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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I did not accuse the noble Lord of thinking short term. However, if he looks to the recent past he will see that what I am trying to illustrate is not an exclusively
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difficult question for this side of the House; it is one that his side of the House lamentably failed to deal with.
I say specifically to my noble friend Lord Gilbert that we shall buy the four C17s, plus the additional one, and that we shall do so at the end of the lease period. I can see that he is as happy as I am with that decision. As to the A400M, I shall leave it to my noble friend Lord Bach to write to him, as indeed he will write to the noble Lord, Lord Astor of Hever, on the interesting questions he raised about the dockyards.
This is the eighth year in which I have spoken from the Dispatch Box in the debate on the gracious Speech. It has been a remarkable debate; it has been powerfully argued, with the conviction and wisdom which characterises so much of your Lordships' deliberations. I hope I will be forgiven when I say how much personally I have missed the contribution of the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby. Her knowledge, and above all her eloquence in expressing the convictions which flowed from that knowledge, was always a pleasure to listen to, however much I disagreed with her.
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I respect this House enormously. Ours is a very special contribution to political debate in this country. It is often oversimplified and, sadly, it is all too often overlooked. None the less, it is well researched, well argued and often very wise. We have an important and clear role in the political debate and the debate in general about the future of our country, particularly on foreign, defence and development policy. I believe fundamentally that many of us hold the same beliefsthat our foreign, defence and development policy can be a real force for good in the world; and that our security, our prosperity and our humanitarian values all rely on and contribute to a foreign, defence and development policy which goes way beyond our own national interest.
Those values foster our belief in democracy, in the rule of law, in the prosperity of people and in human rights, not only here in our own country but wherever the human spirit yearns for freedom, peace and justice.
House adjourned at nine minutes past eleven o'clock.
I have today placed before this House a copy of the second annual report of the Royal Ulster Constabulary GC Foundation which was sent to me under Article 8(2) of the Royal Ulster Constabulary GC Foundation Regulations 2002.
Further to my Written Statement to the House of 16 September 2005 (Official Report, cols. 1734WS), together with the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and the Secretary of State for Defence, I wish to inform Parliament that a copy of a public consultation document on improving the United Kingdom's contribution to post-conflict stabilisation has been placed in the Library. It invites contributions on the establishment of an interdepartmental Post Conflict Reconstruction Unit.
The National Policing Plan sets out the Government's vision of a police service which puts the law-abiding citizen at the heart of all it does, while working in partnership to create and maintain safe, secure and confident communities. This will require the creation of a culture for policing which can tackle crime successfully from the local to the national and international level. The National Policing Plan will inform local planning and help to ensure that all communities know what they should expect from their local police force. It builds on the commitments for police reform set out in Building Communities, Beating Crime: a better police service for the 21st century published on 9 November.
My right honourable friend the Deputy Prime Minister has today published for public consultation a paper on licensing in the private rented sector concerning the implementation of housing in multiple occupation (HMO) licensing. This paper seeks to explain the Government's proposals for licensing in the private rented sector that have been set in place by the Housing Act, which has just received Royal Assent. In particular, the paper explains the Government's proposals for HMO licensing and sets out proposals for the secondary instruments required to implement these measures.
Copies of the paper are being sent to a wide range of interested parties including local authorities, landlord and tenant organisations and others with an interest in this issue. The closing date for responses is 2 February 2005.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord McIntosh of Haringey): My honourable friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr Stephen Timms) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
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The Treasury is today launching a consultation on the regulation of investment trust companies. This is in response to a recommendation made by the Treasury Committee in its report into split capital investment trusts in February 20031. The aim of the consultation is to stimulate discussion about whether there is a need for additional regulation and, if so, possible options for doing so.
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