§ The Queen's Speech reported by The LORD CHANCELLOR.
§ 3.44 p.m.
§ BARONESS MACLEOD OF BORVE
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, I rise with much trepidation to move the humble Address to Her Majesty. I have received many kind wishes from a great many people, but most of them have been accompanied by warnings of the terrible perils and pitfalls into which it is only too easy to fall. Many are called to this House, but to-day only two are chosen, and I am deeply grateful to the noble Earl the Leader of the House for giving me the opportunity of speaking to-day.
My Lords, we have heard in the gracious Speech that Her Majesty, accompanied by Prince Philip, is to visit Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Maldives and the Seychelles. I am sure your Lordships will wish me to express our hope that Her Majesty and His Royal Highness enjoy what will undoubtedly be a long and ardous visit to what is still called the "Far East". Many people from these Islands are living there, and they, and the members of our Armed Forces 6 who are stationed in these parts, will, I am sure, give them a tremendous welcome. I am sure that I am speaking to-day for all sides of the House—and indeed for millions of people who are Her Majesty's subjects—when I say, at this juncture in our history, humbly but in all sincerity, how deeply grateful we are to Her Majesty and to all the members of the Royal Family for all they do as leaders of our nation. Our Monarchy is the envy of most of the countries of Europe and, I believe, of most of the world as well.
My Lords, it is a very great honour and privilege to be the first to speak in the new Session of Parliament at such a momentous time in our history. No one who was in the Palace of Westminster last Thursday night could have failed to be moved and excited by the results of the great debate. The gracious Speech says that the Government,hope … shortly to sign an Instrument of Accession to the European Communities …I think it would be safe to say that the decision will prove to be the most momentous and historic that we have taken in this country this century. By joining the Community in Europe we shall have the opportunity to broaden our horizons and expand in many and varied fields; we have so much to give and so much to gain. We shall no longer be an outsider longing to be part of the great decisions; we shall be one of the leaders of Europe making those decisions. Most of us in this Chamber to-day will not live to see the fruits of the rewards of entry into Europe; but if the people of our country, and those who govern it, thought only of the present and did not plan for the future, then, in my view, future generations would look back in the history books and find us lacking in courage and wisdom. The British people have always responded with courage in times of crisis, and have always responded to a challenge. I firmly believe that they will do so again.
My Lords, I am sure that all Members of this House who have had the opportunity, as I have had, to travel to any of the developing countries will be grateful for the inclusion in the gracious Speech of the announcement of the Government's intention to increase aid to these countries. We know how vital it is to their peoples that we should help them along 7 the road. The amounts of aid given in 1970 by the other E.E.C. countries, expressed as a percentage of their gross national products, were as follows: Belgium, 1.17 per cent.; France, 1.24 per cent.; Germany, 0.76 per cent.; Italy, 0.78 per cent.; the Netherlands, 1.41 per cent.; and the United Kingdom, 1.02 per cent. These are the latest, the 1970, figures. So your Lordships will see that our contribution in 1970 was below the average, which was 1.07 per cent. of the gross national product. But I am not one of those who cry out at the brain-drain, so-called. I have always felt that, with all our wealth of experience and knowledge in technology, medicine, science, agriculture and education, we have a duty to impart some of that knowledge to those who can make use of it. Many of our young people go each year as members of various organisations—principally through Voluntary Services Overseas—to these countries, to give of their practical help. I myself hope that the increased aid may take the form of helping more of them to offer the assistance which is badly needed in many of these countries.
The passage in the gracious Speech which dealt with education will, I am sure, be widely welcomed by all those who have the teaching of our children and the standards of their education at heart. Many Members of this House, from both sides, will have recently visited a well-known seaside resort. I visited it the week after your Lordships had all been there, and I drove along to the scene of your deliberations. But I had the privilege of being asked to give away the prizes and to speak at the large girls' school there. This is one of the 176 direct-grant schools in the country which, following the Queen's Speech, will receive more financial aid. Many of the pupils in this school stayed on after the age of 15, and their scholastic attainments were a credit to the school. The raising of the school-leaving age to 16 will cost the country a great deal of money, but it is money which I feel sure will pay dividends in the future, both to the pupils and to the community. I most warmly welcome all that my right honourable friend the Minister of Education is doing, and intends to do, to replace the old primary schools. At the tender age of five it matters very much that the 8 building the child goes to from his home shall be a place in which he can be happy as well as be well taught.
My Lords, much has been done to improve the environment, but if we are not to lose a lot of our national heritage a great deal more has to be done and a great deal more interest has to be shown by the inhabitants of our country. I am delighted that it is intended to increase the powers of the local authorities to protect buildings and ancient monuments. May I put in a plea for trees as well? So many of them also are many hundreds of years old. But it is the local people who can keep a watchful eye on their surroundings and who are conscious of the need to save things of beauty which they have inherited.
We must all, I submit, be anxious about the increase in cases of violent crime. For over sixteen years I have, as a magistrate, sat in both adult and juvenile courts, so I am as concerned as everyone else about the figures recently issued. According to the provisional figures issued by the Home Office recently, crimes of violence increased in the first six months of this year by 13.4 per cent. over the same period last year—21,307 cases of violent crime, as against 18,792 last year. To-day, there are 40,000 people in our prisons, many of them prisons with bad overcrowding; yet no one, I am certain, is ever deprived of his liberty without just cause. In my view, the time must soon come when the prisoner must pay in hard cash for his crime. This will need properly organised, long hours of work instead of enforced idleness: work for which he is paid the proper rates, all of which, except for a very small sum, should be taken from him. His earnings should support his family and help to relieve the taxpayer of part of the £3 million which is now being paid by the Exchequer to compensate victims of violent crimes.
I feel also that there might come a time, though it would take a great deal of organising, when a man could be ordered by a court to prison in order to work to pay off a certain sum of money —perhaps in cases of malicious and willful damage. He would gain his release on completion of that money order. I feel, having to deal with juveniles, that 9 more could and should be done by research to prevent crime by preventing people from becoming criminals. We need more facilities in our hospitals for possible young criminals, for preventing young thugs from becoming old thugs, places where brain rhythms and other tests could be made. I can get a psychiatrist's report, which of course is always helpful, but when I feel that a child needs treatment then it is almost impossible to obtain.
At least some of our present difficulty with juvenile delinquents stems from the attitude of the parents. Some seem to have so little concern about their child's behaviour that one is frequently tempted to dismiss the child and punish the parents. Indeed, binding over the parents for their child's good behaviour sometimes brings home to them that they are not exercising the control that the law demands. My right honourable friend the Home Secretary drew attention to this in a recent speech in which he said that,one of the great causes of the growth of crime is the decline of parental authority. A generation ago any child who came into conflict with the law was liable to severe trouble at home, too. I am afraid that these days too often a brush with the law is passed off lightly by parents as something left to the authority of the State and not really their concern.He went on to say:I do not believe that in the long run the problem of the growth of crime can be solved until we have re-established in our democracy some more sense of self-discipline. personal pride and purpose, which we seem to be losing in this bewildering modern world.These, my Lords, were wise words. Something drastic must be done and it is my view, for what it is worth, that we must do more to encourage parents to assume their rightful role as parents. The present lack of communication between parents and children and children and parents which is so prevalent to-day is, I am sure, very much to blame for the delinquency among juveniles which is worrying us all. Crime must be made less easy and more unrewarding.
My Lords, in an excellent television programme about this House, Life Peers were advised that they should be seen but rarely heard. I am grateful to the House for listening to one of my rare 10 utterances. My Lords, I beg to move the Motion for an humble Address to Her Majesty.
§ 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."—(Baroness Macleod of Borve.)
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ LORD SELSDON
My Lords, I beg to second my noble friend's Motion for an humble Address in reply to her Majesty's most gracious Speech. My noble friend has spoken from her wealth of personal experience and understanding of the many social and other problems which confront this great country of ours. I hope she will forgive me if, with all humility, I say how happy we are that she should be the first to reply to the most gracious Speech and to comment upon many policies which the late Mr. Lain Macleod undoubtedly helped to form. I am very proud to follow her to-day.
My Lords, I am deeply conscious of the honour which my noble friend the Leader of the House has done me to-day in inviting me to second this Motion. I am deeply conscious, too, that for the first and probably the only time in my life I stand, in the uniform of a most junior naval officer, head and shoulders above the might and glory of the Brigade of Guards arrayed on the Bench before me. From this temporary and extremely delicate position I find it hard to resist the temptation to share the view of the first Lord Fisher, who felt that the future role of the British Army should be that of a projectile to be fired by the British Navy. My Lords. I spent two very happy years with the Royal Navy and I know that your Lordships will join me to-day in sending our best wishes to Prince Charles, who takes up his appointment this week with H.M.S. "Norfolk".
I believe we all recognise and welcome the increased emphasis which is being given to conventional forces, and in particular the new shipbuilding programme 11 announced recently by my noble friend Lord Carrington. This policy, in line with the whole NATO strategy, is not only desirable but essential if we are to make our optimum contribution to the peace of the world. As history over the past decade or so has shown, we need to have a highly mobile and efficient peacekeeping force to fulfil vital roles in major and minor trouble spots around the world. I, for one, believe that our forces must continue to have a world role, with particular regard to the Commonwealth. Thus I welcome the passage in the most gracious Speech which indicates that we shall continue to support the defence of Malaysia and Singapore.
My Lords, although deterrents and modern equipment must always form a vital part of our defence policy, it would perhaps not be out of place to emphasise that in peace-keeping roles it is more often than not the quality and devotion to duty of individual members of the Forces which can make the greatest contribution. At this time I think in particular of Northern Ireland and echo the many tributes which your Lordships have already paid to the tolerance, diligence and loyalty of those of our troops performing such a sad and unenviable task so near to home. If the quality of our forces depends, as it does, upon the quality of our men, then it is vital to attract and keep people of good calibre. Conditions and rates of pay in the Services are good and have become even better recently. I believe we should always bear in mind the need for continuing improvement, and I quote the remark of, surprisingly enough, a Russian admiral who said recently:Nothing is too good for young men who decide they will serve their country.We have always been a seafaring nation, although the Army may occasionally have it otherwise, and with that seafaring tradition goes a spirit of adventure and a spirit of excitement which is to be found in the blood of even the most hardened landsman of all. We were not made to sail about in a small glass bowl called Britain—Blown about by every wind of criticism.If I had the honour to be sitting among the right reverend Prelates on the Benches beside me I might have been 12 tempted to suggest that we heed the advice of St. Paul,that henceforth we be no more children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine by sleight of men and cunning craftiness.My Lords, we are, and must be, an outward-looking nation, and yet we have wallowed around in the political and economic doldrums for so long that I and others of my generation had almost lost hope. Now, for the first time in my life, at any rate, a new, fresh wind of optimism, enthusiasm and, above all, of realism is beginning to blow across the country. We are set on a course which is the right one, and I endorse wholeheartedly every single word that my noble friend Lady Macleod has said about our entry into the E.E.C. My Lords, I think it was Pitt who said:Roll up that map; it will not be wanted these ten years.He was speaking of the map of Europe; but let us unroll fully the map of Europe and of the world and continue to play a world role. We are now in a position where we have the greatest possible opportunity as a member—as, I would say, the key member—of a larger Europe to make a major contribution to world stability, to peace and, equally important, to our own prosperity.
The most gracious Speech underlines the efforts which we should make to improve relations with Eastern Europe. I believe that if one scratches the surface one will find that relations are good and ripe for improvement. Although, for political reasons, much of Eastern Europe may condemn the closer unification of the European Community, behind the scenes I am sure that our entry is welcomed. Thus it is vital for us to do all we can to encourage better working relations between East and West. I believe that the recent spy incident, far from damaging relations, has introduced just the right note of realism and established a proper and honest baseline upon which we can build. The whole of Eastern Europe is embarking somewhat creakingly upon another five-year growth plan. There are, and will be, opportunities where we can be of considerable help, particularly in the field of industrial co-operation. The technology gap between East and West is widening all the time. This places us, with our 13 superior technological skills, in a strong position to encourage greater commercial interchange. But, my Lords, East-West trade is unlikely to show any major growth as long as Eastern Europe continues to work on a bilateral basis with non-interchangeability of currencies. On the political front I think there is a feeling of optimism. Let us hope that the inner German talks will progress quickly and lead rapidly to a proper Berlin agreement, perhaps even in the next few months. From then on things could move very quickly. East Germany could be recognised and the security conference the Russians are pushing for could have a greater chance of success. Then the opportunities for even closer relationship and understanding would be considerable.
The most gracious Speech also acknowledged the growing significance of China. We were one of the first nations to recognise China, but we must bear in mind that there can be only one China, and we must be fully aware of the problems that this may cause. We have many traditional links with that country, and, with our colleagues of Western Europe, we must encourage greater political, cultural and commercial interchange. The whole South-East Asia market is expanding rapidly all the time. It creates new opportunities for British products. In future we should work closely with members of the Commonwealth who are best placed geographically to seize the opportunities there. I believe, too, that we should do all we can to encourage investment by our industries and the industries of Western Europe in that area, and in particular in Australia. As your Lordships know, Australia is well placed to serve the markets of South-East Asia and also Japan. My Lords, in world trading circles Japan is a problem, and yet perhaps not an insoluble problem. I believe we have excellent relations with Japan and I hope that we may use our influence strongly to encourage the Japanese to realise that they would derive greater long-term benefits for themselves if they adopted a slightly less near-sighted trading policy.
It is a little sad that international monetary problems should play such a significant role in the world to-day and that such problems can often render useless the efforts of industries or countries for economic growth. Thus we must 14 all welcome the passage in the gracious Speech which indicates that efforts will continue to be made to improve the international monetary system. Here I should like humbly to pay tribute to my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer who has led the way in the international field in this area which is vital for the prosperity of this country and Western Europe. There are some excitable patriots who are disturbed when they are told that sterling should no longer have a world role as a reserve currency. How wrong they are, for sterling's role has recently brought no real benefits to this country, and it has certainly been in part to blame for our poor economic performance since the last war. My Lords, I, and I believe the large majority of your Lordships' House, welcome the orderly and gradual rundown of official sterling balances and the winding up of sterling as a reserve currency. Once the strength of sterling is linked entirely to our trading performance, then we shall be no longer prone to punishment from speculation or nervousness by those in other parts of the world. My Lords, the loss of sterling's reserve role will be a major gain to this country.
This leads me to stray into another financial area and perhaps a difficult one. As Benjamin Franklin wrote:In this world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.There may be some taxes that are right and some that are wrong, but no one on either side of this House can dispute the need to simplify the tax system. Many would-be apothecaries may claim that it is best to be bled in as many places as possible rather than all in one place, but we have such a complicated system of direct and indirect taxation in this country that few can begin to understand more than minor parts of it. We shall shortly see the introduction of V.A.T. and those of us who, like myself, support our entry into the E.E.C. should welcome this introduction. But, my Lords, any new tax, particularly one which replaces long established taxes, is difficult, if not impossible, to understand in the initial stages. Thus I believe it is right to sound a note of warning about the time-wasting and which can result if different aspects of V.A.T. are not made clear at the outset.
15 In all aspects of personal and company taxation we must work towards harmonisation with Continental Europe. But in simplifying our system, perhaps we might give some consideration towards encouraging remuneration to be looked at in net form, as is the case in many European countries. Taxation will always be a burden and a worry, and the more that Government and industry can do to remove the worries and reduce awareness of the pain of taxation, the less bitterness will arise from misunderstanding. Bacon was certainly right when he wrote:Neither will it be that a people overlaid with taxes should ever become valiant and martial.It is in our people that our strength lies, but our people need leadership, encouragement and above all honesty, and this I believe we can now offer them, instead of the criticism, pessimism, self-pity and camouflage that they may have become used to. We are not, and never will be, a new nation. But we are at the crossroads of this century, at the point where our past overlaps with our future in the present. It is our past which has given us that strength of character and that intangible quality which has from time to time earned us the trust, the respect and the admiration of the world. I know we shall take these qualities with us into our European future. My Lords, I beg to second my noble friend's Motion for an humble Address.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
My Lords, I rise to move that this debate be adjourned until to-morrow. My first task is to congratulate the noble Earl the Leader of the House on his choice of the noble Baroness, Lady Macleod of Borve, and the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, who moved the humble Address in such an excellent and moving way. I thought he had quite a job on his hands if he was to do as well as he did last year, with his choice of the noble Baroness, Lady Brooke of Ystradfellte, and the noble Lord, Lord O'Neill of the Maine, but I think he has succeeded. I should like to say that all of us in this House, and certainly those on this side, have a deep personal admiration for the noble Baroness, Lady Macleod. It has not been an easy task for her to make this 16 speech, clearly redolent of memory. We know that she and her husband were an attractive and a liberal pair who worked hard together and were a team, and the courage that he showed the noble Baroness has shown to-day, as it has done in all her work. I find it difficult to applaud it, but I must admire the devoted work I know that she has done over the years for her own Party; it is something which, in an abstract sort of way, we give her honour for.
There were references in her speech to the activities and the ideals of the young in Voluntary Service Overseas. The noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, also referred to the need for adventure among the young. I am glad that they said this, because it is very true that the modern, young generation are active and adventurous. The noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, referred to Prince Charles. It was only last night, in my capacity as President of the Royal Geographical Society, that I heard Prince Charles talking to many young Service and civilian explorers, and I agree that the spirit of adventure exists. We very much enjoyed the noble Baroness's speech, and I hope that she will put aside the rather dangerous theory that Life Peers should not be heard too often—I wonder that nobody has said it to me, because I am heard too much—and will join in frequently in the future.
The noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, has been a bit of a mystery man. I tried to find out from him about himself and he would not tell me, but at least we know that he is in the Royal Navy because he has come out in his colours. It is obvious that he has given a great deal of study to the subjects about which he spoke. The very first speech I heard him make in this House impressed me, and I think some noble Lords who sit on the Front Bench opposite—unless the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, is too busy elsewhere—had better recognise a future rising star. I am certain that if we hay:: the misfortune to have a Conservative Government for very much longer he will be in it. At any rate, he again rose splendidly to the occasion, and although there are certain aspects of what both he and the noble Baroness said in regard to the Common Market which do not command universal approval in the House, nevertheless they said it in an 17 agreeable way and one which was certainly acceptable to me personally and, I am sure, to the House.
It is not customary in this House to make a very lengthy speech on this occasion. In fact, the most important part of the role of the Leader of the Opposition is to remember (which I have now done for two years running) that he must move that the debate be adjourned, remembering the unfortunate experience of the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. I made that joke two years running and I will not make it again. But I think it is also a time when we say, if we can, something kind about the Government Front Bench, even if we cannot say anything kind about the Government. Last year we said that they were all trying, and I think we shall give them all a "good, tries hard "report. They certainly have almost uniformly—and there are times when this does not always happen—been very helpful to the House and have treated us with courtesy. I must again mention those favourite Ministers of mine, the Lords in Waiting, who sit modestly below the Gangway. I had rather thought that they should all be getting a bit thinner with the cares of office. I find that I, as Leader of the Opposition, am losing more weight than they are, and we shall see whether we can rectify that in the next few months.
I should like to say one or two words about the Queen's Speech. The fact that this is a pleasant occasion should riot mask the fact that we on this side of the House are highly critical of the Government and of their policy, and indeed of much that is in the Queen's Speech. I must therefore, in fairness, give notice that on this occasion we shall be moving an Amendment, probably next Tuesday, to condemn and draw attention to the appalling figures of unemployment, and our dissatisfaction with smooth phrases about the Government's first care being to increase employment. That is something of which we have not seen very much. I am bound to express my personal distaste at the proposal for the introduction of commercial radio.
We shall have opportunities during the next three days to learn a little more about the Government's policy. There are certain passages in the Queen's Speech which commend themselves to us. We rather wonder when we are going to 18 see any of this legislation. This is a constant and continuing problem for Government leaders in this House, and I know that the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, has made strenuous efforts to try to get us a little business to work on between now and Christmas. I hope that he has succeeded. May I also say that those of us who followed his efforts in the field of procedure are very grateful. It may be that he will have something to say on this subject, because although we manage well enough here in the circumstances, there is scope for improvement in this area. It may be that the noble Earl can say something about this and, indeed, about the likely appearance of Bills in this House.
I think I have said enough at the moment. One of my ambitions in the course of this coming Session is to try to make speeches, or at least one speech on occasion, which will be shorter than that of the noble Lord, Lord Byers, who always puts me to shame by the rapidity and brevity of his speeches. I do not think I shall succeed to-day, but I should like to conclude by again congratulating the noble Baroness and the noble Lord on a splendid performance of a difficult duty.
§ Moved, That the debate be adjourned until to-morrow.—(Lord Shackleton.)
§ 4.24 p.m.
§ LORD BYERS
My Lords, I rise to second the Motion, That this debate be adjourned. In doing so, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, for his courtesy, his compliment, and his apology for his long speeches. The noble Baroness, Lady Macleod of Borve, in her excellent and moving speech referred to the invidious nature of the task of the Establishment of both the Conservative and the Labour Parties when in office to select from so many worthy candidates those who should have the honour, the distinction, and perhaps the ordeal of moving and seconding the humble Address. This is not a problem with which my Party has been concerned for some' time, but, with the fluidity of modern politics, particularly in another place, perhaps I should say that "Hope springs eternal in the human breast."
I think this year the Establishment have done very well indeed. Their selections have both acquitted themselves with excellent effect. Last year I complained in 19 your Lordships' House of the paucity—and by that I meant quantity and not quality—of noble Baronesses who had been given Ministerial responsibility by our bachelor Prime Minister. I even suggested that this was one of the things overlooked by the Selsdon man at the Selsdon conference. Little did I know that this year we were going to have the Selsdon nobleman in person. If the Government have not added to the female Ministerial ranks—and I must say that I hope they will take as a pointer the notable contribution in the Common Market debate of the noble Baroness, Lady Tweedsmuir of Belhelvie—they have at least chosen two noble Baronesses (one last year, the noble Baroness, Lady Brooke of Ystradfellte, and one this year), to grace this particular occasion, and for that we are grateful.
I thought that the noble Baroness, Lady Macleod of Borve, admirably caught the dramatic sense of the occasion of last Thursday's debate and decision, and for that I shall always be grateful to her. I think that the way she put it showed what a momentous occasion it was for all of us. I understand that she is a horsewoman of repute; I congratulate her on the way she threaded her way through this course and rode a faultless round. I believe that it is her ambition to take up riding again. The whole House will be with her, wishing her well, if she does that.
The noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, with the customary confidence of a naval officer, sailed a faultless course despite the hazards of an uncharted sea. We welcome the noble Lord here whenever he likes to come. I am wondering whether he would not be well advised now and again to spend a couple of days sorting things out in the English Channel. We are all grateful to the Navy, but we think that that problem ought to be cleared up by somebody. With my suspicious mind I see in the selection of the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, for to-day's task, the "dumb insolence "of the Government Chief Whip parading the excellence of his young hereditary Peers in order to weaken the Radicals' case for the reform of the House of Lords. It was a good try, but the fact that there is an exception does not weaken our case at all. My Lords, I beg to second the Motion.
§ 4.28 p.m.
THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (EARL JELLICOE)
My Lords, it is my first and delightful duty to echo the congratulations bestowed by the noble Lords, Lord Shackleton and Lord Byers. I sometimes wish that I could find a suitable conglomerate noun for the noble Lords, Lord Shackleton and Lord Byers, when I say those two names in order to echo the congratulations which they have bestowed, and so rightly bestowed, on my two noble friends. Since we all speak French after last Thursday's Vote, and the noble Lord. Lord Shackleton, has confessed to me that he spends a companiable demi-heurewith his French teacher almost every day, may I congratulate the two Front Bench noble Lords opposite on the way in which in describing my noble friends' speeches, they have hit on le mot Juste.
More seriously, coming to the speech of my noble friend Lady Macleod of Borve, I was reminded, in listening to her moving words, of something said by the noble Lord. Lord Shackleton, speaking from this position and in this context three years or so ago. On that occasion the noble Baroness, Lady Gaitskell, had moved the Address, and done it, as one would have expected from her and as it has been done to-day. beautifully. In winding up the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, said this:She certainly is the forceful, charming and courageous wife of a very great man, one who was himself forceful, charming, and Courageous; …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 28/10/69, col. 19.]My Lords, we welcomed my noble friend Lady Macleod in this House last year, and one reason we did so was because we all admired, whatever our niche in the political spectrum, the very great qualities of her late husband. We also welcomed her for her own qualities of courage and character. Just after lain Macleod had been appointed Minister of Health my noble friend was struck down by the twin thunderbolts of polio and meningitis. She met that physical disaster with an extraordinary courage, and in meeting it she continued to give the support she had always given to her husband. I hope she will forgive me if I cite just one instance of this really rather remarkable combination of courage and support. In his later years Iain Macleod, because of his physical disabilities, could 21 not drive a motor car. My noble friend can only drive a motor car with hand controls. But throughout, I think, at least four General Elections—in 1959, in 1964, in 1966 and, again, in 1970—Eve Macleod insisted on driving her husband to all his election meetings, and that meant a great deal of driving and a lot of courage.
But it is not only character and courage which my noble friend brings to this House; she brings also—and this came through in her speech to-day—a deep interest across a very wide range of public service. She is a J.P. and chairman of a juvenile court; she is deputy chairman of the National Association of Leagues of Hospital Friends; she is of course a member of the Finer Committee, the Government Committee looking into one-parent families—that intractable problem which society has had to face ever since the days of the first Eve. All this work is yet another example of that unsung voluntary service rendered by hundreds and thousands of our fellow countrymen to millions of our fellow countrymen—service without which I believe our society would come unstuck. My noble friend has not been with us for very long; I think this is only her third speech in your Lordships' House. But from the three speeches she has made, and from what we know of her, I think we all know that she will be an asset as well as an adornment to our House.
May I turn now to the very thoughtful and wide-ranging speech of my noble friend Lord Selsdon? I knew very well, of course, that it would be an admirable speech, since Lord Selsdon is a Wykehamist, and this naturally gives him a decisive intellectual advantage over all save a small minority of your Lordships. But there was another reason why I had no qualms in asking my noble friend to undertake the not at all easy task of seconding the Address. I think he made a series of notable contributions to our debates during the last Session. He has a wide range of business interests, and he has also shown that he is able to harness those interests in the service of your Lordships' House. But my noble friend is nothing if not versatile. He was very nearly public schools racquets champion, and now that, under the baton of my noble friend Lord Orr-Ewing, we have defeated both the Swiss and the 22 French Parliamentarians at ski-ing, I hope that my noble friend Lord Selsdon will one day be able to lead a successful attack upon the French at racquets.
Noble Lords opposite were inclined to titter at the quip he made, to the discomfiture of certain dead-beat old Guardsmen on this Front Bench here. All I would suggest to noble Lords opposite is that Lord Selsdon may prove something of a Trojan horse for them, because not only did he all but serve in a minesweeper called the "Shackleton", but he is also a great-nephew of Sir Stafford Cripps. The noble Lord's family motto is, "God will provide", and, one way and another, he was well provided for in his speech to-day. The Deity has not, I am afraid, extended his gifts to me this afternoon, and neither He nor my officials have provided me with anything more to say. That being so, I should like, in conclusion, to turn away from the lofty heights of two notable speeches just to touch on one or two very humdrum matters.
I should like, first of all, to thank both the noble Lords, Lord Shackleton and Lord Byers, for the help which they gave me in the long hot Session that we have just closed. I think most of us anticipated a long. hot Session, and the one we had was all too hot and all too long. As your new Leader, my Lords, it was very clear to me on occasions that I had dived in very much at the deep end; and there were, I must confess, moments in the course of the past year when I felt that the plunge might have denuded me of my swimming trunks. More seriously, there were moments when I felt that the texture, the fabric, of your Lordships' House was likely to be strained and tortured by the stresses of the industrial relations legislation. However, it is my belief that, as events turned out, your Lordships' House emerged unscathed from that ordeal by fire last summer; and I fully appreciate the fact that it was the restraint and good sense of the vast majority of your Lordships, irrespective of Benches, which was the reason for this. Nevertheless, I must confess to noble Lords opposite that I incline to the view that one major Industrial Relations Act is perhaps enough for one Parliament.
One of the tasks that I set myself when I succeeded the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, was to see whether, if we 23 were denied the possibility of far-reaching reform of your Lordships' House, there were not ways in which this House could work more effectively; whether there were ways, in particular, in which we could perhaps better tap the experience and expertise which exists in this rather remarkable place. That was one reason why, with the approval of our Procedure Committee, I asked a small group of Peers to examine the workings of the House and to make recommendations—and I quote the Procedure Committee's directive—for the more effective deployment in the public interest of the time and talents of its Members.That Report was published before the Summer Recess. It was the work of a group of four, as I have said. One was my noble friend Lord Aberdare, and the others were the noble Lords, Lord Shepherd and Lord Byers, and the noble Earl, Lord Perth; so I think that all parts of the House were fairly fully represented.
All I should like to say now is that I believe that that group of four have done a useful and valuable piece of work, and I am proposing that we should devote Tuesday, November 23, to debating their recommendations on procedure. I am myself proposing, to hold my fire until I have heard that debate. This is not just natural timidity, although I must confess that I am a rather timid mouse where matters of procedure are concerned. But I should like to hear the views of your Lordships before I make up my own mind on at least some of the ideas which the Magnificent Four", if I may so term them, have floated.
In this general context I have given a lot of thought to the idea that a special Select Committee, or Committees, of this House might be set up, somewhat on the lines of the special Committees in another place but not necessarily exact replicas. This was a possible change forecast in the ill-fated 1968 White Paper on Lords Reform, and I believe this is a spar which we could well rescue from the wreckage of that particular ship. A lot of the success of any Select Committee which we might choose to establish would depend very much on the choice and enthusiasm of its Members, and on our 24 ability to select one or two of the younger Members of the House.
Subject to taking soundings through the usual channels, the area which I shall be proposing for our first Select Committee is that of sport and leisure. An increasingly large number of people are rightly demanding improved facilities for the enjoyment of their free time in sport and leisure out of doors. There is, I believe, a lot that needs looking at in this area, and there is much here that will affect the health of our society in the years to come. In this field there is also a lot which Members of your Lordships' House could contribute to the common pool. In the hope that this is a proposal which will commend itself to your Lordships I am therefore shortly proposing with the agreement of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, and the noble Lord, Lord Byers, to put down a Motion to appoint a Select Committee to look at this important area of our affairs and to make recommendations.
My Lords, so back to the Queen's Speech. It is perhaps a shorter Speech than usual, but it contains a great deal of legislative meat. It foreshadows three important and time-consuming areas for legislation—membership of the European Communities, housing finance and the reform of local government in England and Wales. I will not go into the details of the proposed legislation to-day, save to say that I believe there is quite enough here to keep us fully occupied this coming Session. The Local Government Bill, for example, from what I have seen of it, is likely to look about the size of an early version of the Old Testament.The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, asked whether there was any chance of our getting legislation early in your Lordships' House. He knows the difficulties here as well as I do. I think that in fact there will be a number of Bills that will be introduced in this House. I do not claim that they are necessarily the most important Bills in the legislative programme, but some of them are not unimportant. For example, there is a Town and Country Planning Bill; there is a Sierra Leone Republic Bill; there is a Field Monuments Bill; there is a Road Traffic (Foreign Vehicles) Bill, and there will be the Agriculture Bill foreshadowed in the Queen's Speech. All these will be introduced very shortly in 25 your Lordships' House, together with the Island of Rockall Bill.
In conclusion, perhaps I may touch on the proposed arrangements for the debate on the Address. Three days have been allocated to it. The first, tomorrow—Wednesday, November 3—will be devoted to foreign affairs and defence. I assume that the debate will, or could, embrace all aspects of defence and foreign policy, although, given the fact that in the last three months 194 speakers have already spoken in your Lordships' House on the Common Market, we might perhaps give that something of a rest for the time being. My noble friend Lord Carrington will open, and my noble friend Lord Lothian will wind up. The second day—Thursday, the 4th—will be devoted to home affairs. I propose to open, and my noble friend Lord Windlesham will wind up. The third and final day—Tuesday. November 9—will cover economic and industrial affairs, and I understood from the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, that that is the day on which the Opposition are likely to put down an Amendment. My noble friend Lord Drumalbyn, rested and refreshed from his labours on the Industrial Relations Act, will be opening, and my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor will be winding up. My Lords, those are the proposed arrangements, and I hope that they will be agreeable to your Lordships.
26 That said, I should like once again to thank my noble friend Lady Macleod of Borve and my noble friend Lord Selsdon for what I think have been rightly termed two outstanding speeches this afternoon.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly until tomorrow.