HL Deb 25 June 1987 vol 488 cc10-22

The Queen's Speech reported by the LORD CHANCELLOR.

3.45 p.m.

Baroness Young

My Lords, I beg to move, 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".

It is a great honour and pleasure to be asked to thank Her Majesty for her most gracious Speech. It is a particular pleasure to do so in the year of 1987, the 100th anniversary of the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

I should like to begin by sending on behalf of all your Lordships our good wishes to Her Majesty for her two visits that she is to make abroad. The first visit will be to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Canada. Over the past four years I have travelled to many Commonwealth countries and know how great is the esteem and affection in which Her Majesty is held. We are also delighted that Her Majesty is to visit Australia for the celebrations in connection with the bicentenary. The ties between the United Kingdom and Australia are many and close, and long may they remain so.

I welcome the fact that the gracious Speech puts defence first. The defence of the Realm must be the first duty of the state. The importance of our commitment to NATO and to the maintenance of our independent nuclear deterrent cannot be overstated. It is a point well understood by the public at large, particularly given the overwhelming superiority in conventional and chemical weapons of the Warsaw Pact.

Equally, the gracious Speech draws attention to the arms control negotiations now taking place and the importance of achieving balanced and verifiable measures. We all hope for success in what has come to be known as the zero-zero option and in the other arms reduction measures. There now seems at last a real possibility that progress will be made. But if it is achieved it will have come about in part because the West—in which the United Kingdom has played an important part—has negotiated from a position of strength.

The gracious Speech refers to two modern problems; namely, international terrorism and the traffic in drugs. We must keep up a sustained fight against both. In my view the drug trade is one of the most evil features of modern life. It is deeply damaging to the countries where drugs are grown, creating a climate for corruption and distorting the economy; to the countries through which drugs are carried—I was once told of a policeman who was paid 1,000 dollars (almost a year's salary) simply to stay in his house for 15 minutes; and finally to the end user where it is a killer falling on rich and poor alike, usually the young.

The gracious Speech also makes plain that Britain will play a leading role in the European Community. The European Community must surely be regarded as the greatest political and economic development in post-war Europe. I hope that what to me is still a great ideal will be kept before us. All too often the Community is seen in terms of turgid statistics and unintelligible language.

I shall not say anything today about the common agricultural policy except this. We in the United Kingdom have been front runners in the efforts to reform it. I am all too conscious of the effect of the common agricultural policy not only on the budget of the Community, of its great cost to us as a country, but also of its damaging effect on many Commonwealth and third world countries. I did, however, see one helpful publication recently. As many of your Lordships may know, my home is Oxford, the setting for that well-known book Alice in Wonderland. In a corner of a second-hand bookshop I saw what I think was the sequel entitled Alice and the Butter Mountain. Now that our economy is stronger we are well placed to take advantage of the huge market of 320 million people on our doorsteps, with all the benefits in terms of exports and jobs that that means to our people. We must press forward to make this a true Common Market and to remove the still far too many barriers to trade particularly in the service industries. I know that my noble friend Lord Strathclyde will refer to this, and perhaps I may say to him what a pleasure it is to have him to second my Motion today. I remember with great pleasure the help and kindness that I received from his grandfather when I first came to your Lordships' House.

The gracious Speech quite rightly makes clear the Government's highest priority which has already been foreshadowed by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister; namely, the revival of the inner cities. The problems of the inner cities have been with us for a long time. In my own days in local government inner cities were high on the agenda, and the "in" thinking was summed up in the term "comprehensive redevelopment". Now we see its failure. I therefore greatly welcome the proposals before us, the regeneration of business built on consultation with local people, the involvement of private capital. Progress is possible. The example of the development of Liverpool docks, which I visited some months ago, shows that we can conserve the best of the past and at the same time bring jobs and hope for the future.

The gracious Speech also promises some major housing reforms. There is still much to be done particularly on some of the larger council housing estates; but I hope that the proposals will include the right to rent. The fact that people find it so difficult to move from the North to the South, and that there are still so many homeless families yet at the same time thousands of empty houses—many kept empty because the owners are afraid or unwilling to let—is an unhappy and I believe a shaming fact. It contributes to the dereliction of the inner cities. It contributes to unemployment and it needs to be addressed.

The radical programme outlined in the gracious Speech includes some new proposals on education. Times of course have moved on very considerably since Lord Melbourne is alleged to have said to Queen Victoria: "I don't know, Ma'am, why they make all this fuss about education; none of the Pagets can read or write and they get on well enough".

The great debate on education (as it was called in the mid-1970s) was an expression of concern by parents, employers and others about the standards in our schools. There are of course many good schools; but, unhappily, there are others, often in the inner cities, that have clearly fallen below the standard that parents and employers have the right to expect. As a consequence education has become a "lucky dip". Those who live in the catchment area of a good school are indeed fortunate; but for those who do not, they are today's "have-nots". I therefore greatly welcome the proposals for a national curriculum, and what I understand to be the testing of pupils to measure their progress. These proposals, taken with those to give schools more autonomy, should make schools more responsive. The proposals should be seen as a reassurance to parents and employers—not least the pupils themselves. The establishment of City technology colleges will widen parental choice. I also welcome what is said on polytechnics, and I believe that your Lordships will be glad to know that there is to be an urgent review of higher education. It was H. G. Wells who said "Human history has become a race between education and catastrophe". We certainly cannot afford to waste the skills and talents of our people.

The gracious Speech sets out a radical programme for a reforming government embarked upon its third term. It comes at a time when our economy is strong and growing stronger, and when there is a vastly greater spread of prosperity as a result of the efforts of our people over the past eight years, particularly among those in this country who have bought their own homes and are now shareholders.

There is a new impulse but the gracious Speech rightly addresses the problems that remain. Many are interlocked, especially those in the inner cities. The proposals on education, on the comprehensive employment service for young people and on housing offer solutions, and in so doing should bring hope.

Over the course of the past four years I have travelled to some 60 different countries. I have seen the enormous efforts made by many people to increase their prosperity—in some cases following our example—and to adjust, often painfully, to the world as it is. If, as I am sure, we want an increased prosperity for all our people and a stronger voice abroad, then we must look to the future and prepare for it—we must look to the new industries, building on our strength, to new skills, to training and to retraining and to new opportunities.

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 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".—(Baroness Young.)

3.59 p.m.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, I beg to second my noble friend's Motion that a humble Address be presented to Her Majesty for her most gracious Speech.

It is a great pleasure and an honour to have been invited by my noble friends the Leader of the House and the Chief Whip, to second this Motion and I sincerely thank them for allowing me this privilege. I am also delighted to second the Motion of my noble friend Lady Young, whose political career is a source of such great inspiration to me. It is an honour to stand next to someone with such a wealth of experience and knowledge that I can only hope to aspire. I am sure that noble Lords will join me in regretting her leaving the Front Bench after 15 years but I know that her future contributions in your Lordships' House will be met with the respect that they deserve.

Noble Lords

Hear, hear.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, Her Majesty and her family are also a source of constant admiration and since I am closer in age to the younger members of the Royal Family I should like, in particular, to refer to their qualities of leadership and good nature which have impressed young people throughout the country. The Princess Royal, the Duke and Duchess of York and Prince Edward all recently took part in a successful "It's a Knock-Out" television programme. At a stroke this showed their continued commitment to the future of our nation and by example they have encouraged others to take up the selfless pursuit to make the United Kingdom a better place for us all.

It has often been a tradition for noble Lords in my position to wear a uniform, but I regret that I have no military background to slip into; indeed, never have I regretted so much not going into the Services. However, as a sign of respect for my heritage, and not for reasons of nationalism, I wear a tie of my tartan—the Galbraith tartan. The first Galbraiths, who appeared around the 12th century, were regarded as strangers on the shores of Loch Lomond, though I trust the same is not true today. However, my Scottishness is tempered by the fact that, since my mother is Belgian, French was my first language; which is why I welcome so much the proposals in the gracious Speech to press for the opening up of services in the EC, especially in the area of financial services.

Fortunately, this is a subject of which I have a certain amount of knowledge since I work as an insurance broker in Lloyd's specialising in international products liability, where the European insurance scene is very important. It may seem incredible but although it is quite possible to insure your home or business with a foreign insurer it is not possible for, say, a German to do the same with a London insurance company unless by means of reinsurance. That certainly has had the effect of stultifying, to an extent, international insurance business with all the detrimental effects that a lack of genuine competition brings. Ultimately, it is always the consumer who pays over the odds for a service which could be made more efficient.

We have an advantage in this country, built up over many years by playing host to the largest single insurance market in the world, and it makes sense for the Government to impress this on our friends across the Channel so that we may explore common areas in which to co-operate and thus reach the goal of a cohesive market. In 1984, when I stood as a candidate in the European elections in Merseyside, it soon became apparent to me that one of this country's greatest challenges in the latter quarter of this century is to find a real and relevant role in forming the future of Europe. That applies not only to insurance, but also to all the other financial sectors of banking, stockbroking and so on, where the effects on employment and the balance of payments are so important. Those industries are also not entirely centred in the City of London, because Manchester, Glasgow and, in particular, Edinburgh are also financial centres in their own right, competing successfully for the management of funds from all over the world.

There is too much pedantic bureaucracy in the EC. For example, a lorry driver carrying a load from Liverpool to Milan still needs a briefcase full of documents while a similar driver doing an equivalent journey in America needs only a driving licence. Therefore, I thoroughly welcome proposals which will free us from these tangles and help Europe to improve the quality and choice of its financial services sector for all.

Noble Lords will have noticed that the Government intend to continue their excellent record of returning nationalised industries to the private sector in the shape of the water and sewerage functions of the water authorities. When these proposals are published we shall no doubt have the opportunity of hearing many differing opinions on their merits; but it has always been my view that the private sector provides better management, a more loyal workforce, greater quality for the consumer and an efficient industry. Companies recently denationalised by the Government have already proved that. What is more, we now have new investors in industry made up of small shareholders who can feel more involved in the workings of a company and, by reading the annual report and accounts, have a greater understanding of why certain decisions have to be made. Likewise employees, through share schemes, can identify more closely in the fortunes of their companies in a way that was quite impossible when the ownership ladder led up to a faceless department in Whitehall. Perhaps the finest accolade to the Government in this respect is how other countries have followed Britain down this path.

I should like now to turn to what I feel is one of the more far-reaching aspects of the gracious Speech: that is, to make licensing hours more flexible in England and Wales, which will have such great effect on all sections of the population. I am glad to say that the Scots have been enlightened by the benefits of less regimented opening times for some years—very successfully, too. As your Lordships are aware, in this House we have many privileges, but perhaps none more confusing to those outside Parliament than our ability, should we choose, to drink when we want to do so.

Your Lordships will know that some progress was made on a Bill introduced by my noble friend Lord Montgomery of Alamein, and passed in the last Parliament, which allows restaurants to serve alcohol for longer hours. The new proposals mentioned in the gracious Speech will extend that benefit to pubs. Many will object to the proposals on the grounds that they will promote alcoholism, irresponsibility and probably degradation, too. That view is patronising—after all, we in this House are not like that at all!

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits will not be for the British people at all but for the countless tourists who wearily tramp the streets every afternoon waiting for the unusual British custom of opening time. For them I suspect that the memories of a British holiday will no longer be of locked doors and incomprehensible laws but of a relaxed break in pleasant surroundings. Tourism is an important area of our economy and it is thus correct for the leisure industry to react to a need which I feel is so obviously required.

I was also particularly pleased to hear Her Majesty refer to new legislation for merchant shipping. This is a subject close to me since my maiden speech was on this subject concerning a report of one of your Lordships' committees. However, I doubt whether my contribution had anything to do with the Government's proposed legislation. We are a trading nation and virtually all our goods are carried by sea. We need to remain a trading nation in order to retain the standard of living we all want.

My grandfather—my predecessor in your Lordships' House—was a naval man and it was a constant source of dismay to him that our merchant fleet was shrinking so rapidly. Because of our geographical position and our trading links I believe it is most important that we should maintain some kind of control over the ships that are effectively our lifeblood. Other countries understand the role that their merchant fleet plays in their economy and, perhaps more importantly, in their defence capability. Recent history in the Falklands has shown how vital the merchant fleet can be. Sensible measures from the Government to arrest the slide to the demoralising state into which our fleet is falling must be worthwhile.

There is much in the gracious Speech to commend. Indeed, as a result there will be much in the coming Session for Parliament to do. I suggest that it might be prudent for noble Lords to prepare themselves for some very long evenings indeed. There have, I may add, also been suggestions that with references to water, drink and shipping this Parliament will be rather wet: in any case, it surely cannot be wetter than our recent weather. I doubt if it will be wet at all. The gracious Speech introduces some excellent proposals which I welcome and I thank your Lordships for your courtesy in listening to me.

I beg to second my noble friend's Motion for a humble Address to Her Majesty.

4.10 p.m.

Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos

My Lords, I beg to move that this debate be adjourned until Monday next.

One of the great pleasures of these debates on the Address is to congratulate the proposer and seconder of the Motion. On this occasion we have enjoyed a balance of experience and charm on the one hand and of youth and promise on the other. First, it gives me the opportunity on behalf of the House to pay a tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Young, for her great service in this place and to the country. The noble Baroness carried out her duties as education spokesman, as Leader of this House, and, for the past two years, as Deputy Foreign Secretary, when she gained international standing, ably and conscientiously. As the noble Lord has just said, we shall all miss her from the Front Bench. We hope to see and hear the noble Baroness frequently in the future. We wish her and her family happiness and success. Many points in her wide-ranging speech will, I know, be dealt with by noble Lords during the course of the debate.

We also enjoyed the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde. Many of us had the privilege of serving with his late grandfather, and his father in another place. They both gave distinguished public service, especially in Scotland. His speech showed that he is a worthy successor to a most respected title. He has shown a knowledge and expertise in economic affairs and other subjects. I may add that it takes courage for a Scot to talk about licensing in Wales. We are conscious that the party opposite can do with a few eloquent Scotsmen these days. It has done well to recruit the noble Lord. We look forward to hearing him many times in the future and to seeing him here during all of the late evenings to which he has referred.

A number of noble colleagues have spoken to me about the way in which this debate on the Address is planned. It has followed the same pattern for many years, and there are many noble colleagues who feel that this House should have more time, perhaps one more day, to cover the wide range of subjects which are dealt with in the gracious Speech. The debate in the other place which, as we know, has already started, is more generous and more expansive than ours. As we all know, we can of course technically make speeches on virtually anything in this debate at any point of time, but three days do not enable us to deal with the main themes of the gracious Speech.

Education, to which reference has been made by the noble Baroness, health and the social area generally, where complex legislation is projected, do not find a central place. Further, it is never possible to deal adequately with foreign affairs and defence in one day's debate. I am sure that the noble Viscount will give thought to those points and find time to discuss them before the debate on the next Address.

I must refer to one major change that has occurred in this House; namely, that we shall no longer see the distinguished figure of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, on the Woolsack. It is in one sense a sad thought, for his career and his contribution have by any standards been remarkable. Our consolation is that he is still very much alive and that he will be here to an extent which will mean that we on this side shall have to watch him very carefully.

We also warmly welcome the noble and learned Lord's successor, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Havers, and wish him a happy and successful term—of four years or so—on the Woolsack.

I turn briefly to the substance of the gracious Speech. It promises a very heavy and, on the whole, controversial Session. It occurred to me when I listened this morning and read it later that it does not contain many Bills which can he initiated in this House. That, as we know from long experience, can create acute difficulties for us in the sense that when substantial legislation of a controversial character appears in the gracious Speech, the other place will at once say, "These are matters for us and not for the other place". That is something to which we can perhaps give further thought. It occurred to me on reading the gracious Speech that there were about three Bills about which there would be no objection if we initiated them here. Perhaps the noble Viscount will be giving very careful thought to that as well, because I know that he is as anxious as I am that we should share the burden of legislation with another place and avoid the unpleasant overlap which can occur towards the end of the Session. Noble Lords will recall that in the last Session of the last Parliament we sat three weeks longer than the other place, although it did not thank us for doing so!

There are of course proposals in the gracious Speech which we shall support; for example, the commitment to sustain the fight against trafficking in drugs and to tackle the problem of crime. The Government have been talking about law and order and crime for eight years, but I regret to say that they have not begun to resolve the problem. Crime figures are still on the increase. We pride ourselves on being a civilised society, but the increase in violent crime; in muggings; rape; the dreadful attacks on elderly people in their homes; child abuse, about which we are currently hearing a great deal; and many other crimes, reflect a stratum of barbarism in our society which is frightening and which must be decisively dealt with by the Government, preferably by all parties in agreement. It is an effort in which we should all co-operate.

The gracious Speech mentions: a national organisation to promote crime prevention". We shall be told more about it in due course and of course we shall support the idea. I have believed for a long time that a major commission of some kind to probe and analyse the causes of the increase in crime is overdue.

There are major Bills to be processed and we shall hope to improve them as we proceed. We regret one thing: that the concept of the mixed economy is fading fast. We cannot see that the lengthening queue of privatisation measures is relevant to or good for the nation. Privatisation will not solve our basic problems. We shall certainly oppose these measures, especially the privatisation of the water industry. I hope, for example, that the Government will not sell Welsh water to a consortium of wealthy Arabs!

This, sadly, is a government which seem to be obsessed with making money. I believe that noble Lords opposite believe in freedom. I believe that they do not like poverty. Although they have been responsible for an increase in unemployment, noble Lords opposite do not like unemployment. But the Government have created an atmosphere in which the making of money takes precedence over everything else. That is not good for Britain. The map drawn after the election showed a Britain comprised of two nations. That does not bode well for our future. Goldsmith put it in a nutshell when he said: Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey, Where wealth accumulates, and men decay". There are men and women decaying in Britain today. It is to them that the Government should pay attention. They are the central problem facing any government at this time.

Unless we have leaders who believe that, we are in great danger. We shall support the good constructive items in this speech. We shall oppose what we believe to be bad. The Government once again have a big majority. They have an even bigger responsibility. I wish the Prime Minister and her colleagues well in their efforts to deal with the problems of the inner cities. There are other problems throughout the country and we must not forget the problems of the countryside. The paragraph on agriculture in the gracious Speech does not give the farmers any great hope for the future. The aim of the Government must he a united kingdom, but we must all work hard for it. I beg to move.

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

4.20 p.m.

Baroness Seear

My Lords, it gives me very great pleasure to support the Motion for the adjournment and in so doing to congratulate the two noble Peers who have moved the humble Address. There is much to be said for and against, and there is much argument about, the hereditary principle. However, one undoubted thing that the hereditary principle does for your Lordships' House is to bring to its Benches Members young enough to be the grandchildren of most of us who occupy the remaining benches. That is at least refreshing and encouraging.

We have had a very thoughful speech from one such potential grandchild today. The noble Lord also represents the—if I may use the word—cosmopolitan nature of your Lordships' House, since he has told us that he is Scottish on his father's side and Belgian on his mother's side. I am sure that we all recognise the great contribution which the Scots make to your Lordships' House and although the day may come when many of their more personal and intimate affairs are settled not in this Chamber but in Edinburgh, we shall continue to hope that the Scottish contribution is also made in this Chamber. We are grateful to the noble Lord for the thoughtful and wide-ranging comments that he made in dealing with the gracious Speech. We are also grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn. If it is brave for a Scot to discuss the licensing laws for Wales it would be even braver for a Welshman to discuss licensing laws in Wales.

We are all deeply indebted to the noble Baroness, Lady Young. She and I are of the same vintage as regards your Lordships' House. One saw her rise to very responsible and eminent positions which she filled one after another with great distinction. The extent to which she always did her homework and read her papers filled me with dismay but I am well aware that that is the way in which ladies in the Tory Party achieve great eminence and in that regard she has been very much made in her mistress's image. We were also very well aware how excellently she handled the task of being the first woman to be the Leader of your Lordships' House.

Noble Lords

Hear, hear.

Baroness Seear

My Lords, I am very glad that I am making this speech because I wish to say how much women in this House have appreciated the example that the noble Baroness, Lady Young, has set. Encouragement has been given to women in this House and far beyond in seeing that it was possible for the noble Baroness to hold the position that she has held and to do it with such distinction.

I am quite certain that in going to the Back Benches she has made up her mind that the time has come for a change and for that I greatly admire her. I am not suggesting anything to the people on these Benches in case they should take me amiss. However, it is a weakness of many of us to hang on for too long. It is possibly an even greater weakness among women—because it takes us so long to get there—to hang on a little longer than is wise. The noble Baroness has set us a very impressive example by saying that enough is enough, that there are other things she wants to do; that important though political office is, it is not the whole of life, and there are other ways in which she wants to spend her time. We are grateful to the noble Baroness.

I do not intend to make any further comment on the gracious Speech. I believe that the time for that is when we discuss it next week. However, I should like to join with the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, in paying a tribute to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, for his many years on the Woolsack. I should like to pay that tribute not only because of all the contributions that he made and his wisdom and wit which were enjoyed by the whole House, and from which noble Lords have benefited, but also because we on these Benches have had the very special benefit, sitting where we do, of hearing the brilliant, witty and often very unflattering asides that the noble and learned Lord made.

4.26 p.m.

The Lord President of the Council (Viscount Whitelaw)

My Lords, it once again gives me great pleasure to support the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, that this debate be adjourned until Monday next. It is after all a source of considerable satisfaction no doubt to the whole House that the party leaders should be united in such an admirable cause as the adjournment of proceedings.

I am very grateful both to the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, and indeed to the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, for the kind words which they said about my noble and learned friend Lord Hailsham. I have been in shadow Cabinets and Cabinets with my noble and learned friend for about a quarter of a century and without him life for me will seem very strange. If I were to follow the advice of the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, I suppose I should say that I ought to be considering whether I want to do something else as well.

However, as noble Lords would expect, life in a Cabinet with my noble and learned friend was never dull. Sometimes he and I argued furiously with each other. I have to say that the most charming thing about my noble and learned friend was that he never bore any grudge against one if one argued with him; and he was always most generous immediately after one had done so. I sometimes approached him with some trepidation after I had seen fit to contradict him but I never found him other than his usual charming self. There were the other moments when both he and I laughed a great deal together and after all in difficult times in politics and in life that is also a very great pleasure. I should like to say how much I appreciated what was said about him and what he did for this House as Lord Chancellor.

I should also like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, and the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, for their kind welcome to my noble and learned friend Lord Havers. He has also been in the same Government with me for a long time and I naturally greatly welcome him in his position here in your Lordships' House.

Noble Lords

Hear, hear.

Viscount Whitelaw

My Lords, I should also like to endorse what the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, and the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, have said in congratulating my noble friends Lady Young and Lord Strathclyde, on their speeches this afternoon. It will of course have come as no surprise to any of us to hear such an eloquent and, if I may say so, businesslike speech from my noble friend Lady Young. As both the noble Lord and the noble Baroness said so eloquently, we are all very well aware of her great talents as a Front Bench spokesman when in Government and in Opposition, during her time as Leader of your Lordships' House, and as Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

When last I spoke in my present capacity at the beginning of a Parliament I had been a Member of your Lordships' House for only a matter of days and viewed the prospect of leading this House with considerable trepidation and much diffidence. But no one could have been kinder or more helpful to me at that time than the noble Baroness; and her advice and unfailing loyalty have been a source of great personal strength to me ever since. I am sure the whole House will join with me in wishing her well on the Back-Benches and in saying that we look forward to the contributions to our debates which we hope she will make on many occasions in the future.

My noble friend Lord Strathclyde, by contrast, is a relative newcomer to the House. The noble Baroness, Lady Seear, said that he could be the grandson of most of us. I began to work that out. It is very nearly true in my case, although my eldest grandchild is not quite as old as he is yet; but the time is coming along quite fast.

I, like the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, have the most affectionate memories of Lord Strathclyde's grandfather, whom he succeeded in 1985. I also was a great friend of his late father in another place. Indeed, his late father was my first Whip when I joined the other place in 1955. I suppose it could be said that he must, from my subsequent career, have put me in mind of something to do with party discipline, which has never been very far from my life and my activities in politics ever since. The noble Lord has on a number of occasions in the past year made some noteworthy speeches in your Lordships' House, and his speech today confirms the confidence we have in his abilities. We hope to hear more from him, particularly on economic and financial matters, in the coming Session. He is also a Scotsman, and as the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, suggested, a somewhat rare distinction on the Government Benches in another place—and, I understand, one with a wide knowledge of his native country.

I should now like to say a few words about the Session which lies before us. As your Lordships will have gleaned from the gracious Speech this morning, we can expect a heavy and wide-ranging programme of legislation. This is of course a common occurrence in the first Session of a new parliament, whatever the political complexion of the incoming administration.

On behalf of the Government, I should say that a number of substantial Bills will be introduced in this House so as to spread out our workload as much as possible and to minimise congestion at the end of the Session. No one with my somewhat chequered record in this regard could be other than extremely sensitive on this point. I shall do my best to improve upon my previous record in this Session. The Channel Tunnel Bill and the Criminal Justice Bill are ready for reintroduction into your Lordships' House forthwith, and it is intended that in the autumn further substantial measures will also be laid before you, including the Legal Aid Bill and the Copyright and Intellectual Property Bill.

Experience in the last Parliament taught us that a large Government majority in another place increased the value and importance of your Lordships' House as a revising Chamber. I suspect that with a large, even if somewhat smaller, Government majority in this Parliament that experience is likely to be repeated. And I am sure that I speak for noble Lords in all parts of the House when I say that we welcome the challenge and intend to carry out this task as effectively as possible.

I know too that there was a widespread feeling in this House in the last Parliament that we should look to our procedures and ensure that we were using our time wisely and well. Your Lordships will recall that it was in furtherance of this aim that I announced the formation of an informal group, drawn from all parties and the Cross-Benches, to advise me on the working of the House. The group, under the chairmanship of the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees, submitted its report to me shortly before the Dissolution of Parliament. It is a very thorough piece of work and I am indeed grateful to the members of the group for their efforts and for the way in which they canvassed opinions from all parts of your Lordships' House. Following consultations with the leaders of the other parties in the next few weeks I propose to refer the report to the Procedure Committee for a decision on how best to effect the group's recommendations. As part of that exercise I intend that the report will be published and debated in the House before the Procedure Committee makes its recommendations.

I hope I shall not be thought guilty of "leaking" from the report if I tell your Lordships now that, broadly speaking, the group found little that was wrong with our procedures but rather more that was wanting in our observance of them, especially in times of stress. Subject to the views of the Procedure Committee and of the House as a whole I shall be looking to the leaders of all parties for their support in upholding our traditions of self-regulation on the lines indicated by the working group. I am indeed grateful to them for their support in the last Parliament and I know that I can rely on it in the new one, provided of course that I deserve it.

Finally, I should like to say a few words about the arrangements which have been made through the usual channels for the rest of the debate on the motion for a humble Address. On Monday the debate will concentrate on foreign affairs and defence. My noble friend Lord Trefgarne will open for the Government and my noble friend Lord Glenarthur will wind up. On Tuesday the debate will concentrate on home affairs and the environment and my noble friends Lord Caithness and Lord Belstead will open and wind up the discussion. The debate will conclude next Wednesday when the principal topic will be economic affairs and employment. My noble friend Lord Young of Graffham will open for the Government and I shall wind up.

The noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn indicated that in future there might be some scope for varying our usual practice with regard to allocating the days for our debate on the Address. I respond to him immediately. Certainly these are matters that we shall discuss through the usual channels to see whether on a future occasion we can make plans which would perhaps be more satisfactory to him and to those who have raised this particular argument.

To conclude, I am delighted to support the Motion of the noble Lord, the Leader of the Opposition, That this debate be adjourned to Monday next, and to join with him again and with the noble Baroness, Lady Seear, 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 Monday next.