Lord Hunt of Kings Heath (Lab)
With respect, we do not have to take the privileges committee report tonight. This is a Second Reading debate and I am afraid that advisory guidance on a Second Reading debate is highly inappropriate. But I shall not go on much longer.
The noble Lord, Lord True, was very helpful in arranging a meeting last week—we are meeting him again—and I am grateful to him. He must know that the Bill in the way it is worded is indefensible. If this had been a normal Second Reading, the Minister would have observed this debate, gone back and said, “We’re going to get an amendment and we’ve got to change it.” I know we have only four days to go but I urge him to think again. He should also say that this will never be used as a future precedent in legislation. He should ensure that parliamentary counsel changes the guidance, because it is not up to the mark.
Finally, this is my great appeal. Please will the Government defend women who speak up for the protection of women’s rights based on sex? I come again to the outrageous abuse that some of my parliamentary colleagues have received by stating in perfectly reasonable terms that they are not transphobic, just reasonable people seeking to do their job, yet they do not get support from the people who know that what is happening to them is wrong. Above all else, I hope the Minister will say something about that.