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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 Gruyere; 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.
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 titlesand 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
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 italthough 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
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 onI was about to say an obvious point, but I thought that that was ungraciousreferred 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 disgraceI put the matter a little more strongly than the noble Lord, Lord Richardthat 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
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.
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