My Lords, today is the penultimate day of Committee on the Nationality and Borders Bill. As the time available for this Bill in Committee is now limited, we will, I am afraid, sit late today to make sure that we get to the target group. It is perfectly possible if all noble Lords co-operate. There is no dinner break business, but we will take a short break of 30 minutes at around 7.30 pm.
I know the significance of the issues in this Bill. So far, we have debated more than 100 amendments; we have about the same number to go. We must finish this Committee stage by the end of Thursday. So far, we have spent 20 hours in Committee on the Bill, but there is a lot of other legislation to progress before the end of the Session. The Companion to the Standing Orders says:
“The House has resolved ‘That speeches … should be shorter’. Long speeches can create boredom and tend to kill debate.”
I know that the Front Benches will co-operate, as they have done hitherto, but I ask that all noble Lords do the same. There are very important issues to be discussed in the debates on this Bill but, if all bear in mind the guidance agreed by this House, we can ensure that everyone’s contributions can be heard this afternoon and this evening.
It is not considerate to other noble Lords who want to speak on later groups to make long speeches early in the day, particularly if they repeat points that have already been made or are not directly related to the amendments. So I repeat my request that noble Lords be self-disciplined and considerate to other noble Lords.
My Lords, I thank the Government Chief Whip for his statement at the start of our proceedings.
As always, as the Official Opposition, we will use our best endeavours to progress proceedings. We have before the House important business that is not uncontroversial and deserves to be properly scrutinised in a business-like fashion, giving us the opportunity to understand fully the Government’s intention, question the Government and get to grips with the reasoning behind the Bill during this Committee stage. I will be in discussion with the Government Chief Whip throughout the day on the passage of the Bill.
On behalf of our Benches, I support the principles laid out by the Government and Opposition Chief Whips. It is in the interest of the health of the Front Benches that we at the very least try to end at a reasonable time tonight and on future evenings this week.
I completely agree that long speeches are boring; I do not have a problem with that. My contributions this afternoon and this evening will be short. However, I point out that the Government do this House a disservice when they bring to us huge Bills that really ought to be four different Bills—the police Bill, for example. If they do that, we have to table a lot of amendments, which means a lot of debate. Perhaps the Government should extend the Committee and Report stages so that we can discuss these really important issues with enough time.
My Lords, I do not want to have a long debate; it rather defeats the object of my original remarks. I just point out to noble Lords and the noble Baroness that it is not simply a question of extending our Committee time. The only time left before Easter, if we are to complete the Bills that are already in progress, would mean going into the second half of the Easter Recess. We do not want to do that.