Column 1T H E
P A R L I A M E N T A R Y D E B A T E S
IN THE SECOND SESSION OF THE FIFTIETH PARLIAMENT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND
[WHICH OPENED 25 JUNE 1987]
THIRTY-SEVENTH YEAR OF THE REIGN OF
HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II
SIXTH SERIES VOLUME 142
FIRST VOLUME OF SESSION 1988-89
House of Commons
Message to attend Her Majesty :
The House went ; and having returned :
The Sitting was suspended until half-past Two o'clock, and then resumed.
That all Members who are returned for two or more places in any part of the United Kingdom to make their Election for which of the places they will serve, within one week after it shall appear that there is no question upon the Return for that place ; and if anything shall come in question touching the Return or Election of any Member, he is to withdraw during the time the matter is in debate ; and that all Members returned upon double Returns do withdraw till their Returns are determined.
That no Peer of the Realm, except a Peer of Ireland, hath any right to give his vote in the Election of any Member to serve in Parliament.
That if it shall appear that any person hath been elected or returned a Member of this House, or endeavoured so to be, by Bribery or any other corrupt practices, this House will proceed with the utmost severity against all such persons as shall have been wilfully concerned in such Bribery or other corrupt practices.
That if it shall appear that any person hath been tampering with any Witness, in respect of his evidence to be given to this
Column 2House, or any Committee thereof, or directly or indirectly hath endeavoured to deter or hinder any person from appearing or giving evidence the same is declared to be a high crime and misdemeanour ; and this House will proceed with the utmost severity against such offender.
That if it shall appear that any person hath given false evidence in any case before this House, or any Committee thereof, this House will proceed with the utmost severity against such offender.
That the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis do take care that during the Session of Parliament the passages through the streets leading to this House be kept free and open and that no obstruction be permitted to hinder the passage of Members to and from this House, and that no disorder be allowed in Westminster Hall, or in the passages leading to this House, during the Sitting of Parliament, and that there be no annoyance therein or thereabouts ; and that the Serjeant at Arms attending this House do communicate this Order to the Commissioner aforesaid.
That the Votes and Proceedings of this House be printed, being first perused by Mr. Speaker ; and that he do appoint the printing thereof ; and that no person but such as he shall appoint do presume to print the same.
Bill for the more effectual preventing Clandestine Outlawries ; read the First time ; to be read a Second time.
That the Journal of this House, from the end of the last Session to the end of the present Session, with an index thereto, be printed. Ordered,
That the said Journal and Index be printed by the appointment and under the direction of Clifford John Boulton, Esquire, C.B., the Clerk of this House.
That the said Journal and Index be printed by such person as shall be licensed by Mr. Speaker, and that no other person do presume to print the same.
Mr. Speaker : I have to acquaint the House that this House has this day attended Her Majesty in the House of Peers, and that Her Majesty was pleased to make a Most Gracious Speech from the Throne to both Houses of Parliament, of which I have, for greater accuracy, obtained a copy.
I shall direct that the terms of the Gracious Speech be printed in the Votes and Proceedings. Copies are available in the Vote Office. The Gracious Speech was as follows :
My Lords and Members of the House of Commons
I look forward with much pleasure to a visit by Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands as part of the celebrations of the William and Mary Tercentenary.
I also look forward to visiting Barbados next March to mark the 350th Anniversary of the House of Assembly there and to being present next autumn on the occasion of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malaysia.
My Government will continue to attach the highest priority to the maintenance of national security and the preservation of peace with freedom and justice. They will maintain strong and effective defences and will stand fully by their obligations to the NATO Alliance. My Government will strive for balanced and verifiable measures of arms control and for a world -wide ban on chemical weapons. They strongly support the United States' proposals for 50 per cent. reductions in American and Soviet strategic nuclear weapons. They will work for the elimination of disparities in conventional forces in Europe with the aim of achieving a stable balance at lower levels.
My Government will continue to strive to break down the barriers between East and West and to ensure that the Vienna Review Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe leads to further progress on human rights. They look forward to building further on the improved relationship with the Soviet Union and to a visit to this country by the Soviet leader, President Gorbachev.
My Government look forward to the completion of the Soviet troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and will continue to work for the restoration of that country's independence and non-aligned status. They will continue to play a full part in the work of the United Nations and to work for peaceful solutions to regional conflicts. My Government will continue to work with our European Community partners to complete the single market, to reinforce budgetary discipline and further to reform the Common Agricultural Policy. They will play a full part in multilateral negotiations designed to liberalise international trade and agriculture.
My Government will maintain a substantial aid programme, designed to alleviate poverty and to promote sustainable economic and social progress in developing countries.
My Government will continue the fight against international terrorism and against trafficking in drugs.
My Government will honour their commitments to the people of the Falkland Islands while continuing to seek more normal relations with Argentina. They will continue to discharge their responsibilities towards Hong Kong and its people and will work closely with the Chinese Government to implement the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
Column 4Members of the House of Commons
Estimates for the Public Service will be laid before you. My Lords and Members of the House of Commons
My Government will continue to pursue firm financial policies designed to bear down on inflation. They will continue to promote enterprise and to foster the conditions necessary for the sustained growth of output and employment.
They will maintain firm control of public expenditure so that, while allowing further improvements in priority services, it continues to fall as a proportion of national income, thus providing scope for further reductions in taxation, as and when prudent. A Bill will be brought forward to reform the law on local government capital and housing finance, on home improvement grants, and on the conduct of local authority business.
My Government will continue to attach very great importance to protecting our environment, both nationally and internationally. A Bill will be introduced for England and Wales to establish a National Rivers Authority and to provide for the sale of the utility functions of the water authorities.
Legislation will be introduced to restructure and to provide for the sale of the electricity supply industry in Great Britain. A Bill will be introduced to remove unnecessary obstacles to employment, particularly in relation to women and young people, and to alter training arrangements.
My Government will vigorously pursue their policies for reducing crime. A Bill will be introduced to replace the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act. Legislation will be brought forward to provide for a national membership scheme to control admission to football matches.
A Bill will be introduced to replace section 2 of the Official Secrets Act 1911 with provisions prohibiting only disclosures of information which would be harmful to the public interest. A Bill will be introduced to put the Security Service on a statutory basis under the authority of the Secretary of State. A Bill will be introduced to improve and rationalise the law governing the care and protection of children.
My Government will continue to take action to raise standards throughout education.
My Government are committed to strengthening the National Health Service and to ensuring that it is developed and improved in an efficient way that offers choice to patients.
For Scotland, legislation will be brought forward to enable parents to choose that their children's schools should be managed outside the control of local authorities. A Bill will be introduced to transfer the Scottish Bus Group to the private sector.
In Northern Ireland, my Government will continue their efforts to eradicate terrorism, to give elected representatives greater involvement in the affairs of the Province, and to maintain close co-operation with the Republic of Ireland. A Bill will be laid before you to strengthen the law of Northern Ireland on fair employment. Legislation will be introduced to extend the franchise for local elections and to require from candidates a declaration against terrorism.
A Bill will be brought forward to amend the law on social security.
Column 5Legislation will be introduced to reform company law and the law on mergers.
A Bill will be brought forward to modify the driver licensing system and to provide for new systems of route guidance for drivers. Other measures will be laid before you.
My Lords and Members of the House of Commons
I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.
Mr. Speaker : It may be for the convenience of the House if I announce the proposed pattern of the remaining days of the debate on the Loyal Address : Wednesday 23 November : home affairs--freedom, fairness and opportunity ; Thursday 24 November--social security and employment ; Friday 25 November--foreign affairs and defence ; Monday 28 November--environment and industry ; Tuesday 29 November--the economy.
That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as follows : Most Gracious Sovereign,
We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.
I am very conscious of the double honour that is involved in being invited to make this speech. In the first place, the honour falls, rightly, upon my constituency. The Pudsey parliamentary division was created in 1885. Today it is formed from the old borough of Pudsey, which was granted a charter by Queen Victoria in 1901, shortly before her death, and the former urban districts of Horsforth and Aireborough. The area was historically part of the ancient West Riding of Yorkshire, whose disappearance from the map of local government in England my constituents profoundly regret.
Pudsey was first stirred by political excitement as far back as 1846, when the citizens decided to celebrate the repeal of the Corn Laws by holding a great feast, the piece de resistance of which was the famous Pudsey pudding. It was composed of about 20 stones of flour, a similar amount of suet and very much larger quantities of fruit. It was boiled in a dyer's vat for three days and three nights before being lifted out by crane, carted through the streets and served to the local populace. But the organisers were good Yorkshire folk, and all consumers were charged the princely sum of one shilling each for as much as they could eat. I suspect that that was one of the earliest examples of a means-tested benefit. That, of course, is an off-the-record remark.
The parliamentary seat was a more permanent memorial than the pudding, although over time the Pudsey seat became the Pudsey and Otley seat, and then reverted to being Pudsey. The first representative was a Liberal. The Tories fought back hard, and between 1885 and 1922 Tories and Liberals fought the seat keenly. In the 1887 election, Pudsey headed all the parliamentary divisions in Yorkshire as the seat having the fewest illiterate voters. In 1922 Major L. H. Fawkes, chairman of the agriculture and drainage committee of West Riding county council, was elected in the Tory interest. The Fawkes family of Farnley hall numbered among its predecessors Guy Fawkes whose attendance at this House we celebrate annually. But the Fawkes family is more justly acclaimed as patrons of the painter Turner for many years.
Major Fawkes was the Member of Parliament for Pudsey for only one year. He saw the West Riding of Yorkshire Drainage Bill safely on to the statute book, and then returned to resume his more potent role on the
Column 7drainage and agriculture committee. Nevertheless, as befits his ancestry, the beacon lit by Fawkes in 1922 has remained unquenched, and this year we celebrate 66 years of continuous Tory representation in the borough of Pudsey.
There are two other celebrations this year to which I must refer. Pudsey is surely best and most justifiably known as being the birthplace of Sir Leonard Hutton and the training ground of many famous cricketers. For example, I refer to Sutcliffe, Tunnicliffe, Halliday and Illingworth, but Sir Leonard is surely Pudsey's most famous son. This year we celebrated the 50th anniversary of his record-breaking score of 364 at the Oval test match in 1938. To mark the event, the Pudsey St. Lawrence club, with a little assistance from the Yorkshire county club, organised a celebration dinner in honour of Sir Leonard, to which nearly 500 people--cricket lovers from all over the world--came to pay honour to the great man.
Another national event took place in my constituency this year. The other shrine in my constituency is Harry Ramsden's fish and chip shop in Guiseley, the largest fish and chipper in the world. On 30 October this year, it celebrated its 60th anniversary, when it offered fish and chips at the 1928 price of 4d or 2p per portion, and it sold 10, 182 portions. That celebration was graced by the ample presence of my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food- -no, I think that that should read, "The celebration was amplified by the gracious presence"--for which I am extremely grateful.
Although it is not easy to claim that Pudsey is a microcosm of England, it is a microcosm of Yorkshire, and I think that my constituents would prefer it that way. Geographically, the area is located between the major cities of Leeds and Bradford. It straddles the River Aire, with Pudsey on one side and Horsforth and Aireborough on the other, and it reflects in full measure the history of the industrial revolution in West Yorkshire, with the wool textile industry predominating.
The villages of Rodley, Farsley and Calverley, together with Horsforth, Yeadon and Guiseley, all contain old areas of stone housing, fine churches and many fine chapels, many of them within walking distance of the mills that once provided the main source of employment. Those communities are well-established, with a long tradition of independence and a dogged determination to succeed despite the odds. But today the economy is radically changed. New industries--pharmaceuticals, chemicals and light engineering--have grown up. Together with electrical engineering and electronics, they have provided new skills for new markets.
In addition, the economic revival which the Government have set in train has also brought new opportunities for enterprise. For example, the old crane works at Rodley, which were closed by NEI, have been bought by previous employees and management and are in business once again. The Johnson Radley mould works in Pudsey have also been bought back from United Glass by a management team led by some of the original family owners.
New markets for old skills have also been found. The cast iron foundry of Sloan and Davidson, established well over 100 years ago in Stanningley, past masters of
Column 8decorative 19th century iron work and finials, has recently provided much of the new decorative iron work that hon. Members can see shining at the top of Big Ben itself.
The textile companies that remain have also fought hard to establish new businesses both at home and overseas--Hainsworths, also of Stanningley, exporting billiard cloth all over the world, and Carter and Parker of Guiseley, whose Wendy knitting wools click in many languages.
Those things do not happen by accident. They happen because entrepreneurs and skilled craftsmen take full advantage of improved economic circumstances, and that, combined with Yorkshire grit and not a little Pudsey pride, has meant that unemployment in the Pudsey division is now below average for West Yorkshire, and the prospects look increasingly bright.
In March, my constituents in Pudsey were delighted by a visit from the Prince of Wales to the 4th Volunteer Battalion of the Parachute Regiment at Thornbury barracks. This part of West Yorkshire has strong links with the Territorial Army, and I know that the visit by its colonel-in-chief was a great boost to the local volunteers and their families.
Likewise, my constituents in Horsforth gave a rousing welcome to the Princess of Wales when she came in September to visit the Barnados regional headquarters. That was an occasion unrivalled for local schoolchildren, but especially for those young people--many from tragic backgrounds--whom she met. I suspect that all my constituents are baffled, if not appalled, by the recent adverse exposure given by journalists to this admirable and hardworking couple, who bring so much joy and so much happiness to so many people. How difficult it is, and how long it takes, to establish high standards in public life. How quickly and how easily can those same standards be wantonly undermined. This is a Loyal Address, and I trust that it will long remain so.
I am conscious, too, that the second honour in moving this motion falls upon me as the representative of Pudsey in Parliament. I was honoured to be invited to join the Government in 1979 and to serve throughout the first two Administrations of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister, as is her wont, certainly kept me on my toes. I started in Northern Ireland, and when, after 18 months, the prisoners went on hunger strike, I was moved. I then went to the Department of the Environment, where I spent two years with responsibility for, amongst other things, the water industry. We had the first national water strike ever, and I was moved. Undaunted, my right hon. Friend tried again and off I went to the Department of Energy, with responsibility for the coal industry. The miners struck, and I was duly moved.
Following that, with even greater courage, my right hon. Friend moved me further up the picket line, to the Home Office, with responsibilities for the police. I had not been there too long before we had riots on the streets, and I was moved. But such was my right hon. Friend's magnanimity that she sent me to the Department of Industry, which, I must confess, was not noted at that time for ministerial longevity. However, I had the supreme satisfaction of working on the progress of British Steel towards privatisation, which is to be realised very shortly. That is an achievement which surely marks a special phase for Sir Robert Scholey and his admirable team at British Steel. I worked, too, on the welcome resurrection of the
Column 9Rover Group, which, under the splendid leadership of Graham Day, has now moved forward to the position whereby an acquisition is being arranged with British Aerospace.
When, at my request, I returned to these Benches after the last election, it was with a memory bank of unique and happy experiences in five different Departments, under seven Secretaries of State, for which I am profoundly grateful. I thought that possibly this was my last move, but, I suppose, it reached the Whips Office that I am a mover and that from time to time, in racing parlance, "a nice little mover" is required. So I have been allowed one more outing today. My constituents would wish me to say how delighted they are that the Gracious Speech refers to President Gorbachev's visit next month. Frankly, no further evidence can be needed to establish the British Prime Minister as the most influential statesman in the Western world. It is that position which gives such strength to the commitment in the Gracious Speech to a strong, internationally based defence policy. I especially welcome the stress laid on the elimination of disparities in conventional forces. My constituents wholeheartedly support a defence policy based on strength, from which all successful negotiations must flow.
I welcome, too, the commitment in the Gracious Speech to environmental issues, but I can think of no area of public policy where there is such a credibility gap between the desire to achieve and the willingness to pay. Environmental problems are complicated and extremely difficult to solve. They involve changing public attitudes as well as practices, and they take a long time to work through. Only a strong and growing economy can afford such a commitment, and the Government are certainly courageous to take up that challenge. Such policies will have a profound influence on the privatisation of the water industry, which is referred to in the Gracious Speech.
I am a strong supporter of the water industry, which has for too long been restricted in its ability to raise capital to meet the rising standards, expectations and increasing obligations that have been heaped upon it. But the country should be left in no doubt that the joy of green policies can be achieved only at the pain of substantial increases in costs and prices.
In constituencies such as Pudsey, environmental issues are keenly felt. The residents action group of Calverley jealously guards the open spaces that still remain, few though they be, between Leeds and Bradford. The conservation group of Horsforth is particularly concerned about the problems of pollution in the River Aire. It is good to know that such issues have now moved towards the centre of policy making.
Any programme of legislation is a matter of choice and selection, with demand nearly always outstripping supply. On the question of social legislation, the Gracious Speech indicates that the Government have decided to give priority to the implementation of changes in the law affecting child abuse. I welcome that. Recently, in common with other hon. Members on both sides of the House, I have become involved in these tragic issues. I am sure that my constituents, especially those in Rawdon who have helped to lead the Leeds parents action group, and those in Swinnow who have suffered under the present system, will be delighted to hear of the Government's commitment to give priority to implementing the findings of the Butler- Sloss inquiry.
Column 10My constituents will also welcome the reform of the Official Secrets Act 1911, and the more permanent arrangements to be made for the prevention of terrorism. I believe that the people of Pudsey and Guiseley are amazed that we have continued for so long with temporary measures on the latter, and that we have allowed the Official Secrets Act to fall into such disrepute, bearing in mind how important it is to maintain confidentiality in the public service. That we should be bringing the Security Service on to a statutory basis also shows immense political courage. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will have little time this Session for writing novels--despite, I suspect, an abundance of plots.
I note the references to changing the law on company mergers. That too I welcome, bearing in mind the concern expressed by many hon. Members who represent Yorkshire and elsewhere at the Nestle takeover of Rowntree. It would appear that the present position of awaiting a decision on referral favours the predator rather than the prey. I hope that that imbalance will be corrected in the forthcoming legislation.
The Government's overriding objective, however, must be to pursue economic policies to contain inflation, as emphasised in the Gracious Speech. My constituents know quite a lot about thrift. They understand that high interest charges will deter borrowing, but they also note that higher interest rates and mortgage rates will increase the rate of inflation. Their question is, "By how much and for how long?" Presently, the answers to those questions are unclear. Perhaps my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will reassure my constituents about that when he comes to address the House. The Gracious Speech sets out a full programme for a full Session, indicating once again the Government's commitment to the radical restructuring of Britain, which they began in 1979. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister can rest assured that the Tory voters of Pudsey will continue to back her judgment with their support and her confidence with their commitment. I commend the motion to the House. 2.54 pm
When I had recovered from the pleasant surprise of being asked to make this speech, I consulted a few of my hon. Friends on what was expected of me. I asked one how long my speech should be. He said, "Well, I have never heard one that was too short." Bearing in mind that we are here today to listen to the protagonists of the debate I shall follow his advice, but it is unusual for a humble Back Bencher such as I to speak to such a full House. I am used to an audience of 20 at about 8.15 pm, when everyone else is having dinner. Some things have changed a lot in the past 100 years. In 1888 the Loyal Address was moved in the House of Lords by a Scottish earl in full Highland costume, and in the House of Commons by a Mr. Wharton, attired in the uniform of a deputy lieutenant. During his speech, Mr. Wharton said that it was 14 years since he had last spoken in the House. I doubt that any of us could get away with such reticence today.
In other ways, things are surprisingly similar. One hundred years ago the Queen's Speech dealt with, among other things, the Russian-Afghan border, troubles in
Column 11Ireland, local government proposals to mitigate the burdens on ratepayers and the promotion of technical education. Fifty years ago, in 1938, it dealt with young offenders, education and improvements in public health. It is interesting to reflect how the same problems seem to recur and how each generation must find new solutions. Perhaps it should serve as a warning to us that few, if any, of the problems that we face are new and that none of the solutions that we find is likely to prove timeless.
In seconding the Loyal Address 50 years ago, Mr. Markham said that his first impression was that
"this House, having recently had a rise in pay, was now in for a considerable amount of overtime and overwork."
I expect that those sentiments will be echoed today. I should like to say on behalf of some of my colleagues on the Government Back Benches that there is one item that we are sorry is omitted from the Gracious Speech. That would have been to raise to 90 per cent. the majority necessary to suspend the Ten o'clock rule.
Fifty years ago, Mr. Markham went on to say :
"In commerce we have regained our old place of first among all competitors. Even in football a British team is now able to beat the rest of Europe by a resounding margin."--[ Official Report, 8 November 1938 ; Vol. 341, c. 17-19.]
Unfortunately, we can no longer make the second of those claims, but I am glad to see that my hon. Friend and neighbour, the Minister with responsibility for sport, plans to introduce proposals to make the spectators behave better, even if he cannot improve the quality of the team.