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Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I apologise; it is three out of three. The noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas is the Presiding Officer of the Welsh Assembly. It is a huge reflection and credit to your Lordships that we have produced these men. I suppose that in two cases out of the three it actually gives the Liberal Democrats some responsibility. I have to say that in Scotland, judging by the fuss over the invitation list for tomorrow, they are not doing it very well. However, I cannot complain too much because I received an invitation. My noble and learned friend Lord Mackay of Drumadoon and I shall attend tomorrow to watch the opening of the Parliament.
I have no problem with those noble Lords being here as Members of this House. I do not suppose they will attend very much. However, it is right if they do attend, and wish to speak, that they may do so obviously on their own behalf or even if they wish to make a point relevant to the Parliament or Assembly they preside over. That is perfectly fair. It is a channel of communication between this United Kingdom Parliament and the devolved parliaments.
Lord Roberts of Conwy: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for giving way. Perhaps he would allow me to refer to the fact that some of those Members who are presiding officers may well have difficulties in attending both institutions. I have here a copy of the record of the Welsh Assembly from a debate on 22nd June. Having given up the chair to his deputy, the Presiding Officer participated in the debate. At page 36 he stated:
My noble friend Lord Ferrers has a valid point. He says that when these three gentlemen come here, they should do what they do in their own parliaments and assemblies; that is, to stand clear of party politics and sit, like the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, on the Cross Benches. Perhaps it is slightly out of date, but Dod's tells me that the noble Lord, Lord Steel of Aikwood, is the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats in your Lordships' House. I believe that has now changed and he has resigned from that position--
Lord Harris of Greenwich: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for giving way. That position has now changed. My noble friend Lady Williams was elected some little time ago. The noble Lord must catch up with developments.
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I do not wake up every morning wondering what has happened inside the Liberal Democrat Party. That would, perhaps, keep me awake all night. However, I am glad to hear the noble Lord's comments. I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Steel, is absolutely right. However, he should consider the next step, as should his noble friend, Lord Alderdice; that is, that when they come to this House they should sit on the Cross Benches. The noble Lord, Lord Steel, has made it quite clear that he is no longer actively part of the Liberal Democrat Party in Scotland. Clearly, he has slightly moved aside in your Lordships' House. I think that they should both go to the Cross Benches.
That said, that is as far as I can go with my noble friend Lord Ferrers. The matters of who should be elected to parliaments ought to be left to the good sense--perhaps in the case of one where they elect persons to different parliaments, the not so good sense--of the electorate.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, it may be helpful to your Lordships if I indicate the attitude that my noble friend the Leader of the House and my noble and learned friend Lord Falconer of Thoroton and I wish to adopt; that is, having looked carefully at the Companion, we intend to take its guidance that
It is true that the noble Lords, Lord Alderdice, Lord Elis-Thomas and Lord Steel, are a credit to the life Peers in this House, since all of them were elected for their presiding positions. It was a lower case "p" and a lower case "o" in the case of the National Assembly for Wales because we are notorious for being a good deal more modest and shy than Members of the Parliament and the Assembly in the other two jurisdictions.
When we passed the Bills into law, we did not say that a person should be able to stand only as an independent; we did not say that if the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, were elected in Cardiff he would be ineligible to hold certain offices. As to the question of where such Members should sit and how they should conduct themselves in this House, that is entirely a matter for their individual decision with regard to what is proper behaviour in this House.
I understand the noble Lord's arguments in relation to Amendment No. 47. I can see that it may be thought right that people should be able to leave your Lordships' House, go to the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly or the Northern Ireland Assembly and then come back here. But his answer in relation to the lower case "p" was, if I might say so, lower case "pathetic". He obviously had not realised that there was a distinction between Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the Government's Bill. It is obviously a "cracking" and insulting mistake. I have no doubt that the noble Lord will see that it is corrected at the next stage.
When we come to the business of the Speakers of those Assemblies, we come into a different game. Those people are there as impartial people. Why should a Speaker come to your Lordships' House and participate in all the matters relating to England which their Parliaments have not discussed when they were Speakers of those Parliaments? It is neither right nor fair that they should participate in this House from their party Benches.
It is true that the noble Lord, Lord Elis-Thomas, is a Cross-Bencher, but he was a Cross-Bencher to start with. It may be that the other two noble Lords will want to sit on the Cross Benches, but there is nothing to insist that they should do so. They may well sit on the Liberal Democrat Benches.
After Clause 3, insert the following new clause--