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Lord McNally: My Lords, we, too, welcome these concessions. The longer I am in the House, the more puzzled I become as to why governments insist on the Dance of the Seven Veils or the politics of the souk—I am not sure which it is. I am puzzled as to why we have to wait until 20 to seven on the very last day of the Session for what everyone agrees is a perfectly sensible suggestion, but there we are.

The solution is a hybrid—I hope that that does not get the Clerks worried. My noble friend Lord Avebury reminded us of the precedent of the review of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act by my noble friend Lord Carlile, and it was the continual probing by the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, and her attempt to get the wording right that led us to this point. So I think that congratulations should be offered all round.

I pay special tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, who has carried a tremendous burden. I must say that the performance of what I would describe as the Conservative "awkward squad" throughout the passage of the Bill has been truly impressive. It makes me think that they are getting rather good at opposition.

For some of us with even longer experience, this step is most welcome. I think that the Bill has been improved, and it is the kind of Bill that needs the awkward squad on all sides of the House because we are dealing with great powers.

Although I do not want to interfere in any way with another place, I watched the debate in the Commons and believe that one matter needs to be given consideration—perhaps Ministers can pass this on to

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their colleagues. Part of the problem that we ran into was caused by the draconian guillotine at Report stage in another place. That left a huge burden of scrutiny on this House, and that is not healthy. It makes us feel very good in that we do all the work, but it is not healthy that the democratically elected House does not consider Bills with the thoroughness required. However, I think we can say that we have done so.

This is a most welcome amendment, as was the earlier concession inspired by my noble friend Lord Lester concerning human rights matters being written on to the face of the Bill. It is a better Bill but it needs to be watched, and I think that we can now do that.

Lord Elton: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord McNally, forgets that one advantage of having hereditary Peers around is that they have had plenty of experience of opposition. I have had twelve and a half years myself.

This undertaking is a gift horse and I think that it has a pretty good mouth. I shall look into it for a moment, if I may. Had the Commons agreed to our amendment, the whole of Part 2 of the Bill would have been examined. As I understood what the noble Lord explained as the Government's undertaking, a review will take place of only the powers that are used within 12 months, but one failing may be that the powers will not be used. It seems to me that the Government's use of the whole of Part 2 should be under review, and I hope that the noble Lord can reassure us that that will be the case.

Like my noble friend, I warmly greet the appearance of a listening government on the Front Bench opposite. Together with my noble friend on the Front Bench, I thank my noble friends for their support. This has been a good example of inter-party co-operation and team support.

6.45 p.m.

Lord Lucas: My Lords, yes, but in a way we are getting more than we asked for as we are to have a proper review on which to base our debate, rather than just governmental assertions, which we would have had under our amendment. That is a great advance. It reflects the way in which the Front-Bench team have handled the Bill. When we have asked for something, and they think we should have it, they have given us a little extra on top. I am enormously grateful for that.

I am very impressed by the way the matter has been handled, both by officials and by Ministers. The noble Lord, Lord Bassam, has put in a stellar performance, which has been commented on by many other Members of the House who have stayed to listen to the debates, and it has been a pleasure to be part of the process.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I am flattered. Footballers use a term, but I shall not use it this evening. I am very grateful for those warm words. I believe that the House can feel good about itself on this occasion. We have done a good job. There has been effective scrutiny. I am particularly grateful for the courtesy that noble Lords have extended, not only to me, but also to my

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noble friend Lady Scotland, who has also undertaken a tremendous amount of work on the Bill. That spirit of co-operation has carried forward a very difficult piece of legislation that none of us feels absolutely happy about because we never want to see the circumstances in which it would be used.

I am grateful for the support. The noble Lord, Lord Lucas, is right: this way of looking at the legislation—it will cover the whole of Part 2—is perhaps more beneficial in its extent than the effect of the amendment that, in good cause, the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, moved earlier. We have come to a happy conclusion on a difficult piece of legislation, but a piece of legislation that was in urgent need of modernisation and which in many senses we hope we shall never have to use to the fullest extent.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure. In moving the Motion, I can drop a hint that the process of prorogation may be two hours away. Of course, everyone is very welcome.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

[The Sitting was suspended from 6.47 to 9.30 p.m.]

Royal Commission

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): My Lords, it not being convenient for Her Majesty personally to be present here this day, she has been pleased to cause a Commission under the Great Seal to be prepared for proroguing this present Parliament.

Then the Lords Commissioners (being the Lord Chancellor, the Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos), the Baroness Blatch, the Lord Donaldson of Lymington and the Baroness Williams of Crosby) being present and the Commons being at the Bar, the Lord Chancellor said: My Lords and Members of the House of Commons, Her Majesty, not thinking fit personally to be present here at this time, has been pleased to cause a Commission to be issued under the Great Seal, and thereby given Her Royal Assent to divers Acts, the Titles whereof are particularly mentioned, and by the said Commission has commanded us to declare and notify Her Royal Assent to the said several Acts, in the presence of you the Lords and Commons assembled for that purpose; and has also assigned to us and other Lords directed full power and authority in Her Majesty's name to prorogue this present Parliament. Which Commission you will now hear read. A Commission for Royal Assent and Prorogation was read.

The Lord Chancellor: In obedience to Her Majesty's Commands, and by virtue of the Commission which has been now read, We do declare and notify to you, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons in Parliament assembled, that Her Majesty has given Her

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Royal Assent to the several Acts in the Commission mentioned; and the Clerks are required to pass the same in the usual Form and Words.

Royal Assent

The following Acts received Royal Assent:

Armed Forces (Pensions and Compensation) Act,

Civil Partnership Act,

Housing Act,

Pensions Act,

Civil Contingencies Act.

The following Act, passed in accordance with the provisions of the Parliament Acts 1911 and 1949, received Royal Assent:

Hunting Act.

Prorogation: Her Majesty's Speech

Her Majesty's most gracious Speech was then delivered to both Houses of Parliament by the Lord Chancellor (in pursuance of Her Majesty's Command) as follows:

"My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

"My Government have taken action in support of economic stability and growth, and to deliver reform of the public services, increasing opportunity and social justice.

"My Government are committed to delivering a world class education system to allow individuals to achieve their full potential. An Act has been passed to enable higher education institutions to secure the additional necessary funding and ensure fair access for all. My Government have brought forward a Bill to enable some local authorities to pilot new arrangements for school transport to extend provisions to cover more pupils.

"An Act has been passed to provide all children born from September 2002 with a child trust fund, encouraging parents and children to save and ensuring that all children have a financial asset at 18.

"Legislation has also been passed to protect pension scheme members if companies become insolvent, to encourage employers to provide good quality pensions and individuals to save effectively for retirement.

"My Government have published a draft Bill to ensure comprehensive civil rights for disabled people.

"In addition, legislation has been passed putting in place a range of measures to streamline the asylum and immigration system and tackle abuse.

"My Government continue to make the reduction of crime and the fear of crime a priority, and to enhance security and protection.

"An Act has been passed modernising the laws on domestic violence and establishing a commissioner to support the interests of victims and witnesses.

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"A Children's Commissioner for England has also been established as part of legislation improving services to protect children.

"Draft legislation has also been published on establishing a national identity card scheme.

"Legislation has been passed creating a long-term foundation for civil contingency planning in the UK, improving the basis for preparations at a local level and modernising the emergency powers framework.

"An Act has been passed to ensure the fire and rescue services can respond effectively to the changing demands they face.

"Members of the House of Commons,

"I thank you for the provision you have made for the work and dignity of the Crown and for the public service.

"My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

"My Government remain committed to working closely with the political parties and the Irish Government to see an end to all forms of paramilitary activity and to restore as soon as possible a stable and inclusive partnership government in Northern Ireland. An Act has been passed establishing a Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission.

"My Government continue to work closely with the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales. Acts have been passed to retain the current number of Members in the Scottish Parliament and to establish a single public audit body for Wales. A Bill to provide the National Assembly for Wales with a range of transport-related powers has been published in draft.

"My Government continue to take forward a programme of constitutional reform.

"Legislation has been passed to improve traffic flow and manage roadworks more effectively.

"An Act has been passed to establish a Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and to promote secure and sustainable energy supplies.

"Legislation has been passed to help to create a fairer housing market and protect the most vulnerable, and to make the planning system fairer and faster with greater community participation.

"In addition, legislation has been passed implementing the Government's review of the Employment Relations Act 1999, and to improve company law by strengthening accounting, audit and inspection arrangements removing barriers to recruiting directors and creating community interest companies to enable social enterprises to meet the needs of their communities in new and innovative ways.

"My Government have brought forward draft legislation on a number of other matters including animal welfare, charities and mental health.

"Other important measures have been enacted.

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"My Lords and Members of the House of Commons,

"The Duke of Edinburgh and I were pleased to pay a state visit to Nigeria in December and attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. We were pleased to receive the state visit of His Excellency the President of Poland in May, and to pay a state visit to Germany earlier this month. We were also pleased to mark the centenary of the Entente Cordiale with a state visit to France in April and will receive His Excellency the President of France this week.

"My Government played an active role in preparing the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation for further enlargement in March and the European Union for the accession of 10 new member states in May. They worked with other member states to conclude negotiations on a new constitutional treaty for the European Union and to strengthen peace and prosperity in Europe.

"My Government have worked for a strong partnership between Europe and the United States, and for effective action against the threat from global terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. My Government were active in securing the first ever generic United Nations Security Council Resolution on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The resolution imposes obligations on all states to criminalise the possession, manufacture or trafficking of such weapons, in particular for terrorist purposes. My Government were active, with the Government of the United States of America, in working with the Libyan Government towards their renunciation of weapons of mass destruction.

"My Government have maintained the United Kingdom's commitment to enhancing stability in the Balkans and in rebuilding Afghanistan and Iraq. My Government worked with the people of Iraq and the United Nations to establish the Iraqi Interim Government in June.

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"In partnership with France, Germany and other partners, my Government have worked to persuade Iran to address international concerns regarding its nuclear programme. My Government supported international negotiations with North Korea, and have continued to work towards peace in the Middle East.

"My Government were active in securing a United Nations Security Council Resolution imposing obligations on the Government of Sudan to take action to end the terrible suffering in the Darfur region. My Government are the second largest bilateral donor working to improve the humanitarian situation in Darfur.

"My Government published White Papers providing a statement of defence policy, and an assessment of the capabilities the Armed Forces will require to meet the new strategic environment. Legislation has been passed giving enabling powers to bring in new pension and compensation arrangements for the Armed Forces.

"My Government have worked to reduce poverty and for the achievement of the millennium development goals. They established the Commission for Africa to focus on development and progress in Africa. In addition my Government launched an HIV and AIDS strategy for the developing world which announces the UK's commitment to spend at least £l.5 billion over the next three years.

"I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may attend you".


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