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Human Rights: Joint Select Committee

Volume 621: debated on Monday 22 January 2001

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3.6 p.m.

My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the Commons message of 17th January be now considered, and that a Select Committee of six Lords be appointed to join with the committee appointed by the Commons,

To consider and report on:

  • (a) matters relating to human rights in the United Kingdom (but excluding consideration of individual cases);
  • (b) proposals for remedial orders, draft remedial orders and remedial orders made under Section 10 of and laid under Schedule 2 to the Human Rights Act 1998; and
  • (c) in respect of draft remedial orders and remedial orders, whether the special attention of the House should be drawn to them on any of the grounds specified in Standing Order 73 (Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments);
  • To report to the House:

  • (a) in relation to any document containing proposals laid before the House under paragraph 3 of the said Schedule 2, its recommendation whether a draft order in the same terms as the proposals should be laid before the House; or
  • (b) in relation to any draft order laid under paragraph 2 of the said Schedule 2, its recommendation whether the draft order should be approved;
  • and to have power to report to the House on any matter arising from its consideration of the said proposals or draft orders; and

    To report to the House in respect of any original order laid under paragraph 4 of the said Schedule 2, its recommendation whether:

  • (a) the order should be approved in the form in which it was originally laid before Parliament; or
  • (b) that the order should be replaced by a new order modifying the provisions of the original order; or
  • (c) that the order should not be approved,
  • and to have power to report to the House on any matter arising from its consideration of the said order or any replacement order;

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

    • L. Carlisle of Bucklow
    • L. Goldsmith
    • L. Lester of Herne Hill
    • B. Perry of Southwark
    • B. Prashar
    • B. Whitaker;

    That the committee have power to agree with the Commons in the appointment of a chairman;

    That the committee have power to adjourn from place to place within the United Kingdom, and to institutions of the Council of Europe outside the United Kingdom no more than four times in any calendar year;

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

    That the committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

    That the minutes of evidence taken before the Committee from time to time shall, if the committee think fit, be printed and delivered out;

    And that the committee do meet with the committee appointed by the Commons on Wednesday 31st January at half-past five o'clock in Committee Room 4B.—( The Chairman of Committees.)

    My Lords, the Motion gives the committee the power to appoint specialist advisers. I wish to repeat the plea that I made in the House on 17th July last year at col. 586, when we were considering the Liaison Committee's third report, regarding a constitutional committee, which could also appoint specialist advisers. I asked the Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees whether the same stage army of pressure groups that have done so much bouncing on constitutional reform would be involved. I ask for a similar assurance in this case. If specialist advisers are appointed, they should not be drawn from the cohorts of the chattering classes, such as Charter 88, the Constitution Unit and Liberty, whose zealots are already looking around for fresh targets, such as the monarchy. Taxpayers' money should not go into those organisations. May I have an assurance that that will not happen, because it would be a wrong use of public funds?

    My Lords, as I am sure that the noble Lord knows, Professor David Feldman will give legal advice to the committee. He is the former Dean of Law at Birmingham University and joined the staff last September as an Officer of both Houses. Any specialist advisers appointed under this power would be additional to Professor Feldman. It will be for the committee to decide, but I am sure that those in the House this afternoon will have heard the noble Lord's point loud and clear.

    On Question, Motion agreed to.