Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I think I can bear testimony to the eye for detail, the scholarship and the humanity of the modern Civil Service, but I am sure that I cannot comment on its pursuit of pleasure.

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords—

Baroness Trumpington: My Lords—

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I think that the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, stood up first.

Baroness Trumpington: My Lords, thank you very much indeed. Quite right, too. I was impressed with the list that the Minister gave. Will she add another place to it? I do not know whether Magdalene College Cambridge is doing anything about Pepys, but it owns his entire library. I wonder whether it is holding any special events this year. Rather than detain noble Lords, I shall say, "And so to bed".

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, it is absolutely right that Magdalene College Cambridge has Samuel Pepys's splendid library, including every volume of his

21 May 2003 : Column 825

diaries. Two volumes are regularly on show at Magdalene College. I think that one of them is always open at the page that describes the Great Fire of London. I am not sure whether the college is doing anything special this year. I have just been told by the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, that it is. Perhaps she will be able to tell the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, what is planned, as, unfortunately, I cannot. I am delighted that not only are all the government-sponsored institutions celebrating this great man's life, but so is Magdalene College Cambridge where he was a student.

Viscount Falkland: My Lords, does the noble Baroness not agree that, apart from the attributes mentioned by the noble Earl, Samuel Pepys was a remarkable Englishman from a relatively modest background who made use of powerful patronage—the patronage of the noble Earl's forebear—and with great skill and talent occupied high office? Does she further agree that he did more than that; he left an unequalled picture of the period and a wonderful piece of literature?

I conclude with a practical suggestion. Perhaps copies of the wonderful biography by Claire Tomalin, which won the Whitbread Prize this year, might be given as prizes in schools. The Government might encourage, where possible, that a copy be given to a star pupil.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I have just read Claire Tomalin's splendid biography of Samuel Pepys. I am not sure whether it would be right for the Government to prescribe what books ought to be given to star pupils. I am sure that anyone who happens to read Hansard might take up the noble Viscount's suggestion. I wish to add that patronage was something at which Samuel Pepys was a great expert; today it would be described as cronyism.

Lord Geddes: My Lords, as a proud albeit retired member of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, can I ask the noble Baroness whether she might encourage the chairman of the Refreshment Committee, my noble friend Lord Colwyn that, on our return from the recess, we might possibly splice the mainbrace in the Bishops' Bar?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I shall certainly do so.

Lord Judd: My Lords, whatever the great characteristics of this distinguished Briton of the past, given his lively view of womanhood does my noble friend agree that it would have been difficult for him to have envisaged the valuable role now being played by women within the Royal Navy? When we celebrate this important anniversary, may we accompany it with a real salutation to the women of today's navy and the role they play in it?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, Samuel Pepys certainly liked women, but I do not think he ever

21 May 2003 : Column 826

envisaged them in the kind of role they now play in the Royal Navy. However, were he to come back I am sure that I and my female colleagues on the Front Bench would be delighted to take him through the enormous contribution now being made by women to all aspects of public life, including our armed services.

Lord Renton: My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that the borough of Huntingdon got rid of Oliver Cromwell after suffering him for only one Parliament of four years? It then became a Royalist borough and welcomed the first Earl of Sandwich to Hinchingbrooke, which is the title of Viscount Hinchingbrooke, heir to the Earl of Sandwich. Huntingdon welcomed also the first cousin once removed of that first Earl of Sandwich, Samuel Pepys. Is it not essential that the borough of Huntingdon and the parish of Brampton should join equally in these great celebrations?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I was well aware of the noble Earl's ancestor, Edward Montagu, who was Samuel Pepys's sponsor. Both the noble Earl's ancestor and Samuel Pepys were extremely skilful at changing sides. They started out as supporters of Oliver Cromwell and ended up as supporters of Charles II. Perhaps that is another reason why the borough of Huntingdon should recognise the anniversary.

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, is the Minister aware that we on this side strongly support a commemoration for this excellent Tory, which is the way he ended up? We congratulate the present holder of the title who asked the Question, the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, on reminding us of his illustrious ancestor, who was extremely adroit at being a cross-bencher. As the Minister has just reminded noble Lords, Samuel Pepys began as a ferocious parliamentarian general and ended up a passionate supporter of Charles II. That is an interesting example to examine when we consider today's politics.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I do not know whether that means the noble Lord is about to change sides.

Iraq: Role of UN

2.52 p.m.

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress they have made towards defining the role of the United Nations in the reconstruction and political rehabilitation of Iraq.

The Minister for Trade (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): My Lords, the United Kingdom has co-sponsored a draft Security Council resolution, together with the United States and Spain, which sets out the vital role we expect the United Nations to play in Iraq.

21 May 2003 : Column 827

The draft resolution would appoint a special representative of the UN Secretary General to co-ordinate the UN's humanitarian, political and reconstruction work in Iraq. The UN special representative would be given a mandate to co-ordinate closely with the people of Iraq, with the coalition and with other interested parties, but would work independently and report regularly on progress to the Security Council. We expect the draft resolution to be voted on by the Security Council either later today or, more probably, tomorrow.

Lord Judd: My Lords, while recognising the hard work by the British Government on their American colleagues on this resolution, does my noble friend agree that it will be unfortunate if the view taken by the wider world is that the occupying powers are beginning to regard the United Nations as a useful humanitarian sub-contractor for whatever they want to do? Does she further agree that the real issue here is that, if we are going to work towards global stability and security, it is essential to demonstrate that operations of this kind are undertaken with the maximum authority of the global community as a whole? That is why the United Nations should be central to the operation.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for acknowledging the hard work of both the United Kingdom and the United States on this draft. That work has resulted not only in improvements to the draft itself, it has also ensured maximum support for it around the Security Council. I hope that, when my noble friend has an opportunity to study the draft, he will acknowledge that a number of improvements have been made to the text which was originally circulated. The issues in regard to strengthening the role of what was the special co-ordinator but is now to be the UN special representative to bring it into line with that adopted in post-conflict situations such as Afghanistan should also hearten my noble friend. He will see that we have moved very much in the direction he wishes.

Lord Hannay of Chiswick: My Lords, will the noble Baroness accept my thanks for the changes made to the resolution, which I think have greatly improved it? Does she recognise, however, that what matters now is, first, for the resolution to be adopted as quickly as possible and, secondly and most important, that the role of the United Nations in implementing the resolution is one of being a team player with the allies who are taking a leading role in Iraq? It is absolutely essential that the United Nations, rather than being marginalised in the implementation of the resolution, should become an integral part of it.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Hannay. Perhaps I may say to him that I think that it is exactly that desire which has prompted the kind of changes that have been made to the Security Council resolution. I hope

21 May 2003 : Column 828

he will note that the UN special representative will have a key role to play in facilitating the political process leading to representative government. By that I mean that he or she will be an equal partner in the process. That is one of the very important adjustments that has been made to the draft of the Security Council resolution.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page