Procedure and Privileges Committee Debate

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Baroness Fox of Buckley

Main Page: Baroness Fox of Buckley (Non-affiliated - Life peer)

Procedure and Privileges Committee

Baroness Fox of Buckley Excerpts
Tuesday 28th November 2023

(6 months, 2 weeks ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack
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I speak often, but not at length. I believe that it is very important indeed that we follow what the Companion says and, to add to what the Senior Deputy Speaker said, that we abandon the practice of reading supplementary questions. It should not be beyond the wit of any Member of your Lordships’ House to ask a brief, spontaneous question without having a great long text in front of him or her. I hope that the Senior Deputy Speaker will take that one on board when he is next discussing these matters with the appropriate committee. It would improve things—although I also say that his point on intemperate language should be relayed to another place.

Baroness Fox of Buckley Portrait Baroness Fox of Buckley (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, I seek some reassurance. “Intemperate language” I understand, but “argumentative” was used as not being appropriate. It may be because I am argumentative but I think that scrutiny and the important role of this House, as it now has the responsibility of holding the Foreign Secretary to account, means that there is likely to be some argument. I worry about the potential of oversanitising the nature of the discussion. No one should be rude, but the word “argumentative” is a little worrying. Perhaps the Senior Deputy Speaker could reassure me that the committee is not trying to quell dissent and have a chilling effect on free speech.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark Portrait Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab Co-op)
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My Lords, before we hear the Senior Deputy Speaker’s response, I say that I fully support both reports. The proposals are practical and sensible and aid scrutiny. I have been in the House for more than 13 years. When I first came, we were constantly reminded about sticking to the Companion, and it was good, sensible advice. That seems to have stopped in recent years, perhaps because of the pandemic. I suggest that all of us get a copy of the Companion from the Printed Paper Office. It will make excellent bedtime reading. If we stick to the Companion, it aids scrutiny and our business. Sometimes we all sit here very frustrated when colleagues are not sticking to the Companion and are straying all over the place with waffly speeches, waffly questions and waffly answers. It is not good. Let us all get a copy of the Companion and start using it when we come back.