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Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I thank the Minister for her response. Of course, I accept the difficulties inherent in the amendment as put forward. The noble Baroness has indicated her understanding of our desire to get on record our concerns about the election of the mayor, as well as the assembly with which we dealt last time. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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In the Schedule:

Baroness Hamwee moved Amendment No. 12:

Page 6, leave out lines 3 to 7 and insert--
("The Government propose the establishment of a Greater London Authority made up of an elected assembly and a separately elected mayor, both to be elected by Londoners.
Question 1: Are you in favour of an elected assembly?
Put a cross (X) in one box:

Question 2: Are you in favour of an elected mayor?
Put a cross (X) in one box:
NO ")

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I spoke to this amendment when moving Amendment No. 1. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Human Rights Bill [H.L.]

6.50 p.m.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be now further considered on Report.

Moved, That the Bill be further considered on Report.--(The Lord Chancellor.)

Lord Simon of Glaisdale: My Lords, I am very sorry to interrupt my noble and learned friend while he is on his feet. However, I wish to draw attention to the time at which we are starting to debate again this important measure. It is ten minutes to seven o'clock in the evening. We had a full day of deliberations on the first day of the Report stage and the proceedings went on until midnight. At that time we covered 31 amendments. Even allowing for those amendments which are marked on the groupings list as having been previously debated, which is not entirely accurate, there are certainly 33 more amendments to consider this evening.

It is quite inappropriate for us to start on such deliberations at this hour. No more important measure is likely to be before your Lordships' House this Session. At the beginning of the last Parliament we repeatedly sat very late hours. However, after repeated protests, the Rippon Committee, which studied the sitting hours of the House, reported on the matter. After that, the then government loyally abided by those recommendations. But we are now right back to pre-Rippon days in the conduct of this Bill; indeed, that committee might just as well not have reported. I endeavour to protest at our being asked to consider the Bill in this way.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): My Lords, one day was originally set down for consideration of the

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Bill on Report. It was anticipated that that would be quite sufficient. As it happens, a number of us present in the Chamber today remember that our discussions and deliberations on Report took rather a long time and, therefore, a second day was provided by agreement between the usual channels. We do not believe it to be unreasonable to get on with the Bill. Indeed, many of the issues, if not flogged to death, have at least been carefully examined on a number of previous occasions. As I said, we do not believe it to be unreasonable to get on with the proceedings at ten minutes to seven on a bright evening.

Lord Mackay of Drumadoon: My Lords, I support the sentiments behind the noble and learned Lord's submission. Undoubtedly constitutional Bills of this nature bring forward unexpected problems of considerable difficulty; indeed, we encountered that situation on the first day of the Report stage. Therefore, while I truly appreciate the Minister's wish to get on with the Bill, I hope that he will take to heart the observations that have been made.

I anticipate that many unexpected problems may arise, which will take much longer to debate than originally envisaged, during the course of our consideration of other Bills which come before your Lordships' House this Session. I am sure we all agree that it is thoroughly undesirable to be discussing at midnight constitutional reform of such importance, as was the case on the previous day of the Report stage.

Lord Ackner: My Lords, I believe that the Third Reading of the Bill is scheduled for 5th February. Moreover, on the same day, the Third Reading of the Greater London Authority (Referendum) Bill will also take place. On that occasion, could we not come before the latter Bill on the Order Paper so that we can get a clear start?

Lord Henley: My Lords, perhaps I may also intervene from these Benches. In response to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, my understanding--and this is subject to discussions between the usual channels--is that it is the intention next week that this Bill will be dealt with before the Greater London Authority (Referendum) Bill, which preceded us today.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill: My Lords, obviously we could spend a great deal of time discussing how much time we should spend on the legislation and complaining about the lateness of the hour. However, that would not be profitable. I understand the Government's problems in handling their business and, indeed, I have sympathy with them in that respect.

It is because the Report stage took so long last time that we are here again this evening. It was because the House was so thinly attended on the last occasion--as, indeed, is the case this evening--that I did not move an important amendment on proceedings, but indicated that I would do so on Third Reading. It is for the same reason that I have given advance notice that I shall not

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be moving an important amendment tonight about the human rights commissioner but, again, will do so on Third Reading.

I realise that Third Reading is not normally the occasion to do so, but it seemed to me to be the best way of reconciling the need to get business through with the need for a full debate on important issues. I believe that to be a satisfactory outcome, even though I realise that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, will continue to be unhappy about the situation for quite understandable reasons.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I shall respond as briefly as I can. I take the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Lester; namely, that the longer we spend discussing the timetable the longer the time taken will in fact be. I take the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Henley, and also that made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner. Such matters will be discussed by the usual channels. If we were by some happy chance to go before the London matter next Thursday 5th February--my birthday--then I would be able to bear it with some fortitude.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Clause 7 [Proceedings]:

[Amendment No. 32 not moved.]

Clause 8 [Judicial remedies]:

Lord Ackner moved Amendment No. 33:

Page 5, line 11, at end insert ("to give full and effective protection to Convention rights").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, in the immortal words of my old friend the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, who I am sorry to see is not in his place in the Chamber, I can deal with my amendment very shortly. I do not do so because of the way that it has been referred to in the groupings list today, because it is quite wrongly described as already having been debated. I had a discussion with the usual channels about the matter well before lunch and persuaded them that it was wrong. I have confirmed with the noble Lord, Lord Williams, that my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor has been informed that this amendment will be moved; indeed, it had not been moved previously.

Your Lordships will recall earlier attempts to amend Clause 1 so as to make specific reference to Article 13 of the convention which reads:

    "Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in this Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before a national authority notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity".
Your Lordships will also recall that, when the matter was raised originally in Committee on 18th November, my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor said that the provision gives effect,

    "to Article 13 by establishing a scheme under which convention rights can be raised before our domestic courts. To that end, remedies are provided in Clause 8. If the concern is to ensure that the Bill provides an exhaustive code of remedies for those whose convention rights have been violated, we believe that Clause 8 already achieves that and that nothing further is needed".--[Official Report, 18/11/97; col. 475.]

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The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor then added, also at col. 475, that if Article 13 were mentioned,

    "The courts would be bound to ask themselves what was intended beyond the existing scheme of remedies set out in the Bill".
When the matter came before your Lordships on 19th January at Report stage my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor said,

    "Our objection is that the amendments add nothing to the scheme in the Bill. On the contrary, the only effect they could have is to disturb the carefully crafted structure of the Bill in some unforeseen way. I do not know what the courts would make of amendments which, on the face of it, contain nothing new. I therefore suggest that the amendments would either cause confusion or uncertainty".--[Official Report, 19/1/98; col. 1266.]
One thing which my amendment will not do is to cause confusion or uncertainty because in order to make assurance doubly sure it adds the words of the amendment to Clause 8 of the Bill. It therefore does no violence of any kind to the Bill as it stands. It makes it perfectly clear that all one is seeking to do is to ensure that the words,

    "to give full and effective protection to Convention rights"
get rid of any doubt as to the overall cover of the Bill.

I appreciate that my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor takes the view that this is unnecessary and that it is surplusage. I refer him to what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon, said when the matter was before your Lordships on Report on 19th January, in particular at cols. 1267 and 1268 of the Official Report; namely, that there are occasions when additions put in for the abundance of caution pay off. He referred to the Judicature Act of 1875 which was concerned with divergences between rules of equity and rules of common law, and how a clause in that measure managed to cope with an unexpected problem which arose. The noble and learned Lord on that occasion also quoted Cromwell:

    "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, [to consider that] you may be mistaken".
That is all this comes to. I seek my noble and learned friend's generosity in making sure, out of the abundance of caution, that the anxieties which have been expressed at the omission of any reference to Article 13 can be put happily to rest. That cannot cause any ambiguity or give rise to any difficulty or confusion. It is as short and as simple as that. I beg to move.

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