By popular demand (well, to be more exact a number of colleagues apparently enjoyed the procedural wrangle I had yesterday with the Leader of the House, Thomas Galloway Dunlop du Roy de Blicquy Galbraith, 2nd Baron Strathclyde) I reproduce the whole exchange in which I tried (albeit rather cheekily) to bring forward a debate on the timing of the introduction of the new arrangements for policing – as recorded in Hansard:
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): My Lords, before the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, has the opportunity to move his manuscript Amendment 15A, I need to give the House some procedural advice as Leader of the House-it is a very rare occurrence but one that I need to do. I have to inform the House that the Clerk of Public Bills has written to advise me that this amendment is inadmissible and that the noble Lord, Lord Harris of Haringey, has tabled it against the advice of the clerks. Paragraph 8.56 of the Companion provides that in such rare circumstances it is for me to ask the House to endorse the opinion of the Public Bill Office, and I readily do so.
The Public Bill Office advises me and the House that the amendment is about commencement, not the subject of the clause itself-namely, the Mayor of London’s Office for Policing and Crime. The reason the noble Lord, Lord Harris, may have been tempted to attempt this procedural manoeuvre is clear: he is seeking to advance a vote on the commencement of the London provisions of this Bill. That is a matter of political tactics, but tactics, or the policy, are not why I rise to address the House this afternoon. I wish only to deal with a matter of procedure.
The clerks have advised that this amendment is inadmissible under the Companion and I invite the House not to allow the noble Lord, Lord Harris, to move his manuscript Amendment 15A. The difficulty is of course compounded because the amendment is a manuscript amendment. The Companion also provides that,
I have to agree that this is not how we should go about our business. In short, the PBO has advised the House that this first amendment is inadmissible and I invite the House to agree. However, I reassure the House and the noble Lord that he will have every opportunity to speak to the issue he wishes to raise in the proper place when Clause 159 is debated. I therefore invite the noble Lord, Lord Harris, not to move his amendment. If he chooses to do so, and the Companion does not prevent him doing so, the amendment is in the hands of the House.
Lord Harris of Haringey: My Lords, if it is in order, I would like to respond to what the Leader of the House has said. It is very difficult sometimes to determine why particular amendments are moved in a particular way and at a particular time. There were a number of reasons for my seeking the indulgence of the House to put forward this manuscript amendment at this time. The first is the question of relevance. There is a specific proposal at the moment that the implementation and creation of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime should proceed in advance of that for the rest of the country and should take place in October 2011, rather than October 2012. Therefore, my manuscript amendment is designed to make clear that preparations, some of which will be costly, should not go forward at this time.
The second reason I felt it necessary to bring forward the amendment in this way was that I had anticipated that there would be an amendment, either from the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, who moved such an amendment in Committee, or from the Government, about the transitional arrangements for the introduction of the Mayor’s Office, and, indeed, of the offices for policing and crime commissioners. A detailed look over the weekend made it clear that such transitional details were not being put before the House and therefore I thought that it was important that we have this opportunity.
The final reason for putting it before the House is that there are, of course, important security issues associated with this. I am slightly bemused about where we are today because I also tabled an amendment on Friday which does not appear either in the list that we received this morning of amendments supplementary to the Second Marshalled List, nor as a manuscript amendment. It seems to have gone into some void in the Public Bill Office, but it, too, was relevant to this point and might have assisted the House had we had it before us. It was also clear from my manuscript amendment that this related to an amendment later on the agenda in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Doocey. That, I know-and, of course, she will speak for herself should we get to the point of debating this
amendment-is about security of this country during the Olympics period and whether or not the disruption that will be caused in administrative arrangements is sensible at that time.
Those are my reasons for putting forward this amendment and I hope that the House will agree that they are valid reasons, notwithstanding the inconvenience that I am sure it puts the House to. No doubt the noble Lord will wish to respond and I hope that I will then be able to move my amendment.
Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, I do not think that there is any quarrel about whether or not these issues can be debated. The decision of the clerks is about where the debate should take place. Perhaps I may read out the advice about the grounds of inadmissibility, which is very clear and simple. In the view of the Public Bill Office the manuscript amendment is not admissible on the grounds that it is not relevant to the clause to which it is tabled. That is the first rule under paragraph 8.59 on page 132 of the Companion.
as set out in Amendment 310 to Clause 159, which would affect the commencement of Chapters 1 to 6 of Part 1. In the view of the clerks, this amendment is not relevant to Clause 4 as it affects commencement, which is the subject of Clause 159. In addition, Amendment 310 covers Clauses 1 to 79, several of which have already been debated.
My purpose is simply to bring to the attention of the House the strongest possible and clearest advice of the clerks, which is that this is admissible. In parenthesis, I can also tell the noble Lord that a transitional government amendment will be tabled today relating to Schedule 15. It will be debated in its proper place next week. It is up to the House and the noble Lord to decide what he wishes to do with his amendment but the advice from the clerks, and therefore the advice that I give as Leader of the House, is completely clear.
Lord Harris of Haringey: I am grateful to the noble Lord the Leader of the House for that further clarification. I am grateful also to hear that an amendment on transition is being tabled today. I say, in parenthesis, as was the noble Lord’s point, that this demonstrates the problems we have had with this Bill; that is, the late tabling of government amendments and the problems that we have in terms of determining exactly the intention of the Government in terms of various clauses, which is one of the problems that we all face. No doubt we will hear again an apology from the noble Baroness, Lady Browning, about the problems that the Home Office have faced and we will accept it with the usual good grace.
The amendment is tabled there because currently detailed work is going on about the early implementation and the introduction of the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime in the London area. This is in advance of the Bill receiving Royal Assent, with a view to trying to get the implementation from October or shortly thereafter. That is why it is relevant to the place it is in and why I moved it in respect of this line in Chapter 2. It is not irrelevant to that point, which is why I moved it. The clerks may not see the relevance. Perhaps because of the hurried telephone calls that I had while inspecting security arrangements at Heathrow airport this morning, we did not have an opportunity to discuss it in detail. The amendment is about ensuring that we do not press ahead in advance of legislative authority.
Lord Strathclyde: Before the noble Lord continues, there is no point in having this debate on whether the amendment is admissible. The advice from the clerks is clear. Now the House will need to take a view as to whether the noble Lord should continue.
The Lord Speaker (Baroness Hayman): Perhaps I may be of assistance to the House. At the moment, no other Motion is before the House and the noble Lord’s amendment has been called. Normal procedure would be for him to move his amendment.
Lord Richard: Perhaps the Leader of the House could help me. From the muttering around the House, it would seem that there is a feeling that perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Harris, should not move his amendment in view of the clear indications given by the clerks. However, I am not clear about what the procedure should be now. Should there be a Motion before the House as to whether the amendment should be moved, on which, if necessary, the House can divide? How does it work? I never came across this particular type of issue when I was Leader of the Opposition or Leader of the House, or since. I should be grateful if the noble Lord could enlighten me.
It is true that there is a lacuna in the procedure and when I discovered this about half an hour ago I suggested that the Procedure Committee should look at it. In the normal course of events, there is an underlying assumption in the Companion that the mover of the manuscript amendment would feel so moved as to not move the amendment. However, as I said earlier, under the terms of self-regulation the amendment is ultimately in the hands of the House. There is no Motion before the House. There is the possibility of a closure Motion or indeed the Motion that the noble Lord be no longer heard. Both are quite heavy-handed. I dare say that if the noble Lord insisted on moving his amendment the House would take a pretty dim view of it, and if he tried to convince the House of the merits of his case I suspect he would not succeed.
Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, can the Leader of the House advise me? I wish to vote in support of my noble friend’s amendment but I am not clear, on the advice of the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, the Leader of the House, whether any subsequent Division would be about the procedure or the content of the amendment. If it is about the procedure, surely the Lord Speaker has indicated that the Motion before the House is the amendment, and therefore because I support the amendment I want to support it in a Division. However, I take seriously the advice that has been given, so I am sure the Leader of the House can advise me, even though he might not approve of my voting intentions.
Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, the proper advice I would give the noble Baroness, who I know is a stickler for such things, is to advise her noble friend not to move the amendment this afternoon, given the very clear advice of the clerks, and to speak to his amendment when it comes up in the proper place later on Report.
Lord Harris of Haringey: My Lords, I hope I have been of service to the House in identifying a lacuna in the Standing Orders. I hope therefore that this will be an opportunity for us to look in detail at some of these difficult procedures. All I was trying to do was to avoid unnecessary duplicate expenditure in advance of legislative authority and to enable the House to debate the security of the nation. However, the Leader of the House has three times at least reiterated the firm advice of the clerks on this point, and I would be foolish to persist beyond that. I assume, however, if I wished to bring forward this self-same amendment at Third Reading there would now be no objection to me so doing.