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House of Lords

Monday, 1 June 2015.

2.30 pm

Prayers—read by the Lord Bishop of Norwich.

Introduction: Baroness Altmann

2.38 pm

Rosalind Miriam Altmann, CBE, having been created Baroness Altmann, of Tottenham in the London Borough of Haringey, was introduced and took the oath, supported by Lord Freud and Baroness Wheatcroft, and signed an undertaking to abide by the Code of Conduct.

Introduction: Lord O’Neill of Gatley

2.44 pm

Terence James O’Neill, Esquire, having been created Baron O’Neill of Gatley, of Gatley in the County of Greater Manchester, was introduced and took the oath, supported by Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach and Lord Davies of Abersoch, and signed an undertaking to abide by the Code of Conduct.

Oaths and Affirmations

2.48 pm

Several noble Lords took the oath or made the solemn affirmation, and signed an undertaking to abide by the Code of Conduct.

Retirements of Members


2.54 pm

The Lord Speaker (Baroness D'Souza): My Lords, I should like to notify the House of the retirements, with effect from today, of the noble Baroness, Lady Warnock, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew of Twysden, pursuant to Section 1 of the House of Lords Reform Act 2014. On behalf of the House, I thank both noble Lords for their much-valued service to the House.



2.55 pm

Asked by Baroness Tonge

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to recognise the State of Palestine.

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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns) (Con): My Lords, Britain remains firmly committed to the two-state solution, but we reserve the right to recognise the Palestinian state at a moment of our choosing, when we think it can best help to bring about peace. Bilateral recognition in itself would not end the occupation. Only negotiations that lead to a final settlement between the parties will deliver a Palestinian state living in peace and security side by side with Israel.

Baroness Tonge (Ind LD): I thank the Minister for her Answer and her patience. Does she agree that, despite Mr Netanyahu’s declared support for a sustainable two-state solution after his recent re-election, he has continued with the same policies of settlement-building and discrimination against Palestinians? Does she further agree that, in view of the current weakness of the American Administration and our historic obligation under the Balfour Declaration, we must follow the example set by the Vatican, Sweden and 130 other states which have already recognised Palestine and take the lead ourselves in going to the United Nations?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, we take a lead in giving every encouragement to negotiations that would achieve a two-state solution. Without that, and if there were no agreements, any recognition would mean that there would not be a true Palestinian state. It would be a matter of words, not of reality—and reality is what we need to achieve. The noble Baroness raises an important point about the attitude of Mr Netanyahu after his election. It is crucial that he understands clearly that he must prevent the extension of the illegal settlements. We have made that clear; the Prime Minister has done so. As long as Mr Netanyahu persists in extending those settlements, it makes it more difficult for his friends elsewhere to support him.

Lord Pannick (CB): My Lords, in considering this Question, will the Government have regard to the report published last week by Amnesty International, which describes the policy of executions and torture by the Hamas Administration of their own people?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I always take great care to look at Amnesty’s reports; I admire the work that it does. The position of this Government is clear: torture is wrong and any death penalty, however it occurs and by whomever it is carried out, is wrong. Priorities for the FCO are to ensure that torture is prevented and that the death penalty is abolished throughout the world. I shall continue on that work myself.

Lord Leigh of Hurley (Con): Does my noble friend the Minister agree that this Question is the same as the Motion to Take Note in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Steel of Aikwood, from a couple of months ago and that, since that time, Hamas has taken no steps to enter into any negotiations and has kept to its principle of refusing to recognise the right of Israel to exist? Does she further agree that the biggest tragedy in the

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Middle East is that more than 100,000 people have been slaughtered there, 75,000 of them in Syria, and that this deserves our urgent attention?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, the Middle East process also requires our urgent attention and we shall not divert our eyes from that. It is of great regret that Hamas persists in its activity of attacking Israel, most recently in the past week or so by setting off rockets towards Israel. It is clear that there has to be leadership by the Palestinian Authority to return its Administration to Gaza and ensure that there can be steps towards negotiations for a two-state solution.

Baroness Morgan of Ely (Lab): My Lords, we know that some arms sold by the UK to Israel have been used to commit human rights violations in Gaza. What efforts have the Government made to ensure that British-made weapons are not turned on civilians in Gaza?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, as the noble Baroness will be aware, there is a stringent process by which arms exports are monitored. We are signed up entirely to the EU export controls on such and to international law, which governs these matters. We stated last summer that we would look at every award of arms exports on a case-by-case basis. That policy remains in place. Wherever we sell arms throughout the world, it is crucial that we keep a weather eye on how those arms are then used.

Lord Wright of Richmond (CB): My Lords, it will probably not surprise your Lordships if I express strong support for the case for Her Majesty’s Government to recognise the state of Palestine within the 1967 borders, and without further delay. But have the Government taken into account the fact that early recognition will also be to Israel’s benefit? It will surely strengthen the hand of the majority inside Israel who, like most of us—and, indeed, like Her Majesty’s Government—still support the aim of a two-state solution. Does the Minister agree that the recognition of the state of Palestine on pre-1967 borders will also be a powerful encouragement for global recognition of the State of Israel on those same borders, including recognition of Israel in line with the Saudi Arab peace initiative of 2002, supported as it was by the 57 states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, where I firmly agree with the noble Lord is that any peaceful negotiations that achieve a two-state recognition must be based on the 1967 borders, but that is only one aspect of the negotiations. Clearly, other aspects include the fact that Hamas must cease its attacks on Israel, so I remain with my original Answer. This is not, we judge, the moment most conducive to achieving peace for us to recognise unilaterally a Palestinian state. That is a matter that can take part only at the end of negotiations with all parties, so that it is a durable solution.

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Lord Wallace of Saltaire (LD): My Lords, I understand that the French Government are consulting with others about the new UN Security Council resolution on the Palestinian issue. Can the Government assure us that we are co-operating closely with the French, and is it to be expected that the British Government will support that French resolution when it comes to the UN Security Council?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: The noble Lord raises an important point and an accurate one. We understand that France is working hard in the United Nations on this very matter. It is a case where it is important for us not only to be aware of what the French are doing but to see the particular details. We have had experience at the United Nations of one of our closest colleagues—the French—not always showing us a document on Palestinian Authority matters until it was almost too late for us to have eyesight of it, let alone to consider it, and we need to consider these matters.

Medical Data Sharing


3.03 pm

Asked by Baroness Ludford

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the statement by the Health and Social Care Information Centre that they have been unable to process up to 700,000 requests for individuals to opt out from sharing medical data with third parties.

Baroness Chisholm of Owlpen (Con): My Lords, the number of personal objections to data sharing lodged with GP practices is still unconfirmed. The Health and Social Care Information Centre is working to verify this estimated number. In the interim, for anybody who has registered a data-sharing objection with their GP, the HSCIC has taken the practical decision not to collect any identifiable GP data about that person for purposes beyond their own direct care.

Baroness Ludford (LD): My Lords, in thanking the Minister for that Answer, can I clarify that I am referring to evidence given by Kingsley Manning, the chair of the Health and Social Care Information Centre, to the Health Select Committee in the other place? It concerns opt-outs from the sharing of data held by the Health and Social Care Information Centre with third parties, public and private, which could include commercial organisations. The admission was made that 700,000 people have objected to such data sharing, but the centre says that it is unable to implement or respect those objections. Will the Minister invite the Information Commissioner to investigate this worrying situation, which is undermining patient trust in NHS data sharing, to the detriment of legitimate uses for such data sharing?

Baroness Chisholm of Owlpen: The Health and Social Care Information Centre is working closely with NHS England and the Department of Health to

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put a method into place for resolving these issues. People’s private identifiable health information cannot be shared unless there is a legal basis to do so. Data will be held securely and will be made available more widely only in safe de-identified formats with crucial safeguards.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath (Lab): My Lords, in welcoming the noble Baroness to her new position, I also pay tribute to the noble Earl, Lord Howe, for his stewardship of the health brief over the last five years. Not the least of his contribution has been his willingness not just to come to Oral Questions but to do most of the statutory instruments and Questions for Short Debate as well, which your Lordships have much appreciated.

On the Question—I remind the House of my presidency of GS1—does the noble Baroness agree that it would be an absolute nonsense if those patients who wished to opt out were actually denied access to screening services? That would be the impact of putting their wishes into practice. Of course there are lessons to be learnt about mistakes that have been made, but surely the Government should be vigorously in favour of, and supporting, the proper sharing of information to the benefit of patients.

Baroness Chisholm of Owlpen: I thank the noble Lord for his kind words. I hope that your Lordships will have patience while I learn the ways of this House. Indeed, I feel that behind me my noble friend Lord Howe, who has indeed done an incredible job over the past 18 years, is sitting on his hands at the moment, longing to rush to the Dispatch Box, push me aside and take over this brief.

To answer the noble Lord’s question, the Secretary of State intimated that we are determined to guarantee that personal data are protected, and we are enthusiastic about reacting to the benefits of sharing them. Indeed, Professor Peter Weissberg of the British Heart Foundation stated:

“Locked inside our medical records is a mine of vital information that can help medical scientists make discoveries that can improve … and save lives”.

We must keep this at the forefront of our minds.

Lord Naseby (Con): Is it not a tragedy that 700,000 patients have decided to opt out of this scheme? Is this not comparable to what happened with MMR, when mothers opted out but were subsequently found to have done so to the detriment of their children? Against that background, while of course one protects the rights of any individual to make their own decision, will the Government ensure that all publicity is put behind what my noble friend has said in her answers today?

Baroness Chisholm of Owlpen: My Lords, I think that is very true. It is important that we take the patients with us. We need to remember that an informed patient is not a panicked patient. That is why a pathfinder will be started first to ensure that we have everything in place before we roll out these data nationwide.

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Baroness Walmsley (LD): My Lords, I associate these Benches with the words from the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, welcoming the noble Baroness and thanking the noble Earl, Lord Howe. The noble Earl and I both have new roles in this new Parliament.

When the pause that is in place at the moment comes to an end and the programme is implemented again, will the Government undertake to implement a really high-quality public information programme that is much better than the last one, which left people not knowing what their rights were or how to opt out if that was what they wanted to do? Will the Government also do some research about the efficacy of the anonymity scheme for sexual health? Unless people have confidence that anonymity works, we are going to have a lot more than 700,000 of them opting out.

Baroness Chisholm of Owlpen: I thank the noble Baroness. Indeed that is true. That is why these pathfinders are so important. They will start in Blackburn and Darwen and make sure that all data-collection actions are evaluated and refined. NHS England has asked the National Data Guardian, Dame Fiona Caldicott, to lead an evaluation of the pathfinder stage, and nothing will go further ahead until she is satisfied that everything is in place.

Lord Ribeiro (Con): My Lords, it is important to make one correction about where this information is going. It is to be used by those who will be caring for the patients or the people involved. It is not for the use of private companies.

Baroness Chisholm of Owlpen: That is exactly right.

EU Referendum: Voting Age


3.10 pm

Asked by Lord Kennedy of Southwark

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to consider proposals to allow 16 and 17 year-olds to vote in any referendum on membership of the European Union.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns) (Con): My Lords, we introduced the European Union Referendum Bill in the House of Commons last week. This is an issue of national importance, so the parliamentary franchise is the right approach. It was the franchise used for previous UK referendums. The Government have no plans to lower the voting age. I am sure that noble Lords and colleagues in the other place will set out their views on this issue as the Bill proceeds through Parliament.

Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Lab): My Lords, does the noble Baroness not agree that learning from the positive way young people embraced the referendum in Scotland, seeking to address the democratic deficit we have here in the UK and allowing young people

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aged 16 and 17 to vote on an issue that will have a profound effect on their future is the right and proper thing to do and that there can be no justification whatever for the Government not taking action to make it happen?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I know from one or two words said in the Queen’s Speech debate last Thursday that there is some support for such a proposal. I remind the House that the Scottish Parliament decided the franchise for the Scottish referendum. That was right as it was a Scottish matter: Scottish independence. It is therefore also right that any decision about the franchise for United Kingdom elections or referendums should be taken by the United Kingdom Parliament. This is a United Kingdom matter. We are basing the franchise very much on what is usual in our elections, with two slight additions that I think will be welcomed by this House: Commonwealth citizens in Gibraltar and Peers may also vote.

The Earl of Listowel (CB):My Lords, does the Minister agree that an important part of due diligence in the policy of lowering the voting age would be to consult child development experts? Is she interested to learn that the view of a child development expert who has treated 16 and 17 year-olds for depression, eating disorders and other health issues over many years is that while quite a few 16 and 17 year-olds would be old enough to make a good decision in this area, many would not?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: The noble Earl raises several important issues which will bear greater scrutiny when we come to debate these matters. There is no standard age of majority in the United Kingdom at which one moves from being a child to being an adult. More than that, the noble Earl rightly raises the issues of capacity and capability. It is quite a difficult route to go down in Question Time because one could perhaps argue that some 14 year-olds should be able to have the vote. It is a serious matter, and I know that the House will approach it seriously.

Baroness Ludford (LD): My Lords, does the Minister agree that it is time for coherence and fairness throughout all the electoral processes in this country? We are a United Kingdom and there is surely no justification for having a different age in Scotland from that for the EU referendum. I gather that British residents abroad are going to get voting rights in general elections for a longer period, but not in time for the referendum. There is incoherence throughout the system. Will the Minister undertake with her colleagues to look at this as well as at the unfairness of first past the post?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, there is the issue of coherence in franchises for different elections; the noble Baroness raises a serious point. In particular, she refers to the fact that we as a Government have given a commitment to delivering votes for life for British citizens who have moved and now reside overseas. A Bill to deliver this as a permanent change later in

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this Parliament will achieve some move towards the coherence for which she calls. I am sure that that matter will be discussed broadly across Parliament over the forthcoming Sessions.

Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall (Lab): My Lords, may I take the noble Baroness back to her answer to the noble Earl, Lord Listowel? I believe that she said that there was no settled age of majority in respect of decisions—or did she say “maturity”? Either way, I remind her that we expect 16 year-olds to take very serious decisions. We certainly allow them—and sometimes expect them—to do so. Those decisions, for instance concerning whether they wish to join the Armed Forces or get married, are just as important and require just as sophisticated judgment as whether they are going to vote, and for whom. Is that not a powerful argument for considering very seriously their right to the vote now?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I hope that I said that there was no standard age of majority in the UK. The noble Baroness raises two crucial decisions which young people at 16 may wish to take. However, I gently remind the House that at that age they may make those decisions and carry them through only with the permission of their parents.

Lord Cormack (Con): My Lords, is it not also true that they cannot smoke or drink legally? There are many in this House—I am sure my noble friend would agree—who were unhappy about the inconsistency and the precedent created in Scotland and who wholeheartedly approve of the fact that the Government have come to their senses on this one.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: I agree with my noble friend.

Lord Purvis of Tweed (LD): My Lords, I am sure that many in this Chamber will be greatly relieved that they are now old enough to vote when it comes to the referendum on the European Union. However, perhaps at the other end of the age spectrum—with the greatest respect—in the Scottish referendum 16 and 17 year-olds showed with great maturity their capacity to make a choice as to whether they wished to carry on as part of a political union or not. At an event in Scotland on Friday in which I took part, the Scottish Conservatives said very strongly how much they were in favour of 16 and 17 year-olds having the vote in the European referendum. Has Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, made representations to the Minister in support of 16 and 17 year-olds having the vote in the referendum?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: Those representations have not been made personally to me yet, but I can almost hear them winging down the wire at the moment as the noble Lord sits down. The issue of who votes and how they vote, and at what age they gain the legal right to vote, is of course very serious. I have heard a lot of discussion by people who may end up in the for and against camps when it comes to a referendum as to why each of those groups would like to see 16 and 17 year-olds have the vote. The most important thing

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is to have the referendum and give the British people throughout the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland the opportunity to make that choice.

Migration: Trafficking


3.18 pm

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress they and their international partners have made in deterring the trafficking of migrants and creating safe havens in North Africa and the Middle East.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Anelay of St Johns) (Con): My Lords, since the extraordinary European Council in April, EU member states have agreed to establish a military CSDP operation to disrupt trafficking and smuggling networks. That is a considerable achievement, but we also need to address the root causes of that migration, so we are taking forward initiatives in source and transit countries. The regional development and protection programme in the Middle East is one model that we may be able to develop further.

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB): My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for that reply. Does not the news that HMS “Bulwark” rescued 741 migrants on Saturday, that more than 4,200 migrants, including young children, were rescued on Friday, that more dead bodies were added to the 1,800 corpses recovered this year, and that new people-smuggling routes are being opened to Greece, underline the scale of this human catastrophe? Against that backdrop, do the Government support the creation of safe havens? Do they support last week’s calls from the European Union for relocation and resettlement plans, and how do we justify the pitiful 187 places provided in the United Kingdom against Germany’s 30,000 places and Lebanon’s 1.2 million? Are we any nearer to ending the causes of this exodus from hellholes such as Libya and Syria, to which the noble Baroness referred a moment ago?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, there were several crucial questions there, and I know that we will have the opportunity to develop them further in short debates. There has to be no doubt that this is a human catastrophe, caused by those who are making billions out of illegal trafficking and smuggling individuals. It is important that the policies that we adopt deal, first, with the humanitarian approach, which is what HMS “Bulwark” is involved in—and, secondly, break that link between travelling on the boat to get here and the certainty of getting settled. If we can do that, we can break the smugglers’ grip on these people, for whose lives they care nothing. That is the link that we must break. So it is important to provide some humanitarian way in which to give hope to those who are travelling that they can go back, or have safety where they are in north Africa, but let them understand that there will not be settlement here. As I said on Thursday, if we

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offer settlement to 1,000 people, what do you say to the 1,001st person? Do you say, “No, our door is closed.”?

Lord Boateng (Lab): My Lords, these traffickers and their wicked agents operate with almost complete immunity within sub-Saharan Africa. The EU and AU have a strategic partnership. What steps are being taken within the security, intelligence and law enforcement pillar of that partnership to tackle this problem at source and gain the co-operation of African Governments in a law enforcement measure to protect the people of Africa from this wicked trade? Yes, the terrible scenes that we see on the front pages of our newspapers and in our media are a reproach; they are a reproach to Europe but they are a reproach to African Governments, too.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: I agree entirely with the facts and sentiments of the noble Lord. He refers to the Khartoum process, the EU-African Union process, which seeks to provide stability and disrupt these appalling traffickers and smugglers and their networks. We certainly give all our support to that, both in front of and behind the scenes. With regard to the work that we are doing beyond HMS “Bulwark”, joint intelligence activity seeks to find out from those making these hazardous journeys more information that can help us to provide a focused answer to how we disrupt those networks. But disrupting the networks can happen only after we have got agreement with Libya and the United Nations Security Council resolution. It is a priority that we do that.

The Lord Bishop of Norwich: My Lords, what will become of the refugees and migrants who are trapped in Libya? Since neighbouring countries have closed their borders and current plans are to sink the boats that are smuggling people from Libya, are these refugees and migrants simply consigned to certain abuse and death? Can we do nothing at all to help them?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, it is clear that we must focus our work on being able to provide some form of humanitarian effort. As I said in my original Answer, we are seeing whether we can use the example of the systems that we have in place in Syria to be able to provide that kind of haven—not a haven from which people then move across the Mediterranean, on that hazardous journey, with an uncertain future, but one where perhaps they can have some education and training towards employment, so that they can have a future, which is what all of us deserve.

Lord Marlesford (Con): My Lords—

Lord Avebury (LD): My Lords—

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Stowell of Beeston) (Con): Order! I think that we are still getting used to taking turns now that we are in a new Parliament and we are sitting in different places. May I suggest that my noble friend Lord Marlesford has an opportunity to ask a question on this occasion?

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Lord Marlesford: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that it is more efficient and practical to assess the claims of would-be migrants, whether on the grounds of asylum, refugee status, economic migration or merely, understandably, that of wanting a better life, before they arrive in Europe? Assessing claims and then removing those who have no valid claim is almost impossible once they have arrived in Europe, which therefore means that those who have the greatest claim do not get permission to stay. Would it not therefore be better that those who are rightly rescued from peril on the sea are returned to the mainland from which they came?

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, it is a matter of fact that asylum claims may only be processed and granted once people have reached the United Kingdom. That is how our legislation lies. There is a danger that if one has processing areas—I hate the word “processing”, but noble Lords know what I mean —for asylum across the north African shore, say, those areas would act as a magnet in persuading people to go there. The most important thing is to disrupt the smuggling and trafficking networks to get at this business model which has no moral authority.

Childcare Bill [HL]

First Reading

3.26 pm

A Bill to make provision for free childcare for young children of working parents and the publication of information about childcare and related matters by local authorities in England.

The Bill was introduced by Lord Nash, read a first time and ordered to be printed.

Constitutional Convention Bill [HL]

First Reading

3.26 pm

A Bill to make provision for a convention to consider the constitution of the United Kingdom; and for connected purposes.

The Bill was introduced by Lord Purvis of Tweed, read a first time and ordered to be printed.

Council Tax Valuation Bands Bill [HL]

First Reading

3.27 pm

A Bill to make provision for the introduction of a new set of council tax valuation bands to apply to all dwellings bought or sold after 1 April 2000.

The Bill was introduced by Lord Marlesford, read a first time and ordered to be printed.

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Arbitration and Mediation Services (Equality) Bill [HL]

First Reading

3.27 pm

A Bill to make further provision for arbitration and mediation services and the application of equality legislation to such services; to make provision for the protection of victims of domestic abuse; and for connected purposes.

The Bill was introduced by Baroness Cox, read a first time and ordered to be printed.

Access to Palliative Care Bill [HL]

First Reading

3.28 pm

A Bill to make provision for equitable access to palliative care services; for advancing education, training and research into palliative care; and for connected purposes.

The Bill was introduced by the Countess of Mar (on behalf of Baroness Finlay of Llandaff), read a first time and ordered to be printed.

Property Boundaries (Resolution of Disputes) Bill [HL]

First Reading

3.28 pm

A Bill to make provision for the resolution of disputes concerning the location or placement of the boundaries and private rights of way relating to the title of an estate inland; and for connected purposes.

The Bill was introduced by the Earl of Lytton, read a first time and ordered to be printed.

Queen’s Speech

Debate (3rd Day)

3.29 pm

Moved on Wednesday 27 May byBaroness Bottomley of Nettlestone

That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as follows:

“Most Gracious Sovereign—We, Your Majesty’s 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”.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scotland Office (Lord Dunlop) (Con) (Maiden Speech): My Lords, it is a great honour to open the debate today. I have the greatest respect for the wealth of knowledge and experience that exists within your Lordships’ House—

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wealth that is amply demonstrated by the list of speakers for this debate. It would be fair to say that entering this House and becoming a Minister at the same time is doubly daunting, so I am grateful for the warm welcome and advice I have received from noble Lords on all sides of the House and from the officers and staff.

To serve in the Scotland Office is a particular honour for me. My family has for many years been associated with Clydeside; indeed, my great-grandfather was Lord Provost of Glasgow during the First World War. Early in my career I worked for George Younger, a distinguished Scottish Secretary and later Member of this House. Three years ago I returned to government service after a gap of 20 years spent running my own business, and it was the tug of Scotland that brought me back at a momentous time in our country’s history. I recognise that there is unfinished business, and I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to serve in the Scotland Office.

I follow in the footsteps of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wallace of Tankerness, as the Scotland Office spokesman in this House. Now that he sits on the other side of the House, I hope it will not be career limiting for either him or me to say that we worked well together in government. If I can discharge my duties in this House with half as much skill and dedication as the noble and learned Lord, I will feel I have served this House and this Government well.

I also welcome the noble Lord, Lord Lisvane, who was for many years a distinguished servant of the other place, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leeds. They, like me, will be making their maiden speeches in today’s debate and I look forward to listening to their contributions. I also thank my noble friend Lord Faulks, who will be closing the debate.

Today’s debate brings together three issues—constitutional, legal and devolved affairs—and it is right that they are brought together. They reflect key aspects at the heart of the legislative programme set out in the gracious Speech—a programme founded on the idea of one nation, bringing fairness to all parts of our United Kingdom, where the people and institutions across this nation are treated with respect.

Let me say that although the Scottish National Party is not represented in this House, we will continue to be very mindful of its views. Last year’s Scottish referendum has caused much reflection on what previously had been taken for granted—the purpose of the United Kingdom in our modern world and what binds us together. The case for the United Kingdom is one that we must make in this House but also directly to the people of Scotland: the opportunities of our single, integrated domestic market; the solidarity that comes from pooling and sharing risks and resources in our social union; the protection of our common defence and security arrangements; the strength of having our own currency backed by the stability of the Bank of England; and all this bound together by values, experiences and history, shared by millions of people across our country.

Of course, the United Kingdom’s constitutional arrangements have evolved over time and been adapted to reflect the unique circumstances of the world’s most successful and enduring multination state, and they

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continue to evolve today. The Government are committed to establishing a stable resting place for the constitutional arrangements across our country—arrangements that provide the different nations of the United Kingdom with the space to pursue different domestic policies should they choose, while protecting and preserving the benefits of being part of the bigger UK family of nations.

At the heart of the legislative programme set out in the gracious Speech are measures to change how power is distributed across the UK and how decisions are taken—changes that will strengthen fiscal responsibility and accountability. In bringing forward these measures, the Government recognise that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The devolution settlements reflect the distinct histories and circumstances of the different parts of the United Kingdom, and there is already a strong track record to build on.

In the last Parliament, the Government committed to devolving further powers to Scotland and Wales. These were delivered. We also worked with the Scottish Government to give people in Scotland a referendum. They voted clearly and decisively to stay within the UK. In this Parliament, we will move quickly to implement the further devolution that all parties agreed for Wales and Scotland and to deliver, too, the Stormont House agreement in Northern Ireland. Importantly, we will also address the issue of fairness for England. Delivering on these commitments is a fundamental matter of trust.

For Scotland, we have already introduced a Bill to deliver in full the Smith commission agreement, reached by all five of Scotland’s main political parties. The Scottish Parliament will become one of the most powerful devolved Parliaments in the world. The Bill will increase the financial accountability of the Scottish Parliament through the devolution of income tax rates and bands, air passenger duty and assignment of VAT revenues. It will increase responsibility for welfare in areas that complement the Scottish Parliament’s existing powers. It will increase the scope for the Scottish Government to be more involved in the scrutiny of a range of public bodies and give significant new responsibility for roads, speed limits, onshore oil and gas extraction, and consumer advocacy and advice.

Scotland chose a united future in the United Kingdom. Now, the time is fast approaching when people in Scotland need clarity about how these new powers will be used and at what level the taxes will be set. That must be the next great debate in Scotland.

For Wales, we are committed to implementing the St David’s Day agreement in full. A Wales Bill will be introduced later in this Session. It will provide a new, reserved-powers model for Welsh devolution to help clarify the Assembly’s powers. It will devolve additional powers in areas such as transport, energy, the environment and local government, and enable the Assembly to decide how it organises itself and its elections and regulates its own proceedings. The Bill provides a robust package that will make the Welsh devolution settlement clear, sustainable and stable for the future.

The Stormont House agreement offers the prospect of a more prosperous, stable and secure future for Northern Ireland. It covers a wide range of issues:

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welfare reform, fiscal sustainability, measures to deal with the legacy of the Troubles and improvements to the working of devolution. It is disappointing that the Northern Ireland parties were unable to support the Welfare Reform Bill in the Assembly last week. That is a setback to delivery of the Stormont House agreement. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland will be meeting the Northern Ireland Executive parties tomorrow to establish how best to make progress.

However, the UK Government remain committed to delivering the elements of the Stormont House agreement for which they are responsible. We will therefore introduce a Bill to deliver a number of key commitments in the agreement to deal with the legacy of the Troubles. It will establish an independent body to take forward outstanding investigations into unsolved Troubles-related deaths. It will provide an independent commission to enable victims and survivors to seek and privately receive information about the deaths of their next of kin, and establish an oral history archive for people from throughout the UK and Ireland to share experiences and narratives related to the Troubles. These measures represent significant progress towards helping Northern Ireland deal with its past in a fair, balanced and proportionate way.

Of course, underpinning each of the settlements is funding. By moving to greater self-funding, and thus greater accountability, we are delivering mature and enduring settlements that provide incentives for economic growth. For Scotland, the devolution of further responsibility for taxation and public spending will be accompanied by an updated fiscal framework, as recommended by the Smith commission. The fiscal framework will encompass a number of elements and work alongside the Barnett formula to deliver a fair settlement for Scotland and the rest of the UK.

The Barnett formula will, of course, become less important as the Scottish Government become responsible for raising more of their own funding following the devolution of further tax powers. Negotiations with the Scottish Government on the fiscal framework are expected to proceed in parallel with the passage of the Bill, so there will be ample opportunity for your Lordships to consider the entirety of the new settlement.

For Wales, the UK Government will introduce a floor in the level of relative funding they provide to the Welsh Government. The details will be agreed at the next spending review in the expectation that the Welsh Government will call a referendum on income-tax powers in this Parliament.

December’s Stormont House agreement provided a very significant package of additional funding and budgetary flexibilities aimed at helping the Northern Ireland Executive put their finances on a sustainable footing for the future. It remains vital that the Northern Ireland parties get on with the commitments they made to implement the agreement, not least because moving forward on corporation-tax devolution clearly requires the Executive’s finances to be sustainable.Taken together, these measures will ensure a sustainable fiscal environment for the devolved Administrations and for the UK as a whole.

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As we take forward our planned changes to the devolved settlements for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, it would not be right to neglect the needs of England. The Government have announced plans to decentralise power in England to help bring about a balanced economic recovery. However, greater decentralisation within England does not provide an answer to how Parliament operates to better reflect the principle of English consent. Therefore, the Government will bring forward proposals for the authorities in the other place to consider. These will ensure that distinct decisions affecting England can be taken only with the consent of the majority of MPs from English constituencies. These proposals are necessary to strengthen England’s voice in the law-making process, just as devolution has strengthened the voices of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland within our United Kingdom.

Successive Governments have grappled with the West Lothian question. This will be the one who answers it. We will answer it in a way that maintains the integrity of the United Kingdom Parliament. MPs from all parts of the UK will continue to deliberate and vote together on matters that affect the whole of the UK. For matters where responsibility has been devolved, all MPs will continue to vote during important parliamentary stages. These proposals will help safeguard the union by embedding fairness into Parliament’s law-making process.

As we deliver on our commitments to each part of the United Kingdom, the Government recognise the importance of ensuring that the devolved aspects of our constitution work as a whole. People across the UK expect all four Administrations to work together. A commitment to good working relations and respect for the memorandum of understanding, which sets out how we will work together, needs to come from all sides. We are committed to exploring jointly a range of options for enhancing relations with the devolved Administrations. The report of the Constitution Committee of this House on this subject, published in the last Session, is a very welcome contribution. I know that there will be a range of views on this and we will listen to them. We will work together to make collective changes to build partnerships that are strong and effective.

Finally, I turn to the important issue of human rights. In his closing speech my noble friend Lord Faulks will cover the equally important issue of victims’ rights. The Government are committed to human rights. They were elected with a mandate to replace the Human Rights Act with a Bill of Rights. Protection of human rights is vital in a democratic and modern society, and this Government will be as committed to upholding human rights as any. But we must remember that the protection of human rights does not begin and end with the Human Rights Act. Rights were protected prior to that Act and they will continue to be protected under a Bill of Rights. The purpose of the Bill of Rights is not to reduce human rights but to reform our system and restore credibility to their legal framework. We know that this will be significant legislation and we will take the time to get it right. We will consult widely and consider the full implications, but for those reforms there is a compelling argument and a strong mandate.

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The reforms set out in the gracious Speech demonstrate our intention to govern with respect and to honour our promises to improve governance for all parts of our United Kingdom. We will bring forward legislation to secure a strong, fair and enduring constitutional settlement. The cause of bringing together a united kingdom is a noble one in which your Lordships’ House will, I know, play a full part. I look forward to listening to the debate today on all these important issues.

3.45 pm

Lord Falconer of Thoroton (Lab): My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Dunlop, on his maiden speech and on his new role as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland. He studied politics and economics at Edinburgh University under the former Labour MP for Berwick and East Lothian, Professor J P Mackintosh, who appears to have had only a mixed influence on him. He worked for Mrs Thatcher’s inner circle as one of the seven members of her policy unit where, for two and a half years, he played a key role in the introduction of the poll tax in 1989. He was appointed the Prime Minister’s adviser on Scotland in March 2012. He is a distinguished and capable individual and will be a real contributor to your Lordships’ House. He is not to be confused with the Andy Dunlop of the Scottish band Travis, whose best-known album is “The Man Who”—even though he, the noble Lord, Lord Dunlop, is the man who brought the poll tax to Scotland

I congratulate also Michael Gove on his appointment as Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, and I welcome the noble Lord, Lord Faulks, who has been restored to his position as Minister for Justice. The noble Lord, Lord Faulks, will have his work cut out. He is caught between the Home Secretary and the Lord Chancellor, both of whom, according to the Daily Telegraph this morning, want to leave the European Convention on Human Rights. The Home Secretary, noble Lords will recall, thought that Article 8 of the convention applied when you had a relationship with your cat; and the Lord Chancellor wrote, before he became an MP, that abolishing the death penalty has,

“led to a corruption of our criminal justice system, the erosion of all our freedoms and has made the punishment of the innocent more likely”.

So the senior members of this Government may need some guidance from the noble Lord, Lord Faulks, as to precisely what the law and the constitution mean.

The gracious Speech is billed as a one-nation speech. A serious one-nation policy programme would be a set of proposals to bind the nation together: Scotland with the rest of the United Kingdom, unions and employers, rich and poor, young and old, north and south, London and the rest. These proposals would encourage individuals and businesses to realise their potential to the full while providing proper support and protection for those who need it.

In the areas we debate today—the constitution, the law and devolution—the gracious Speech contains proposals which are divisive and motivated by short-term political advantage rather than long-term national benefit. There are proposals to introduce new standing

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orders for the Commons which will create two tiers of MPs by giving English MPs a veto on laws which apply to Scotland only—a dangerous further wedge between Scotland and England; proposals for the repeal of the Human Rights Act which will reduce the ability of those who find themselves the victims of state abuse adequately to defend themselves—a retreat to creating further division between government and governed; proposals which may involve the Human Rights Act continuing to apply in Scotland and Northern Ireland but not in England and Wales—a further wedge between England and Wales on the one hand and the rest of the United Kingdom; proposals to make it more difficult for the unions to donate to political parties and ballot their members while doing nothing to increase the transparency of donations by private donors to political parties, particularly the Tory party—a wedge between the rich and the rest.

There are no proposals to deal with the damage done in the last five years in the area of justice—for example, the decision to take the overwhelming majority of social welfare law out of the scope of legal aid. Now it is no longer possible to obtain legal aid in the areas of welfare benefit law; employment law; housing law, except possession cases; debt law; and much of immigration law—relevant to all but particularly to the poor, the marginalised, the vulnerable and the disabled. There are also no proposals to deal with the imbalance in registration of voters. The young, the renters, those who do not own their own homes, the poor and those from minority ethnic groups have the highest levels of non-registration—and, among those from these groups who are registered, of non-voting. We must be vigilant to ensure that our elections truly are one-nation elections.

In the last election, for example, 43% of those aged between 18 and 24 who were registered to vote voted, whereas 78% of those aged over 65 did so. I am glad that the turnout was so high among the over-65s. I worry that the Government will not be a Government for the young. Of the 43% who voted in this youngest age group, only around a quarter supported the Conservatives—so the Conservatives have the support of maybe 12% of those aged between 18 and 25.

This summer, the Government must decide whether to bring forward to December 2015 the end date for transitional arrangements for individual electoral registration. If they do, yet more people will be removed from the register, mostly from the vulnerable categories. The gracious Speech contains no proposals of any sort on this.

I will move on to the things that the gracious Speech does deal with. The first is human rights, which is the Lord Chancellor’s responsibility. He was Secretary of State for Education. He fell out with his civil servants. The Permanent Secretary left shortly after his appointment. His special adviser was vitriolic about practically every other part of the Government, including the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister. He characterised those who opposed his policies as “the Blob”. A member of the Department for Education advisory group said of his department that,

“they don’t think things through very carefully, they don’t listen to anyone and then just go ahead and rush into major changes”.

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He was removed as Education Secretary as Lynton Crosby regarded him as too toxic. He lasted around a year as Chief Whip.

The office of Lord Chancellor is not a job creation scheme for a valued colleague of the Prime Minister who has found ministerial office difficult. Those who depend on our justice system—and there are very many—need to have faith in the person in charge. It is important here, and for our standing in the world, that the person in charge understands the United Kingdom’s values, and in particular the central importance of the rule of law and what it means. The system exists not for the lawyers, the politicians or the judges, but for those it seeks to protect.

In the other place on Thursday of last week, the Lord Chancellor was asked three times whether the Government would leave the European Convention on Human Rights. He refused to answer. I read in the Daily Telegraph this morning that the Lord Chancellor and the Home Secretary want to pull out of the convention, and the Prime Minister wants to stay in—hence the Lord Chancellor’s evasions in the Commons last Thursday. I back the Prime Minister against the Lord Chancellor.

In the same speech, the Lord Chancellor dismissed those who defended the current human rights laws as being like Fat Boy in The Pickwick Papers, who liked to make your flesh creep. Despite my best efforts, I will for ever be Fat Boy—on this occasion, fat and proud.

I wonder if the sisters of Anne-Marie Ellement would agree with the Lord Chancellor. She was a member of the Military Police. She alleged that she had been raped by two members of the Military Police, and thereafter she was bullied for making the allegation. She killed herself. At the first inquest there was an inadequate investigation of what had happened. Only by relying on the Human Rights Act were Anne-Marie’s sisters able to get the court to order a second inquest, where the truth emerged. That protection would go if the Conservatives get their way as set out in their October 2014 document; the new human rights law would not cover the military.

The US Government wanted to extradite Gary McKinnon to stand trial for allegedly hacking into US military computer systems from his bedroom in the United Kingdom. The evidence was clear that if he was deported to the United States, his health was so bad that he was at very severe risk, including the real risk of suicide. Only the Human Rights Act allowed the Home Secretary to stop his deportation. That is another of the particular aspects of the Human Rights Act that the Tory document of 2014 wishes to remove.

The Government say that they do support human rights, but that they should be British human rights. “British human rights” appears to mean, “the British Government’s view of human rights”. That means the Executive, since to a large extent it is the Executive who control the legislature. According to their October 2014 document, the Conservatives will reintroduce the rights in the same wording as the convention rights, but make it clear that there are aspects of those rights that they will specifically exclude. Examples include the prohibition on deportations if the deportee would

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be tortured or killed—those deportations could go ahead—or the application of human rights law to the military. An Executive able to pick and choose the extent to which human rights apply is an illusory protection. If we are serious as a country about providing our citizens with protection, we should not consider this course. The importance of there being an authority—not one that interferes with UK sovereignty but external to the UK Government—which defines the limits of human rights is that it prevents human rights becoming what a Government say they are.

One aspect of the Conservative attack on the human rights settlement as it currently exists is that the Conservatives say they want to prevent the European Court of Human Rights overruling our own courts. In his speech in another place on Thursday, the Lord Chancellor said:

“We want to preserve and enhance the traditions of human rights. There will be no diminution in that area; indeed there will be an enhancement of convention rights as a result of the changes we propose to make. But the difference”,

is that:

“We want to ensure that they are consistent with common law traditions and that our Supreme Court is genuinely supreme”.—[Official Report, Commons, 28/5/15; cols. 291-92.]

It is difficult to know what he means by “enhancement” when all the proposals so far produced by the Conservatives involve a reduction in rights.

Further, his reference to the Supreme Court being “genuinely supreme” betrays a misunderstanding of the current position. The UK courts are the final arbiters of what UK law provides, including human rights law. There is no appeal from what the UK courts say UK law is. The UK Supreme Court has been clear that it will not treat itself as bound by decisions of the European Court of Human Rights and has departed from European court decisions when it has disagreed with them. So both in form and in reality the UK Supreme Court is supreme, and if the European Court of Human Rights finds the United Kingdom to be in breach of the convention, the European court cannot overrule either the UK courts or Parliament. All the European court can do is to determine whether there is a breach of the convention—and if there is, it is for the UK Parliament to decide how to remedy the breach. I am glad that the Government have paused and I urge them to abandon these proposals. If they do not, my party, the Commons, this House, and maybe even Fat Boy Cameron will resist them.

The Government’s approach to the Human Rights Act is just one example of how they are willing to risk not just our standing in the world but the relationship between the nations of this country for narrow partisan interests. We need further devolution to Scotland, Wales and the English regions that is fair and lasting, and is done in a way that builds the broadest possible consensus. We are committed to ensuring that the vow is delivered in full, which means keeping the Barnett formula, alongside more powers to make the Scottish Parliament one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world. My colleagues in the Commons have already vowed to amend the Scotland Bill to give the Scottish Parliament the final say on some additional aspects of welfare and benefits.

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We must also put Welsh devolution on a stronger statutory basis, and we agree with taking forward proposals from the Silk commission. However, we think that the Government should make sure that Wales is not unfairly disadvantaged by the Barnett formula and ensure a fair funding settlement for Wales by introducing a funding floor.

We welcomed many aspects of the Stormont House agreement, but the current stalemate on welfare reform, and the financial and political implications, mean that that agreement is now in a precarious position. I hope that the UK Government and the Northern Ireland Executive are working together to find a way forward to avoid a political and financial crisis.

Greater devolution within England is also necessary. We strongly support the devolution of much greater powers and control of budgets to the city regions and counties, where it is clear that those cities and counties have the capacity to take on the devolved power and budgets. But it is for those cities and counties to determine for themselves the appropriate leadership arrangements. Whether a mayor is best should be for them to decide, not central government.

This is not a constitutional programme with the best interests of the country at heart. It is a programme aimed at short-term political advantage. It promotes division and two nations. It threatens the union, the reach of our voting system, the rights of our citizens and the strength of our nation as a defender of human rights in the world.

4.01 pm

Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames (LD): My Lords, I join the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Dunlop, on his maiden speech and in welcoming him, on behalf of these Benches, to his new position.

I start with two general observations on justice issues. Others on these Benches will speak on devolution and constitutional issues. First, I hope that this Government, now untrammelled by the constraints of coalition with my party, will nevertheless continue to test all their proposals against the fundamental values of human rights and liberty that have, in the past, been championed by both our parties. Secondly, I hope that this Government will maintain a commitment to the rule of law in its widest sense—embracing the concepts that government may not act unlawfully without challenge, that all citizens must have genuine access to justice and that our Government must faithfully abide by all their international obligations. These concepts are easy to state and all too easy for Governments to affirm, but they can nevertheless be challenging for Governments to achieve in practice.

It is against those benchmarks that I approach this Queen’s Speech. In the justice area there are several proposals which are to be welcomed. I will mention just four. First, the proposed policing and criminal justice Bill promises that 17 year-olds will be treated as children under all the provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, bringing English law into line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the European Convention on Human Rights, and

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in particular ensuring that 17 year-olds have a legal right to be interviewed in the presence of an appropriate adult.

Secondly, the Government’s proposed amendments to the Mental Health Act should end the scandal of patients, often children, who are suffering from serious mental illness being locked up in police custody for want of appropriate places of safety. But if the legislation is to work, the Government must ensure that there are always safe mental health facilities available for emergency admissions, and that these are convenient for patients’ homes and families. The Government claim to be serious about giving parity of esteem to mental and physical health. This will be an early test of their resolve.

Thirdly, the proposed end to indefinite pre-charge bail is long overdue and the Government’s proposals seem proportionate and humane. The sword of Damocles approach to criminal process is wrong. No one should ever be on police bail indefinitely without charge and without even knowing whether or not they are to be charged.

Fourthly, the Government’s promise to continue the reform of the criminal justice system is welcome—if it can be delivered. This means implementing the Leveson review’s recent proposals and providing the resources to make them work. But they cannot work if criminal lawyers are demoralised and angry. The previous Lord Chancellor left office with both sides of the profession convinced that a non-lawyer could never do the job of Lord Chancellor. That leaves Mr Gove, as a non-lawyer, with a serious challenge and he will meet it only if he carries the professions with him.

He might start by announcing a full review of criminal legal aid to ensure that the system will sustain a high-quality service that will command public confidence and deliver increased efficiency. For savings in criminal legal aid, he should look first at compulsory legal expenses insurance to cover criminal defence costs for directors of larger companies. He should also ensure that wealthy defendants can use restrained assets to pay their legal costs—a move inexplicably opposed in the previous Parliament by the Home Secretary. These two measures would release substantial sums spent on legal aid in very high-cost cases. In 2013—a relatively low-cost year—they were still less than 1% of the workload but accounted for more than 10% of the costs. The Lord Chancellor should also announce an immediate review of the changes to civil legal aid to see how far they have damaged access to justice and how best to undo such damage.

Like the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, my chief concern for this Parliament is the future of the Human Rights Act and our membership of the European Convention on Human Rights. It is a great relief that the immediate threat to repeal the Human Rights Act has been replaced by a more measured approach but the threat remains. We have been reminded many times that the convention was fostered by Winston Churchill. One of its principal draftsmen was the Conservative lawyer David Maxwell Fyfe—later, as Lord Kilmuir, Lord Chancellor—who was Attorney-General in the wartime coalition and then won distinction for his cross-examination of Hermann Goering at Nuremberg.

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The joint commission established by the coalition Government recommended by a majority that there should be a UK Bill of Rights, which would incorporate and build on convention rights, with possibly some additional rights guaranteed. Attractive possibilities for additional rights would include incorporating the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and establishing a series of guaranteed digital rights with strong but appropriate protections for online privacy. The commission majority believed that such a Bill would be more in sympathy with British legal traditions and might gain wider public acceptance than the Human Rights Act.

If that is what ultimately comes before Parliament, I would not in principle oppose it, provided that three conditions were met: first, that the UK would remain a member of the convention; secondly, that convention rights would still be justiciable in British courts; and thirdly that the British Government would still regard themselves as bound to comply with decisions of the Strasbourg court. On this last issue, there has been much muddled talk. Article 46.1 of the convention provides:

“The High Contracting Parties undertake to abide by the final judgment of the Court in any case to which they are parties”.

It follows that we cannot cut the link between the UK and the Strasbourg court without leaving the convention, and that is a course with which I would vehemently disagree. I believe that leaving the convention would set a dreadful precedent for other countries and would undermine the moral case we make for human rights internationally. I note that the Prime Minister appears to be reconsidering the Government’s position on the convention. He may be reflecting on the obvious damage to his current difficult negotiations with other EU member states that our threatening to withdraw from the convention would cause. But above all, I believe that we need a commitment to human rights that is anchored in international obligation, which requires respect and compliance from our Government, not just from a possible illiberal future Government but now, from this and all future Governments, of whatever political colour or colours.

I mentioned the welcome proposal to ensure that 17 year-olds are treated as children in the criminal justice system. This reform is a response to the English High Court judgment in the case of HC, in which Lord Justice Moses said:

“It is difficult to imagine a more striking case where the rights of both child and parent under Article 8 are engaged than when a child is in custody on suspicion of committing a serious offence and needs help from someone with whom he is familiar and whom he trusts, in redressing the imbalance between child and authority”.

The court found against the Secretary of State on Article 8, the right to family life. We should remember that most cases under the Human Rights Act are decided in British courts by British judges, not by the court in Strasbourg. However, if we had only a British Bill of Rights, the Secretary of State might persuade the Government that the cost of treating 17 year-olds as children, which she assessed as £19-odd million a year, would justify the Government in derogating from the purely British Bill of Rights, which Parliament, at

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the behest of a majority government, could do. It is our membership of the convention and the fact that the Strasbourg court is there in the background that gives our citizens an international guarantee. I, for one, am not prepared to lose it.

On the more general question of the British Bill of Rights, I found persuasive the arguments of the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy of The Shaws, and Professor Philippe Sands, who were the minority members on the Commission, that a constitutional convention would be the best forum for discussing the future of human rights legislation in the UK before legislation were enacted. They were particularly influenced by the issues raised by devolution; so should we be. The convention is embedded in the Good Friday agreement. It is incorporated into the devolution settlement with Scotland, and Scotland wants to keep it that way. To interfere with it without Scottish consent would add to the threat to the union, and we should tread with great care. In Wales, the Commission recorded a general view of satisfaction with the Human Rights Act and convention system and the general view that human rights changes ought to be matters for the devolved Governments. Indeed, that issue has not really been resolved at any stage.

The Government have now signalled caution. A constitutional convention would combine caution with the best prospect of consensus and legislation that would command widespread respect. Consensus and widespread respect should be prerequisites for legislation in this crucial but extremely complex area.

4.13 pm

Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood (CB): My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Dunlop, on his distinguished maiden speech and look forward to the two further maiden speeches that we shall shortly hear.

The gracious Speech promises us new legislation that will, among other things,

“improve the law on policing and criminal justice”.

That is obviously a good idea. Indeed, quite a lot in the Government’s manifesto commitments seems to me to be sensible. However, I confess to a little unease at the commitment to “increasing sentence lengths” and, more generally, to “toughen sentencing”. I find positively disturbing the commitment to,

“continue to review our legal aid systems so that they continue to provide access to justice in an efficient way”.

Surely that is a euphemism for slashing the legal aid budget still further, if the past is anything to go by.

I say nothing today on human rights, although I cannot promise to be so forbearing in the future, and that ought not to be taken as any encouragement to the Government to go ahead with their tentative plans.

Nowhere in the manifesto commitments is to be found—it is this that I want to focus on exclusively today—any hint of a suggestion that now, at long last, the Government propose to deal with an ever-worsening stain on the criminal justice system in this country: the continuing incarceration of IPP prisoners; that is, prisoners subject to an indeterminate sentence for the protection of the public. They are detained under

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the long-discredited scheme, which was abolished three years ago, that had been introduced by the Labour Government with effect from April 2005.

As many of your Lordships will know, the cause of such prisoners has been championed over many years by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, who, alas, has just retired from the House. It is imperative that the sorry tale of those prisoners should not now be forgotten, and I want to remind the House today of the vice of leaving the many remaining IPP prisoners indefinitely detained.

It is not even as if primary legislation is necessary to secure their release. In the LASPO Act 2012, the legislation that finally abolished the whole scheme for such indeterminate sentences, express provision was made in Section 128 for the release of existing prisoners. The Lord Chancellor was given explicit power to amend the release test, but, regrettably, the last Lord Chancellor, Mr Grayling, consistently refused to exercise it. It is my fervent hope that the new Lord Chancellor will speedily come to recognise that justice cries out now for him to do so. I should briefly explain the basic scheme and the injustices which arise, particularly acute in the case of those who were sentenced in the first three years of the scheme before it came to be marginally improved in 2008 for its final four years.

As originally enacted, the scheme placed a duty on the court to impose this form of sentence on any offender convicted of a violent or sexual offence—and no fewer than 153 different offences were deemed to fall into that category—who had previously been convicted of a similar such offence. The judge had effectively no discretion whatever in the matter: he was bound to assume that the offender posed a risk of committing a further such offence in future. A prisoner then serving such a sentence could not be released until he later came to satisfy the Parole Board that his detention was no longer necessary for the protection of the public.

At the same time as imposing the IPP sentence, the judge was obliged to state what is called the tariff sentence; that is, the minimum term to be served before the prisoner could in any event be released, the tariff usually being one half of the determinate term judged appropriate as the sentence required to punish him for his wrongdoing. In the first three years of the scheme, the tariff could be, and frequently was, as little as just a very few months.

As I have indicated, in 2008 the scheme was modified in two relevant respects. First, an IPP could not thereafter be imposed except in the case of someone whose tariff term was more than two years. Secondly, the judge was no longer required to assume that the offender posed a risk of future such offending and was allowed to form his own judgment as to that.

Even thus modified, however, the scheme was rightly recognised by the Conservative Government in 2012 to be unfair and unworkable. It had caused thousands of offenders to be given what were effectively life sentences and it was then abolished. However, there remained and there still remain a large number of IPP prisoners, some of whom have now served up to 10 years’ incarceration for offences that in themselves may have deserved—and one sees it from their tariffs—a

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punishment of only a few months. There still remain more than 500 IPP prisoners, detained during the first three years of the scheme, with tariff sentences of under two years, and there are roughly 5,000 such prisoners left in the system as a whole.

This is nothing short of a form of preventive detention or internment, wholly alien and inimical to our entire system and sense of justice and tradition. It is imprisonment not as punishment but purely to protect against the risk that the prisoner may offend again. No doubt if the release test is softened—for example, if the Lord Chancellor were to specify as a new test that these prisoners must be released unless the Parole Board is satisfied that they represent a serious risk of grave offending—some would indeed, on release, then commit further offences. But that, I suggest, is a price we must be prepared to pay to restore a sense of basic justice to the criminal justice system. I ask the noble Lord, Lord Faulks, whose return we all so greatly welcome, whether he will at least agree to bring this question—this scandal, as frankly it is—urgently to the attention of the new Lord Chancellor.

4.21 pm

The Lord Bishop of Leicester: My Lords, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, has reminded us, the Prime Minister has offered us what he calls,

“a clear programme for working people, social justice, and bringing our country together—put simply, a One Nation Queen’s Speech from a One Nation Government”.

It is therefore clearly our responsibility to evaluate the Government’s programme against that yardstick, and to measure the gracious Speech on its potential for national unity and social justice, at every point.

I know that today’s debate will reveal the breadth and depth of expertise in these matters in your Lordships’ House and I look forward especially to the maiden speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Lisvane, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leeds, whose experience in bringing together the dioceses of Ripon, Bradford and Wakefield makes the constitutional issues facing this House look entirely straightforward.

It is clear that in spite of commitment to one-nation government, there is no longer a national political party that can with credibility claim to be strongly representative of the whole union. The question we shall need to press is whether the proposed package of constitutional reforms hangs together as a coherent entity, rather than looking like a series of patches designed to fix a succession of pressing issues without any clear direction of travel. The constitution, as we know, is a machine with many moving parts and the scale of the challenge here is to recognise that any adjustment to one part affects the whole machine. We must ask if the Scotland Bill, the proposals for English votes for English laws, the Bill of Rights and the Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill are likely, taken together, to enhance our sense of national identity and the functionality of our Parliament.

From these Benches, we pressed some of these questions in our pastoral letter, Who Is My Neighbour?, published in February. Without fuller attention to the big question of what we want a future United Kingdom to look like—how much self-government its constituent

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countries ought to enjoy and how they should interconnect with others—then incremental responses to pressing political demands may, contrary to the intention of the Government, edge us towards break-up. That is why I continue to believe that a constitutional convention offers us the best way to consider these large questions in the round, rather than piecemeal. It offers us a reminder that the constitution belongs to us all and not just to the Government of the day. This could be a genuinely one-nation Government’s major contribution to our United Kingdom’s future.

In the Cities and Local Government Bill there is much to applaud in the plans for increased devolution and the overall aim of boosting growth and employment. Last year in the debate on the Queen’s Speech, I mentioned that my conversations in the East Midlands point to a clear consensus that the balance of power between local and central government was not right. Our councils are placed in the impossible position of having to take responsibility for abolishing front-line services, both wanted and needed by our local community. I went on to argue that an erosion of trust and confidence between the electorate and the Government had reached critical level, and that the concept of localism required urgently to be refreshed.

That concept also requires new habits in our town halls and local government structures, new collaboration across boundaries and new partnerships. Noble Lords will forgive me if I mention in passing the re-interment of Richard III as a vivid example of collaboration between city, county, universities and cathedral as a model on which to build for the future. Our own elected city mayor in Leicester has rightly said:

“These proposals make sense in metropolitan areas, but it’s important that differences in local political geography are recognised … We already have a directly-elected mayor in Leicester, with a clear mandate—but what’s important is that we don’t get left out, just because the area around us is more rural than it is in Manchester”.

As for English votes for English laws, the need to see the connections between changes is vital. The greater the devolution to Scotland and other parts of the United Kingdom, the more acute the West Lothian question becomes. The Government’s proposals raise two immediate questions. Do the arrangements in the other place require to be mirrored in some way in this House, especially at votes at Second Reading? Should Bishops perhaps confine ourselves to English-only issues? Secondly, how do the Government intend to address the challenge already mentioned, of not creating effectively two classes of MP by their proposed changes in the Standing Orders?

As many have observed, there is a clear connection between issues surrounding Scottish independence and the EU referendum. A no vote on the EU would hasten the demise of the Union and lead within a generation to a rump nation shorn of Scotland and of membership of the EU and without strategic influence internationally. The Bill of Rights will surely test the capacity of the Government to demonstrate statesmanship rather than gesture politics and to act in the service and interests of all citizens. In that context, the Children’s Society, of which I am a former chair, has said:

“Turning the clock back by scrapping the Human Rights Act would be reckless and threatens to weaken children’s rights”,

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“Each year The Children’s Society uses the Act to successfully challenge poor treatment of vulnerable children. For example, it protects children by banning men suspected of grooming from contacting girls, and making sure that local authorities which fail to protect children are held to account”.

The Prime Minister’s commitment to social justice reads directly into any proposals that the Government bring forward in this area.

The same will obviously be true of the proposed changes to the welfare system due to receive your Lordships’ attention later this week. If this is to be done in the service of one nation, many questions arise. Is it sensible for the benefits system to continue to subsidise low-paying employers? Does this directly inhibit productivity? Is it not true that strong networks of community and neighbourliness measurably ease the pressure on the welfare system? Is it not therefore imperative that the bedroom tax be abolished since it is contemptuous of communities’ and people’s need for neighbourliness? Welfare reform needs to address the reconstruction of community if it is to serve a genuinely one-nation programme.

This will be my last parliamentary term before my retirement in July. With others on these Benches, it is an immense privilege to lead the Prayers each day for the uniting and knitting together of all persons and estates within the realm. For that reason, one-nation government will receive the support of this Bench but also consistent challenge where policies fail to address the need for that unity for which we daily pray.

4.30 pm

Lord Mackay of Clashfern (Con): My Lords, it is a great privilege to follow the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leicester. I have had the privilege of his company many times and have had much valuable instruction from him. In the diocese of Leicester, he has given tremendous leadership in bringing diverse communities together. I am sorry that the time is approaching when he plans to leave this House, but I am sure he will be a valuable member of the community to which he hopes to go.

I do not propose to follow the comments of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, about the qualifications of the present Lord Chancellor, except to remark that he had something to do with bringing about the position in which this is possible. Since he has mentioned it, I also take this opportunity to mention what I consider to be the very sad treatment of his immediate predecessor.

My comments on the gracious Speech will be confined to the proposal:

“My Government will bring forward proposals for a British Bill of Rights”.

This is an important and difficult subject which has received attention in this House since I joined it. I want briefly to mention the present position: the United Kingdom is bound by the European Convention on Human Rights and certain protocols to a statement of these rights and to implement decisions of the court set up under the convention in cases arising from this country. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, is not correct in saying that the ultimate decision on cases arising in this country rests with our

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Supreme Court. At the moment, it rests with the court in Strasbourg. I shall say something more about that in a minute.

Until the convention was incorporated into our law by the Human Rights Act, the text of the convention was not part of our law, although our courts had regard to it in deciding cases in which it was relevant. With the passing of that Act, the text became part of our law and our courts applied it in deciding cases in which it was relevant. The Act required our courts to have regard to decisions of the court in Strasbourg in reaching such decisions, as the noble and learned Lord said. The Act also conferred on our courts power to declare Acts of our Parliament inconsistent with the convention. The Act did not affect the obligation of the United Kingdom to implement decisions of the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, to which I have referred.

This position has now produced a difficult situation. The Strasbourg court has decided that our statute which denies persons serving a prison sentence the right to vote is inconsistent with the convention as supplemented by a protocol. A court in Scotland has declared that the statute is inconsistent with the convention and the Court of Appeal in England has agreed. Taking part in that decision, Lord Justice Laws gave a full account of what Parliament would require to do to implement the Strasbourg court’s decision. So far, Parliament has not taken any such action and has indicated no intention of doing so, so the obligation is in suspense in the sense that it has not been complied with. I must confess to a feeling of great anxiety that the United Kingdom, with its tradition for respect of the rule of law, not the rule of lawyers, should be in breach of a treaty by which it is bound.

It has been suggested in some quarters that we should adopt the procedure necessary to free the United Kingdom from its treaty obligation under the convention. That treaty, as was already mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames, came into existence as the result of the way minorities had been treated in Europe in the preceding years. That treatment had been inflicted with the authority of the elected Government. The United Kingdom took an important part in setting up the treaty and its mechanism of enforcement, and I have little doubt that our leaders of that time were motivated by a concern for the citizens of other countries rather than those of the United Kingdom in particular. It would surely be extremely sad for the United Kingdom to withdraw from a treaty which we took such an active part in setting up with motives of concern for citizens of other states than our own.

I will make a suggestion for a possible way forward. We could seek an amendment to the convention to exempt from the obligation to implement the decision of the Strasbourg court where the court has decided that a statute of a member state contravenes the convention, and in that member state no court of that state has authority to set aside or modify that statute, if the legislature of that member state passes a resolution, which for stated reasons declines to implement the Strasbourg court’s decision. If such an amendment could be agreed, I venture to think that the effectiveness of the treaty would not be substantially diminished.

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I regard the present situation as extremely unsatisfactory. That would be a possible way of recognising that at least in our country—and maybe in some other member states—the elected Parliament is sovereign and not subject to any kind of quashing order by the courts of this country. That of course has been the situation in our country for a very long time. The courts of our country, including the Supreme Court, have no power to quash or set aside an Act of Parliament. Instead of coming out of the convention altogether there may be something to be said for considering whether the convention should recognise the possibility that in some member states the Parliament is sovereign and not subject to having its Acts set aside or modified by the courts of that country. From that point of view there is something to be said for the view that if the courts of our own country cannot do anything about an Act of Parliament, why should it be so for the European Court of Human Rights?

Of course, the original idea was to seek an enforcement which would override the position of the elected Government, but it may be that nowadays the publicity attended by such a decision of the court in Strasbourg would be sufficient to afford protection for minorities, although so far, in this country at any rate, that particular minority of prisoners serving a sentence has not been protected in the way the court in Strasbourg thinks it should.

The proposal in the gracious Speech is for the preparation of a British human rights Act. So long as that is well done, I see no particular objection to it. The gracious Speech does not propose coming out of the convention on human rights. There have been suggestions of that in other quarters but all that the gracious Speech proposes is the formulation of a British human rights Act.

Difficulties with the Human Rights Act have been expressed in this House from more than one side. I refer in particular to the reference made by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig of Radley, on Thursday to the difficulties in connection with the field of battle, and the application of the Act there. I do not know enough about it to say, but there may be some way in which that modification could be thought of. The idea that the Act would not apply at all would be pretty difficult, but I have certainly heard it said by noble and gallant Lords and noble Lords on other Benches than the Cross Benches that this is a difficult situation. These matters could be dealt with, and I venture to hope that they could be dealt with not in a partisan way but in a way that seeks to get the right solution to a difficult situation, done with deliberation.

This has nothing whatever to do with what I have just been saying, but I believe that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, may not be correct in his assertion that my noble friend Lord Dunlop, who gave his maiden speech today, had any part in the introduction of the community charge Act in Scotland. I was not a member of the Government at that time because I was on the Bench, but I have a feeling that it may not be a well-founded suggestion, and the noble and learned Lord would not like to be responsible, as a former Lord Chancellor, for making unfounded suggestions.

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Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Indeed, if what the noble and learned Lord says is correct, I unreservedly withdraw the allegation, and apologise.



4.42 pm

The Earl of Courtown (Con): My Lords, with the leave of the House I beg to repeat a Statement read earlier by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in the other place.

“Mr Speaker, last Friday FIFA’s members had the opportunity to embrace the overwhelming calls for change coming from football fans around the world. They failed to do so. FIFA’s support for its discredited president was incredibly disappointing, but it will not have surprised a footballing public who have become increasingly cynical as the allegations of misconduct and malfeasance have piled up. FIFA needs to change, and change now, and I can assure the House that the Government will do everything in their power to help to bring that change about.

I have just spoken to the Football Association chairman, Greg Dyke, and reassured him that we stand behind the FA’s efforts to end the culture of kickbacks and corruption that risk ruining international football for a generation. I agreed with him that no options should be ruled out at this stage.

Let me also reiterate the Government’s support for the action of the American and Swiss authorities. Earlier today, I spoke with the Attorney-General, and we agreed that the British authorities will offer full co-operation with American and Swiss investigators and that, if any evidence of criminal wrongdoing in the UK emerges, we will fully support the Serious Fraud Office in pursuing those involved.

FIFA’s voting system is designed to support the incumbent, and it returned a predictable result, but there is no doubt that what remained of Sepp Blatter’s credibility has been utterly destroyed. The mere fact that more than 70 national associations felt able to back a rival candidate shows that momentum against him is building. We must now increase that pressure still further. It is up to everyone who cares about football to use whatever influence they have to make this happen.

I am sure that fans the world over will be increasingly vocal in their condemnation of the Blatter regime, and FIFA’s sponsors need to think long and hard about whether they want to be associated with such a discredited and disgraced organisation. For the good of the game, we must work together to bring about change. For the good of the game, it is time for Sepp Blatter to go”.

4.44 pm

Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab): My Lords, since we last discussed football in your Lordships’ House, we have had bad news and good news. The bad news is that Sepp Blatter was re-elected FIFA president last Friday, albeit, as the noble Earl said, with 70 national

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associations feeling able to back a rival candidate. The good news is, of course, that on Saturday Arsenal won the FA Cup.

We all have a responsibility to protect our game—government, governing bodies, fans and businesses all have a role. We need to establish common cause and take united action to combat the culture of kickbacks and corruption. Will the Minister therefore support my honourable friend’s call in the other place for an urgent summit bringing together the football authorities, British sponsors and broadcasters? Will he also reassure the House that, rather than wait for the banks to investigate any potential misuse of funds, the police authorities will act immediately on the reports we have seen?

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for those questions. He wishes the Government to convene a summit. We already have a common position. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State is in constant liaison with Greg Dyke, has spoken to him again today, and will speak again before the end of the week before Greg Dyke goes to Berlin for the football final there and a congress being held by UEFA beforehand. We will continue to work with the sponsors, the home nations’ football associations and our counterparts across Europe. I reiterate that our Minister for Sport has written to all her counterparts throughout Europe on this issue.

The noble Lord also mentioned the situation relating to any possible police investigation. As I understand the situation at present, Barclays, Standard Chartered and HSBC are carrying out an internal investigation. However, I also know that the SFO and the FCA will be keeping a very keen eye on what is going on.

Baroness Doocey (LD): My Lords, how do the Government respond to the comments of the FA chairman that while an FA boycott of FIFA might have little impact, a boycott by UEFA—a move he would personally support—would have a real impact? What are the Government doing to try to make this happen? In particular, have they had any discussions with France and Spain, who actually voted for Sepp Blatter’s re-election, to try to persuade them to take part in a co-ordinated European boycott?

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, the noble Baroness mentioned a boycott of FIFA by UEFA and basically called for a possible boycott of FIFA competitions such as the World Cup. This was described as the nuclear option by the Secretary of State last week, and is something that we will, of course, have to keep under review.

Baroness Billingham (Lab): The Achilles heel of FIFA is money. The longer we leave it before we take positive action as a Government, a Chamber and a Parliament, the more the issue will fade away. We ought to call together all the sponsors. They hold the key to this. If the sponsors were to withhold their funding, I assure the Minister that there would be a change of heart immediately. The Government have to take a lead in this. The Minister has already mentioned

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this, for which I am grateful, but we must keep the pressure on. Now is the time. Oh yes, and Andy Murray has just won.

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, the noble Baroness mentioned sponsorship. She is quite right about its importance and about the importance of the supply of money to these organisations. We were very pleased to hear the statement made by Visa in this regard. The sponsors have to be very aware that, if they are not careful, their brands will be tainted by the actions of FIFA.

Lord Stern of Brentford (CB): My Lords, I should declare an interest as I was directly involved with the English bid—a rather good bid, I thought. There is one fundamental point which I hope the Government will press strongly, and that is the importance of the expansion of football in Africa and in Asia. We should not let Sepp Blatter have a monopoly of that issue. It is very important for us to declare our support and, of course, to make the point that the interests of football in Africa and in Asia will be much better served by a clean and honourable FIFA, one without Sepp Blatter.

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, the noble Lord is quite right. I know only too well from acquaintances of mine in west Africa how important football—particularly European football—is in west Africa, and grass-roots football is so important. We have to find a way of countering the ill effect that FIFA has on this issue.

Lord Cunningham of Felling (Lab): My Lords, as the noble Viscount, Lord Ridley, pointed out to us in a newspaper article today, these problems are not simply related to FIFA; these are prominent problems in international organisations, particularly, I regret to say, in sport but in other areas, too. Is it not clear that, whatever action is taken—and I support those Members who say that there must be concerted action, because one-off gestures will have no impact at all—the objective should not be simply the demise of Mr Blatter? We must also work, at the same time, for a constitution for FIFA—a new constitution which is open, transparent and fit for purpose, because clearly the existing one is not.

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, unfortunately I did not have the pleasure of reading my noble friend’s column today. Perhaps I may repeat something that I said on Thursday:

“These revelations have shown how important it is for sports bodies to uphold the highest standards of governance, transparency and accountability”.—[Official Report, 28/5/15; col. 56.]

That is what it is all about, as I think the noble Lord was saying.

Lord Addington (LD): My Lords, does the noble Earl agree that this demonstrates that government cannot remove itself from these issues to do with worldwide sport and has to remain fully committed? Should that not be a lesson that we learned from the Olympic experience—the fact that Governments are

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required to make sure that it is done properly? If we try to stand back again, we will merely get the same problems over and over again.

The Earl of Courtown: I think I can agree in part with what the noble Lord, Lord Addington, said. However, it is up to FIFA and UEFA to get their house in order. They run football.

Viscount Ridley (Con): My Lords, to go just a tiny bit further than the noble Lord, Lord Cunningham, went a moment ago, I would add that the problem is confined not just to sport. There seems to be a tendency for supranational organisations all too easily to become fiefs—or fiefdoms; we might get confused with fief and FIFA here, for which I apologise. I know that that is much too big a subject for my noble friend to solve this afternoon. However, there needs to be some way of getting accountability into these supranational organisations. By the way, I am not tarring all of them with this brush; there are, of course, many that are extremely well run. While we are on the subject of sporting news, I understand that rain is still stopping play.

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, I think that part of my noble friend’s question was a little outside this Statement. I should reiterate the point that the noble Baroness, Lady Doocey, and my noble friend Lord Moynihan made on Thursday regarding the Bribery Act. We are looking at this issue. I hope to update those noble Lords by letter and place copies in the Library.

Lord Soley (Lab): Following the preceding exchanges on the international aspect of these organisations, should we not congratulate the United States Department of Justice on the initiative it has taken, while also recognising that Britain, with its remarkable reputation on the rule of law, ought to be up there with it and taking the initiative with some of these other organisations that we are concerned about?

The Earl of Courtown: The noble Lord is quite right that we should congratulate the United States Department of Justice on taking action on offences that took place in America and the Swiss authorities for taking action on offences that took place in Switzerland. In this country we will be watching what happens very closely.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester (Lab): My Lords, it is tempting to wring our hands at the re-election of Mr Blatter, as I think every contributor to this short discussion has done today, and I join them. However, my concern is that once the events of the past few days have passed, Mr Blatter is re-established and the long arm of the law does not catch up with him, things will go on just as they are. In that case, it is very important that the lead that the Minister has taken in this House and the Secretary of State has taken in the other House is followed up. Will he be assured that the Government will have the support of everyone in this

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Chamber if he wishes to take an active part in cleaning up FIFA and in reforming the governance of football more generally?

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, the noble Lord is right in many ways. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State is taking a lead on this subject and I assure the House that this will not be forgotten.

Queen’s Speech

Debate (3rd Day) (Continued)

4.55 pm

Lord Dubs (Lab): My Lords, it seems only a few days ago that at least some of us were busy knocking on doors, delivering leaflets and generally taking part in the election campaign. The contrast between that and today’s debate is quite noticeable. All I would say as a result of the election campaign is that there is one bit of legislation that I would dearly like, and that is that no letterbox should be six inches from the ground. Those of us who had to bend down to push through leaflets and got our knuckles torn off by the savage letterboxes that one often finds wish that these things were done differently, and I feel very sorry for the many postmen and postwomen who have to do this daily and not just as part of an election campaign.

Before I get to the heart of what I want to say, I hope that I may be permitted to refer to a matter which is obliquely relevant to what we are about to discuss today. Five years ago the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, joined the House. That was a welcome addition, even if it meant that there was an additional vote on the Conservative side. However, I was rather slow in realising that there were other aspects of significance to this, and the alarm bells started to ring rather slowly.

One day, soon after the noble Lord arrived in the House, I got a bill from the restaurant here. It was a pretty good meal but one which I had not eaten. Indeed, his bank manager would have been happier about the size of the bill than mine would have been. Certainly, given the success of the various editions of House of Cards, on which I congratulate him, I think that he is better able to stand those bills than I am.

But then other things began to happen. I got a phone message to call No. 10 urgently. This occasionally happened under Labour, so I called and rather foolishly gave myself away rather than listen to what was on offer. I hope that the time it took that message to then get to the noble Lord did not in any way jeopardise his career or perhaps lose him a ministerial post. Certainly, that made me think again about what was going on.

Then letters came my way, a room which I had not reserved was booked in my name, and I had letters from Members of this House congratulating me on the way I had handled the EU referendum Bill. I felt that I just could not take credit for that. I think that Labour Party policy is now changing but I did not like the Bill at the time and, certainly, to be given credit for it by several Members of this House was more than I felt I could keep quiet about.

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In pondering this, I then came across a little booklet about confusable Peers. It is not for general circulation among Members of this House but is a booklet which the staff, quite properly, use to help them. I do not wish what I have said in any way to be seen as a criticism of the staff of this House. When I was in the Commons, I once was confused with Frank Dobson. Those noble Lords who know him will know that he and I do not look particularly alike. When that was mentioned in the House, we got letters of apology from senior officials. I do not want any apology because this is not about that; I just want to clarify a misunderstanding.

The booklet I got hold of is not about confusing Peers or confused Peers, which of course would be a much thicker volume, but about confusable Peers. It shows pairs, trios or quartets of Peers who can be confused with each other and the noble Lord, Lord Dobbs, and I are included. This interesting little booklet enables staff to differentiate us.

Lord Dobbs (Con):I find the confusion remarkable. After all, my noble near-kinsman is a craggy-faced, Czech-born socialist and, quite clearly, I am not. Perhaps I may come to his rescue and settle his qualms. I have taken advice from the Garter Principal King of Arms who says that he can think of only one way of us resolving this confusion; namely, that one of us should become an Earl. I humbly submit myself to my fate.

Lord Dubs: I would rather he took that honour than me. I would have a job explaining that one away but I am grateful to the noble Lord.

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock (Lab): My noble friend’s problems are nothing compared with mine. I keep getting invited to meetings of Conservative lawyers for reasons I cannot understand, but they will probably become clear when we come to the reply to this debate.

Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon (LD): I wonder whether the noble Lord finds it as confusing as my case: I keep being asked for very large sums of money on the grounds that I am Lord Ashcroft.

Lord Dubs: I hope that that little interlude has helped many of us to decide where we are and who we are. I would be grateful to the House if it would allow me to intrude on the time a little.

Turning to the substance of the debate, I wish that the Government had found it possible to give time to an assisted dying Bill. I say that because, although it would not normally be done in a Queen’s Speech, it certainly seems that this Bill commands widespread public support in the country and it has passed through some of its stages in this House. It therefore would be sensible if the Government would agree to give time for such a Bill to proceed, and to accept the wishes of Members of both this House and the other place, in order to see what the outcome would be.

Many Members have already referred to the Government’s proposals on the Bill of Rights. I remember going with the Joint Committee on Human Rights to

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a meeting at the Strasbourg court about prisoner voting. The judges said that they were concerned that, if Britain did not adhere to a decision of the European court, it would open the way for countries with terrible records on human rights to say, “If the United Kingdom doesn’t adhere to these decisions, why should we?”. In a way, that seemed to be a much bigger concern on the part of the judges we met in Strasbourg than the specific issue of prisoner voting. I am rather sorry that we seem to have got caught in this. When the decision was made by the court, several European countries immediately allowed prisoners to have the vote. Of course, it does not mean all prisoners, but some of them.

I was very interested to hear the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, speak a few moments ago. Perhaps he was giving the Government a lifeline. I really want to consider what he said in more detail—I am not a lawyer—to see whether it was a lifeline or a sensible way out of the dilemma. Another problem with the human rights issue is the knock-on effect in Scotland, Wales and, above all, Northern Ireland, where it is clearly integral to some of the agreements that have taken place. It would be a pity if that delicate balance were to be upset. As I understand it, the matter is devolved in Scotland and Wales and therefore we would have to override a devolved proposal.

As to the votes for life Bill, which has not been referred to, British people who are living abroad at the moment can vote only for 15 years after they have left this country. The Government’s intention is to take away that time limit. I regret this. When people have thrown their lot in with another country for many years, they are not well qualified to vote in elections in this country. The decision as to where one lives in the long term is surely a sign of one’s commitment to a particular country. I exempt from that people working in the public sector for British embassies and so on, people working abroad for British companies, and people working within the EU. However, why should we throw the right to vote to people who have decided that they do not want to live here any more or pay taxes in this country? It makes no sense.

The gracious Speech did not mention House of Lords reform but at some point we will have to move forward on that. The right answer, which has certainly been suggested on this side of the House, is that there should be a constitutional convention to look at this matter and others to do with devolution to see what needs to be done. I would like to make some progress on that. I know that there is not widespread sympathy in this House for an elected Lords but I am talking about issues which are much wider than elections, including the relationship of this House to the Commons and of Westminster to the devolved assemblies. These matters could all do with being looked at in more detail.

As to voting systems, I have always believed that the link between a Member of Parliament and his or her constituency is particularly important. That is why I thought that AV was as far as one might go. However, I am concerned—this might be another subject for a constitutional convention—about the situation in Scotland, where half the population voted for the SNP and the SNP gained virtually every seat. It is a

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matter not only of the number of MPs in the Commons but of the relationship between England and Scotland. If Scotland is perceived to be entirely SNP territory because of the way in which the electoral system operates, that is not good for the United Kingdom.

Let me refer briefly to the Northern Ireland Bill and the Stormont House agreement. I broadly welcome the Bill. It is important to look at the past, see what can be done and decide how one can make restitution. The Ballymurphy and Finucane cases have caused particular concern and I wonder whether they will be covered by the new arrangements. It is difficult to open an inquiry into every single tragedy that happened in Northern Ireland, but these two cases cause a great deal of concern and I wonder whether the scope of the proposed Bill will be wide enough to cover them.

I am concerned about some important matters which are not within the scope of today’s subjects. I worry about the Bill on trade unions. To make it almost impossible for trade unions to call a strike goes further than in any other democratic country and we should be very careful. I am also worried about the Government’s commitment, through legislation, that there should be no increase in income tax, VAT or national insurance. It ties the Government’s hands enormously and is not a wise move. If the Government do not want to increase any taxes they just do not increase them. Surely they do not need a Bill to keep to that commitment. As to the HS2 Bill, I picked up in the papers that the new fast train would not go to Scotland. I hope that is not true because we want to increase our links to Scotland, not cut them.

5.09 pm

Lord McNally (LD): My Lords, in intervening in this debate, I must set the context in which I do so. Since March 2014, I have been chairman of the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales. The YJB is an arm’s-length body within the Ministry of Justice, responsible for the care of young people aged under 18 who are serving sentences in custody or in the community. We also work actively in programmes aimed at diverting young people from crime, and in promoting the positive resettlement of those who have served their sentence. As chairman, I have a responsibility on behalf of the YJB to advise the Secretary of State on matters pertaining to youth justice, and I will certainly be looking to the wide range of experience in this House to help me in that work.

My term of office lasts until March 2017. Being chair of an arm’s-length body does put certain constraints on my political activity. When I was appointed, the Cabinet Office guidance said that I,

“should take a step back from front-line politics”.

On hearing this, a cruel friend from my Labour Party days said, “But you did that when you joined the Liberal Democrats”. On the contrary—I take pride in the fact that the Liberal Democrats served with distinction on the front line in government between 2010 and 2015. We proved that coalition government could work, and I can say, as one who has worked in and around Whitehall and Westminster for the last 50 years, that it was far less faction-ridden and more cohesive than some of the single-party Governments we have

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seen over that period. No one was called a bastard; nor was anyone accused of being psychologically flawed. As has been said by others, I think history will be kind to us for what we did and the way we did it.

My old mentor Jim Callaghan always gave the old sailor’s advice to those moving on: “Don’t distract the man at the wheel and don’t spit on the deck”. I will try to follow that advice regarding my successor at the MoJ, the noble Lord, Lord Faulks, to whom I send particularly good wishes. However, if I had one piece of valedictory advice it would be this. The gracious Speech indicates the Government’s determination to bring the public finances under control and reduce the deficit. For a department not protected by any ring-fencing or election campaign pledges, that means immediate cuts for the MoJ.

One of the most bruising experiences in my own time as a Minister was the negotiations with the Law Society and the Bar Council about legal aid. I urge the Secretary of State to engage in immediate dialogue with the professions, and indeed with the Opposition, to see whether a long-term agreement can be reached on the size and scope of legal aid and the changes needed in the structure of the legal profession.

In the latest edition of The House magazine, Andrew Caplen, president of the Law Society, says:

“In these times of austerity, we need parliamentarians and the legal profession to work together to build on what we have and develop a justice system fit for the future”.

The Law Society will be working with the new Government and Parliament to make this vision a reality. It will not be easy. Agreement may be very difficult to achieve. But having gone through that period, I say this: unless we try, we will have another five years of trench warfare between the legal professions and the Government. That will not be to the credit of either side.

When I see strikes and walk-outs and members of the legal profession marching outside the Ministry of Justice with placards, I warn them about the credibility of the profession in a difficult time. It is no use everybody coming up with easy solutions. As the Law Society says, this is a time of austerity and the MoJ has a restricted budget; if you want to come up with solutions, come up with practical ones. After all, it was the Labour Party that first cut legal aid; it was the Labour Party that had legal aid cuts in its 2010 manifesto. It does not behove any of us to say, “We’re in favour of legal aid and of getting it sensible, but we don’t agree with this cut or that cut”. Now is the time for some sensible solutions, including from the professions themselves.

I have only one or two other reflections on the gracious Speech. As was said by the noble Lord, Lord Dunlop, and the Prime Minister has made it so, one-nation Toryism is the guideline. So it is ironic that the first programme under that banner calls into question three of one-nation Toryism’s greatest achievements. First, it was a Conservative Government who created the BBC as a public service broadcaster committed to informing, educating and entertaining. If you doubt whether anything is at risk with the BBC, I simply ask you to watch Fox News for five minutes to realise what

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is being put at risk. Secondly, it was, as has been said by a number of speakers, a Conservative, David Maxwell Fyfe, urged on by Winston Churchill, who provided the decisive legal input into the European Convention on Human Rights that underpins our Human Rights Act. Thirdly, it was of course a Conservative Government under Ted Heath who negotiated our membership of the European Community and cemented that membership through the creation of a single market under Mrs Thatcher and the signing of the Maastricht treaty by John Major. I wish the Prime Minister well in his attempts to negotiate a new settlement with Europe, and I certainly agree with Chancellor Merkel that where there is a will, there is a way. I welcome the Bill to provide for a referendum before the end of 2017, and I hope that the Government will insert a provision for votes at 16 in that referendum, because if they do not, I suspect that this House will.

As for the Human Rights Act, I welcome the fact that the Government have given time for reflection. The problems caused by the Act are more imaginary than real, and Dominic Grieve is right to warn that withdrawal from the ECHR would inflict reputational as well as legal damage on this country. The Government would do well to look carefully at the suggestion by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, on whether there is a way forward on this.

On all the three matters I have referred to, things would have been handled differently if the Liberal Democrats had still been in government, but we are not. However, as I have said, mishandled they will imperil some of one-nation Conservatism’s finest contributions to our recent history, so flying solo puts added responsibility on the government Benches not to endanger that legacy.

I have a final point, which has come out of the debate. I am so glad that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood, has picked up the torch on IPPs. As the Minister who took that legislation through the House, I am absolutely sure in my own mind that Parliament thought it was ending IPPs, and Section 128 of the LASPO Act was there because the Lord Chancellor of the day thought that would be the way to do it. I urge the noble and learned Lord to look again at that freedom because this is not going to go away and, as he has indicated, it is a stain on our reputation and not what Parliament intended.

Other than that, I retreat into this semi-purdah, but with the confidence that, as the excellent speech by my noble friend Lord Marks demonstrated, these Benches will not be silent on these issues.

5.18 pm

Lord Hope of Craighead (CB): My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Dunlop, on his appointment to the House and on his speech, which I welcome. Perhaps I may say before he departs for a moment that I look forward very much to his contribution to our debates on the devolution issues that will be coming before the House in the next few months, especially those affecting Scotland. The reason for that is quite simple. The noble Lord’s expertise in this field will be greatly valued. The task of securing,

“a strong and lasting constitutional settlement”,

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in the interests of the whole of the United Kingdom, to which the gracious Speech refers, will be a formidable one. It will not be easy to reconcile it with the restless demands for more powers to be devolved to Scotland which have been voiced by the third largest party in the other place. Only someone whose roots are as deep-seated in Scotland as his so obviously are can really appreciate the difficulties that a Government in Westminster will face in getting their message across to a suspicious public in Scotland. One cannot ignore the fact that so many voted in favour of a party whose ultimate aim is diametrically opposed to the lasting settlement that the Government seek to achieve.

There are of course many people in Scotland—the majority, indeed, as the result of the referendum showed—who support the one-nation approach. They very much wish to see the bringing together of the different parts of our country in the way the gracious Speech refers to, not just by promoting economic stability in the interests of all sections of society but by achieving a constitutional settlement which will be as strong and lasting as such a thing can ever be in a modern, socially aware democracy. But a very large question mark hangs over this declaration of the Government’s policy. How is this to be done? How are the people of Scotland, on whose views the holding together of the union will ultimately depend, to be persuaded that the Government’s policy is the right one? How are they to be persuaded that the recommendations of the Smith commission are being honoured in full when the Scottish National Party continues to assert that they are not? For my part, I do not think that legislation alone is the answer. Something more needs to be done, and I look forward very much to the efforts that the noble Lord will undoubtedly make in getting the message across.

Of course, this is not the time to look in detail at the Scotland Bill which has just been introduced in the House of Commons. At first glance, it is an impressive piece of work, extending to 64 clauses and two schedules. It will require a great deal of detailed scrutiny if everyone is to be satisfied that it gives full effect to the agreement set out in the Smith commission’s report. Of course, much of that scrutiny will take place in this House, as that is the way this Parliament works. I cannot help thinking therefore—the noble Lord touched on this point in his speech—that it is a pity that the SNP has set its face against nominating members of the party to sit here in this House. As the noble Lord knows only too well in view of the criticisms that were made of his appointment—I am not referring to the matter than the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, referred to, but to a quite different point—opposition to the House of Lords is one of the SNP’s great remaining totems, as one commentator put it in a Sunday newspaper a few days ago. Reports by the House’s Constitution Committee, so ably chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Lang of Monkton, are routinely rubbished by the party’s propaganda machine, simply on the ground that this House is made up of Peers who are not elected. The simple fact is that they see this House as an affront to democracy. However, the fact is that this House exists and it does much valuable work. If the SNP wishes to make a serious contribution to what is being done in this Parliament as a whole,

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and to the scrutiny of this Bill in particular, has the time not come for it to think again—to follow the words of the famous song which is sung at rugby matches? Has the time not come for it to study what the House really does and to appreciate that the party needs to contribute to what goes on here if the arguments that it wishes to put forward are to be considered in detail, as they no doubt deserve to be?

That brings me to the other point, the proposal for a British Bill of Rights. There are many reasons for expressing concern about this idea, as well as grounds for relief that the Government have decided to refrain from legislating until further work has been done. I would simply make two points. The first is how one is to address the question of whether the enactment of a British Bill of Rights would be compatible with the devolution settlements with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. I took part in a debate on the devolution statutes, a couple of decades ago I think. When legislative and executive power was being devolved, I recall that great care was taken to prohibit the devolved institutions from legislating or exercising functions in a way that was incompatible with the convention rights or with Community law. As I understood it, the reason was that it was thought necessary that this country should adhere to the treaty obligations in these two respects. Those obligations include, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern mentioned, the obligation under Article 46 of the European convention to abide by the final judgment of the European Court in any case to which this country is a party. It was thought, quite simply, that it was the responsibility of this Parliament to ensure that these obligations were respected in full when devolving legislative and executive power to others. One cannot be surprised about the opposition that is being voiced by the party in Scotland to the idea that the Human Rights Act should be departed from.

There is a real question here which I would like to draw attention to. It is being suggested in some quarters that the Scottish Parliament will have a veto on any alteration of the Human Rights Act as it affects Scotland under the Sewel convention, which is to be made formally part of legislation by the Scotland Bill. For my part, I rather doubt whether that argument is sound because the two crucial sections—Sections 29 and 57—which contain the prohibitions are not devolved. There is nothing, I think, in the Scotland Bill that is to come before us which will devolve those crucial sections either. As I understand the structure of the Act, those sections are deliberately reserved matters that are in the hands of this Parliament. I think that the argument that there is a veto in the hands of the Scottish Parliament is misconceived but that is merely my opinion and I ask the Minister to pay careful attention to this because there will certainly be a challenge when the point comes, if it is to come.

The other point is that I suggest that the Government need to recognise the extent to which the convention rights are so deeply embedded in our law as a result of decisions taken both by this House in its judicial capacity and by the United Kingdom Supreme Court since those days. Respect for those rights is firmly established in our jurisprudence and all the comparative work that has gone into it. To get rid of all of that is

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rather like trying to get rid of Japanese knotweed, which we hear about at Question Time. It will be as difficult and therefore one does wonder whether all the effort that is going into this is really worth it. I rather support the point made by the noble Lord, Lord McNally, that once one recognises the reality and also respects the convention, which I understand the Prime Minister now to favour, the problems are more imaginary than real, and one should be real about it and address the issue in that way.

5.26 pm

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean (Con): My Lords, it is a great pleasure to take part in this debate. I know the convention is that we should not repeat congratulations on maiden speeches but I would like to congratulate my noble friend Lord Dunlop on his appointment; on choosing to make this debate a maiden speech, which made it impossible for me to intervene on his speech; and for slipping out of the Chamber when I was about to have a second go. He has clearly learnt the ways of this House very quickly.

It is no exaggeration to say that there has been a revolution in Scotland. I am slightly surprised that it was quite late in the debate this afternoon—and I agree with everything that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, had to say—before we actually mentioned the fact that the Scottish nationalists, who wish to break up Britain, have won 56 out of 59 seats in Scotland. When I was in government, we used to say, “If the SNP wins a majority of seats in Scotland, it can have independence”. Thank God we had a referendum last year in which the majority of people made it clear that they did not want that to happen.

I believe that there is a real crisis in Scotland. In Scotland, where I live, we are now a one-party state. Not content with winning 56 seats, the nationalists are now trying to drive the last remaining Liberal—not even on the mainland—out of office. Their behaviour in the referendum campaign, in the election campaign and subsequently of intimidation and everything else means that those people—the majority—who wish to be part of the United Kingdom look to this Parliament to offer a way forward. Most people in Scotland now believe that the union hangs by a thread.

With its 56 MPs, the SNP has enormous resources. I am told they have all signed some undertaking not to criticise any member of their Front Bench or say anything in public that contradicts the policy of their Front Bench. I hope this does not give David Cameron any ideas; otherwise, I shall be silenced for life. It is an extraordinary thing. They came to this House on the day of the Queen’s Speech all wearing white roses. The white rose is certainly mentioned by MacDiarmid but the white rose is a symbol of the Jacobites, and the Tory party, Scotland’s oldest political party, was a Jacobite party. Not content with seizing my national flag, the SNP now wants to seize the emblem of the origins of the Conservative Party. It seems to me that this demands a response, and business as usual is not an appropriate response. Yes, I believe in one-nation Toryism, but we are not one nation—we are a United Kingdom made up of a number of nations and there is now a crisis.

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Every unionist party in Scotland has suffered. The Labour Party has suffered the most and the most quickly. I have to say that I sympathise, as a unionist, but do not sympathise, because the Labour Party has been the architect of its own destruction in Scotland. For years, its members demonised the Conservatives using the language of nationalism. They said that we had no mandate because we did not have a majority of the MPs in Scotland. They claimed that, under a Conservative Government under Mrs Thatcher, we destroyed the industrial base and gave Scotland a lousy deal, even though the Barnett formula gave to Scotland 25% more per head in expenditure than in the rest of the United Kingdom. They talked about our education reforms as the Anglicisation of education in Scotland. When I left office as Secretary of State, among pupils of school-leaving age in Scotland, 10% more got five decent passes than in England. Today, the position is exactly reversed and England is 10% better off. That is because Scotland, under these Scottish nationalists and under Labour, refused to follow the reforming policies in education that were carried out here. The point is that those policies were not argued against on their merits but presented as the Anglicisation of education. Even quite recently, Labour MSPs referred to their colleagues down here as “Westminster Labour”. It seems to me that if you use that kind of language and tell the Scottish people that they are getting a bad deal from Westminster, you should not be surprised when, one day, having ridden that tiger, it turns round and devours you. That is what happened to the Labour Party in the most recent general election.

Alex Salmond and I were both against devolution and the Scottish Parliament. I was against it because I thought that it would lead to a platform for the SNP from which it would demand more and more powers and eventually break the United Kingdom. Alex Salmond was against it because he agreed with Tony Blair and George Robertson. The noble Lord, Lord Robertson, is not in his place, but I do not need to remind the House that he said:

“Devolution will kill nationalism stone dead”.

Well, he was half right. He got the verb right, it was just the wrong party.

It is a fact that we now have a new situation in Scotland and I believe that that new dimension requires a new model. Simply to say that we will implement the proposals of the Smith commission will not work. All the unionist parties stood on a platform of bringing in the proposals of the Smith commission and we ended up with three seats out of 59. This is not a credible position; it has been rejected. In my view, the proposals were always half-baked, not properly thought through, conceived in haste and part of a deal negotiated by politicians from which the whole of Parliament was excluded and given no opportunity to take part in the formulation of these policies. Indeed, Alistair Darling, who did such a brilliant job in the referendum campaign and who I very much hope may well come to this House, was quoted as saying that Smith has been overtaken by events, is lopsided, unfair to England and threatening to the union when combined with English votes for English laws.

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It is a matter for the House of Commons, but I am not very keen on English votes for English laws by amending the Standing Orders of the House of Commons. Parliament spent a good 35 years arguing about the best way of dealing with the question of home rule in the context of the Irish question at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. It concluded that reducing the number of MPs from Ireland was the correct solution so as not to have two classes of MP. I believe that that was the right approach.

How is this going to play in Scotland? If, as we are apparently committed, we keep the Barnett formula, the Scottish nationalist Members who represent Scotland will be able to say, “We are being disfranchised; we are not being allowed to vote on matters that affect Scotland”, because the Barnett formula translates policy decisions in education, health and other devolved matters into revenue for the Scottish Parliament. Therefore, to say that we want English votes for English laws, and at the same time retain Barnett, is to give the SNP a stick with which to beat the union and this Parliament. The answer is to have a funding formula that is based on need. That would mean, of course, that Scotland would lose out, so there needs to be some transitional arrangements for the funding that was recommended by the committee of the House on the Barnett formula, on which my noble friend and I served. That needs to be discussed.

Then, we have the extraordinary situation that Nicola Sturgeon—who, by the way, was not even a candidate in this election but seemed to dominate it—has said that she wants fiscal autonomy. Fiscal autonomy would be an absolute disaster for Scotland and result in a reduction in the budget. Even if it got all the North Sea oil revenues, it would result in a reduction in the budget equivalent to half the health spending in Scotland, and they know it. Suddenly, the party that told us that it could have independence in 18 months is now telling us that fiscal autonomy will take six years. Why would that be? It is hoping that something will turn up. It is hoping that the oil price will turn up. Alex Salmond is a gambler and he is gambling the future of every citizen in Scotland on something turning up and is presenting a dishonest portfolio, as the party did in the election.

In Alice in Wonderland, the queen said that she can believe six impossible things before breakfast. Nicola Sturgeon believes two impossible things: that she can end austerity and spend more money and, at the same time, have fiscal autonomy in a country where the tax base is lower than in England, where expenditure is 20% higher than in England, which means that there is a gap, and where borrowing would have to be controlled by the United Kingdom. My advice to our Front Bench is this: please publish a White Paper setting out what the consequences of fiscal autonomy would be for Scotland so people can see what it is that they voted for, because the SNP certainly did not tell them what they voted for.

Unless we can persuade people in Scotland that they add an enormous amount to this United Kingdom and that this United Kingdom provides support to people throughout Scotland on the principles of solidarity that have governed our union for more than 100 years,

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we may very well find that we see the union being broken. It would be a very sad day indeed if our United Kingdom should be broken by people whose primary purpose is to divide our nation, mislead the voters and try to substitute for the politics of class those of identity. That is what they are doing. In doing so, they are bringing on board a whole range of people with left-wing, extremist ideas, which, if implemented, would be disastrous for Scotland and disastrous for the United Kingdom.

I hope that in the passage of the Bill on Scotland we will have an opportunity to rethink our position and accept that we cannot have constitutional change implemented unilaterally. We need to have all-party agreement. I very much agree with the proposals that have been supported by the Labour Party and the Liberal party for a constitutional convention to sort these matters out so that these things can be looked at on an all-party basis and not on the basis of piecemeal, asymmetric, partisan, political advantage, which has brought us to this pretty place today and was predicted by our party when the Labour Party first embarked on devolution.

5.39 pm

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town (Lab): My Lords, for the two Bills on which I will lead for the Opposition —on charities and to create a public service ombudsman —I have nothing but praise, albeit we may want to strengthen them just a little. Had the Government’s programme stopped there, I would have had no complaint. However, while respecting the fact that the electorate chose a Conservative Government, there will be some unforeseen circumstances, which we will seek to mitigate. We will in particular seek to protect the rights of others in the way outlined by my noble and learned friend Lord Falconer.

But there are other important issues, such as the extension of the right to buy to housing association tenants. We will examine the rights of this carefully. The housing Bill will force councils to sell their most expensive—in other words, their best—housing when vacant, and to use the proceeds to compensate housing associations for the loss of their stock, as well as to build new affordable homes in the same area. However, where housing and land costs are astronomically high, such as in Kentish Town in Camden, this will accelerate the emptying out of London’s poor from inner London areas which started in the last Parliament—and, incidentally, where sold-off council properties are back on the market at £800,000, or at three-times affordable rents. Kentish Town did not vote Tory on 7 May, but will have to live with the consequences of other people’s choices. Indeed, this Government could seriously damage Camden. The housing Bill could force it to sell a third of its social housing and to undermine its community investment programme of building 1,400 new homes. Land is simply not available there at affordable prices to rebuild unit for unit sold.

The National Housing Federation has said that extending the right to buy to housing association tenants, funded by selling off high-value council homes, will deepen the current housing crisis. We look forward to the maiden speech tomorrow of the noble Lord,

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Lord Kerslake, on this very issue. Housing associations fear that the proposals will undermine their wider aim: to provide affordable tenancies for the less well-off or low-rent provision for the homeless, as is recognised in the charities and social investment Bill that the Government published last week. It could even undermine therapeutic communities or sheltered accommodation.

It has also been said that the proposals will undermine the ability of housing associations to build affordable homes in the future. A number of issues have been raised with regard to the legality of interfering in this way with the assets of what are after all independent charities. All such criticisms we will address during the passage of the Bill. The last Parliament was bad enough for charities, gagging them with the lobbying Bill while completely failing to deal with corporate lobbying. Now we see the state interfering in charities’ provision, allocation and funding of housing.

Meanwhile, the state is interfering with independent trade unions, forcing them, as did the Government’s predecessors in the 19th and 20th centuries, to change their rules, deliberately so as to undermine Labour Party funding. A similar provision in the 1927 trade union Act resulted in a fall in the number of political levy payers from 3.5 million to 2 million and a drop in party income of 20%. The equivalent this time could be much more. It is what the Independent reported as a “shamelessly partisan” attack on Labour. This is simply to deal with payments of 5p or 10p a week by trade unionists. For that, we will have to set up the operation for them to be able to opt in. All this will happen while companies will be free to make large political donations without any reference to their employees, their customers or their shareholders. We have seen how much the Tories benefit from such largesse. In the last Parliament, they raised £108 million, with £28 million from hedge funds alone. David Cameron used to say, and I approved, that he wanted to end the “big donor culture”. But with this gracious Speech, we have seen the truth: we will continue to allow big donors to his party but clamp down on those tiny weekly contributions made by millions of trade unions to our party.

As my noble friend Lord Dubs said, the votes for life Bill will end the 15-year rule, allowing millions of Britons overseas, including tax exiles, to vote in UK elections, but perhaps the Tories’ real aim is to allow those people to donate to UK political parties, meaning more rich pickings from non-taxpaying expats.

There is also in the gracious Speech the threat to the independence of the BBC, which stands for free speech and professional, unafraid journalism here and across the world, by the possible undermining of its funding model or finances.

This sounds like an illiberal, politically motivated Government interfering with the legitimate activities of unions, charities and housing associations while extending potential Tory funding from expats. It is not a one-nation gracious Speech; it is not a programme based on rights, on fairness, on equality or on any sort of social justice. It is partisan and mean-minded. It cuts billions from benefits to needy families while ensuring that the Tories’ own income is secure. This is not the gracious Speech that we anticipated.

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5.46 pm

Lord Selkirk of Douglas (Con): My Lords, I very much enjoyed the speech just made by the noble Baroness and found it very interesting. I also very much congratulate the new Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Dunlop, on his considerable speech, which was very wide-ranging and effective. I look forward to many more contributions from him in the future.

I declare a past interest as an elected Member of the Scottish Parliament during its first eight years. I also served on the Calman commission, whose recommendations in relation to new powers for the Scottish Parliament have now been largely implemented. Those were to some extent overtaken by events such as the referendum. Unfortunately, the noble Baroness, Lady Goldie, cannot be with us today on account of parliamentary duties elsewhere. That leaves me as the sole Tory Peer present who has served as an MSP. We should not forget that there is a group of some 15 Tory Members in the Scottish Parliament and I suggest that they may have an influence that exceeds their numbers.

I support the Government’s new Scotland Bill. We should proceed to enact into law the new raft of powers proposed by the Smith commission. As Disraeli once remarked, and he had a good point:

“I am a Conservative to preserve all that is good in our constitution, a Radical to remove all that is bad”.

As well as supporting the Scotland Bill, surely it is time to take a step back to look at the future of the 300 year-old union, which is a successful partnership that so many of us value, including, we should always remember, a decisive majority of Scottish electors in last year’s referendum. Perhaps a commission with representatives from all parts of the United Kingdom could make a valuable contribution for the future in this regard and be a good way forward.

The Prime Minister has promised to look at proposals from the SNP to go beyond the Smith commission, but we cannot ignore the impact which greater devolution to Scotland and to Wales and Northern Ireland is having on the structure and government of the whole of the United Kingdom. The principles of equity and accountability are both extremely important.