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Lord Barnett: My Lords, I thought that we were debating one amendment. The remarks we have just heard were debating them all. It indicates to me that were we to have the horrible elected House we should have to have a Speaker to decide which matters were out of order. I thought that we were debating one amendment. If noble Lords want to speak to all the amendments, I shall be happy. We can have one debate, one vote and call it a day. But the noble Lord spoke about every single amendment on the Marshalled List.
Lord Crickhowell: My Lords, perhaps I may reply to the challenge which has been thrown at me. I responded to those issues which were affected by resources. We are dealing with one amendment. Every single point I made is covered by that amendment. I intend to make only one speech today. For the reasons I have explained I cannot be present in the House again. If the noble Lord wants me to make more detailed speeches on the other amendments, I shall come back and do so. But I think that he is being discourteous and unreasonable.
Lord Barnett: I wanted only to make a brief speech agreeing with some of what the noble Lord said and some of what the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, saidfor different reasons. The plain fact is that I do not like this paragraph of the report either, for one simple reason. We are told that we will do all that and phase it,
This is the second Chamber of Parliament. We should decide what resources are available to us, not the usual channels, not the Procedure Committee, but this House. That is what we are talking about. To that extent, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne. I do so reluctantly, because I disagree with just about everything else that he said and is doing in this debate, because he wants to kill itI know that.
But the plain fact is that there should have been and should be in the near future the preparation of a budget. That is crucial. I speak as a former chairman of the Public Accounts Committee and someone who had a little to do with the Treasury. I object to the form of words used in the report because we are asking the Treasury for money. We tell them what money we need, what resources we want to spend. We should not be asking it favours. As I said, this is the second Chamber of Parliament. That is what I do not like about that phrase.
I hope that my noble friendI beg his pardon; I mean my noble and learned friend; I know that the noble Earl, Lord Erroll, likes us to be correct in these matterscan tell me that he does not intend to slow down any implementation of the report's recommendations simply because the Treasury does not allow him the money. He must tell the Treasury: we decide. We should not allow it to tell us what resources are available, especially when one considers how little we spend in this House in comparison with another place and with most other Parliaments around the world.
So, for the reasons that I have explained, I support the amendment. I do not wish to delay matters, so I shall say only that I hope that my noble and learned friend will be able to assure me that he will not delay implementation for the reasons implied in the report.
Lord Howe of Aberavon: Perhaps I may form a bizarre and unusual partnership with the noble Lord, Lord Barnett, in support of his final point. He may recall that when I was Chancellor of the Exchequer, he was a member of the House of Commons Commission, deciding how much the House of Commons could spend. I endeavoured to subject the commission to cash limits, but found that I was unable to do so from the Treasury. Some years later, when I was Leader of the House of Commons and my role was reversed, I took some pleasure in imposing the same conclusion. I think that my right honourable friend John Major was then Chancellor, but whoever it was, what the noble Lord said is absolutely right.
That is a serious point. We cannot allow the Treasury to dictate to us the pace at which we implement the recommendations. Even so, one would have hoped that the matter had been thought through rather more fully than it has been, because there is every risk that our achievement will be inhibited by lack of preparation.
Lord Marsh: I rise to speak briefly because I am probably the only Member of the House who is not totally committed to the idea that we should have another committee to consider the procedures of this House. The extraordinary way in which the matter has developed leads one to wonder why some members of the committee did not either issue a minority report or leave the committee.
I shall speak briefly to Amendment No. 2I say that so that there is no grave misunderstanding. First, I fundamentally object to the amendment for a similar reason to the two previous speakers. There is not a complete, clear, logical analogy with the Welsh water board. As someone who has been involved in several companies, I think that that is a dangerous idea. I find the idea that measures that we believe are essential to good governance and our legislative efficiencyif that is what we decideshould be constrained for the lack of a budget or the need to keep within a budget, is deeply offensive to our whole system.
Lord Sheldon: Perhaps I may bring the House to face the realities of the situation. The Public Accounts Committee frequently commented on expenditure of public money, and it was right to do so. Sometimes, the Public Accounts Commission, which looks after the finances of the National Audit Office, made approaches to the House of Commons Commission about its need for money for certain things. As far as it could, the House of Commons Commission implemented its decisions, but it was certainly leaned on by the Government.
The same thing will happen here. My noble and learned friend the Leader of the House will, rightly, strongly advance all the arguments and make the case on the assumptions that we have discussed, but there will be a reaction from the Treasury, and I fear that there will be compromise. Do not think that we need only to pass a Motion to get some money and we will get it. What we can do is use our best endeavours to try to get as much as we can. It will be phased. The best solution that we can arrive at is the phasing that we expect in due course.
Lord Elton: The phasing needs to be in our hands and cannot be made logical if we do not know what the different items on the list cost. So we need a procedure such as that suggested by my noble friend Lord Trefgarne. I add that not all of the necessary resources are financial. My noble friend mentioned human resources. We are a large part of those human resources. I have already had to resolve a conflict between whether I should attend debate on a Bill in which I had an interest in Grand Committee or on another Bill in which I had an interest on the Floor of the House.
Having been a Minister in four departments and answerable for a fifth, I frequently find that I have strong views on legislation passing through your Lordships' House. If we are to have a multiplication of debate under the proposed Grand Committee scheme, it will be a question not so much of bi-location as tri-location or quinque-location if one is to discharge one's duties to the House. That must be taken into account before the recommendations are put into effect. I therefore support my noble friend's amendment.
The Earl of Erroll: I rise briefly to add to a commonsense approach. Having served on the Libraries and Computers Committee a short while ago, I know perfectly well that resources are limited. When I said, "Do we not run things? Cannot we decide?", I was told, "No, you are more of a user group". In other words, matters are determined outside and we are constrained by pre-set budgets.
On the question of our splitting our resources and time, I suspect that we shall have to consider other voting patterns. I refer to the business of trying to get here from meetings in Portcullis House to vote and back again. I have been in various committee meetings there. Suddenly, everyone gets up and off, and a meeting that may be quite important is completely disrupted. Members of the public are trying democratically to lobby their democratically elected Members, but those Members are on the telephone, on the pager or voting and are not there to be lobbied. We need to consider how to handle that.
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