§ The Queen's Speech reported by The LORD CHANCELLOR.
§ 3.46 p.m.
Earl De La Warr
My Lords, I beg to move, That a humble Address be presented to Her Majesty in the following terms: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, the whole House would I know want me to offer the warmest wishes for Her Majesty's forth-coming visit to Belgium, so long our ally and now the host to two organisations which are of the greatest importance to the whole of Western Europe—the headquarters of the European Community and the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. I shall have more to say about the Community, but I shall be leaving it to my noble friend to deal with NATO and other matters of defence, and, as you see him here, it must be clear to your Lordships that he is the right man to do the job. He is a real soldier, a regular soldier of 13 years' standing—for sure, he is the right man to talk to your Lordships today.
We offer, too, our best wishes for Her Majesty's visit to Norway and later on to Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka; and we are glad to know that during that time she will be present at the next Commonwealth Conference, to be held in Melbourne.
We congratulate Her Majesty on the visit of His Majesty the King of Nepal. I should like to take this opportunity—and I hope that your Lordships will join me—in paying a very sincere tribute to the Gurkha Regiment, who deservedly occupy such a special place in the hearts of the British people.
Earl De La Warr
My Lords, no Motion on the humble Address would be complete without a special tribute to Her Majesty for Her Majesty's dedication and untiring work. Her Majesty, not only through her high office but by her own example, is a source of inspiration to Her Majesty's subjects and, indeed, to the whole world. She is our finest ambassador.
My Lords, I know that you would also want to offer your warmest wishes to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales for the success of the arduous visit that he is about to make to India. This surely is the right time to pay a tribute to his Royal Highness's knowledge and understanding of the armed forces, the workings of Government, industry, and finance, as a direct result of his dedicated application.
I should like to say one personal thing, and that is to thank my noble friend the Lord President of the Council for the great honour that he has done me today. I must tell your Lordships that my noble friend and I are not just friends in the political sense. We have been friends, to be precise, for exactly 48 years. I must tell you that my noble friend is somewhat older than I am. Indeed, for four days every year he is two years older than I am; for the rest of the time I am afraid it is only one. Perhaps when, in 11 months' time, I too reach the ripe old age of 60 the significance of this difference will not matter quite so much. Be that as it may, it is a source of real pleasure to me, now that our paths have moved somewhat closer together, that when I sit in your Lordships' House he is my leader.
We shall all be glad to hear that Greece is to become a full member of the Community and, more than that, that the Government intend to play their full part in enlarging the role of the Community. We joined the Community because it seemed to offer us, in a world of giants, a partnership in a powerful comity of nations who would pull together as a social and economic force and add to the influence of each one of its members.
Some of us have been disappointed by the extent to which agriculture and its budget have dominated our relationships. Some of us have also felt uncertain about the Community's impact on some of our institutions in the name of harmonisation. The Government and, in particular, my noble friend the Foreign Secretary have done a great deal to put to rights the inequity of our agricultural contribution. I believe that this country can do a lot to help the Community widen its role so that in due course it will live up to the high hopes that we had for it when we opted to join.
The gracious Speech has underlined the Government's intention to work with other countries to try to alleviate the appalling poverty that exists in the world today. No less than 1,000 million people are hungry or literally starving. Our own problems, severe as they may be, are dwarfed by that, are they not? The population of the word today is increasing at the rate of 1 million people every five days. Hunger and deprivation can only get worse unless the affluent nations can do more. The Brandt Report was a great contribution to our thinking, but in my opinion not nearly enough attention has yet been paid to it.
My Lords, I now come to the central part of the gracious Speech, which deals with the economy. Its theme is simply this: the overriding need is the conquest 6 of inflation in order to create permanent conditions for higher output and higher employment, and that in order to do this it is necessary to stick to firm monetary and fiscal policies and to cut the cost of the public sector. I know very well that there are deep differences of opinion here in your Lordships' House, and so in my brief comments I really shall do what I can to try to find ground that is common to us all.
Your Lordships will surely agree that inflation is the greatest single evil of our time. It creates dishonesty and injustice. It inhibits savings and investment. It destroys jobs and lowers living standards and, if left uncontrolled, it turns into hyper-inflation, when it would destroy the whole fabric of our society. My Lords, we must get back to the basic truth that jobs and earnings depend upon the customer and upon how competitive we are. We must relearn, if indeed we have ever learned it, that no one owes us a living, and that there is no such thing as "something for nothing". If we want to have better living standards we have to increase our production and lower our production costs. I thought that Mr. Duffy hit the nail right on the head when he said, the week before last, about the possible strike at British Leyland, "We know how frustrated the workers feel, but to get good wages we must sell more products". It does not take an economist to state the fundamentals, does it?
There have been 30 years of rising expectations unmatched by a sufficient increase in productivity. The gap between what we earn and what we spend simply has to be closed. In the 12 months to August 1980 we paid ourselves 21.6 per cent. more in the productive industries for producing 8.1 per cent. less goods. If we go on like that we are bust, and that is all there is to it.
There are noble Lords here today who have them-selves known, or whose families have known, the harsh and bitter experience of unemployment; searching week after week and month after month for a job, and trying to hold on to self-respect and, above all, to hope. I am very glad indeed to hear in the gracious Speech of the Government's recognition of the terrible hardship that unemployment and the fear of it entails. I am pleased to hear of the Government's plans to expand employment training measures and to make further proposals for industrial training in the longer term.
I hope that we shall very soon have an announcement from my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Employment about the Government's plans. There are of course a number of schemes already in operation, of which I suppose the Youth Opportunities Scheme is by far the most important. A few weeks ago I heard two parents discussing not what their boy was going to do when he left school, but how they were going to set about getting him the dole. What a way to launch a youngster into adult life! The numbers in this Youth Opportunities Scheme in the present year are due to rise to a quarter of a million; a formidable number, but I should say far below what is really needed.
We are caught today in the middle of a world recession the depth of which no one foresaw. Government schemes like the temporary short-time working 7 compensation scheme are extremely important, but they solve nothing. Training schemes do, whether they are for first time training or for retraining in some new trade, and I feel confident that the Government are fully alive to their responsibilities, although I must remind the House that there is much that industry can and should be doing.
The gracious Speech refers to the endless problems of Ulster and the need to continue the fight against terrorism. I will only say that praise for the services, including the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the Ulster Defence Regiment, cannot be repeated often enough, and certain it is that there is no other Army in the world who could do the same sort of job; constant postings that play havoc with family life, unending searches for the hidden assassins who steadily take their toll, and every sort of job besides, from prisons to firefighting. We salute them all, each and every one.
I firmly welcome the commitment in the gracious Speech to the maintenance—and perhaps I could read into it the re-establishment—of law and order. We have always thought of ourselves as a law-abiding nation. I wonder whether that is really so today, with the violence of the football crowds, the clashes of marching factions, the hooliganism of the young, the occasional violence on the picket lines and the individual acts of thuggery with the flick knife and the boot. They present a threat to our society, do they not, the ugliness of which is not always perceived? Indeed, to me it seems that we are sometimes too ready to tolerate it. For my money, the only way to deal with violence and thuggery is by speedy, effective and if need be harsh punishment, and if that be the meaning of this commitment in the gracious Speech then every one of us must back it to the hilt.
In conclusion, I want to leave your Lordships with one thought. No country can be said to be going to the dogs when it is exporting well over £1,000 million in goods and services every week. No country that has invented, to name just a few, the steam turbine, the computer, television, penicillin, terylene, the jet engine, carbon fibre and the better half of Concorde can be said to be lacking in native genius. What we need is the discipline and capacity for work that we see today—and I have no hesitation in saying this—in West Germany, only 35 years ago a stinking, smoking ruin. We can do it because we have done it before; and if we succeed we shall once again become one of the really great powers of the world, a position we occupied for so long and that we must be determined to occupy again. I welcome the contents of the gracious Speech and I commend it to your Lordships. My Lords, I beg to move the Motion for a humble Address to Her Majesty.
§ Moved, That a 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."—(Earl de la Warr.)8
§ 4.7 p.m.
§ Lord Glenarthur
My Lords, I beg to second my noble friend's Motion for a humble Address in reply to Her Majesty's gracious Speech. In doing so, I am deeply conscious of the immense honour it is to be asked to carry out this task. I must at the outset, therefore, say how grateful I am to my noble friends the Lord President of the Council and the Chief Whip for giving me the opportunity to address your Lordships and to thank Her Majesty in this special way. I hope I shall be able to justify the trust which has been placed in me.
I appear among your Lordships this afternoon wearing the full dress uniform of my regiment for the first time. I am not clear how the custom of wearing ceremonial uniform on this occasion arose, but the problem of finding one which fits and of learning the correct way to attach its various accoutrements has to some extent been a counter worry to that of what to say to your Lordships this afternoon, and so has provided a balance between the practical problems of life and the philosophical ones. It also enables me to embark on that part of the gracious Speech which dealt with defence and foreign affairs with a little more confidence through my connections with the military.
The last 14 months have seen some alarming alterations to the political balance of the world, and for that reason alone I am sure that noble Lords in all parts of the House will welcome the Government's continued commitment to the North Atlantic Alliance as the prime basis for our national security as expressed in the gracious Speech. While we are right to seek to stabilise the fundamental differences between East and West and improve relations between our cultures, it is not always possible to reconcile the two. A basic part of our upbringing is understanding the difference between right and wrong, good and evil. We need only glance at the Berlin Wall and the East-West German frontier, as I did again this year, to see the wire and minefields all facing East and designed to prevent those citizens behind them from getting out, and indeed to talk to those who have been allowed to leave temporarily provided they left a wife or child behind as a hostage, to know which system is right and which is wrong. Therefore we will all welcome the efforts made at Madrid on European security, particularly in regard to the human rights issue.
As we strive towards improved stability between East and West, those who lead us will require that tactful but firm statesmanship which we all appreciate and have come to expect from my noble friend Lord Carrington, who has shown so much skill and patience while the present Government have been in office.
However, despite the virtue of seeking effective multinational measures for arms control, I am sure that he would agree that it is a much sounder principle to debate these issues from a position of strength rather than from one of weakness. No one likes to see huge sums of money spent on defence at a time when we can ill afford it. But even less can we afford to lose our freedom. So we must ensure that the intensely loyal regular and reserve armed forces of the Crown, while they acknowledge the need for economy, are afforded the essentials to enable them adequately and effectively to carry out their tasks and to develop.
9 The free world shuddered at the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan; and it is right, with the history of our connections with that country, that we should do all we can to secure a Soviet withdrawal and to promote a settlement in that country, suitable for all the Afghan people.
Similarly, much alarm has been raised by the continued conflict between Iran and Iraq. We should be concerned because the economic and strategic significance of that part of the Middle East is considerable. I am sure that over one aspect in particular noble Lords will wish me to say that there is considerable admiration in this country for the restraint, patience and tolerance shown by the American people in their dilemma over the hostages in Iran. I am sure they will welcome, as we all do, Her Majesty's Government's support in striving for their safe release. Similarly it is right that we should be concerned about the continuing detention of four British people in Iran, and should hope earnestly that they can be speedily released, and this impediment in our relations with Iran removed.
My Lords, I now turn to matters nearer home. While the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, and I were anxiously discussing our approach to the problem set us by the noble Lord the Captain of the Gentlemen-at-Arms, we both savoured the opportunity to talk about transport. As one who is regularly accused of being "a bus driver", admittedly of the aerial type, I was delighted to find that my noble friend, through his long connection with the industry, is indeed a fully qualified bus driver of the type immortalised by Flanders and Swann as,that big six-wheeler, diesel-engined, scarlet-painted monarch of the road".And seeing him as he is today, I must say how smart he must look in that uniform.
Being involved in transport, I welcome the intention to replace public sector investment in that industry with the private kind. There are those who will rightly argue that some form of subsidisation is necessary to maintain socially desirable but financially unrewarding routes by air, bus, rail and sea. However, my Lords, in my limited experience it is true to say that service industries particularly benefit from competition; and coupled with that, it is much easier to get the man management, motivation, and enthusiasm right in smaller organisations.
While appreciating the basic differences in philosophy which politics in this country is all about, I am sure that we will all welcome the opportunity to discuss further the involvement of the state in nationalised industries and the financing of the National Enterprise Board. Even if views are diametrically opposed in principle, good and understanding often ensues from debate.
This afternoon I must strive to be uncontroversial about contentious matters. But I do not always manage to contain myself. Indeed, a couple of years ago I enjoyed a somewhat protracted day's flying with a new co-pilot, whom I shall call Smith. When the opportunity presented itself we had some stimulating, and even heated, discussions on political matters—and there was not much common ground between us. Not until I got back in the evening and commented to someone that I was exhausted not only by the flying 10 but also by the intensity of our discussions, did I discover that another pilot, noticing that Smith and I were flying together, had commented thatthat must be an interesting combination—Smith is left of Lenin, and Glenarthur right of Attila the Hun!I hope that the views expressed about each of us were exaggerated. Nevertheless, on this occasion I shall continue to restrain myself.
We have often heard in your Lordships' House that this country enjoys one of the most efficient postal services in the world. Well, that does prompt me to wonder about the rest of the world. But there is of course room for improvement in everything. I know we shall all look forward both to discussing the ways in which our postal services can be improved through reorganisation and to the increased efficiency which should come from the stimulus of greater competition in the telecommunications services.
Industrial growth and individual prosperity require considerable energy resources. Differing views are regularly expressed on the most efficient approach to the energy problem. We know that in the conventional area we are dealing with sources of energy with finite limits. Encouragement and finance have however been provided to explore the infinite opportunities of wave, wind, and solar power and of geothermal energy. I think that we all wish to sec concentration on those areas, which are surely those which will concern my children before they are very old, while we continue to develop the oil industry and those enterprises responsible for it.
Living as I do in Scotland, it is right that I should comment on the two Bills referred to in the gracious Speech which deal with Scotland. I would be the first to acknowledge the many aspects of its history and national life which differ from those of the rest of the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, on the purely practical side measures introduced on education and local government in England must apply broadly to Scotland, but national distinctions should be retained. Those of us in Scotland will look forward to the Government's commitment to the extension of parents' right to choose a school for their children and to an income-related Scottish assisted places scheme. Additionally, the local authorities must understand and support the provisions in local government relating to expenditure.
Scotland undeniably enjoys some of the most attractive scenery within the British Isles, and there are many in your Lordships' House with considerable knowledge of, and interest in, our natural heritage. We all have a duty to preserve it where at all possible, but we also have a duty to sustain the economic aspects of our environment through agriculture. These two are not always mutually advantageous, and I am sure that we shall have interesting and lively debates upon the wildlife and countryside Bill which we now learn is to be introduced in this Session. The last Session of Parliament was an intense and protracted one. However, I believe that there is scope for evening up the burden of the legislative process and I hope that ways may be found of doing so by introducing suitable Bills, such as the wildlife and countryside Bill, in your Lordships' House first.
11 I should like, if I may, on your Lordships' behalf, to thank most sincerely Her Majesty the Queen, not only for the gracious Speech which she read here in person this morning, but also for the immense contribution to our national life and that of the Commonwealth which is made by her and her family; and to assure Her Majesty of the very deep affection, loyalty and gratitude of us all.
Lastly, may I say again that I am deeply honoured to have been asked to speak this afternoon, and I am grateful for your Lordships' attention.
My Lords, I beg to second my noble friend's Motion for a humble Address.
§ 4.20 p.m.
§ Lord Peart
My Lords, I am privileged to praise two speeches which, I think, have caught the mood of the House; and may I say how delighted I was to see the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, making his maiden speech. His father must have been very proud of him. I mean that, even though his father was a socialist—and, indeed, a socialist Minister who was connected with agriculture; and I listened to the noble Earl's comments on that important industry. He made an excellent speech, and I am glad he laid stress—this is his progressivism coming out—on the Brandt Report. I think the Brandt Report is one of the most significant documents of our time, and I am glad that men like Ted Heath, Willy Brandt and many others of that type who are not burdened by office will be able to devote their minds and attention to something which is so important for the world. I can assure the noble Earl that, behind me, my noble friends, to a man and woman, support the proposals that Willy Brandt put forward. After all, there are many fine international organisations, like FAO, UNESCO, the World Bank and others. All these bodies, I believe, must now concentrate on this major problem of how to solve poverty in the world, because out of poverty you can never have peace.
So, my Lords, I welcome the tone of the noble Earl's speech. I think it was a speech well addressed to the House; a good speech; and he had taken a considerable time, obviously, working it out. He has had a long history as a businessman, but I like to think of him as a soldier. He had a very fine Army record. He was at Arnhem, he was at el Alamein, and, no doubt, if he had wished to stay in the Army, he would probably have now been of higher rank than his noble friend next to him. So I say, a fine speech, and well done! This is really a martial occasion today, because I think the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, made an impeccable speech, if I may use that word. It was a speech of sincerity, of idealism. I hope that, speaking in a defence debate, I shall be able to go into detail on many of the matters that he mentioned. I think we must think of peace. It is all very well talking about the invasion of Afghanistan, and so on. I want us to ensure that the SALT talks are continued, and I believe that the American Government must see to this, with the support of Europe and Britain. I believe it is important to get the SALT talks going again in order to remove suspicion, which bedevils international relations; and I was so glad that the noble Lord dealt with this.
12 He himself has a distinguished record as a soldier, and also as a helicopter pilot. He is a man of many parts. He had a distinguished military career, and he is now working in the aircraft industry. I wish him well. I believe that he has all the qualities to enable him, one day, to have promotion. I hope that does not embarrass him in front of his own noble friends; there are a lot of jealousies in politics. But make no mistake: I believe the noble Lord has the necessary qualities, and his speech showed it. So it is, to me, a great pleasure to congratulate the seconder and mover of the humble Address.
My Lords, I now beg to move that this debate be adjourned till Tuesday next.
Moved, That this debate be now adjourned until Tuesday next.—(Lord Peart.)
§ Lord Byers
My Lords, I rise to support this Motion, and to extend my compliments to the two noble Lords, the mover and the seconder of the humble Address, on the way they have discharged the duties for which they were deservedly selected by the noble Lord the Leader of the House. I remember well the father of the noble Earl, Lord de la Warr—"Buck" de la Warr. Many of us on these Benches had much respect and affection for him, even though he was a member of practically every one of the great parties of his day except our own. He certainly got around. I congratulate the noble Earl also as a fellow Deputy Lieutenant of a neighbouring county.
The two noble Lords have much in common with one another, quite apart from transport. They both joined this House, I believe, in the same year; they have similar educational backgrounds; they have similar military backgrounds; and, above all, they obviously have plenty of courage—a commodity which I suspect will be much in demand in the Tory Party and in the Cabinet as the economic policies of the Government, reiterated in the gracious Speech, evolve and continue to erode the industrial and commercial basis of the nation. But I am not going to develop that; this is not a suitable occasion. I hope to have an opportunity to do so on Thursday next.
This is, however, an appropriate occasion, I think, at the beginning of a new Session, to refer to something which the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, mentioned at the end of his speech. I should like to make a plea to the Leader of the House and the Leader of the official Opposition that in the coming months we should ensure that we have a much better balance of work between the two Houses. This is a matter, I believe, for all parties to the usual channels in both Houses, who must ensure that we work efficiently and effectively together during the coming Session. Last Session was totally unbalanced, to some extent—almost largely—as a result of the outcry of the Opposition in another place against our taking the Local Government Bill in this House as our primary measure of the Session. That resulted in the spillover, as a result of which we had to sit for something like an extra four weeks. This is not good business; it is not good organisation; it is not good administration; and I believe it is essential that the two Houses begin to work much more closely in harmony with one another. I think the time has come for us to discuss together how we can achieve this better balance of work and 13 this better working together so that we avoid some of the irritations which this House has suffered in the last few days and in the last Session.
My Lords, with great congratulations and compliments to the mover and the seconder of the humble Address, I beg to support the Motion that the debate be adjourned.
§ 4.27 p.m.
§ The Lord President of the Council (Lord Soames)
My Lords, it is my very pleasant duty to respond to the Motion proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Peart, and supported by the noble Lord, Lord Byers. Nearly 18 months have passed since, in this House, we last enjoyed the great ceremony of the State Opening of Parliament. During that period—not, I must confess, a period of constant tranquillity, exactly, for your Lordships' House—I have been privileged to learn, through the white heat of events, some of the very special duties and responsibilities which the Leader of this Chamber must carry.
It was not, I believe, the easiest of Sessions—we have only to look above us to recall just one of the unexpected dramas which descended upon us—but, if I may say so, I have much enjoyed my first Session as Leader, and for this I owe a great deal to the friend-ship, courtesy and understanding of the House as a whole, and by no means least of the two noble Lords who have just spoken from the two Front Benches opposite. I thank them for their kind remarks today about my two noble friends who proposed and seconded the humble Address. I think it was a very well chosen word which was used by the noble Lord, Lord Peart, when he referred to the speech of my noble friend Lord Glenarthur as being impeccable. I think they were both excellent speeches, with such a good balance of wit and substance, and running through both of them the strong strand of sincerity.
I should like to congratulate, first, my noble friend Lord de la Warr. As he reminded me, we have known each other, he says, for 48 years—and he should know! Indeed, I lived at the bottom of his drive, as it were; and he jolly nearly got me sacked from school by making me play cards with him, too! He made an able and a wide-ranging speech. He has had a full and varied career. Indeed, he epitomises what I have always thought of as the active Peer. Many have referred to his father, "Buck" De la Warr. I should like to do so also; he was a very kind friend to me. The noble Lord referred to him as a member of the Labour Party; but, as the noble Lord, Lord Byers, has said, he saw the light as time went on. But he had always taken a deep interest in politics and my noble friend followed him in that. After service in the Royal Sussex Regiment and in the Parachute Regiment he stood as parliamentary candidate at the general election of 1945, although not, I fear, with the success that he and his friends would have wished to see. Since then he has enjoyed a distinguished career as an industrialist and in recent years has enjoyed the responsibilities of a country landowner. Indeed, I am told that he feels very much at home—I do not know about whether as a bus driver—as a "dab" hand at driving a tractor. He has also done a great deal for the Territorial Army and for the Army 14 Cadet Force; so that his interests are wide; and since he took his seat in 1976 the noble Earl has made a valuable contribution in many fields to your Lordships' counsels.
The noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, also took his seat at about the same time and, after distinguished service with the 10th Hussars, he has come to combine regular attendance in your Lordships' House and participation in its life and debates with a career as a senior and very experienced helicopter pilot. It proves that in this House a remarkable combination such as this is possible—and I believe the country is the richer for it. I am certain that we should all want to pay tribute to those who practise this highly skilled and challenging profession, especially, as he does, in the rigorous conditions of the North Sea. It is only through their dedication that many of the recent developments in the North Sea oilfields have proved possible. I must say that I hope that he goes on flying, for that is very important; but I also hope, and I know your Lordships will share this hope with me, that he will give us the pleasure of hearing from him often in this House.
Your Lordships will not be surprised to hear that I do not propose today to be led astray by the noble Lord, Lord Byers, or to dwell too long on the rigours of the last Session, which ended in so unusual a manner only last week. I would only add that within the definite constraints of a tight timetable, your Lordships' House accomplished a remarkable task over the last few months. I hope that the slightly longer than usual break between the two Sessions will have afforded some respite from attendance at this House; but to those who threaten us with extinction I would say, "Look carefully at the work of this House over the last six months!" I have not the slightest doubt that this work and the way in which it was conducted by all quarters of the House will have been widely recognised and appreciated by those outside who follow public and parliamentary affairs.
Of course there is a need for less legislation, and of course there is a need for a better distribution of Bills between the two Houses. I can only assure the House that nobody is better aware of this than I am. I am sure that it will not have passed unnoticed by your Lordships that the gracious Speech paves the way for a somewhat lighter Session; although who can tell what unseen horrors may await us round any corner? But I would say, although f appreciate that some Members of your Lordships' House will want to see it before they believe it, that a fair amount of suitable legislation will be introduced here as soon as possible; and I like to think that we are well on the way to what the noble Lord, Lord Byers, would think is a balanced legislative programme between this House and the other place.
I know the House would not expect or wish me to make detailed comments on the timetable for the legislative programme, but your Lordships will have seen references in the gracious Speech to the reform of the law of contempt of court and to the conservation of wildlife and the countryside, which was mentioned specifically by my noble friend Lord Glenarthur. Bills on these subjects will be introduced in this House very shortly. Others will soon follow and the Government 15 hope to complete the Second Readings of a number of Bills before the Christmas Recess. It will, however, be a very much shorter Session if only because we are beginning it with only a month or so to go before Christmas. If we are to achieve this better balance in legislation throughout this Session, then I must advise noble Lords that we may well be considerably busier in the coming weeks than has been the case in the earlier part of more recent Sessions, when that balance has not been there. A better balance means, I think, a steady flow of work through this House throughout the Session. I hope that the House will regard this as good news, particularly if we can thereby avoid that undesirable and wearisome congestion of legislation in the summer and autumn.
Apart from the Government's legislative programme, the work of the House will continue in other spheres. The European Communities Committee will continue under the able chairmanship of the noble Baroness, Lady White, and we look forward from time to time to debating their reports, which have invariably been of a very high standard. The House will shortly debate two reports of the committees on the European Social Fund and on the Conventions on Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The work of the Select Committee on Science and Technology will also continue. This committee, which was set up earlier this year under the chairmanship of the noble Lord, Lord Todd, has made an impressive start and I know that the House would like to take this opportunity of congratulating all those involved in the committee's work. The Select Committee on Unemployment, under the chairmanship of the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, will submit its substantive report to the House in the course of this Session. This will be a particularly important report which will merit careful consideration on the Floor of the House.
My Lords, before finishing, I know that your Lord-ships would like me to take this opportunity to pay a special tribute to the noble Viscount, Lord Hood, who sits on the Cross-Benches. He has said that he will not be available to continue as chairman of the sub-committee of the Offices Committee on Works of Art. The noble Viscount has fulfilled this task since the sub-committee was first appointed in July 1971. That was at a time when there was a good deal of new building at this end of the Palace. It was very largely due to the work of the noble Viscount that the new building, and particularly the decoration of the Dining Room extension and the Peers' Writing Room, was so successfully blended with Pugin's original concept—and I hope that the ceilings hold up! 16 I am sure that the whole House will wish to join me in thanking the noble Viscount for his service to the House in this capacity over so many years.
My Lords, we can look forward next week to a full and, I expect, a lively debate on the gracious Speech and thereafter, hopefully, to a steady flow of legislation for your Lordships to consider. I am confident that with the pressure at least somewhat relaxed and with a splendid start in the speeches of my two noble friends, the House will now get down to business in the new Session with its customary moderation and good sense.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly until Tuesday, 25th November next.