The Queen, being seated on the Throne, and attended by Her Officers of State (the Lords being in their robes), commanded the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod, through the Lord Great Chamberlain, to let the Commons know, It is Her Majestys pleasure they attend Her immediately in this House.
My Lords and Members of the House of Commons, my Government will take forward policies to respond to the rising aspirations of the people of the United Kingdom; to ensure security for all; and to entrust more power to Parliament and the people.
A Bill will be introduced to ensure that young people stay in education or training until age 18, and to provide new rights to skills training for adults. Draft legislation will be brought forward to reform apprenticeships.
Available and affordable housing is one of my Governments main priorities. Legislation will be introduced to create a new Homes and Communities Agency that will deliver more social and affordable housing, and promote regeneration.
My Government will seek a consensus on changes to the law on terrorism so that the police and other agencies have the powers they need to protect the public, whilst preserving essential rights and liberties.
My Government will continue to work to build a prosperous and secure European Union, better able to respond to the challenges of globalisation. Legislation will be brought forward to enable Parliament to approve the European Union reform treaty.
Reducing global poverty will be a high priority for my Government, with renewed efforts to achieve the millennium development goals. The Duke of Edinburgh and I look forward to visiting Uganda later this month for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
My Government will continue to work with the United Nations, G8 and European Union to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction, including addressing international concerns over Irans nuclear intentions.
The House having been informed on 24 May that Her Majesty had been pleased to appoint Mr Michael Graham Pownall to the Office of Clerk of the Parliaments, vacant by the retirement of Sir Paul David Grenville Hayter, the letters of appointment dated 4 November 2007 were read; then the said Michael Graham Pownall made the prescribed declaration (which declaration is set down in the Roll among the oaths of the great officers) in terms as follows:I, Michael Graham Pownall, do declare that I will be true and faithful and troth I will bear to Our Sovereign Lady the Queen and to Her Heirs and Successors. I will nothing know that shall be prejudicial to Her Highness Her Crown Estate and Dignity Royal, but that I will resist it to my power and with all speed I will advertise Her Grace thereof, or at the least some of Her Counsel in such wise as the same may come to Her knowledge. I will also well and truly serve Her Highness in the Office of Clerk of Her Parliaments making true Entries and Records of the things done and passed in the same. I will keep secret all such matters as shall be treated in Her said Parliaments and not disclose the same before they shall be published, but to such as it ought to be disclosed unto, and generally I will well and truly do and execute all things belonging to me to be done appertaining to the Office of Clerk of the Parliaments.
The Lord Speaker (Baroness Hayman): My Lords, I have to acquaint the House that Her Majesty was pleased this morning to make a most gracious Speech from the Throne to both Houses of Parliament assembled in the House of Lords. Copies of the gracious Speech are available in the Printed Paper Office.
Most Gracious SovereignWe, Your Majestys most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.
I thank my noble friends the Leader of the House and the Chief Whip for giving me the privilege and honour of moving this Motion. My noble friend Lady Ashton of Upholland is a delightful and approachable colleague. Her competence is evidently appreciated on all sides of the House, in view of the fact that she has been elected by her peers in successive years as Lords Minister of the Year and Peer of the Year. As to the Chief Whip, my noble friend Lord Grocottor the Captain of the Honourable Corps of the Gentleman-at-Arms, as I should call him today of all days after his resplendent appearance before us this morning during the State Openingnot only was he an effective and highly respected colleague during my first two Parliaments as a Member of another place, but he is the embodiment of a great Chief Whip, in that you are rarely conscious of the discipline but feel bad if you let him down. He also does marvellous pager messages.
I am just starting my third year as a Member of your Lordships' House and have been reflecting on the experience. I was talking to our late lamented and noble friend Tony BanksLord Stratford, or Lord Banks of the Thames, as I gather he wanted to be calledthe night the House rose for the Christmas Recess of 2005, which was his last night here. We swapped notes and I pointed out that our intake had reduced the average age in your Lordships House to 69. He said that it meant that overnight he had become a young Turk, having previously been a boring oldI think that noble Lords know what word he used.
My former right honourable friend Tony Benn recalls his late father, Lord Stansgate, joking that after being in the Commons for years the one thing that he could not get used to in the Lords was all the good will. The conclusion I draw is that this House is by and large comprised of people who have a wealth of experience of life and who are beyond ambition because we have nothing to prove. All I will say to the Government is that in the process of constitutional change they should make sure that these two essential qualities are not lost.
When the history of our period in office is written, it will be acknowledged that we changed the political discourse on public services. No party in the foreseeable future can be elected without a wholehearted and generous commitment to health, education, social security and housing. It is a remarkable achievement. I was very proud of the fact that after we came to power in 1997 it was in the poorest parts of my constituency of Bristol Eastareas that are not on any tourist mapthat the first new school and health centre were built. Now every secondary school in Bristol has been or is being rebuilt. Such things matter, and not only for teachers and health professionals; the quality of local services is seen as a direct reflection of the worth that we place on local communities. Whenever I see a TV news presenter standing outside a hospital, I always look at the building. It is remarkable how often it is new.
I know from my own family experience how life- enhancing public services can be. My paternal grandfather was born in a workhouse. He left school at 11 to work as a miner. My father left school at 15. He eventually found it hard to get work because he
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There is a similar story to tell on youth unemployment. Early in the 1992-97 Parliament, my parliamentary friend and neighbour, the right honourable Dawn Primarolo, visited a secondary school in her constituency at the end of the academic year. She was told that 100 students were leaving but that only 11 of them had a job to go to. Ten years later, when I told this story to a group of school leavers in my constituency, they did not believe me, because they all had jobs and training places to go to. Consequently, I was delighted that the gracious Speech included legislation on housing, pensions, health and public transport. The proposals to improve the life chances of looked-after children are particularly welcome, as is the intention to help people to achieve a better balance between work and family life.
The phrase knowledge economy is often bandied about, but there is no doubt that Britains economic status can be secured in the future only if we have a well educated and highly skilled population. In this context, the proposal to raise to 18 the minimum age at which young people can leave education or training is both welcome and vital. It is more than 40 years since the announcement that the school leaving age would be increased to 16 and in that time huge strides have been made in other countries. India, for example, is turning out 1 million science graduates a year.
I have left until last the issue that is most importantclimate change. You do not have to be a weather forecaster or a scientist to work out that our climate is changing; it is obvious to any experienced gardener. It is the only credible explanation for the extreme weather phenomena that we have seen in recent years, from Hurricane Katrina, to severe drought, to disastrous floods. It is a relief that at last there appears to be unanimity in the science community worldwide that human activity is changing our climate. Late converts are to be preferred to sinners, but global progress is slow. It was in 1979 that I first learnt that there was a hole in the ozone layer over the Antarctic. We were told then that all would be well if we stopped using chlorofluorocarbons, so my contribution at that time was to stop using deodorant sprays. Wouldnt it be great if that had been enough? The Climate Change Bill is our most ambitious initiative yet: to move beyond Kyoto so as to reduce the UKs carbon dioxide emissions by at least 60 per cent by 2050, using 1990 as the baseline. It is worth recording in passing that we are one of the few countries to comply with the Kyoto targets.
The Energy Bill is the other side of the same coin, with its emphasis on a more rapid deployment of renewables in the UK. While wind farms, carbon capture and initiatives such as a Severn barrage may well have their place, I am convinced that there is growing public enthusiasm for microgeneration. People want to do their bit for the environment. Generous grant schemes for householders and the encouragement of microgeneration in public buildings are good common
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Occasionally, I reflect on an experience that I had about 30 years ago. I was campaigning in a local government by-election in south Devon, together with a party colleague called Norman. I thought that he was old, although he was probably about the age that I am now. It was just coming up to lunchtime and I decided to stop, but I realised that Norman had been detained on a doorstep. I went to inquire what was happening and it turned out that, after Normans introduction, the householder had said that he would not be able to vote. Norman assumed that that meant he had just moved in and was not on the register, so he explained the procedure for doing so. The man said, No, no; I cant vote, and Norman thought that he meant that he wanted a postal vote. He explained the procedure and offered him an application form. The householder then said very loftily to both of us, No, you misunderstand. I cant vote because Im a Jehovahs Witness. My vote is in heaven. Norman replied, quick as a flash, But you come down for your meals, dont you?. We all come down for our meals, and we have common aims of protecting the security and safety of the British people, looking after all our children, providing world-class education and skills and reducing global poverty.
Most Gracious SovereignWe, Your Majestys most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, beg leave to thank Your Majesty for the most gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.(Baroness Corston.)
Lord Hart of Chilton: My Lords, it is a great honour and privilege to second this Motion for an humble Address and to have the pleasure of following my noble friend Lady Corston, whose political achievements in human rights and equal opportunities I have so admired. It is also a great honour to do so by way of making a maiden speech.
I should tell your Lordships that, when I entered this House, I went immediately to the ever-helpful Clerk of the Parliaments to inquire about making maiden speeches. As you were a government adviser, he said, I think it would be quite inappropriate for you to speak. Oh dear, I said. He replied, Dont worry, youll have plenty of time. One of their Lordships took 35 years before troubling the House with a few words and, even then, the general view was that it wasnt worth the wait. I went to the Whips and told them the news. I said, Im afraid that I wont be able to speak. Thats the best bit of news weve had for some timeits a pity there arent more of you. Always remember: less is more. Buoyed up with that confidence-building experience, perhaps I may thank the noble Baroness the Leader of the House and the noble Lord the Chief Whip for
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As a Minister, the noble Baroness the Leader of the House was, as I know from personal experience, quite outstanding at taking Bills through this House, and she always sought sensible compromise in doing so. With her in her new role, we have someone who genuinely wishes to be a Leader of the whole House, and in my view she has made an excellent start. I am also a great admirer of the noble Lord the Chief Whip, who carries out his difficult tasks with good humour. When confronted with trouble, as he often is, he asks himself always what the good people of Telford would doand they rarely let him down.
As I am paying tributes, perhaps I may pay two moreto the noble and learned Lords the former Lord Chancellors for whom I worked for nearly 10 years. As your Lordships may imagine, they were not always easy men to advise, but they were a delight to work with, kind and generous. They both had huge energy and ability and were, in quite different ways, formidable advocates. They were prodigiously hard-working andquite surprisingly for me at leastin going for a train, both of them had an astonishing turn of speed along platforms and going up stairs, leaving me hopelessly trailing behind carrying the bags. They were much loved by their private offices. I should add that the officials working in those offices were also outstanding. They worked long hours, always in good humour, with great loyalty. We are lucky to have such civil servants.
Although I received abusive telephone calls for not preventing the noble and learned Lord, Lord Irvine, from abandoning his knee breeches, tights and buckled shoes, in fact, surprisingly, neither Lord Chancellor ever sought my advice on their personal appearance, make-up or clothing. Of course, one might say that their impeccable sense of style was the only guide they needed; indeed, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, has become an icon for the shirt industry. Very sensibly, they rejected my suggestion that they might appear on The Simpsons.
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