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House of Commons

Tuesday 6 November 2007

The House met at twenty-five minutes past Eleven o’clock

Prayers

[Mr. Speaker in the Chair]

Message to attend Her Majesty:

The House went; and having returned:

The sitting was suspended until half-past Two o’clock, and then resumed.

2.30 pm

On resuming—

Speaker’s Statement

Mr. Speaker: As the House will recall, it was agreed that the Speaker should make a brief statement at the beginning of each Session about the duties and responsibilities of hon. Members.

Our ancient privileges allow us to conduct our debate without fear of outside interference. In particular, we enjoy freedom of speech, in both Committee proceedings and debates on the Floor of the House. Parliamentary privilege is essential for proper democratic debate and scrutiny, and it should be exercised responsibly. It is up to each one of us to ensure, as individuals and collectively, that we do not misuse the rights that we have. They should be exercised in the public interest. We must ensure that we follow the letter and spirit of the code of conduct and related rules which we have approved to regulate our business.

Each Member is here to represent the views of his or her constituents and to participate in the process of democracy. We should ensure that every Member is heard courteously, regardless of the view that he or she is expressing.

Every member of the public has a right to expect that his or her Member of Parliament will behave with civility, in the best traditions of fairness, with the highest level of probity and with integrity. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear.”] I am glad that you are listening.

I turn now to security, not only for Members of Parliament but for the staff of the House who work so hard on our behalf, and for those who are pass-holders. I expect every Member of the House to co-operate fully with those officials who are responsible for security, which ensures that our democratic process is not disturbed and visitors to Parliament can continually be made welcome.

As Members, we are aware that the boundary commissioner is looking constantly at constituency boundaries. Hon. Members have a duty to look after the constituents who elected them. Those boundaries do not change until the next election, so we must obey the convention of not involving ourselves with another Member’s constituency until that time.

OUTLAWRIES BILL

A Bill for the more effectual preventing Clandestine Outlawries was read the First time, and ordered to be read a Second time.


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Queen’s Speech

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

My Government will take forward policies to respond to the rising aspirations of the people of the United Kingdom; to ensure security for all; and to entrust more power to Parliament and the people.

My Government’s programme will meet people s aspirations for better education, housing, healthcare and children’ s services, and for a cleaner environment.

My Government is committed to raising educational standards and giving everyone the chance to reach their full potential.

A Bill will be introduced to ensure that young people stay in education or training until age 18, and to provide new rights to skills training for adults.

Draft legislation will be brought forward to reform apprenticeships.

Available and affordable housing is one of my Government’s main priorities.

Legislation will be introduced to create a new Homes and Communities Agency that will deliver more social and affordable housing, and promote regeneration.

There will also be a Bill to reform the planning system, providing for quicker and more transparent decision-making.

My Government is committed to providing a healthcare system organised around the needs of the patient.

Legislation will be introduced to create a stronger health and social care regulator with a remit to ensure clean and safe services and high-quality care.

A Bill will be brought forward to reform the regulation of human embryology and to ensure that Britain remains at the forefront of medical research.

My Government wants all children to have the best possible start in life.

There will be a Bill to improve services for vulnerable children and young people, including those in care.

My Government will bring forward proposals to help people achieve a better balance between work and family life.

Legislation will be introduced to enable unclaimed money in dormant bank accounts to be used for youth facilities, financial inclusion and social investment.

A Bill will place a duty on every employer to contribute to good quality workplace pensions for their employees.

My Government is committed to protecting the environment and to tackling climate change, both at home and abroad.


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A Bill will be brought forward to make the United Kingdom the first country in the world to introduce a legally binding framework to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

My Government will introduce legislation to provide clean, secure and affordable supplies of energy.

There will be legislation to tackle congestion and improve public transport.

Alongside measures to meet rising aspirations, my Government will take further action to create stronger communities and tackle terrorism.

Legislation to reform the criminal justice system will continue to be taken forward, with the aim of protecting the public and reducing re-offending.

My Government will publish a draft Bill on citizenship.

My Government will seek a consensus on changes to the law on terrorism so that the police and other agencies have the powers they need to protect the public, whilst preserving essential rights and liberties.

My Government will pursue policies to secure a stable and strong economy, with low inflation, sound public finances, and high levels of employment.

Legislation will be brought forward to protect depositors and ensure confidence in the banking system.

A Bill will be introduced to reduce regulatory burdens on business.

My Government is committed to openness and accountability, and to a strong Parliament able to hold the Government properly to account.

Proposals will be brought forward to renew the constitutional settlement and strengthen the relationship between the Government, Parliament and the people.

My Government will bring forward proposals on the regulation of party finance and expenditure.

Members of the House of Commons

Estimates for the public services will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

My Government will continue to work closely with the devolved administrations in the interests of all the people of the United Kingdom.

My Government will continue to work to build a prosperous and secure European Union, better able to respond to the challenges of globalisation. Legislation will be brought forward to enable Parliament to approve the European Union Reform Treaty.

Reducing global poverty will be a high priority for my Government, with renewed efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The Duke of Edinburgh and I look forward to visiting Uganda later this month for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

My Government will continue to work with the Government of Iraq to deliver security, political reconciliation and economic reconstruction.

My Government will continue to support the Government of Afghanistan as it tackles extremism, instability and the narcotics trade.

My Government will continue to work with the United Nations, G8 and European Union to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction, including addressing international concerns over Iran s nuclear intentions.


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My Government will maintain Britain’s strong commitment to reaching a lasting peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Other measures will be laid before you.


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My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.


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Debate on the Address


[First Day]

Mr. Speaker: Before I call the mover and seconder, I shall announce the proposed pattern of debate during the remaining days on the Loyal Address: Wednesday 7 November—home affairs and justice; Thursday 8 November—local government and environment, food and rural affairs; Monday 12 November—foreign affairs and defence; Tuesday 13 November—health and education; Wednesday 14 November—economy and pensions.

2.35 pm

Mr. Richard Caborn (Sheffield, Central) (Lab): I beg to move,

Mr. Speaker— [Interruption.] That is the formalities over with. Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure, after some 24 years as a Member of this House, to have been invited to move the Loyal Address. It is also nice to address a full Chamber— [Interruption.]or a nearly full Chamber, to be correct. The last time I addressed a full Chamber, I was standing at the Dispatch Box; I was recommending the casino advisory panel’s— [Interruption.]. That was neither the pinnacle of my parliamentary career, nor one of my most productive speeches. I hope that the House will accept my contribution today with a little more sympathy than it did on that occasion. A few weeks ago, I thought I would be riding off into the sunset of my political career rather than moving the Loyal Address. How wrong people can be. I think it was Harold Wilson who said that seven days in politics is like a lifetime. That is probably true.

There are many reasons why it is a privilege and a pleasure to move the Loyal Address, and I should like to refer to a couple of them. First, I must mention my family, and particularly my mum. She is 91—and, thanks to the NHS, she has just had a little knee replacement operation. She is still a very active member of the Co-op guild and party and a strong Methodist, and she is also strong on temperance—her son has not quite copied her in that respect. The Methodist minister keeps sending me messages via my mum about the legislation I was recently involved in putting on the statute book: liquor licensing, 24-hour opening and modernisation of gambling—we would have needed only to chuck sex on to that list to have cracked it. The young Methodist minister keeps asking, “What’s gone wrong with his Methodist upbringing?” I have, however, sent the message back to him that I have every confidence in the Methodist mission to combat and control those perceived evils—I do say perceived evils. It is a good job that he did not find out that I also had horse racing and greyhound racing in my portfolio of ministerial responsibilities.


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The second reason why it is a privilege and a pleasure to move the Loyal Address is my constituency of Sheffield, Central—the constituency I was born in, educated in, and where I worked until I was elected as an MEP in 1979. I am fiercely proud of the city of Sheffield. I left school at the age of 15 and, like many of my contemporaries, I went into an engineering apprenticeship, of which I was very proud. I did not go to university, but spent three nights a week at night school before moving on to day release in further education and then to a technical college—Sheffield polytechnic, which is now the fantastic Sheffield Hallam university. Apprenticeships served us well, and I am pleased that apprenticeship reform is a part of the Queen’s Speech. I welcome that; it will serve the nation well, too. I genuinely hope, Mr. Speaker, that people like you and me, with our backgrounds, will always have a place here. If this House ever becomes stuffed full of professional politicians, it will be a sad day for the House and the nation. [ Interruption. ] There is an old saying, “If the cap fits, wear it.”

Sheffield, Central has a great industrial history. It has played a role for this nation in war and peace, particularly during the first and second world wars. Even when Hitler tried to rip the industrial heart out of our city, it continued to support our forces with the armaments they needed to fight for freedom and democracy, and against fascism. Its industrial contribution in peacetime has been considerable. For example, it gave stainless steel to the world when Brearley produced the first molt in 1913. It made a contribution to the aerospace industry when it helped Rolls-Royce to put the most advanced aerospace engine into the skies—the RB211—from which the Trent engine derived. It was a decade ahead of its competitors. The city also played a role in getting Concorde into the skies. Without Sheffield’s forging and casting, exploration for North sea oil would not have been as successful. The energy industry benefited considerably from Sheffield’s engineering and materials development, whether in the field of oil, gas, renewables or the nuclear sector.

The challenges of climate change are rightly referred to in the Queen’s Speech, and I believe that security of energy supply and a sound energy policy are absolutely crucial to our future. I believe that we have to bite the bullet sooner rather than later in acknowledging the role of nuclear power in the energy portfolio, not just here in the UK but around the world.

Many hon. Members will know that Sheffield is a great city of sport. It has the oldest football team in the world, Sheffield FC, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. Indeed, the Prime Minister sent a very kind letter to a dinner that the club held a few weeks ago. Sheffield has been named the first city of sport and, along with the English Institute of Sport, it boasts some of the finest sports facilities anywhere in the country. It also has the Mecca of football: Bramall Lane, the home of Sheffield United. My right hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) may not like this, but the city boasts two professional teams: Sheffield United and Sheffield United reserves.


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