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Lord Tebbit: My Lords, first of all, Mr Forth was talking about the other place, not this place. Secondly,

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if we retain our present pattern of sitting, while the other place changes its, there will be more weeks of the year in which one or other Chamber is here to hold the Government to account than if we sat at the same times as it.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, the noble Lord and I have one thing in common: we both hope to be parliamentarians. I firmly believe that, when issues of great public importance and consequence arise, as with Iraq, the quality of scrutiny and informed debate in this House, some would say, is significantly better than in the other place. There is no doubt in my mind about that.

I return to the noble Lord's point. We are both parliamentarians, although we do not agree on everything. It was important that, in the debate on Iraq, for instance, we had half a dozen former Foreign Secretaries contribute to the debate, half a dozen former Chiefs of the Defence Staff and half a dozen bishops, although it is true that the bishops mainly divided among themselves. It is important that that public debate should be had.

This is an opportunity to ensure that we are not put on the second row on the back shelf, as the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, seems to accept. The absurdly logical conclusion of the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, is that it would be a good idea to have neither House sitting at the same time as the other throughout the year.

This is an aspect of limited progress. We must not put in the balance our personal convenience. It is demeaning to consider holiday convenience, the absolute objection to going on holiday when other people's children might be there or the lost opportunity—lost forever—of a discount on holiday rates. We are here with infinite privilege as Members of Parliament. We have an extraordinary advantage; we ought to be able to discharge our duties in a way that the public thinks is suitable. All that the Motion will do is deliver one small segment of what we have already agreed unanimously in the Leader's Group and by a significant majority in the House.

Mr Forth is right, and nobody has dealt with the point. Speaking about sitting in September, the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, said:

    "it will be very difficult for us not to go down that route".—[Official Report, 21/5/02; col. 653.]

The noble Lord did not say that after the House of Commons had come to its conclusion. I caution your Lordships not to have too much amour propre—neither a Welsh nor an English expression, I am told. We need not object to something simply because the House of Commons proposes it. We come to our own conclusion, as we did long ago, before the Commons had any of its package of change and renewal in place. The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, said that in May, and so did the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, whom I cited.

I have not suggested—and am not suggesting—that we should blindly follow the Commons. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Jopling, and I confirm my

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understanding of the question about the conference season. I suggest that it is good, appropriate, seemly and necessary for us to be broadly coincident with the House of Commons. After all, it is elected. It is not our superior in every way, but it has the superiority of election and dismissal, which we lack.

This is a short step forward. Have we not hearts big enough to try it? Must we constantly revert to the eighteenth century or, preferably, the seventeenth? I give way to the noble Earl.

Earl Russell: My Lords, does not the noble and learned Lord belittle the argument for the present arrangement by portraying it as one of simple personal convenience? Does he see any merit in the view, frequently expressed by Lady Seear, that most of us do a good deal outside this place and the less we do outside, the less use we are here?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, of course I agree with that, as a general proposition. However, if the necessary, inevitable, logical corollary of that were that we ought to sit for two and a half weeks in 52, I would beg leave to dissent. The point is that we have two and a half months off in the summer. It is a complete blank space. The noble Lord, Lord Jopling, is right: on three years out of the past five, we have been recalled.

I shall deal with the question of the works in two ways—one is pragmatic and the other goes to the heart of the matter. The pragmatic point is that my office has discussed the question with Black Rod. Those things can be accommodated. I come to the question of principle: if noble Lords really believe that doing our work as parliamentarians should be subordinated to the task of contractors, I differ profoundly. If we come to that conclusion, why are we sitting here?

3.55 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said Motion shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 160; Not-Contents, 76.

Division No. 1


Ackner, L.
Addington, L.
Alexander of Weedon, L.
Amos, B.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Astor of Hever, L.
Avebury, L.
Bach, L.
Baker of Dorking, L.
Barnett, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L.
Berkeley, L.
Biffen, L.
Blackwell, L.
Blaker, L.
Borrie, L.
Brennan, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Brightman, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Bruce of Donington, L.
Burlison, L.
Buscombe, B.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carlisle of Bucklow, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B.
Carrington, L.
Carter, L. [Teller]
Christopher, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Craig of Radley, L.
Crawley, B.
Darcy de Knayth, B.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Deedes, L.
Desai, L.
Dholakia, L.
Dixon, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Eden of Winton, L.
Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Erroll, E.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Ezra, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L.
Gale, B.
Gavron, L.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Gladwin of Clee, L.
Golding, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B. [Teller]
Grabiner, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grenfell, L.
Grocott, L.
Hamwee, B.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Harrison, L.
Haskel, L.
Hayman, B.
Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howe, E.
Howe of Idlicote, B.
Howell of Guildford, L.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Howie of Troon, L.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Hunt of Wirral, L.
Hurd of Westwell, L.
Islwyn, L.
Janner of Braunstone, L.
Jay of Paddington, B.
Jeger, B.
Jones, L.
Jopling, L.
Jordan, L.
Judd, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Layard, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lewis of Newnham, L.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Mackie of Benshie, L.
Maddock, B.
Mar, C.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Mason of Barnsley, L.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Milner of Leeds, L.
Mitchell, L.
Morgan of Huyton, B.
Morris of Aberavon, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Moynihan, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Newby, L.
Northover, B.
O'Cathain, B.
Pitkeathley, B.
Prior, L.
Quirk, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richardson of Calow, B.
Roll of Ipsden, L.
Rooker, L.
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Sheldon, L.
Simon, V.
Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Stallard, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Temple-Morris, L.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Turnberg, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Vincent of Coleshill, L.
Waddington, L.
Wade of Chorlton, L.
Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Walmsley, B.
Warnock, B.
Weatherill, L.
Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Whitaker, B.
Wilberforce, L.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williams of Mostyn, L. (Lord Privy Seal)
Winston, L.
Wright of Richmond, L.


Ampthill, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Attlee, E.
Blatch, B.
Boston of Faversham, L.
Bradshaw, L.
Brookeborough, V.
Brougham and Vaux, L.
Burnham, L.
Butterworth, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L.
Chadlington, L.
Chalfont, L.
Cockfield, L.
Coe, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L.
Dahrendorf, L.
Denham, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Dundee, E.
Falkland, V.
Ferrers, E.
Freeman, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B. [Teller]
Geddes, L.
Goodhart, L.
Gray of Contin, L.
Hanham, B.
Hayhoe, L.
Hooper, B.
Hussey of North Bradley, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L.
Kimball, L.
Kingsland, L.
Liverpool, E.
Lyell, L.
Marsh, L.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Monro of Langholm, L.
Monson, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Palmer, L.
Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Peel, E.
Pendry, L.
Perry of Southwark, B.
Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Phillips of Sudbury, L.
Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Plumb, L.
Rawlings, B.
Rees, L.
Roberts of Conwy, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Russell, E.
Ryder of Wensum, L.
St John of Fawsley, L.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Sanderson of Bowden, L.
Seccombe, B.
Selsdon, L.
Shaw of Northstead, L.
Slim, V.
Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Strange, B.
Swinfen, L.
Tebbit, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Tordoff, L.
Trefgarne, L. [Teller]
Trumpington, B.
Wigoder, L.
Wilcox, B.
Willoughby de Broke, L.
Windlesham, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and Motion agreed to accordingly.

25 Nov 2002 : Column 583

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