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Lord Weatherill: My Lords, from the Cross-Benches perhaps I may reinforce the tributes that have been paid today to the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne. In all our dealings with him, we have always found him to be wholly reliable, honourable and indeed very courteous. In particular, I wish to pay a special tribute to him for his assistance in facilitating the agreement with the Government which resulted in the announcement made yesterday by my noble friends Lord Carnarvon, Lord Marsh and myself about the interim arrangements for your Lordships' House between the government Bill for reform of this House and the second stage. Without the noble Viscount's wise guidance and advice and indeed his negotiating skills, I have to say that that agreement would not have been possible. We look forward to having the same good relations with the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, as we had with his predecessor.

The Lord Bishop of Lincoln: My Lords, from the Bishops' Benches perhaps I may add our own appreciation of the work of the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne. A bishop of Lincoln knows quite a bit about local difficulties.

Noble Lords: Oh!

The Lord Bishop of Lincoln: I hope, my Lords, that that makes him more sensitive to the difficulties of the Opposition. However, we thank the noble Viscount for his courtesy and kindness to us. Those of us who flit in and

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out of the House, rather more perhaps than Members on other Benches, do appreciate the kindness and courtesy which all Leaders and Officers of the House show to us. We assure the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, of our concern and our prayers for him. We wish him well in the onerous task that he faces.

Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, perhaps I may thank the noble Baroness the Leader of the House for her very kind and generous words of welcome which were given in her customarily charming way. I have to say that "customary charm" has become a little bit of a Sicilian cliche, but I very much adhere to the sentiments behind it. I shall have to think of a new way of describing my warm relationship with the noble Baroness, other than simply referring to "personal relations".

On behalf of my noble friend the Chief Whip and the new Deputy Leader of the Opposition, my noble friend Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, perhaps I may thank the noble Baroness for her expressions of good will. Since the noble Baroness became Leader of the House, the House of Lords has rarely been off the front pages of newspapers. However, I know that that has not always been her fault.

I do not wish to do this on behalf of my noble friend Lord Cranborne, but, if he were present, I know that he would thank the noble Baroness very much for what she said and indeed that he would thank other noble Lords for what they have said about his role in this House both as Leader of the House when we were in government and through the transitional phase when we became the Opposition. As his Chief Whip during that period, I learnt a great deal, not just about the management of this House but also about various political skills. I hope that I shall be able to put those skills to some use in the months ahead. It is a source of very great personal regret to me that my noble friend has left the Opposition Front Bench, but I wholly understand the reasons why this has happened.

I know that this House can only manage its business with the co-operation and agreement of all sides of the House. As Leader of the Opposition, I wish to follow the very clear example that has been set not just by my predecessor but also by the noble Baroness's predecessors when the Labour Party was in opposition to try to effect the very best management of business in this House. However, I can assure the noble Baroness that I shall not be a soft touch. We have taken some hard blows over the course of the past 24 hours. But, after we have retired briefly to lick our wounds, we shall return Hydra-like to be as effective and thorough in opposition as we always have been.

Business

3.38 p.m.

Lord Carter: My Lords, at a convenient moment after 3.30 p.m. my noble friend Lady Blackstone will, with the leave of the House, repeat a Statement which is being made in another place on teachers: rewarding and restructuring.

Lord Carter: My Lords, it may be of convenience to your Lordships if I say a few words about the Christmas

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Recess. Subject to the progress of business, it is expected that the House will rise for the Christmas Recess on Thursday 17th December. We expect that the House will sit at 11 a.m. on that day. It is also expected that the House will return on Thursday 7th January--again, subject to the progress of business. I can certainly confirm that the House will not return before that day. Indeed, rumours which have appeared in press reports stating that the House will sit on Boxing Day are completely untrue, not least because Southampton will be playing Chelsea on that day and this Chief Whip fully intends to be there.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale: My Lords, can the noble Lord say why now is not "a convenient moment after 3.30 p.m." for us to deal with the Statement? Alternatively, if it is not, can the noble Lord say whether immediately after the Bills have been introduced would be a convenient moment for the Statement, rather than interrupting the subsequent debate?

Lord Carter: My Lords, I am not sure whether the Statement has yet been dealt with in the other place. In the normal course of events, the timing for the taking of the Statement is agreed between the usual channels for the convenience of all the Peers involved.

Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Bill [H.L.]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): My Lords, I beg to introduce a Bill to make provision for the enforcement of contractual terms by third parties. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a first time.--(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Bill read a first time, and to be printed.

Trustee Delegation Bill [H.L.]

The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, I beg to introduce a Bill to amend the law relating to the delegation of trustees' functions by power of attorney and the exercise of such functions by the donee of a power of attorney; and to make provision about the authority of the donee of a power of attorney to act in relation to land. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a first time.-- (The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Bill read a first time, and to be printed.

Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Bill [H.L.]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): My Lords, I beg to introduce a Bill to provide for the referral of offenders under 18 to youth offender panels; to make provision in connection with the giving of evidence or information for the

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purposes of criminal proceedings; and for connected purposes. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.--(Lord Williams of Mostyn.)

On Question, Bill read a first time, and to be printed.

Disability Rights Commission Bill [H.L.]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): My Lords, I beg to introduce a Bill to establish a Disability Rights Commission and make provision as to its functions; and for connected purposes. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a first time.--(Baroness Blackstone.)

On Question, Bill read a first time, and to be printed.

European Parliamentary Elections Bill

Brought from the Commons; read a first time, and to be printed.

Parliamentary Privilege: Joint Committee

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): My Lords, I beg to move the first Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the Commons message of Monday last be now considered and that a Select Committee of six Lords be appointed to join with the Committee appointed by the Commons, as the Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege, to review parliamentary privilege and make recommendations there on;

That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following Lords be named of the Committee:

L. Archer of Sandwell, L. Mayhew of Twysden, L. Merlyn-Rees, L. Nicholls of Birkenhead, L. Waddington, L. Wigoder;

That the Committee have power to agree with the Commons in the appointment of a Chairman;

That the Committee have leave to report from time to time;

That the Committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the proceedings of the Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege in the last Session of Parliament be referred to the Committee;

That the Minutes of Evidence taken before the Committee from time to time shall, if the

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Committee think fit, be printed and delivered out; and

That the Attorney-General, the Lord Advocate, the Solicitor-General and the Solicitor-General for Scotland, being Members of either House, may attend the Committee, may take part in deliberations, may receive Committee papers and may give such other assistance to the Committee as may be appropriate, but shall not vote or make any Motion or move any amendment or be counted in the quorum.--(The Chairman of Committees.)


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