HL Deb 21 April 1966 vol 274 cc13-38

Bill, pro forma, read 1a.


The Queen's Speech reported by The LORD CHANCELLOR.

3.49 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move, 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."

My Lords, in moving this humble Address there are two matters to which I am pleased to refer. The first is that we meet to-day on the very happy occasion of Her Majesty's birthday, and I know you will all wish me to send to Her Majesty and Her Royal Consort our loyal greetings and good wishes. May Her Majesty reign over us for many happy and fruitful years in her exalted position as Queen of Great Britain and Head of the British Commonwealth of Nations! I am also sure that you will wish me to express the great pleasure we feel in Her Majesty's safe return from her visit to the Caribbean Islands and the West Indies. We were all delighted at the enthusiastic reception that Her Majesty and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh received during their visit to these outposts of the Commonwealth and to Colonies which are soon to be granted independence.

My Lords, I am deeply conscious of the honour done to me by the invitation by the Leader of the House to move this humble Address. As a comparatively new Member of your Lordships' House, I must admit that I accepted the invitation with considerable trepidation, accompanied by a fair amount of sleeplessness. But, thank Heavens!, I live in a rather pleasant part of the world. The air of Sussex and walking on the Sussex Downs have renewed my courage, at least a little bit.

During the Easter week-end I read with very much interest Professor Trevor Roper's The Rise of Christian Europe, a précis, or rather a book, based on the papers which he gave to the University of Sussex. My thoughts were very much influenced by the picture it gave of the fall of the Roman Empire and its comparison with our own age. The Roman Empire, that great Empire that spanned the then civilised world for hundreds of years, maintained its power and position by force. In the course of time, however, its power waned. The Empire collapsed, disintegrated, and Europe plunged into the Dark Ages. How different is the picture of the British Empire! Those many years ago when I was a schoolboy we were told, proudly and patriotically, of the power and might of the British Empire℄that Empire upon which the sun never set; that Empire which coloured the majority of the maps of the world in red.

What a different picture has emerged! Wise and sagacious statesmen, step by step and with great vision, realised the mood of the world and decided to turn the British Empire into that far more important entity, the British Commonwealth of Nations. The first of these steps and, I believe, one of the greatest acts of statesmanship of this century was the granting of independence to India From then on, as each country nurtured by Britain became ready for self-government, it too was granted independence. I believe℄I really believe℄that in due course history will pay tribute to the British Commonwealth of Nations, that multiracial organisation which may well become one of the greatest forces for peace in the world. In saying this I want to emphasise "multiracial", for we have accepted that standard, and must at all times support it.

A short paragraph in the gracious Speech makes clear that Her Majesty's Government will continue their policy regarding the remaining colonial territories. I understand that during this Session no fewer than five Colonies are likely to become independent. The first of these is, of course, British Guiana. I am sure noble Lords will have welcomed the announcement, at the close of last November's Conference, that May 26 next has been fixed for the independence of British Guiana and that an agreement was reached on the form of Constitution for Guyana as the new country is to be called. We shall shortly have an opportunity, when the Guiana Independence Bill comes before us, to extend our best wishes for the future of the country and to echo that confidence expressed at the Independence Conference that all past prejudices and differences will be set aside and that the people of that Commonwealth country will strive together for the future peace and prosperity of a united country.

My Lords, we meet to-day on a very exciting occasion, for this is not just the ordinary opening of a Parliament but the opening of a new Parliament and, as the gracious Speech has indeed indicated, a Parliament with great tasks before it. This Parliament has, however, an outstanding virtue, arising from a gift from the British people: the gift of time in which, calmly, imaginatively and without the need to look over one's shoulder, to consider the many vital measures outlined in the gracious Speech which are to become the law of the land℄time, that greatest gift for any Minister. Indeed, I consider to-day a great occasion; for to-day, I think, we live in history. I know that in the heart of every Member of this House is the deep and sincere wish that in the years ahead we may be enabled to deal with the great problems of our country and to do so during an era of peace. For I pray that any question of the use of the Armed Forces may be banned from the consideration of any matters lying before us.

It is because of this that proposals in the gracious Speech for Britain to support her alliances on the question of defence, and to press forward with policies to enable Britain to play her part in the promotion of peace, will undoubtedly meet with our wholehearted approbation. The further proposals in the gracious Speech for the building of a reorganised Army Reserve and Auxiliary Force will, I believe, preserve the spirit that has emanated from those who have been associated with the volunteer forces of our country in the past, and they will not only bring greater efficiency but prove a very necessary safeguard to the revenue.

One of the great subjects of debate has been, and must continue to be, the relationship between this country and the European Economic Community. I confess at once that I am a European, and I was delighted to read in the gracious Speech the categorical statement that this country is ready to enter the European Economic Community, subject, of course, to British and Commonwealth interests being safeguarded, and in co-ordination with our EFTA allies. In this Session, and in the years ahead, the question of our relationship with Europe will assume greater importance. We are no longer an offshore island, and the growing and prosperous economy on the European mainland, with its vast markets, beckons us with inviting hands. In this connection, it is good to note that one of Her Majesty's principal Ministers has been appointed with a special relationship towards Europe.

Europe, though, is of the future. What of to-day? Above all else is the problem of our economy (this is a truism, and does not need repetition), and everything depends on our ability to restore equilibrium to our external balance of payments. Indeed, as the gracious Speech indicates, this is one of the prime objects of Her Majesty's Ministers. For until we are in a position to eliminate the deficit, we are like a fighter with an arm tied behind his back. The fact, therefore, is clear that this problem, above all else, is a problem that we must pledge ourselves to solve.

There is also a further very important statement in the gracious Speech which I feel will be received with satisfaction, not only in this country but abroad, and it is one which I hope will quell once and for all any further discussion on the matter. I refer to the clear and unambiguous statement of Her Majesty's Ministers that they are determined to maintain for all time the strength of sterling. So, with the determination to eliminate our balance of payments problem and the determination to maintain sterling, we must show clearly to the world our basic faith in the strength of our economy.

Another of the great problems, affecting not only this country but also the trade of the world, is the question of increasing liquidity in free world trade. From time immemorial international trade has been based on gold. To-day there are other forms℄suggestions which may or may not be acceptable; but surely what is clear is that this is a problem the solving of which can have great importance to the international trade of the world. This problem has already been discussed by Her Majesty's Ministers with the Ministers of other countries in the great financial centres of the world. The freeing of trade can no longer depend on the standards of many years past. New and adventurous thinking may find a method of freeing the interchange of goods between nations. and there is no doubt that the eventual solving of this problem will make a great difference, not only to the economy of our country but to that of the whole world.

On the question of the position nationally, we have our own National Plan, which, in co-ordination with the National Economic Development Council and the regional economic councils, must guide our trading industries. In this connection the proposed incentives to improve those sections of industry whose contribution to the balance of payments is most needed will play an important part. There is one other point bound up with the problem of exports. Surely, human nature being what it is, it must he clear that it should be at least as profitable to produce for export as it is to produce for our own country℄though we must never, of course, forget the home market.

Another proposal in the gracious Speech is the introduction of legislation to create an Industrial Reorganisation Corporation. I remember the discussions before the 1964 Parliament, when over and over again the necessity for such a Corporation was emphasised: Corporation which would assist in the amalgamation of certain units in manufacturing industry, whose uniting would bring greater efficiency, better services and, possibly with less labour, greater production. It is interesting to note that private enterprise has in a small way taken steps to implement this policy, but from the view of the national economy it will be carried out much more energetically and comprehensively, by the proposed Industrial Reorganisation Corporation.

The problem of prices and incomes is one that has filled the newspapers and has been a matter of great and important public debate. The proposal of Her Majesty's Ministers to develop, in consultation with management and unions, a policy for productivity, prices and incomes is one which I am sure is of vital importance, as, indeed, are the proposals for legislation to reinforce this policy, while preserving the voluntary principle. The gracious Speech indicates that proposals for legislation on this matter will be introduced into Parliament.

That one should not he politically biased in speaking to this Motion is one of the traditions of this House, so I merely say that a Bill to restore public ownership of the main part of the steel industry is one that has long been forecast. Steel is one of the basic industries of this country, an industry whose productivity must also, of necessity, be coordinated with the National Plan, an industry the impact of which can make all the difference to our success in the export markets of the world. I hope that when the proposal comes to be debated, it will be appreciated that the long-delayed legislation can well be of immeasurable value to the community.

There cannot be one Member in your Lordships' House who does not know that at Election time there are only two major matters which interest the electorate. They are housing and rates, and the fact that in the gracious Speech proposals are made for assisting local authorities to deal with these problems is of the greatest importance. There is the further proposal that local authorities shall be encouraged to help people to buy their houses℄small houses. This is a field in which, unfortunately, building societies do not operate, and therefore I hope that local authorities will to a large extent be able to deal with this problem, and deal with it successfully and on an increasing scale. The question of construction is also dealt with, and I think that the House will agree that this is necessary, because the building industry was over-heating. The fact that proposals for constructions costing over £100,000 must now receive the consent of the Minister is something with which we shall all agree.

A prophet has no honour in his own country, but I think I am safe in saying that in the coming Session there will be much to discuss in your Lordships' House. I am sure that in dealing with the matters that we shall have before us your Lordships will show an example of dignity and decorum, and that we shall consider and judge the matters before us from the point of view of the national interest, so that together we may deal with this Session's legislation for the common good of our people and of our country. I beg to move.

Moved, 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.—(Lord Cohen of Brighton.)

4.8 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to second the Motion of my noble friend Lord Cohen of Brighton for an humble Address in reply to Her Majesty's gracious Speech. I am deeply conscious of the honour that has been done to me by my noble friend the Leader of the House in asking me to second this Motion. Immediately, I should like to add my own felicitations to those offered so well by the Mover of the Motion to Her Majesty, and to add my own words of congratulation, and wish Her Majesty very many happy returns of the day.

It will be no surprise℄indeed, it is surely obvious℄to this House that, in taking part in this debate, though I sit and stand in this place, I am by vocation and profession a minister of the Methodist Church; and I would not seek to disguise from this House that much of what I have to say will be coloured by that sense of calling. For that you would expect me to make an apology. But it enables me, in the first instance, to remind myself that there have been no more loyal subjects of Her Majesty than the people called Methodists. For that I am glad; and I am glad to pay tribute. I am bound to add that had the founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley, been entitled to sit in this House, he would not have been found upon these Benches from which I speak to you now. But I take that as a cautious reminder that no tincture of infallibility attaches either to the founder of the Methodist Church or to those left after him in the connection we call the Methodist people.

It would be both unnecessary and impudent of me to endeavour to underline, rehearse or recapitulate what has been said, and said so well, by the Mover of this Motion. I shall eschew matters economic, apart from permitting myself one comment which does come, indeed, from John Wesley. In giving economic advice to his own followers, he condensed it into a simple triplicate dictum: "Get all you can; save all you can; and give all you can." Though this may have no particular relevance to our affairs to-day, if in the next few days in another place my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer cares to make use of this Methodist dictum, I give it to him with the greatest pleasure.

It is no accident, and no whim of drafting, that the first preoccupation of Her Majesty's gracious Speech is that of the problem of peace. This is a natural and awful priority, which I would hope to treat seriously, though not with undue solemnity. I am reminded of the cynicism of the wit who said: "Nuclear fission is here to stay. The relevant question is: Are we?" And what would it profit us if we fulfilled the ambitions of a Commonwealth or a Welfare State and were blown to pieces by hydrogen bombs? Therefore, it is with a deep sense of responsibility that I would first accclaim the intention contained in the gracious Speech to seek peace and to ensure it, not least in the endeavour so to disarm and to procure disarmament that the threat of nuclear death may be removed. For there is nothing, in my judgment, more tasteless or more ridiculous than the idea that we can live indefinitely with the atomic bomb. It may be that competitive co-existence ought to exist between great nation States, but you can ultimately only die with the hydrogen bomb. Therefore, it is my ardent desire to support and corn-mend the intention of Her Majesty's Government to seek peace in the field of disarmament.

This is a non-contentious occasion. I cannot disguise from this House that in some of the affairs in which we shall be invited to take our place and our part, and in particular on the question of the Vietnam, I hold views which do not coincide with the general propositions which seem to underlie the gracious Speech. But having made my witness to that fact, I would translate what I have to say rather into the nature of a plea than of a criticism. I am well aware that in the search for peace mutuality, prudence and caution are virtues; but such is the desperation of our condition in the world as a whole, with the proliferation of nuclear weapons, that I would conceive that inventiveness, spontaneity and daring may be even more excellent virtues. I would plead with Her Majesty's Government that there may be within an approximate period of time a venture in such new and hitherto unprecedented ways of seeking, by negotiation. by example and by inventiveness, a road that leads us away from the tragedies of warfare.

When I think of these things my mind tends to cross the Atlantic and I rejoice at the awakening of a new and radical Left in the United States. They sometimes remind me of the time-honoured Bing Boys who were "all dressed up with nowhere to go." It may be regarded as a great pity that on the other side of the Atlantic there is no equivalent of the Party here in whose name I speak. It would be improper for us to suggest a domocile in these islands for the radical Left of our cousins in America, but it might well be that by new initiative we might regain or stiffen or strengthen that sense which many of them possess, that for mature and inspirational leadership there is still in these islands a great deal which is not be found elsewhere.

It is in these matters that I seek to commend the quest for peace, and to identify it, in particular, with one attitude which I discover in the question of Rhodesia and in the proposals to bring back Rhodesia to constitutional Government. It is the repudiation on the part of the Government of armed violence as an instrument of social policy. This to me is a step℄indeed, it is a ballet of steps℄in the right direction. I commend it. I am glad to see it. I, as a pacifist, would go much further; but here is a trend in policy which does not, in my judgment, inhibit the earnestness of the quest for a constitutional return on the part of the Rhodesian people, but does withdraw from that, as I think, dangerous and ultimately catastrophic interpretation of war or armed violence as a continuation of policy.

On matters generally, I think and believe that the problem in Rhodesia, which is overtly political, must be seen in a moral context; and if it be that the spiritual home of the Rhodesian Front is neither Salisbury nor Westminster, but Pretoria, then how ardently do I hope that the intentions of the Government may be fulfilled and that in a very short time we may see a return to constitutional government in Rhodesia itself!

My Lords, much space is given in the gracious Speech to matters of education, and in one particular I take a special delight. I notice that the recommendation is that there should be an increased grant to voluntary schools. It seems to me that this is excellent, for two reasons. In the first place, it seems to give the answer, and a complete answer, to those whom I often hear in a larger and louder place than this, without a roof on it, who tell me that the path to the Left develops into a road which must needs go through the towns of regimentation and of uniformity until it ends up in the city of totalitarianism. I believe this to be arrant nonsense. I believe that the true marriage of the voluntary and State system in education is the hallmark of an enlightened democracy and part of a true community as I should like to see it. For that reason, it is with great pleasure that I welcome this proposition.

As a churchman, I welcome it for another, and equally coercive, reason. It is, as I understand, a matter of agreement on the part of the churches. They have recognised the rightness of this proposal and are united in general terms in supporting it. I think of past days: the acrimonious and intemperate row between the Church and the State over education; the equally intemperate, internecine strife between the various churches within the State. How Dr. John Clifford and his worthies, in the various stages of what I suppose may be called their further education, must now be seeing of the travail of their souls and be at least moderately satisfied.

In the realm of social security there is much in the Speech that is immediately commendable, as I see it, and I would commend it to your Lordships. But it is perhaps in one particular and in one inference that I would delay your Lordships a little in talking of this field in which I have been practically involved for many years. There is a reference in Her Majesty's gracious Speech to the problem of poverty. Forty years ago, when I began as a social worker in the Old Kent Road, I remember Rivett Street ℄mercifully there is no Rivett Street now. I remember that there were no doors on the houses and no furniture in the rooms. I then saw something of the stark, staring, brittle poverty which, by the Grace of God and the efforts of all kinds of people, has now largely been removed. There are still pockets of such poverty, but in general terms we do not face such a situation as confronted me and everybody else in those days.

But, because that particular form of poverty has indeed gone from our midst, it would be very foolish to pretend that there is no poverty which is as distressing remaining in the community to-day. Behind the somewhat elegant façades of 19th century terraces there still lurks poverty as I know it, and as every social worker knows it℄poverty which is keen, poverty which condemns many people to go cold through the whole of a winter, poverty which condemns many people to a continuous process of slow malnutrition. When I find that a Government commit themselves to the elimination of this kind of poverty, then I lift up my heart and I stiffen my sinews, because this is precisely what Government should be for. As Bernard Shaw said, there is no crime to compare with the crime of poverty. It is a crime. In the kind of community in which we live, it is an unnecessary and a totally reprehensible crime.

There is another aspect of this particular attitude which is represented by three, at least, of the intentions and phrases in this part of Her Majesty's gracious Speech. We are invited to think not in terms of National Assistance but of a Ministry of Social Security. We are invited to think in terms of the family doctor service; and we are invited to think of non-contributory benefits. I do not think it is either sentimental or far-flung for me to interpret this, as I believe it can be interpreted, as a passage of thought and intention away from the Pauline thought that if a man will not work neither shall he eat, and the concept that benefits are a just reward for virtue, or a charitable bequest or donation, on the part of those who hold a superior position in the world in which they live. I find my comfort and assurance in another place altogether, in what is said about the improvident fowls of the air who do not gather into barns, and the indolent lilies of the field who take no part in active work of any kind. When I am told that even Solomon in all his royal purple could not compare with the simple purple of the lily, I do not find this sentimental. I find it the enunciation of a supreme principle, and that principle is the inalienable right of every human being, whatever his conduct or condition, to the means of life. It is this principle which is adumbrated, as I think, in this particular proposal, and for that I am deeply grateful.

There is but a brief reference to that which is proposed in the field of public welfare regarding the roads and road safety. I daresay that the proposition of a particular measure will have something to do with drink and driving. I shall not take this as an opportunity for a temperance lecture, but content myself with the thought that if we carried out the principle and the attitude of mind that is claimed℄an attitude of heart that is required℄in the injunction, "If you drink do not drive, and if you drive do not drink", we should fulfil what every temperance advocate would really desire.

But the real underlying problem here is the need to inject into the community a moral sensitivity in this field, as has long been cultivated in other fields. Socioliogists tell us (and one or two parsons have said it, perhaps rather more simply) that there is a wide gulf between the attitude that a man takes to the arbitrary crossing of his threshold by some other person, and the attitude that is taken to the equally arbitrary crossing of a white line in somebody else's driving space upon the road, and it may be that we need the inculcation of a very much keener perception of moral right and truth in the field of road safety and behaviour. If Her Majesty's Government will enable us to mobilise the moral resources we have, and encourage the injection into the community of this higher sense that there is a profound moral responsibility resting upon any man who takes a lethal weapon like a car upon the public highway, then our children will rise up to call this particular Government blessed.

The last proposition to which there is advertence in Her Majesty's gracious Speech is on the question of penal and judicial reform. I reflect that a great deal for good has happened since, some 35 years ago, I first began to be a visiting chaplain in one of the great London prisons. A great deal has been done. I suppose what chiefly happened to me was that I recognised, as perhaps I had not done before, that it is altogether an over-simplification to assume that those who are in prison are the bad people, and that those who are not in prison are the good people℄though I would hasten to add that, by the choice of hymns we sang, at the discretion of the Governor and with full approval of the inmates of that prison, one would have gathered that they took perhaps a rather higher view of their own moral rectitude than was justified. One of their favourite hymns was Onward, Christian Soldiers and with what lusty glee do I remember hearing them sing Brothers we are treading Where the saints have trod "℄? which, on reflection, may not be quite so far from the truth as some people would think.

However, I believe that the word "prison" has been so impregnated and infected with almost any radical ideas that are wrong, that sooner or later we must jettison that word if we are to improve upon the whole condition of penal reform. I earnestly hope that within the next months and years there will be such a perceptible improvement in the whole area that is represented by this particular clause in Her Majesty's gracious Speech that we shall be encouraged to believe that before very long we shall see a remedial and reformative process, which yields far more satisfactory results than all punitive and retributive efforts of past generations.

As I look at this most gracious Speech as a whole, and not as a disparate collection of parts, I am reminded of a phrase which appears in an ancient Letter called the Epistle to the Hebrews. The unknown author of this Letter uses a phrase: The substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen. This phrase has been applied in many directions. In fact, it has been most irreverently, though perhaps not inaccurately, applied to an American concoction called the "hot dog". But when one considers this particular phrase, which in the first instance referred to faith, may I humbly suggest that it is not inapplicable to this most gracious Speech? Here is the substance of many things hoped for, things that I have hoped for, things that Members of this House on both sides have hoped for and will press to see brought to good effect. Here is not the fulfilment; here is the beginning of the road which can lead to that fulfilment. For these things I am grateful, and would not only invite those on this side of the House to co-operate in the attempted fulfilment of them but would commit them, if I may, to a House which itself is served and informed by the concept of public service, and which indeed can bring great benefits if it will co-operate, as I am sure it will, in the fulfilment of those things to which it can give united concept.

But the other part of this phrase is "the evidence of things not seen", and I catch the echoes and the antepast, if you like, of a different kind of society. I make no bones about it: this is for me a matter of rejoicing. It is the antepast of the kind of society which I believe to be the Kingdom of Heaven or, if you like it better, the classless society, the community, the Welfare State, the fellowship of all people; or, if you prefer much more simple terms, as I welcome this most gracious Speech and as, with joy, I second this Motion, I think of the time to which it may be a contribution, when every little child upon this planet, of any colour, will have enough to eat and time to say his prayers if he wants to, nothing much to be afraid of if he hears a bang in the night, and a future which invites and beckons him with the prospect of life abundant. These things are infinitely worth while to me, and I make these points as a contribution to this debate in the confidence that in Her Majesty's most gracious Speech is something, at least, of the preparedness and of the raw material of that community to which we all should like to belong and to which I pray we all may make our way, perhaps by our different paths but collectively and together along a common road where that is possible. My Lords, I beg leave to second the Motion for the humble Address.

4.31 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that the debate be adjourned until Tuesday next. I think all your Lordships will agree that the two noble Lords who have moved and seconded the humble Address have acquitted themselves admirably. Not a breath of controversy, or hardly a breath, has rustled the leaves of their speeches, and yet they have managed to instruct and entertain the House in perhaps the most difficult performance any Parliamentarian is ever called upon to undertake.

The noble Lord, Lord Cohen of Brighton, is a comparative newcomer to this House, though anybody who heard his maiden speech on June 16 last year will have no doubt that his presence adds greatly to the long list of noble Lords who have specialised knowledge. I have no doubt that the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, whom we should like to congratulate on his appointment as Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, will find the expertise of Lord Cohen of Brighton very useful, though, having some knowledge of Lord Cohen of Brighton's independence of mind, Lord Kennet may on occasion find that when he is tempted to settle down into a comfortable canter the noble Lord will put the spurs in his flank.

The noble Lord, Lord Cohen, is the third of his name currently to be a Member of your Lordships' House, and he joins two very distinguished bearers of his name. Before he arrived in this House we could get legal advice from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Cohen; we could get medical advice from the noble Lord, Lord Cohen of Birkenhead; and now we can get advice on housing ℄and I hope a substantial advance℄from the noble Lord, Lord Cohen of Brighton. These, if I may say so, are all very useful Cohens, and if there are any more with different professions who can add to the Happy Family of Cohens in this House they will be greatly welcomed.

The noble Lord, Lord Soper, comes to this House with rather a different reputation. As I am almost never in London at the week-end I have never had the privilege of hearing the noble Lord make a speech outside this House, either from the pulpit or from Tower Hill, but he must be a very versatile man, for I do not suppose he makes speeches of the type we have heard this afternoon in either of the other two places.

Before I had the pleasure of hearing the noble Lord for the first time I had always imagined he would have a very loud and rather harsh voice, due to the many years of dealing with heckling and interruptions from the back of the crowd on Tower Hill. I must say I was astounded and delighted to discover that the noble Lord has one of the nicest speaking voices of anybody in your Lordships' House. Not only that, but he also has the great and only too rare ability of being able to use that voice to make a first-rate speech. There can be very few people in this House who are more agreeable to listen to. And if he will allow me to say so, the elegance and sincerity with which he makes his speeches render them, even to those of us who do not always find their content entirely uncontroversial, very acceptable. Though compared with the right reverend Prelates who sit on his left, dressed as they are in fine lawn, and compared to how they were this morning, dressed in all their magnificence℄though not quite as magnificent as Solomon℄the noble Lord, Lord Soper, is a sombre figure, dressed as he is in his black cassock; his speeches are far from sombre and he is a thoroughly welcome addition to your Lordships' House.

My Lords, it would be idle to deny that my colleagues and I who sit on these Benches would have much preferred to find ourselves sitting on the Benches opposite. The view from over there is much better. I was rash enough to suggest in 1964 that the change of position would be only temporary. Well, of course, it will be only temporary, but perhaps for a little longer than I had hoped. Nevertheless, on that occasion I congratulated all the noble Lords who were appointed Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries on their appointments and wished them success. This I will most warmly do again on behalf of those of us who sit on this side of the House.

It would, of course, be invidious to single out any one of them, except perhaps to say how warmly we welcome the reappointment of the noble Earl, the Leader of the House, the most generous of opponents and the friendliest of men. It is to a very large extent due to his personality that the relationship between those of us in different political Parties is so amicable and produces results which are good for the House and for the conduct of Parliamentary business. We welcome, too, the appointment of the three new noble Lords℄Lord Kennet, whom I have already mentioned, Lord Winter-bottom, not the first ex-officer in the Household Brigade to have had some association with the Royal Navy, and Lord Hilton of Upton.

I should not, however, like this occasion to pass without saying how we personally regret on this side of the House the disappearance from the Government Front Bench of the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, the noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, and the noble Lord, Lord Snow. The noble Lord, Lord Lindgren, is a very old friend of most of us in this House. He bullied us when we were in Government with searching questions about transport and other matters, and when he was in office he took enormous pains to answer both courteously and efficiently the questions which were put to him.

As for the noble Lord, Lord Mitchison, I should think that he is perhaps the most skilful Parliamentarian who has reached this House from the House of Commons for a very long time. His quiet authority and knowledge on matters of housing and land made a deep impression on all of us who heard him in the last Parliament, and the skill with which he used to defend indefensible positions and the unruffled charm with which he did it was greatly admired and envied by all those of us who witnessed it. If I may say so, I think the Labour Party owes a great debt to both those noble Lords, as indeed they do to the noble Lord, Lord Snow, who has decided to go back to writing. I do not know whether in the eighteen months or so in which he was a Minister and in this House the noble Lord has gathered any material for a new book℄a sequel to Corridors of Power, perhaps to be entitled Passage through Parliament. I think I should warn him that should he write this book we shall all recognise ourselves and be gravely offended℄and we shall be equally gravely offended if we do not recognise ourselves.

My Lords, we wish noble Lords opposite success in their jobs, as indeed we hope the Government will be successful in the very grave situation which confronts them, since on their success in the next few years depends the wellbeing of every one of us in this country. As I look at the Government Front Bench I do not yet know whether I would call them gritty, purposeful, tough and dynamic, which I understand are the qualities desirable in members of Mr. Wilson's Administration. Time alone will tell. And if it does not, we on these Benches will make time to do so ourselves.

There is just one more matter, my Lords, on which on this occasion I ought to say a few words. I do not think that noble Lords opposite will need to be told that we on these Benches will conduct ourselves in Opposition as we did in the last eighteen months, in a constructive and reasonable manner. Though there was from the more extreme elements of the Party opposite in another place some suggestion that the House of Lords had been difficult and intransigent in the last Parliament, I did not hear that criticism from anybody whose opinion I value. Indeed, I think it would be very hard to make out a case of that kind. On no single occasion did we obstruct any of the Government's legislation. We were studiously moderate in the Amendments which we sent back for reconsideration by the House of Commons. Our debates on the issues of the day were of a very high order, though not as widely reported as I, for one, should have liked; and because of the procedure in this House we managed to debate issues of public importance for which the House of Commons could find no time. And we had a record either of initiating or passing legislation of a controversial and reforming nature which certainly compared very favourably with that of another place℄perhaps too favourably for some of those who sit on this side of the House. Therefore I do not think we have anything with which to reproach ourselves as to our conduct in the last Parliament.

I was all the more surprised, therefore, to see in the Labour Party Manifesto a proposal to curb even more severely the remaining delaying powers of this House. I am glad to see that it is not mentioned in the gracious Speech. I do not know whether that was just a gesture from the Prime Minister, offering, so to speak, cake to the hungry left, whose diet in the last eighteen months has been rather deficient in the stodgy plum cake of socialism. I do not know what the reason was. But I should like to say two things to noble Lords opposite. If they wish for a continuance of a Second Chamber they should consider whether or not in the future they would not find it difficult to recruit distinguished people to a House from which the last remaining powers had been removed, or, indeed, whether those who sit here now would continue to do so. It might well prove to be impossible for the Labour Party to give away the cake and to have it as well.

Secondly I must say this: that though we shall be reasonable and we shall certainly not be obstructive, we have every intention of doing what we think to be right and in the national interest, and threats of legislation will neither deter us from doing what we believe to be our duty, nor will they provoke us into hasty action. Having said that, I should like to say, on behalf of all those who sit on these Benches, that we greatly look forward to the Session before us. We shall have some spirited debates and a great deal of controversy, and the House will be none the worse for that. We are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Cohen of Brighton, and the noble Lord, Lord Soper, for the splendid start they have given us to this new Parliament.

Moved, That the debate be adjourned until Tuesday next.℄(Lord Carrington.)

4.44 p.m.


My Lords, I rise to second the Motion proposed by the noble Lord, the Leader of the Opposition. Many conventions are nowadays falling into disuse. One of these is that on this particular occasion unmerited compliments should be paid to the Mover and Seconder of the humble Address. Unless the Leader of the House℄although I endorse all that Lord Carrington has said about him℄can arrange things better in future, it really becomes impossible to follow this tradition; for once again we have had two such excellent speeches that it would be hypocrisy not to praise them. We have been treated to words of balance and wisdom which are, I think, as much a credit to the speakers as they have been a pleasure to your Lordships in this Chamber.

In neither case are we surprised. The noble Lord, Lord Cohen of Brighton, has, as we know, many abilities and many interests. We have, unfortunately, not up to now heard him very often. That could be rectified and I hope will be rectified. But we do know and value his reputation as one of true regard for the wellbeing of those whose security of home and of domestic confidence needs to be assisted and established. He has come to your Lordships' House, I might say, a champion of the building society, a good development which we all admire. Hitherto I assume that his emphasis has been on "building", in which certain societies may take part. It is now clear from his speech that his ideal, as a Member of this House, is "society", in which building is a vital element; and I congratulate him, if I may, upon his appreciation of the double sense of this phrase "building society". We liked his speech; we like his idealism and we want to hear him often in the future.

The noble and reverend Lord, Lord Soper, another recent and very welcome Member of your Lordships' House, is, if I may say so, in several ways unique. I need not remind your Lordships that to be unique, at least as a work of art, which the noble Lord is, is to command a very high market estimation, and the noble Lord does not belie this scarcity value. It is an innovation which I personally welcome wholeheartedly that a leader of the Nonconformist community, with its great following, its great traditions and its great influence in the country to-day, in this era of œcumenical open-mindedness has become a Member of the Upper House of Parliament. None of us who have heard the noble Lord speak in this Chamber can fail to have been greatly impressed by his most unusual command of clarity of argument and felicity of phrase; and to-day he has again revealed to us our good fortune in having him amongst us. Finally, I should like to congratulate the Leader of the House upon his impeccable choice of the two noble Lords who have again so well upheld the tradition of the occasion.

4.47 p.m.


My Lords, I join most heartily in the graceful, and indeed delightful, tributes paid to the Mover and Seconder of the Address by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and the noble Lord, Lord Rea. In view of some recent discussions, I suppose that I ought to declare a kind of interest in paying tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Cohen of Brighton. Until I became a Minister I was a director of the Alliance Building Society, which he has raised to such great eminence; and in these uncertain days one never knows when one might be applying for the same position. Therefore, in view of what was said on an earlier occasion, I had better clear myself at once. But, whether one is interested in that sense or not, I am sure that we have all been deeply interested in what we heard from the noble Lords. We expected speeches of very high qualities, and they were duly forthcoming.

Both, in a sense, delivered the same message which runs through the gracious Speech. We are all aware that in this country, in one way, everything depends on efficiency; and, quite naturally, at the Election all Parties argued that they would manage the economy better than their rivals. But in another, deeper, sense all these concepts are subordinate to moral purpose, and particularly to the ever-wakeful compassion which was stressed so much by the two speakers this afternoon. I know that I speak for the Prime Minister if I place his own emphasis in just this way; and in doing that I hasten to say that I do not claim that moral purpose is a monopoly of any one Party in the State.

Leaving aside the political talents of the speakers, which have been much in evidence to-day, I would mention one or two moral qualities that are rightly associated with both of them. First, they are most generous givers. The noble Lord, Lord Soper, reminded us that Wesley called on us to get and to save and to give. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Cohen of Brighton, has followed all these rules, and Lord Soper has followed at least one of them. At any rate, they are extremely generous givers, both of their resources and of their personal energies. For many years it has been well known that one has only to ask either of them to help, and to the fullest extent of their powers that help has been forthcoming. The noble Lord, Lord Cohen of Brighton, may have acquired more of this world's goods, and he has poured them out very nobly. The noble Lord, Lord Soper, is endowed, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said, with this exceptional organ. I do not know why Lord Carrington should have thought that Lord Soper would have a harsh voice. I could follow his argument; but, as he rightly said, no one has a sweeter tone. I am bound to say, having read Wesley's diaries, that I had never believed till now that anyone could command an audience of 20,000 people with the naked voice℄until I heard Lord Soper, who I am sure could achieve that feat. I never believed it was possible before the days of the microphone.

I would mention one other point I respect very greatly in both noble Lords, as I am sure we all do. We admire them for their maturity, a quality on which this House rightly prides itself. We are hearing a lot just now about the merits of youth and the need for younger men in high positions, for more go and drive—and grit, I think we were told, was expected of us; though Heaven help me if I am expected to exhibit that! But it is about time that the so-called "oldies" began to speak up for themselves and hit back. If they cannot do it in the House of Lords, I do not know where they will be allowed to say their piece.

Your Lordships may or may not be familiar with a popular record called "Life begins as 38." I am glad to think that the Cabinet has itself welcomed to its counsels an extremely promising young Minister of precisely that age. But, speaking as one whose name is never mentioned in public without the number 60 attached to it (other noble Lords may have a higher or a lower number, but 60 happens to be mine), I submit to the House that it is just as true to say that life begins at 60. The fact that the average age of noble Lords who attend this House is just about 60, as I have verified, suggests that this observation is better made here than in some other places. I do not forget that Lord Palmerston did not become Prime Minister until he was 70. Lord Beaconsfield was the same age before he was Prime Minister for more than a few months, and Sir Winston Churchill was in his middle 60s before he was called to the helm to save the nation. Lord Attlee and Mr. Harold Macmillan were just over 60℄they were 62℄before they reached the highest place. So there is plenty of room for encouragement.

I take this opportunity of referring to one or two changes that have occurred on these Front Benches since we last met. We welcome the newcomers, and echo the friendly words of the noble Lords, Lord Carrington and Lord Rea; and we join wholeheartedly in the tributes that were paid to the noble Lords, Lord Lindgren, Lord Mitchison and Lord Snow. I am sure that the House feels that there could not have been three more courteous Ministers℄as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, said, three Ministers who set themselves out more thoroughly to assist the House; and I hope that they will address the House at least as frequently as before, and perhaps on still more varied topics.

I hope that I am not being controversial if I express some doubts about the new doctrine which the newspapers are attributing to the Conservative Party. We are told that, so far as possible, no one is to be allocated a post in the Shadow Cabinet who will be over 60 when the Conservatives come back to power. With this in mind my old school friend and exact contemporary, Lord Dilhorne, has vacated a seat in which he not only served his Party but served the whole House extremely well over a considerable period. Of course, the question that inevitably poses itself is when the Conservatives will come back; and this perhaps is a relevant issue in making this decision. The noble Lord, Lord Carrington (to whom I am extremely grateful for his all-too-kind remarks about myself), at 46, and the noble Lord, Lord Harlech, whom I congratulate and welcome on his appointment as deputy Leader, are provided with a fairly wide margin. They should be all right℄reasonably safe so long as the Conservatives are back by the end of the 'seventies. In any case, whatever the swing of the political pendulum, I hope that they will continue between them to lead the Opposition indefinitely, even when their years rival those of the late Lord Samuel and the late Lord PethickLawrence, who never spoke better than when they were close on 90. So I see a very good future for both noble Lords.

But I must assure the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, with deep seriousness, that I would be the first to testify to the cooperative spirit that this House has always shown, and particularly, of course, the Opposition Parties; and I hope for nothing better than the continuance of this same spirit in the time ahead under his leadership on the Conservative side, and under the leadership of the noble Lord, Lord Rea, among the Liberals.

While we are thinking about old age, or relative old age, it is perhaps as well to turn back to Cicero, who wrote the most famous essay of all time, De Senectuie, on that subject. He told us there The crowning glory of old age is influence." "Apex est autem senectutis auctoritas." He went on, indeed: Surely old age when crowned with public honours enjoys art influence which is of more account than all the sensual pleasures of youth. That is the comparison I suppose he would draw now between this place and the House of Commons. At any rate, that is no doubt how we should wish to see ourselves in the House of Lords.

Many years ago, Lord Beveridge, whom we miss so deeply, wrote a book called Power and Influence. He drew a sharp distinction between power which you could, so to speak, insist upon exercising, and the influence which you might use more subtly. None of us, or perhaps but few of us in this House. will claim that much power resides, or should reside, in the House of Lords, in the sense of a right to insist on having our way. But we cling to the idea, and I believe we cling rightly to the idea, that we can exert an influence of great value to the nation, if only because of our varied knowledge and experience and general qualities. May it indeed prove so in the years ahead, whether the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, or the noble Lord, Lord Rea, or I, or some other member of my own Party, leads the House. Certainly so long as I am Leader, I shall seek to make this ideal a reality.

We must admit, as the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. implied, that the popular Press appears to be unaware of our importance. I am afraid that, whatever particular journalists may attempt to achieve, we have very little to thank them for. I should like to feel that there was some way of rectifying it, though it is not easy. Speaking now entirely for myself (I may get into trouble for saying this), I am convinced that we in the House of Lords in modern conditions shall not make an impact on the nation appropriate to our talents until this House is well and truly televised; and not just on ceremonial and public occasions, but as a matter of course. I hope that I have not shocked the noble Marquess or others whose record here is so much more distinguished than mine, but I believe that this is the only way in which the masses, the general public, will broadly take an interest in what we are doing. Judging by a previous experience of mine, I am sure that one thousand of our fellow citizens will know me to-morrow as the gentleman who carries the Cap of Maintenance for every one who knows that I have made any contribution in the last year to the debates in your Lordships' House.

In the meantime, whether anyone knows of what we are doing or does not, we have much important business to transact. I entirely accept the way that was formulated by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. We can only ask for complete freedom of expression, and seek to provide it. I feel sure that in the months and years ahead we shall all here work together, as we have been working during the last eighteen months, to make this place a centre of fruitful influence from which this country will benefit greatly. In this I know that we are all entirely at one.

On Question, Motion agreed to: debate adjourned accordingly.