§ Bill, pro forma read la.
§ ADDRESS IN REPLY TO HER MAJESTY'S MOST GRACIOUS SPEECH.
§ The Queen's Speech reported by The LORD CHANCELLOR.
§ 3.50 p.m.
§ Baroness PHILLIPS
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 8 most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament."
My Lords, when one is given the privilege of moving the humble Address to Her Majesty, it is sensible to look at the speeches which have been made by those who have had this opportunity on previous occasions to seek inspiration and confirmation of the pattern expected. I found in my researches that noble Lords have approached their task with trepidation, with humility, with apprehension and with diffidence, and that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, had described this speech as the most difficult Parliamentary performance possible. So perhaps, as one of the children of patronage in your Lordships' House—albeit, I hope, legitimate—I may say that I approach my task with enthusiasm, as befits a worker confronted by a heavy workload at the commencement of a new Session. However, my Lords, and in addition, it is a pleasure to invite your Lordships to join with me in the hope that Her Majesty and His Royal Highness will enjoy their visit to Finland, the United States of America and to Canada. Those of us who play only a minor role in public life know the strain that official tours and visits place upon those undertaking them, and we admire the way in which Her Majesty and His Royal Highness always carry out their duties with courtesy, charm and intelligent understanding.
It is perhaps significant, bearing in mind the venue of at least one visit, that we recall that today is the anniversary of the famous Gettysburg dedication. I understand that the shortest speech made on that occasion was that of President Lincoln; yet this is a speech which is greatly quoted. It is always relevant and always significant. Your Lordships may recall that the President's concluding words were:That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that Government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.My Lords, good government is based on certain principles. At home, its laws must be for the protection of, or the improvement of the lot of, the citizens. Internationally there should be the maintenance of good neighbourliness and the support of the weak and poor nations by 9 those that are richer and stronger. Therefore I welcome the statement in the gracious Speech:My Government will maintain their firm support for the United Nations and the principles of its Charter, and for the Commonwealth with its tradition of concern for the equitable distribution of the world's resources and the promotion of mutual international understanding and co-operation.It is surely man's greed that has caused him to pollute and destroy the beauties of the earth and to fight and destroy his fellow man.
The gracious Speech, in the reference to the attack on inflation, tells us that success is essential to the future health of our economy and our society; for the reduction of the present level of unemployment, which causes deep concern. I have always believed that unemployment is wasteful, inhuman and degrading. The dignity of work is often the only status which many people derive throughout the whole of their life. If work cannot be found in the private sector then it must be found in the public sector, especially when there are so many needs still unmet.
Price controls, we learn, will be vigorously enforced and, while applauding the importance of protecting the poorer members of the community, I would only sound a warning note: that if too much emphasis is placed on price it can result in low prices for the wrong reasons. Many of us will have been disturbed by the suggestion that the "sweat shops" are returning in order to supply cheap clothing. Surely our motive should be value for money, whether it is in a contract between employer and worker or between buyer and seller.
My Lords, I would not presume to enter into the technical discussions which will surround the International Energy Programme, but would merely say that as a young Socialist I believed that the supply of energy and power, as with transport, education and health, were to be owned by the community, not operated as a State monopoly industry with profit as the motive and not the meeting of need. To me there is something sad and wasteful about an elderly lady going to one State agency to collect the necessary money to pay her gas bill to another State agency, or worse, suffering acute discomfort because she cannot afford to buy 10 the necessary heat. Indeed, the gracious Speech refers to increased pensions and social security benefits,to protect the living standards of the most vulnerable members of the community.I should like to enter a plea for the simplification of forms and methods of taking up benefits, since it has become clear that those who are entitled to these benefits do not always receive them, because they do not understand how to set about it.
In company with many of your Lordships, I am delighted to learn that in education priority is to be given to children with special needs. The vocational preparation of young people for the world of work has a strange and ironic ring if there is no work when they eventually leave school. But, as an imaginative plan supplied to me by two young lecturers working with this age group suggests, the present situation represents a challenge and an opportunity, rather than a disaster needing crisis measures. But the vocational approach must be what the young can do for themselves, rather than what we can do for them. There is no reference to further or higher education, but I am heartened to believe that there will be no limitation of teacher training or colleges of education. We always economise on education at our peril.
My Lords, there is one section of the gracious Speech which I sincerely hope will not be put into effect in the coming Session. I refer to the words,Other measures will be laid before you.A very heavy programme of work is outlined, and we must beware that we do not legislate too much.
§ Several Noble Lords: Hear, hear!
§ Baroness PHILLIPS
My Lords, G. K. Chesterton described this as:We hear men speaking for us of new laws, strong and sweet.Yet there is no man speaketh as we speak in the street.To the Leader of the House, the Government Chief Whip, our hardworking Members of all Front Benches I extend the felicitations of your Lordships at the start of a new Parliament. My Lords, 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."—(Baroness Phillips.)
§ 4 p.m.
§ Lord MAIS
My Lords, I beg to second the Motion of my noble friend Lady Phillips for an humble Address in reply to Her Majesty's most gracious Speech. May I say also how greatly indebted I am to my noble friend the Leader of the House for giving me this opportunity. First, may I associate myself with the words of my noble friend Lady Phillips with regard to the Royal Family. It is almost exactly three years to the day since I had the honour of entertaining Her Majesty and the Royal Family to a luncheon in Guildhall on the occasion of their silver wedding. On that occasion I found it almost as much of an ordeal as I find standing to address your Lordships today and I number myself among those who with humility have done so in the past.
At that luncheon I made reference to the fact that Her Majesty had grown up in a period of violence and danger, but that it appeared to Her subjects that she had faced both at all times unafraid and serene. Tennyson writes of the, "fierce light which beats upon the Throne". There is no fiercer light than that demanded by the television cameras. Television has made visible to this country and the whole world the daily life of Her Majesty and Her Family, each of whom has revealed to the nation harmony, gaiety, and a dedication to service. One of the greatest services which Her Majesty has rendered to this country is the strength and happiness of the Royal Family, and the unity which has been visible to all. Such an example is possibly more important today than it has ever been, for I feel that the strength of the family is the basic strength of this country.
My Lords, I had some hesitation in deciding wheher or not to appear before your Lordships today in uniform; for it is 46 years ago since I was first commissioned and it is 44 years ago since 12 I saw the light and transferred from the Infantry to the Royal Engineers. The temptation, I must confess, was a horse, for in those days you rode, you did not march. Alas!, those days have gone. It is also quite a few years since I left the Reserve on reaching the age limit. I also had grave doubts as to whether I could get into my uniform. I imagine that my difficulties with regard to that problem have been shared in past years by a number of your Lordships. Tight though it may be, I am glad I appear in it before your Lordships, because I have worn it with pride for a very long time. I was granted permission on retirement to wear it on prescribed occasions and I cannot think of a more suitable occasion than this.
My Lords, if I may say so, I feel it is perhaps somewhat unfortunate that not so many of us today have the right and privilege to wear uniform as they did in years gone by. I deeply regret the cuts in the Armed Forces, and particularly the more drastic cuts in the Territorial Army and the Volunteer Reserve. Maybe we cannot afford a Reserve Army or a Regular Army of the size we once had; maybe having regard to the present type of warfare, large bodies of men are no longer necessary. But, in having a Reserve Army—and, to a lesser extent, National Service—we provided a very healthy occupation for young men, an opportunity for them to learn discipline, if they had not already done so; an opportunity for them to learn to accept authority. Above all, there was the opportunity for them to live, work and serve together, and to discover that there is so much good in all men from whatever background.
My Lords, contacts which are made and common interests which arise from having served together have often, in my experience, produced an understanding between both sides in industry, because those responsible for negotiations can share the common experience. They can trust each other; they create an atmosphere that makes it possible to reach settlements acceptable to both sides, something which might not otherwise have been possible. I believe that the investment which provided such experience for young men was an investment we could ill afford to forgo or abandon.
My Lords, turning in more detail to Her Most Gracious Majesty's Address, 13 we must all welcome Her Majesty's Government's intention to work for international agreement on general disarmament, and for preventing the spread, above all, of nuclear weapons. We must all welcome also the assurance of our continued support of the North Atlantic Alliance, and not least co-operation and co-ordination in the procurement of defence equipment. We must all applaud the intention to play our full part in the negotiations on the reduction of the size of the Forces in Central Europe. If that can be achieved, it would be something with which we could be well satisfied. Unfortunately, I doubt very much whether it will rest entirely with Her Majesty's Government. We can but wish them the very best of good fortune in those negotiations.
Nevertheless, in applauding these proposals, one must hope that we shall never forget or lose sight of the fact that we must at all times be able to defend ourselves and to have sufficient Forces available for any emergencies. At this moment, with our commitments to NATO and our commitment in Northern Ireland, Her Majesty's land Forces are very heavily stretched. They deserve all the support that both Government and Opposition can possibly give them. They may not be the great force they were at one time, but the quality has not fallen. The quality of our young soldiers, sailors and airmen is as good today as it has ever been. If one requires evidence of this, one has the splendid example in Northern Ireland. Our young soldiers suffer the most deplorable provocation and insult, yet never do they seem to lose their tempers, and never do they—as we used to call it become trigger-happy. Somehow they remain cheerful and carry out their miserable and unrewarding task with courage, patience, and devotion.
My Lords, two years ago the noble Lord, Lord Hewlett, when making this speech referred to the large number of the staff in your Lordships' House who are the product of Her Majesty's Forces. The noble Lord paid tribute to them on that occasion. Today may I add my tribute to them for their unfailing courtesy and for the efficient manner in which they serve one and all in this House.
My Lords, the gracious Speech refers to the efforts of Her Majesty's Government—or the efforts we intend to make— 14 with a view to finding a comprehensive peace settlement in the Middle East and to the development of our ties with the countries in that area. It is a part of the world that I know reasonably well, both in peace and in war. Leaving aside the necessity of solving the existing problems, it is also in our interest that there should be a peaceful settlement—an early one—of the existing disputes. For if there is a settlement, there are very large markets in that part of the world, in the Near and Middle East, which this country can obtain profitably, and which would be of the very greatest value at the moment to our hard-pressed industries. Trade will never flourish, whether it be in the Near or Middle East or elsewhere, unless peace come first.
My Lords, I am sure we are all immensely pleased to learn that all possible steps will be taken to protect the interests of our fishing industry, particularly having regard to the incidents which have occurred during the past few days. It seems to me that 200 miles is rather a big sweep to place around one's shores. If we look at the map, as I did over the weekend, the sweep comes a long way towards the Shetlands, which possibly could cause some disquiet to noble Lords living North of the Border. One realises that Iceland must protect her principal industry: but, my Lords, we have a very large fishing industry and it also must be protected. Having regard to the long association between this country and Iceland, I am perfectly certain that good sense will prevail and that a sensible solution will be forthcoming.
I am sure all your Lordships will particularly welcome the reference in the gracious Speech to the steps which have been taken with regard to Northern Ireland that a Bill to promote equality of opportunity of employment between people of different religious beliefs will be reintroduced, and also that the role of the Northern Ireland Finance Corporation will be enlarged and extended. But, much as I welcome the thought that there will be additional funds available for industry in Northern Ireland, I know of firms who have left there, one because their factory was blown up three times, and others because they could no longer continue to operate in the conditions which existed. Therefore, whatever funds are available, we must not lose 15 sight of the fact that industry will not flourish there as long as terrorism exists.
My Lords, one other point in Her Majesty's gracious Speech which was of particular interest to me, coming from Welsh stock, was the proposal that there should be Assemblies both in Scotland and in Wales with authority over certain matters affecting their own affairs. Far be it from me to disagree with this for a moment; I am delighted that the Principality and those North of the Border will have more powers to deal with their own affairs. But could I offer one word of warning? We are but a small group of islands, and I hope that these measures will not in any way affect the unity which is so necessary. I believe it is lack of unity in this country today which is half our trouble, and I would not wish to add to it. Fortunately, I have sufficient faith in the people of Wales and my good friends North of the Border to know that nothing would be further from their thoughts. Nevertheless, once you draw a dividing line, in whatever walk of life, there is the danger not of friendships breaking but of a parting of the ways. Before my Welsh and Scots friends come across the borders looking for me, I would hasten to say that I am in full agreement with the proposals.
Another aspect of Her Majesty's gracious Speech which affects many of us personally, and in which, therefore, we are particularly interested, is the declaration to encourage the development of industrial democracy in both public and private sectors and to consider how industrial democracy in the private sector can best be extended. I think we would all admit that there is considerable scope for improvement, or improved relations, between management and what one might term the shop floor. It is right and proper that this should receive attention. But I am not sure sometimes that the differences are not exaggerated. There are many factories throughout this country, many works, where the relationships always have been, are today, and I hope will be, excellent.
May I refer to the reference in the gracious Speech to safeguards of employment? All employees need, and in my view are entitled to, safeguards. I know how grim it is to know the uncertainty of possible unemployment. But I hope that 16 with the safeguards we shall not run the risk, which is a possibility, that people, not all but some, will tend to feel that they are too safe and therefore will relax. If that should happen then the incentive to work will to some extent be removed. On the other hand, I know, again from past experience, that one of the biggest causes of industrial dispute is the fear of unemployment.
With regard to the offshore oil, when Her Majesty's Government are considering the issuing of additional licences, I sincerely hope that they will ensure that the issuing of those additional licences does not in any way affect the concentration on the exploitations which are at present in hand. I do not know of any other industry where Government and industrial co-operation is more essential than in obtaining that oil. Once we have it, not all our difficulties will disappear, but many of them will sink into insignificance.
My Lords, it appears from the gracious Speech that the amount of legislation in the coming Session is likely to be a little less. For that, I imagine, your Lordships will join with me in rejoicing. I hope we do not rejoice too soon, and that the sting was not in the tail. I believe that there is nothing that this nation cannot achieve, given unity. To achieve unity means sacrifices, but so many times in the past when the world has counted us down and out we have surprised them all by getting up off the floor and turning defeat into victory. I believe that although some of the contents of the gracious Speech will not find popularity with all, it nevertheless provides a clear light by which to steer. Therefore, I beg to second my noble friend's Motion for an humble Address.
§ Lord CARRINGTON
My Lords, I beg to move that this debate be adjourned till tomorrow. It is my agreeable task to congratulate the mover and seconder of the humble Address. They have set the tone for the coming Session and they have set it very well. It is perfectly true that even if they had been both incomprehensible and inaudible I should still be warmly praising their merits. But, luckily, I can speak the truth; they have both lived up to the high standard which your Lordships' House always expects, and almost always gets. They have steered a difficult course between saying too little and saying far too much, between the 17 anodyne and the controversial. They have sailed triumphantly through a Parliamentary minefield and have neither blown themselves up nor collided with our political prejudices.
The noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, is well known to your Lordships, for she has been a Member of this House for more than 10 years. She has been a Minister in Government and a Whip in Opposition. I suspect that when she was a Whip the Labour Party here registered far more votes than they deserved, for how could one resist so charming a noble Baroness when ordered to vote? We on this side have to be content with my noble friend Lord Denham, who treats us as though he were coursing hares. I do not know for what reason Lord Shepherd has chosen Lady Phillips to move the Address. It may be that, since this is Women's Year and she has been the General Secretary of the National Association of Women's Clubs, it was thought to be suitable, and so it is. Maybe it was done as a subtle compliment to the Leader of my Party, or maybe not. Whatever it was, there was no need to have an excuse to ask the noble Baroness to move the Address. I suppose there might have been some who, when she was made a Life Peeress, thought it was more a compliment to her distinguished husband than to herself. They were very soon disabused of any such thought, and it is to the noble Baroness herself and not her political family who, in all generations, seem to be distressingly conservative in their loyalty to the Labour Party, that we doff our hats this afternoon.
The noble Lord, Lord Mais, who today is nearly as well dressed as the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, has had a notable and successful career in industry in addition to the public services that he has rendered his country in many different ways. He was, I think, the first Labour supporter to be Lord Mayor of London. He was certainly the first Peer to have been Lord Mayor of London, though not, of course, the first Lord Mayor to have been a Peer. And during his very successful year in that position, as in all the others that he has undertaken, he proved himself preeminent. He is a distinguished civil engineer, interested in education, and was 18 at one time Treasurer of the Royal Masonic Hospital.
What particularly interested me, as he will very well know, is his connection with the Army, and I shared every one of the sentiments that he expressed in his speech. He said that he joined the Army in 1929, as he did. He is a colonel, as we can see. He has a gallant war record, which we can also see—three times mentioned in dispatches—and, as important, he served in the Territorial Army for 15 years after the war. He has reminded your Lordships that he was in the Royal Engineers, that indispensable and gallant corps whose repertoire contains almost all human activity from construction to destruction. I do not know what he was best at. But who am I to speak of an officer two ranks higher than that which I ever reached? I was only a major, but he was a colonel, and were it not for the fact that he was not educated at Sandhurst—if developing countries are any guide—he would be ideally placed, as all colonels are, for a political putsch. There would be many worse. His speech, as one would expect, showed massive common sense and knowledge.
As I was listening to the noble Baroness and to the noble Lord, I thought how lucky it was that we had not been abolished, for we would not have heard those speeches. I suspect that there are also some noble Lords opposite who are very glad that we have not been abolished, for how on earth would the noble Lord, Lord Brockway, operate? The noble Lord, Lord Brockway, fires questions at a rate and with an accuracy and penetration scarcely exceeded by the general purpose machine gun. How could he continue? Picketing the Foreign Office each day with a different placard would hardly be a substitute, and even he might find it both colder and more fatiguing than your Lordships' House. And what would the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, do on every afternoon? I suppose he could join the noble Lord, Lord Soper, on Tower Hill—that is, if Lord Soper's magnanimity extends thus far. But I do not think that Lord Shin-well's irony, sense of mischief or patriotism would be more appreciated there than they are here. Nor do I think that the Communist Party would view with equanimity the abolition of the noble Lord, Lord Milford, for, save 19 under an hereditary system, what chance has a Communist of being elected to either House?
My Lords, we are still here. Last week we ended a Session—a Session, so far as I am concerned, unlamented, unmourned and unprofitable. It brought with it stresses on this House which should never have been placed there. There was far too much legislation, and far too much of it came in the spill-over. The principal role of this House is that of a revising Chamber. It was not possible for us to play our role adequately with the time at our disposal or with the pressure of events. Neither was it possible for the Government to consider adequately the arguments advanced from all quarters of this House. There simply was not the time. Even so —and I had some research done—of the 483 Amendments which were proposed in this last Session, 396 were accepted, which is not a bad tribute to the House as a whole.
I am well aware that the Government Front Bench, and in particular the noble Lord the Leader of the House, feel that it would be out of the question to ask this House to do again what it did last Session. But I would ask the noble Lord to tell us that there really will be no more major Bills introduced in another place after about Easter, because if there are there simply is not time for your Lordships to play the role to which we are best suited. In the light of what happened last Session, it says very much for the good temper and good sense of all Members of this House that we ended last Wednesday in such an amiable spirit—a spirit which characterises this House. But, of course, we ended it with a disagreement with another place.
We debated our position last week, so I shall not do it again, and I would only add this. It seems to me that the Government are absolutely entitled to use the Parliament Act to get their legislation through. In doing so they are behaving in a perfectly proper and constitutional manner, though I, for my part, hope that in the short time available they will decide, if not to accept what we have done, at any rate to make other arrangements which might have the same effect. But we, too, have behaved constitutionally, and I deplore the talk and the threats 20 to which we have been subjected—not by noble Lords opposite—during these last few days. The Government have not talked of this, and I find nothing in the gracious Speech about it, except the rather vague phrase:Proposals will be put forward for a major review of the practice and procedure of Parliament.I suspect that we are not supposed to understand that so we resume our proper constitutional role.
For the rest of the Speech, I reserve my comments for another day. It seems at first blush to be Socialist dogma and restriction of choice. But we on these Benches will continue to act as we have acted in the past—with restraint and good sense. We shall seek to discuss fully the measures which come up to this House from the House of Commons, and to improve and amend them. We shall hope to discuss the issues of the day. We shall make known our views, and hope that there are those who will listen to us and to other noble Lords in this House. For, unrepresentative though we may be, we sometimes—and perhaps more often—reflect the views of our fellow countrymen more than those who would abolish us understand. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the debate be adjourned until tomorrow.—(Lord Carrington.)
§ 4.29 p.m.
§ Lord BYERS
My Lords, I rise to support the Motion so eloquently moved by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and to add my congratulations to the Mover and Seconder of the humble Address on the manner in which they acquitted themselves today. I too, like the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, am no longer certain of the rules or conventions which guide the noble Lord the Leader of the House and the Whips in the selection of Members of your Lordships' House to perform this ancient and honoured task. However, whatever the reasons, we congratulate both of them on their selection, and we say how well deserved that selection was.
The noble Baroness, who I believe came into the House at the same time as I did over 10 years ago, earned the respect and indeed the affection of the House when she spoke from the Front Bench opposite. If I may say so, her purpose, her personality, coupled with her background knowledge, particularly of education, and her sheer common sense evoked 21 a great deal of admiration, certainly from these Benches. The noble Lord, Lord Mais, is not, if he will forgive me for saying so, exactly typical of the new Left-Wing image of the Labour Party. He is a Regular soldier—the same rank as myself, think—an engineer, banker, builder and property developer, in the nicest possible way. But this is slightly removed from the picture of the Labour Party as we see it on television at the annual conference. However, it takes all types to make a Party, and especially the Party opposite. But in all the fields in which the noble Lord has practised, I know that he has earned the respect of his colleagues both inside and outside this House.
In preparing for this new Session, I do not think we can view our task with any complacency nor, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said, can we be particularly proud of what we achieved in the last Session. Our major task now is to stand back a little, to take stock of what we are doing and see where we are going. I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Phillips, that last Session we had far too much legislation. I am not referring merely to the weight of legislation with which we had to deal, but to the weight of legislation which we inflicted on the nation and particularly on the professions and the administrators who now have to deal with it, who now have to learn it, who now have to understand it and who now have to implement it. I believe that that was far too much for the nation to digest in one Session.
Coupled with the question of weight is the question of quality. We passed a number of measures which may well prove to be sub-standard so far as drafting and ease of interpretation are concerned, and I shall be surprised in the coming months if we do not find serious flaws in measures such as the Children Act and the Community Land Act. In this Session we are promised less legislation. I shall believe that when I see it. However, if that proves to be the case, then let us try to improve its quality and get it as simple as we possibly can.
It is high time that all political Parties —and I mean all—took stock of the way in which their policies come to be determined. An extremely valuable document was drawn up by the Central Policy Review staff, the Think Tank, called 22 A Joint Framework for Social Policies. It was issued in July of this year, and little attention has been paid to it. It draws attention to what it calls,… the difficulty of translating the political aspirations and objectives of a Manifesto into a coherent strategy for social policies which Government can effectively implement.It also says, quite rightly, that economic constraints and the constraints of the legislative programme limit the speed with which things can be done—and, I would add, the speed with which they should be done—and that there are limits to how fast the institutions, of both central and local government, can change. This whole subject of policy making could provide a rewarding debate in your Lordships' House and this, I believe, is the right forum for that kind of discussion.
One aspect is not dealt with in the Policy Review paper, but it is one which I believe to be fundamental; that is, the method by which Party Manifestos are compiled before they get to the Government, The so often totally unrepresentative nature of the whole procedure, and often of the composition of the Party Conference, ending up with a solemn, binding and blind commitment by the Party to implement the Manifesto, no matter what changes have occurred in the economic and social climate of the nation since the Manifesto was adopted, is, in my view, the cause of many of our difficulties today. We and the other place are not allowed the flexibility we need if we are to meet the requirements of the time. The outbreak of "manifestitis", and the determination to drive on with expensive vehicles of increasing public expenditure, because these were items contained in the Party Manifesto, will I think be regarded in the future as a measure of the irrelevance to which Government can sink at a time of deep economic trouble. The need for effective measures appropriate to the demands of our time must be recognised and accepted, whether they are in the Manifesto, whether they are outside the Manifesto or whether it means reversing the Manifesto. Today, relevance is the key issue and I hope that all our deliberations in this new Session will be tested, above all, by their relevance rather than by their origin.
The background against which this judgment has to be made is that this 23 country is undergoing a long economic decline. This decline has to be arrested and, having arrested it, it has to be reversed, and this can be done only if the Government are seen to provide leadership and to concentrate on matters and measures which are seen to be relevant to these problems. There are too many measures in the Queen's Speech, particularly the nationalisation ones, which are not only irrelevant but may well undermine industrial confidence. I cannot think, for example, that the proposals for dock labour will be anything but an impediment to getting this country right economically. It is often said that this country needs more investment; so it does, but the lack of investment is caused largely by lack of confidence, and lack of confidence is caused by uncertainty. Industry will not invest unless it is confident that it can work within a climate which is not subject to constant changes and a plethora of new legislation. In my view, the Government will in this Session be judged by the relevance of their policies and the quality, not the quantity, of their legislation. My Lords, I beg to support the Motion.
§ 4.37 p.m.
§ The LORD PRIVY SEAL (Lord Shepherd)
My Lords, I am indeed happy to support the proposal of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and the noble Lord, Lord Byers, that this debate be now adjourned. The Motion has this quality about it: unlike a Motion (was it only last week?) on which those two noble Lords took their Parties into the Division Lobby, when the proposer himself said that the Motion's main virtue was its obscurity and ambiguity, this is a clear-cut Motion—that this debate be now adjourned—which I am much happier to support. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and the noble Lord, Lord Byers, were generous in their tributes to my two noble friends. My invitation to my noble friend Lady Phillips had nothing to do with International Women's Year or the fact that she is the general secretary of that very powerful organization, the National Association of Women's Clubs, or the fact that she is a member of the National Consumer Council. I made that invitation because of her loyalty to her Party and the sterling quality of the service she has rendered 24 this House. One knows that, whenever she speaks, she speaks her mind without fear, certainly not seeking any favour from those who may be sitting on the Front Bench in front of her. I thought, too, that one could well hear from her speech this afternoon the reason why, in association with an old friend. Morgan Phillips, her late husband, she is a member of the Labour Party; that is, her desire to deal with those who are oppressed and to find ways and means of enriching our life as a nation and as individuals. I am sure that her speech will be remembered by many of us for a long time to come.
As for my noble friend Lord Mais, I agree that it may appear rather strange that he should speak from the Labour Benches: a Lord Mayor, sitting on the Labour Benches at that time; a banker—but, please not, only with Scottish banks, I think—a director, an engineer and a soldier. Apart from wearing the uniform of a Royal Engineer he also spent a good deal of time in the Special Forces, and I believe that it was during that time that he received the Order of Patriotic War (First Class) from the Soviet Union in 1942. This is one of the highest orders which is given by the Soviet Union to foreigners. I understand that it entitles my noble friend to travel first-class in the Soviet Union and to receive monthly a sum of roubles. I gather that he has never claimed that and, indeed, that he fears that if he applied now it might have serious consequences for the Soviet economy. He also received the Order of Merit from Mexico for services in the civil field.
I believe that it is also worth recording that he was the senior engineer officer in charge of the construction of the pier-heads used for the landing of vehicles from the Mulberry harbours during the War. So, apart from service in the civilian field, my noble friend also had this distinguished service in war and I can well understand his slight reproof to the Government for their cuts in the field of defence. Like my noble friend, I attach great importance to the Territorial Army. As a Territorial soldier, I can well remember feeling very angry when we were ordered, a few days after the War, to take the letter "T" off our tunics to bring us down to the ordinary soldier. The Territorial Army is something we should cherish and support.
25 The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, spoke of your Lordships' House still being here. I am not aware of any threats, other than those that have been reported, as to what may happen to your Lordships' House. I do not think it necessary to go into that matter today and I am reassured that, when the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Amendment) Bill comes to the House, there will be no question or criticism in bringing it here, even though it may be under the threat of the Parliament Act. If there is any room to manœuvre in this field, I shall certainly consider it, but those who have looked at this matter over many months will recognise that the difference between us is, though in one sense narrow, in another sense deep. However, if there is any way in which we can seek a closer understanding, I shall be happy to try to do so. I hope that the House will appreciate that this Bill is of great importance to industrial relations and that the sooner it is on the Statute Book the better.
I share, too, the feeling of reproof of my noble friend Lady Phillips about the weight of legislation. I felt that it was intolerable last Session and I hope that this Session will not be so heavy. But, at the end of the day, a great deal depends upon how we apportion the work between the two Houses and upon how we co-operate. I shall certainly see that the Bills which are introduced originally in your Lordships' House are about the same in number as during the last Session. I believe that this is important and gives particular interest to this House.
In regard to the wording in the gracious Speech:Proposals will be put forward for a major review of the practice and procedure of Parliament",this is, I understand, a reference to an examination of matters in another place and it has nothing to do with your Lordships' House. I have been wondering whether we should look at our own procedures. I am not by nature a reformer, but I am prepared to accept change if change can be proved to be for the best. I should like, therefore, to consult with the noble Lords, Lord Carrington, Lord Byers, and others to see whether we should, and how we should, look at our procedures and practices to discover what steps forward we can take. However, 26 we must bear in mind that we should not add to the burdens of the staff of your Lordships' House who already perform magnificently and who, on occasions, may be very close to breaking point. Within that constraint, I feel that we may be able to look at this matter and to reach agreement, first through the Procedure Committee and then through your Lordships' House.
One further matter is the reference in the gracious Speech to broadcasting in Parliament. I believe that it would be right, if another place decided to bring in broadcasting on a permanent basis, to have a Motion before your Lordships' House for the same purpose. This is in spite of the fact that we expressed general approval in 1968. I feel that if we were to do this on a permanent basis, it would be right to make it subject to a Motion here.
The noble Lord, Lord Carrington, asked me—and I fully understand his reasons—about major legislation after Easter. I saw some reference to this in the newspapers and I believe that the noble Earl, Lord St. Aldwyn, has had discussions through the usual channels. The Government have made it clear that it is their intention and desire that no major legislation should be introduced in Parliament after the Easter period. There must be one caveat to that, however, in terms of legislation of an emergency character, but this is something which we can discuss. I shall only repeat my words of appreciation last week to the House as a whole, to the Front Bench opposite and to my own colleagues for the wonderful spirit of co-operation in the last Session, and for the excellent way in which we got our legislation through.
Here I do not entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Byers. I felt that the legislation was looked at with considerable care. The noble Lord may shake his head, but may I say from a ministerial point of view that many factors which were raised were looked at because of the pressure which was brought in this House. However, I agree that we should try to give more time for consideration, particularly to legislation of a highly technical nature. We shall do our best, and I hope that the coming Session will not be too heavy. I hope, too, that the wonderful 27 spirit of the last Session will continue, and that we shall all be in the same position in this House at the next Session.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly until tomorrow.