HL Deb 06 May 1992 vol 537 cc10-25

The Queen's Speech reported by the LORD CHANCELLOR.

3.51 p.m.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

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."

Of course, it is a very great privilege, and not a little daunting, to be invited to express thanks to Her Majesty on behalf of all your Lordships for the gracious Speech. As Her Majesty embarks upon the fifth decade of her reign, her coming to Parliament today was a reminder to all of us who were present, and doubtless to many thousands of others who were watching on television, that the Crown—the Monarchy —is an integral part of our United Kingdom Parliament, our Constitution and our democratic process. More than that, we were reminded of the nature of the person who wears the Crown and the very special way that that person does the job that monarchy demands.

Earlier in the year television allowed us to eavesdrop a little upon Her Majesty's daily round of work. We saw for ourselves something of her experienced, skilled and businesslike approach. We had a glimpse of her twinkle and sense of fun and of her human understanding. We saw around her photographs of the family she loves so much.

This morning I feel sure that we realised afresh all that we have to he grateful for in our Sovereign. We wish Her Majesty and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh well for the impending visits, of which we heard in the speech, to Malta and Canada and, appropriately at the time of the United Kingdom presidency, to the European Parliament, the Council of Europe, to France and to Germany.

The voters have given their verdict and a new Parliament begins. Although there is naturally more enthusiasm on some of your Lordships' Benches than on others as regards the outcome of the election, I know that the whole House will wish me to express a warm welcome to my noble friend Lord Wakeham as Lord Privy Seal. His distinguished career as Member of Parliament for Maldon, and Colchester South and Maldon, as a Minister and as a Member of the Cabinet, has given him copious experience of the ways of Parliament. His personal courage is known to us all. We greatly look forward to working with him.

Your Lordships will also wish me to voice the gratitude of the House to my noble friend Lord Waddington for all he did during his time as Leader of the House and, perhaps I may say, his particular success in bringing closer together Members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

National security comes early in the gracious Speech, and rightly so, for without appropriate security all other policies for increasing opportunity, choice and freedom for our people could be of no avail. Not least does that apply to the stated commitment in the speech to retaining a nuclear deterrent while helping the Russian Federation dismantle surplus weapons and working for arms control agreements and control of the production of weapons of mass destruction.

I have a vivid personal recollection of the week which ended the Second World War, when the two atomic bombs were unleashed upon Hiroshima and, on a separate day, on Nagasaki. I was a humble laboratory assistant with a research team based at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge. I shall never forget the shock and horror of the young scientists in the team, most of whom were under 35 years of age. They had worked night and day on their contribution to those weapons and knew only too well their dreadful potential for destruction. They had assumed that, in the first place at least, the bombs would not be dropped but would be used as a threat; a threat so terrible that it would of itself end the war.

From those days until now, the risk attending a fine international balance in ability for nuclear attack and counter attack has been ever present, but the nuclear peace has held. The process, now possible, of reducing the threat while maintaining the peace is a delicate and a costly one, but only thus will the world be able to breathe more freely. I am sure that the Government are right to put the United Kingdom contribution in effort and funding high on our national agenda.

Turning to European affairs, the gracious Speech includes the expected Bill to implement the agreement made by the Council of Ministers at Maastricht. Many of your Lordships take a deep and detailed interest in the developing scene in Europe and when the Bill reaches this House doubtless it will be very carefully scrutinised. At this moment it is interesting to note how events unfolding one after another since Maastricht seem to vindicate aspects of the treaty on which the United Kingdom Prime Minister and his colleagues took a much criticised stand and which, without their insistence and that of one or two other member states, might well not be in the treaty at all.

I quote but three examples. On foreign policy, what is happening now in central and eastern Europe highlights a need for the Community to be capable of acting collectively where there is a unanimous desire to do so. The treaty allows for that. However, also crucially in the United Kingdom's view, it leaves member states free to act on their own where there is disagreement, where there is urgency or where the country has special responsibilities.

On home affairs, the rapidly mounting number of applicants to member states for economic as opposed to political asylum calls for practical co-operation within the Community. The treaty achieves that by means of co-operation, as they wish, between one member state and another and not by a Community-wide scheme designed and implemented by Brussels —a solution favoured by the Community's federalists.

On matters economic, under the existing arrangements in the Community, Germany's post-unification problems and the independent Bundesbank's responses are causing constraints on the economies of other member states. That is giving rise to long overdue debate and questioning of their politicians by people right across the Community. One suspects that as time goes by the United Kingdom will be by no means the only country pleased to have freedom of choice whether or when to enter full monetary union and a single currency. On those and other aspects of the Treaty the United Kingdom's firm line is already beginning to be justified.

As to other priorities for Europe set out in the Speech, it is hard nowadays to find a business person who is not enthusiastic about the completion of the Community's single market and its enlargement in the future. My experience, until recently as a farmer and currently as a Member of the sub-committee of this House dealing with Community agriculture, leads me to hope that the Prime Minister will bring to bear on the CAP negotiations and the resolution of the GATT round the same cool, patient, dogged determination which brought him and his colleagues success at Maastricht.

The United Kingdom presidency beginning in July will be a great opportunity for this country to play its part at the heart of Europe as it sets the agenda, and will be well placed to influence and persuade. When the time comes for the December summit at Holyrood in Edinburgh it is perhaps not too fanciful to hope that the bracing air and clear light of that city, the no-nonsense rectitude of its architecture and the warm hearts of its people, will combine to encourage growing realism in the European Community.

That brings me to the last point I want to make. The gracious Speech and the manifesto on which the Prime Minister was returned to office indicate that the Government aim to build upon all that the British people achieved during the 1980s, but to do so with a fresh emphasis, new goals and a new style more suited to the 1990s. My right honourable friend probably agrees with Thomas Carlyle who exclaimed in his journal of 1831, It is a vain hope to make men happy by politics". As your Lordships well know, Parliament itself cannot bring happiness. But it can help to create a framework within which people are able to find happiness for themselves.

The Prime Minister said that he aims for a country at ease with itself. As a Scot, it seems to me that a good first step in that direction has been taken north of the Border where the general election campaign focused sharply upon the implications of a separated Scotland. In the end over 78 per cent. of those who voted in Scotland voted for candidates supporting the Union. However, it is important for those south of the Border to appreciate that that was not a vote for no change at all. For Scotland, and indeed for Britain as a whole, to be at ease with itself changes have to come in the arrangements for Scotland. In my view they should not be long delayed.

My right honourable friend said that after the election he would take stock. I hope that now he and his Government are doing just that. There are a number of possible lines of approach—a national dimension to changes in local government, some sort of new elected body or changes in the way of working of Scottish Members of Parliament. Whatever line is taken, the Scots are looking for a system which involves their elected representatives in discussing policy and taking decisions in Scotland, visible and audible to the Scottish people by way of the media, and plainly answerable to them. Importantly, it is now clear that what is wanted is a system that would not bring such confrontation as would threaten the Union. As far as I am aware, no suggested plan that would meet those criteria has yet been put forward by anybody.

I have not dealt with the detailed proposals for Scotland and I have touched upon only a few aspects of the gracious Speech as a whole. I know that my noble friend Lord Renfrew, with the sharp perception and attention to detail of an accomplished academic and archaeologist, will have left few stones unturned in selecting further points for comment.

In my view the gracious Speech heralds an interesting parliamentary Session and I look forward to the debate in which we shall take part over the next few days.

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 Carnegy of Lour.)

4.7 p.m.

Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn

My Lords, I beg to second the Motion of my noble friend that a humble Address be presented to Her Majesty the Queen in reply to her most gracious Speech. To do so is a great and rather intimidating honour conferred upon me by my noble friends the Leader of the House and the Chief Whip, and a privilege in several ways.

The State Opening of Parliament embodies and makes tangible so many of the strengths of our constitutional monarchy and it is therefore, first, a privilege to express again the admiration so deeply felt in your Lordships' House for the manner in which Her Majesty fulfils her role—an admiration which over the years, fully 40 years now, has deepened also into a warm affection. I well remember walking down towards Buckingham Palace with my father on that great day, 2nd June 1953, from Oxford Street where we had watched the Coronation procession to join the cheering crowds as Her Majesty and her family appeared on the balcony. How amply have our hopes on that afternoon been fulfilled.

Secondly, it is a privilege to second a Motion moved by my noble friend Lady Carnegy of Lour, whose long record of public service, most particularly in Scotland, is well known in this House, not least through her interventions in agricultural matters, in which she is so experienced, as well as in issues of education and local government. I am sure your Lordships would do well to ponder her words on Scotland. In that regard the gracious Speech is eloquent for what it did not say. There are no hasty promises for constitutional reform and my right honourable friend the Prime Minister emphasised his commitment to the Union. But we may take the forthcoming December summit of the European Community at Holyrood House as a welcome preliminary token that Scotland will have a more prominent place in the public life of the United Kingdom.

It is a privilege also to speak to a Motion to which the noble Lords, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos and Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, will also speak. Already I have learnt to tread warily in the path of such political heavyweights from whom even a well-aimed compliment can be more devastating than a political volley from lesser parliamentarians. I am particularly happy also to be speaking in advance of the maiden speech of one who has served in another place not only as Leader of the House but also as Lord Privy Seal. How that should be possible is a mystery which, as a mere novice to Westminster, I cannot fathom. However, it is a great pleasure to welcome my noble friend Lord Wakeham. In doing so may I say how much your Lordships' House has benefited from the tact and the distinction of his predecessor, my noble friend Lord Waddington, and wish him Godspeed to his important new responsibilities.

There is, it is rumoured, a tradition on these occasions that speakers should wear the uniform to which they are entitled. But an academic gown would scarcely impress your Lordships after the finery which we have seen this morning. Thirty-four years ago I left the Royal Air Force after two of the most enjoyable and rewarding years of my life. However, to appear before your Lordships as a flying officer might no longer carry conviction. Perhaps I may add, however, that over the past 34 years there have been several occasions, notably during the Falklands defence 10 years ago and the United Nations' action in the Gulf last year, when I felt proud indeed to have served with the Royal Air Force.

It is not unusual on these occasions that a novice to your Lordships' House should testify not only to the courtesies received but also to the sometimes bewildering complexity of its ways. To err is human, and I well remember the occasion last year when returning to my place from the Not-Contents Division Lobby—and thus having to cross the Floor of the House—I committed the great solecism, as I now realise, of walking between the Woolsack and the Table. Fortunately during the Division hardly anyone noticed, but with a friendly cry of "order" a Minister of State leapt from the Front Bench to offer correction. He indicated that, in favourable circumstances, the cries of "order" from your Lordships would be so terrifying as to cause the offender to scuttle back the way he had come, thus renewing the offence and provoking redoubled outcry—"just", as my noble friend put it, "like shooting rabbits".

I limped back to my hole—or to my seat, I should say—not wounded but certainly grazed, thankful to have received only a single salvo from my noble friend's double-barrelled shotgun. But, to be more serious, as a newcomer I have swiftly come to value the unfailing courtesy and helpfulness of Members of your Lordships' House.

The noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy, has already spoken with eloquence on some of the international implications of the gracious Speech. On the home front it promises important innovations but always within the framework of what has already been achieved, including further measures of privatisation and, therefore, wider share ownership and improved labour relations.

Any changes must take place within the continuing objectives so ably maintained by my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer; namely, price stability (to build on the great success in recent years of defeating inflation), sustained growth—which one hopes will soon come about and lead to a downturn in the unemployment figures—and a reduced share of national income taken up by the public sector, thus allowing a reduction in taxation.

These prudent policies imply that one cannot in general afford to solve problems by throwing money at them. That view has just been reaffirmed by the electorate. The great thrust of the Government's new programme is thus towards what may be termed "internal restructuring"—ensuring choice, competition and service within the various centrally financed enterprises, not least in education and health.

That is where the philosophy of the Citizen's Charter is in many ways a radical one. It is far from a job lot of minor issues—like making the trains run on time, or wearing name tags in offices. No, my Lords, to make existing institutions work efficiently and beneficially to all their users is a major and significant objective. We look forward to further charters and to the responsiveness which they imply —for instance, to patients' needs in the health service.

Education is an area where there has been much restructuring and the goal of extending choice and diversity will bring more. But there is also a case, so far as the national curriculum is concerned, for a period of consolidation to allow teachers to build on the real improvements which have taken place. Sometimes one feels, with a multiplicity of quangos like the National Curriculum Council and the Schools Examinations and Assessment Council, that there are too many cooks spoiling the curriculum.

The commitment to raise standards at all levels of education is a welcome one, as is the widening of the higher education sector achieved in the last session by the Further and Higher Education Act, now to be implemented. But we should note that it may be only to a limited extent compatible with a reduction in unit costs.

The new emphasis on science research, implied in the shift in responsibility for it to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, is most welcome. But I hope that research in the humanities will not again be overlooked. I would remind the House that only the humanities, among active fields of research, now lack their own research council.

Perhaps the most imaginative new development is the Ministry for National Heritage. Only the irrepressibly frivolous could call it the Ministry for Fun, when, with a 48-hour working week, there are fully 120 hours remaining, more than 60 of them I would guess available for leisure. It is welcome that leisure and the arts will have a Minister of Cabinet rank. But let it not be forgotten that the historic heritage of buildings and archaeological sites, of which we are proud, is not merely a touristic theme park but a precious resource which is being threatened every year through rural and urban development.

The great success of English Heritage since its inception eight years ago—and for the first two of those years I had the privilege of serving as a Commissioner—has been built on its skilful use of the planning process, where its place within the Department of the Environment was an asset. I hope, therefore, that one of the first tasks of the new Minister will be to establish appropriate links with the planners of the Department of the Environment; and, when the National Lottery is set up, to remember that the Millennium Fund is relevant to the first millennium as well as to the second.

These and the other proposals within the gracious Speech promise to have a significant and beneficial impact upon our national life. They will involve your Lordships in many hours of legislative scrutiny and there can be no doubt that what will emerge will once again testify to the assiduity of your Lordships' House as a revising Chamber.

I commend these proposals, and thank your Lordships for your courteous attention, and now beg to second the Motion of my noble friend for a humble Address to Her Majesty.

4.16 p.m.

Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos

My Lords, I beg to move that this debate be adjourned until tomorrow. It is my pleasant task to congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, the Mover, and the noble Lord, Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, as Seconder of the Motion, on their excellent speeches. Scotland seems to be doing well these days. I do not propose to go into detail as I do not wish to embarrass the Government this afternoon but they have certainly put up two formidable champions to defend their interests today.

We are aware of the wide range of interests of the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, and these were reflected in her speech. The noble Baroness is one of the most active members of this House and her experience in agriculture, Scottish local government, education and in other fields has made her a most valued contributor to our debates on these subjects.

The gracious Speech refers to the Scottish legislation to be introduced during this Session. I know that the noble Baroness will be active in Committee when the time comes. I admired the way in which in her speech she skated elegantly around the Scottish problem.

The training of young people is one of her chief interests and the noble Baroness has played a leading role in the Girl Guide movement in Scotland. She was president of the association for 10 years. That is an honourable record of which she can be proud. The noble Baroness covered a number of subjects in her speech including the European Community and the Treaty of Maastricht, which will be debated tomorrow and again in our debate on the economy. What she said will be valued by all who take part in those debates.

The noble Lord, Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, has also made his mark in this House since he joined us last year. As Master of Jesus College, Cambridge, the noble Lord speaks with great authority on education, as we learnt during our recent debates on the Further and Higher Education Act. The chief distinction of the noble Lord is his international reputation as an archaeologist, and he has written several notable books on the subject. He has not yet written anything about the Druids, but if he wishes I shall introduce him to a few survivors. I know he would enjoy their company. In his interesting speech, the noble Lord dealt with a number of subjects. I know that many of his views on the National Health Service, on education and on the other matters he mentioned will be raised by noble Lords in their speeches over the next few days.

Since the House last met we have heard with great sadness of the death of Lord Havers. The noble Lord's tenure on the Woolsack was all too short and all of us regret that because we know that he had the personality and the resources which would have made him a good Lord Chancellor. He will be remembered for his notable service as Attorney-General for a period of eight years in another place. He will stay in our memory as a colleague and friend of great ability, charm and kindness, and we send our sympathies to Lady Havers and the family.

This is also an appropriate moment for me to refer to the departure from his office here of the noble Lord, Lord Waddington. In his comparatively short tenure, the noble Lord proved himself an assiduous and fair Leader of this House. We wish him and Lady Waddington success and happiness in his new post as Governor of Bermuda. I know that many noble Lords have already noted Bermuda in their diaries as an attractive holiday location. We join the noble Baroness in welcoming the noble Lord, Lord Wakeham, to his office as Leader of the House. We know of his distinguished career in another place and we wish him well in his duties here.

I now turn briefly to the gracious Speech, which has already been discussed at length in the weekend press. There are a number of Bills which we can support, subject to helpful amendments. I have in mind the Criminal Justice Bill, the Pensions Bill, the Consumer Protection Bill and the measures relating to the environment. I had the privilege of introducing the Welsh Language Act 1967 and I very much look forward to the new Bill promised in the gracious Speech. The conclusion of the GATT trade negotiations and the reform of the CAP are both of the first importance and we look forward to debates on those two subjects. We hope that progress will have been made in pursuing the conclusion of the GATT and also in making inroads into the possible reform of the CAP, which I recognise immediately is not a simple matter. The Minister of Agriculture will have great difficulties, not least with the French Government.

There are other Bills which we regard as unhelpful and unnecessary. I shall not list them in detail in this short speech, but they include the privatisation measures, which are a device to put money at the disposal of the Government without benefiting the taxpayer in any way. I must be frank with the noble Baroness and noble Lords opposite. If the objective of the gracious Speech is to put me at ease with myself, it is, I regret to say, a total failure. Nor is the gracious Speech a golden chariot to carry us on into the next millennium. But the noble Baroness and the noble Lord have played their part well in setting the scene for this debate and we are most indebted to them. I beg to move that this debate be adjourned until tomorrow.

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

4.24 p.m.

Lord Jenkins of Hillhead

My Lords, there has been, as the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, has rightly said, a certain Scottish tinge to the choice of the mover and seconder of the Motion for the Address today. It is of course stronger in the case of the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour, who is deep-rooted in eastern Scotland and has played a prominent role in many voluntary organisations and in several bodies covering the whole of Scotland. Her Scottish connection is, however, flavoured, as she herself indicated, with a dash of Cantabrigian experience, for, as what I think must have been a very young woman, she worked for three years in the great Cavendish Laboratory in that university, an institution which played a central role in giving Cambridge its remarkable pre-eminence as a centre of empirical scientific inquiry, in the 1920s and 1930s in particular. I have often thought that no act by any chancellor of any university did more for the future fame of his university than that of the seventh Duke of Devonshire when he founded and funded —though it did not actually cost very much—that laboratory in 1871.

The noble Lord, Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, is perhaps the other way round from the noble Baroness. He is a central ornament of the University of Cambridge with a dash of Scotland about him, possibly mainly in his title, but it certainly does not lie with me to complain about that. Under the pluralism allowed in that university, though not in some others, he is Master of Jesus College and Professor of Archaeology. He is indeed Disney Professor of Archaeology. While we all have some curiously named professorships this seems to me to be a very early tribute to that remarkable archaeological site which was recently uncovered outside Paris. He has himself conducted some considerable excavations as well as producing a range of books, one of which—I think the most recent one—The Cycladic Spirit—was being passed round with great admiration at a lunch party which I attended yesterday and which had no connection with his speech today. Away from Cambridge he has also had notable academic spells at Sheffield and Southampton, so his experience of universities is wide.

During the Sheffield period he managed to find time in 1968 to be a Conservative by-election candidate in the Brightside division. In those days Brightside must have been a remarkably safe Labour seat, for the by-election took place in the aftermath of my first Budget, which, whatever good it did for the country in the medium term, was in the short term an almost unfailing loser of by-elections—but not in Brightside. So Brightside's House of Commons' loss eventually became our House of Lords' gain. We thank him and the noble Baroness for their excellent speeches. I am not sure that their nomination to the task is quite a substitute for a constructive and sensitive Scottish policy on the part of the Government. Indeed, while I appreciated much of what the noble Baroness said on that subject, I do not quite think that legislation to amend the laws relating to bankruptcy or even to deal with the early release of prisoners quite goes to the heart of the Scottish problem at the present time. What, however, is certainly the case is that they have between them given us a very good start to our proceedings in this Parliament.

The gracious Speech gives us quite a number of Bills, but it does not give us a very heavy diet for an 18-month Session. But when one looks back at the bizarre legislative record of the previous Parliament there is certainly something to be said for a degree of austerity in this respect. Rushed legislation, so that it either has to be left as a dead letter or actually repealed in the same Parliament, is certainly not something we want to see repeated. At the same time I hope that we shall not go into a period of too quiet and negative government. Recent experience in the United States shows the dangers of allowing problems to fester, particularly those associated with a growing and increasingly geographically concentrated underclass, many of whom do not vote in polling booths and express themselves only through a growing dissociation from society. While not wishing to introduce too controversial a note at this time, I do think it extraordinary that, with unemployment at nearly 3 million, there is no mention of it in the gracious Speech; and nor is there a single mention of homelessness, which is a major social problem at the present time.

Since we last debated in this Chamber we have had what has been to many—perhaps most—of us the surprising outcome of the general election. That outcome must of course have been a very sweet triumph for the Prime Minister, especially after the alarms and excursions of the previous week. I do not grudge him that triumph for a moment.

However, there are several aspects of the outcome which are not wholly glorious. First, there is the perennial factor that the Government were far from getting a majority of the votes cast. But, beyond that, there is the widespread agreement among commentators that, in so far as any of us can ever judge the collective mood of the electorate, what it had done was to gear itself up for a change and then, having decided that it did not quite have the nerve for it, it turned away in fear and caution. That may be a perfectly natural human reaction but, as I said, it is not a glorious one. Moreover, it is not one which produces much self-satisfaction. On the contrary, to refuse a challenge leads to anti-climax and even a certain feeling of guilt. Therefore, I do not think that the country will be all that easy to lead. It is certainly not in a particularly buoyant or hopeful mood.

There are also some practical problems in the phenomenon—for such it most certainly is—of a fourth successive victory. There are problems for the working of our Parliament which is essentially based on an assumption of alternation. There are problems for the civil servants where the great national asset of impartiality has had the practical buttress of senior officials mostly working with different parties in their top job or very near to it. In those circumstances, I therefore greatly hope that the Government will not underestimate the need to give the country a strong sense of external direction.

I turn now to an easier note. Provided that he is disposed to play a positive hand, I believe that there may be more of a leadership role for Mr. Major and the Foreign Secretary in Europe. I agree that there has been substantial change in the mood since Maastricht. The Franco-German partnership is probably weaker than it has been for at least two decades. That may, partly at least, be because both leaders of those two countries are beginning to prove what I think is almost the absolute validity of the rule that no one is any good in supreme office in his second decade. To be exact, Chancellor Kohl is only in his tenth year but moving towards the end of it.

In those circumstances, there seems to me to be a danger, especially in our attitude towards Germany, that we alternate with really excessive and extreme violence. Two years ago the accepted wisdom was that Germany was such a model of massive success in the centre of Europe that it was bound to be not only an economic but a political juggernaut with which we could hardly live. But now—it seems more like 18 months than two years later—there is the view that the German economy and the German polity is almost totally over the top; that it is in decline; that it is barely competitive; that laziness has seized the German people; and that, inevitably, all sorts of things will happen. I think that a slightly more balanced view here would be appropriate.

But whether or not some weakening of the Franco-German partnership is a good thing for Europe, it certainly offers an opportunity for British leadership. I say that because we have found in many years past the effective rigidity—but, nonetheless the rigidity—of that duopoly quite difficult to deal with in Europe. But if Mr. Major wants —as I hope and believe he does—to take advantage of that and play a major role, then he must not take a purely negative view in Europe.

Some of the pressures upon us may be easing. However, if one just says what a very good thing it is when things fall apart and the centre cannot hold and cheers that as a good development, then the leadership role will not be effectively brought about. Of course, we are entitled to try to deflect developments in our direction—that is, the direction in which we want to see things happen—but we are not entitled to take that purely negative role.

When one looks around the world from Los Angeles to Sarajevo to Kabul, there is every reason to cherish such centres of stability and cohesion as there are. The European Community is indeed one of them. Further, I hope that the Government, confronted with a rather flat political landscape at home, will not underestimate the need to give the country a strong sense of external direction.

Therefore, I very much thank both the mover and the seconder of the Motion. I join with the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, in his tribute to Lord Havers. Although his period on the Woolsack was brief, I saw him in action in the other place as Attorney-General for many years. I endorse the personal tribute which the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn, expressed. We send our sympathy to Lord Havers' widow and family.

I greatly welcome the new Leader of the House. I should also like to express my appreciation to the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, who I think took quickly to this House and led us with nerve and authority. I enjoyed working with him. I wish him well in the future. I look forward to working with the new Leader of the House.

4.30 p.m.

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Wakeham)

My Lords, in rising to address your Lordships for the first time in support of the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, that the debate be adjourned until tomorrow, I am conscious of the great honour and privilege which has been bestowed upon me to he a Member of this House. I am also conscious of the honour for me to follow on this occasion the noble Lords, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos and Lord Jenkins of Hillhead. I am grateful to them for the kind remarks that they made about my noble friend Lord Waddington and for the welcome that they accorded to me personally. I had the privilege of being a colleague—and I hope I can say, friend—both noble Lords opposite in another place; indeed, they were very considerable political figures when I arrived in that place as a very unsure new boy about 18 years ago. I am certainly 18 years older than I was then. But both noble Lords do not seem to me to be a day older than they were when I first met them. I know that I can look forward to their continued support and assistance in the future. I certainly look forward to working closely with them.

I am aware that in my new appointment as Leader of this House I shall have a heavy responsibility. I have much to learn. I can only say that I shall do all that I can to uphold the honourable traditions and interests of the whole House, while serving the Government of which I am proud to be a member. I know both from my predecessors and from my first few days in this place that I can look forward to understanding, courtesy and patience from your Lordships. I say now, in all humility, that I shall value your Lordships' guidance not only now, as a mere beginner, but indeed in the future.

In succeeding my noble friend Lord Waddington, I shall be following someone who was well liked and respected by all your Lordships. My noble friend and I served together as colleagues and friends in another place, initially in the Whips' Office in Mrs. Thatcher's first Administration. We have been close colleagues and friends ever since. I have no illusions about how hard an act he will be to follow. If I cannot say that I look forward to his continued support in this House, it is only because he has been, as your Lordships will be aware, called to a different and important office as Governor of Bermuda. I know that in the execution of that office he will continue to give the highest standards of public service. I am sure that he and Lady Waddington carry with them all your Lordships' best wishes, but we hope to see him in this House as and when his duties permit.

Before I turn to the two admirable speeches that we have heard I know that your Lordships would think it remiss if I did not pay tribute to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Havers, whose death so sadly occurred during the dissolution. As the noble Lords, Lord Cledwyn and Lord Jenkins, have already said, Michael Havers was a man of the utmost probity in public life. To me personally he was a valued colleague. During his career he held all the great law offices: Solicitor-General, Attorney-General and Lord Chancellor. In each of these posts he combined with wit and distinction the two passions of his life—the law and politics.

If it was his long and challenging tenure of the office of Attorney-General—the longest since 1737—for which he will primarily be remembered, it was both unfortunate and a great personal sadness to him that ill health forced him to resign the office of Lord Chancellor so soon after his appointment. Even in his brief tenure of that office I know that he won the affection of all sides of your Lordships' House and that your Lordships would wish me to express on behalf of the House our deepest sympathy to Lady Havers and his family. He leaves in physical form a continuing legacy to your Lordships' House in the form of the collection of law reports amassed by his father and himself which he donated to the Library.

It is now my most pleasant task to add my own congratulations to the mover and seconder of the Motion for the humble Address. My noble friend Lady Carnegy of Lour has, I know, over the past 10 years earned the respect and admiration of all your Lordships for her contribution to your Lordships' deliberations, both here on the Floor of the House and in the work of the European Communities Committee. The energy, commitment and experience which she has brought to bear has illuminated your Lordships' debates, notably on Scottish affairs and education and training matters.

I was particularly glad that my noble friend drew attention to the importance which European affairs will have in the forthcoming Session, both in terms of the Maastricht legislation and the United Kingdom's presidency of the Council of Ministers in the second half of the year, which will conclude so appropriately with the European Council in Edinburgh. I endorse in particular what she said about the need to reform the common agricultural policy and to strive for a settlement of the GATT Round, both of which have been government priorities for a long time. I also note carefully my noble friend's remarks about Scottish affairs. Your Lordships will be aware that my noble friend Lord Fraser has been given specific new responsibilities in that regard.

My noble friend Lord Renfrew, if not quite such a novice as myself, is at least relatively new to your Lordships' House. In the short time he has been a Member of this House he has established himself as an authoritative and compelling voice, as he has already done in the different but no less difficult halls of academic debate.

My noble friend is, of course, an archaeologist by training. In his approach to political affairs he brings the same refreshing forensic logic to bear. His speech today will only add to his reputation. My noble friend's expertise led him to comment in particular on the arrangements for the new national heritage department. His points are typically well made and will, I am sure, be taken by my right honourable friends, as will my noble friend's comments on the National Curriculum Council. I know that when your Lordships come to consider the education Bill we can look forward to further constructive suggestions from him.

I am conscious of the heavy workload that your Lordships have endured over recent sessions. While I think your Lordships will find the measures outlined in the gracious Speech will provide the House with a full and interesting fare over the coming sessions, I hope that in this Session the pressures on your Lordships may be somewhat reduced. I shall, over the next few months, be keen to discuss with my noble friends and with noble Lords opposite possible means of alleviating your Lordships' workload on a more permanent basis.

In the near future, your Lordships may be interested to know that tomorrow my noble and learned friend Lord Fraser will introduce the Prisoners and Criminal Proceedings (Scotland) Bill. Smaller Bills will be introduced at the same time, including the Community Care (Residential Accommodation) Bill which was so skilfully piloted through the House in the last Parliament by my noble friend Lady Brigstocke. During the coming weeks my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor will introduce the Judicial Pensions Bill and my noble friend Lady Chalker of Wallasey will introduce the European Economic Area Bill.

The early part of the Session will also perhaps provide your Lordships with more opportunities for debates than we can expect later in the Session. A debate has been arranged on the report of the European Communities Committee on regional development policy and debates will shortly be held on two recent reports of the Science and Technology Committee. I also hope that the House will have the opportunity to consider more generally the work of your Lordships' committees when the report of the committee chaired by my noble friend Lord Jellicoe will be debated soon after the Whitsun Recess.

The arrangements for the remainder of the debate on the humble Address are that tomorrow we shall consider foreign affairs and defence. My noble friend Lady Chalker will open for the Government and my noble friend Lord Cranborne will reply. On Monday, the subject for debate will be local government, the environment and transport. My noble friend Lord Caithness will open the debate and my noble friend Lord Strathclyde will reply.

On Tuesday, we shall turn to home and social affairs and education. My noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor will open for the Government and my noble friend Lady Blatch will reply. Finally, on Wednesday, your Lordships will turn to the economy. My noble friend Lady Denton of Wakefield will open for the Government and I shall reply.

I am pleased to support the Motion of the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition that the debate be adjourned until tomorrow. I should like to join him and the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins, in warmly congratulating my noble friends who moved and seconded the Motion for a humble Address. They have got our proceedings off to a very good start.

4.47 p.m.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern)

My Lords, before I put the Question on the Motion, it might be appropriate if I added my own personal tribute in respect of my distinguished predecessor, Lord Havers. I was privileged to serve with him while he was Attorney-General and I was Lord Advocate. I have reason to believe that it was his influence that put me in that position and I had the honour to follow him on the Woolsack when, sadly, illness prevented him from continuing. I know that many of your Lordships will remember the kind way in which he spoke on demitting office about my succeeding him. It must have been an extremely difficult time for him.

The Lord Chancellorship is the pinnacle that an English lawyer can seek. Lord Havers attained it, but sadly his health prevented him from continuing.

Against that background to welcome me so warmly was a tribute to his kindness and personality that I shall never forget.

On Question, Motion agreed to.