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Lord Avebury: Malawi!

Lord Lester of Herne Hill: My Lords, my noble friend suggests Malawi, but perhaps not.

I thought both long and hard about whether to succumb to the vast charm and blandishments of the Minister and withdraw the Bill. I would have done so if the noble and learned Lord had given any indication that the Government were willing to take the initiative and liberate the other place, which they control with a commanding majority, by introducing a measure that would remove this unnecessary fetter. However, we have heard that there is a review; that we should wait for the wider considerations and the whole

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architecture of ombudsmen to be looked at and then perhaps at that stage one may get around to this rather simple reform.

I do not think it constitutionally inappropriate for this Chamber to act as the subordinate hand-maiden to the other Chamber. It is very hard for Members of the other place to get time for Private Members' Bills. If the Government block reforms by inaction, it is impossible for any reform to take place in the other place. We have an opportunity in this House simply to pass a modest measure and then give Members of another place the opportunity to consider the matter and vote upon it. If they lack confidence in allowing the citizen to have direct access and if they insist upon being the exclusive conduit, they will take the consequences with their constituents in due course. That is their entitlement. However, if they feel that the time has come to act in partnership with the citizens of this country by using the ombudsman in a better way, that again is a decision for them to take.

Having thought about it, I have decided to ask the House to give the Bill a Second Reading.

On Question, Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

        House adjourned at ten minutes before nine o'clock.

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