§ The Queen's Speech reported by the LORD CHANCELLOR.
§ 3.46 p.m.
§ Lord Wade of Chorlton
My Lords, I beg to move, That a 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.It is an enormous privilege for me to have the opportunity, on behalf of the whole House of Lords, to thank Her Majesty and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales for being present with us today. The whole nation admires our Sovereign and appreciates the great honour which Her Majesty brings to Britain.
We are delighted that Her Majesty will be receiving visits from the Amir of Kuwait and the President of Finland. I am sure that all noble Lords are pleased that Britain was able to play such an important role in driving the Iraqi forces from Kuwait, thus enabling the 5 Amir to visit Britain as the leader of a free country. I have visited Finland on many occasions and have a great affection for those most friendly and able people. I wish the President a most happy stay in Britain.
It is very pleasing to know that Her Majesty will be visiting South Africa in the coming year. I know that we all have tremendous admiration for the leaders of that country who have led it through very difficult times with great success and who will, we hope, move it forward to become one of the great countries of the world. It is right that Britain should support it in every possible way as it develops in the future.
We know that Her Majesty will have a great welcome in New Zealand and that there will be a most successful Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting there in November.
I am one of the few Members of your Lordships' House from the North-West of England who has had the privilege of moving the humble Address—and I am a cheesemaker to boot. I am most grateful to my noble friends the Leader of the House and the Chief Whip for asking me to move the humble Address on this occasion, which is their first opening of Parliament in their new roles. I congratulate them on their appointments and wish them great success.
However, I must advise your Lordships that this is a nerve-racking experience. Indeed, had I realised the stress that I would feel, I might not have accepted my noble friends' invitation quite so readily. It caused me to remember an occasion when I was selling cheese in the United States—English cheese, I might add. I was asked by a lady from Cleveland Television to explain the various merits of English cheese. I thought that I did so rather successfully, but her last question was, "Doesn't English cheese contain a lot of cholesterol and isn't that very bad for you?", to which I replied, "I have been eating English cheese all my life and look at me". She said, "Sir Wade, you must understand that there are an awful lot of people in America who don't want to look like you". That always made me very conscious of the fact that what I say may not necessarily be accepted by others.
However, I am particularly pleased that, on this occasion, my proposals should be seconded by my very good and noble friend Lord Lindsay. I know that he will deal most excellently with the matters that I miss and will no doubt do so in a very much more erudite way. It is a Northern team, and none the worse for it.
I have no connection with the Armed Forces, but place enormous importance on our national security. I believe that, through our continuing involvement with NATO, we shall be able to secure ongoing peace in Europe. However, it is on the strength of Britain's own Armed Forces that we all depend. I am grateful for this opportunity to thank them for all that they do and trust that they will continue to have the full and positive support of the British Government and of the British people.
Clearly there is much to be done to draw together the Armed Forces of all the countries within Europe to work for a common goal. We wish the Government every success during the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe and as regards the full 6 implementation of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty. The Government are also to be congratulated on the tremendous efforts that they have put into trying to find a peaceful settlement in what was formerly Yugoslavia. I am sure that we all wish them well in their continuing efforts, as we must also wish them every success in dealing with the problems of weapons of mass destruction which could now so easily fall into the wrong hands.
Terrorism everywhere in the world seeks to destroy democracy. Democratic nations must do all that they can to fight it. I believe that we should all congratulate this Government, and particularly our Prime Minister, on negotiating a peace in Northern Ireland.
§ Lord Wade of Chorlton
My Lords, that is a success which, 12 months ago, none of us would ever have thought possible. Similarly, it will bring great prosperity to that splendid country and an opportunity for the future. It has already suffered far more than its share of unhappiness and distress.
I believe that all Members of the House—well, nearly all —will welcome the four new members of the European Union. We trust that they will work with Britain for a European Union which listens to the needs of all the people, seeks to curb unnecessary regulatory excesses and allows European business to compete aggressively around the world. In particular, we trust that they will assist the British Government to promote a better budgetary discipline and deal more effectively in combating fraud. The latter has become such an important matter to the European taxpayer. Because of such fraud, it is my view that the Commission should look more closely at its own efficiency and at the way in which the grant schemes and the subsidy payments are controlled.
In the coming 12 months we shall be discussing many matters relating to the European Union. I know that there are different views. However, it is my belief that the whole of Europe will be better, more prosperous and give a better future for all those involved in it, the closer the relationship between the countries of Europe becomes. Although we need to be careful about how such matters are dealt with, I think that we should meet them in a positive and confident way.
The extension of Europe, linked with the growing business in Central and Eastern Europe, emphasises the need for Britain to be able to transport our manufactured goods cheaply and easily to a growing number of customers. The project to build a new fast rail link between London and the Channel Tunnel will be the flagship of the private finance initiative. When taking that project forward, I hope that the Government will see the importance of linking all the regions of Britain into Europe via the Channel Tunnel. We in the North West are very aware of the importance of this initiative.
From the debate that we had recently in the House, it was clear that your Lordships welcome the Europe agreements between the European Union and Central European countries. It was also clear that your Lordships recognise the importance that those agreements can make in improving the economies of 7 those countries and that such economic success will bring benefit to us all. However, we are all equally aware that some of the existing structures within the European Union will have to be radically altered if those agreements are to work effectively.
Hand in hand with our increased trade with Central Europe will come the enormous trade benefits as a result of the GATT agreement. It is vital to the whole world that the United States Government ratify the GATT agreement as soon as possible and that they give enthusiastic support to greater trade throughout the world. We are delighted that the Government will work to that aim and for an early establishment of the World Trade Organisation which must now be quickly set up to drive those issues forward. Traditionally, there have always been very strong links between the United Kingdom and the United States of America. As we can work together to bring those matters forward in the world, I believe that that will indicate again what enormous benefit we bring when we do work together.
As global trade increases, so will our awareness of the world and of the various populations and peoples of the world, together with the many areas of deprivation and human tragedy that lie within those parts of the world. I believe that, as the British people understand more the issues that have to be resolved, we shall receive greater support for the concept of aiding and supporting development within such areas. I know that my noble friend Lady Chalker is an enormous enthusiast of that approach. We shall have many opportunities to support her in the year ahead.
Drug abuse is now becoming one of the most serious matters in Britain. Apart from the enormous damage that it does to those who take drugs, it damages us all by the amount of crime that is now drug related. There are also the costs that have to be borne, not just by those who have suffered as a result of the crime but by everyone else. The Greater Manchester Police have made great strides in tackling drug abuse and are to be congratulated on the work that they have undertaken. Traditionally, we have fought against the supply of drugs. However, under the new government proposals we shall be tackling the users of drugs by a powerful educational programme which I am sure will be greatly welcomed by all those agencies dealing with that most important issue.
The enormous levels of economic growth now apparent in the Asia Pacific countries and China must be seen as a great opportunity for Britain and the European Union. Quite clearly, the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997 is a delicate issue to handle. We must give all encouragement to the Government and to Mr. Chris Patten in dealing successfully with the matter over the next few years.
The Crown Agents have played a very important role in developing the UK's relationship with economies throughout the world and have been a major international supplier of procurement, financial management and technical services to clients in some 150 countries. The creation of an independent foundation with a social purpose and developmental character will give the opportunity further to improve 8 their work and the services that they provide. Similarly, I welcome the Government's proposals to take the Atomic Energy Authority into the private sector. The authority does great work in the North West as regards the development of new technology and in working with small companies to help them develop their own technology. As a private company, I believe that it will be even more effective in that direction.
When he made the same proposition last year, my noble friend Lord Montgomery of Alamein likened the legislative programme to a menu of gastronomic delights. As a cheesemaker, I liken it to the making of a range of different cheeses. They all start from milk, but a whole range of varieties can be made by slight changes of starters, temperature and time and, most importantly, by the skill of the cheesemaker and his understanding of the customer.
As these cheeses are presented before us, some noble Lords will nibble at them a little, some will tackle them with great relish, some will be ignored entirely. Some of them will have a short life and some will be what we call long keepers. However, I am confident that whatever cheese is presented before this House, we will treat them all as connoisseurs and give them the attention that they justly deserve.
In my view the Cheddar of the range is the importance of maintaining a firm financial policy, low inflation and the encouragement of investment which will ensure continuous economic growth and rising employment. One of the key elements in this is a continuing reduction in government expenditure and the attraction of inward investment, and I am delighted that the Government have mentioned both those points in the gracious Speech.
The North West, and particularly Merseyside, have been extremely successful in attracting new investment which has resulted in new businesses and many jobs. The Objective One status which now applies in Merseyside must be used to encourage further investment and the further development of new businesses.
It is to be hoped that the proposals for a Jobseeker's Allowance and the equalisation of state pensions as well as other pensions proposals will, on the one hand, encourage more people to seek job opportunities and at the same time help to give people security for the future. However, in making these changes I hope that the Government will appreciate that the vast majority of pension funds are extremely well run with very high levels of integrity and service.
The agricultural tenancy Bill is slightly more specialist but one which the industry welcomes and will bring a much needed flexibility into the tenancy market. The agricultural industry has been buffeted in recent years but it is still Britain's most important industry. Perhaps this Bill might be described as the Lancashire cheese of the range; that is, not well known but greatly enjoyed by those who learn to appreciate it, as many noble Lords have done in the past few years.
The establishment of an Environment Agency I will describe as the yoghurt. It is a new, innovative and exciting area of legislation with an infinite variety of flavours. It must be used to encourage high levels of 9 environmental quality while not preventing necessary development and economic growth. It must also encourage the use of new technologies which can make such an important contribution to the improvement of our environment such as combined heat and power, waste to energy technology and the development of biotechnology. Since privatisation the gas industry has made enormous strides which have brought benefits to everyone. Prices are falling, customers are benefiting and British Gas itself is building an enormous global empire which will bring rewards back to Britain. The proposals to bring forward legislation to promote increased competition in the gas industry will open up further opportunities, although caution will be necessary in some areas.
In recent years our economy has gone through some difficult times. Many businesses have suffered, people have lost their jobs and their families have also suffered. However, I am confident that the policies that the Government have pursued in the past couple of years are now creating a foundation for strong and positive growth into the future. Our manufacturing industries have improved their productivity enormously and are continuing to invest heavily in new technology. There are many voices in Britain today that advocate a return to the past and look with fear and trepidation towards the future. Ever increasing world trade, enormous technological achievements and the ability and enthusiasm of our younger generation will, I believe, enable Britain to make full use of the opportunities that are now before us, and I look forward to a future that can bring prosperity to more and more British people.
My Lords, I beg to move the Motion for a humble Address to Her Majesty.
Moved, That a humble Address be presented to Her Majesty in the following terms:
"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 Wade of Chorlton.)
§ 4.5 p.m.
The Earl of Lindsay
My Lords, I beg to second my noble friend's Motion for a humble Address in reply to Her Majesty's most gracious Speech.
It is an honour to have been invited by my noble friend the Leader of the House and the Chief Whip to second this Motion and I thank them for allowing me the privilege. I must also record my pleasure at seconding a Motion moved by my noble friend Lord Wade of Chorlton. His knowledge and experience across many issues is impressive but even more impressive is the lucid manner in which my noble friend always delivers the goods. Today has been no exception.
The television lady from Cleveland may have got it wrong. I believe that many Americans would spend a lot of money to look, if they could, like my noble friend Lord Wade of Chorlton. Certainly, I believe, most people in this country would rather look like my noble friend than an American politician.
10 I owe an apology to the House in that not having served in the Armed Forces, I am not in uniform. I am a member of the Royal Company of Archers—in one sense an armed force as we carry bows—which is Her Majesty's bodyguard in Scotland, and I am wearing the regimental tie. However, the regulations of that body prevent my wearing the full uniform this afternoon. Nonetheless, I extend sincere apologies to noble Lords.
I would, however, assure your Lordships that I have especial reason to respect the precedent and procedure of the House. I have a reminder of this at home in the form of the Sun newspaper dated Monday 9th October 1820. On 6th and 7th October that year my forebear, Lady Charlotte Lindsay, was summoned to the House as a witness during the trial of Queen Caroline. Lady Charlotte had been a Lady of the Bedchamber on the Queen's trip to Italy. That trip generated considerable speculation, not least about personal conduct and public life.
With the House in a determined mood, the Sun newspaper had no need of its own intrepid sleuths. Virtually every column inch of the paper was devoted to their Lordships' inquisition on the significance of certain Italian bedrooms, baths, sofas, tents, carriages, and even three-masted schooners. Few details escaped the House's persistent scrutiny and even the donkeys and asses involved attracted questions. Then, as now, whether it is a matter of Italian sofas or three-masted schooners, there are few subjects on which this House cannot boast expertise and experience from among its members.
That copy of the Sun newspaper may also reflect enduring traits about institutions other than this House. In the editorial the then editor lavishly congratulated himself on his principles and his refusal, mid-trial, to comment or prejudge. Having got that out of the way, he then stated that he owed it to his readers to repeat the allegations and speculation being printed by his unprincipled rivals, which he did in detail.
Finally, as an exclusive for Sun readers, and recommended by the editor for its wisdom, he printed some completely unrestrained comment from an anonymous source. There are some familiar inconsistencies here which have survived the test of time remarkably well though the modern reader now pays very much less for such creative skills. The seven old pence cover price in 1820 for a single broadsheet spread with one fold would equate to £1.40 today.
However, while today's journalism may cost the reader less, I believe it probably costs the environment very much more. A single tree could produce perhaps 7,000 copies of that 1820 copy of the Sun. Now it takes a whole tree to produce just 500 copies of the Guardian. Noble Lords will no doubt differ as to whether 500 copies of the Guardian qualify as a sustainable use of a tree, let alone the 800 trees required per day for its complete circulation. But, on the same basis, one might easily assume that it takes 500 trees and a truck load of chemicals to produce one copy of the Sunday Times. In fact, a single issue of the Sunday Times could involve somewhere around 3,000 trees. Whatever the statistics and whatever the newspaper, there is an irony. Newspapers have made themselves indispensable and 11 one of the duties they see themselves delivering on our behalf is that of environmental watchdogs. We rely on them to point accusatory fingers at those who cause deforestation or polluting emissions to land, air and water or escalating volumes of waste, yet we forget that the messengers, vital as they may be, are partly implicated in their own bad tidings.
The newspaper industry serves mainly as a colourful and somewhat unusual example of a much wider reality, a reality which underlies one of the main features of Her Majesty's most gracious Speech. Many of the goods and services which we see as being essential for a given standard of life involve some impact on the environment, be it newspapers, industry or waste management, power generation, transport or food, or the millions of jobs they generate. Our needs cannot avoid making demands on, and emissions to, land, air and water.
It is often said that environmental emissions have little respect for international boundaries. It is equally true to say that such emissions have even less respect for barriers between the natural elements. Airborne pollution can contaminate land and water as easily as land pollution can contaminate water and air. Furthermore, some processes involve simultaneous emissions to the different elements. Environmental impacts, however and wherever they occur, become inter-related, and as such are part of a larger and more complex process. The challenge is to manage that process in the light of both the needs of the environment and the needs of humanity. They are inextricably linked, and if either is managed in isolation of the other neither will ultimately benefit.
Environmental protection clearly requires a strategic, multi-skilled, multi-disciplinary response. It requires a careful analysis of options and their consequences. Many potential solutions generate fresh costs, be they environmental, commercial or social, and the assessment of problems and options must be comprehensive.
I therefore greatly welcome the reference in Her Majesty's gracious Speech to legislation for an environment agency. It draws together Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Pollution, the National Rivers Authority and the waste regulation authorities. As separate entities these three have been excellent, and the reputations of HMIP and the NRA stretch well beyond these shores. The NRA deserves special mention in this House because of the success with which my noble friend Lord Crickhowell has galvanised it into being one of the best of its kind in the world.
However, the potential limitations of different types of emissions and impact being dealt with by separate agencies have become apparent. The new agency will deliver more effective and efficient environmental protection through the strategic integration of the many skills required. I should add that integrated pollution control is a concept in which we are world leaders, and we are even exporting it to Brussels and the European Commission in a novel reversal of the normal flow of legislation.
12 I also welcome the fact that the environment agency Bill will deal with contaminated land and the pollution associated with old mine workings. I must credit the thorough assessment and consultation which have marked the Government's approach to solving those difficult problems. I have had experience in other countries of how an impulsive or hasty response to that challenge is at best inadequate and at worst an expensive disaster.
It is especially timely that environmental matters should be so prominent in Her Majesty's gracious Speech. His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales last week opened a major conference on urban growth and the environment, as its joint president. His Royal Highness's profound commitment to our future, whatever its difficulties or challenges, is undaunted and unstinting. Our commitment to his future should be equally profound, undaunted and unstinting.
Like my noble friend, I am delighted by the reference in the gracious Speech to an agricultural tenancies Bill for England and Wales. As a farmer, albeit north of the Border, I am very aware of how important that Bill promises to be. I am also aware of the amount of preparation that that Bill has entailed and the extent to which all sides of the agricultural industry have been consulted on the nature of the reforms needed. The result will be new and increased opportunities for would-be farmers. That in turn will be good for the countryside and the rural economy.
The gracious Speech announced a criminal justice Bill for Scotland. That is very welcome. It proposes measures to modernise Scottish court procedures, in particular by strengthening the system of intermediate diets, a system which has already done much to reduce unnecessary attendance at court by police and other witnesses. The provisions on bail should minimise the risk of criminals abusing the grant of bail. The provisions on confiscation and forfeiture not only give substantial effect to the very recent report of the Scottish Law Commission but will provide the courts with new machinery to ensure that criminals do not profit from crimes.
The health authorities Bill announced in the gracious Speech heralds further welcome reforms to the NHS. These measures will create a single, streamlined, central management structure. They will support and extend the successful reforms put in place in 1990. At the same time, those new reforms will cut bureaucracy and, with it, management costs. Savings of around £150 million per year will be available to be reinvested in better patient care. That is good news for patients. It will also lead to even better use being made of the substantial resources we invest in our health service.
In addition, Her Majesty's gracious Speech made reference to the mental health Bill. This will both protect the public and improve care for those who need it most. It will ensure that people with a mental disorder who may present a danger to others are subject to a clear legal constraint to comply with the care plan that has been arranged for them when they are discharged. It will also improve the care provided for mentally ill people by ensuring that priority is given to those who need the 13 services most and by helping to prevent breakdown in care arrangements and thus end the cycle of repeated admission to hospital.
I thank your Lordships for listening with the patience and forbearance which this House always accords speakers.
My Lords, I beg to second my noble friend's Motion for a humble Address in reply to Her Majesty's most gracious Speech.
§ 4.16 p.m.
§ Lord Richard
My Lords, I beg to move that this debate be adjourned until tomorrow. The first pleasant task which I have this afternoon is to congratulate both the mover and seconder of the loyal Address. As the noble Lord, Lord Wade of Chorlton, said, it is a daunting task. I am happy to say that I have never been asked to do so, but it is a daunting task to have to make this speech on this occasion. It has to be neither too short nor too long; it has to have some content, but not too much; it has to be amusing, but not frivolous; it has to reveal the personality of the speaker, and the House has to like the speaker as a result of the revelations in the speech. Above all, it has to represent the feelings of the whole House. The best that I can say about the speeches which we have heard is that both admirably fulfilled those criteria.
The noble Lord, Lord Wade of Chorlton, has a distinguished background. In Dod he is sandwiched between the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, and the noble Lord, Lord Wakeham, both former Leaders of the House. Both the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, and the noble Lord, Lord Wakeham, had very distinguished careers and filled many important offices of state. However, neither can make the proud claim which the noble Lord, Lord Wade, makes in Dod and Who's Who. He did not make that claim today, and I thought that he was a little modest. He describes himself as a farmer and not merely a cheesemaker but a cheese master. Therefore, it is hardly surprising, when one considers his achievements in terms of the British Cheese Export Council and so on, that his special interests listed in Dod start with the word "food". I have never had the courage to put that down myself, and I appreciate the bravery of the noble Lord in doing so.
However, the noble Lord should be a little careful in his analogies between individual cheeses and government policies. As I listened to his speech one or two analogies occurred to me. Some government policies are full of holes, like Gruyère; some stop dead in their tracks, like Lymeswold; some are greatly improved with the addition of alcohol, like Stilton; some leave a distinctive aroma behind them, like Munster. If anything can be said of government policies, it is that all are blue and many are mouldy. Therefore, he should not press the cheese analogy too far.
The noble Lord's speech was one of great interest. I enjoyed it. His experience in local government, and indeed in the Conservative Party, came through. We are very grateful to the noble Lord for the way he moved the loyal Address.
14 The noble Earl, Lord Lindsay, seconded the Motion. Again, I looked at Dod and at the entry in Who's Who. My goodness me! I find no less than five titles—and I am a man who is impressed by titles. The noble Earl is not only the Earl of Lindsay; in him is embodied the Viscount of Garnock; Lord Parbroath; and Lord Kilburnie, Kingsburn and Drumry. There is also a title which I must confess somewhat puzzled me: Lord Lindsay of The Byres. I always thought that a byre was something rather different in Scotland from a mere title. However, if it has any agricultural connection, it would only accord with what we know of the noble Earl's interest. He is a man with an intense interest in environmental affairs. I understand that he is a landscape architect by profession and an environmental consultant. We have heard the noble Earl speak in this House before on these matters, and we look forward very much to hearing him again.
As a result of my immediate historical researches while the noble Earl was on his feet talking about the Sun, I can tell him that the reason why the Sun cost sevenpence in 1820 was that a Conservative Government raised the duty on newspapers in 1820 to fourpence in order to try to control the press and keep it out of the reach of the poor immediately after Peterloo. That is some of the background, as I understand it, to the point about the press.
I was also interested to see that the noble Earl is a trustee of the Gardens for the Disabled Trust; he is a council member of the London Gardens Society. And one entry especially appealed to me. He is president of the Brighter Kensington and Chelsea Scheme. That especially appeals to me because the first election I ever fought was in South Kensington in 1959. As noble Lords will appreciate, that area is not exactly fruitful ground for my party's persuasion. At the start of the campaign, South Kensington had the third largest Conservative majority in England. When we finished the campaign, it had the second largest Conservative majority in England! So anything that the noble Earl can do to bring a little glimmer of light and brightness into Kensington and Chelsea is something that will receive my full support. If I may say so, humbly, to both noble Lords, they did well. It is a very difficult task that they set themselves. I congratulate them on behalf of my party.
For a moment, perhaps I may turn to the gracious Speech itself. I cannot, I am afraid, be as complimentary to the other side of the House about the Speech as I have been to the mover and the seconder of the loyal Address. Looking at it, it is pretty thin gruel. The Conservative revolution seems to have run down. It is rather like the last few spluttering turns of an extinguishing catherine wheel. The Speech is notable not for what is in it but for what is not in it. It is not a case of Holmes's dog not barking; it does not even yelp so far as this Speech is concerned.
The Post Office is, I suppose, the most notable absentee. In the run-up to today, we heard a great deal about Railtrack. I do not detect any great mention of it in the Speech itself. We will of course give each 15 measure full and detailed scrutiny. But there are two or three points that I should like to ask the noble Viscount the Leader of the House today.
First, will the Bill to increase own resources in line with the Edinburgh Summit decision come here? I ask that question because, if it is to be purely a money Bill, then clearly debate in this House will be somewhat limited. I hope that the Government will not endeavour to stifle debate in this House by formulating the Bill in such a way that it would appear unconstitutional for us to go into the merits of it. It is a Bill which should be discussed in this House. I hope that we shall have a full debate upon it.
We await eagerly the Jobseeker's Allowance, pensions equalisation and the measure to improve security, equality and choice in non-state pensions. I have to say that I groaned when I saw that there was to be legislation to make further improvements to the management of the National Health Service. How much more "further improvement" can that poor body stand? It has been improved; re-improved; further improved; greatly improved; and vastly improved. It is now to be improved again. We look forward to the legislation with great interest. I hope that in the course of the debate on the gracious Speech the Government will make it perfectly clear what it is that they intend to do this time in order to improve the management of the national health scheme.
Which Bills will start in this Chamber? I hope that I express the view of the whole House when I say that I hope the environmental Bill will start in this House. That is a Bill which this House is probably better qualified to deal with than is the other place. It is right that we should examine the proposal in great detail, and of course we will.
I ask the Government: what of the criminal cases review authority? One heard a great deal about it before the gracious Speech. It does not seem to be mentioned anywhere in it—although there is a general catch-all phrase at the end that further measures of law reform are envisaged.
We are anxious that the measure in relation to the criminal cases review authority should be enacted and that it should be done quickly. We shall be grateful for anything that the noble Viscount the Leader of the House can tell us about it.
There is one housekeeping matter about which I would like to say a word. The situation this year is somewhat unusual. In our view it is unfortunate that the debate in this House on the Queen's Speech will finish on Thursday, whereas the debate in another place will finish on Wednesday. I do not need to go into the "whys" and "wherefores" of the matter. I should just like to make it perfectly clear that, so far as the usual channels are concerned, we did not consent to the debate finishing in this House on a different day from that on which it will finish in the Commons.
My conclusion on reading the Queen's Speech is that it is dull and lacklustre. There is not a great deal that is relevant to ordinary people in the country. There is not much here for the unemployed. There is not much to 16 help us rebuild our manufacturing base. To sum up in a sentence: the ruminants in the Government seem to have won.
Moved, That this debate be adjourned until tomorrow.—(Lord Richard.)
§ 4.27 p.m.
§ Lord Jenkins of Hillhead
My Lords, it is one of the happier conventions of this House that on this initial day, almost of festivity, we devote ourselves almost as much to the speeches of the noble proposer and seconder of the Address as we do to the contents of the gracious Speech itself. That makes my task easier and more agreeable than it would otherwise be. It is much easier to congratulate them than it is to congratulate the Government on the Speech.
The noble Lord, Lord Wade of Chorlton, confessed to "a nerve-racking experience" with a modest and entirely agreeable self-confidence that I have rarely seen emulated. The noble Lord's speech was delightful in many ways. The fact has been referred to by my noble friend Lord Richard that he was "a master cheesemaker". I think that the noble Lord can now add the title of "master speechmaker"—at any rate, in moving the reply to the gracious Speech.
The noble Earl, Lord Lindsay, spoke with a great sense of the continuity of British life, particularly as epitomised by the Sun newspaper, extending back from the early 19th century to the present time. The noble Lord, Lord Richard, with his unfailing sense of concentrating on—I was about to say an obvious point, but I thought that that was ungracious—referred to the noble Earl's position as president of the Brighter Kensington and Chelsea society. I think that the noble Earl can now say, having made a considerable contribution this afternoon, that he can widen his geographical spread to the "Brighter Westminster Society". We congratulate him warmly on his most elegant speech.
The gracious Speech this year is not exactly strong on major legislation. That is something for which, on the whole, we have to be thankful. In particular, it is a considerable relief that the Home Secretary has been allowed, as it were, a period in the legislative rest camp. However, there is one exception to our welcoming his inactivity in the coming Session. It really is a disgrace—I put the matter a little more strongly than the noble Lord, Lord Richard—that in this light legislative programme no room is found for the criminal cases review scheme. It was the central recommendation of the Runciman Royal Commission, stemming directly from the central purpose for which it was set up. To refuse to act in a very light Session shows a total disregard for the work of that Royal Commission and, even worse, an indifference to the demands of justice totally inappropriate in a Home Secretary whose particular role is to maintain a delicate balance between the desire to convict the guilty and a determination not to convict the innocent. The Home Secretary has landed us with plenty of ill thought-out schemes of his own, many of which were almost unanimously opposed by 17 informed opinion. He might at least implement one which is urgently necessary, impartially investigated and widely supported.
The Home Secretary and the Government as a whole should have a special responsibility for the upholding of the rule of law; and it is therefore a remarkable fact that both the senior Secretaries of State, the Home and the Foreign Secretaries, should, within 24 hours of each other, be found judicially to have been acting illegally. Such a brace of judgments is, I believe, entirely without precedent. I may be wrong about that. If the noble Viscount the Lord Privy Seal can think of a precedent when he replies after I sit down, I shall be happy to hear it. If he feels it necessary to devote a little more research to finding a precedent, he can give us the answer when he winds up the debate next Thursday. But I find it extremely difficult to think of a precedent.
If one were shown the gracious Speech, as it were having woken from a dream and without knowing to which Session in the course of a Parliament it belonged, most of us would say that it looked as though it were tailored for the beginning of a tail-end Session, clearing up, and leading to a general election. I wish that that might be the case. However, I fear that it is not so, for one of the few things as regards which this Government can be depended upon is that they will cling to office, either individually or collectively. That does not conduce to the public good. Nor, I believe, will it conduce to their fame and repute in history.
§ 4.34 p.m.
The Lord Privy Seal (Viscount Cranborne)
My Lords, I rise with some enthusiasm to support the Motion of the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition that this debate be adjourned until tomorrow. The occasions when I am able to rise to support Motions put down by the noble Lord are, as your Lordships will be all too aware, rather rare. Therefore the very rarity of being able to do so gives me an additional pleasure for which I am particularly grateful to him. I should also like to join the noble Lord, Lord Richard, and the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, in congratulating my noble friends Lord Wade of Chorlton and Lord Lindsay on their most remarkable contributions to our debate today. I am perfectly certain that the whole House will agree that their performance in proposing and seconding the Motion for the humble Address was exceptional, and I should very much like to associate myself and my noble friends on the Government Front Bench with the remarks made by both noble Lords who have responded.
As we all know, my noble friend Lord Wade has a distinguished record in agriculture and industry. I believe that in characteristic fashion he has brought that valuable experience to bear in his comments today. He made much, as indeed did the noble Lord, Lord Richard, of his experience as a cheesemaker, or perhaps we should say a cheese master. He implied pretty strongly by his reference to his experiences in the United States of America that English cheeses are best. That is a view with which I hope the noble Lord, Lord Richard, and I would also be able to agree, if we are to confess together in public to a liking for food. However, despite the temporary allure, perhaps even the frou-frou, of cheeses 18 from across the Channel, I have to say that I, like my noble friend, always return to the solid virtues and lasting qualities of the product that he makes. Indeed, I am reminded that the late General de Gaulle once referred to the difficulty of governing a country which made over 300 different kinds of cheese. From my noble friend's speech this afternoon, I conclude that my noble friend is responsible for making at least 300 kinds of cheese. I was pleased to see, as a supporter of Her Majesty's Government, that he clearly has no difficulty in governing himself. I shall long savour and be grateful for the speech that he gave.
My noble friend Lord Lindsay—I am aware that in saying this I perhaps for once do not carry the noble Lord, Lord Richard, with me—is notable evidence of the more youthful element which the hereditary peerage injects into your Lordships' House. As someone who has endeavoured to preserve a balance between hereditary and other kinds of peerage, I can in an unusual way talk with some authority on the matter. We all know that my noble friend is a distinguished professional landscape architect. We know, too, that he is proving to be a more than usually valuable member of the current ad hoc Select Committee on Sustainable Development. His speech today was indeed testimony to the valuable contributions that he makes to your Lordships' deliberations and to the breadth of his interests. He spoke with great authority and eloquence on the environment, criminal justice in Scotland and agricultural tenancy reform, as well as on the National Health Service. I for one shall much look forward to hearing frequent contributions to our debates from my noble friend.
The Session which we have just completed was, I think it is fair to say, a busy one. Despite the remarks made by both noble Lords expressing some doubts on the matter, I have no doubt from the terms of the gracious Speech that the coming Session will provide the House with an equally full and stimulating range of business. I have been careful in my choice of words. In the debate before Prorogation on hours of sitting in your Lordships' House, many of my noble friends reminded me that my party is the party of less legislation. I think that Her Majesty's Government would be wise to tread a sensible path between necessary legislation and overdoing it and I hope that this indeed is a sensible move not to overcrowd the Session. But at the same time, if I may say so, I have no doubt that there is a strong danger that noble Lords may underestimate the difficulty that some of the measures that lie before us may pose and indeed the time in your Lordships' House that they may take.
Following our recent debate on Sittings of the House, I look forward to seeing in what ways we can develop our procedures so as to combine thorough scrutiny of the full legislative programme with more civilised hours than we have sometimes kept in the past. I hope, too, that the number of substantial Bills that will be introduced in your Lordships' House will contribute to the fulfilment of that ambition and that it spreads the workload more evenly over the time available. In that context, I am pleased to be able to announce that a number of major Bills will be introduced in your 19 Lordships' House shortly. This will give your Lordships both substantial and varied business to consider in the early part of the Session and, as I say, will also spread the business to best effect.
In the near future my noble friend Lord Howe will introduce a Bill to reform the agricultural tenancy laws in England and Wales. My noble and learned friend Lord Fraser of Carmyllie will introduce a Bill to reform the criminal justice process in Scotland following the review of criminal evidence and criminal procedure and the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice. I can confirm to the noble Lord, Lord Richard, that my noble friend Lord Ullswater will introduce in your Lordships' House a Bill to establish the environment agency for England and Wales and the Scottish environmental protection agency. Other important Bills will also be introduced in your Lordships' House. I can say to the noble Lords, Lord Richard and Lord Jenkins, that, although the Bill covering the criminal cases review authority is not in the strictest sense a law reform measure, nevertheless the phrase in the gracious Speech is intended to cover the introduction of the Bill which both noble Lords rightly so deeply desire. I therefore assume from the remarks of both noble Lords that we can look forward to the full and constructive co-operation of both Front Benches in the passage of that Bill.
It may be helpful to your Lordships if I conclude by outlining the arrangements for what remains of the debate on the humble Address. Before I do so perhaps I may say to the noble Lord, Lord Richard, that it is impossible to know, as he, I am sure, will realise, whether the European Community own resources Bill will turn out to be a Money Bill. That depends on the certification of Madam Speaker in another place and I understand that that certification is only issued at the end of the debate in another place. However, if it turns out indeed to be a Money Bill, there is a well established procedure for the treatment of such Bills in this place; and if your Lordships need a full day's debate on the subject I am sure that that would be forthcoming. I recognise wholly the powerful interest that your Lordships have in this important subject and indeed the expertise that your Lordships can bring to bear upon it.
When we resume tomorrow, the main topics for debate will be foreign affairs, overseas development and defence. My noble friend Lady Chalker of Wallasey will open for the Government and my noble friend Lord Henley will reply. On Tuesday next, when the main topics will be home and social affairs, my noble friend Lady Blatch will open and my noble friend Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish will reply. On Wednesday we shall concentrate on the environment and on agriculture. My noble friend Lord Howe will open the debate and my noble friend Lord Ullswater will reply. Finally, on Thursday the main topics for debate will be industrial and economic affairs. My noble friend Lord Ferrers will open and I shall do my best to reply.
As to the comments of the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition on the subject of the timetabling of next week's debates, I am very sorry that he is not content with the arrangements which have been made. While it 20 has been customary for debate in the two Houses usually to end on the same day, the advice of the learned Clerks is that there is no procedural reason or reason of propriety why that should be so. Many of your Lordships may feel that it is desirable at least once in a while that we should arrange business in such a way that we do not sit on a Monday, as was customary not so very long ago, and since the arrangements for the debate have been known for some time and a great many noble Lords plan to speak on particular days it might be more convenient for the House if changes were not to be made at this late stage. However, I am sorry if the noble Lord feels that the usually good relations and good communications through the usual channels have broken down in this instance. I shall certainly endeavour to make sure that that does not happen again and that the noble Lord is content on this matter.
Once again I am indeed delighted to support the Motion of the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition that the debate be adjourned until tomorrow and I am delighted also to join him and the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, in congratulating my noble friends most warmly on the way they have proposed and seconded the Motion for a humble Address.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly.