, that the Churches--the Church of England, the Catholic Church, the Jewish Church, the Moslems and the Buddhists--actually had something to contribute and to be considered. I suppose that we should be flattered that he has changed his mind. He obviously believes, at last, that we have a point. We are now being considered in all of this, so I thank him for that. I am so pleased that he has grasped this point.

The fact is that he is asking us to take it for granted that everything will be all right. But what he is in effect saying to the Churches is, "You are going to have to defend yourself if anybody does come along"; but there can be no guarantee. The Lord Chancellor cannot give a guarantee; the noble Lord, Lord Lester, who is briefing everybody, cannot give a guarantee; the noble Lord,

19 Jan 1998 : Column 1349

Lord Goodhart cannot give a guarantee that nobody is going to come to court and that nobody is going to raise these issues.

Who will be caught? The Churches are going to be put in the dock; they are going to be guilty until they prove themselves to be innocent. They are going to have to pay for the litigation. That is fine for the lawyers. They are going to do all right, Jack, thank you very much, whichever way it goes. It will be the Church and the poor congregations who support these people who will have to raise the money. Of course the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor looks pleased. The whole of the legal profession is going to do very well indeed out of this Bill. Perhaps I am rather envious. I have always thought I should have read law and I realise that it was a terrible mistake that I did not. The lawyers will do very well but the Churches will be put in the dock because, in effect, we do not know what is going to happen in the future. No one can give a guarantee that things will remain as they are.

We have had some wonderful discussions this evening. The Liberal Democrats quite properly raised the 1832 Reform Bill. No doubt we could go back through the 19th century to a great many issues. But those of us who have actually lived since 1950 do not have to go back to 1832 to see the different issues that have been raised which would have been unthinkable in 1950. The mere thought that one would even suggest a marriage between same sex couples would have been completely unthought of in 1950, and yet all these things are commonly discussed nowadays. We are legislating not for 1998 but into the 21st century. We have to make an effort of the imagination to see what it is going to be like in the years to come for our grandchildren, not just for ourselves. We have not had any real answers.

If the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor really thinks that there is nothing to worry about, why does he not accept the amendment? It would make no difference and it would give the assurance that we want. But he will not do that because he cannot be quite sure that there is nothing to worry about and he believes, therefore, that things must stay as they are.

We have had a long debate tonight and I am prepared to keep the House as long as I have to.

Noble Lords: Hear, hear!

Baroness Young: My Lords, there were plenty of people earlier this afternoon who spent a lot of time on their speeches, and one thing is for sure. I was not born yesterday and I can see what has been happening in the House. I make no apology therefore for speaking at length and keeping the House until 11 o'clock at night. I should very much like to divide the House because I believe that there are a great many people here who came particularly for that purpose.

Noble Lords: Hear, hear!

Baroness Young: My Lords, your Lordships wish me to divide the House, and I shall do so. I commend the amendment to your Lordships.

19 Jan 1998 : Column 1350

11 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 23) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 82; Not-Contents, 93.

Division No. 2


Alton of Liverpool, L.
Ashbourne, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L.
Belstead, L.
Berners, B.
Biddulph, L.
Blatch, B.
Brabazon of Tara, L.
Brentford, V.
Bridgeman, V.
Burnham, L.
Cadman, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Carnock, L.
Chesham, L.
Coleraine, L.
Courtown, E.
Craig of Radley, L.
Cranborne, V.
Crickhowell, L.
Cross, V.
Dean of Harptree, L.
Denham, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Donegall, M.
Elles, B.
Elton, L. [Teller.]
Fitt, L.
Fookes, B.
Greenway, L.
Halsbury, E.
Hankey, L.
Harmsworth, L.
Harris of Peckham, L.
Hemphill, L.
Henley, L.
Hooper, B.
Hylton, L.
Iddesleigh, E.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Kilbracken, L.
Kingsland, L.
Kinloss, Ly.
Knight of Collingtree, B.
Liverpool, E.
Lloyd of Berwick, L.
Longford, E.
Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Luke, L.
Lyell, L.
McColl of Dulwich, L.
Mackay of Drumadoon, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Molyneaux of Killead, L.
Monson, L.
Norfolk, D.
Northesk, E.
Oxfuird, V.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Perth, E.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Renton, L.
Robertson of Oakridge, L.
Rochester, L.
Rowallan, L.
Seccombe, B.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Stallard, L.
Stewartby, L.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Strange, B.
Strathclyde, L.
Thomas of Gwydir, L.
Ullswater, V.
Waterford, M.
Wilberforce, L.
Wilcox, B.
Young, B. [Teller.]


Ackner, L.
Acton, L.
Amos, B.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Blackstone, B.
Borrie, L.
Brassey of Apethorpe, L.
Burlison, L.
Carlisle, E.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.
Carter, L. [Teller.]
Chandos, V.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L.
Colville of Culross, V.
David, B.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Gallacher, L.
Gilbert, L.
Goodhart, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Gregson, L.
Grenfell, L.
Hamwee, B.
Hanworth, V.
Hardie, L.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Hooson, L.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Irvine of Lairg, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Islwyn, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
Kennet, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Lockwood, B.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller.]
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Molloy, L.
Monkswell, L.
Montague of Oxford, L.
Nicholson of Winterbourne, B.
Nicol, B.
Orme, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Prys-Davies, L.
Puttnam, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Rea, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Russell, E.
Sefton of Garston, L.
Sewel, L.
Shepherd, L.
Simon, V.
Simon of Highbury, L.
Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Tordoff, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Walker of Doncaster, L.
Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whitty, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L.
Winston, L.
Young of Old Scone, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

19 Jan 1998 : Column 1351

Lord Henley: My Lords, I wonder whether I may ask the Government, particularly in the presence of the Chief Whip, just exactly what their intentions are on timing this evening. It is already 11.10 p.m. and many of us feel that we have been at the Bill for some considerable hours. We are less than half way through the Marshalled List of amendments. We have a number of amendments of considerable importance coming up later on. For example, there is the amendment of my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway, Amendment No. 25, to which the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig of Radley, wishes to speak. Later on, my noble friend Lord Kingsland has amendments, as does my noble and learned friend Lord Mackay of Drumadoon. More importantly, there are amendments on the fast-track procedure which all noble Lords would like to discuss in good time, at the proper time. At 11.10 p.m., having had a debate that lasted some two and a quarter hours on a matter of great importance, it would be useful if the Chief Whip could give some indication as to when we can have some extra time so that we can debate the rest of the Bill in good time.

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