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Business of the House

Volume 744: debated on Wednesday 20 March 2013

Motion on Standing Orders

Moved by

That if the Jobseekers (Back to Work Schemes) Bill has been read a second time, Standing Order 46 (No two stages of a Bill to be taken on one day) be dispensed with on Monday 25 March to allow the Bill to be taken through all its remaining stages that day.

My Lords, I thought that at least in moving the Motion, the Leader of the House would have the courtesy to explain why Standing Orders are being dispensed with, particularly as we have so many Cross-Benchers here today to listen to the debate on what is a very controversial Bill, and as we have plenty of time—or at least we would have, as I said last Thursday, when the Leader of the House was not present, if he had not decided summarily and without any consultation to send us off for an extra week’s holiday. I am sure that we would be better served here looking at this Bill properly and in detail rather than having that extra week. I hope that the Leader of the House will have the courtesy to explain to the House why he is moving this Motion.

My Lords, there are two separate issues. One is the need for emergency legislation, the other is to do with the timing of the Easter Recess. I know that there is a lot of strong feeling in the House about the timing of that. I recognise that. A number of noble Lords have made that case to me directly. In these circumstances, the usual channels, just as was the case when the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, was Leader of the House and, before that, Chief Whip, do their best to give the House notice and to order the business in such a way that we can land things when we aim to. We do not always succeed. We do our best, and in doing so we have to strike a balance between the business before us and the costs—the best part of £500,000—of this House sitting for a week.

With regard to the emergency legislation, we have set out the case for that in the Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill. In essence, there is an urgent need to legislate to save £130 million of taxpayers’ money.

Motion agreed.