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Hybrid Instruments Committee--That a Select Committee be appointed to consider hybrid instruments and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following Lords together with the Chairman of Committees be named of the committee:
Personal Bills Committee--That a Select Committee be appointed to consider Personal Bills and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following Lords together with the Chairman of Committees be named of the committee:
Standing Orders (Private Bills) Committee--That a Select Committee on the Standing Orders relating to Private Bills be appointed and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following Lords together with the Chairman of Committees be named of the committee:
This approach had been thought to be the most convenient procedure for your Lordships' House. It allows us to have a more flexible debate than if there had been a speakers' list in the usual way. Perhaps it would be helpful if I indicated the intended procedure and order of discussion. The intention is that we take the Motion and each amendment in their natural place. I shall move my Motion and speak to it; then the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, will move his amendment and make his speech; then we will have a general debate in which all who wish to intervene may take part, including, of course, the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, who has tabled his own separate amendment.
This is of course a matter for the House and we on this side approach it on the basis that it will be a free vote. My advice is and will remain that if noble Lords want it, we should agree to the amendment standing in my name not simply because it is in my name but,
I shall place this subject in an historical context, although, unusually, the relevant developments occurred quite recently. In November 2000, the Committee on Standards in Public Life, which is usually called the Neill committee after its distinguished chairman, published its report on standards of conduct in the House of Lords.
In January this year, my noble friend Lady Jay of Paddington asked me to chair a small group on implementation. The group was assisted substantially by the staff of this House. I am sure that all those who served on that committee are extremely grateful for the assistance that we were given. We tried to secure a reasonably representative group. The noble Lord, Lord Wright of Richmond, who has enormous experience in public service and subsequently outside, was nominated, and I am grateful to the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig of Radley, for doing that. Also on the committee was the noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer of Sandwell, who, after all, is a former Law Officer and an extremely senior and respected Member of this House. The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, proposed the noble Lords, Lord Elton and Lord Kingsland, and I was very pleased to have their contributions. The noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, from the Liberal Democrat Benches, brought substantial experience in the parliamentary and local government contexts. The latter should not be overlooked as a reservoir of possible assistance.
We were told to report in three months and we did so in two-and-a-half. We had hoped to be unanimous but we failed to be. We produced a text that four committee members supported; the noble Lords, Lord Elton and Kingsland, dissented, but only in part.
To help noble Lords, I point out that the most useful documents are today's Order Paper and the cross-referenced paper that has been available in the Printed Paper Office. The cross references are most helpfully--I am grateful to the administrative staff for doing this--set out in three different colours. The original text is in black; when the original text is affected by the "Kingsland amendment", if I may refer to it in that way, that text has been emboldened in red and the proposed replacements appear in blue. That is a useful cross reference for those noble Lords who might want to see the difference between what was originally produced in the red bound volume by the committee that I chaired and the effect of the Kingsland amendment. I hope that that is of assistance.
In a code we want something that is clear, coherent, easy to understand and fair and simple to give effect to. I believe that the draft code realises each of those aims. I suggest that any code that we adopt should chime with the spirit of our times and the Neill committee recommendations and that it should command wider public support outside the narrow gates of Parliament.
I know that noble Lords have had an opportunity to examine the documents so I turn immediately to the essential recommendations. First, paragraph 1 sets out--I hope that it does so clearly--the, "Purpose of the Code". There is no dissent on this matter, so far as I am aware. That purpose is,
Lord Waddington: Perhaps I may interrupt the noble and learned Lord and ask: who is the holder of a public office? There is no definition in the Motion. I am led to believe that we are all holders of public office. If that is correct, it is not a natural meaning of the term. It may be better to have the term defined in the Motion.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: All those who are in public life who are remunerated one way or another by the public or, if not remunerated, are in a position where they affect significantly public life in this country; for example, judges. I do not believe that the noble Lord will be able to find a totally comprehensive definition. The committee said that these are the principles which should inform those in public life. I doubt that we shall ever obtain a satisfactory comprehensive definition. That was not a point at issue between any of the members of the committee, although that does not bind this Chamber.
What happens in the context of the Kingsland amendment is that the declaration is put first, in different words, and registration is put second, again in different words.
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