HL Deb 22 June 1983 vol 443 cc7-19

Bill, pro forma, read a first time.


The Queen's Speech reported by The LORD CHANCELLOR.

3.49 p.m.

The Duke of Norfolk

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".

The Leader of the House and the Chief Whip have done me a great honour in asking me to move this humble Address. I greatly welcome the arrival of the noble Viscount in this House.

Noble Lords

Hear, Hear!

The Duke of Norfolk

My Lords, he is an old friend of mine and we were comrades in arms in the Guards Armoured Division from Normandy to the Rhine. All your Lordships appreciate the sterling value of the Commonwealth in that it embodies freedom based on the rule of law for so many people whom we have nurtured to independence. I am delighted to hear that the visit of the President of Sri Lanka has been rescheduled to the autumn and that Her Majesty is going to visit Kenya, India and Bangladesh, and, finally, that she is to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in November in Delhi.

Let me ask your Lordships to reflect for one moment on how the Commonwealth depends so much on Her Majesty who is the much loved and revered link between the Commonwealth governments. Furthermore, she is well supported by the other members of the Royal Family. I recall the astounding, spontaneous success of the visit of their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Wales to Australia two weeks ago; and they appear to be having the same success in the Dominion of Canada at this very moment.

Her Majesty's achievements are equally significant outside the Commonwealth. I recall her very successful visit to Sweden the other day. And it would be impertinent for me to remind your Lordships of this Chamber that there is the same loyalty felt towards Her Majesty in this island kingdom, which gives us such a wonderful solidity and stability in our history.

I am very pleased that the Government intend to pursue their same defence policy with full vigour. I served for 30 years in the Army, and those 30 years included the rare experience of commanding the British Mission with the Soviet forces in East Berlin and East Germany. I find from what I have seen of the Russians and from what I have seen of our defences that the position facing the Government is starkly simple.

First, we must fulfil to the uttermost our commitments to NATO, which is where the United States, on a truly cosmic scale, keeps the peace of Western Christendom. Secondly, since the Russians need vast conventional forces, not to confront us, but to hold down their satellites and, indeed, to hold down their own populace in Russia, the cost of the allies matching such forces would be totally prohibitive. So we must back our modest conventional forces with nuclear forces, and not—and this applies also to the United States and our allies—with bacteriological and chemical weapons, which is what the Russians have against us. Let there be no doubt about that.

I fear a chemical war or a bacteriological war far more than ever I fear a nuclear war. A chemical weapon in the reservoirs of London would be the end of this kingdom far more quickly than ever a nuclear one would—and that would be much cheaper. We must therefore unequivocally carry out the deployment of cruise and Pershing II missiles, to enable our American allies to seek the most desirable multilateral disarmament from a position of strength in the Geneva conference.

I do not think that we can trust the Russians any more than we could trust the Germans. So I personally cannot support unilateral disarmament, unless of course it starts in Moscow. I find it incomprehensible that Monsignor Bruce Kent should have moral hallucinations when he claims that it is evil to keep the peace with a nuclear deterrent. Furthermore, I welcome in the gracious Speech the commitment to modernise our existing independent nuclear deterrent with the Trident programme, because only with the possession of such a clout in our armoury can we have an authoritative voice in negotiations with other nations, and so discharge our duties as a leading member both of the Commonwealth and of NATO.

A year ago, I found myself to be solidly in support of the decision to rescue the Falkland Islands from their invasion by a foreign power. At the same time, I found a great need to check my jingoistic heart, which I felt began having some very wrong thoughts. Now I am delighted to hear that the Government intend to keep sufficient forces available to protect the Falklands. But I personally hope that if the present Argentinian junta is ousted the Government will seek some form of co-operation with the Argentinian government, at least in trade. But of course it must be acceptable to the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands.

Similarly, I am pleased that the Government have reaffirmed their commitment to Gibraltar, which I have often seen but never visited. But here again I hope that the Government can work out some solution with the Spaniards who are shortly to become our partners in the EEC. Again, that solution must of course be acceptable to the people of Gibraltar; but I feel that the people of Gibraltar can be led towards accepting some form of co-operation with Spain.

I am fortunate to have visited Hong Kong frequently, and recently I spent three weeks in the People's Republic of China. I am delighted to hear that the Government appreciate the opportunity which is now presenting itself to work out a solution for Hong Kong with Deng Xiaoping, because the government of Deng Xiaoping is clearly set on the road to freedom and capitalist expansion, and I see this as a great opportunity for Hong Kong to be fitted into that scenario.

I work out that I have spent something like eight years of my life in Germany. I was present in 1946 when the Government of Lord Attlee, with the other allies, replaced Reichsmarks with Deutschmarks. I saw the immediate change in their economy, with a sound currency and the end of inflation. But, more important, I witnessed the application of the simple industrial charter which that great trade union Foreign Secretary, Mr. Ernest Bevin, a very great man, gave to the Germans. What were the salient points of that charter? There were to be only 15 trade unions—no craft unions at all. All decisions were to be taken by secret ballot throughout the unions, whether or not there was a strike. It is that great charter which made the German miracle. As a merchant hanker I have often visited the German trade union congress research offices in Dusseldorf—the Deutsche Gewerkschaftsbund. They are amazed that we are unable to pursue the wonderful set of rules drawn up by the great Mr. Ernest Bevin. I personally am delighted that the Government are thinking along those lines.

During the debate on the Address on 12th November, 1981, I heard the noble Lord, Lord Scanlon, from the Benches opposite remark that all was not well with the British trade unions. He deplored the fact that in this Kingdom it took 12 unions to build a car and 20 unions to build a ship. I so welcome the announcement in the gracious Speech that trade union members are to be encouraged to modernise themselves and be given greater control over their unions.

There is mention in the gracious Speech of introducing private finance into nationalised industries. During one period of my life I spent two years in Washington. One does not have to be very intelligent to see how Uncle Sam leads the world in industrial production because of his belief in free enterprise and private capitalism, but he wisely holds the ring and curbs industrial bullies by his great Sherman Anti-Trust Act. He abhors the cold, deadly handshake of a state mandarin, and I rejoice now to hear that the Government plan to set more of our industries free and encourage young merchant adventurers.

We are envied by the whole world that in our densely populated Kingdom we have no identity cards and an unarmed police force who protect us in going about our lawful business. But the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, and clearly we are in need of reform in those areas. I welcome the decision to amend the law of criminal evidence. I believe much will come from establishing a prosecution service, independent of the police.

Naturally, as an English Catholic, I am greatly concerned with our policy in Northern Ireland. I am fully conscious of the injustice that was shown to the Catholic population in housing, in excluding them from promotion to the higher ranks of civil and municipal life and in other ways, but I understand that all this has now entirely ended. I welcome the determination in the gracious Speech to preserve law and order and encourage all sections of the community to take part in political progress. I sincerely hope that the recent meeting of the Prime Minister of our country and Dr. Garret FitzGerald, for over an hour after the EEC Summit in Stuttgart, implies that we shall take great note of the Irish dimension. Northern Ireland is part of our Kingdom. I hope that this meeting and the co-operation of our Prime Minister and Dr. Garret FitzGerald augurs well for the future. I beg to move the Motion for a humble Address to Her Majesty.

Moved, 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".—(The Duke of Norfolk.)

4.7 p.m.

Baroness Airey of Abingdon

My Lords, I beg to second my noble friend's Motion for a humble Address in reply to Her Majesty's most gracious Speech. I should like to express my sincere gratitude to the noble Viscount the Leader of the House for inviting me to undertake this task. He was a friend of long standing of my late husband in another place, and it is a great pleasure to have this very special opportunity of congratulating him on his new duties in your Lordships' House. May I at the same time express my gratitude to my noble friend the Chief Whip, not only for his welcome to me in your Lordships' House some three years ago but also for doing me the great honour of inviting me to undertake this task this afternoon.

We owe a great debt to Her Majesty for her tireless association with all aspects of life in this country, her travels to the far corners of the Commonwealth and, above all, for her wise counsels, born out of long experience. Together with her concern for this country and the Commonwealth, her active role as head of a large, happy and growing family is an example to us all.

I should like to speak with great admiration of the Queen Mother and the courage of her visit to Northern Ireland this week. Her forthcoming visit was known to the IRA, but her determination to carry out her mission was redoubled. The warmth of her speech to the Territorials touched our hearts.

It is a particular pleasure for us to celebrate the birth of a son and heir to the Prince and Princess of Wales. Their happiness was shared by the whole country and, indeed, especially by the people of Australia when His Royal Highness Prince William made history by accompanying his parents, at such a very tender age, on their very successful visits to Australia and New Zealand. I think we have all been touched by the special association of Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales with mothers and their children, wherever she goes.

I welcome the proposal in the gracious Speech to introduce a Bill to improve family law and its administration in England and Wales, and especially for improving the standard of education and for widening parental choice of schools for their children; also, for encouraging parental influence in our schools. I believe that the strength of the family will prove to be of great influence on future citizens. I hope that it will lessen the high rate of crime, particularly among young people.

I should like to speak briefly on the role of the police with children and young people. I speak now of two examples—both from personal experience. First, when I went to Northern Ireland with my husband, visiting the Chief Constable of the RUC, I talked to an exceptional woman police officer whose job it was to liaise with the parents of children who had been in trouble—and "trouble" can be lethal in Northern Ireland. She modestly told me how she had managed to gain the confidence of parents. She was particularly pleased when, after she had rescued one child, the child's parents came to her again to say that they believed their younger child might be getting into trouble.

My other example is much nearer home—it concerns my local police officer, whom we always used to call the village bobby. He has children at the local school and has established a friendship with the teachers and children. He frequently visits the school and speaks to the classes. He is their friend. The police have a tough job, and establishing trust through schools can help their work. Freedom to influence our children is one of our greatest assets and is a stark contrast between the free countries of the West and the tyranny behind the Iron Curtain, where governments seek to mould the young from the earliest age and separate them from their parents. This is a privilege for parents and should be jealously guarded.

I should like to disgress for a moment to tell your Lordships of a personal privilege regarding young people; I hope that your Lordships will not consider this to be too light-hearted. I am the president of a Silver Band which has been formed near my home. This may sound insignificant to your Lordships concerned with great affairs of state, but this band was formed by the school music teacher. A hall for the band was built entirely by hand, by the parents, with three rooms which are all completely soundproof. Quite an advantage, when one considers that "Men of Harlech" might have been played in one and "Rule Brittania" in another! The mothers made very smart uniforms for their children and the three bands which have now been formed can all practise at once. I noticed that there was total dedication and discipline by the children—and, above all, the greatest competition to be chosen. I believe that children thus trained, or in some similar scheme, helped by their parents and teachers, have a far better chance of employment when they leave school and seek interviews for jobs.

The gracious Speech brings to our attention the development and application of new technology in our industries. I have recently seen an example of that in a great and heavy industry in the North East. Young men whose fathers doubtless toiled in noisy and exhausting conditions are today operating the manufacture of gigantic but delicate machinery entirely by computer. What especially impressed me were the looks of great enthusiasm on the faces of these young men engaged in their work. We are indeed possessed of great inventiveness and genius.

I welcome in the gracious Speech that there will be encouragement of adaptability, efficiency and competitiveness. But I hope that every effort will be made to promote the sale of British products and technology overseas as well as encouraging the home market, as only by a tremendous national effort will our exports improve and ease the very distressing unemployment. We have the skill and the inventiveness—we should be able to beat the worldwide curse of chronic unemployment. I hope that trades union leaders will realise that increased productivity without strikes, and stable wages encouraged by the dramatic fall in inflation, will improve the welfare and prosperity of their members—many of whom I believe would vote for this by secret ballot.

Most of all, I hope that industry may be attracted to Northern Ireland, where there are many financial advantages for new firms and where there are skilled workers. I hope that trade and prosperity may help overcome the violence which, in many cases, is bred through enforced idleness.

The restoration of major tax reductions proposed but interrupted by the general election will be most welcome. In this context, I make a plea for the outstanding art and architectural heritage of this country; that hard-pressed owners of beautiful houses may be encouraged financially to enable them to continue as guardians for their children, and their children's children, and that treasures which in many cases have been specially designed for their situation should not be sacrificed. These houses and treasures, especially if cared for by the owners, provide a unique attraction to visitors from overseas. As well as those collections assembled long ago, there are cases of quite recent collectors (and some of your Lordships may have read of a particular case recently in the newspapers) who through their knowledge and expertise have founded a famous art collection or library, but for various reasons have not been able to protect them against the possibility of premature death. Must these treasures be dispersed and perhaps leave the country?

I beg your Lordships to give your earnest attention to these matters, and I thank you for listening to me with such courtesy. I beg leave to second this Motion for a humble Address.

4.19 p.m.

Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos

My Lords, I beg to move that this debate be adjourned until tomorrow. Before I refer to the two stimulating speeches we have just heard, I should like to pay a very warm tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Young, for her conduct of our affairs when she was Leader of the House.

Noble Lords

Hear, hear!

Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos

The noble Baroness was both helpful and thoughtful in her relations with all of us. She could be firm when firmness was called for, but she was also courteous. While she preserved her political views, she always sought to be the Leader of the whole House and not of a faction of it. We all wish the noble Baroness every success in her important new office.

It is also a pleasure to welcome the new Leader of the House, the noble Viscount, Lord Whitelaw. Like other noble Lords, I have the advantage of having been with the noble Viscount in another place. I know him to be a man of complete integrity who brings to his new office great skills, wide experience, good judgment and common sense. The new Administration has aspects which the passage of time will clarify, but the two appointments I have mentioned are ones we can all welcome without apprehension.

The large majority in another place places a special burden of responsibility upon this House; I feel sure that that is something which the noble Viscount will appreciate from the outset. He has started well with his choice of proposer and seconder of the loyal Address. The noble Duke made a splendid speech, which reflected his great experience and his honesty of purpose. He holds a very special position as Earl Marshal, and hereditary Marshal and Chief Butler of England. His jurisdiction does not extend to Wales, but that does not diminish my respect for the noble Duke. He is the premier Duke and Earl and he is the senior layman of the Roman Catholic Church; he has also had a very distinguished military career. These are formidable distinctions, but the noble Duke wears them lightly, with dignity but without pomp, and he has gained our affection for that reason.

This is the first time an Earl Marshal has proposed the loyal Address, I believe, and the moment has produced the man. But the quality I have most admired in the noble Duke is his independence. It is a quality which appears to have run in his family, and some of his ancestors lost their heads for it. He is not likely to lose his, and I urge him to exercise his independence frequently during the coming months. I can say this to him on behalf of my noble friends and myself: if he gives a lead, in all probability we shall follow him. As Earl Marshal, the noble Duke was responsible for this morning's ceremony as well, and we congratulate him upon that and upon the way it was conducted. What he said about foreign defence policy will be very relevant in tomorrow's debate, and I hope the noble Duke will forgive me if I do not comment on it now but say a few words upon his views then.

We were also impressed by the speech of the noble Baroness, Lady Airey. May I say that, when she rose, I am sure we all thought of her late husband, Airey Neave, who was so cruelly and basely cut down on the threshold of further great achievements. The noble Baroness has many interests, and, when she speaks, it is always from her own personal experience and on subjects with which she is familiar. These are always the best speeches, and we had an excellent example of that today. We can all agree with what she said about the importance of a close and loving family life in the community and about the need to renew the old confidence which has existed in this country between the police and the public. All these things are very important. And of course her attachment to the arts and assistance to them are well known.

Both the noble Baroness and the noble Duke referred to the problems of Northern Ireland. I am glad that Mr. Prior has retained his office as Secretary of State; I am confident that Mr. Prior has the sympathy and practical common sense to make progress whenever that appears to be possible in that difficult part of the United Kingdom.

My Lords, as to the gracious Speech itself, we shall have further opportunities to think about it and to debate it over the next few days. It is said that, on one occasion when King George III was leaving this House, he asked the Lord Chancellor. Lord Eldon, whether he had delivered the Speech well. "Very well indeed, Sir", said Lord Eldon. "I am glad of that", said the King, "For there was nothing in it". We cannot, however, say precisely that on this occasion. There is a very good deal in it and much which we view with dismay. It is, as the doctors used to say, the mixture as before, only stronger. I am bound to say, with regret, that Dr. Thatcher has not given us very much hope for the future, and certainly no hope that the major problem of high unemployment is going to be tackled with the necessary determination.

As I have said, the great majority in the other place gives us a much heavier responsibility on this occasion. As the loyal Opposition in this House, we shall seek to discharge our duties, in opposing where we believe opposition is necessary and in co-operating also where we believe that to be in the national interest. But there is a great deal in the gracious Speech which we see as obnoxious, and we shall oppose that on every occasion possible, according to the rules of this place, that being our duty. I beg to move.

Moved, That the debate be adjourned until tomorrow.—(Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos.)

4.26 p.m.

Lord Byers

My Lords, I rise to support the Motion moved by the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, and to add my congratulations to the mover and the seconder of the humble Address for the felicitous way in which they discharged these traditional duties. I have known the noble Duke, the Duke of Norfolk, for nearly 50 years, since we had rooms on a shared staircase at Christchurch, Oxford. I think he and I will be there tonight for the Christchurch Gaudy, if your Lordships allow us to leave in time. The noble Duke brought to his task of moving the loyal Address all the competence which has characterised the many and various careers which he has embarked upon, military, political, ceremonial, banking, commercial. I particularly liked the tribute which he paid to the work of Her Majesty and the work of the Royal Family, which is often not as much appreciated as I think it should be.

The noble Baroness, Lady Airey, also pleased the House with her polished performance, and particularly with what she said about the importance of the family, and we thank her for it. On this occasion, we welcome as our new Leader the noble Viscount. Lord Whitelaw. I think he must have been as surprised as many of us at this sudden ennoblement and even more so at the form which it took. I believe he will find that this House is far from an honorific one. It has become over the last few years a real working House and it has a lot to its credit in initiating, in revising and in amending legislation. I agree with the noble Lord. Lord Cledwyn; I think that our parliamentary work in this House will be even more important in this Parliament in scrutinising and debating measures emanating from the other place, because of the huge Government majority there. We shall be fully conscious of what the noble Duke himself said: that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. That is a vigilance which this House will have to exercise on occasion on behalf of the people as a whole.

My Lords, when this House decides to assert itself, it can be very effective indeed. I think it should be a sobering thought to the Government that, in the last Parliament, the Government were defeated in this House on 46 different occasions. One of the most notorious was led by the noble Duke, and there is a lot of work waiting for him in the next four years. I think there will be a great deal for us to do, despite the fact that the Speech from the Throne has an unmistakable air of déjá vu. One cannot help thinking that this is going to be a replay of the last Session. I do hope we are not going to run into injury time.

Finally, as we welcome our new Leader of the House, I should like to express our very sincere thanks from this Bench to the noble Baroness. Lady Young, for the way she discharged her duties, not only in this House but behind the scenes, through the usual channels, with a courtesy, consideration and competence which won her admiration and respect in all quarters of the House. My Lords, I beg to support the Motion.

The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury

My Lords. I beg leave to say a few sentences in support of the Motion, to express pleasure on behalf of the Lords Spiritual for the splendid way in which the Motion for the loyal Address has been proposed, and to express also our enthusiastic support for it. Governments may come and Governments may go, but the Lords Spiritual always sit in the same place and this—

Lord Byers

So do we, my Lords.

The Lord Archbishop of Canterbury

—and this is for a different reason. No, not a different reason but the same reason, I hope—that the Lords Spiritual believe in government as such and order in human affairs and rejoice that that has its focus in this beloved country in the person of Her Majesty the Queen. I simply wish to say that I hope the Lords Spiritual will play their peculiar part and make what I believe is sometimes a constructive contribution to your Lordships' debates.

I should particularly like to welcome the noble Viscount as Leader of the House. As someone who many years ago learned most of what he knows about leadership from serving under the noble Viscount during the war, I am particularly pleased once again to soldier under him as Leader of the House. I hope that I can bring other Members of the Lords Spiritual into the same frame of obedience on this matter.

What I can assure the noble Viscount and the Government of is that the prayers which are mentioned in the loyal Address will be no formality so far as we are concerned. I trust that I shall be able to give that sort of leadership which will sustain the Government, by the prayers of Christian people, as we, the Lords Spiritual, sit with not uncritical solidarity with them on these Benches.

4.32 p.m.

The Lord President of the Council (Viscount Whitelaw)

My Lords, it is a very great honour for me, in addressing your Lordships for the first time, to follow the noble Lords, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos and Lord Byers, and the most reverend Primate. I am grateful both to Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos and to Lord Byers for what they have said about my noble friend and also for their all too kind welcome to me personally. As for the most reverend Primate (if that is the right way to address him), I did once have the pleasure, as he said, of commanding him. It is a great thing to think that at one stage of one's life one actually commanded the Archbishop of Canterbury. No doubt in other, rather different ways he now commands me; and I very much appreciate what he said.

The noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, and I have been colleagues and friends for many years. I was particularly grateful to him for the advice he once gave me on an important and difficult issue. I accepted it and it proved right. Although in our respective roles in this House he will not expect me always to accept his views, I shall certainly seek them and hope to work closely with him.

The noble Lord, Lord Byers, and I have also known each other, I hope I can say as friends, over a number of years. He has always been kind to me and although, again, I cannot expect such kindness in future on all occasions, I am sure that we can and will work closely together.

I am only too well aware that, although I have been appointed Leader of this House, I am nevertheless its newest Member. I have had a long career in what I must now describe as another place, and I have held a wide variety of posts in Government, but this certainly does not mean that I think I know anything about this House. I realise that it is a very different place and that I have a lot to learn, and I am anxious to do so. I come to the House feeling extremely humble and I realise that there are a great many distinguished Members here who know a great deal. I know that I shall need to rely heavily on the support of your Lordships in all parts of the House.

I can assure the House that, with the help of your Lordships, I shall devote myself wholeheartedly to carrying on the honourable traditions of my predecessors in upholding the interests of the whole House as well as serving the Government of which I am proud to be a member. I count myself very fortunate in having the support of my noble friend Lady Young, who in the last Parliament became a close friend and colleague of mine. I know—and the noble Lords, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos and Lord Byers, have underlined this—how well liked and respected she is by all your Lordships and how much she has done for this House as Leader. I am delighted that she will be speaking for the Government on foreign and Commonwealth affairs, a subject which I know is close to the heart of many of your Lordships.

May I also say how pleased I am that my noble friend Lord Belstead has agreed to act as deputy Leader. My noble friend served with me both in the Northern Ireland Office and in the Home Office, and it says much for his tolerance that he is prepared to work closely with me again. I am confident that his experience and the esteem in which he is held in the House will go a long way towards making up for my own inadequacies as a newcomer.

My one note of regret is that my noble friend Lord Ferrers has decided to leave the Government. I know how popular he has been as deputy Leader and, indeed, as acting Leader while my noble friend Lord Soames was away as Governor of Rhodesia. I am glad to know that he hopes to continue to play his part in the work of the House from the Back-Benches.

May I now turn to the two admirable speeches which we have heard from the mover and seconder of the Motion for the humble Address. My noble friend the Duke of Norfolk follows his kinsman, the 16th Duke, who moved the same Motion in 1937—the Coronation year of King George VI. My noble friend is in a very unusual position of having succeeded to peerages from three different sources. Before entering this House my noble friend had a distinguished military career in the Grenadier Guards, rising to the rank of major-general. I am sure, however, following his kind remarks about me, that he will understand me when I say that I would have recognised the full extent of his achievement even more if, like his distinguished younger brother, he had chosen that finest of all regiments the Scots Guards.

As Duke of Norfolk my noble friend is, of course, as the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, told us, hereditary Earl Marshal of England and in that capacity is responsible for the organisation of State ceremonies including that which has taken place in this Chamber this morning. I join with the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, in congratulating my noble friend on the precision of that ceremony today.

Quite apart from his official duties, I know that my noble friend has taken an active part in the work of the House and has become a much respected Member of it. As we were reminded by the noble Lords, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos and Lord Byers, it cannot be said that he has unswervingly supported the present Government. However, no one can be in any doubt of my noble friend's sincerity and deeply held convictions, and I am sure that he is the more respected for it. Let me add quickly that I do not intend by that remark to incite any of my noble friends behind me to greater independence of action. I am sure from what both the noble Lords opposite have told us that we can expect quite enough trouble from them and from others.

My noble friend Lady Airey of Abingdon has, I know, become a much loved and industrious Member of your Lordships' House during the past four years. She and I perhaps came to know each other best at a time of great adversity. I hope that she will understand and appreciate it when I say that her courage and her bearing have fully lived up to the highest standards set by her late husband, Airey Neave. It gives me great pleasure to associate myself with the remarks of the noble Lords, the Leader of the Opposition and Lord Byers, about both my noble friends.

To conclude, I should like to say a few words about the Session ahead of us. It will be a slightly longer Session than usual. The gracious Speech has made it clear that there will be quite a number of very substantial Bills coming before Parliament. What I can promise is that I shall do my best to see that the programme is as evenly spread as possible, in the hope—as I know only too well from what I have been told by my predecessors in the job is usually unfulfilled—that the House will not find itself suddenly overwhelmed in July next year.

The Data Protection Bill, which fell with the dissolution of Parliament, is to be reintroduced in this House tomorrow. Several smaller Bills are expected to be introduced very shortly. Nevertheless, we can expect to have more time for debates in the next few weeks than we shall have later in the Session. I hope that a debate on the recent White Paper on the development of cable systems and services will take place before we rise for the Summer Recess. The House will shortly be debating the recent report of the Science and Technology Committee on engineering research and development. I know that that committee was set up when the equivalent committee in another place ceased to exist and that it has attracted, if I may say so, a star-studded membership. I am looking forward to learning more of the work of that committee and of course of the European Communities Committee, which I understand is now in its tenth year and has for long had a reputation going well beyond the confines of this House for its valuable and thorough scrutiny of Community legislation.

Turning finally to the remainder of the debate on the humble Address, it may be helpful to the House if I summarise the arrangements which have been agreed through the usual channels. Tomorrow the debate will be devoted to foreign affairs and defence. My noble friend Lady Young will open for the Government and my noble friend Lord Trefgarne will wind up the debate. Next Tuesday the debate will be devoted to home and social affairs. My noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor will open for the Government and my noble friend Lord Elton will wind up. Finally, on Wednesday the debate will be devoted to economic and industrial affairs. My noble friends Lord Cockfield and Lord Gowrie will be opening and winding up for the Government.

Before sitting down perhaps I ought to address myself directly to the Motion to which I am supposed to be speaking. I am delighted to support the Motion of the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition that this debate should be adjourned until tomorrow and to join with him and the noble Lord, Lord Byers, in congratulating my noble friends who so eloquently moved and seconded the Motion for a humble Address.

On Question, Motion agreed to, and debate adjourned accordingly until tomorrow.