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Lord Whitty: My Lords, I assure the House that our legal advice confirms that the Commission followed exactly the right procedures. The cost benefit appraisal was completed by the Commission. By definition, that takes account of costs and benefits. Therefore, the provision complied with the directive's implementation. The legal basis of Article 130 and the directive was adopted subject to the co-operation procedure under Article 189 introduced by the Maastricht Treaty.

The points made by the noble Lord are far wide of the way in which the Commission and the council operate--I know he objects to it but he is well aware of it--and which has not been subject to any legal challenge in that respect. We are transposing the directive in this particular way. Other countries are doing likewise. To agree to the amendment would delay the adoption of the Bill. That would bring the whole procedure into legal danger. We should be subject to infraction proceedings. I know that does not cut a lot of ice with the noble Lord. Nevertheless, if we were to adopt the amendment, there would be a serious delay in our being able to transpose the directive.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord. Of course, some of us think that that would not matter at all. In fact, it would be thoroughly agreeable.

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I should be grateful if the Minister could extract from the Commission in Brussels a copy of the cost benefit analysis for this directive. Perhaps he could place it in the Library so that we may all look at it and see if it really does meet the normal meaning of the expression, "cost benefit analysis". I have certainly never known the Commission to do that. It would be gratifying if they were beginning to pay some attention to this aspect of the treaty which they have always so steadfastly ignored in the past.

Nevertheless, I am grateful for what the noble Lord said and I shall consider it. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 8 not moved.]

Schedule 1: [Particular purposes for which provision may be made under section 1.]

Lord Pearson of Rannoch moved Amendment No. 9.

Page 7, line 23, leave out paragraphs 17 and 18

The noble Lord said: My Lords, very briefly, Amendments Nos. 9 and 10 are almost probing amendments at this stage of the Bill. They strike out the creation of offences and regulations which provide for summary indictment, and so on, and set up a prison term not exceeding six months, and fines of £20,000. This aspect of the Bill was referred to by my noble friend Lord Renton on 19th April in Committee. He opined that it was completely unacceptable for regulations which we cannot amend to have this effect. It is on that account that I brought it back so as to hear what the Minister has to say about it.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the provision by regulation of new offences in this sense reflects earlier precedent in the Environment Act 1995 and the Water Industry Act 1991. We have adopted an affirmative procedure, as recommended by the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee. That committee saw it as an appropriate safeguard. I believe the House should similarly view these provisions. I hope the noble Lord will not proceed with his amendment.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, I certainly will not be pressing my amendment to a Division. We will consider whether what the Minister said is correct or whether in fact this is really taking regulations, even under the affirmative resolution procedure, too far. I imagine that we may well wish to return to the matter on Third Reading. However, in the meantime, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 10 not moved.]

In the Title:

Lord Whitty moved Amendment No. 11:

Line 1, leave out from ("for") to ("and") in line 2 and insert ("implementing Council Directive 96/61/EC and for otherwise preventing and controlling pollution;")

On Question, amendment agreed to.

13 May 1999 : Column 1393

House of Lords Bill

9.25 p.m.

House again in Committee.

[Amendments Nos. 76 and 77 not moved.]

Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare moved Amendment No. 78:

After Clause 2, insert the following new clause--


(" .--(1) No-one shall be a member of the House of Lords by virtue of a life peerage conferred under the Life Peerages Act 1958, other than--
(a) 338 holders of peerages conferred under that Act who are elected in accordance with subsection (2) or at a by-election in accordance with subsection (7), and
(b) 16 holders of peerages conferred under that Act who have declared to the Clerk of the Parliaments that they are ready to serve as Deputy Speakers of the House of Lords or in such other office as the House may require and who are elected in accordance with subsection (3) or at a by-election in accordance with subsection (7).
(2) The electors for the purposes of subsection (1)(a) shall be the holders of peerages conferred under the Life Peerages Act 1958.
(3) The electors for the purposes of subsection (1)(b) shall be the members of the House of Lords at the date on which the election is held.
(4) A person elected under this section shall continue to be entitled to receive a writ of summons to the House of Lords and to sit and vote in that House throughout his life; but if he does not fulfil the attendance criterion in subsection (5) his entitlement ceases and any writ of summons issued to him for that Parliament shall not have effect after that Session.
(5) The criterion is that in each Session the number of days on which he attended that House or a committee of that House is greater than 50 per cent of the total number of days on which the House sat.
(6) The Clerk of the Parliaments shall certify--
(a) the number of days of attendance of each member, and
(b) the total number of days on which the House sat,
referred to in subsection (5).
(7) On the death of a peer elected in accordance with this section or his failure to fulfil the attendance criterion in subsection (5) the Clerk of the Parliaments shall--
(a) publish that fact, together with an announcement of the date of a by-election to fill the vacancy, in the Minutes of Proceedings of the House of Lords and in a notice in the London Gazette,
(b) send to each holder of a peerage conferred under the Life Peerages Act 1958, or to each member of the House of Lords (as may be appropriate in accordance with subsections (2) and (3) above) a Form of Return listing the names of those peers who have previously signified their wish to be considered for election.
(8) A person to whom a Form of Return is sent is to return the Form, indicating on it the name of the person or persons he wishes to elect, to the Clerk of the Parliaments within 21 days of the date on which it is sent, and the Clerk of the Parliaments shall publish the name or names of the persons elected in the Minutes of Proceedings of the House of Lords and in a notice in the London Gazette.
(9) Standing Orders of the House of Lords may make further provision relating to the holding and conduct of elections and by-elections under this section.
(10) Any question whether a person is elected under this section shall be decided by the Clerk of the Parliaments.
(11) A certificate or decision of the Clerk of the Parliaments under this section shall be conclusive.")

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The noble Lord said: I bring this amendment before the Committee because, after seven years of sitting in this Chamber, I have, to put it mildly, been disappointed by the attendance of some Members who describe themselves as working Peers.

However, before I begin, perhaps I may express my slight puzzlement as to why Amendment No. 78 and Amendment No. 93D have been grouped together. Although I do not have a great deal of experience in parliamentary drafting, the amendments do not seem to have any connection with each other. When a Minister replies, I hope that he will be able to explain to me why these two amendments have been placed together.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I believe it is well known that groupings are offered; in other words, they are not mandatory. Indeed, any noble Lord who wishes to de-couple a grouping is at liberty to do so.

Lord Coleraine: I take my noble friend's point. Amendment No. 93D has been tabled in my name. We do not seem to have a full Committee at present, but it may be for my noble friend's convenience and indeed that of Members of the Committee if I say that I will let his argument go well forward before I think of starting the argument on my amendment.

Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare: I am grateful to my noble friend.

My amendment shadows the Weatherill amendment in its terms. It has been tabled because, as the Minister well knows, I have never been against the removing of hereditary Peers from this House; in fact, I have been an advocate of it for many years. I supported the noble Lord, Lord Richard, at every stage and made it clear that I did. However, at the same time, I have never been in favour of removing from the House hereditary Peers who do work while leaving in the Chamber working Peers who do not work. That, in good old House of Lords terms, strikes me as just unfair and simply wrong.

The Minister is a QC. In the law of this land, I have always thought that judges and QCs believed that, in the end, fairness was the basis of any argument placed in legislation, as well as obviously what is common sense. I cannot see an argument for removing people who have given 20 or 30 years' service, who appear regularly, who serve on committees and indeed who serve this country, and just throwing them out overnight while others who take a peerage, and never turn up at all, hold the title of Lord and serve this House in no way.

I should like to make it known that I see a clear distinction between a working Peer and the great and the good. In the Queen's Birthday Honours and in Her Majesty's New Year's Honours are placed men and women who have served this country with great distinction. I hope I may mention the example of Field Marshal Bramall, who is so obviously one of the great and the good. When we have a debate on defence he speaks on that subject and I am sure that all of us listen with rapt attention. Another example might be the noble Lord, Lord Porter, a Nobel prize winner. When there is a debate in this House on science or on education we all listen to the noble Lord speak with rapt attention.

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Those noble Lords have been made Peers of the realm for the service they have given their country. I find that most noble Lords who fall into that category attend the House to speak on the subject on which they are expert. I on the other hand received a letter from the former Prime Minister John Major inviting me to become a working Peer. I took this letter seriously and asked for an appointment with the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Robin Butler, now the noble Lord, Lord Butler. I asked Sir Robin for a definition of a working Peer. He told me that he felt one should serve the Prime Minister who had put one in the Lords for the period of time that he was Prime Minister. I asked what service meant. Sir Robin thought that it meant attendance for 75 per cent of the time and voting for 75 per cent of the time while we were in government. He thought that that was appropriate. I have a record of 75 per cent attendance, or well above that. My record of voting when the Conservative Party was in power was also well above 75 per cent. Since we have been in opposition there has been a different situation because, as all noble Lords know, we have not voted anywhere near as much as we used to.

I also feel that the working Peers do a real job. It is not some casual agreement one makes with the Prime Minister of the day. It is a job much like being a director of a great company. How many great companies who invite someone to be a director and find that that person turns up, say, twice a year would find it appropriate for that person to continue to be a director of that company? How many people out there doing a job, on hearing the expression "working Peer", would be surprised to find that some working Peers on both sides of the Chamber do not attend regularly? This is not a political point. I have never named anyone in this respect but the guilt, as I regard it, is pretty even. The point concerns how the Chamber works as a working body. If the Prime Minister of the day invites people to join the Chamber as working Peers and they accept and then make no attempt to be working Peers, I do not feel that they have honoured their agreement.

I note that the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, has entered the Chamber. I must inform him that I mentioned his name earlier in my speech and cited him as an example of the great and the good and not as a day-by-day working Peer like myself. I say this to the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, because I am very aware that I am neither great and certainly not good!

I ask the Minister to take this point seriously. I hope that when the noble Lord, Lord Wakeham, considers the duties of the Royal Commission he will consider that if we are to have the expression "working Peer" it should mean something and that it will allow the Prime Minister of the day, the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Liberal Party to make it clear to anyone who is offered a working peerage what that means.

Perhaps the days have passed when one can casually call in at the Prime Minister's office to be told that one is being offered a working peerage and reply, "Yes, of course, you can rely on me. I shall do my bit". Perhaps, sadly, the day has come when we need to spell out what

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that means and to define it now that the hereditary Peers, with the exception of 90 plus two, will no longer be with us. So although I accept that it is not practical to hope to divide the Committee and to win the amendment, this does give the House and me the opportunity to realise that, if we are to have a new interim body for two years and then a new body after that, which will presumably be in existence for a long time before reform is considered, we will not spend years kidding each other that "working Peer" means that one need not bother to turn up. I beg to move.

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