Business of the House Debate

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Department: Leader of the House
Thursday 23rd May 2024

(1 month, 3 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Lipsey Portrait Lord Lipsey (Lab)
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My Lords, I was one of the people who asked the noble Lord to separate these two Motions and I am very grateful that he has done so. It shows the great courtesy that he has always shown to this House and its processes since becoming Leader.

I rise to make a brief point about wash-up. I have been working in one House or the other for more than 50 years and I just calculated that I have done 11 wash-ups. They are always a bloody mess and they always will be, unless the procedure is properly revised. I may be deceiving myself but, in this case, I think the Government are trying to smuggle things through under wash-up that should not be in the legislation.

Like the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, I feel very strongly about Clause 50 of the Media Bill. We debated it yesterday and will debate it today, but that is doing it in very short order. One of the unfortunate things is that not only do the Government support this Bill but so does my own Front Bench—at least that is what the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, said yesterday—although the Liberal Democrats take a different view. There are others involved, including Cross-Benchers, and I pay tribute to the role played by the noble Baroness, Lady Hollins.

This is not the kind of change that should be smuggled through in wash-up. Wash-up is designed to allow elements in Bills that are still outstanding in the House and on which there is consensus to become law. There is no consensus about this. There is no consensus among the Cross-Benchers, among the Lib Dems and, if am honest, among Labour Back-Benchers.

I hope that lessons will be learned and that there will be no further attempts at smuggling. If I were an adviser to the Government, which I was once upon a time, in my good days, I would be saying, “Just forget about Clause 50. Let’s get the business we need through and proceed to the general election”.

Lord Watts Portrait Lord Watts (Lab)
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My Lords, yesterday’s debate was very interesting. I raised the issue of a woman whose daughter had been murdered in a hit and run and who had made a complaint to IPSO. That complaint was not dealt with properly and there was no redress for that woman. I asked the Minister what protection the Bill would give to such people—ordinary people who face abuse by the press and have no way of getting justice.

This is a very controversial Bill that should not be included in the wash-up, and I support those proposing that this clause should be removed.

Lord Alton of Liverpool Portrait Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB)
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My Lords, before we leave this issue, I will briefly raise Private Members’ Bills and the way in which they are dealt with in wash-up. The noble Lord is well aware that there is a Bill in the House of Commons on making permanent the position of the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief. It passed all its stages in the Commons with the support of His Majesty’s loyal Opposition, with Front-Bench support. It has the support of the Lord Privy Seal’s noble friends, the noble Lords, Lord Ahmad and Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton.

In the circumstances, will the noble Lord look again at the number of Private Members’ Bills and how they are being dealt with? If one has all-party support and has completed all its stages in another place, it still might be possible to accommodate it, even at this late stage.