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Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, these are not gentle words; they are precise words about how we are addressing ourselves to the issues. My noble friend will give credit for the extent to which new storage facilitiesboth for liquid natural gas and gas piped from the Continentare being constructed and will be in place in the very near future. My previous answer was an attempt to identify how we intended to resolve a particular problem with regard to the use of these storage facilities.
As regards the broader issue of the burgeoning economies of China and India, they obviously make demands upon world energy supplies, but we are also considering the whole position of energy supplies against that developing background, as we need to do.
Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, is it not an established fact that the Government have walked straight into this present crisis by a severe lack of foresight and planning? Was it not clear that there is masses of gas in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea
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but the pipeline is not in place because the Langeled pipeline is not going to be ready for another two years? That could have been foreseen and avoided.
Looking further ahead, is it not also the fact that our LNG facilities and terminals may be in place, but we have found to our dismay that the LNG carriers, who are transporting the frozen gas, get on to the high seas and are then diverted to other markets by rival, higher pricesin particular three huge loads that went to America recently? It turns out that our long-term reliance on LNG from Qatar, Algeria and so on is not at all secure. We need a lot more planning and a lot more vigour from the Government on these issues.
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, the Langeled pipeline will come into operation next year, so it is not quite as far away as the noble Lord indicated. There has been diversion of supplies on the high seas and we recognise the significance of that. He will appreciate that the Americans in particular, after the disasters on their southern and eastern coastline, have of course become major importers of energy, to a much greater extent than could have been anticipated.
However, we are addressing this issue and, as regards the security of supplies from, for example, north Africa, the issue lies in contracts that hold, which will avoid the diversion of supplies that has happened this year.
Lord Grocott: My Lords, I have two brief announcements. The first is about the Statement later today on defence industrial strategy, which will take place, with permission, immediately after the debate of the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank.
The second announcement is that timing is important today. As the House will know, the first two debates are timed debates with an allotted time. The third debate is not timed, but I can give an advisory time in order for us to finish by our target rising time. The advisory time for Back-Bench speakers on the EU debate is 10 minutes each.
Moved, That Standing Order 47 (No two stages of a Bill to be taken on one day) be dispensed with on Monday, 19 December to allow the Consolidated Fund Bill to be taken through its remaining stages that day.(Lord Rooker.)
The noble Lord said: My Lords, when the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, moved the Second Reading of the Law Officers Bill on 16 June 1997, it was one of the first Bills of the new Government. It was also his maiden speech and I believe that the noble and learned Lord was also the first Solicitor-General ever to be sitting in the House of Lords. In the course of his remarks, he thanked those colleagues who had welcomed him when he took his seat a month earlier and generously mentioned me as having said that I was not sure what the Solicitor-General did, but it was good to see him in the House. What I had tried to say, was that if we were obliged to have a Solicitor-General at all, I was delighted to see him there.
I mention that as a preface to my remarks today, because behind the rather bland description of the Motion is a subversive proposal for removing the Law Officers from either House. This would bring an end to their dual role as both active politicians in either House, and what is called,
I am not a lawyer or a constitutional historian. If I refer in passing to recent and current affairs and to existing law officers, that is not my chief purpose. I am interested in the principle, irrespective of any administration or person. Under the rules for the conduct of balloted debates in the Companion the purpose is,
so if I refer mainly to the role of the Attorney-General, it will probably embrace his deputy. Since earlier this year we have had an additional law officer in this House, taking her place on the Front Bench todaythe noble and learned Baroness, Lady Clark of Calton, the Advocate-General for Scotland. The noble and learned Baroness's powers do not extend to those of the Attorney-General or the Solicitor-General. The Advocate-General, her website tells us,
"elected" is a bit prematureand that among her interests is pension reform, which seems to involve rather more than legal advice. According to Hansard, the Advocate-General works in the Law Officers' Department but according to the Cabinet Office list of ministerial responsibilities, the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Clark, is a member of the Department
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for Constitutional Affairs. Her name does not appear at all on the Cabinet Office list of spokesmen in the Lords.
The noble and learned Baroness, Lady Clark of Calton, made an admirable maiden speech on 24 October, in winding up the Second Reading of the Consumer Credit Bill. However, that seems rather odd, given that she apparently has "no policy responsibilities" and no speaking role. I make no personal criticism of any kind. The noble and learned Baroness, Lady Clark, has a distinguished legal record in Scotland and at the English Bar. I say only that, despite some confusion of identity, as a member of the Government even the most junior law officer seems to have an inescapable dual role, as she had when she was in the House of Commons.
Forty years ago, at the 1964 general election, 100 barristers were elected to the House of Commons32 Labour MPs, 64 Conservatives and four Liberalsbut by 2005 there were only 34. As the profession has increased its numbers fivefold and QCs have trebled since the 1960s, it is the pressures of work and the Whips that make it very difficult for Members of Parliament both to make significant progress at the Bar and to carry out their parliamentary obligations.
I said that when the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, became Solicitor-General, he was the first holder of that office to sit in the House of Lords. Two years later, Lord Williams of Mostyn became the first Attorney-General in the Lords. Both had been leaders in their profession, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, has been. I do not believe that two more recent Solicitor-Generals would ever claim any such comparable record, although, under the 1997 Act, both have been free to exercise the important, sensitive and highly charged functions of the Attorney-General.
Nearly 30 years ago, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer of Sandwell, the then Solicitor-General, wrote a short booklet for the Fabian Society. It was a useful guide for laymen about the roles of the law officers. He said that if the Government's senior legal law officers were chosen from among practising barristers, it did not follow that they need also to be politicians. But in practice the law officers are members of the Government. They are party politicians with a political commitment.
That is the heart of my concern. I will turn around the description of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer: the custom and practice in the United Kingdom is for the law officers to be politicians, but they are not required to be. In my view, the dual role of the law officers as Ministers, sharing collective responsibility within the Government and publicly advocating and defending their policies, then standing
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aside to give detached, independent advice to their clientstheir own colleaguesis no longer credible, if it ever was.
In the famous Campbell case of 1924, Sir Patrick Hastings was held to be a compliant Attorney-General anxious to do the bidding of his Cabinet colleagues, though it took nearly 50 years until the uncomfortable truth clearly emerged. In a different kind of case, as a new Member of Parliament I followed the debate in May 1963 over the Government's refusal to grant political asylum to Chief Enahoro. I remember Sir John Hobson, the Attorney-General, tied up in a knot in endeavouring to balance his dual role in both defending the Government with their backs to the wall, and exercising his independent legal advice.
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