|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord McNally: My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, has revealed, the two strongest votes in the House Committee against our recommendation were those of the noble Lords, Lord Barnett and
2 May 2006 : Column 411
Lord Strathclyde. As you can imagine, one takes on such a combination with some trepidation. For me, "Barnett and Strathclyde" has resonance from my youth of those contortionist acts that used to appear at the end of the Blackpool North Pier. True to form, they have both performed a little bit of contortion this afternoon.
My task is really to give a sense of leadership to my troops behind me, given that, as the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, said, this is a House matter and therefore a free vote. I remind Liberal Democrats that, unlike the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, we were enthusiastic supporters of the changes that have taken place as part of a broader and wider constitutional settlement. Indeed, not only did we advise that the Lord Chancellor should leave the Woolsack, we wanted a full-blown ministry of justice to take over some of the heavy responsibilities of the Home Office and give those matters more coherence. We are moving only a little way in the right direction at the moment.
I therefore hope that we on these Benches follow through the logic of what we have done so far, which is to reach a certain part of a new constitutional settlement. I remind my colleagues that the powers and responsibilities given to the new Lord Speaker are very close to those in the evidence that we gave to the committee. Although I know that there is a certain part of Liberal Democrat DNA that likes to be skittish about the leadership, I shall be going into the Lobby in support of the main Motion and against the amendments. We will be putting the Whip in with the Government Whip
Lord McNally: If they are needed, my Lordsafter this show of eloquence, the noble Lord, Lord Barnett, might withdraw. We have had the trip down memory lane, and now we are talking about how decisions are implemented. We need to pay tribute to the Leader of the House for the way in which she has led the way in defining this wider educational role for the Speaker,
2 May 2006 : Column 412
which was outlined in the original committee report and was very much echoed by the Hansard Society report under the noble Lord, Lord Puttnam.
I hope that we will support the House Committee. It seems odd that we are singling out this office in this curious way. I wonder what we would do in subsequent years; would we return to this issue when the salary was reviewed? I think it is sensible. Two committees have recommended going to the Senior Salaries Review Body, which has made a recommendation. I must say that the weakness of the other case is that we have had not one option but three options. The truth is that we could have had 30 options, because we all have different viewshence the commonsense suggestion that we should take the advice of the Senior Salaries Review Body.
It is always worth remembering that Washington offered to do the job for nothing when he became President but, when Congress saw his expenses, it decided that it was safer to pay a salary. What we have done and the way in which we have done it is the safest way forward for this House. Indeed, it gives dignity to the office, as a number of noble Lords have said.
Earl Ferrers: My Lords, before the Chairman of Committees speaks, my noble friend Lord Strathclyde asked me a specific question and I wonder whether I might answer it. He asked whether my amendment referred simply to the salary or whether it included expenses. My amendment refers to the third point of the third item of the House Committee's first report of this Session, and would replace an, "annual salary of £101,668". My amendment would also include the reimbursement of the same expenses of paid office-holders in the House of Lords, which, as the Chairman will see in Appendix B, are calculated as 220 times the overnight subsistence.
The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, I hope that we can now reach a conclusion in this debate. It has been a good debate, but I am afraid that I certainly do not intend to try to reply to every point made by every noble Lord. Three amendments are before the House. As I said at the beginning, each amendment can be taken in turn and if, for example, Amendment No. 2 were agreed to after Amendment No. 1 had been agreed to, Amendment No. 2 would replace Amendment No. 1. I hope that that is clear to noble Lords.
I must pick up one or two points that have been made. The noble Lord, Lord Waddington, gave me a very hard time indeed; he said that my Motion was a disgrace. I merely remind him that it was approved by the vast majority of members of the House Committee, a committee that is appointed and elected by your Lordships' House as a whole and which I therefore hope has some authority in the House. As the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, saidhe was followed by
2 May 2006 : Column 413
many other noble Lordsthe House has already approved the report of the committee of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd. We will get a Speaker. I know that some noble Lords still do not want one, but the House has agreed that already. The Lloyd report stated that we should refer this matter to the SSRB and we did so. That is what the SSRB came back with and that is why the Motion is before your Lordships today.
The noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, said that the House had not always agreed with every recommendation of the SSRB. That is not my information. I have no example of the House ever rejecting a recommendation from the SSRB or its predecessor, the TSRBgoing back to 1971and then approving a different sum from that which was recommended.
The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, is the noble Lord perhaps thinking of 1984, when the House amended a proposal put forward by the then Leader concerning car mileage? That proposal was not based on a recommendation of the Top Salaries Review Body. I look forward to receiving the noble Lord's evidence, but it may be a little late for the result of today's debate.
The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, complained that there was not yet a document which laid out the job description and terms and conditions of the job of the new Lord Speaker. Of course there is no such document, because we have not settled today's matter yet. Another meeting of the Procedure Committee tomorrow will deal with one or two other matters, but I can assure the noble Lord that there will indeed be a document which sets out the job description and the terms and conditions when all these matters have been settled. It will available after the next report of the Procedure Committee has been approved by the House.
I am not sure that the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, said as much, but his amendment is based on what the Lord Chancellor would be entitled to take as Speaker of this House. I should make it clear that the present Lord Chancellor does not take that amount of money as Speaker of this House; I understand that he does not even draw the full salary of Lord Chancellor to which he is entitled.
The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, that is what I said. I did not want the House to get the impression that he did claim that. That is all that I have to say in reply to this debate. I hope that I have answered any questions which were asked of me.
Lord Barnett: My Lords, if the noble Lord, Lord McNally, is giving leadership to his troops, as he
2 May 2006 : Column 414
put it, I feel much more optimistic about the chances of my amendment. Two main points have been made against it; first, that we should always support the SSRB and, secondly, that involving the wider role of the new Lord Speaker.
I always enjoy the remarks of the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, and his remarks today were no exception. However, amusing though he was, this is not an occasion for being amusing; it is a serious matter. I tried to be serious in the proposal which I put to your Lordships. Equally, it is not an occasion to attack either the Lord Chancellor in person or his role. That would be to fight an old battle.
I made it clear that while we would normally not oppose the SSRBthe Lord Chairman said that we had never done sothe SSRB had previously always done the research and given us national and international comparisons. On this occasion, it could not. It is a unique job. That is why it is perfectly reasonable to consider whether its recommendation should be accepted.
My noble friend Lady Symons seemed to be suggesting that if the recommendation comes from the House Committee or the SSRB, we should not discuss it at all and just accept it. That is the case that she seemed to be making. I see her shaking her head, so she was not making it.
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|