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Volume 414: debated on Monday 27 October 1980

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4.24 p.m.

My Lords, in the light of the Statement which my noble friend Lord Belstead has just repeated, it might be for the convenience of the House if I make a statement of the Government's intentions on the proposed Bill on imprisonment to which my noble friend referred in his Statement. Copies of the typescript of the Bill should be available in another place later today. I have arranged that further copies should be available in the Printed Paper Office tonight, I hope, from 7 p.m. onwards. It is expected that another place will complete their consideration of the Bill tomorrow. Depending on what time the Bill is brought from another place, it will receive a First Reading in your Lordships' House either tomorrow night or at the beginning of business on Wednesday. We would then intend to take the Bill through Second Reading and remaining stages in this House as first business on Wednesday.

The fourth day on Report of the Local Government, Planning, and Land (No. 2) Bill will, therefore, be taken on Thursday of this week and not on Wednesday as previously planned. The Report stage of the Broadcasting Bill, at present on the order paper for Thursday of this week, will now take place on Monday, 3rd November.

Any further changes to next week's business resulting from this alteration of business will be reflected on tomorrow's Order Paper. I would add that, in these exceptional circumstances, the Public Bill Office will accept amendments with reference to the Bill as printed in the Commons in the course of tomorrow, Tuesday. I regret very much any inconvenience which this alteration in business will cause Members of this House. I hope that the House will appreciate from my noble friend's Statement the urgency, as has indeed been reflected from the Opposition Front Bench, of the legislation which the Government propose.

My Lords, may I thank the noble Lord for explaining to the House how the business will be altered. Of course, this means a great upheaval, but we understand the emergency under the present circumstances. I believe that the House will accept the necessity for the change. I do not think I need go beyond that.

My Lords, we entirely accept the need for urgency in this matter, although clearly the Bill will need to be scrutinised with care. Can the noble Lord say when he anticipates the Royal Assent will be given?

My Lords, I think it is a little early for me to say that, but obviously from the Government's point of view it will be the sooner the better after the Bill has passed through both Houses.