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Lord Henley: My Lords, I do not know whether the noble Baroness is going to respond to that but I am not sure whether it will help much. We have now had "nyet" from the noble Baroness, Lady Scotland; we have had "nyet" from the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, the Leader of the House; we have had "nyet" from the noble Baroness, Lady Hollis; and the noble Baroness, Lady Crawley, makes it four.
All I can say is that we are not going to let this go away. We want debate to make sure that we can discuss all these matters adequately and we will discuss them adequately. If we cannot discuss them here on Report, or if we cannot discuss them properly at Third Reading, for the rather odd reasons that we heard from the noble Lord, Lord Lester of Herne Hill, then we will have to discuss them and discuss them at lengthI say that to the noble Lord the Chief Whipwhen the Bill comes back to this House for consideration of Commons amendments. Then so be it. But this House will make sure that it discusses all these matters properly, in the manner that it ought to do. Having said that
Lord Henley: My Lords, as I understand it, even if it gets speedy enactment, the Bill will not come into effect for some time. We have no shortage of time, whatever the noble Lord says. If he thinks that speedy enactment of Bills should mean that we should not discuss them, other than the odd intervention from noble Lords on the Liberal Benches, I have to say that I think he is wrong. I think that the whole House should be able to discuss the Bill and we should not be deprived of doing it by the Government because of rather odd procedures that they wish to bring in. Before I withdraw the amendment, I think that my noble friend Lord Denham wants to make an intervention.
Lord Denham: My Lords, I have never heard anything quite like this before in this House. I think that, on reflection, the Government may feel that they have behaved with a certain lack of courtesy. They did not give any sort of warning about what was going to happen after the Division, which was subsequently carried against them. We are now left in a position where we are getting no answers at all, which has never happened in this House before. We are presumably expected to let the Bill slip through without any of the government amendments being moved and without any other amendments being replied to. I wonder whether, in the circumstances, the Leader of the House can come back and explain to the House whether this is the sort of treatment that we can accept in future. I think that the right reverend Prelate spoke extremely well on this and I am very sorry that his speech did not produce a reply from Her Majesty's Government.
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Lord Grocott: My Lords, it is with some reluctance that I am again drawn to the Dispatch Box, but I wanted to repeat precisely and exactly what I said before. There is no pique or sulk on the part of the Government. It is simply that it is nonsensical to move government amendments that were tabled earlier and predicated on a situation that no longer exists. There is no discourtesy to the House in any Memberincluding a member of the Government; we are no more or less favoured than anyone elsedeciding they do not wish to move their amendments. If the amendments are nonsensical in the light of a subsequent decision, then it is a courtesy to the House not to waste its time by moving amendments that are just thatnonsensical on the basis of a decision that has been made.
I say to the right reverend Prelate that there is absolutely no discourtesy in doing that. I hope that we can proceed on the basis that if a Member, including a government member, does not want to move his amendment, the House can simply proceed to the next amendment. I am sure that that is precisely what has happened in all the long experience of the noble Lord, Lord Denham.
Lord Tebbit: My Lords, the noble Lord says that the amendment that was passed earlier has changed the whole basis of the Bill and so it is now not possible to debate the Government's amendments. I think that that is the point that he would put. But that must apply to all the other amendments as well.
Lord Tebbit: My Lords, the noble Lord says that it is up to us. However, he cannot say that there are two sorts of amendmentsgovernment amendments that are now not valid and relevant to the Bill; and everyone else's amendments that areand so we should get on and discuss our amendments, with no replies from the Minister and no reasoning, with only half a debate at bestamendments that he would say do not relate to the Bill as it now stands. He nods. Then it seems to me that there is only one conclusion to be reached. He should move the adjournment of the House.
Lord Tebbit: My Lords, the noble Lord nodded to the proposition that I madethat it is nonsensical to discuss the amendments. That means that no one has had an opportunity to table amendments that are relevant to the Bill as it is following the earlier vote. Surely any reasonable man would say, "Let us break off for a few days". At the end of that few days, the noble Lord, Lord Lester, with his customary ingenuity
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and remarkable legal ability, will have drafted new versions of his amendments that would fit to the Bill as it has been amended. Then we could get on and have some proper debates. The Government could come forward and tell us the implications of everything that is going on.
What the noble Lord is saying is that he wants to get the Bill out of this placewith his tail between his legs, if I may put it that wayand dash it off down to the other place where the children will not interfere with it unduly. They will be timetabled. It will be chopped up bang, bang, bang, bang. Debate? My Lords, I do not believe that that is a proper way to behave. And I do not believe that, in his heart, the noble Lord does either.
Lord Henley: My Lords, I am rather torn now. I was minded to withdraw the amendment. However, I have a sneaking feeling that the best way to see where the Government stand on this would be for me first to ungroup it from the rest of the group.
Lord Henley: My Lords, I did not withdraw it because I was interrupted before I could. Having not withdrawn it, I think it is now open to me to press it and see just what the Government's attitude to it is.
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): My Lords, Tellers for the Contents and for the Not-Contents have not been appointed pursuant to Standing Order 54. A Division therefore cannot take place. In accordance with Standing Order 57, which provides that no proposal to amend a Bill in the form in which it is before the House shall be agreed to unless there is a majority in favour of such an amendment, I declare the amendment disagreed to.
Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I wonder whether noble Lords who wish to speak to each other would do so outside because the noble Baroness is unable to speak and we await her comments with interest.
Baroness Wilcox: My Lords, in good faith in this House, I beg to move Amendment No. 14 which stands in my name and that of my noble friend Lord Higgins. The amendment concerns Clause 8, which details some of the standard procedure for forming a civil partnership. Subsection (2) tells us that:
Many noble Lords will remember the equivalent amendment from the days that we spent in Grand Committee. The argument has not changed since then. I am sure that none of us needs reminding that we are now working from a Bill of two volumesat least, the Opposition are. Our argument is simply that, in a Bill of such size, we do not see why the Government need to leave out details that they will add later.
If the Government know what information the notices need to contain, why is that information not mentioned in the Bill? It cannot be because they are shy of tabling amendments to their own Bills, given the volume of them with which we have been faced in Grand Committee and on Report. Perhaps that is not quite what I should say at the moment. I beg to move.
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