Order of Consideration Motion
My Lords, my noble friend the Minister has not given any explanation as to why the clauses of the Bill should be taken in that particular order. More particularly, in the earlier exchanges, he declined—I think that would be the right way to put it—to give a guarantee that, before we proceed to debate amendments on Report, the fiscal framework will be before the House in such a way that we can appraise the extent to which it is fair between the various parts of the United Kingdom.
The Minister will be well aware that the suggestion was made in the debate yesterday that, if we do go straight to Report, we should alter the way in which proceedings go ahead on that occasion so that we could at least speak more than once, and perhaps one should give further consideration to the situation. We will not, of course, have the opportunity to debate any clauses stand part on Report.
The way in which this matter has been proceeded with is quite intolerable. Parliament is being prevented from holding the Government to account in the proper way, and we are not being given the information on which we are bound to rely in deciding whether this is a sensible measure or not. It has gone through the House of Commons with no scrutiny at all of the fiscal framework, as I understand it, and we have had no discussion on the details of the framework in this House. It is really dreadful, given the magnitude of what is at stake here, in terms of the effect on individual constituencies and constituents, that we should not have a proper debate on this issue.
I hope that the Government can come forward with a clear assurance that we are not going ahead. I understand all the political implications with Scotland and so on, but the fact of the matter is that we are not being allowed to carry out our duty properly. I believe that this is an appalling state of affairs and has to be put right.
I thank my noble friend, and will make three points in response. First, the purpose of the Motion that I have just moved is to ensure that we take Report in the same order that we took Committee. Secondly, to address the central point that he makes, we have done that precisely to meet the intent of what he is seeking: to give more time to reach agreement on the fiscal framework and to ensure that, when we come to the second day of Report on 29 February, we have an opportunity to scrutinise that framework. Thirdly, it was suggested yesterday that the rules of Committee should apply to Report, and I know that is being discussed through the usual channels.