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Cross-Bench Funding

Volume 700: debated on Thursday 20 March 2008

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

Moved, That, in the opinion of this House, the resolution of the House of 30 July 2002 (Financial Assistance to Opposition Parties) shall have effect as if paragraph (2)(a) provided for £61,003 to be the maximum amount of financial assistance which may be given to the Convenor of the Cross-Bench Peers for the year beginning with 1 April 2008; and paragraph (2)(b) shall apply in relation to each subsequent year accordingly.—(Baroness Ashton of Upholland.)

My Lords, this is a very welcome addition to the independent Cross-Bench Peers’ modest income, and I thank my noble friend Lord Williamson of Horton, my predecessor, who began negotiations for this heady increase. It is not a princely sum, but it will enable us to engage a part-time assistant, and I have no doubt that it will help us to provide us a better service in our office for the Cross-Bench Peers.

My Lords, although these Benches support this addition for the Cross Benches, it really is very unsatisfactory that help to the opposition parties in this House is completely in the gift of the Government of the day. The sooner we have a proper structure and mechanism for providing help to the opposition parties, as is the case in the Commons, the healthier it will be for the working of this House, rather than having these ad hoc arrangements as in the proposal before us today.

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lords, Lord McNally and Lord Strathclyde, for their generous support for the proposition I put to them to enhance the extremely modest amounts of money. However, I absolutely take the point which has been made—and which the noble Lord and the noble Lord, Lord Shutt, have made to me on a regular basis—and I am more than happy to start discussions, without any suggestion of where I might take them, to see how this might be taken forward.

On Question, Motion agreed to.