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Lord Howie of Troon: My Lords, I have no objection to the noble Lord referring to me in those vigorous terms, but I do wish that he would refer to what I said as opposed to what he would prefer me to have said. I did not say that we should not have political fights in this Chamber; indeed, we have had them for a very long time. I said that this was not the place for electioneering, especially of a blatant sort.
Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare: My Lords, I can only say to the noble Lord that he should start roaming around the Corridors of this building because he will see the most blatant electioneering for which Members will remain here in a few weeks' or a year's time than I have seen in the back streets of any constituency.
The noble Lord also said that this Bill had come up again and again in different forms, as if that was some excuse for it not being considered. However, we all remember that having seat-belts in cars came up in the Commons again and again until, finally, the government thought that it was right to bring it in and make it law. I have never met anyone who has suggested that having seat-belts in cars was wrong and that we should now reverse it. I suggest to the noble Lord that bringing up a matter again and again is not a bad thing--except, perhaps, that it takes a little time. Indeed, it may take me the rest of my life to convert the noble Lord to my cause.
Then, in stentorian tones, the noble Lord added that it was vainglorious for a Back-Bencher to bring forward such a Bill. I should remind him that I brought forward a Bill earlier this week which went straight through because the Government wanted it to do so. Perhaps I may also remind him that I brought forward the primogenitor Bill in this House and the Front Bench liked it so much that they asked me to withdraw it so that they could introduce
Then the noble Lord asked, "Do you really expect people to be able to travel from Carlisle into Scotland and master--handle--how to move the clock forward one hour or back one hour"? They are doing it every day in the Channel Tunnel--the same intelligent people. Is he suggesting that there are no Scots travelling through that tunnel managing this magnificent piece of science?
However, I must apologise to the noble Lord because he did ask, while looking at me with a smile, whether I remembered Glasgow during the war. I must confess to him that I do not. Although this has nothing to do with the Bill, I am bound to say that I find Glasgow a most attractive city; indeed, I was not surprised that it was the European cultural city of the year. Over the years that I have seen it, it has become one of Britain's most attractive cities. Therefore, I am unable to agree with him on that matter. Nevertheless, I look forward to debating this subject with the noble Lord.
I turn now to the remarks made by my noble friend Lord Montgomery, who has studied this subject in depth. I was delighted to hear him go over the arguments. Of course, I should like one time zone for the whole of Britain. It was an excuse to bring the Bill before the House. I think it no more than common sense; indeed, I say to my noble friend on the Front Bench and the Minister that I give way to that completely. It has to be one time zone. I believe that the Minister referred to some unbelievable part of Scotland, which is almost off the map, where there are probably three sheep, a dog and one shepherd. However, this has to influence 8 million people in London. I think that the Minister is pushing his luck.
I should like to tell the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, how sorry I am that he feels that this is his last speech in the House. I am sure that all of us are glad to be here to hear him and to thank him for his support. I hope that I may make one political point to him. He rightly says that we must not allow this to become--the Minister also mentioned this--a division between the four nations. He rightly said that we cannot afford to have that kind of division when we have only just had devolution. I am bound to say to him that if in his lifetime he sees the Scottish Nationalists take over the Scottish Parliament, people will ask why we should do exactly what Scotland wants when the Scots have made it clear that they want their own country and independence. Noble Lords will see me back here fighting twice as hard for this Bill if the Scots demand independence. Frankly, if they get independence, the argument that we should all be in line will not have the same strength and the same validity.
I must apologise to my noble friend on the Front Bench for misleading him or being inarticulate. The figure that 88 per cent of people support this change emerged from a poll that was taken in London, not in the whole of Great Britain.
Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare: My Lords, I felt sure that the noble Lord, Lord Howie, would give us the figures relating to Scotland, but he did not. I have kept them up my sleeve. Some 57 per cent of people in Scotland are against this Bill and this concept; 43 per cent are in favour.
Viscount Montgomery of Alamein: My Lords, before my noble friend continues, I am sure he will realise that on all occasions that we have tried to move this cause forward to achieve a unified European time; it has only been the small Scots lobby that has caused it to fall.
Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare: My Lords, I am left in no doubt of the power of the small Scots lobby. I pointed out the domination of Scots in the highest levels of the Cabinet. I realise that the chance of this measure being accepted while the Scots hold so many positions in the Cabinet is small. However many people thought that I had won the argument, by the time the measure reached the Cabinet that fact would become insignificant.
I turn finally to the Minister's speech. I thank him for his courteous and kind remarks. He paid me the compliment of saying that I take this Bill and this concept extremely seriously. I recall the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Gladwyn, about the dreadful accident in Scotland in which children were killed. However, I have to weigh against that other accidents that have occurred at other times. These terrible things happen but at the end of the day you have to weigh up what may save the most lives. I take that point seriously.
I was disappointed that the Minister was not able to tell my noble friend Lord Montgomery that an inquiry into this matter would be carried out and that he would consider returning to this issue. He failed to answer my noble friend's point on that. I would have gone home a happier man tonight if he had said either that the Government intended to bring forward their own Bill--which was obviously asking for too much--or that the Government take this matter so seriously they will conduct an inquiry and present the results to the House. I say to my noble friend that I back his idea 100 per cent.
I thank the Minister for his comments. I hear his arguments and I understand his political position. I even accept that the excuse with which I brought the Bill forward has its weaknesses. However, I do not believe that the argument is any less convincing for that. It is for that reason that I shall not disappear into the mist and forget that this debate ever took place. I shall return to fight another day. I invite the House to give this Bill a Second Reading.
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