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Noble Lords: Oh!
 
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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: It is, my Lords, because I have noted carefully what has happened on each occasion. My noble friend Lady Hayman is right that the procedure that we have now adopted on control orders is much, much better than Part 4. It is likely that we will have new opportunities to look at the legislation as to what else we need to put in place. I cannot envisage a position—particularly if the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, and my noble friend Lady Kennedy of The Shaws, and others on the Liberal Democrat Benches stay in their place—where we will not have a really trenchant, difficult and testing debate on any such new provisions. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, is right that there is not absolute parity and agreement that the new provisions are the right way either. We will have to get that right. We will not, and should not, rush that position.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: My Lords—

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I wonder if I could finish. The noble Lord has been on his feet on a number of occasions, and this is the first time that I have been on mine for a significant time.

When it comes to timing, we must look at the reality of the position with which we will be faced. My noble friend was right in saying that this will need scrutiny, not just by those in this House but by individual agencies and others who will have a view. This House may think that acts preparatory is the best way forward. We do not know whether that will be universally accepted elsewhere; we need to have that debate. If we need to have pre-legislative scrutiny, which I can anticipate—the noble Lords on the Liberal Democrat Benches, if nobody else, will voice that intent—that will take time. It is likely that we will be running with a timetable even if we were to accept my noble friend's date of March.

If we have an annual renewal, it will be in a situation where this House will be seized and know of the work that has been undertaken in relation to the new legislation. It will know whether those matters have been completed, and when it comes to renew that legislation this House will have the ability to have its say. In so many cases where annual renewal has been—

Lord Maclennan of Rogart: My Lords—

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I will not give way. I wish to finish this. In so many cases when we have had annual renewals, there has not been another legislative vehicle that could conveniently be used to have this debate.

Lord Maclennan of Rogart: My Lords—

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I will give way once I have finished this.
 
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That is an important difference. This legislation would be able to elapse if both Houses felt that was appropriate. There are big issues here, and the Government are clear that the review structure that we have put in place will enable the House to have its say.

Lord Maclennan of Rogart: My Lords, I thank the Minister for giving way. Perhaps she will take the opportunity at this point of her speech to reply to the point made by my noble friend Lord Goodhart that in the event of a review taking place of the kind that she described, it would be constitutionally unprecedented for this House to vote it down because it would be an order, which would have been approved by the other House. She seems completely to have overlooked that limitation on this House's ability to pass its view.

Lord Young of Norwood Green: My Lords, before the noble Baroness—

Noble Lords: No!

2 p.m.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, the annual review is an effective means for both Houses to make that clear. Noble Lords on all Benches have said on a number of occasions that the other place has absolutely the same sort of concerns. The annual renewal—renewal is what we are talking about—will enable both Houses to look at whether it is necessary to continue the legislation, and whether it has been developed, dealt with and undertaken in a proper way. It is an appropriate vehicle. I hear what the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, says about it, but it is possible. On renewal, the House can say yea or nay.

Lord Sheldon: My Lords, the House may say yea or nay, but it may not be able to offer alternatives. It is amendments that are required, not only a decision for or against a renewal. I can see no way to overcome the problem other than by having a sunset clause.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, there have been other ways. From this Dispatch Box, I do not need to remind noble Lords of the way in which annual renewals have been dealt with in other legislation. The contingencies Act also dealt with renewals. We have made the commitment for the new legislation. It is not beyond the wit of this House to put amendments in any such new legislation that will deal adequately with the matter. This House will have a vehicle that could be used effectively and creatively to meet the need. The most important thing is that we send no signal to those outside the House that this country is wavering at all in relation to its position.

Lord Young of Norwood Green: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the Government responded to a request from the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman? In our previous debate, she said:

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She again asked the Minister whether she could respond to a request for renewal rather than only review. Since then, the matter has gone back to the House of Commons and it has responded.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, my noble friend is absolutely right. When we were debating the issue last Tuesday, I said that the Government would listen, would continue to look at the matter and would respond. We responded. Bearing in mind the nature of that response—the fact that there is now a renewal provision, which was asked for—this House should be content and not insistent.

I have not dealt with the difference between the November and March timetables. It seems to be accepted by the whole House that the November timetable is totally unrealistic. We would say that, similarly, the March timetable is far too tight. It does not deal with the major issues, and we feel that renewal would be the better way forward.

Lord Kingsland: My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Baroness for her reply. We have had a debate about Motions C and D, and shall now vote, successively, on amendments to them. Motion C concerns the Privy Council amendment, and the first vote will be on it if we press our amendment from this Dispatch Box. I shall not attempt to summarise the debate on the issue; it would be impertinent of me to do so. The case for the amendment has been made devastatingly throughout your Lordships' House.

So far as our amendment to Motion D on the sunset clause is concerned, I believe that the arguments advanced by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, about the inadequacy of the review procedure were also devastating and have been accepted by almost all noble Lords who have spoken. The principle of the sunset clause has therefore been supported throughout the House.

However, there remains the question of when it should bite. We continue to believe that the principle that ought to be applied is that of "the earlier, the better". However, we have listened carefully to the arguments put for a later date—the end of March 2006—which have, again, come from all parts of the House. We would be prepared not to move our amendment, in favour of that tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, so long as the noble Baroness can assure us that she will press her amendment when we come to it.

Baroness Hayman: My Lords—

Lord Kingsland: My Lords, I shall give way to the noble Baroness so that she can indicate whether she will do so.

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, it is difficult procedure; we are having to make it up a little as we go
 
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along. For reasons that I shall take a couple of minutes to explain, my view is that we need to vote on a sunset clause. I think that my noble friend is saying that she wills the same ends as the House—the opportunity to look at the Bill again—but that the means are those that the Government have put forward, rather than a sunset clause. Many around the House do not agree on that issue of means. They believe that the means best suited would be a sunset clause.

I take very seriously what my noble friend said about another place. I had the privilege of being a Member of it decades ago, and I understand that in some ways we in this House are B-movie politics. However, in constitutional issues, we have a responsibility. We have a right to ask again another place to think again on the issue. That is why it is important to keep the matter open.

A year is a much more sensible time frame than that proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, so, if he were not to move his amendment, I would maintain my support for my amendment. If I did not move it, I am sure that someone else would, to give the House the opportunity to express its view on the issue.


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