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Business of the House

Volume 806: debated on Tuesday 13 October 2020

Motion to Agree

Moved by

That Standing Order 72 (Affirmative Instruments) be dispensed with on Wednesday 14 October to enable motions to approve the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19 Alert Level) (Very High) (England) Regulations 2020, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19 Alert Level) (High) (England) Regulations 2020 and the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Local COVID-19 Alert Level) (Medium) (England) Regulations 2020 to be moved, notwithstanding that no report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments on the instruments has been laid before the House.

My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend the Lord Privy Seal, I beg to move the Motion standing in her name on the Order Paper.

This Motion will allow the House to debate the three statutory instruments relating to the new local Covid-19 alert levels tomorrow. The debate on them is taking place in the House of Commons today. This will mean that the debate will take place before the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments and the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee have reported on them. The House as a whole should be very grateful to the members and staff of the two committees for the work they have done in recent weeks to turn around reports on the various health protection SIs as quickly as they have done. On this occasion, following discussions with the usual channels, it was felt that the wide-ranging nature of the new regulations warranted full debates in both Houses at the earliest opportunity. The Government will, of course, take note of anything that either committee has to say about the SI when they report on them. I beg to move.

My Lords, I am a state of some confusion. I thought we were considering the Business of the House Motion relating to the consideration of Commons amendments in the hybrid House. Has that happened already? In that case I am a day late to make comments I would have made to the noble Lord. I have no comments on this Motion.

My Lords, I thank the Chief Whip for raising this. I am surprised; I thought the Leader was in the House today, and I hoped she could come to the House to raise this. I have one question. It is absolutely right that we should have the discussion first. These are made affirmative orders and the longer we wait to debate them, the more ridiculous it becomes.

I asked this through the usual channels, and I would be grateful if the noble Lord would respond. Once we get the reports from the committees, will there be an option for the House to debate them if we think it is appropriate? I would welcome it if he could comment on that because I think that would be helpful to your Lordships’ House. Other than that, I have no comment and we will support the Motion before us today.

My Lords, I am always delighted to answer questions from the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, either in or out of the Chamber; I have done it for many hours in the past and, no doubt, I will continue to do so again in future.

As far as the questions from the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, are concerned, first, the Leader of the House is off to a Cabinet committee, which is why I am here on her behalf. I am happy to say that we will look carefully at what both committees have to say when they report. The structuring of the timetable for the business of the House is of course a matter for the usual channels. We will discuss that with the usual channels when those reports come out, so I do not rule out further debate or rule it in. We will take it as it comes and we will discuss this with the usual channels, as indeed we did on this Motion, and I am grateful to the usual channels for their usual constructive approach. It is worth mentioning that we have made a lot of procedural changes in a very short space of time and it has been done on a consensual basis so far.

Motion agreed.

Sitting suspended.