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8.12 pm

Amendments 21 to 23 not moved.

Amendment 24

Moved by Lord Bach

24: Clause 12, page 8, leave out lines 20 to 25

Amendment 24 agreed.

Amendment 25 not moved.

Amendments 26 to 28

Moved by Lord Bach

26: Clause 12, page 8, leave out lines 29 to 33

27: Clause 12, page 8, line 37, at end insert-

"(ba) an offence committed by aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring the commission of an offence falling within paragraph (a) or (b),"

28: Clause 12, page 8, leave out lines 44 and 45

Amendments 26 to 28 agreed.

Amendment 29

Tabled by Lord Thomas of Gresford

29: Clause 12, leave out Clause 12

Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, now that the pressure of the following debate has been removed from us and we have lost much of our audience, your Lordships will forgive me if I move this amendment merely to make the following point. The Minister said that it was necessary to assure members of the security

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services et cetera that they were not bribing anybody. However, they commit bribery if they offer money; the offence of bribery will be committed by a member of the Armed Forces or a member of the security services. He simply has a defence which he has to prove. If he fails to prove that defence, he is guilty of the offence of bribery, so he is bribing. That is why I ask the Minister please to look at this again. Surely, he can draft a clause which says, for example, it shall not be an offence for a person who is a member of the security services et cetera to do what is said in Clause 1 if it is under whatever conditions he likes to lay down. That would be a far better assurance to the members of the security services.

I shall not divide the House again on this issue, your Lordships will be relieved to hear.

Noble Lords: Oh!

Lord Thomas of Gresford: I can see that the Conservative Benches are anxious to take another walk through the Lobbies but I do not propose to allow that, although I am told that they did not walk last time. I shall not move the amendment.

Amendment 29 not moved.

Amendment 30 not moved.

Amendment 30A (to Amendment 30) not moved.

Clause 16 : Consequential provision

Amendment 31 not moved.

Arrangement of Business

Announcement

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, in view of the hour and the lengthy list of speakers who have indicated their interest in what is undoubtedly a very important report on the Barnett formula, I propose to your Lordships' House that we abandon the debate that is timetabled. I give an undertaking to the House that I will use my very best endeavours with my colleagues in the usual channels to ensure that we secure for the House the opportunity to provide a fulsome debate on the Barnett formula on another occasion. When we timetabled this business, we did not reasonably expect that it would take quite so long to complete the Report stage of the Bribery Bill, but unfortunately that has transpired. We will have to retreat and find another opportunity to debate the Barnett formula.

Baroness Noakes: I thank the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, for that. Will he ensure that time for debate is found before the general election? All those who have

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laboured on the Select Committee and who have seen the Government's response feel that they wish to debate it this side of the election.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, would not expect me to give an absolute assurance, but I will certainly use my best endeavours. I know how important the issue is and that there are expressions of great concern about this matter from all sides of the House. I shall use my best endeavours to secure that debate. I am sure that with the willing co-operation of the noble Baroness we will find a slot that is agreeable to all parties. I shall consult extensively to ensure that that happens.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: I just want to point out to the noble Lord that there were 20 speakers down for the debate. It was obvious that some Members were speaking at length on the previous business. It might have been helpful for us to have been given some notice rather earlier than now; in fact, we were informed by the opposition Benches that the business had been pulled.

I also point out to the noble Lord that the committee was a high-powered committee-I exclude myself from that description-which worked very hard and was unanimous in its view. The report was published in July. We find ourselves once again with a debate on a Select Committee report being squeezed between other business in the afternoon and the close of business. Exactly the same thing happened on the Select Committee on Economic Affairs report on banking. That seems to indicate that the Executive do not value the work that is done by Select Committees. If Select Committees are treated in that way, Members will simply not do the work, and then what will be the purpose of this House? It is very disappointing indeed that we should have come to this.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: I reject the proposition that the Executive do not take committee reports seriously; we always take those reports very seriously indeed and we endeavour to find time to ensure that they are properly and fully debated. Indeed, that was our objective from the outset with the report in question. I am sure that all of those who served on the Barnett formula committee will acknowledge that to be the case. I will ensure that we have the debate, because I realise how important it is. I will consult extensively on finding a time that is suitable to all. The House should listen carefully to the arguments that will be put forward in that debate, which I look forward to. It is important at all times that we work through the usual channels to secure co-operation from all sides and I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth, will help us in that endeavour as well.

House adjourned at 8.20 pm.


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