Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

The Earl of Carlisle: My Lords, it is constructive opposition. We are the party of Campbell-Bannerman, Haldane and Archie Sinclair, and I think we have a contribution to make to this very important subject.

Lord Gilbert: My Lords, I do not doubt that for one moment. As I am sure the noble Earl appreciates, I was only jesting. We were delighted to see the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, at one of our seminars and I hope that he found it worthwhile. Another member of his party, Mr. Menzies Campbell, sat right through yesterday's seminar at the Ministry of Defence. I quite agree with him that we need new concepts of Britain's place in the world, and that is precisely why we are having this review. I am sorry that he felt a little disappointed that so far we have not been radical enough in our thinking; but I have to say to him that I thought yesterday's seminar was the best of the three we have had so far. I suggest that he discusses it with his friend in another place, and he might be more encouraged.

I am particularly seized of two things that he said: one was that we need to provide a rationale for defence for the young people of this country. If we do not do

6 Nov 1997 : Column 1563

this everything is at risk. Some years ago I used to think that every secondary school child should be taken and shown the Berlin wall or the inner-German border, without any comment from school teachers, so that they could ask the questions themselves--"What is this thing?" and "Why are our troops here?"--and work it all out. We no longer have the obvious incidence of dictatorship and totalitarianism to parade in front of them and so it is much more difficult to explain to them. I am also fully seized of what he said about how very few of them have a political memory going back more than a handful of years. This is going to be a problem for all of us in this House, and in the other place as well, in the years ahead. I also take very seriously the point he made about how ethnic communities in the United Kingdom are unaware of the military contributions made by their forebears. I am sure that this is one of the

6 Nov 1997 : Column 1564

points my honourable friend the Minister for the Armed Forces will be taking into account in our attempts to enhance recruitment from the ethnic minorities.

I have detained your Lordships for far too long. I only regret that I have not been able to touch on many speeches. However, I assure your Lordships that I shall do my best to reply to the points that have been raised.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I most respectfully ask him to use his best endeavours to seek to do something about the guardsmen?

Lord Gilbert: My Lords, I give the noble Lord this assurance. I shall draw his remarks to the attention of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

        House adjourned at half-past nine o'clock.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page