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Lord Maclennan of Rogart: My Lords, it may be that some understanding has been reached between the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, and the Lord Chancellor on this amendment, but it seems a little odd to have on the face of the Bill a clause that deals with the Speakership. However, I do not agree with the substance of the amendment that was moved by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell, and it is very much a matter for this House to decide, not in debates following primary legislation, but following a debate and deliberation on the report of the Select Committee about who should chair. My firm view is that whoever should chair should not be the head of a department which is responsible for spending £3 billion of public money. It is a complete diversion of energy in the wrong direction. I cannot think of any good reason why we should wish that the Lord Chancellor in his new role adhere to the past practice. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Campbell, said, that may be a debate for another day and I have some sympathy with his view about the presence of this clause in the Bill.
Lord Kingsland: My Lords, if I understand my noble friend Lord Campbell correctly, I appear, inadvertently of course, to have misled him on the proper direction of his amendment and I formally and publicly apologise for so doing. It has prevented your Lordships considering the substance of the matter tonight and we must wait, with anticipation, to deal with the matter at Third Reading.
However, I cannot allow the moment to pass without expressing a view about the Speakership of your Lordships' House. This is a very important issue which requires careful thought and upon which taking the wrong decision could change the whole character of the House. That is why I submit that the clause on the Speakership and the accompanying schedule should not remain part of the Bill.
This Bill, and the review by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, and his committee on the Speakership of the House were predicated on the assumption that the office of Lord Chancellor would no longer exist. Your Lordships' House has now determined not only that the office should continue to exist but that the Lord Chancellor should remain in your Lordships' House.
For my part, I wish to see the Lord Chancellor continuing in his historic role as Speaker of the House. The ancient office and high degree of that office reflect and embody the authority and precedence of this House. I had thought that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, had indicated that he would be willing to continue to serve as Speaker while remaining Lord Chancellor. Therefore, it was somewhat disappointing to read of a recent remark that he made to a newspaperman to the effect that he would very much like the Lord Chancellor not to be Speaker of your Lordships' House.
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Your Lordships have shown in recent changes to procedure that the House is willing to accommodate change to suit the personal preferences of the incumbent Lord Chancellor. I cite, for example, the rules concerning speaking to legislation. My noble friend Lord Strathclyde, the Leader of the Opposition, has openly advocated further changefor example, no longer to require the noble and learned Lord to robe for or preside at Divisions and to reduce our calls on him to preside at Question Time. But it is a far cry from sensible incremental change to a wholesale change that would dispense with the traditions of your Lordships' House and could see us moving towards a full-time Speaker with authority over the House. At the very least, we should not take such a far-reaching decision in the fringes of, or as a by-product, of a wider Bill.
I agree with my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway and accept his view that the Lord Chancellor should remain, at least, the titular Speaker of your Lordships' House. However, I am relieved to hear that he will not press his amendment this evening because I believe that it would add to what I consider to be the mistaken course of the Government in including these provisions in the Bill. With the greatest respect to another place, I do not think that the other place should have any part in determining the internal procedures or arrangements of your Lordships' House. The other place would rightly regard it as an unacceptable impertinence if your Lordships were to propose legislation affecting the role of Mr Speaker. Surely the reverse applies, and we should not invite another place to think otherwise.
Therefore, I would not send any amendment to another place that risked the Members of another place dictating who should be the Speaker of your Lordships' House. This matter should be determined in your Lordships' House by your Lordships' House and with the interests of your Lordships' House exclusively in mind.
We can achieve that objective through our own Standing Orders and after a full discussion on the basis of the proposals made by my noble friend Lord Strathclyde, including some of the ideas contained in the report of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick. That, I submit, would be the right course, with proper respect to the traditions and authority of your Lordships' House, and it would still allow your Lordships to relieve the Lord Chancellor of all but ceremonial duties.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I shall deal, first, with the position of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway. I understand that the noble Lord will not move his amendment, which states that the Lord Chancellor should retain the Speakership, and that the only amendment in which he is now interested is the one relating to Schedule 6. I am sorry; I misunderstood the noble Lord.
Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, I had better intervene or we shall get into a muddle. I am speaking to both the substantive amendment and the
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amendment relating to the schedule, but I am asking for leave to withdraw one and not to move the other on the basis that they are probing amendments. Having admitted my error, I undertake to table an amendment at Third Reading that both be left out. I have confirmed with the Table that it is proper to do that at Third Reading.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I am not sure what is meant by both being left out. It is within the gift of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, to miss out the first one. I understand what he means by leaving out Schedule 6. I shall deal with both amendments.
The first amendment proposes that the Lord Chancellor retain the Speakership of the House. As has been made clear right from the outset, we would oppose that. I believe that there is broad agreement now about what the new Lord Chancellor should do: he should not be a judge; he should not be head of the judiciary; but he should be responsible for the department, for the ministerial end of the concordat, for the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law. That is a full-time job. I respectfully submit that it is not wise, not sensible and not compelling that he should also be the Speaker of the Housenot for any reason of constitutional nicety, but because the job specified is a full-time job.
The noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, suggests that it would be nice for the Lord Chancellor to be Speaker but not in a way that involved him doing anything. The moment the matter is put like that, the absurdity of the position is made absolutely clear. The noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, wishes me to be Speaker of the House not because of the role that I would perform but to block anyone else becoming Speaker. There would be a great roadblock in the way.
I express no view in this debate about what the alternative arrangements should be. However, the one thing that is absolutely clear is that a person doing the three-pronged job that we all agree that the Lord Chancellor should perform, should not also be the Speaker of the House of Lords. No reason has been advanced by the noble Lords, Lord Kingsland and Lord Campbell of Alloway, other than the fact that the Lord Chancellor has been Speaker for a considerable time. The implication of the argument advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, is that it would block anybody else. In my respectful submission, that does not provide any reason at all for the Lord Chancellor to continue as Speaker, and I would strongly oppose it.
Having said that, I respectfully submit that the right course in relation to the Speakership is that it should be dealt with by this Housenot by both Houses of Parliament. I also submit that there should not be an amendment of the kind that the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, proposes: namely, that the Lord Chancellor should retain the Speakership. Our Schedule 6 simply allows the Speakership to change without compelling any change in the Speakership. The way in which that is achieved is by amending any Acts of Parliament in which the Lord Chancellor acts as Speaker and replacing them with the words "the
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Speaker of the House of Lords". At the end of the day, if the House does not want to make a change, Schedule 6 does not compel it; but Schedule 6 allows it.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, has produced a report saying that there should be a change. Although I accept the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, that it is predicated on the abolition of the Lord Chancellorship, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, has made it clear to me that he still thinks that the Lord Chancellor should not be the Speaker of the House of Lords. It would be completely wrong to close our eyes to the fact that change is required. It would be completely wrong for us to close our eyes to the fact that change may well occur. In the Bill, we should not compel the House to make the change, but we should allow the House, if it wishes, to make the change.
Therefore, I invite the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, neither to press his amendment nor to bring it back at Third Reading. I believe that the universal view of the House is that this is not a matter for both Houses of Parliament. Equally, I invite the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, not to bring back his amendment in relation to Schedule 6, which is a facilitating amendment, not a compelling amendment.
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