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The Earl of Dundee: My Lords, the Motion in the name of my noble friend the Duke of Montrose is confined to Clause 1 of the Bill. It does not seek to undermine the Bill, nor does it set out to undermine the Weatherill amendment within the Bill. If my noble friend's Motion were now to be referred to the Examiners, one of two different outcomes would result before Third Reading. First, if the Examiners ruled that Clause 1 was not hybrid, then no amendment would be required to Clause 1 as it is currently drafted. Secondly, if the Examiners ruled that Clause 1 was hybrid, then the Government could introduce at Third Reading an amendment to address and resolve the elements of hybridity.
Two other inferences follow from this consideration of how the process of referral would work. First, Clause 1 of the Bill can only benefit from now being referred to the Examiners. Before Third Reading the Examiners will either give the reassurance that Clause 1 is in order or else, by ruling otherwise, alert the Government to resolve the elements of hybridity at Third Reading. Secondly, the only way in which Clause 1 stands to suffer is if it were not now to be referred to the Examiners. The reason is very simple. If Clause 1 of the Bill becomes a section of an Act without referral to the Examiners, the allegation will continue that it was hybrid in the first place. Consequently, Clause 1 of the Bill will not command respect. If we wish it to do so, and if we wish to co-operate with the Bill and the Weatherill amendment within it, we should refer Clause 1 to the Examiners today.
It is much too late for this issue to be raised. We are not only at the 11th hour but at the 55th minute of the 11th hour--with Third Reading scheduled for next Tuesday--when, suddenly, along come the noble Duke and the noble Lord with an allegation that it is a hybrid Bill and that therefore proceedings should stop. The noble Lord, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, even said that insufficient time, consultation and discussion had been given to these issues. The issues have been throttled to death--not over the past five years but some would say over the past 18. The idea that somehow or other there is anything new to be said about the reforms of your Lordships' House, as proposed by the Government, strikes me as fanciful.
As I understand it, this is not a judicial proceeding. It is a decision that the House has to take as to whether the Bill is hybrid. If the House takes that view, then the Bill goes to the Examiners. At the beginning of the Bill this issue was raised; at various stages during the passage of the Bill this issue was raised. It has been debated by the House now on a number of occasions. With great respect to noble Lord, to turn up now and to give us a dissertation upon the position of the Earl Marshal and the Lord Great Chamberlain does not help the passage of this legislation.
I am not by nature a suspicious man. Indeed, I look for virtue in all the people I meet and with whom I discuss issues. Were I a suspicious man I should have to say that the thought might just cross my mind that the objective of this exercise is not to put a defective Bill right; it is not to deal with the minority interests of one group or other of a class in the House. It is to delay the legislation yet further. With great respect, I would not be prepared to accept that. Therefore, if it comes to a vote, I hope that the House will reject the two Motions, and by a large majority.
There is another extremely important aspect to the issue which has not been touched upon. Your Lordships can take either the advice of my noble friend the Duke of Montrose and consider whether the Bill is definitely not hybrid, or your Lordships can consider what is the purpose of the hybridity procedure. The purpose of the hybrid Bill procedure is to provide for private individuals to protect their individual rights when they are threatened by a piece of legislation which treats others of the same class differently. It is directed to the private interest. For noble Lords--myself included--to stand on the Bill on a matter of private interest is entirely wrong headed. It goes far beyond that.
We are considering the national interest. Any interests that private individuals have should be subsumed in the collective wish. With the greatest respect to my noble friend, the House has devoted a great deal of time to considering the national interest
Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I am not sure whether I agree totally with my noble friend Lord Elton. I have always thought that the Bill was hybrid. I have a great deal of sympathy for the two Motions before the House.
The noble Lord, Lord Richard, says that the procedure is merely a delaying tactic. I do not think it is. If one has a Bill of this nature altering the constitution of the country which has been in place for some 600 years, it is right that Parliament should consider it in all its aspects.
We are all here by virtue of the Writ of Summons. I hope that the noble Lord will say that that was decided the other day. It fell to be decided whether the Writ of Summons was appropriate in the Bill, and the Law Lords decided that it was appropriate. I congratulate the noble Lord the Lord Advocate on his, as usual, very skilful portrayal of, no doubt, a very good case. I was also glad that he did not follow the example of footballers by going around throwing his hands in the air and saying Aren't I clever", or of Formula 1 racing drivers by squirting champagne over everyone. He used his normal dignity, which was very agreeable. It is a pity that others do not follow his suit in that respect.
Here we go again on this Motion. We are all here by virtue of the Writ of Summons. Like my noble friend the Duke of Montrose, I return to the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industry Bill, in which I participated a
We are in a very similar position with this Bill. We are all here by a Writ of Summons. The writ lasts for the lifetime of a Parliament, as everyone knows. One gets a Writ of Summons; one comes to your Lordships' House. The writ has done its job and you are here. If the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate were kind enough to ask me to stay with him in Wales--he has not actually done so but it is an invitation to which I look forward with heady anticipation--
When he does return to his native land, and if he should invite me to stay with him, which I shall accept with alacrity, I will go to Paddington and buy a ticket with him. Of course the noble and learned Lord will travel first class so I will be obliged to do the same. It would be quite rough if I was thrown off the train at Swindon while the noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General went on to Cardiff. My ticket would entitle me to remain on the train right through to Cardiff and it would be wrong to be thrown off at Swindon. But that is exactly what is happening in relation to the Bill. Certain hereditary Peers have come to this place and have subjected themselves to the Writ of Summons which allows them to attend through the lifetime of a Parliament. Then suddenly the Government say to those Peers, Oh no, you lot get tipped off halfway through, while others of you are permitted to stay". I should have thought that was a classic example of hybridity.
That is my view, but I am not a lawyer or anything like as grand as an Examiner. For that reason, I shall defer to all of them. However, there are those who feel that this is a matter that ought to be examined, and indeed my feelings run firmly in support of the noble Lord, Lord Clifford of Chudleigh, and the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose. But there is a snag, and the snag is that time is short. If the matter were to be referred to the Examiners, people would need time to prepare their cases and there would be a delay. The Bill
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