§ The Queen's Speech reported by The LORD CHANCELLOR.
§ 3.40 p.m.
§ LORD TAYLOR OF MANSFIELD
My Lords, I beg to move, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as follows:
"Most Gracious Sovereign—We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."
My Lords, I confess at the outset that it is with some trepidation and apprehension as to my competence that I rise to move the humble Address, and I approach the task with a deep feeling and sense of humility. I must admit that when I was invited to undertake the task I was taken completely by surprise. My reaction was one of diffidence since, until a few days ago, at no time in my life had I anticipated that on the Opening of a new Parliament I should be asked to move in your Lordships' House the humble Address to Her Majesty. To my noble friend the Leader of your Lordships' House I am grateful for the invitation affording me the privilege, a privilege 13 which comes to very few. During the last twenty-nine years, there have been nine new Parliaments, which means that only eighteen Members of your Lordships' House have had the privilege of moving or seconding the humble Address.
My Lords, the visit of Her Majesty to a number of Commonwealth countries was interrupted by the recent General Election, but I understand Her Majesty proposes to resume her journey. Your Lordships will, I am sure, agree in sending good wishes to Her Majesty and to Prince Philip, and in wishing them well in the strengthening of the bonds and ties of friendship with Commonwealth countries. I notice from the gracious Speech that the visits of Her Majesty are not by any means at an end. The proposed visit of Her Majesty and Prince Philip to Indonesia and Japan, and the State visit of Her Majesty the Queen of Denmark to Britain will, I am sure, be fully welcomed by your Lordships. It is a good thing that these visits take place, if only for the reason that they create a better understanding between the nations of the earth.
My Lords, there is a mention in the gracious Speech of the termination of the State of Emergency, and a reference to the recent coal mining dispute, now happily ended. I can say to your Lordships, after talking with miners this weekend, that as from yesterday the much-needed coal will be coming to the surface. The subject of fuel and energy is at the moment a very topical one. It is exercising the thinking and the expression of the people in the country, not only here but beyond our own shores. Every industrial nation at this moment is talking in terms of fuel and energy; and some of them are wondering and asking, "What are we going to do in the present circumstances?" Well, my Lords, I should like to make a few general observations, leaving on this occasion the controversial and debatable aspects of fuel and energy policy.
One thing stands out clearly, and it is something upon which in your Lordships' House I feel that there will be complete unanimity. That is that in our modern society, with its techniques and sophisticated means and methods of production and distribution, we are dependent on 14 fuel of some kind for the production of energy. The watchword at this moment of time is this: Fuel for energy is a must, for without it the economy would stagnate and enter upon a process of decay. The evidence of the past few months supports this claim: darkened streets and shops, production and manufacturing processes reduced to a three-day week. Even the ladies could go to the hairdressers only during specified hours when the power was there.
My Lords, our power and energy needs to the extent of 90 per cent. are met from three sources: coal, gas and oil. The first two, as we well know, are indigenous; the latter, coming over thousands of miles of the oceans, is imported. I know that that proposition is very elementary, but looked at in a wide context, such as the threat of an embargo or reduced supplies or an astronomical enhanced price for oil, the picture and the pattern of the economy change. I may be accused of being somewhat partial to coal as a fuel; I may have some emotions about it. But I like to think that any partiality I may have in this direction is based on the realities of the economic and financial situation. At the present moment, coal is the most prolific of our indigenous fuels. I admit that for generations it was used prodigally, and that its potential has never been fully exploited. For proof of this claim I rely on three things: history, experience and the evidence of science. I have learned a great deal from my noble friend Lord Energlyn on the scientific aspects of coal: in this particular sphere my noble friend has indeed a great fund of knowledge.
My Lords, recent world events in the sphere of fuel supplies have caused new thinking, and coal has assumed a new importance in our economic life. Fuel, whether it be coal, gas or oil, is not always in the place where it is really needed, as we sometimes realise to our regret. These sources of energy have to be discovered, explored and proved. For instance, coal may be from 100 to 1,000 yards beneath our feet and has to be extracted and transported to the surface. In the process, the mining engineer, the technician and the man at the coal face are indispensible. To put it in a simpler way, however much coal we may have beneath our feet, we cannot have coal without miners.
15 This leads me, perhaps somewhat emotionally, to what I have to say about coal mining. It is a dangerous, unpleasant and dirty job. From the moment of stepping on the cage to stepping off at the end of the shift, life and limb are in jeopardy—and perhaps I may mention in passing that Markham and Lofthouse collieries are two recent examples of the dangers involved.
I come from a mining family. I have worked with and lived among miners for the whole of my life (and still do), sharing their tragedies, their triumphs and disappointments. With all the sincerity that I can call to my command, I say to your Lordships that the coal miners of Britain deserve well of this nation for what they are—and they are a fine body of people—for what they do and for where they go. The day of employing miners on the cheap has passed. That revives nostalgic memories in my own life, because 66 years ago I started work at the pits and my financial remuneration was 1¾d. per hour, or 1s. 3d. per day. To arrest the decline in manpower that is taking place at our pits, a suitable and acceptable financial reward must be paid, commensurate with the danger and the hazards to health connected with the mining industry. May I mention in passing that one of the health hazards is pneumoconiosis. I saw a statistic the other day to the effect that one miner each day dies from that disease.
I welcome the gracious Speech, because there is a lot of meat in it. I will mention only one or two of its proposals. I am glad to see that we are to have the repeal of the Housing Finance Act, together with the freezing of rents, in this Year of Grace, 1974. There is to be a Bill to increase retirement pensions—and here I must declare an interest—and other social security benefits; and there is to be a Bill to repeal the Industrial Relations Act. My views on these topics are well known to your Lordships, and I would only say that during the past two years all the information I have received from both sides of industry has been to the effect that the Industrial Relations Act has poisoned the atmosphere in industrial relations. I welcome the proposal for an inquiry into the future of the coal industry.
There is much more in the gracious Speech that I should like to mention, but 16 time is a restraining influence. There will be opportunities in this new Parliament for your Lordships to debate and discuss the comprehensive proposals which are now before us in the gracious Speech.
In conclusion, it is my belief that, given the opportunity to materialise and to work through our society, the proposals in the gracious Speech can make Britain a happier, a more united and peaceful place. I beg to move the Motion for an humble Address to Her Majesty.
§ Moved, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as follows:
§ "Most Gracious Sovereign—We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."—(Lord Taylor of Mansfield.)
§ 3.58 p.m.
§ LORD BROCKWAY
My Lords, I beg to second my noble friend's Motion for an humble Address in reply to Her Majesty's most gracious Speech. There should have been speaking at this moment the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, and it is only in the last few minutes that it has become known that she is, unfortunately, incapacitated and unable to speak. I am perfectly sure that the whole House will wish the noble Baroness an early and complete recovery.
SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: Hear, hear!
§ LORD BROCKWAY
I confess that I am a little surprised that I should be speaking. It must be due to the fact that I was the first Member of the House whom my noble friend the Leader of the House met after he had the news that the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, would not be able to speak. I have in my hands the speech which the noble Baroness would have delivered, and I am very much tempted to read it to your Lordships instead of making my own speech. Certainly I hope that some way will be found of recording her very memorable words.
My Lords, I want to acknowledge the fact that I was first returned to another place in 1929 and this is the first occasion on which I would have been ready to second the Motion which is now before 17 the House, although it is possible that I might have done so if I had been in the House of 1945. But I do so on this occasion because, having heard and read the Speech, I must say that it appears to me to be the finest programme for a Parliament that has ever been produced for the common people of our country and for the peace of the world. Our country and the world now face quite extraordinary difficulties, such as our economic situation and the conflicts between nations which are now finding expression in the economic sphere as well as in the political sphere. But it can be said for this nation that in moments of crisis it always rises to its noblest heights, and I feel certain that we shall overcome the almost insuperable problems that are now before us. It is not merely that in such circumstances we have the spirit to achieve; it is that in moments of crisis we have the greatest sense of fairness as between sections of the community. I welcome the Speech which is now before us, because it deals with the most moving problems of our people—the problems of poverty, of homelessness and of old age—and because it promises as never before that Parliament will meet those issues.
In the sphere of peace, we are now at a very critical point in world affairs, and there are grave dangers in the background with armaments which could destroy the whole of human life. On the other hand, there are new hopes of détente and peace and co-operation, and it is because I believe this Speech includes proposals that will enable those tendencies in the world which are on the side of co-operation and peace to become supreme that I welcome it so whole heartedly. My Lords, I beg to second my noble friend's Motion for an humble Address.
§ 4.5 p.m.
§ LORD WINDLESHAM
My Lords, I beg to move that the debate be now adjourned until to-morrow. I know that I speak for the whole House in congratulating both noble Lords who have respectively moved and seconded the humble Address. Both made the most admirable speeches and in a way to which the House always responds most generously, by making speeches that rang true to their own characters and their own 18 political beliefs. It is not an easy task, even for those who have rather more notice than the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, to speak on the Motion for the humble Address, but in recent years we have had an unbroken series of speeches of great excellence from Peers of very different political allegiances. But to-day the two noble Lords who have spoken have more than maintained the standard that has been set in the past, and we are all very much in their debt.
The noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Mansfield, is very well known to all of us who attend the House frequently. He was created a Life Peer in, I think, 1966, after 26 years of unbroken service in another place representing the same constituency—the Mansfield Division of Nottinghamshire—for the whole of his period in the House of Commons. In your Lordships' House the noble Lord has been most constant in his attendance, most tolerant and most generous in his opinions, and he is always listened to with great respect and affection. The noble Lord told us in his speech that he started work as a miner 66 years ago and that ever since he has maintained very close contacts with the mining community.
I think all of us share the belief that it is unfortunate that miners, who do work that many others would not have the inclination to do because of the danger, the conditions and the risk to health, to which the noble Lord referred, let alone the skill and the strength, have become as a group of citizens the subject of some political controversy. I do not want to-day to rehearse the pros and cons of the argument over miners' wages—that is for another occasion. But instead let me recall, and let me offer as a tribute to the noble Lord, some lines that may bring back memories of the past to him and to other noble Lords who have a similar background:When in the darkest depths the miner strivingFeels in his arms the vigour of the Lord,Strikes for a kingdom and his King's arriving,Holding his pick more splendid than the sword".All of us regret that the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, could not be here to speak. We heard that the noble Lord the Leader of the House had invited her to second the Motion, and we were 19 extremely sorry to hear of her accident this afternoon which prevented her from speaking. We all hope that she will be restored to full health again as soon as possible, in order that we may enjoy without any delay the colour and the vivacity which she always brings to our debates.
There must be few people in either House of Parliament who can be counted upon to make a speech on an occasion like this at less than half an hour's notice—for I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, had literally that amount of notice. And, my goodness! what an admirable speech he made! He showed all his old skill as an orator. I saw him sitting there, head back, eyes closed, in the throes of composition, while indeed his noble friend was making his own speech. He spoke with the sincerity and radicalism that we have come to expect of him over the years he has been a Member of your Lordships' House. We saw the scope of his interests. We know already the range of his mind and the great grace of expression he brings to debate. To-day, even in his very long career in public life, he has notched up a most notable Parliamentary achievement.
To-morrow, when we shall be debating the humble Address and discussing the state of the Nation, and in the three succeeding days, we shall have ample opportunity to question the Government, to probe their intentions and the policies which are contained within the gracious Speech which we have just heard read from the Woolsack by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor. But this afternoon we enjoy traditionally a domestic prelude which enables us to say, largely untroubled by the public gaze, what we want to say in personal terms to our fellow Peers, in whatever part of the House they may sit.
Let me first congratulate most warmly my successor as Leader of the House, the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd. I am pretty sure that he regards this office, as I did, as the most rewarding that any Peer can hold. The noble Lord's record in the service of the House has certainly well earned him this high honour. He has, as we know, a very long record of service to his Party in your Lordships' House, 20 as Chief Whip, both in Government and in Opposition before that, and as Deputy Leader since 1968. We also remember his successful period at the Commonwealth Relations Office and later at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, where he served as Minister of State between 1967 and 1970. The noble Lord will not mind my saying, I am sure, that he is a comparatively rare bird on the Labour Benches in that he is an hereditary Peer. What is more, he is a Peer who succeeded a father who also had given very long service to the Labour Party, as Chief Agent for many years before the war and later as Chief Whip in your Lordships' House during the first post-war Labour Administration. We know the noble Lord very well. We know and admire his qualities of versatility and skill in debate.
In the last Parliament I sometimes thought that the two noble Lords, Lord Shepherd and Lord Beswick—and we congratulate also Lord Beswick on his return to the Front Bench and appointment as Deputy Leader of the House—reminded me of a pair of exceptionally redoubtable wicket-keepers who never allowed any loose remarks from the Dispatch Box by Government spokesmen on that side of the House to slip by them, But above all we know of Lord Shepherd's absolute dedication to this House, and we have every confidence that he will safeguard our interests as effectively as did his predecessors.
I do not want to end my short remarks to-day without saying a word about the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton.
§ LORD WINDLESHAM
My Lords, we are very sorry that he cannot return to the Government again, but he must be looking around him with some satisfaction this afternoon at the strong and very promising Front Bench that has been formed by his Party in the House. In his long period as Leader, both as Leader of the House and as Leader of the Opposition since 1970, Lord Shackleton has encouraged many Peers, not only those on his own side of the House but many Peers in all parts of the House; and he guided our affairs over a period of six years or more with tact and wisdom, and invariable cheerfulness. I, more than most of your Lordships, am in his debt 21 for much personal kindness and co-operation which he showed towards me when I took over as Leader last year.
The noble Lord has now retired to the Elder Statesmen's Bench, along with others—the noble Lord, Lord Greenwood of Rossendale, the noble Baroness, Lady White, and the noble Lord,, Lord Diamond—who carried such a heavy burden in Opposition. I do not know whether the noble Lord will be sitting next to the noble Lord, Lord Wigg (they seem to be separated at the moment), but it will be a formidable row of senior politicians. When I asked the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, yesterday (I hope he will not mind my saying this) about his new role, he said that he and Lord Greenwood had decided while on that Bench, evidently after a little debate between themselves, to model themselves on the figure of the noble Lord, Lord Nugent of Guildford, whom they had admired. They had come to this conclusion separately, I believe; but they admired so much the way in which my noble friend had conducted himself and come to the rescue of the Government Front Bench from time to time when we were on that side of the House. But, since there was some rivalry for this post, they had decided that one had better be "Nugent" and the other had better be "Guildford".
My Lords, in this Parliament we on this side of the House shall not be obstructive for the sake of it, but in an uncertain Parliamentary situation—and we shall be debating the implications of this to-morrow—we have our duty to do as the Upper House of Parliament. I am sure that we shall interpret our responsibilities with restraint and good sense, as we did between 1964 and 1970 when my noble friend Lord Carrington led the Opposition so wisely. But, at the same time, I am absolutely determined to reduce that six-year period in Opposition very considerably. However, these are matters for the resumed debate on the gracious Speech rather than for today; so let me end by once again congratulating most warmly the noble Lord, Lord Taylor of Mansfield, and the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, on the speeches they made in moving and seconding the Address. My Lords, I beg to move that this debate be adjourned until to-morrow.
§ Moved, That this debate be adjourned until to-morrow.—(Lord Windlesham.)
§ 4.18 p.m.
§ LORD BYERS
My Lords, it is my pleasant duty to support the Motion proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, and sincerely to congratulate the mover and the seconder of the loyal Address on the manner in which they both acquitted themselves today. They cannot have had very much notice. Indeed, we know about Lord Brockway's notice, but Lord Taylor cannot have had much notice, either, of the task he was called upon to perform. I doubt whether he had fully recovered from the surprise of finding himself on the opposite side of the House from that which he expected to occupy; and I must say I shared that surprise with him. But he gave us a magnificent speech. I was particularly moved by the sincerity of his views and the highly informed nature of his comments on the present world fuel crisis, because he brings to this subject all the knowledge and experience of practical coal mining which he has engaged in for part of his lifetime. I only express the hope that, if we ever get to the problem, he will use his moderating influence on the new Minister of State for Energy, if that should become necessary.
From these Benches I would express our great sympathy with the noble Baroness, Lady Birk, and would say we are very sorry indeed that she was not able to perform the task of seconding the Motion. But I never thought that I should see the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, streak into action in such a manner. His selection for this task was a tribute to his capacity for impromptu speechmaking on any subject under the sun, and I was delighted that even at such short notice he found something new to say; and, brief as it was, how effective it was! We are grateful to him.
Today is, by tradition, a non-controversial one, and like the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, I will not dwell on the difficulties which any minority Government will encounter; but I should like to offer my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, on his appointment as Lord Privy Seal and—more important to us in this House—on his appointment as Leader of your Lordships' House. 23 That job is no sinecure even in normal times, but the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, has proved himself to be a House of Lords' man with a deep responsibility to your Lordships' House. I discovered this when he and I were members of a small committee, with the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, and the noble Earl, Lord Perth, on the workings of this House, and I can promise him that as far as administration is concerned he will get all the co-operation which a Leader of the House is entitled to demand. On policy, of course, we shall have to judge every case on its merits—and he knows what that means!
Many of us had expected the Leadership of the House to be undertaken by the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, and I for one, while sincerely welcoming his successor, very much regret the ending of this working relationship which he and I established, both when he was in Government and during the last three years when he was in Opposition. But the loss to the House—I hope it will not be a loss—is certainly a gain to industry, and I am sure the noble Lord will combine both tasks very well indeed in the future. However, I am sorry to see the relationship which began with the reform of the House of Lords ending with his giving it up at this particular moment. I am indeed grateful for everything that he has done for me, because I was a relatively new Member of the House when I first established a relationship with him.
To the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, I can only express my condolences on the shortness of his term of office; but at least it was long enough for him to demonstrate his capacity, not only for leadership but for the innate courtesy which went with that leadership and which commended itself very much to your Lordships' House during his term of office.
I think we shall all miss the presence of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebonc, on the Woolsack, if only for the quality of his asides, none of which we have been able to record in this technological age; some we have preserved for posterity, while others, unfortunately, are lost for ever. But we welcome his successor and we wish him well in his new appointment. 24 We Liberals can still claim from these benches that we have "Jones the Vote", but the Labour Party have "Jones the Law" and we congratulate him.
I would not wish to conclude without congratulating the noble Baroness the new Chief Whip on her historic appointment. I understand that her predecessor, the noble Earl, Lord St. Aldwyn, has placed his full-dress uniform at her disposal. I am sure that the minor adjustment which will be required will be the least of her worries! Anyway, while I can only say that we commiserate with the noble Lord the Leader of the House and the Chief Whip in the formidable task which lies ahead of them, we wish them well; and they will certainly have our co-operation in the running of the House. My Lords, I beg to support the Motion.
§ 4.25 p.m.
§ THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (LORD SHEPHERD)
My Lords, it would be logical for me, in joining with the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, and the noble Lord, Lord Byers, in congratulating the mover and the seconder of the loyal Address to speak first of my noble friend Lord Taylor of Mansfield, but I think on this occasion he will forgive me if I refer to my noble friend Lord Brockway. At five minutes past three, I was informed that my noble friend Lady Birk had suffered an accident—fortunately a minor accident; I think a stitch was required in her forehead—and would not be able to speak. I went through the corridors and other places I will not mention. My noble friend was not the first that I approached. I had two in mind: my noble friend was one and the other was my noble friend Lord Soper. I felt sure that if I could find either of them I should have no qualms about the seconding of the loyal Address. I found my noble friend Lord Soper, only to be informed that he had already undertaken the duty on a previous occasion.
I am very grateful indeed to my noble friend Lord Brockway for speaking at such short notice and I should like to say how much, like all other Members of this House, I appreciated the quality of what he said to us. He has not asked me to make a request but I will make one on his behalf. I understand that he has his name down to speak in the debate on foreign affairs on Thursday. By speaking 25 this afternoon he has used up that right, but I understand that through the flexibibility of the procedures in your Lordships' House the noble Lord may speak twice by consent, and I hope that in these particular circumstances the House will not deny my noble friend the chance to speak and thereby not deny your Lord ships' House the benefit of his views.
I asked my noble friend Lord Taylor of Mansfield to move the loyal Address because I felt that we should have someone who could speak of the mining community—and I believe that no one in your Lordships' House has closer knowledge or a greater understanding of these men. There was a second reason why I wanted my noble friend to move the loyal Address. The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, referred to my father. It was at Mansfield that my father joined and formed the first I.L.P. many years ago. I am very glad indeed that the majority is still near the 16,000 mark—not yet sufficient to warrant the phrase that you do not count them, you merely weigh them. I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Taylor of Mansfield for what he has said and for representing a particular point of view over many years.
The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, said that this is a domestic occasion. He referred to my period in this House. I have been here now just 20 years, some 16 of them on one or other of the two Front Benches. I have served in your Lordships' House under eight Leaders of the House, three Leaders of the Opposition and two Leaders of the Liberal Party, so if there is any significance in this it must be that the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, has a greater hope of tenure of those Benches than perhaps I have on these.
On reading the various debates on the loyal Address, one frequently comes across the phrase, "He was a model leader". Looking at those eight, and particularly those who are present today, I feel a slight query as to what is a model leader. First, there is the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone. He always enjoyed controversy; certainly he enjoyed it on the Front Bench and he brought it to the Woolsack. But he always had a kind attitude and regard for Members of this House, and I suspect that when he was Leader that controversy may 26 have been to some extent due to the pugnaciousness and hard-hitting speeches of my late noble friend Lord Alexander of Hillsborough. Then of course there is the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, who has great sensitivity for your Lordships' House, and a tendency to trail his coat. We have learnt our lesson: that when he trails it we do not follow because we know some of the consequences. Then there was the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, who was always conciliatory and moderate in his approach. The noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, was there for only a short time, but we all appreciated his conscientiousness and his understanding on matters which the Opposition brought to him. If there was one common element in all I have spoken about, it was that these noble Lords all put the House of Lords first; they sought to maintain its highest traditions, and to every Member, wherever he may sit, however important the Whips might regard that person, they were always open for consultation. I will try my utmost to follow that example. I am conscious that the traditions of this House must be sustained; they cannot just be taken for granted. That is what I will seek to do during the period in which I serve in this office.
My Lords, I should also like to congratulate my noble and learned friend Lord Elwyn-Jones, who sits on the Woolsack and who comes here after serving with great distinction in another place. I have no doubt at all that he will be a great power to the Government. I should like, too, to congratulate my other friends who will sit on the Front Bench, and to say how particularly delighted I am that my noble friend Lord Beswick will be serving as Deputy Leader. I am also very pleased to learn that the noble Earl, Lord St. Aldwyn, is going to continue as Chief Whip for his Party in this House. Throughout my time as Chief Whip he always extended to me first-class advice, and on occasions sympathy. Therefore I will return advice and sympathy to the noble Earl. If at any time he finds the wiles and seductions of the new Government Chief Whip, my noble friend Lady Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, too difficult, he must come to me, and I will seek to speak in his support. I also congratulate my noble friend on her appointment. I do not think I want to see her in a uniform such as the one worn by the noble Earl; I hope that 27 there will be something more attractive for her. Also, I look forward to hearing the comments of the Gentlemen at Arms.
My Lords, taking an office such as this gives one a lot of joy. However, one understands that there are some who have disappointment instead—and I am thinking particularly of my noble friend Lord Shackleton. Like all my colleagues, I should have been happy to serve under him again, but for reasons which are understandable—private and family reasons—he has decided that he cannot accept office. This is a matter of deep regret to his colleagues on this Front Bench, but we fully understand his feelings. He has been not only a good House of Lords man but also a good Parliamentarian, in the broader sense; and we need good relations with another place. I am indeed pleased that his advice will be always available to us and that he will participate in debates. I must say that I am looking forward to some of the Defence debates when I hope we shall see the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and my noble friend Lord Shackleton, who both have great affection for that high Department, speaking in opposition, or perhaps together.
My Lords, I should conclude by making a short statement on Business. Like the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, we agree that this is not a day for dealing with political matters or some of the constitutional matters that arise: that can be done to-morrow. It has been suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Windlesham, on behalf of the Opposition that to-morrow we should have a general debate on what I think is referred to as the state of the country, or the state of the nation and that on Thursday we should have a debate on Defence and Foreign Affairs. For the following week it has been agreed through the usual channels, for reasons which may be fairly obvious, that we should not sit on Tuesday, March 19, but that on Wednesday, March 20, we should have a debate on energy, industry and economic affairs. It has been agreed that on Thursday, March 21, we should have a debate on law and home affairs. I hope that that course will meet the wishes of your Lordships' House.
My Lords, I thank the noble Lords, Lord Windlesham and Lord Byers, for 28 their congratulations and good wishes. I suspect that I shall need the latter in full measure during the coming years.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly until tomorrow.