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Counsellors of State Bill [Lords]

Volume 723: debated on Thursday 1 December 2022

Considered in Committee (Order, this day)

[Mr Nigel Evans in the Chair]

Clause 1

Additional Counsellors of State

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

The clause provides that His Royal Highness the Earl of Wessex and Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal can be delegated royal functions as Counsellors of State during his or her lifetime respectively. Subsection (2) provides that Their Royal Highnesses are subject to the proviso and disqualification from acting as a Counsellor of State as set out in the 1937 Act.

Clause 2 establishes the short title and provides that the Bill will come into force on the day after it receives Royal Assent.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 1 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 2 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

The Deputy Speaker resumed the Chair.

Bill reported, without amendment.

Third Reading

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.

These are slightly unusual proceedings; the House is not accustomed to such agreement. It has been an honour to be part of these rare proceedings—and rare they are, as our House has not had to debate such matters for nearly 70 years, since 1953. It is therefore right that I take a few moments to thank all of those who have been responsible for drawing up such important legislation so quickly. I thank particularly our excellent officials in the Cabinet Office, who in many ways are the guardians of the constitution, and the Cabinet Secretary for his particular knowledge of these matters. I also thank the right hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Angela Rayner), his Majesty’s loyal Opposition and the hon. Member for Argyll and Bute (Brendan O'Hara) from the SNP Front Bench for their genuinely constructive and supportive position on these matters.

It is perhaps fitting that we are touching lightly on these matters this year, in which we have been reminded of how the monarchy remains a fundamental part of our living and breathing constitution, as it has been since the formation of our kingdom in the 10th century. It also remains an enormous asset to our country and an intrinsic part of who we are. I am delighted that the Bill has commanded such clear support and commend it to the House. God save the King.

I follow the Parliamentary Secretary in thanking those who have spoken in the debates on this Bill, both in this House and in the other place, especially my noble Friend Baroness Smith of Basildon, who spoke for the Opposition. Thanks are also due to all those who have worked on the legislation before us during its passage through the House. I join the Minister in thanking his officials, and so many others.

As the Minister said, Bills do not often go through the House like this. It is testament not only to the affection that the British people and this House feel in recognition of all the royals do for us, but to how we are able to work with our officials to get things through speedily. If anybody wants to study what happens in this House, this would be a really nice way of looking at how Bills go through Parliament—it would be a shorter lesson than some of the other Bills that many hon. Members have been through.

As we know, the passage of legislation through this House is not always simple—and very often, we would say that that is quite right—but I hope we have shown today that where there is consensual and necessary legislation that we need to bring forward, we can act quickly and responsibly. Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, and God save the King.

I add my voice to those who have thanked everyone who was involved in bringing this Bill quickly and speedily to the Floor of the House, and to everyone who helped get it passed with such unanimity and good humour. On the subject of good humour, I have a quick history lesson for the Minister: the kingdom that he referred to as beginning in the 10th century actually began in 1603 with the Union of Crowns, when the King of Scots took the throne of the United Kingdom. That is just a brief history lesson for everyone.

We have all learned something today; we have also learned how speedily legislation can go through the House when everybody is agreed. It has been my honour and privilege to have been in the Chair through all those stages.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read the Third time and passed, without amendment.