§ 4.47 p.m.
§ Debate resumed.
§ Lord Williams of Mostyn
My Lords, the history of the present Government's incumbency has been a lamentable tale of incoherence and myopia. The background to their regime has been generally rising unemployment, social decay, rising crime and falling confidence. To those problems the Government have made the approach of measured consistency which one would expect from a half-demented weathercock. That really, perhaps, was not entirely unforeseen by many of us. However, what we did not foresee—neither can we accept, nor shall we forgive—is the wilful demeaning of a great office of state—the Home Office.
I thought last night about some former occupants of the Home Office; for example, the noble Viscount, Lord Whitelaw, the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, the present Foreign Secretary and the noble Lords, Lord Callaghan and Lord Merlyn-Rees. None of those holders of that Seal left the office diminished. I suggest that no one could have listened to the remarks of the present Home Secretary at the Conservative Party Conference, and later and often, without a feeling of infinite sadness and distaste.
After 14 years of Conservative rule, what do we find in the field of law and order? According to a poll that was published yesterday morale in the Crown Prosecution Service has never been lower. There is dismay in the organisation about abandoned prosecutions, investigations in vain and victims left without redress. The frustration of the police service in this country has never been greater. I suggest that the citizens of this country have not been so uneasy in their liberties since the end of the last war. But what do the Government do? They look for a slogan here and a 572 totem there. They say, "We shall crack down on bail bandits". It is always a case of cracking down on something. However, if you crack down on bail bandits, you need prison places but there are none; they cannot be provided overnight. What will happen if the Government send those people to prison? Presently, of course, people are unconvicted, by definition, if they are on bail. If the Government send those people to prison, there will be further overcrowding of a system that is grossly overburdened; or a return to the old discredited system, bitterly hated by police officers, of keeping remand prisoners in police cells overnight and over the weekend. At the same time as this marvellous crackdown the provision for bail hostels is being savagely reduced.
The Government say they will limit cautioning. However, it is this Government who have presided over and colluded in the system of repeated cautioning for offences, among others, of domestic burglary, sexual offences and—the curse of our present time—gratuitous violence in public places. There is another slogan—"prison works". It seems that it does not work for white collar City criminals because they do not have the opportunity to see whether or not it does. Mr. Cole, Mr. Ramsden and Mr. Levitt have not been sent to prison. However, a single mother who fiddles a few pounds on state benefits out of need and not greed goes to prison for 28 days. Where are the Attorney-General's appeals on those sentences which have caused such public derision, unease and shame? As regards the slogan "prison works", the Home Office's own research material states:Prison is an expensive way of making bad people worse".A significant number of people in prison are petty criminals. They spend lives of waste, idleness and boredom. The inspectorate under that admirable man Judge Tumim produces reports on what would have been a scandal 100 years ago, but no one resigns. The indictment against this Government is: gross negligence in the conduct of public affairs. A fair review of the evidence leads to one conclusion only: the verdict is "guilty".
§ 4.53 p.m.
§ Lord Rippon of Hexham
My Lords, I deplore this Motion. I think its sweeping terms are unprecedented, and rightly so. In my view, it is for the other place to express confidence in the government of the day and not for us. Moreover, I regard it as wholly unhelpful to try to polarise the position of political parties in this House. However, as the Opposition have chosen this battleground, I am glad to declare my support for the Prime Minister and the Government. I believe that, looked at as a whole, the policies of the Government are right and in the interests of the nation. That is certainly true of our foreign and commonwealth policy which I consider has been brilliantly conducted by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary.
I felt during the Maastricht debates that some noble Lords opposite were considerably embarrassed and slightly caught up in the behaviour of their counterparts in another place who subordinated our European future to rather shabby, discreditable manoeuvres regardless of 573 the national interest. No doubt they judged that few people in the constituencies would understand that their alliance with the so-called "Euro-sceptics" was defended on the Opposition's view that the treaty signed did not go far or fast enough towards European union. That is something that the noble Lord, Lord Richard, the Leader of the Opposition, inferred earlier today. For my part I believe that the opt-outs, skilfully negotiated by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, over a common currency, economic and monetary union and the Social Chapter are increasingly accepted as right and realistic, although of course they may not last as long as the opt-outs negotiated so skilfully by the Scots in the Act of Union.
As regards the economy, inflation is under control. By contrast, I remember only too vividly, not one statistic in 1967, but the damage inflicted on pensioners and other people living on small fixed incomes by the long-term rampant inflation endured under Labour governments. Of course there are great problems to be tackled, including the high level of unemployment. But even here it must be acknowledged that, while our unemployment is falling, in almost every country in Europe it is rising. We are pulling steadily out of the recession. We are the only country in Europe whose industrial production is rising not falling. We have now had a Budget which I believe is calculated to safeguard the future long-term interest and well-being of every section of society.
However, we must look beyond one Parliament in considering difficult economic and social issues. I believe that this will require our working together in seeking long-term solutions. For this we need compromise and not confrontation. The Labour Party consistently refuses to look at these problems in a sensible long-term way. Short-term party political considerations seem to be its only priority. Sadly, I am bound to say that socialist policies today belong to the past and not to the future. It has been well said that the only difference between the rut and the grave is that the rut is longer. It seems to me that the Labour Party wants to remain in the rut to the bitter end.
Finally, it is my belief that the strength of the House lies in the fact that we can vote on important matters across party boundaries and from time to time defeat the Government as regards improving the form and content of legislation without that being a vote of confidence. I believe this Motion to be ill-conceived and misplaced. I hope it will be defeated decisively.
§ 4.56 p.m.
§ Lord Stoddart of Swindon
My Lords, unlike the noble Lord, Lord Rippon, I welcome the Motion. It is about time we got the gloves off in this place. The Motion, in referring to the Stalinist gang which occupies the seat of power as Her Majesty's Government, does them a kindness. They do not deserve everything that is stated in the Motion. Indeed, everything they do and say is tainted and everything they touch turns to dust.
Even Her Majesty and the Royal Family are not exempt from their baleful influence. For the first time in recent history the Queen is required to pay tax. Her 574 Majesty has been reduced in status by this Government to a citizen of the moribund and disreputable European Union. Her laws are increasingly made, not by her Parliament but by a polyglot junta sitting in a foreign capital. I do not believe Tory supporters out in the country like that very much. The Prince of Wales, God bless him, has been asked by the police not to visit the Principality because they cannot protect him as the Government are not able or are not willing to provide the money for the police to keep law and order which has so badly slipped during the Government's 14 years in office.
As we heard, the Government have ruined the economy. The public finances are in ruin due to their lack of proper financial control and profligate expenditure. If a Labour government had dared to spend 45 per cent. of GDP they would have been hounded out of office with ignominy by noble Lords opposite and their counterparts in the other place and in the City. Yet this Government are spending 45 per cent. of money that people earn.
However, this clinging on to power and imposition of unprecedented tax burdens is typical of the Tory Government of the past 14 years. They have imposed high taxes on the very people who trusted them, voted for them and worked for them at the previous election. My right honourable friend the Leader of the Opposition said yesterday in another place that the Budget was a vicious attack on the welfare state. It most certainly is, but much more than that it is a vicious attack on the living standards of every man, woman and child in the United Kingdom, and in particular those people in the income group who usually vote Conservative. Indeed, they have been betrayed as never before. I hope that that will tell at the next general election.
This so-called Government pretend to stand for the family. Yet their policies are pushing more and more mothers to work to make ends meet. Only yesterday the value of the married couple's allowance was reduced. The Government's solution to teenage pregnancy is to cut benefit and lower the age of consent to 13. Those are the proposals of this Government in relation to family values.
Finally, I turn to democracy. The insidious undermining of every democratic institution in favour of centralised power is a danger to our freedoms. In local government, the health service and elsewhere power and decision-making have been transferred either to central government itself or to expensive quangos, which are the creatures and servants of government Ministers. The Government are still not content. The Police and Magistrates' Courts Bill is yet to come before us. Once again more power will be transferred to the centre. I believe that the lay magistracy itself may be under threat from this Government.
The Government have great contempt for the British people. But if they are not careful they will find, as the Conservatives in Canada found, that at the next election they too can be wiped out.
§ 5.1 p.m.
§ Lord Howe of Aberavon
My Lords, the debate in which we are taking part becomes curiouser and curiouser. It is curious that such an unprecedented Motion should have been chosen for debate, particularly at a moment of unprecedented opportunity to affirm our confidence in the Government.
The most manifest sign of confidence is the Budget introduced by my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer yesterday. He has made the most of the opportunity presented by the first unified Budget. I am happy to say that his first job in the other place was as my Parliamentary Private Secretary. That gives me added reason for confidence in the skill and courage with which he has addressed himself to the task. He has set himself the right objectives to sustain the recovery which has been under way since the first half of last year.
To hear the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, speak, he might have been speaking about another country. He may have failed to notice that, unlike any of our European partners, we live in an economy of dramatically falling inflation, dramatically falling interest rates, dramatically falling unemployment and substantially rising growth. His speech must have been addressed to a different audience on a different occasion. The same can be said of the speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart. It is right that the Chancellor should be determined to put public finances on a sound footing on a long-term basis. To hear the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, speak one wondered how on earth his party would ever address itself to that agenda.
The noble Lord spoke of a vicious attack on every taxpayer and a vicious attack on every beneficiary, all sustaining a Budget deficit which he also described as vicious. What does he propose to do about it? One cannot run an economy and tackle a deficit which is larger than it should be simply by saying "We wouldn't start from here". Where would they start? What would they do? The Chancellor is doing the right thing, not making a vicious attack on common sense. The vicious attack has been made by the party opposite, which is against any opportunity whatsoever.
The Chancellor is making long-term changes, broadly in the right way, in the structure both of taxes and of expenditure. He is addressing himself to the reduction of mortgage interest relief, the enhancement of the duty on tobacco and the prospect of higher duty on road fuel on a long-term basis which is calculated to generate revenue for the future. He is addressing himself to a proper appraisal of the welfare state. Therefore, far from launching an attack on the welfare state he and his colleagues are looking at the best way of preserving it in the most effective fashion possible by making measured and sensible long-term spending reductions of the kind that are necessary if the Budget balance is to be restored in a sensible fashion. Unemployment benefit is being reshaped; invalidity benefit is being reshaped; university grants are being reshaped by extending reliance on the loan system; there is to be a long-term change in the pension age; there is to be a proper reduction in the burden of public expenditure; and, 576 finally, there are proposals for the introduction of private sector finance in infrastructure expenditure. All those measures are grounds for confidence in the economic management of this Government, not the reverse.
There is one further point to be made about those proposals. The Chancellor is committing himself to achieving those objectives over a long term. As I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan, will agree, he has the wisdom to say, "Beware of forecasts". I said the same thing and I am sure the noble Lord did the same.
§ Lord Callaghan of Cardiff
My Lords, I certainly agree. However, in view of the record of every government, I find it surprising that a Chancellor can go on record as proposing that the deficit shall be reduced to £2 billion in seven years' time. With all the changes which are likely to take place in that time, I simply do not believe it.
§ Lord Howe of Aberavon
My Lords, I was going to make precisely that point. It was the one qualification that I wanted to make and I am grateful to the noble Lord for anticipating me. If one needs to beware of forecasting one needs to beware of over-confidence. I am glad to see a confident Chancellor, but I hope that he will not be misled so far as to disregard the need for keeping his target in sight.
In view of all the ways in which the Government are addressing themselves to these problems I believe that we have every reason for confidence in the Government. I am dismayed by the way in which this Motion was tabled by this Opposition in this House. It diminishes my confidence in the party opposite even further. I hope that this House will have nothing to do with it.
§ 5.6 p.m.
Lord Bruce of Donington
My Lords, it has evidently escaped the attention of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe, that the debate this afternoon is not on yesterday's Budget but on the record of the Government as a whole over the past 14 years.
To take up the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Rippon, across the House generally, there are a number of factors in common. We are all Members of the same House of course and we are all members of the same nation. The objective should always be to find out how much agreement we can achieve. But there are difficulties in that because noble Lords on the other side of the House, many of whom are known to me as very nice and kindly people, live in a different world altogether from the world which they describe. They represent people in this place, very rich and powerful people, who do not understand how the other half live and have never experienced how they live. In this country there are great extremes of wealth and poverty. A democracy as a system of developing laws and the welfare of the whole country cannot survive where great wealth confronts great poverty.
The Government claim on the one hand that the economy is strong and the nation is prosperous and then on the other hand say that they are in dire straits. It is notable, and it has been the same over the years, that whenever the Government find themselves in difficulty 577 it is not to the rich and powerful that they look to be sustained: it is the poor, the weak and the sick who always bear the brunt of the burden. We know perfectly well that in one day those who sustain the party opposite will spend on lunch what an ordinary person who is unemployed or in the poverty trap receives in a week. They live in a different world altogether.
The Government do not seem to realise that at least one-third of the population does not live in the world as portrayed in the colour magazine supplements of the Sunday newspapers. They live a life in which every penny matters. Even the changing of a small battery in a radio set represents a crisis. Every change in venue when they have to go to a hospital, so that they have to travel perhaps three miles instead of one, represents a crisis in the family budget because it means having to travel from one fare zone into another. That is what noble Lords opposite do not realise; nor can it be sustained for long.
We all have to face the fact that sooner or later democracy cannot endure where the fortunes of most of the people of the country who work and most of those who are out of work depend fundamentally on the complete and untouchable freedom of people who are supposed to provide the capital in order that manufacturing and other industries may run. That cannot go on. Either poverty using democracy will win the battle against property, or property fearing poverty will destroy democracy. That is exactly what is happening in the United Kingdom today. All over the country elected bodies are being replaced by quangos. Those quangos consist in the main—I shall prove it if necessary—of members of the Conservative Party and their hangers on. The democratic rule, progressive though it may be, is superseded by appointments made quite shamelessly without regard to the welfare of the people.
I have spent many days wandering around some of the hospitals that are the subject of the Tomlinson report. There is no time to give the results of my inquiries into those hospitals. However, I assure Members opposite that among the hospital staff who really care the Health Secretary's name is execrated. They do not like her in the slightest, or anything that she stands for.
In the time that remains to us we have to undertake those measures that have wide acceptance throughout the country rather than the measures accepted by those who hold the power.
§ 5.12 p.m.
§ Lord Dean of Harptree
My Lords, I am grateful for the opportunity to make my maiden speech. First, I thank noble Lords in all parts of the House for the welcome and kindness that I have received. I also thank the Clerk of the Parliaments, officials and staff for being so helpful. I have been made to feel very much at home and I am truly grateful for that.
I have a long-standing interest in pensions. I noted the statement in the gracious Speech that, 578My Government will continue to develop their policies on social security so that help is concentrated on those most in need and expenditure is kept within affordable limits".Hear, hear, to that, my Lords. The trouble is that those two points often conflict. It is reassuring to pensioners to know that they have a regular pension income, that pensions nowadays are increased each year and that the principle of benefit as of right on payment of contributions is firmly entrenched. However, the number of pensioners is increasing all the time and the cost of pensions increases as a consequence. We must therefore inevitably ask, "Is the cost becoming too great?" Are we asking future working generations to pay too much? Those are awkward questions which are being asked. I give the Government great credit for taking the lead in the debate on those important matters.
We also have to take into account the fact that the circumstances of a growing number of pensioners have changed for the better. We now have what the younger generation call well-off old folk with three sources of income: the straight retirement pension; an occupational or public service pension; and investment income. Those are wholly satisfactory developments but they have a bad side too.
As recent events have shown, the safeguards against dishonesty and cheating in occupational pension schemes have proved to be inadequate. For the most part, trustees are doing a good job. We welcome the new pensions ombudsman. The occupational pensions advisory service is doing valuable work in helping to obtain redress for those who have grievances. But the law needs to be tightened up. I am glad that the Government set up the Goode Committee to review the framework of law and regulation of pension schemes. I hope that the Government will take early action on the committee's wise and practical recommendations.
It has been said that this is an unprecedented debate. Therefore perhaps I may be forgiven for a somewhat controversial remark in my maiden speech; namely, that when the vote is called I shall vote with conviction and enthusiasm against the Motion moved by the noble Lord, Lord Richard. I thank your Lordships for giving me the courtesy of your attention.
§ 5.18 p.m.
§ Lord Carter
My Lords, one of the most pleasant tasks in your Lordships' House is to be the speaker following a maiden speech. Today is no exception. The noble Lord, Lord Dean of Harptree, comes to us with a great reputation as a parliamentarian with expertise in particular on health and social security. His maiden speech has added to that reputation. I know that I speak for all noble Lords when I say how much we enjoyed his speech and look forward to his future contributions to our debates.
The Motion before the House refers to the lack of confidence in Her Majesty's Government. That certainly applies in the National Health Service and community care. There is increasing evidence that the reforms set in train by the National Health Service and Community Care Act are not working. As part of my duties in the health team, I spend much time in discussion with doctors, carers and nurses. I meet 579 consultants who cannot wait to retire. I met a young male nurse in my home town. He is well trained. He and all his colleagues were engaged on six-month contracts. He was taken on in March and discharged in September, not because of inefficiency but because of a funding problem. He is now lost to the National Health Service. He is being trained elsewhere.
We could have avoided that situation. When we were considering the Bill in this House, my noble friend Lord Ennals moved an amendment which had the support of all the Royal Colleges. It asked the Government to try out the reforms in two regions. Instead the Bill was rammed through —it was ill thought out and ill considered, as referred to by my noble friend the Leader of the Opposition in his opening—in the mood of triumphalism which suffused the Government at that time. The reforms have cost over £1 billion. The health service now spends £25 million a year on public relations. The number of managers has tripled—like some of their salaries. The pay bill for managers is up by 108 per cent. in real terms. The pay bill for nurses and midwives is up in real terms by 2.2 per cent.
We are surprised by the increase in the salaries of the managers in the health service—the trust hospitals and others. It was like the salaries of the managers in the privatised industries. To paraphrase Gertrude Stein, "A gravy train is a gravy train is a gravy train". A leading consultant in industry told me the other day that the internal market was the last but two in management theory in large organisations.
Of course it is important to find out the cost of operating the National Health Service—we used to call it organisation and methods—to find out the best practice and see the cheapest way of doing it. I believe it was Mr. William Waldegrave when he was Secretary of State who referred to the health service as "an administrative slum". You do not engage in slum clearance by submerging it in paper; and that is what has happened. We are now engaged on a vast paper chase.
There was reference recently at Question Time to the Royal Marsden Hospital, which seeks trust status. I am sure that it will get trust status and will not be closed. But while it remains open, it will have to turn its attention from its world renowned treatment and research into cancer to compete with other hospitals and for customers in the same way as Tesco's competes with Sainsbury's.
We shall hear at the end, I am sure, about the resources the Government have put into the health service and the number of patients who are treated. That is to do with resources. But of the 21 OECD countries, only four spend less on health care as a percentage of their GDP than the UK. We spend £100 less per head of population than the EC average. If we had spent the average of the EC from 1980 to 1990, it would have been worth an extra £40 billion for the health service. In that period our hospitals have gone down by 20 per cent. and hospital beds by 25 per cent. The hospitals in the private sector have increased by 50 per cent. and the beds in the private sector by 70 per cent.
We shall be told, I am sure, about the number of patients. When the noble Earl winds up, will he confirm that when the Government refer to the number of 580 patients, they mean the number of consultant episodes? If a patient is seen by three consultants, it counts as three patients.
The Government rejected the gradualist, consensual reform that we could all have supported. They rammed through ill-considered, underfunded reforms which are based on a half-baked and out-of-date fad in management theory. The country is now paying and I am absolutely certain that the Government will pay eventually.
§ 5.21 p.m.
§ Lord Sanderson of Bowden
My Lords, I also wish to associate myself with the words of congratulation to my noble friend Lord Dean of Harptree on his splendid, short and pungent speech. We look forward very much to hearing more from him in the days and months that lie ahead.
Listening to the Leader of the Opposition opening the debate, fulminating and saying that the country was on its knees, my mind went back to 1979. In those days we longed for interest rates at a low rate, 5½ per cent. and inflation at its present levels. That is what we were saying. Then I remembered, of course, that the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition was not in this country; he was the United Nations representative, living in New York. I suppose that that is a bit like Pooh-Bah. When the Mikado had him grovelling at his feet for having cut off the head of the heir apparent, Pooh-Bah said: "I knew nothing about it. I wasn't there".
The country on its knees! I have to say that I strongly disagree with the Leader of the Opposition in that remark. A recent survey by the Financial Times of the top 500 European companies, showed that, on profit, 10 of the top 20 are in the United Kingdom. Manufacturing output per head in the three months to September this year is up 4.9 per cent. Yesterday we had a Budget for small business. Deeds, not words; action, not words. The "son of BES" has indeed come to pass, with action to tackle late payment, particularly by large companies which are strangling small companies by holding up payments. I say to my friends on the Front Bench, "Do not give way; do tackle, if necessary by legislation, the late payment of accounts which is so difficult for a small business to counter".
I believe that the 1993 Budgets, in a difficult world scene, have rescued the United Kingdom from a possible plunge into fiscal unsustainability similar to that seen in some European countries such as Italy. I prefer the Government's approach to that of signing up for a social charter or a payroll tax so beloved of the party opposite. Levelling up of taxes is no good for business. It is bad for business and it is bad for Britain.
§ 5.24 p.m.
§ Lord Palmer
My Lords, as only one of two Cross-Benchers to take part in the debate tonight, I shall be extremely brief. I should like to raise two points as words of warning for the Government. Both are related to the situation in Scotland.
First, there has been a gross miscalculation of the base area for Scottish cereal production at the Scottish 581 Office. That has resulted in the fact that we farmers have been told to set a further 5 per cent. aside next year without compensation. That means that we shall now be setting nearly 21 per cent. aside. The same situation recently arose in Germany and the German Government fought long and hard in Brussels for their farmers. As a result of that great fight, German farmers are not being penalised. I have to say that the Scottish farming industry feels let down by Her Majesty's Government.
The second point I wish to raise is the Government's proposals to change the way we run local government in Scotland. I am not against the idea of single-tier local authorities, but what I am against is the Government's total reluctance to listen to local feeling. That has happened throughout Scotland and in our case the Government propose to take Berwickshire out of the Scottish Borders. Berwickshire has been part of the Borders for centuries but the Government propose to link it with East Lothian. Geographically, Berwickshire is separated from East Lothian by the Lammermuir Hills; the only road to the proposed new headquarters in Haddington is a B road which is partially blocked with snow from the beginning of October to the beginning of June. It simply does not make sense. I feel that the Government will earn the most enormous support if they look at both those issues and show a willingness to examine them. I am sure that they agree that they could do with more support from over the Border.
§ 5.26 p.m.
§ Lord Alexander of Weedon
My Lords, like my noble and learned friend Lord Howe, I have confidence in the way in which the Government are managing the economic fundamentals. That surely must underpin all our aspirations on all sides of the House for the better development of society.
In the past, the "boom and bust" economic cycle has gravely harmed us. First and foremost, we have to seek economic stability and I welcome the fact that the Government are seeking steady, durable growth. We increasingly accept across the board that a long-term, low inflationary environment must be maintained. Low inflation is, of course, not just a goal in itself but it is fundamental as the foundation of long-term and sustained progress. In particular, there is no long-term trade off between inflation and unemployment. Employment prospects can only be underpinned by a sound economy. Some, I know, say that inflation is now dead, but in the light of the history of recent decades we should be vigilant to guard against it rising again. The aims of the Budget seem to me to reinforce that commitment. But, above all, I welcome the commitment of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to long-term and not short-term success.
I am also heartened that the Government are now committed to a partnership with industry and business. We all rightly accept once again that manufacturing industry is vital to our future. Our service industry, into which the City of London chipped almost £19 billion last year, is highly important. But we need greater manufacturing success to export more and for our own goods to substitute for imports. I am glad that the 582 Opposition approve of the Government's present policy. The DTI, under Mr. Michael Heseltine, is absolutely and clearly committed, as we see it, to working with industry to help it to achieve its goals. New export markets are not easy to win, particularly when our principal European markets are in recession. But the commitment of the Government to promoting and supporting exports, as the Prime Minister has done on several trade missions in the time he has to spare from Parliament, is really heartening. We are no longer afraid to talk, in simple language, of UK Plc as if we mean it.
Like many others, I see small businesses as vital to the future. They contribute 17 per cent. of our GDP but they also contribute 35 per cent. of private sector employment. Ninety six per cent. of businesses in this country employ fewer than 20 people, so I am very glad, for the sake of employment as well as growth, that their importance was recognised in the Budget. The raising of the threshold for VAT, the lessening of the accountancy burden and the creation of new vehicles for tax efficient investment in small businesses are all steps in the right direction.
However, as my noble friend Lord Sanderson said, we must also help small businesses with their cash flow. Late payment of debt is a disease in this country. At any one time, £15 billion of payments are overdue, and the problem needs to be addressed urgently. Most banks and many businesses believe that voluntary efforts to cure the disease have failed dismally and that it is important to create a statutory right of interest—not, although I speak as a lawyer, with a view to clogging-up the courts but with a view to changing the culture. I am very glad that the Chancellor acknowledged so positively the havoc which late payment of debt plays with so many small businesses. I welcome the consultative paper that he has issued, which fairly squares up to the problem and indicates that government departments will publish from 1994 their own payment record every year. Government, both central and local, has to set an example in this area. After all, we are only asking that debts should be paid on time.
Mention of time indicates that I must keep to time myself. The Government seem to me to be firmly committed to low inflation. They are seeking steady growth; emphasising the importance of manufacturing and exports and trying to help small business. I believe that this agenda ought to command all our support.
§ 5.30 p.m.
§ Baroness Castle of Blackburn
Listening to the speeches from Members on the Benches Opposite, I have been irresistibly reminded, as they have held forth with their claims to credit for the Government trying to get us out of recession, of a nursery rhyme:Ding, dong, bell,Pussy's in the well,Who put her in?Of course, it is this Government. Indeed, according to Mr. Norman Lamont, whom they were once cheering as Chancellor, the extravagances of earlier years led directly to the recession that we are in now. I see no signs that this Government have any chance of drawing us out of recession again.
583 It is not only a question of having no confidence in what this Government have done before. We have no confidence in the direction in which they are moving or in what they intend to do. I very much hope that Members of this House will give careful thought to what is happening—because it is happening in a way that I do not believe they would like if they stopped to realise it. The Budget shows that this Government have been captured by the new Tory Right. They know exactly what they want to do. They want to privatise all the social insurance and health insurance provisions in this country, leading to the inequalities that we have seen in the United States of America. As evidence, I quote from a recent pamphlet by the "no turning back" Thatcherites, who, in talking about the welfare state, called for its total dismantling. I shall quote just two sentences. First:State benefit should be primarily for the poor";and, secondly:the state may provide no insurance of its own".That is their intention, and this Budget has taken us in that direction. That purpose was echoed by Mr. Peter Lilley. It was even echoed by the Prime Minister and by the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself in his Budget speech on the grounds that, as they have said, "the burden of the welfare state is something that we can no longer enjoy, and we shall collapse under the weight of it".
It is not surprising that some welfare expenditure has increased recently. We all know that unemployment has gone up and that we have to pay unemployment benefit. But there are other aspects of deliberately created government policy which have added to the cost of welfare payments. We heard them this afternoon. Welfare spending will go up—will it not?—in the next two years to compensate the pensioners for the new tax burden that the Government have put upon them. I suppose that we shall be told that that is the terrible growing burden of the welfare state.
Let us take housing benefit, one of the areas of spending that has increased. I rang up the Department of Social Security about the figures. When I was told that one of the increases was in housing benefit I asked why. "Oh", they said, "because the Government put up rents". So time and again the Government have precipitated the policies which require that kind of relief. They are creating the myth.
The Government say: "We have been lavishly generous to all the poorest and most insecure in the land". Let me tell them one thing as they rattle off all the things that they say they are going to do to alleviate the misery that they themselves have created. Let me remind them that the experts say that the biggest blow to pensioners in this country was dealt when this Government deliberately broke the earnings link, the income up-rating which the Labour Government had introduced. A figure was given recently by a social security expert who said that if that linkage purely with prices, and not with incomes, had obtained ever since 1948, the pension today would be worth £23 a week. Unless that earnings link is restored, then pensioners 584 face slipping increasingly into poverty and all the alleviations about which we have heard today will be meaningless.
Therefore, I want to draw the attention of the House to a document which it is quite obvious the Government have not read. It is called The future of welfare: A guide to the debate, and was published recently by John Hills of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. As time is so desperately inadequate, I merely want to quote one of the conclusions in its summary—if I may just get my other specs, and I hope that that does not count against my time:Welfare spending is neither 'spiralling out of control' nor being inexorably 'rolled back'. As Figure 2 [of the document] shows, over the medium term Britain's welfare spending has been a stable share of GDP, rising and falling with the economic cycle. As Figure 3 shows, that share is smaller than in most other European countries".Can we have an answer to that statement today?
§ 5.36 p.m.
§ Lord Renton
My Lords, the noble Baroness and I entered another place, along with several hundred others, in 1945. I well remember, and often admired, the spirited speeches that she made, although I generally disagreed with them. I am glad to find that she has lost none of her vigour, but, alas, I cannot agree with anything that she said so far as I was able to follow her remarks.
I recall also that the noble Baroness was employment Minister at a very difficult time with the trade unions. She issued a White Paper In Place of Strife, which contained some quite wise suggestions for improving matters. But her Cabinet colleagues would not let her follow it up with legislation. So strikes continued and multiplied, both official and unofficial, culminating in the winter of discontent when hospital patients were deprived of necessary services and some of the dead could not be buried when they should have been.
The trouble was that the trades unions—many of them, not all—were in the hands of left wing extremists. Union members were deprived of power and of a proper voting system for electing their leaders. Ballots were not secret and indeed were sometimes rigged. There were cases before the courts. That was the position the Conservative Government found in 1979. The situation caused disharmony among our people, to borrow the expression of the noble Lord, Lord Richard. It damaged the economy; one cannot get away from that. It did Labour no good. It was the Conservative Government who persuaded Parliament to give the unions back to their members, first, by introducing secret postal ballots for union elections, and secondly, by making strikes unlawful unless 50 per cent. of the members of a union voted by secret ballot in favour of striking. That is the position today. The result has been a dramatic fall in the number of days lost through strikes. There has been less interruption of production, less interruption of public services and much better relationships between management and labour.
The Labour Party strenuously opposed all that legislation but I understand that it has no intention of asking Parliament to repeal it. Indeed, although the noble Lord tried to find as many differences as possible 585 the Labour Party broadly agrees with the Government on some very important matters—for instance, Northern Ireland, Europe, the need to reduce crime and Yugoslavia. I believe, however, that the Labour Party remains fundamentally a socialist party, although it has not paraded its socialism much in recent years. Indeed, it has pretended to abandon much of it.
One must take note of a current political issue involving its socialist beliefs, namely, the Government's proposal to privatise British Coal. I wonder whether I may inflict on your Lordships a personal experience. Like several other Members of your Lordships' House, I was once responsible for health and safety in several hundred coal mines. I went down about a dozen coal mines in different parts of the country. The miners always gave me a good welcome, except in one area—Scargill country in south Yorkshire. Miners had to lead daily lives which were dirty, dark, dangerous and strenuous. Every year several hundred were either killed by accident or died from pneumoconiosis. I did not believe that in a progressive society that could go on indefinitely.
A further factor is that the burning, especially in open fires, of most forms of coal pollutes the air. It does not surprise me that the coalmining industry has run down. There are so few mines left that the case for retaining nationalisation, if there ever was a case, has gone.
We won the last four general elections because enough of the British people supported our policies. They were wise to do so and your Lordships would be wise to defeat the Motion today.
§ 5.42 p.m.
§ Baroness Seccombe
My Lords, when I became a Member of your Lordships' House, I did not think that we should ever debate a Motion of this kind. It seemed to me that, as we are mainly a revising Chamber, such resolutions should never be contemplated, let alone debated. Over the past week I have thought about the debate and warmed to it. I have come to the conclusion that we should thank the noble Lord, Lord Richard, for giving us the opportunity to demonstrate our support for the Government's policies.
I wish to concentrate on what is perhaps the most important single policy of all. I refer to the control of inflation. The control of inflation is absolutely vital to create a stable environment in which the economy can flourish. If our entrepreneurs can rely on the Government to deliver low inflation, they can make plans for the medium and long term with confidence. They can focus their energies on winning world markets to the advantage of us all. For that reason, in 1979 the Government's top economic priority was to get inflation down.
At that time we had just experienced, under the last Labour administration, a period of horrendous inflation. Those in work were able to fight their corner to maintain their standard of living, even though they were pricing goods out of the market by doing so. But we can all remember people who suffered severely at that time. The elderly, the weak, the vulnerable and those on fixed incomes saw their standard of living dramatically 586 reduced. I well remember when inflation reached 26.9 per cent. in 1975. Panic set in, with people buying today because tomorrow goods would cost more. I refer only to those who had the means to spend. Others went without.
Inflation causes three main problems. First, it brings about a re-allocation of wealth from savers to borrowers. In the four years of government leading up to 1979 the real value of the pound was reduced to just 47p. Secondly, between wage settlements inflation erodes the real value of incomes. That is disruptive and socially divisive. Unrest results, and large groups, such as trade unions, use their clout and muscle in every new wage negotiation. Thirdly, high inflation causes great harm to business, fuelling those high wage costs which are the largest component of industry's costs. The CBI has calculated that for every point of inflation the cost to business is around £5 billion a year.
The battle of inflation is never won. It is therefore imperative that the present specific target range of 1 per cent. to 4 per cent. for underlying inflation is adhered to. The Chancellor confirmed yesterday that we are set to stay within that target range. As he said, low inflation must now remain a permanent feature of the British economic landscape. By introducing tough measures to control spending and raise revenue, he demonstrated our commitment to sustained low inflation.
The determined pursuit of the Government's policy has resulted in headline inflation below 2 per cent. in each of the last 10 months, which has not been seen since 1960. Inflation in this country has been below the EC average every month since August 1991. It is now the lowest in the G7 as well as the EC.
Last Friday, interest rates were reduced to 5.5 per cent. The last time that interest rates were so low was in 1977. Yes, it was when a Labour government were in power. But it was a very different scene. Inflation was 13 per cent. So savings were losing 7.5 per cent. of their value. In addition, nearly 10 million working days were lost through strike action that year.
Under this Government Britain leads the discussion in Europe on how to create growth and jobs. This Government are committed to a prosperous future for Britain. I have the utmost confidence in the policies of this Government.
§ 5.47 p.m.
§ Lord Haskel
My Lords, this debate is about confidence. I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to the low level of confidence that industry has in the Government. I have spent the whole of my working life in industry and strongly agree with earlier speakers that industry is the engine of our recovery. It is therefore in the interest of us all that the Government should earn and retain the confidence of industry and encourage it to undertake the necessary risk and effort needed for our recovery.
The Government are responsible for creating an atmosphere in which industry is able to progress and invest. Unfortunately, that is not the situation at present. Industry plans its progress and investments very carefully. The success of those plans rests on the ability of managers to make a reasonable prediction of the 587 conditions in which their projects will operate. That is why the first page of any business plan is headed "External factors" and is largely about predicting the effects of the Government's words and actions on the projects to be undertaken. So long as the Government have policies which are reasonably predictable on the important elements which affect industry, such as monetary policy, labour relations, taxation or technology, industry will progress. It has great ability to adapt to most policies.
How do a government create that desirable atmosphere? They do it by observing two simple rules. Rule one is to give clear messages and ensure that members of the Government do not contradict each other. Rule 2 is not to say one thing and do another. Sadly, those simple rules have been breached not just in the past 14 years that the Government have been in power; nor in the past 14 months; but in the past 14 days.
Let me illustrate that. During the summer we were told that our managers were doing well. Exports were up and productivity was increasing faster than in Germany, Japan and the United States. In today's debate we have heard that we are the only country in Europe coming out of recession. How then is industry to interpret a speech made by the President of the Board of Trade—I am pleased to see him recovered and back at work—at the annual dinner of the Institute of Directors on 23rd November at which he rebuked British managers for unsatisfactory performance figures? Those figures show that our productivity is 25 per cent. behind that of our European competitors and even further behind that of the US and that our share of world trade has declined remorselessly. It is now half that of Germany. Who are we to believe?
There was then the episode when members of the Government contradicted each other over the declaration about work-sharing at the Congress of European Socialists. On 22nd November the Chancellor rubbished the idea in Brussels, yet on the same day the employment Minister, speaking at a seminar in London, praised it. What is industry to make of that contradiction? Particular encouragement was given to trade with our European partners. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Wakeham, referred to that in his opening remarks. What conclusion is industry supposed to draw when a senior member of the Cabinet is seen on television at Blackpool doing sarcastic schoolboy impersonations of French, German and Italian citizens? They are the very people that industry is trying to persuade to buy our goods and use our services.
Looking further back, I remind your Lordships of the confusion regarding the Channel Tunnel rail link and the time, effort and money wasted by industry as a consequence of believing what the Government said in regard to urban light railway systems. Any member of the Government watching the "Money Programme" on BBC television on Sunday evening must have felt uncomfortable as the whole catalogue of broken promises and misleading statements was examined. The misleading statements and mishandling of our entry into 588 and exit from the ERM also broke the simple rules and severely tested industry's confidence in the Government.
Industry is investing less now than in 1979. There are many reasons for that. One is the uncertainty caused by the Government's unpredictable behaviour. Perhaps that is one reason also why many of our companies are choosing to invest outside the UK, with the result that there is now more investment outward than inward. We on our side wish to see industry lead us into real recovery. We have been consistent in our policy statements. On the other hand, the Government are inconsistent and in confusion; that is why I shall be supporting the Motion today.
§ 5.54 p.m.
§ Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare
My Lords, what a curious Motion to bring before the House at this particular moment. As has been pointed out by several noble Lords, there is no precedent for such a Motion and, were it to succeed, one is bound to ask what would be the consequences. Are we to assume that your Lordships' House would be dissolved and the Queen would call for the noble Lord, Lord Richard, to form his first administration? If so, the new Cabinet would consist of nine academics, five lawyers, two social workers and a farmer.
No. The truth is that the noble Lord, Lord Richard, imagined that this Motion would be a way of gaining some damaging publicity for the Government the day after the Budget. Once again the Members of the Opposition got their timing wrong because, much to their disappointment, the Budget was well received by the pundits and the press.
Since he became Leader of the Opposition in your Lordships' House the noble Lord, Lord Richard, and his Front Bench have obviously failed to notice that Britain has its lowest interest rates for 16 years; the lowest inflation rate for nearly 30 years; GDP has risen for six successive quarters; retail sales were up in October by 3.2 per cent. year on year; and our exports to non-EC countries are also up by a staggering 28 per cent. in the three months to October year on year. And perhaps most important of all, when the Leader of the Opposition in another place claimed that unemployment would rise month after month after month, he was proved right—it did rise month after month after month in every other European country except Britain. In Britain it fell for six out of the past eight months, with an overall decrease of 137,000. But despite that, we are expected to believe that, if the noble Lord, Lord Richard, was suddenly passed the mantle of power, all our problems would instantly be solved.
I was delighted that the noble Lord began his speech by referring to the last Labour administration., because when I had the privilege of sitting in another place he supported that Government, and that Government's past record deserves a moment of your Lordships' consideration. That Government allowed the top rate of tax on earned income to reach 83 per cent. That Government allowed the top rate on unearned income to reach 98 per cent. In both cases this Government have brought them down to 40 per cent. But if those statistics 589 were not enough to condemn them, let us not forget that the same administration that the noble Lord, Lord Richard, supported had an average rate of inflation of 15.5 per cent., rising to a peak of 27 per cent.—a far cry from the current inflation figure of 1.4 per cent.
And if your Lordships believe that the noble Lord and his friends are now reformed characters why have the Labour Opposition in another place voted against every single tax cut proposed by this Government over the past 14 years? I shall tell you why. They are traditionally the party of high taxation, and that is why they will traditionally remain the party of Opposition.
The truth is that this Motion should never have been brought before the House, and half the Members on the Benches opposite know that and are privately saying so. The Government's record does not call for a vote of no confidence. No, my Lords. While the rest of Europe is still deep in recession and we are the one country coming out of that recession, it calls for a massive vote of confidence in the present administration and their policies. The British people returned the Conservatives to power for four elections in a row. When the time comes to call the next election—and it will not be tonight—they will return the Conservative Party again.
I commend to your Lordships the defeat of this Motion and on their record to condemn the noble Lord, Lord Richard, and his friends to a further period in Opposition.
§ 5.58 p.m.
§ Baroness Perry of Southwark
My Lords, no modern state can achieve sustained economic growth unless it is underpinned by a sound structure of education and training to provide the educated and trained workforce which the modern economy demands. I am pleased to applaud the Government's record in that policy area for a few short moments.
Let us reflect for a moment on what was left behind by the last Labour Government in 1979. We had a failing education system—failing both the young people of our country and the business and industry which were their future employers. Young people left our schools lagging behind the rest of the western world and our competitors in their literacy and numeracy skills, in their knowledge of science and technology and in the basic technical skills they needed for employment. Only one in eight of our young people went on to higher education; 60 per cent. left full-time education at the age of 16 with nothing to show for their 11 years' education. Teachers in the system were qualified by the study of turgid and irrelevant educational theory and in many cases had no knowledge at all of the subjects that they would teach.
Let us look at the situation now after 14 years of this party's and this Government's policies. In the 1988 Act we produced a national curriculum which all children now follow, giving them access to a broad and balanced range of knowledge and skills which they need in order to survive and achieve in adult life. They are tested regularly to ensure that they are learning the knowledge and the skills that the curriculum provides and so that 590 action can be taken remedially to ensure that they catch up where the test results show that they are not succeeding.
The 1988 Act also introduced a common system of examinations at 16. I cannot tell your Lordships how important it is that schools no longer have to put young people into three miserable divisions: the O-level group, as it used to be, whose hopes of success in future life were fairly high; the CSE group, whose hopes of success were severely limited; and the dreaded non-examination group, who had little to look forward to in terms of adult achievement. Now all have access to an appropriate range of qualifications and the Government have set targets for 80 per cent. of our young people by 1996, which is only two and a half years away, to have achieved five GCSEs or their vocational equivalent. This target is achieved with the support, help and energies of the training and enterprise councils, which demonstrate a partnership between employers and education.
In 1984 reforms of teacher qualifications were introduced which ensured that they were not qualified unless they had studied the subject they were to teach and that they learnt their practical skills largely in the schools and in the classrooms. That is to be further extended by the Bill currently with your Lordships' House. In 1992 we debated long, as I remember, in this House the introduction of regular and tightened-up inspection arrangements to ensure that failing schools—failing not only the young people but the economic growth of our country—should be identified early and that appropriate action could be taken so that failure was turned round.
In 1993, this very year, we have passed through this House and another place the Act which will produce the greater involvement of parents in their children's schools. Everything we know about children's ability to succeed in schools emphasises the importance of their experience of unity and co-operation between their homes and their schools. No more powerful way could have been found than that measure of parental involvement in the running of the schools. The Parents' Charter has ensured that reality is given to this partnership.
The success of these policies is shown by the fact that the consumers are buying it. More than 50 per cent. of young people are now in full-time education at the age of 17 and one-third of the age group are now going on into higher education. The Government's target for 16 to 19 year-olds will ensure that many proceed through to A-level and its equivalent. All of this has been backed up with money—a 45 per cent. increase in spending per pupil since 1979. On the basis of these policies alone I shall have great pride in voting against the Motion today and I trust that your Lordships' House will do the same.
§ 6.3 p.m.
§ Lord Varley
My Lords, I put down my name to speak to this Motion last week and I wondered over the weekend whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer would do anything in his Budget Statement yesterday to persuade me that my lack of confidence in the policies of the Government was misplaced. Sadly, I think that in 591 what he said yesterday he rather reinforced my lack of enthusiasm for what the Government have been doing over the past few years. Nor have they improved the prospect, so far as I can see, of creating a fairer Britain in the foreseeable future.
The economic record of the past 14 years—other noble Lords have mentioned it during the debate—has been appalling. For any government the level of economic activity, together with our international competitiveness and wealth creating ability, must be at the heart of policy. But this Government have fallen short of that in all parts. I am sure that the Lord Privy Seal, in setting out that catalogue of selective statistics and platitudes, knows that that has not happened. I know that some noble Lords opposite know that it has not happened.
Since 1979 the average annual rate of economic growth in the UK has been only just over 1.5 per cent. Every post-war government formed by either the Conservative Party or the Labour Party prior to 1979 did significantly better than the miserable record of the Thatcher and Major administrations. The Lord Privy Seal failed to mention among other things in his selective statistics that the level of manufacturing investment this year will be below the level of 1979.
My noble friend Lord Haskel mentioned the speech of the President of the Board of Trade at the Institute of Directors on 23rd November and pointed out that he said some very interesting things about our twin deficits—our overseas trade deficit and our deficit in public finances. The President of the Board of Trade, Mr. Michael Heseltine, finished his speech on that occasion in this way. In talking about uncompetitive nations he said:They gradually slip down the league table of world prosperity. That is what has happened to us".That is what the President of the Board of Trade said. It is a pity that he does not say that kind of thing in another place.
It is not only our public finances and our trade imbalance which embarrass our country. There is the shameful waste of 3 million unemployed people who would like desperately to contribute to the well-being and welfare of our country but cannot get a job. I find it particularly impudent for the Lord Privy Seal to say, as he did this afternoon, that unemployment is falling slightly from the level of nearly three years ago. The noble Lord, Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare, made some play of that a minute or two ago. On the present basis of falling unemployment it will take 10 years to get back to the level of unemployment that the Government inherited in 1979. When I see the Lord Privy Seal and listen to him I ask myself whether he is the same John Wakeham who fought the 1979 general election under the Saatchi and Saatchi poster depicting a seemingly endless queue of unemployed with the caption "Labour isn't working" when unemployment at that time was only a third of the level it is today.
I am not at all uneasy about supporting the Motion—I know that some noble Lords wonder whether it is right—but the way the Government have betrayed the coalmining industry annoys me intensely and makes me quite angry. In another few years we shall be importing 592 expensive gas to convert to electricity, at great cost to our balance of payments, from territories of the world which are not yet renowned for their political stability. But it does not seem to worry the Government. The Government are out of touch.
When I was a Parliamentary Secretary in 1966 I remember a schoolboy asking my noble friend Lord Wilson of Rievaulx "What do Ministers do?" Mr. Harold Wilson, as he was then, said, "They hold meetings". That is what has happened to this Government. They are holding far too many meetings and they are out of touch with reality. They ought to go on the Tube. They ought to see what is happening in some of the deprived areas of Britain. If they did so they would realise what a disastrous mess they are making of things. I have no hesitation at all in supporting the Motion.
§ 6.10 p.m.
§ Lord Vinson
My Lords, we are all indeed indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Richard, for instituting this debate. A vote of confidence, contrary to what he said, does imply that the Opposition, if elected, could do better. This debate therefore gives us the opportunity to expose the vacuity of the suggestion that noble Lords opposite have policies that in any way would be more appropriate at the present time than those of Her Majesty's Government.
It requires a triumph of self-delusion over reality to suggest that there are socialist solutions which need to be applied in a world which is trying to recover from the disastrous economic effects of that damaging ideology. Noble Lords will recall those stirring days four years ago when Russia—the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics—started to throw off her chains. I remember being intensely moved by the interview comments of an elderly woman. She said, "Thanks to socialism my life has been wasted". That remark could easily apply to the damaging legacy of socialism worldwide.
So back here, nearer at home, the Government's priority over the past 14 years has been unscrambling the malign effects of that doctrine. The blight may not have gone as deep as in Russia, but it has certainly held back the economic development of this country, as one glance at the liberated, denationalised major industries now so clearly illustrates.
Worldwide, democracies are under great pressure as the unfulfillable demands of the ever-widening welfare dependency come up against the inescapable realities of inadequate resources. Cash is simply not there and the taxable capacity of the public to pay for it has reached its limits. But I count my blessings. My generation has been extremely lucky: too young for the last war; to have lived through the demise of socialism; 45 years of unprecedented peace in Europe; food coming out of our ears and an expectation of life, with any luck, 20 years more than our grandparents.
But such blessings bring with them the growing problem of demography. There will be fewer economically-active people to grow the rice for the rice bowl that will have to feed our ageing population. This is society's time bomb. All governments have to face 593 these problems, as would the noble Lords opposite if they were fortunate enough, and the country unfortunate enough, to have them in power.
So it would be nice to hear constructive, realistic policies coming from the opposite Benches, and on rare occasions one does so. But in the main their criticism of the Government's policies are superficial, ill-considered and point scoring. Intellectually they struggle to make yesterday's strategies fit today's needs. That is all the more disappointing because we live in times of great uncertainty and change, where leadership is so desperately needed. We live in a world in which the great verities that this House took for granted even 30 years ago—the verities of God, King and Country—are under question.
But the present Government are really grappling with these problems. They recognise not least that technology is changing employment patterns, which in turn demand great changes in educational and training systems. They are really concerned in this and in other ways to create self-sustaining, unsubsidised jobs in what is an increasingly competitive world.
However, one glance at the changes in employment laws demanded, and indeed endorsed, by many noble Lords opposite, leads one to the inescapable conclusion that they are not really interested in creating jobs; rather in burdening the labour force of this country with additional regulations that would destroy them. The road to unemployment is indeed paved with socialist good intentions, as France and Germany so clearly show.
Our Government clearly recognise the damage that over-regulation is doing to the economy. It is not surprising that this problem is unrecognised by many socialists who have little or no experience of living outside the political world and who are more interested in spending wealth than creating it, with all the inflationary implications that go with that thought.
The Government are wholly right to tackle the problem of over-regulation. Noble Lords will need no reminding of Gulliver in Gulliver's Travels. No one silken thread held him down but a thousand made him immobile. When I was a boy Britannia ruled the waves. Now we are the only country in Europe that does not waive the rules; indeed, we embellish them.
If our national morality prevents us from waiving them, we at least must rewrite them. Much over-regulation destroys enterprise, destroys initiative and destroys jobs. If Dean Swift were alive today he would be the first to recognise the damaging Lilliputian policies supported by those on the opposite Benches.
Inflation is at an all-time low. The Government have realistic and practical policies, as so clearly shown by yesterday's Budget. They have policies that work with the grain of human nature; policies that recognise that in a less deferential world people want their own independence, want their own home and want, in so far as they can, control over their own lives.
What they do not want is a return to the failed socialist policies of yesterday, which is all that an alternative government can offer them. Socialism is the future that does not work. We could have no confidence 594 in any alternative administration that embraced that failed dogma. We can have every confidence in an administration such as we have today that has realistic, workable policies for the future, and an excellent track record to go with it.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Lord Stewartby
My Lords, nothing that I have heard this afternoon explains why the Opposition sought to table such a bizarre Motion for debate today. The only explanation that I can think of is the same as that of my noble friend Lord Archer—that is to say, they tabled it as a trailer in the hope and belief that the reception of the Budget would be very hostile and they would have an opportunity for some good old-fashioned Government bashing in your Lordships' Chamber this afternoon.
I am thankful that they have been disappointed and not just for party political reasons. I am thankful that the Government have brought forward, through the Chancellor, a sensible Budget of the kind that is actually needed by this country to sustain the recovery and to redress the imbalances which arose during the recession.
If one looks back at how the Labour Party behaved at the critical points in the economic development of this country in the past few years, one finds that on almost every occasion they have been advocating exactly the opposite of what it was necessary to do at the time. In 1987–88, after the stock market crash, interest rates in this country and in others were kept very low because there was a fear of serious recession at the time. In fact, with hindsight, one can see that interest rates should have been raised sooner and perhaps more sharply.
But that is not what the Opposition were recommending. They were recommending even lower interest rates. Not only that, they were recommending substantial increases in public expenditure at the same time, which would have made the problems of the following two or three years all that much greater.
When one looks at the other end of this economic cycle a couple of years or so ago, what were they saying then? Quite rightly, the Government were insisting that it was necessary to encourage enterprise in order to ensure the economic recovery of this country. But there was nothing like that from the Opposition. Again, they wanted massive increases in public expenditure and possibly some swingeing increases in personal taxation at the same time—the permanent recipe of Labour Governments and Labour Oppositions which is to have a high-spending, low incentive economy. That has never worked in the past and it never will.
Yet, when they were faced with the next problem—the policy issue of the exchange rate mechanism of the European Monetary System—there were two options. There was the option for this country and sterling to stay in the exchange rate mechanism and to have the high interest rates which were necessary to sustain sterling in it, or there was the option to come out and to have much lower interest rates. But that was not the problem as assessed by the Labour Opposition. They said that they wanted a little of both. They wanted to stay in the exchange rate mechanism, but to have lower interest rates at the same time. Those are two absolutely incompatible policies.
595 That has been the fundamental weakness of Labour Party policies for as long as I have been following them. Having been in the Treasury myself in the 1980s we used to look to see whether there were any really good ideas that we had missed. I can assure noble Lords that it was almost impossible to find any consistency in the Labour Party's approach to economic management.
The one overriding factor which a country has the right to expect from its government is a responsible approach to economic management and a consistency in its tax and public spending policies. That is the one factor in recent years which has never been on offer to the British people from the party opposite. So when the Labour Party tables a Motion of no confidence in the Government on the day after a Budget which has addressed these matters seriously in a consistent and coherent way, frankly, it is behaving in a way which has brought its own reward.
The Labour Party has been a brilliant Opposition. If success in government is staying in government and winning elections, perhaps success in opposition is staying in opposition and losing elections. All that I can say is that if the Labour Party goes on like this, it will go on losing elections. This is not just a trivial point because a democratic country such as ours needs a viable alternative government in the form of the leading Opposition party, yet the Opposition have never presented a coherent financial policy or economic strategy which would enable the British people to see them in that light. They are letting the country down. They will never be elected to power until they realise that fact and do something about it.
I can say from this side of the House that a Conservative Government is always desirable, and I would say that unless and until the Labour Party realises that it has got to get its economic policies in shape and achieve some consistency, a Conservative Government is not just desirable; it is absolutely essential.
§ 6.20 p.m.
§ Lord Clinton-Davis
My Lords, with the greatest respect I do not think that the noble Lord, Lord Stewartby, should count his chickens. I think that he will be bitterly disappointed. All the evidence, such as the polls and the by-elections, clearly indicates that.
I was greatly touched by the assertion of the Leader of the House at the beginning of the debate of the Government's adherence to respect for the law. However, noticeably and perhaps understandably, the noble Lord did not comment very much—if at all—on respect for the truth. This is the Government who have massaged the unemployment statistics about 20 times since 1979. This is the Government who have indulged in the appalling situation at Matrix Churchill and in the Scott inquiry. The evidence given to that inquiry of distortions and evasions is scandalous. This is the Government who told lie after lie in their manifesto about 'VAT, as well as the litany of other falsehoods recited by my noble friend Lord Richard in his indictment. Frankly, I have to say that the attitude of the Leader of the House on law and the truth seems curiously indulgent.
596 I shall try briefly to test the claims that have been made in two fields, transport and the environment. I turn first to transport and the plan to widen 600 miles of motorways. We were told by the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, that that would cost £3.4 billion. The National Audit Office now reveals that the true cost will be twice that. One pictures a local authority finding itself in that situation and the Government's indictment of it that would ensue. And the Government still will not be able to tackle the greatest congestion.
The Government claimed that they were wedded to CrossRail, yet that plan is plainly in jeopardy. Then we have the cover-up by Ministers of a Whitehall report into road tax dodging by more than a quarter of a million drivers. The Government have displayed a deterrnination to frustrate an investigation by the National Audit Office. It is disgraceful.
Let us consider the position of London Underground. How often have we heard the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, assert that everything in the garden is fine for London Underground at the very time that we have an ageing infrastructure which is literally breaking down and which should have been replaced years ago—pumps, drains and cables? What is needed is not catching up but replacement if the system is not to be rendered totally unsafe. Citizen's Charters will not be the answer to that.
The Government's alleged commitment to the environment is a parody. Their road-spending policies plainly distort the Prime Minister's own Rio commitments—commitments now clearly incapable of fulfilment. Having prevaricated over implementation of the bathing and drinking water directive for years, the Government now seek to undermine the waste water treatment directive. It is an interesting exercise in manipulation of the truth. They now assert that the cost would be £10.5 billion as against the original estimate, which they themselves provided, of £2 billion only two years ago when the directive was unanimously adopted. Their conduct is wholly consonant with the characteristics that they have previously displayed in presenting four different sets of statistics in relation to the issue.
The Government's is a selective and eccentric view of the truth and of law enforcement, particularly when it comes to their friends with vested interests. Let us consider PowerGen. There is a concept known as BATNIEC—best available technology not involving excessive cost. That was waived for PowerGen in favour of another doctrine, CATNIP—cheapest available technology not involving prosecution. It happens over and over again.
I conclude that the trouble with this Government is that they actually think that they are doing well. They entertain illusions of adequacy. It is explicable because they keep three sets of statistics: one lot to deceive the public; one lot to deceive Parliament; and the other to deceive themselves. And they are wholly successful. This Government were clearly elected on a fraudulent prospectus. I believe that, like Mr. Roger Levitt, they should be sentenced to a long period of community service. And the greatest service that they could render to the community would be to go—and the sooner, the better.
§ 6.26 p.m.
§ Lord Clark of Kempston
My Lords, as has been said many times, this is an unprecedented Motion. I should have thought that the Labour Party hierarchy in another place would not look too kindly upon the powers of that place being usurped. A vote of confidence really should come from Members who are elected to Parliament. As we know, we are selected in this place.
Apart from that, however, I think it is audacious of the Labour Opposition to introduce a Motion of no confidence when one looks at their record. Perhaps I may remind your Lordships that when a Labour administration were last in power they brought this country to near bankruptcy. They had to go to the International Monetary Fund with their begging bowl and from then on, the economy of this country —capital expenditure and all the rest—was taken over by the IMF. We had huge cuts in the health service, in hospitals, roads and schools. The audacity of anyone with that record to introduce a Motion of no confidence in the policy of this Government is unbelievable.
Perhaps I can give another statistic. When the Government took over in 1979, the number of working days lost was 29 million. Last year it was half a million. Obviously, therefore, the policies of this Government must be working if they can reduce to that extent the number of working days lost. As has been said, it is expected that our growth this year will be 2.5 per cent. and it is expected that that will give something of the order of £7 billion extra revenue to the Exchequer. As has also been said, our exports are up —not only to the European Community, but throughout the world. We have had the lowest inflation. For 10 months, it has been under 2 per cent.—not the 26 or 27 per cent. of the Labour government when people on fixed incomes saw their savings melt away like snow in the sun because of the inflation rate that was brought about by that government's policies. How can any government or any party with that record try to say that there is no confidence in our Government?
I remind your Lordships that the base interest rate has come down from 15 per cent. to 5.5 per cent., and I have no doubt that it will come down further. That drop has given a boost to industry of some £12 billion. I should have thought that one should take confidence from that, not criticise it.
My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer introduced his Budget yesterday. It is true that the borrowing requirement is approaching £50 billion, but I remind your Lordships that nearly £30 billion of that is capital expenditure. So we should not overstress the amount. I get very sick of people, particularly the Opposition, always talking down the economy and achievements of this country. They seem to take a delight in bringing bad news about the economy and not looking at the achievements. Our industrial production is up 3 per cent. The Opposition do not compare that with the industrial production of Italy, Germany and Japan. It is no good the noble Lord, Lord Richard, shaking his head. Let me give him the figures. Our industrial production is up by 3 per cent. Italy's is 598 down by 2 per cent. and that of France by 3 per cent.; Germany's is down by 7 per cent.; Japan's is down by 4 per cent. Those figures cannot be refuted. I remind noble Lords opposite that the Government have a good economic record. Unemployment is falling, and has been for some months.
Another factor to be taken into account and not so far mentioned is the Government's privatisation policy. In 1979, the nationalised industries were costing the taxpayer some £50 million a week in subsidies. Last year the privatised industries contributed some £60 million a week in taxation to the Exchequer. That is a turn-around of £110 million a week. It means that the Exchequer benefited by about £6 billion in one year as a result of privatisation.
The wording of the Motion is wrong. It should say that the House has no confidence in Labour Party policy. Its record was disastrous in the past. It would be catastrophic if it were again responsible for the administration.
§ 6.31 p.m.
§ Baroness Elles
My Lords, I understand from the introduction by the noble Lord, Lord Richard, that the purpose of the Motion is to express dissatisfaction with the actions and policies of the Government. He was supported fully by those Members who sit behind him. One of course has the right to criticise because, after all, we are a democracy, but this side of the House also has the right to know what would be the alternative if the Government were not following their present policies.
Luckily, I came across a document which may not be known by everyone, and I am certain cannot be agreed by all Members on the Benches opposite, entitled The Manifesto for Elections to the European Parliament of June 1994. That document was signed early in November by the Leader of the Labour Party, the right honourable John Smith. It was presumably supported by the majority of his party, although I cannot believe that it was supported by the noble Lords, Lord Bruce of Donington and Lord Stoddart of Swindon, who are not in their places at the moment. That manifesto was declared by Mr. Willy Claes, the president of the European Socialist Party, which incidentally includes the former Italian Communist Party, to be:the principal programme for all the Socialist parties. We will be united under the banner of the party of the European Socialists. Parties will be expected to observe and vote for these policies in the European Parliament".I regret the fact that many people will probably not have had the opportunity to read that document.
I shall raise just one issue which I believe to be relevant to today's debate. It is the problem which is agreed by most to be of the greatest importance—unemployment. Many of the proposals discussed in Brussels, which incidentally are now being discreetly dropped, are set out in the binding manifesto. They recognise, as we all do, the high numbers of unemployed in Europe (17 million to 18 million) and the high costs of social protection. They are much higher than those of our competitors, as my noble friend Lord Boyd-Carpenter said in the debate on the Queen's Speech on 25th November. The increase here over 10 years has been 50 599 per cent.; about 10 per cent. in the US; and nil in Japan. But the manifesto contains no proposal for modifying or moderating the high cost of social protection.
So what are the remedies proposed in that socialist manifesto? They include possible shorter working hours (35 hours per week). We all know that that does not work. It has never worked in any of the major industrialised countries. Indeed, they work much longer. Then next, a minimum wage to be applied throughout the European Community; a recovery programme. Although there is no figure (luckily for them) in the manifesto, it is revealed by M. Pierre Cot, who will be known by many as the leader of the French Socialists in the European Parliament. He considered—this was supported by all the socialists—a reasonable figure to be £77 billion. That just about doubles the European Community budget. Finally, there is the application of the Social Chapter to the United Kingdom, bringing with it a further gamut of rules and regulations, contrary to the proof of a need for deregulation. That point is not recognised by other member states.
We recognise that those policies which threaten the labour market would threaten all the policies which our Government have introduced so successfully and brought to a head over the past years. Other governments are now recognising the folly of those outworn policies which have consistently proved to be a failure in job creation. Even the Commission is now backtracking. The White Paper, Growth, Competitiveness and Employment, is acknowledged not to be legally binding. It states categorically that each member state is to introduce measures according to its own circumstances. Where is the general socialist policy in that statement? The policies are already out of date. Anyone who travels on the Continent will see and hear people in other member states look to Britain with a degree of envy as they recognise the folly of the excessive cost of social protection and union power and the consequences for employment. They watch, also with envy, as we climb out of recession, and they are now beginning to imitate many of the policies set out in the speech of my noble friend the Lord Privy Seal and other of my noble friends.
conclude by expressing some degree of sorrow for the noble Lord, Lord Richard, for whom I have the greatest respect. I remember of course that he was at the UN at the end of the 1970s (before 1979) when those of us who travelled abroad do not remember the green grass growing. All I remember is being attacked the whole time. "What has happened to Britain? What is the British disease? What are you going to do to cure it?" It was the British disease which was recognised throughout the Community and the world that was one of the main planks upon which the Conservative Government returned to power in 1979.
In reply to the noble Lord, Lord Richard, I would say only that we have no option but to vote overwhelmingly against the Motion.
§ 6.37 p.m.
§ Lord Ashley of Stoke
My Lords, much of the rhetoric we have heard this afternoon from the Benches opposite seeks to obscure what is in fact a serious attack 600 on the welfare state. This time, Ministers are not using a battering ram; they are using a certain cunning upon which I am sure Machiavelli would have congratulated them. They are slashing no less than £2.5 billion from the social security budget, and they are pleading demographic factors as a reason.
I did not hear Ministers mention demographic factors when years ago they were handing out billions of pounds to their supporters. That is a new excuse being peddled by Ministers. In those early days, when they were giving that largesse to wealthy people, they were lacking in foresight or in fairness. My guess is that both are true. As a smokescreen for those policies, they are renaming some benefits. Disadvantaged people who are puzzling over the fancy new names that Ministers are giving them will soon discover the grim reality that lies behind the Government's policies. For example, disabled people who are landed with incapacity benefit instead of invalidity benefit and unemployed people who are landed with a jobseeker's allowance instead of unemployment benefit face cuts in family cash or may be deprived of statutory benefit and forced onto a means test. That is the reality which lies behind these fancy new names.
We should recognise that the means test of the 1990s is much the same as that of the 1930s. People will lose their hard-earned savings; they will have to sacrifice them. People will have to live in abject poverty and those without will have every aspect of their lives scrutinised. That is what the Government are forcing on poor people in Britain today.
Those people want to work. They are riot "work shy", as Ministers conveniently call them. It is simply that there are no jobs available. Much as I enjoyed the splendid speech of the noble Lord, Lord Archer—we all did—the piffling reductions in unemployment he mentioned are not good enough when we are confronted with millions of people unemployed. It is a major problem.
But, as usual, disabled people suffer the most. The rate of unemployment among them is three times greater than that among the able bodied. Now there is a further threat to their jobs, even though their rate of unemployment is so high. As was said earlier by my noble friend Lady Hollis, there is now a need for employers to provide 50 per cent. of the funding for the special equipment needed by disabled people. This is a direct incentive to employers to get rid of disabled people. Why should an employer take on those additional costs unless he is one of the few well-meaning employers? They are not in business for charity. It will have an adverse effect on the employment of disabled workers. Oddly enough, the provisions come under a new system called "access to work". It is a very oddly named system indeed. There is only one saving grace about the new system: it introduces communication help for deaf workers.
The prospects for disabled people are also hit because large employers will have to bear a larger proportion of sick pay. That is also an incentive to dismiss sick workers. The fact is that, like all disadvantaged workers 601 and other disadvantaged people, disabled workers will suffer under the policies. That is a good reason why your Lordships should vote for the Motion.
§ 6.43 p.m.
§ Lord Marlesford
My Lords, I wonder whether we can agree that after 14 years in continuous power the Tories must take most of the blame for the state and prospects of Britain today; and of course they must take most of the credit too.
I recently returned from a couple of weeks in America during which I exchanged views with American fund managers who wished to take the political and economic temperature of the countries in which they might invest. Not only did I go to New York but also to Boston and Philadelphia on the east coast, Kansas City, Minneapolis and Chicago in middle America and California and Oregon in the west. I was interested in their view of Europe.
They take, as do I, a sombre view of much of Continental Europe. First, there has been a failure so far—and I hope that "so far" does not become "too far"—of the post-communist system of the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe to deliver the goods to the people. Secondly, there is a lack of leadership in nearly all the Continental European countries. Thirdly, there seems to be political disintegration in Italy and perhaps in Belgium. Fourthly, there has been a deepening recession in France and Germany. Fifthly, there is the failure of France to face up to the need to restructure itself, shown in the withdrawal of the attempt to reorganise Air France and the reluctance to confirm the Blair House agreement on agriculture. Finally, there has been the disastrous effect of the social dimension of Maastricht, in particular on the poorer countries of the EC. When we consider that Germany has a GDP of about £16,000 per head, Spain has only £8,000, Greece has only £5,000 and Portugal has only £4,000, it cannot be fair on those countries to impose uniform social standards. It will cost them jobs.
While I was in the US, Americans were celebrating the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which is totally different. They have 80 million Mexicans entering a new trade alliance; Mexico has a GDP per head of about £3,000 compared with America's £17,000. But there is no question of trying to impose American social standards and conditions on everyone in Mexico.
The Americans felt that Britain has a comparative advantage over most of Continental Europe. First, we are coming out of recession. I agree that we are subject to what is happening in Europe but we are coming out of recession and unemployment has stopped rising. Secondly, inflation, wages and money supply seem to be under tight control. Thirdly, and contrary to the fears of many people, we kept in the Budget low direct taxes. When people say how low our taxes are I must point out that our 40 per cent. rate comes in at an income of some £27,000 whereas even after Clinton's tax increases America's 40 per cent. top rate comes in at a level of £167,000 per year. Fourthly, we have a politically subdued trade union movement. I had hoped that, had 602 she been in her place, the noble Baroness, Lady Castle, would agree that that at any rate is a tribute to the 14 years of Conservative Government. And of course we have a largely restructured economy.
Over the past 20 years employment in steel and coal has fallen by 80 per cent. I believe that to be a great plus for Britain. Even the number of British Rail staff has been halved during the past 20 years. The privatised industries are working well. I declare an interest as a director of Eastern Electricity, where since 1989 the tariff has increased by some 25 per cent. During the same period RPI rose by 23 per cent. and pensions by 29 per cent. The company has reduced its staff by 20 per cent., and is selling more units to more customers; they have increased by 100,000 to over 3 million. After talking to my American friends I believe that those are this country's real advantages.
The Labour Party has begun to recognise what it no longer believes in. However, although we heard from my noble friend Lady Elles a little of what Labour is proposing in its European manifesto, I do not believe that it is as yet under starter's orders. Of course, the poor Liberal Democrat Party has nothing much except the bushy-tailed charisma of Mr. Paddy Ashdown. It is important that people should recognise that the Conservative Government are a continuum from 1979. It is not a case of progress since Mr. Major became Prime Minister. The Conservative Government are a continuum which will continue to be a considerable success.
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ Lord Elton
My Lords, when the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition rose to address your Lordships' House he quoted from one of my favourite poems by Hilaire Belloc. Oddly enough, he advised your Lordships that it would not be appropriate to refer to Belloc's axiom:Always keep a-hold of NurseFor fear of finding something worse".The noble Lord said, "In order to prevent your Lordships looking at the alternative to a Conservative Government". But, the inference of the Motion before your Lordships is that that would be preferable to what we now have. Therefore, in a moment I too shall look at what is in prospect. The alternative of holding on to nurse, in the case of Hilaire Belloc's poem, was being eaten slowly by a lion starting at the toes, and the lion's name was Ponto.
Like my noble friend Lady Elles, I have also obtained a copy of the manifesto of the European Socialist Party, which is decorated, in this case, with the rose of England adopted by the party opposite as their emblem. As I understand it, the document was signed on the 6th November by, among others, Signor Achille Occhetto, the leader of what was the Italian Communist Party until it changed its name quite recently, and by Mr John Smith. In that manifesto we find, first—and I point this out to endorse the fears of my noble friend —that the Labour Party and its friends would like to further develop the EC measures on clean water. Noble Lords 603 opposite have already protested about the expense of directives. That makes their claim to be a party of economic management rather hollow.
However, much more important is the way that the manifesto reveals how the latter see the role of this country in Europe and in the world. In the fourth paragraph of the eighth section we find that they want majority voting within the Council of Europe. That means that this country would no longer have a veto on policies inimical to its own best interest. One might think that subsidiarity could be a hedge against it, and one is reassured to read later on in Section 8 that subsidiarity would be applied rigorously. But immediately afterwards we read in the very next paragraph that it must not be used to block progress in social policy. In other words, there should be a comfortable protection against Conservative-type policies; but there should be none against the policies espoused by the party opposite.
In my view, however, much more serious than that is the paragraph which deals with this country's role in the United Nations. In order to prevent the causes, and crises of conflicts we read on page 8 that,we want to strengthen and reform the United Nations… The UN must be given the ability to safeguard peace and enforce peace"—we could have a debate about a standing United Nations army of some length, but I shall pass on that prospect—Once a common foreign and security policy is in place, the question of a seat for the EC on the Security Council can be addressed".I think that those in the party opposite should come clean. First, can we know whether they believe that a United Nations seat on the Security Council for the European Community would be consistent with a United Kingdom seat on the council as a subordinate member of that body? Secondly, if it would not be—as I presume—are they or are they not actually arguing that we should vacate our seat on the Security Council in favour of a seat to be occupied by a representative of the European Community? That is a very major and important policy decision. We need to know where they stand They cannot stand anywhere else than the position described in the manifesto because it was adopted by the congress of the European Socialist Party on 6th November 1993, and they are signed up members of it. I believe that that adds another dimension to the anxieties expressed by my noble friends about the policies of the parties opposite. I believe that we deserve an answer in the reply to the debate.
§ 6.54 p.m.
§ The Earl of Longford
My Lords, I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Elton, knows by now just how much I respect him as a Christian and as a few other things, but he followed one of the oldest rules in politics in his speech; namely, when you have absolutely nothing to say in favour of your side, put some tricky questions forward. Indeed, he did not say a single word in favour of the Government.
As regards the Government, the first thoughts that come into my mind are so uncharitable that the noble Lord, Lord Elton, being a Christian, would not approve of them. However, what can one think of the Government? They will, I suppose, go down as the 604 healthiest government, or the government of meaningless slogans—"back to basics" will be high on the list—or the government with a record deficit, or the most unpopular government in recorded memory. They are all those things. But I shall not use those expressions because they would shock the noble Lord, Lord Elton.
I turn now to my own summary of the Government, and all in a charitable spirit. I would call them a government of contradictions. Last week we dealt at length with those contradictions and I shall not go over the issues raised as regards their penal policy, which of course makes total nonsense. Perhaps we should take the question of Europe. We know that one moment they say that they are standing at the heart of Europe and then, at another, their spokesmen at conferences deliver many xenophobic speeches. However, in view of the shortage of time, I shall have to pass over the latter.
Perhaps I may try to deal with the more fundamental aspects involved. Years ago there was a famous book which some of the older Members of the House may remember. It was called Moral Man in an Immoral Society. We all know that Mr. Major is a moral man. Indeed, the only time I actually met him he did not squeeze my shoulder, which he did to the man in front of me in the queue, but he showed a positive friendliness which I found most appealing. Therefore, let us take Mr. Major as a moral man; but he is a moral man at the head of immoral policy. I should not say "an immoral government" because no doubt in their own way they are well meaning. But Mr. Major is a moral man at the head of this immoral government.
Why should I say that? If one takes a Christian stand, which would certainly appeal to the noble Lord. Lord Elton, one could bear in mind that in the years of Mrs. Thatcher she reversed the trend under various governments to bring about a more equal distribution of wealth and more social justice. Inequality of wealth was steadily increased under that government. Moreover, yesterday we had the Budget Statement, and so on, which was quite rightly attacked by my noble friend Lord Ashley and others. I see that today's edition of The Times, which is a very respected Conservative organ, carries the following title on its front page:Showman Clarke takes whip to public spending".Who will suffer there? Certainly not the rich. There was a record boom on the Stock Exchange. So everyone must accept the fact that that inequality of wealth will be carried still further in the Budget.
How can one square that fact with any kind of social justice according to Christian principles or any kind of ethics? I can only take the House, and especially someone like the noble Lord, Lord Elton, who is an influential Christian Conservative, as are others on the Benches opposite, back to St. Luke's Gospel and what Jesus Christ said, which was,When you have a feast, don't call the rich neighbours: call the poor, the lame and the blind and you will be blessed".Well, there is not much of that sentiment in this present government; indeed, none at all. Moreover., I am afraid that I cannot hold any hope that the leopard is likely to change its spots. I can only say what a Conservative 605 statesman, the late Leo Amery, as he was at the time, said to another Conservative statesman, Neville Chamberlain:You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing… In the name of God, go".
§ 6.58 p.m.
My Lords, one of the mainstays behind the British way of life—indeed, its backbone—is its agriculture. In the short time that I have to speak, I wish to underline my support for the agricultural policies of Her Majesty's Government. This Government have stood up for the interests of British farmers in Europe. No one denies that farming in the United Kingdom has been going through an incredibly difficult time.
When the fundamental but essential reforms of the common agricultural policy first appeared, it was evident that British farmers were being discriminated against. In May of last year, after a long battle, John Gummer won for the British farmer a highly beneficial and significant shift in the direction of the CAP, switching support away from the end product and directing it towards the producer. Those reforms are cutting prices and moving the CAP closer to world prices and, at the same time, easing international trade tensions. In turn, they reduce the role of intervention and make the CAP more market orientated, reducing the burden on customers. That fight for subsidies, payments and other concessions should not be forgotten as that has enabled us to maintain, and in many areas strengthen, our position in agriculture within the Community.
There has been great encouragement given to farmers by the most valuable increase in spending on the environmentally sensitive areas scheme from £10.9 million in 1992–93 to £43.5 million in 1995–96 and to £63 million by 1996–97 covering 15 per cent. of the United Kingdom.
The Government have lodged with the European Commission proposals to introduce a range of new schemes from protection of water sources from nitrate pollution to creating new opportunities for access to the countryside. Total expenditure on such schemes is expected to rise to £100 million in the United Kingdom by 1996–97. This will undoubtedly encourage farmers in their dual role as food producers and guardians of the countryside.
With the Food Safety Act 1990, and the placing of responsibility for all work on food safety now in the hands of the Food Safety Directorate, it is firmly established that our food safety standards are the highest in the world. Representatives of consumer organisations have been brought together to form a consumer panel to advise the Food Safety Directorate on consumer concerns and to monitor government policies.
No farmer is tarred with the same brush and each has a different problem to face; but that is nothing new. There are no simple answers, and no single answer is likely to be right for every farmer. The Government have supported agriculture at its heart; but no government can be expected to support the apron strings of agriculture for there is no bottomless pot of gold.
606 However, low interest rates and low inflation have been a turning point in giving a bolster of renewed support for the farmer. Agriculture needs to be constantly reminded of its need to keep abreast of marketing skills. The Government are developing a broader marketing development scheme worth £6.4 million over the next two years while Food From Britain is concentrating on the key tasks of export promotion and speciality food, following an independent review.
It is worth remembering that 90 per cent. of humanity rely on only 15 plant species and only seven animal species for survival. Science has played a major part in creating food from our own resources; and science and technology, including responsible genetic engineering, will play a part in agriculture's future. This Government's support for agriculture will continue, and I have every confidence in the policies of Her Majesty's Government.
§ 7.3 p.m.
§ Baroness Carnegy of Lour
My Lords, a number of my noble friends—my noble friend who has just spoken is one of them—have made extremely good use of this debate to make powerful speeches pointing out just what has been achieved in this country since 1979 and contrasting that with the 98 per cent. tax rate in the "winter of discontent" for which the previous government were responsible. It has been interesting to be reminded of these comparisons although my noble friend Lady Young and others—quite rightly in my view—have suggested that all this is entirely unnecessary as there is nothing that has been said today that could not have been said at the time of the Queen's Speech, or could not be said during debates in the coming months.
However, I do not believe anyone has yet seriously questioned whether it is proper that this unelected House, whose role in our modern democracy is that of a revising Chamber, should be discussing this Motion at all. I am bound to say it strikes me personally as rather strange, and I have detected that other noble Lords who sit in all parts of the House also find it strange that a straight Motion of no confidence in the elected Government of the day —a procedure which is, I believe, reserved even by the House of Commons for moments of crisis—is being used now by hereditary and appointed people not for the purpose of revision at all but simply as a mechanism of party political opposition. That seems to me an idea that is not just bizarre, as my noble friend Lord Archer suggested, but also highly unsuitable if not improper.
That having been said, what are some of the policies of the Government that most affect people's lives and have not yet come into the debate? The Motion is a condemnatory one. However, is it so wrong—the Labour Party has opposed these policies—that hospitals, GPs and local schools are taking increased responsibility themselves for how they spend their money and how they organise themselves to meet patients' and pupils' needs? Is that so wrong? Is it wrong that the Chancellor plans to put large extra sums of taxpayers' money into these areas precisely to back the changes? Is it wrong that the Civil Service is being 607 asked to increase its productivity as others are having to increase theirs, and to yield no less than £1 billion in savings, which happens to be a sum which represents half the total sum being put into the health service and schools together?
Is it so wrong to alter the arrangements for those looking for work to make sure that those who can find work do find it? Is it so wrong to concentrate resources on encouraging job creation by increasing labour market flexibility and by helping small businesses, as has been said? We could all go on and we have gone on for rather a long time, but I would suggest that far from deserving censure, the Government's sense of direction in these and many other policies is closely in touch with what most responsible people feel in this country, and that this Motion deserves vigorous rejection.
§ 7.7 p.m.
The Earl of Halsbury
My Lords, I rise in philosophical rather than partisan mood this evening to draw your Lordships' attention to the fact that the current state of play between the parties has its precedent in what went on between about 1750 and 1850, starting with two relatively homogeneous parties each of whom had been in power for a long time leaving the other one out in the cold. Under the stress of the Napoleonic War and the American War of Independence, gradually some internal groupings arose. One was not just a Whig; one was a Rockingham Whig or a Portland Whig or a Foxite Whig. The same applied to the Tories. One was not just a Tory, one was a Pittite Tory or a Canningite Tory or a Peelite Tory.
Gradually, in the first half of the 19th century, all these ties and relationships liquidated. Following Robert Peel's repeal of the Corn Laws, there emerged a Conservative Party headed by Disraeli and a Liberal Party headed by Gladstone. I was much amused when my friend and neighbour Lord Bruce of Donington told your Lordships that one half of England did not know how the other half was living, because he was quoting from one of Disraeli's early novels although he did not know it at the time—at least I think he was.
This situation seems to me to be repeating itself at the moment. I turn first of all to the Conservative Party. There are Butskellites and Thatcherites. There may be Majorites and Heseltinians and so on. However, they emerge as having a certain kind of subordinate party loyalty among themselves. I now turn to the Liberals who have not taken much part in this debate. That is a pity. However, there is one noble Lord observing proceedings. I hope he will remember and report to his noble friends a remark of Bernard Shaw which is apposite to this matter. I believe it occurred in Back to Methuselah. The Liberal Party has admirable principles but Bernard Shaw's dictum was that principles without programme amount to no more than platitudes. I believe that is something the Liberals must learn.
I now turn to the Labour Party, which is in a state of preliminary dissolution. Marxism has let it down through the collapse of imperial Russia, Fabian socialism is no longer fashionable among the chattering classes, and its relationship with the trade unions is in a state of flux. Unless the Labour Party can produce a 608 programme that matters to the nation at large it will continue to be a party of protest rather than of government.
It must be the fate of the party of government to become more and more stale through the inevitable elapse of time and the sense of self-sufficiency which goes with it. The Opposition's time will come. I will even make them a present of my programme. If it wishes to adopt it, I would not desert the Cross-Benches, but I would certainly say, "Hear, hear".
It is high time we kept the national accounts in such a manner of sanitary bookkeeping that we distinguish between revenue and capital expenditure. I shall riot enlarge on that theme because I have said that here dozens of times and no attention has been paid to it whatsoever.
The party in power has learnt partially how to cope with the Civil Service managing it and emerged with a grain of comfort at having sometimes managed the Civil Service. I said long ago that I am waiting for an earthquake at the Treasury which will accomplish what I have in mind. I make a present of that to the Opposition.
§ 7.11 p.m.
§ Baroness Cox
My Lords, I regret and resent the Motion before us. I welcome the opportunity it provides to endorse and promote the Government's policies; indeed, to celebrate them and to affirm my own commitment to them with particular reference to education, like my noble friend Lady Perry of Southwark.
The distinctively Conservative principles which motivate me to sit on these Benches include commitment to freedom of choice, diversity of provision and accountability to individuals; in the case of education, especially to parents comparing the situation now with that of a few years ago there have been fundamental changes in our education system which represent great achievements in all those respects, together with the "back to basics" policies designed to raise standards and to ensure that all pupils attain essential knowledge and skills.
The measures undertaken by this Government build on previous Conservative policies which were necessitated by a dire situation in education brought about by Left-wing ideologies and Labour policies. Of course there are many good schools and many dedicated teachers, and always have been, but the system in general had been failing to deliver an adequate education for far too many of our children and especially, as research showed, for those of average or below average ability.
Remedial legislation brought in by Conservative governments has opened up access to information needed by the public to assess schools and by parents to make the best choices for their children. I must point out that it is not parents who are leading the current anti-league table furore but the education establishment, which has tried to maintain a shroud of secrecy that can hide many faults in the system. It has been shown that far too many pupils have been getting a very raw deal.
609 This Government's commitment to raising standards in its "back to basics" campaign must be seen as a very necessary response to that grave situation of falling standards of literacy and serious underachievement in mathematical skills, which was, for example, leaving British 16 year-olds two years behind their German counterparts. That was outrageous. Many HMI reports have shown serious problems, especially in urban schools, of a long-standing nature.
However, increasing freedom of choice, diversity of provision and more accountability to parents and the local community have all been achieved by measures brought in by Conservative governments through welcome policies such as local financial management of schools, freedom to opt out from meddlesome local authority control and, now, opportunities for new good schools established in response to parental wishes to opt in to state funding. The local management of schools is a very popular measure, and the vast majority of grant-maintained schools are already great success stories.
When I compare those initiatives with the sterile policies on education of parties opposite I am amazed by their complacency and negativism. I understand their arguments for increased nursery education, although I do not go all the way with them. But other Labour Party commitments, such as threatening to drag opted-out schools back into local authority control and to close religious denominational schools, are intimidating, backward looking and destructive.
I am not averse to criticising this Government when I believe that criticism is justified; but when I compare this Government's achievements with the dearth of ideas and policies on the Benches opposite I speak with passionate conviction in support of the Government's record in bringing in much-needed reforms and in opening up new opportunities for the fulfilment of those principles which underpin Conservative philosophy. In education that has meant that the Government have succeeded in achieving increasing accountability, freedom of choice and diversity of provision according to the needs and wishes of parents, pupils, local communities and a wider society. I therefore resist this Motion and wholeheartedly commend the Government on their many and historic achievements in educational reform.
§ 7.15 p.m.
§ The Earl of Onslow
My Lords, as your Lordships know, I have frequently expressed disapproval of Her Majesty's Government. On almost every single occasion that I have done so or voted against the Government the Labour Party has trooped into the Lobby with the Conservative Party when the Conservative Party was at its most unwise. I agree that the poll tax is an exception, but the Government have now wisely earned their corn and changed their minds.
When we wanted the people to have a choice on a Maastricht referendum we had a 27-line Whip against us. All the Conservatives, Liberals and the Labour Party said that it was a bad idea. I thought that it was rather a good idea. Mr. Smith helped push the Government 610 into the exchange rate mechanism. Look what a great success that policy was. It had the support of the Labour Party. In 1991–92 too much money was spent. What did the Labour Party say? They said that we should spend more. The Labour Party also voted for the confiscation of the assets of the noble Duke, the Duke of Westminster. I did not.
On occasions there are grounds for criticising Her Majesty's Government. However, it seems to me that such criticism is muted in contrast to the good things which they have done.
The noble Lord, Lord Richard, compared 1979 with 1993. I seem to remember that in 1979 there was a firm called British Leyland which could not do anything. There was a gentleman who ensured that the workers were out on strike most of the time. The company was regarded as a joke and a laughing-stock among all motor industries. Is it not a contrast that Rover is now exporting to Japan and is taking on labour and increasing its share of the motor market? Contrast that with the position of Mercedes. What is happening to Mercedes? It is laying off workers and has large numbers of unsold cars. The idea that there could be such a Rover/Mercedes relationship in 1993 was unthinkable in 1979. British Telecom, now privatised, is one of the leading companies in the world. The same can be said of British Gas.
My daughter is now aged 16 and sitting GCSEs. The GCSE seems to me to be a sensible and hardworking exam for which she has to apply her mind. I accept that she attends a private school rather than a state school, but children all take the same exam and follow the same curriculum. It is a good exam and it stretches their minds. That is a Conservative improvement. A further improvement is that there should be choice for parents as opposed to regimentation.
I speak from experience of the National Health Service. Our local GP is better than any private GP. He is paid for by your Lordships, for which thank you very much indeed. I had reason to be referred by him to a specialist in the Royal Surrey hospital. I could not have been treated better. The health service could not be run in a more efficient and practical way.
This Government have a record of immense achievements. I find it a little difficult to compare the number of workers in the National Health Service with those in the Chinese Army, which I have always thought was not a Conservative thing to do, but nevertheless I am sure our health is looked after better now than ever before, with greater numbers of doctors, nurses, and so on.
I believe that at a Front Bench meeting of the party opposite the noble Lord, Lord Richard, announced that he had tabled the Motion. Everyone complained and he said, "It is too late; I have put down the Motion". A little bird told me that. I would not dream of disclosing who it was, but I believe that it is a reasonably reliable source. It shows what an intensely stupid action it was. It is not how we should behave in this House. This House is for revision and the discussion of serious matters. It is not to be an ape-like copy of the House of Commons. Let us consider that peradventure there was a Labour Government and that every week my noble 611 friends on the Front Bench decided to put down Motions of no confidence in the Labour Government. Because there seems to be a slight preponderance of people who acknowledge the Tory Whip as opposed to those who acknowledge the Labour Whip, it is within the bounds of possibility that those Motions might be carried. It would be a waste of time. No one would pay any attention. The Motion has no more effect than if it had been moved in a parish witan in Ultima Thule.
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ Lord Monkswell
My Lords, it is always a pleasure to hear the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, contributing in the House. It is so refreshing to hear someone who is prepared to speak his mind. However, unfortunately the problem is that he quite often seems to come to the wrong conclusions following his argument.
I remind noble Lords that the Motion before us is,That this House has no confidence in the policies of Her Majesty's Government".It is not about whether we have confidence in some other form of government. The Motion is about whether this House has confidence in the present Government. I hope that there will be a free vote and that we shall all consider the facts and vote as our consciences dictate. That is one of the real strengths of this House.
I wish to refer to some facts and expose some myths. The Government came to power in 1979. In that year the country had balance of payments equilibrium. The figure for unemployment was about 1 million. Both unemployment and inflation were coming down. It is a myth that the dead lay unburied. That fiction of the popular tabloids is perpetuated by a number of Tory party members. Since 1981 we have seen a continuous trend of a worsening balance of payments with a current account deficit for the past seven years. The evidence is presented by the Government themselves in Chart 3.19 on page 48 of the Financial Statement and Budget Report for 1994–95, the Red Book. Effectively, we are consistently consuming more than we produce. I was interested in the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Alexander of Weedon. He suggested that we should think of this country as the United Kingdom plc. For the past seven years we have been trading at a loss. Since 1980 the value of sterling has continued on a downward trend. I refer to Chart 3.21 on page 51 of the Red Book.
The Government have perpetrated a big lie: that they have cut taxation. The noble Lord, Lord Archer of Weston-super-Mare, sought to perpetuate it. The Government have not. Every year since 1979 the average British citizen has paid more in tax than in that year. What has changed is the burden of tax. The rich pay less. But those on average incomes and the poor pay more. And for what? A declining economy and mass unemployment. Investment in British industry is less this year than in 1979.
Another example of the Government's crass stupidity is the way that they have armed two nations which, during their period of office, have been involved in armed conflict with ourselves. The Government are dragging our country down. That is why I have no confidence in them.
§ 7.25 p.m.
The Viscount of Oxfuird
My Lords, we have heard some most interesting points from all sides of the House although I am bound to say, with due deference to the noble Lord, Lord Richard, that I find this a wholly unnecessary Motion. The problem that we face on the government side of the House is that inevitably memories are short and it is difficult to remember to what depths we as a nation had descended 14 years ago. We take for granted the benefits that have accrued from 14 years of sound government under my noble friend Lady Thatcher and latterly Mr. Major.
For much of my career I have been an exporter. I well remember the almost impossible task in the 1970s when it became more and more difficult to sell British goods abroad. From a sound base earlier this century when "Made in Britain" was recognised as a hallmark of quality and reliability, our reputation sank to an all-time low. The quality of our goods was perceived as poor. Our performance to contract was weak and, more often than not, industrial disruption at home meant that goods arrived late. Many is the time I have witnessed the arrival of goods in a far country such as India, Hong Kong or China, and the product did not work. Egg on whose face? Ours, my Lords.
How different things are today and how much easier is the job of the exporter. What this Government have created for British industry over the past 14 years is a framework for economic success. I shall not pretend that it has all been plain sailing. We live in a real world where no single national government have control over the vagaries or fluctuations in the world economy. What this Government have achieved is a framework within which business can thrive. Low inflation, low taxes on business, firm control over public spending, the freeing of markets by privatisation, deregulation and trade union reforms are all part of that successful framework.
Those are keys to our present and future industrial and commercial prosperity. I do not intend to bore your Lordships with a barrage of statistics. However, it is noteworthy that exports in the past three months to August were 15 per cent. up on the year. After decades of decline, Britain's share of world manufactured trade is rising. As a nation, we now export a higher percentage of our GDP than Japan.
It is sometimes better to forget statistics and to use simple yardsticks or rules of thumb. A simple indicator is British Rail car parks at our stations. If one thinks back 18 months they were half full, or half empty, depending on one's point of view. Today those car parks are nearly full. That is a simple but, I suggest, practical indicator that our economy is growing again.
Fourteen years ago, I, as an exporter, would travel on our national carrier, British Airways, and telephone my customers overseas using British Telecom. I confess that they were not always happy experiences. How different today! Both companies are recognised as world leaders and both are a living tribute to the success of the privatisation programme. How well I recall the gloom-mongers who opposed those privatisations back in the early 1980s. How similar were the arguments then to the arguments we hear now and have heard this 613 afternoon, raised against the Government's current round of privatisations. Those arguments were wrong then and they are wrong now. We must not weaken in our resolve.
Let me urge noble Lords, in conclusion, not to lose heart. Fourteen years ago this country embarked upon a crusade. We are already benefiting from some of the successes of that crusade, but the job is not finished yet and will not be finished until all sectors of British industry have achieved world class status.
I urge all noble Lords to demonstrate their faith and confidence in the present policies of Her Majesty's Government by firmly rejecting the Motion this evening.
§ 7.31 p.m.
§ Baroness Strange
My Lords, ever since I was privileged to enter your Lordships' House I have been struck by the courtesy, kindness and consensus which have existed between all Peers of all parties or political persuasion. Occasionally, like all friends, we have differences of opinion. Basically, we all seek the ultimate good of our country, although our beliefs as to how that may be achieved, or indeed what it is, may sometimes differ. Whether we are hereditary Peers or here under our own steam for services rendered to the country in another place or elsewhere, we are all parts of one body of friends.
We have our own ways and our own customs, which we preserve as jealously as our neighbours do theirs in another place. Having a vote of no confidence in the Government at this time is apparently without precedent. I can only say that it saddens me very much, as I expect it does many of your Lordships.
I have only two small short points to make. The first is that, speaking as President of the War Widows Association of Great Britain, I am absolutely delighted at the increase in the pensions of old age pensioners to meet the dreaded heating VAT. That is something which has been worrying some of my older members very much and I feel it will go some way towards alleviating their fears and, indeed, keep them warm through the winter.
My second point is that, as some of your Lordships may have observed, although I take the Conservative Whip, I have not always voted blindly for the Government. I have felt free to vote as my conscience impelled me. That I should not have been able to do under a government in whom I had no confidence. Only a true friend can tell you when you are wearing an unbecoming hat and remain confident that you will still be friends. It is that confidence and faith that I have in our present Government which give me this freedom and which now impel me also to vote for a government in whom I trust.
§ 7.34 p.m.
§ Lord Desai
My Lords, I think that the only way one can describe what has been said from the Benches opposite is as a mixture of naivety, forgetfulness, saying the opposite of what one means and conveniently 614 forgetting the awkward facts. Then when one is caught out, one either changes the definitions or blames everyone else but oneself.
Perhaps I may begin with the economic competence of the Government, because some people think that the Government are economically competent. Incidentally, I believe the noble Lord, Lord Stewartby, mentioned consistency, he said that we lacked consistency. A government who, twice in 14 years, doubled the rate of inflation, increased unemployment permanently beyond the figure they inherited and changed their mind on practically everything from monetarism to the exchange rate mechanism and everything else several times cannot be accused of consistency.
People think that what the Chancellor did yesterday showed fiscal prudence. The Government have talked about fiscal prudence for about 14 years and done nothing about it; it would be nice if they had done something. We have to understand that what happened yesterday was a smoke and mirrors trick. What the Chancellor did was to move £4 billion from the reserves, slap a bit off defence—which is welcome—and savage local authorities. Then suddenly he predicted a decline in the PSBR for next year of about £6 billion or £7 billion. But beyond that date, beyond 1995–96, the balance is achieved by assuming a growth rate of GDP of 3 per cent., which the economy has never consistently achieved for three years, and that the tax take will continue to be high, which is also very dubious.
The only reliable figure in the Red Book would be that in 1995–96 the Government will continue to have a 4 per cent. budget deficit as a proportion of GDP. Beyond that, every figure is a fake number because, if we assume a realistic target which is given in the Red Book of what is called a lower growth variant—a growth rate of 2¼ per cent.—let me remind the House that over the past 14 years the Government have not achieved that figure and it would therefore be a miracle if they achieved the 2¼ per cent. They have just about achieved it this year. With a 2¼ per cent. growth rate, the deficit would continue to be high, and even by 1998–99 a budget balance would not be achieved.
Thus what the Chancellor did yesterday was to produce a nice number and more or less said, "I know what will happen up to 1995–96. Beyond that it is all fiction and I don't really care beyond 1995–96 because we shall have an election", and, as is usual and as he has done in other offices of state, he will have moved elsewhere. That is what the Budget showed.
The Budget also shows, by the Government's own admission, that the decline in the inflation rate has stopped and the rate will be slightly higher next year than this year. There will be no drop in unemployment, and by the Government's own definition it will stay at 2.8 million for the next three years. There will be no improvement in the deficit in the balance of trade; by the Government's own admission it will be high. Of course the Government usually underestimate the balance of trade deficit, so it will be much worse. The noble Viscount, Lord Oxfuird, said how nice things had been 615 for exports—but they have been even nicer for imports, thanks to the Government's policy. Cumulatively, we have had a continuously rising balance of trade deficit.
In the middle of such a crisis, the Government propose in the Budget a cut in real investment on the public sector account. Let us take the gross debt to GDP ratio. When Labour was in power—I remind noble Lords of those dire days—we brought down the debt to GDP ratio from 60 per cent. to 45 per cent., without the help of North Sea oil and without raising unemployment. With the help of North Sea oil and a lot of extra unemployment, for a while the debt to GDP ratio went down, but a signal achievement of the Major Government is that the debt to GDP ratio which they inherited will be back in 1994–95. All the evidence shows that for the l4 or 15 years of savaging the economy, with all the extra unemployment, there is the same debt to GDP ratio, with higher unemployment and many more working days lost through unemployment than were ever lost through strikes. Any notion that this Government have any economic competence is false and I wish people to vote for my noble friend's Motion.
§ 7.40 p.m.
§ Baroness Miller of Hendon
My Lords, I do not intend to take up your Lordships' time by giving a list of all the reasons why I have the utmost confidence in Her Majesty's Government. Others among my noble friends have already done that. Suffice it to say that I entirely share their views. Instead, I question, as did my noble friend Lady Carnegy, why we, as Members of an unelected Chamber, are engaged in this futile and possibly unconstitutional debate of no confidence in a democratically elected Government—a Government which achieved the largest popular vote in history. Answering myself, I submit that it is nothing more than a cynical attempt to create a smokescreen, to try to draw attention away from the most imaginative Budget that was presented yesterday by my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and indeed, by the paucity of the Opposition's views in response to it.
Perhaps we should be debating this evening the abject failure of Members of the Opposition to provide constructive policies of their own instead of simply having argument for argument's sake. For example, both Opposition parties seem able to perform the most amazing feats of mental gymnastics by looking in several directions at once. To see exactly what I mean, one has only to recall that they both proposed increased taxes, either on fuel or on energy; yet now they are shedding crocodile tears because the Government is to put VAT on fuel.
We have an Opposition the main component of which is a party which sold its soul to the unions in order to get through a basic, simple piece of democracy: one member, one vote. They support the disastrous social chapter, and Labour has now signed up to the even more disastrous manifesto of the European Socialist Party.
It is difficult to know exactly what Labour Members stand for; although it seems to me these days, as they change their minds so often, that they even appear to support our manifesto of 1987. I suppose that that is not 616 a bad thing. However, I would be much more impressed with them if they stopped singing "The Red Flag" at their annual conference. The red flag that they want to keep flying high here is being torn down all over the world, except perhaps in North Korea, and of course the Walworth Road.
Even if it were not for the many achievements of this Government, the paucity and the abject failure of the Opposition would encourage me to continue to support this Government. The sooner that we are able to put an end to this nonsensical, sterile party politicking, which should belong in the other place, the better. This House does have serious work to do: to consider this Session's legislation. I jolly well hope that we can get on with it now.
§ 7.43 p.m.
§ Viscount Mountgarret
My Lords, having had the privilege to be a Member of this House for close on 27 years, I think that I can safely say that this has been the most disappointing debate that I have ever listened to. It is disappointing because it does not seem to have an object. I am disappointed that somebody of the calibre of the noble Lord, Lord Richard, should see fit to bring the debate before the House. As my noble friend Baroness Miller said, it does not belong in your Lordships' House; it belongs in another place. However, let us make the best of it, arid let us see if some good can come out of this remarkable performance.
Many of my noble friends on this side of the House have paid tribute to the many excellent things which the Government have done over the past 14 years—none more vehemently so than my noble friend Lord Archer. It might perhaps help to keep a sense of proportion if my noble friends on the Front Bench were made a little aware that all in the garden is not at this stage as rosy as they might like to think having listened to the tributes that have been paid, quite rightly, by their supporters. They have caused a considerable amount of concern in the country as a whole.
We were fortunate enough to win the last election. But I have to ask whether we actually won it, or whether the party opposite contributed very largely to losing it. If that second point is in any way correct, then it is an unsatisfactory state of affairs for this Government to be in —to win, as it were, by default.
Since then, some remarkable actions have been taken by the Government. The manner in which things have been done has caused concern. For instance, the manner in which the closure of pits was announced was terrible. I cannot put it any less strongly than that. I believe that it was declared illegal in the courts. There was a time when people in office who were found to make a nonsense of matters in that way usually held their hands up and said, "I am sorry, I have made a mistake. My position is untenable". It seems that across the board these days, in any walk of life, responsibility for one's actions is not always met in the manner in which it should be met.
Let us take the manner in which interest rates went up and down last year like a yo-yo in the space of 24 hours. That was a strange way of doing things. It struck people 617 in the country as being the result of panic. It is not good to be led by people who appear to be panicking. It gives rise for concern.
The Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act is not a Conservative Act. It has no part in Conservative policy. The sanctity of contract was broken, as was widely discussed at the time. That gave concern to people in the country who were involved.
In the area of agriculture, great anxiety is being voiced. Not so long ago we discussed the quota system. We should have been strong enough to tackle that problem in a far better way, so that it did not give rise for concern to those who were involved.
My noble friend Lord Renton referred to the question of our coalmines. I do not know about other people, but it is terrible for me to see those marvellous pits, and equally marvellous men who work in the pits, being thrown on the scrap-heap. We have 1,000 years of fuel there. Why has that happened? It has happened because in the euphoria of the desperate desire for the privatisation of electricity, somebody overlooked the fact that we must ensure a sensible outlet for our own home-produced fuel, instead of relying on fuel which may well later on be imported. I am not talking about the principle of necessary closures, or the principle of privatisation. I am saying that the way in which it was done has given rise to concern.
The proposed privatisation of forestry has not yet happened. But—for goodness sake—I hope that my noble friends on the Front Bench will think that measure through. It will be a devastating blow to the forestry industry of this country if the Forestry Commission sells to the private sector. The commission does a tremendous amount for the growing of trees in this country.
To that extent, the noble Lord, Lord Richard, may have done my noble friends a service by suggesting that they should sit back and take stock (I believe those were his words). They should try not to make the same mistakes again. I would definitely say well done on the good points, particularly on the Budget, which has encouraged everybody to feel happier. But I beg my noble friends: please, please do not upset your loyal supporters in the country.
The figure 14 is prevalent in Parliament. I saw the noble Lord, Lord Wilson, in his seat a moment ago. My noble friend Lord Home was called the 14th Earl of Home, and the noble Lord, Lord Wilson, the 14th Mr. Wilson. We have opened a debate on 14 years of Conservative power. I hope very much that if I am granted a further lease of life of 14 years, I shall still be able to see the noble Lord, Lord Richard, and his friends, heirs and successors, sitting in the places that they occupy now.
§ 7.50 p.m.
§ Lord Morris of Castle Morris
My Lords, I wish to make three points on the Government's energy policy, in which I have no confidence. First there is coal. How wisely the noble Viscount, Lord Mountgarret, has just spoken. I trust that his Front Bench will take great heed of what he said. I agree with him completely that in the 618 past year alone we have seen the almost casual announcement of a pit closure programme which would have destroyed an entire workforce; and when that aroused the implacable hostility of a huge section of the British people, the policy was withdrawn. The miners were promised a reprieve and a review. But as we now see all too clearly that was a cynical charade. It takes spectacular mismanagement of policy to produce a situation in which Mr. Arthur Scargill is cheered and encouraged as he marches at the head of a demonstration for coal through the midst of Mayfair.
Secondly, there is THORP, which is another classic case of government dithering. After the reviews and the inquiries and the reviews of the inquiries, when the original economic rationale for THORP has all but disappeared, since its plutonium will not be needed for the fast breeder reactors, and when the political unpopularity of plutonium has become evident, Her Majesty's Government, with all the caution in the cosmos can only say that they are "minded" to let BNFL proceed. They are "minded"—not "determined", not "decided"; they are "minded". What vision! What leadership! What a policy!
Thirdly, there is electricity. The Government have resolutely looked the other way while the electricity generators have manipulated the market. As The Times put it last week, the biggest question in Britain's power generation industry today is whether Stephen Littlechild, the electricity regulator, will refer National Power and PowerGen to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. So we have Government policy sheltering under the skirts of the regulator while consumers pay ever more for the product. The Yarrow study of 1992 found that,on average prices were up to 25 per cent. higher for domestic customers and up to 19 per cent. higher for industrial consumers than would have been predicted on the basis of a continuation of pre-privatisation trends".Policy, my Lords? What policy?
The reason for all the wishy-washy dithering and tinkering is not hard to find. It is the Government's touching faith in the sovereign power of market forces. All true believers in the Conservative Party must bow the knee at that altar; but in no area of policy is it more dangerous and more unnecessary to do so. There can be no possible guarantee that the market will properly value the factors needed for the long-term security of energy supply, for environmental protection or, especially, for energy efficiency. Crude market forces are not good enough. Energy is different, and that is true all over the world. Even in the former Soviet Union it is not a matter of who can make a profit but of who has the pipelines.
The Government have missed countless excellent opportunities. Nowhere is that more true than in the area of renewable energy. They have ignored the possibilities of landfill gas sites. There is no developed strategy for the recycling of waste-to-energy plants. The early encouragement given to energy efficiency seems to have run out of energy as well as out of ideas. The exploitation of tidal energy has got stuck in the mud. Even the simple possibilities of wind farms are only timidly touched upon. The authorities in this country have only to stick a wind pump on a peninsula to raise 619 great gales of suspicion and hostility because there is no clear and published policy and because local people are not involved early enough in decisions.
Yet there is evidence to suggest that powerful and sustained development of renewables could do much more for the competitiveness of British industry than all the deregulation and enterprise initiatives put together, if only that policy were pursued openly, robustly and with a mandatory approach. It is entirely characteristic of the declining importance given to energy planning that the old autonomous Department of Energy has now disappeared into the recesses of the DTI. That old department, which was led by some distinguished Ministers and highly intelligent and able officials, has gone. The result is all too clear to see. The Government's energy policy has no policy and very little energy. All the steam has gone out of it. It has lost power and credibility. It needs a vigorous application of that primaeval energy source, elbow grease, if it is to be worth even our interest.
§ 7.53 p.m.
§ Lord Lyell
My Lords, my noble friend Lord Mountgarret who preceded me in this debate by a few minutes referred to his 27 years in your Lordships' House. I, a mere babe of 22 years in this House, attend a debate of this nature for the first time this evening.
I have to disagree with one or two of my noble friends. I have found this a fascinating debate. Indeed, we could do with more of this type of debate. If this is the kind of set piece attack by the Opposition I must say to the House that I am truly astonished at the moderation of noble Lords opposite. They have spent close on four-and-a-half hours in a mish-mash of complaints, harking back to a golden era prior to 1979. I wonder where is the sharp and targeted attack upon this Government, who have been in power for 14 years. I exempt from my remarks the noble Lord, Lord Desai, who I thought made a spirited and excellent attempt. But as I said, I have been astonished at the moderation of the barbed comments coming from across the Floor of your Lordships' House.
Earlier in the debate noble Lords opposite referred to the remarks made by my noble friend Lady Thatcher on the steps of Downing Street in 1979 when she quoted the words of St. Francis of Assisi: "Where there is discord" and so on. Those who remember the 1970s did not have to look too deeply at the outgoing Government or indeed the friendly brethren in the Labour Party—the noble Lord, Lord Richard, may have been away in Brussels, I am not too sure; he may well have been a distinguished Member of that government—let alone the great supporters of that movement, the trades unions. I wondered whether, like many of the comments that have come from noble Lords opposite in this great censure debate, they chose their weapons with great prescience or much foresight.
I was particularly pleased to hear the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington. Your Lordships will be aware that he and I share one common factor. We are both members of the distinguished profession of accountancy. However, I was somewhat startled and worried to find that today he was not his usual self, red in tooth and 620 claw. Perhaps he has spent too long trying to catch up with the news of the Budget in the newspapers in the Library.
I wondered much at what he had to say about this country of ours and how many of us in this Chamber did not know how the other half of the country lived. If he gives me half a second afterwards, or tomorrow, I will show him exactly the kind of life that is lived outside your Lordships' House as it is illustrated in the tabloid newspapers. One does not need the talents of an accountant to do that. Everyone can see it and read about it. The noble Lord, Lord Bruce, was certainly inaccurate in his comments.
Perhaps I may return to the comments made about 1979. I recall the remarks made by my noble friend Lady Thatcher when, as Mrs. Thatcher, she formed her first government in 1979. One of the first things that her first administration undertook was to attempt to put some sense of order into industrial relations. I had the privilege of taking some humble part in the first Employment Bill of 1979–80. I and many noble Lords who were with us at that time will remember the fraternal discord in the Labour Party as we looked at various aspects of trade unionism. It was best put by the former and much regretted late Member of your Lordships' House, Lord Feather. Referring to some of the activities that had been carried on in the name of the trades unions in 1970, he said that such scenes as were taking place then and happened during the early, mid and late 1970s had nothing whatever to do with trade unionism and all the good work done by trade unionists.
It has taken the employment legislation of this Government, with much courage, at last to bring about professional industrial relations in this country. We have seen many of the results—some were referred to by my noble friend Lord Onslow. For instance, Rover cars are exporting to Japan whereas the great automotive industries of Germany are having some difficulty. I believe that my noble friend the Leader of the House and various other noble friends put forward one or two salient facts regarding comparisons with our competitor friends and member states, France and Germany. I am sure that your Lordships will agree that the Prime Minister of France and the Bundeskanzler Kohl would be content with the so-called "problems" of the, United Kingdom economy.
We heard nothing in the debate this afternoon—this set-piece censure debate—from noble Lords opposite to make either myself or my noble friends buckle in our support of the Government and my right honourable friend the Prime Minister.
§ 8 p.m.
§ Lord Pearson of Rannoch
My Lords, I must start by apologising to your Lordships for not having been here to hear the opening speeches, or indeed many later contributions. I hope that may be forgiven on this occasion because I had long-standing commitments elsewhere from which I was unable to escape at the comparatively short notice which we were given for such an important debate.
It is of course true that some of us on these Benches have from time to time expressed reservations about 621 some aspects of government policy. But surely that is part of our function, and it usually results in improved legislation.
I think the only recent government policy with which some of us wholeheartedly disagreed, without being able to improve it in any way, was the decision to ratify the Treaty on European Union as signed at Maastricht. Time will tell who was right on that matter, and I pray that it turns out to be the Government—although I doubt it, if only for the reason that they were so strongly supported by the Benches opposite.
As many noble Lords will know, I am also now sure that our well-intentioned community care policy is not working and is not going to work as its authors wished. For instance, I am now convinced that we are closing down our residential institutions for the mentally handicapped too quickly, forcing many of these people to live with inadequate care packages in the outside world, where there is no real community and where people do not care as much as we hoped they would. So I very much hope that this policy will be modified urgently to give greater priority to the creation of sheltered or village communities, which seem to be wanted by more than 60 per cent. of the relatives of mentally handicapped people and in which the mentally handicapped can be happily accommodated much more cheaply than they can under our community care policy. I hope that the Treasury will take an interest in that suggestion before too long.
While speaking of the mentally handicapped, I also believe that our latest Education Act puts too much emphasis on educating children with a mental handicap in ordinary schools. I hope that this will soon be more generally recognised and that the resultant suffering can be alleviated through guidance from my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education.
But it seems to me that the gracious Speech presented us with an entirely healthy set of policies. I appreciate that they do not appeal to the Benches opposite, but that is because, when enacted, they will do much to reduce the power of the bloated bureaucratic state, which still wields such a negative influence on all our lives but which is so beloved by socialists everywhere.
My right honourable friend the Prime Minister has also indicated that he intends to allow real people from ordinary walks of life to get some of the jobs at the top of the Civil Service. That will be thoroughly refreshing to the departments concerned, to the advice they give to Ministers and to the service that they offer.
In the time available I can mention only one policy in the gracious Speech of which I particularly approve and have some familiarity with the area which it will affect. I am immensely relieved that the Government have decided to do something about perhaps the last great socialist establishment in this country, that haven of the gender, race and class brigade, teacher training. That establishment is perhaps more responsible than anything else for the depressing failure of our state system of education over the past 25 years, and I trust that the Bill which is to receive its Second Reading in your Lordships' House next week will contribute to a fairer deal for all our children in the future.
622 I have spoken enough, and I trust that it is clear that I strongly support the Government against this extremely unfortunate Motion tonight.
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ Baroness Seear
My Lords, on a number of occasions I have had the privilege of winding up a debate in your Lordships' House. I have found it usually an interesting, challenging and worthwhile exercise, but I must confess that this evening I am totally at a loss. In my view we have not had a debate. We have had a random knockabout, unfocused and covering at least 20 different subjects, none of which was discussed. For the person who must wind up that is no small challenge, and it is not a challenge that I intend to take on. It is impossible to deal in any intelligent way with so discursive—I cannot even call it an argument—a set of assertions thrown from one side of the House to the other over a period of five hours.
Of course there were points with which one agrees from both sides of the House. For example, I agreed with the noble Baroness, Lady Miller—I see that she is not in her place —when she said that it was a magical Budget. It was indeed; it was done with mirrors! The noble Baroness certainly got the language right on that occasion.
I agreed with many of the criticisms of government policy in a number of areas that came from both sides of the House, again as assertions with no time to discuss, argue or amplify them in an intelligent way. Of course, as a Member of the unofficial Opposition—that is perhaps the way I should be described—overall I oppose a great deal of what the Government have done; but not all of it. I cannot take part in a wholesale condemnation so ill-supported by the facts and argued in so random a fashion. While we on these Benches oppose the policies of Her Majesty's Government, I am bound to say that we also have no confidence in the policies of the official Opposition.
§ Baroness Seear
My Lords, Members of the official Opposition had plenty of opportunity to make their points and I am now making mine from these Benches. This has been a totally unsatisfactory afternoon.
I could pick up a great many of the issues raised and make yet another comment on them, but I do not intend to do that. Instead I intend to raise a matter which I consider to be of the greatest importance and in which I have a great lack of confidence. I refer to the fact that the Government do not seem to have taken on board in the longer term what the real problems are that this country is up against in trying to operate in a global economy. They are the problems that any government—it is for the Government to do it—trying to give leadership to the country should be raising, thinking about and telling the people of this country how they can be tackled.
The problems which we are encountering at the present time and which are being encountered in all the countries of the European Continent are structural and not cyclical. There are cyclical complications, but basically the problems are structural, arising from the 623 shift in the global economy, from what is happening on the Pacific Rim, from the vast increase in numbers in the developing countries and all that that will mean in terms of trade and social problems.
In my view we in the West are at a turning point in human history, like the Enlightenment and like the fall of the Roman Empire, when methods are changing at a basic level. Any government worth their salt should be looking at those issues and telling people that the structural changes and opportunities for change occurring in the world economy are threatening challenges but also great opportunities. They should be preparing the people of this country both for the opportunities and the threats. That preparation must be in the way in which human capital, infrastructure capital and capital in industry are organised in order that those challenges can be met and the opportunities seized.
Where have the Governmer, given this lead? When will they explain to people that the problems will not pass away? My criticism of the Labour Party is that it takes the same short-term view in criticising the errors in immediate policy but never focuses on the real difficulties. It is all very well to say—and of course we all agree—that we need to have a high wage, high skill labour force. But we do not have it. How are we to get it? Without it there is no hope of getting the country out of the problems which it faces. What is the Labour Party proposing to do about it? What indeed did it do about it in the past?
I recognise that there are many people in the Labour Party today who are as convinced as any of us of the importance of education and training. But I would remind them that in 1977—after all, we had many years in the preceding quarter of a century of Labour Governments—44 per cent. of the youngsters leaving our schools went either into unemployment or into a job with no training whatsoever. What have either of the parties done about that? The comparable figure in France was 19 per cent. and in Germany 9 per cent. These are the problems of the future. These are the things that matter.
Any government worth their salt would be making it clear to the country what the problems are. Some industries will die. Others must be brought forward. That is the problem which we ought to be facing. None of this has been mentioned today and in my view we have been wasting our time.
§ 8.11 p.m.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
My Lords, in the course of the past few hours a good deal of resentment has been expressed at our temerity in putting down this Motion today. I find that puzzling. It is not, I suppose, just on the old Conservative principle that nothing shall be done for the first time. It must be some residual conviction that this House has a justification other than in the political arena. I pay tribute to the noble Earl, Lord Halsbury, and to the noble Lord, Lord Palmer, for breaking away from the succession of party political speeches that we have heard, all of which, with the exception of the contribution the noble Viscount, Lord Mountgarret, who spoke for five minutes against the Government and 10 seconds in favour of the 624 Government, were been entirely predictable. But unless we express political opinion and unless we act politically, what justification is there for the public expenditure in keeping this House in being as a House of Parliament? I can see none.
I have been here for a far shorter time than many of those who have spoken tonight. I confess that I find distasteful the spectacle of the House spending hours debating salmon fishing, game licences, or any of the things which appeal to noble Lords socially but have no political impact whatever. Unless we concentrate on political issues, both in expressing our political views in the way we have been doing today and, most importantly, in the revision of legislation, there is no justification for being here. In that sense I do not apologise on behalf of my party in any way for our having introduced the Motion, so ably moved by my noble friend Lord Richard.
A further bonus is that we have had a succession of five-minute speeches. I venture to suggest that hardly one of those speeches was any the worse for being made in five minutes rather than in 10 minutes, 15 minutes, or 20 minutes.
§ Lord McIntosh of Haringey
I shall watch the clock very carefully, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hailsham, rightly reminds me.
Of course, there have been disadvantages in the sense that we have heard a lot of what I might politely call House of Commons speeches, some of which have been no more than constituency annual dinner speeches. We have heard some speeches 'which lean very heavily on party headquarter hand-outs—and I am looking ahead of me when I say that.
I do not want to go over the ground concerning individual policies that has been covered very adequately in debate. Instead, I want but to try to explore what it is that the policies are for, what it is that we expect of a government and in what sense this Government can be said to have failed in meeting those expectations. I want to suggest to your Lordships that what government is for is to contribute—only to contribute—to a society in which there is an equal worth for all citizens; a society in which basic needs—equal rights before the law, a safe environment and adequate food, shelter, education, health and work—are met for all citizens. I want to suggest to your Lordships that the history of the past 14 years has not only been that the Government have not contributed to those basic rights and needs but that they have in many ways detracted from them and made things worse.
We have in theory equal rights before the law, just as we have in theory the right to dine at the Ritz—except that most of us do not have the money for it. But it is still the fact that 10 per cent. of our citizens are not on the voting list. They do not take part in our democracy. They deny themselves the opportunity to take part in our democracy. That figure increased very greatly when the poll tax was introduced. It is a fact that a significant part of our democratic structure—that of local government—has been persistently and consistently 625 diminished over the past 14 years so that we have now reached the position where quangos—quasi autonomous non-governmental organisations —whose members are appointed and paid by Ministers, account for more of public expenditure than the whole of the democratic local government structure.
It is a fact that, although we pay lip service to civil rights, this country loses more cases at the European Court of Human Rights than any other country in Europe. It is a fact that changes in legal aid have meant that access to the law is available to a smaller proportion of our people than at any time since legal aid was first introduced. It is a fact, as my noble friend Lord Williams of Mostyn, well put it, that the citizens of this country are uneasy in their liberties.
On the right to a safe environment, well, again, my noble friend Lord Williams referred in more detail to the inadequacy of the Government's criminal justice policy. I want to give one figure which shows the extent to which the Government have failed. It concerns those people who have had experience of crime. In 1980 35 per cent. of our people had experience of crime. In 1993 53 per cent. had experience of crime. That is not an increase of which the Conservative Government should be proud.
I turn briefly to the basic right to food. I do so only because the noble Lord, Lord Vinson, said that we have food coming out of our ears. Well, we do, but a lot of people in this country do not. A couple on income support with one child can afford to spend only £26 a week on food whereas the minimum cost of a nutritionally healthy diet is £33.50. The availability of school meals, to take another example, has declined by 27 per cent. in the years since 1979. On the basic right to shelter, I could go into a long debate on house building and the decay of our housing stock. But let us take what is most obvious. The official figure for homelessness in this country is 400,000 people. Shelter's figure, which I tend to prefer, is 2 million. There are 1.5 million houses unfit for human habitation. When it comes to fuel as a part of shelter, the bottom 20 per cent. of our population spend three times the proportion of income that is spent by the top 20 per cent. on fuel, which is why VAT on fuel is such a wicked aspect of the Government's policy.
I do not have time to deal with the excellent speeches made on education and training except to say to noble Lords opposite that if they are so satisfied with the progress in education and training why is it that, in terms of the skills of the workforce, this country now comes 20th out of 22 members of the OECD? That is not an improvement over the past 14 years. The position is considerably worse.
When we speak about basic rights, above all let us consider the right to work. It is not simply that unemployment is unjust. Of course, it is. Many of my noble friends made that point with far greater effect than I can. But it is also inefficient. It is bad economics. It is a fact that we are failing to use the abilities of a large proportion of the people of this country. It is also a fact that unemployment is discriminatory. It is discriminatory by race for black people. Ethnic minorities are more 626 likely to be unemployed. It is also discriminatory by class and gender and for the sick and the disabled, as my noble friend Lord Ashley rightly said. It is discriminatory historically because those whose parents had good jobs are more likely to get good jobs themselves.
What is the reaction of this Government? Instead of doing something about unemployment they change the rules for the unemployed. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Howe, called it "reshaping". My noble friend Lord Ashley rightly corrected him and said that it was not reshaping but renaming and then cutting the benefits available to the unemployed. To call them job seekers when the policies of this Government have led to the fact that 2 million men of working age no longer actively seek work gives the lie to the claim of the Lord Privy Seal that this is not a party issue.
Behind all these factors lies poverty. It may not be a popular subject to talk about in your Lordships' House, but we must talk about it. It is an important means of judging the performance of the Government. By the most moderate, basic and elementary standard of poverty, which is the level of income support, or as it was, supplementary benefit, the number of our fellow citizens who are in poverty has risen from 7.75 million in 1979 to nearly 11.5 million in 1989. I do not have later figures. These are the 1993 published figures. There are 3.5 million more of our fellow citizens who are in poverty than when this Government came into office. According to the European Community standards of poverty, 20 per cent. of our population is in poverty. We have 20 per cent. of the poor of Europe. Our figures are worse than for all of Europe except Portugal, Spain, Ireland and Greece.
My noble friend Lord Bruce rightly drew attention to the extremes of wealth and poverty in this country. By every standard which one can apply these extremes have become worse. In 1979 the share of the total income of this country gained by the bottom half of the population was one-third. In 1991 it was down to one quarter. When one considers wealth, 1 per cent. of the people of this country own 18 per cent. of the wealth; 2 per cent. own 25 per cent.; 10 per cent. own 50 per cent. and the top 50 per cent. own 92 per cent. These are not simply comparative figures; they are absolute figures as well. In the 1980s and in the period of office of this Government, the absolute income of the bottom 10 per cent. of our population fell by 6 per cent. My noble friend Lord Longford rightly pointed to the immorality of such a development. He calls it Christian. I do not share his faith. But I certainly share with him the view that this is something which all people, with any sense of morality, ought to be ashamed of.
I am not accusing the Government of creating inequality by accident. Oh no! They have done it absolutely deliberately. This Government have had the policy of looking after their own. That is what governments are for and that is why I am a member of the Labour Party. I am a member of the party which represents and cares for the interests of the less privileged in our society. It was entirely proper for politicians in the Conservative Party to look after their own, and by God they have done so. 627 Let us look at the way in which the Government have managed public expenditure. Despite the fact that they have had £100 billion from North Sea oil and gas and £65 billion from privatisation, what has been the effect of their public expenditure policies? The effects have been a spendthrift policy such as has never been seen before. The effect has been a consumer spending binge which went on so long after it was justified by the taxation policy of the Government that we have landed up with a recession, the highest level of consumer debt and the lowest level of saving than at any time in recent history.
What has been the impact of the taxation policies of this Government? It is not just today's Budget that we are looking at. We are looking at what has happened to the £31 billion handed out in tax cuts since 1979. Of that £31 billion, £8.7 billion have gone to the top 1 per cent. of the population; £15.2 billion to the top 10 per cent. and only £4.8 billion to the bottom 50 per cent. The result is not a low-tax society. The noble Lord, Lord Marlesford, was more honest when he said that the policy of the Government was low direct taxes. We have a high-tax economy which is less progressive than it was in 1979. We have the situation where the top 10 per cent. of the population pay 32 per cent. of their income in tax and the bottom 10 per cent. pay 43 per cent. That is regressive taxation and a deliberate and conscious policy, as all these policies are, of making the rich richer and the poor poorer. It has not worked.
The Government's policies have been a failure by their own standards. The misplaced triumphalism of those who have chosen to quote figures from the past few months, as if they outweigh the figures from the past 14 years, does not bear thinking about. Above all, by any decent standards, over 14 years this Government have been a failure. They deserve no confidence from this House.
§ 8.27 p.m.
The Minister of State, Department of Transport (The Earl of Caithness)
My Lords, every opposition has the right to test the confidence of the House in the Government, but surely this must be one of the oddest occasions on which that right has been exercised. We have just had five days of debate on the Loyal Address. Despite that wealth of material, the Opposition seem to have been stumped for a single specific subject on which to take issue with the Government. There is no vote on the Queen's Speech.
Pierre Mendes-France's dictum was that to govern is to choose. The Opposition have the luxury that they do not have to govern but now that they have the luxury they do not want to choose. Labour Front Bench spokesmen have recently spoken at length and today's debate has given another opportunity for them to hear the sound of their own voices. It has been amusing to see them playing musical chairs between the Front and Back-Benches. Of course, I can understand the difficulty that the Labour Party have had in producing speakers for this debate. The Liberal Party, too, was noticeable by its absence.
Without doubt it was good for Britain that 14 years ago the Conservative Government rescued it from the 628 parlous state to which it had been brought. Let us never forget what was written in 1979 by one of our ablest ambassadors at that time:We talk of ourselves without shame as being one of the less prosperous countries in Europe. The prognosis for the future is discouraging".I agree with my noble friend Lord Archer. The amount of time since then lends no enchantment to the lean years of Labour which gave us the lowest growth rate in Europe, the highest strike record, and for the average family, virtually no increase in take home pay and a substantial erosion of pensions for the pensioners.
The contrast could not be more stark. We now have a country whose views are heeded, whose help is sought and whose will to act is not in doubt. As my noble Mend Lady Young said, others outside this country are often well-placed to make incisive judgments and they have decided that we are a country in which they want to invest. That is an objective vote of confidence which cannot be questioned. The UK has received one-third of all inward investment in the EC over recent years. Over 3,500 American companies have invested in Britain, including 96 of their top 100 companies. Around 200 Japanese firms, among them every one of Japan's top 10 consumer electronics firms, have chosen the UK as their manufacturing location in Europe. I unreservedly welcome that investment. To my noble friend Lord Sanderson of Bowden, whose support I appreciate, I say this: according to European business leaders, Britain is now the best place in the European Community to build a manufacturing plant.
As a country, we have become more prosperous and so services have improved. Although the noble Lord, Lord Carter, said that there was a funding problem in the NHS, I remind him that spending in the NHS has increased by more than 60 per cent. in real terms and now stands at record levels. Yesterday my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a further increase in spending on the NHS, which will rise by £1.5 billion in 1994–95, a 1.5 per cent. increase in real terms. We will spend about 6 per cent. of our national income on the NHS this year compared to 4.7 per cent. when Labour were in office. There are nearly 19,000 more doctors and dentists, and the number of midwives and nurses has risen by 69,000. Their pay has increased in real terms. Labour cut their numbers and cut their pay.
It was appropriate that the noble Baroness, Lady Castle, talked about pensioners. She will recall that at a stroke she cut £2 a week off what they received. The average pensioner in 1990–91—
§ Baroness Castle of Blackburn
Is it not also true that I carried through the House of Commons a provision to link annually each up-rating with the movement of earnings instead of prices, which everybody agrees now was the right way of keeping their standard of living up?
The Earl of Caithness
My Lords, what the noble Baroness has not denied is that by changing the up-rating provisions she cut £2 a week from every 629 pensioner. Pensioners are now 54 per cent. better off in real terms than they were under Labour. That is a great and substantial improvement.
Turning to what the noble Lord, Lord Ashley of Stoke, said, he will know that spending on the disabled has risen by 100 per cent. over and above inflation, and that the number of people claiming invalidity benefit has doubled.
We have taken unprecedented action to protect the environment at local, national and international level. Not for the first time—and no doubt not for the last—the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, was wrong. We are the first country to have announced in full and in detail how we will deliver our Rio commitment.
During our term of office, we have increased the number of police officers by 16,000, and spending on the police has increased by 81 per cent. in real terms.
The pupil-teacher ratio has fallen, and spending per pupil has risen by over 45 per cent. in real terms. There are now over 80 per cent. more full-time students in higher education. Already nearly one in three young people enters higher education, up from one in eight in 1979, and so the target that we set ourselves for the year 2000 has been all but achieved seven years early. My noble friend Lady Perry will be pleased to know that the Government are also committed to expanding further education. The new plans announced yesterday provide for a 20 per cent. increase in students in further education and sixth-form colleges over the next three years.
We have based these achievements and our reforms, often radical, on the two pillars of Conservative thinking—freedom and responsibility. The noble Lord, Lord Richard, looked back over the past 14 years—and so will I because it is a record of which we are proud and which we must not forget.
In our first term of government, we set about tackling the legacy of socialist economics. Through the sale of council houses, we set our sights on giving everyone a real stake of their own-1.4 million people have bought their homes from local authorities in Great Britain under the right to buy—a right opposed so strenuously by Labour—until they realised that it was popular. That is a precedent that they have followed on many other occasions.
Our second term followed logically, extending the progress of social enfranchisement through privatisation. My noble friend Lord Oxfuird reminded us how the Labour Party fought each and every proposal. Let me remind your Lordships of one case—British Airways. In 1980, Air France made a profit; BA made a loss. In 1993, BA is the most successful and profitable carrier in Europe while Air France is seeking yet more state aid to prop itself up, courtesy of the taxpayer. We also started the reform of the tax system to restore the incentives sapped by socialism, a process which the Chancellor built on yesterday by keeping income and corporation tax low and by introducing a substantial package of assistance for business and supply side reform.
In our third term we kept up the momentum. We extended our programme of reform so as to give 630 ordinary people not just a stake of their own, but a say of their own, first of all in education, then in housing and then in health.
In our fourth term, we will bring about an unprecedented shift in power away from the producers and providers of services. The beneficiaries will be those who use the services. We are seeking to give people more control over their own lives. The Opposition are against spreading those and other freedoms and they are against choice for all our people. What has been achieved so far has been done by the Government working with the citizen. That is why we not only held the intellectual agenda in the 1980s, but we retain that grip now.
There is no intellectual agenda from the party opposite. In order to find some clothes, their leader, Mr. Smith, went to Brussels on 9th November and signed up to a programme which would impose a massive burden on industry: the social chapter, a maximum 35-hour working week, European works councils, consultation of workers in multi-national businesses and European sectoral collective agreements. The Socialist manifesto makes it clear thatthe plans of the Conservatives to make Europe more competitive … are unacceptable".To don those clothes and impose that on this country is to take the short road to ruin.
I recall vividly the vote of no confidence in 1979 in another place. What I saw was in stark contrast to the real world outside where the winter of discontent resulting from the Labour Government's policies was causing havoc. I watched from the Gallery a large number of Labour MPs stay in the Chamber after the vote and sing "The Red Flag". They still, misty eyed, sing it now. Nothing has changed. But in the countries of Eastern Europe which they so admired at the time, they have burnt their red flags, changed the tune and moved on. It was only yesterday at a meeting in Brussels that many of the Ministers of those countries reminded me of their appreciation of what the Conservative Government here did to help them to get rid of their yoke of socialism. We did it by strong defence and determination.
Defending the realm is the first duty of Government. Nothing is more important than to ensure that the country is defended with strength and resolution. When Brezhnev deployed the SS.20s, we deployed the cruise missiles. We were able to negotiate from strength and as a result the threat to our security from the overwhelming conventional forces of the Warsaw Pact has been removed, the Berlin Wall has come down and the Cold War is at an end. The Labour Party and its cohorts in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament would not and never could have put us in that position. As a result of our strength and will, we have a Europe in which democracy, rule of law and basic human rights are spreading ever more widely.
Noble Lords opposite have consistently urged massive reductions in the defence budget. Our policy is to keep the lid on defence cuts while preserving the ability of our front line troops to respond. To that end, we shall continue to maintain highly capable nuclear and conventional forces and ensure that their training, 631 manning and equipment remain sufficient for them to fulfil their roles to the high standards that have been demonstrated in the Falklands, the Gulf and now in Bosnia. Our servicemen and women will not be asked to undertake difficult and hazardous operations without the necessary equipment, support and training. That is why my right honourable friend Mr. Rifkind has today announced 3,000 more troops for the Army, the placing of orders for up to 259 British-built Challenger tanks, new minesweepers and orders for a new RAF helicopter fleet.
Our role in Europe is vital, not just in defence but, as my noble friend Lord Rippon of Hexham reminded us, within the EC. Unlike the party opposite, we seek an open, outward-looking and decentralised Community. The Community must face up to the competition that other parts of the world pose. We must avoid over-regulation from Brussels and overimplementation of any regulations to which we have agreed. We must ensure that other countries in the EC do the same. As my noble friend Lady Elles said, the high social costs must he tackled as they are posing a crippling burden on growth and jobs, reducing Europe's competitiveness.
It was again only yesterday, as not so long ago, in the 1980s, that I was approached by Ministers of the EC who asked me, "How have you done it again in Britain just when we are going into the deepest of recessions? Can we follow your lead and get ourselves out?" The contrast between our position and that of our European competitors could not be better highlighted than by what we have seen recently—strikes, which used to be known as the British disease, are beginning to cripple industries on the mainland. The socialist habit of compromise which we experienced under Labour is catching up fast. It is every government's responsibility to take hard, difficult and sometimes initially unpopular decisions when necessary. We have done so. We now have the second lowest level of inflation, the lowest interest rates, falling unemployment levels, the highest rate of growth forecast by the Commission both this year and next. But, we cannot afford to be complacent about recovery here when recession continues to bite abroad: 60 per cent. of our exports go to the Community, and it is in Britain's interests to foster an environment of growth and prosperity in the Community.
Having failed to be elected in this country, the Labour Party wants the cover of Europe to introduce its socialist ideas—more quietly, more secretively and more unaccountably than it could in this country. Take its support for the European Recovery Fund. That will increase borrowing by the back door. It wants a fund twice the size of the current EC budget. I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, supports that. The advantage to Labour is that the borrowing, thus the debt, thus the repayments our children will face, will not show up on the PSBR. It fulfils the socialist dream. It saves the Labour Party having to take the difficult decisions. It gives it more room to fudge the issue. We have none of that. We know, the people of this country know, and history has shown, that tight control over public expenditure and our finances is a prerequisite for a prosperous Britain. In his Budget Statement yesterday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer showed precisely how 632 the Government plan to bring the public finances firmly under control, setting the PSBR on a steadily declining path. The noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, threw out a challenge. He said that if Labour had spent 40 per cent. of GDP it would have been hounded out of office. It did, and it was. Public sector borrowing will be no more than needed to finance capital spending by 1997–98, and eliminated altogether by the end of the decade. By following that principle, and updating legislation made for a previous era, we have made this country more prosperous.
To the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, I say that average incomes for all economic status groups and family types have increased. I was sad to hear that the noble Lord, Lord McIntosh, wanted all the differentials to be lowered again and to bring everyone to the poorer state that they were before.
We have also had our difficulties. Prosperity has never been one long golden thread. But I so agree with what my noble friend Lord Stewartby said: what is clear to one and all is that, if that we had followed the advice of Labour, inflation would have climbed higher and we should still be plunging downwards. On the contrary, we have a programme based, as my noble friend Lord Alexander of Weedon said, on steady growth for the future.
As year succeeds year, and the Opposition accept policy after policy that we have pursued, it would nice if, just occasionally, they could acknowledge that we were right after all. Whether noble Lords opposite choose to follow in our wake is of course a matter for them. What the Government will continue to do is to pursue the necessity of maintaining this country's high standing at home and abroad. New challenges with which we must deal will always arise. The new Jerusalem may exist, but probably not on this earth. Building a decent, prosperous and successful Britain is work enough. This Government have the values. They have the policies and the will to carry out that work. As a result, the electorate has shown its confidence in a Conservative Government four times in succession. As opposed to having no confidence in the Government, the House should censure the Opposition for having nothing to offer. I urge the House to reject the Motion.
§ 8.45 p.m.
§ Lord Richard
My Lords, perhaps I may say just two or three things in finally commending the Motion to the House. First, I am delighted at the popularity this debate seems suddenly to have assumed. It is nice to see faces that we do not often see here. Indeed, it is nice to see faces that we have never seen. We welcome them with that spirit of open-heartedness that one would expect from the Labour Benches. No doubt they will all vote the wrong way. Having dragged them all in, I have no doubt that the Government wish to count every one of them as they go through the Lobby.
The only thing about the debate that I do not understand—I listened to most of the speeches—is the sense almost of constitutional outrage that came from the other side of the House: as if we were doing something unconstitutional, improper and unlawful in daring to put down a Motion of no confidence in the 633 policies of Her Majesty's Government. One of the functions of the Opposition is precisely to test the Government's policies. It is to call them to account from time to time. It may upset some people on the other side of the House who may feel that the Opposition are getting uppity; that somehow we are behaving in an unsporting way. I can only tell those who feel that way that it is something that I propose to continue.
What has also been interesting about the debate is that most of the speakers from the other side, including the noble Earl, Lord Caithness, have said very little about government policy. They have said a great deal about Labour policy. There has been a great inquest into what happened under the Labour Government up until 1979, but in terms of looking forward, which we surely should be doing, as to where the Government have taken us and whence we go from here, hardly a word.
The lines are clearly drawn in this debate. The one fact that the Government have to accept is that they have been there now for 14 years. To turn round to try to blame things on the attitude of the Government before 1979, or on the Labour Party while in opposition, is thin, hollow and will not wash. I commend the Motion to the House.
§ 8.48 p.m.
§ On Question, Whether the Motion shall be agreed to? Their Lordships divided: Contents, 95; Not-Contents, 282.635
|Division No. 1|
|Addington, L.||Hollis of Heigham, B.|
|Airedale, L.||Howell, L.|
|Archer of Sandwell, L.||Howie of Troon, L.|
|Ardwick, L.||Hughes, L.|
|Ashley of Stoke, L.||Irvine of Lairg, L.|
|Barnett, L.||Jay, L.|
|Birk, B.||Jeger, B.|
|Blackstone, B.||Jenkins of Putney, L.|
|Blease, L.||Kennet, L.|
|Boston of Faversham, L.||Kilbracken, L.|
|Bottomley, L.||Kirkhill, L.|
|Bruce of Donington, L.||Lester of Herne Hill, L.|
|Callaghan of Cardiff, L.||Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.|
|Campbell of Eskan, L.||Lockwood, B.|
|Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L.||Longford, E.|
|Carter, L.||Lovell-Davis, L.|
|Castle of Blackburn, B.||Macaulay of Bragar, L.|
|Cledwyn of Penrhos, L.||McCarthy, L.|
|Clinton-Davis, L.||McIntosh of Haringey, L.|
|Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B.||McNair, L.|
|Desai, L.||Mallalieu, B.|
|Diamond, L.||Milner of Leeds, L.|
|Donoughue, L.||Molloy, L.|
|Dormand of Easington, L.||Monkswell, L.|
|Elis-Thomas, L.||Morris of Castle Morris, L.|
|Falkender, B.||Mulley, L.|
|Falkland, V.||Murray of Epping Forest, L.|
|Fisher of Rednal, B.||Nicol, B.|
|Gallacher, L.||Ogmore, L.|
|Geraint, L.||Peston, L.|
|Glenamara, L.||Pitt of Hampstead, L.|
|Graham of Edmonton, L. [Teller.]||Plant of Highfield, L.|
|Grey, E.||Prys-Davies, L.|
|Hamwee, B.||Rea, L.|
|Harris of Greenwich, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Haskel, L.||Richard, L.|
|Hilton of Eggardon, B.||Russell, E.|
|Hollick, L.||Seear, B.|
|Sefton of Garston, L.||Variey, L.|
|Serota, B.||Walpole, L.|
|Shepherd, L.||Wedderburn of Charlton, L.|
|Stallard, L.||White, B.|
|Stoddart of Swindon, L.||Williams of Elvel, L.|
|Strabolgi, L.||Williams of Mostyn, L.|
|Taylor of Blackburn, L.||Wilson of Rievaulx, L.|
|Taylor of Gryfe, L.||Winchilsea and Nottingham, E.|
|Turner of Camden, B.||Young of Darlington, L.|
|Aberdare, L.||De L'Isle, V.|
|Abinger, L.||De Saumarez, L.|
|Addison, V.||Dean of Harptree, L.|
|Aldington, L.||Deedes, L.|
|Alexander of Tunis, E.||Denham, L.|
|Alexander of Weedon, L.||Denman, L.|
|Annaly, L.||Denton of Wakefield, B.|
|Archer of Weston-Super-Mare, L.||Derwent, L.|
|Arran, E.||Digby, L.|
|Ashbourne, L.||Dixon-Smith, L.|
|Astor, V.||Downshire, M.|
|Astor of Hever, L.||Dudley, E.|
|Auckland, L.||Dundonald, E.|
|Barber, L.||Eccles, V.|
|Barber of Tewkesbury, L.||Eccles of Moulton, B.|
|Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Eden of Winton, L.|
|Beloff, L.||Elibank, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Elles, B.|
|Bessborough, E.||Elliott of Morpeth, L.|
|Bethell, L.||Elphinstone, L.|
|Biddulph, L.||Elton, L.|
|Birdwood, L.||Erne, E.|
|Blakenham, V.||Erroll of Hale, L.|
|Blatch, B.||Faithfull, B.|
|Blyth, L.||Ferrers, E.|
|Boardman, L.||Flather, B.|
|Bolton, L.||Forbes, L.|
|Borthwick, L.||Fraser of Carmyllie, L.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, L.||Fraser of Kilmorack, L.|
|Brabazon of Tara, L.||Gainford, L.|
|Braine of Wheatley, L.||Gardner of Parkes, B.|
|Brentford, V.||Geddes, L.|
|Bridgeman, V.||Gilmour of Craigmillar, L.|
|Brigstocke, B.||Glenarthur, L.|
|Brougham and Vaux, L.||Goold, L.|
|Bruntisfield, L.||Goschen, V.|
|Burton, L.||Gray, L.|
|Butterworth, L.||Gray of Contin, L.|
|Byron, L.||Greenway, L.|
|Caithness, E.||Gridley, L.|
|Caldecote, V.||Grimston of Westbury, L.|
|Camden, M.||Haig, E.|
|Campbell of Alloway, L.||Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L|
|Campbell of Croy, L.||Hambleden, V.|
|Carnegy of Lour, B.||Hanson, L.|
|Carnock, L.||Harding of Petherton, L.|
|Carr of Hadley, L.||Hardinge of Penshurst, L.|
|Carrington, L.||Harlech, L.|
|Cavendish of Furness, L.||Harmar-Nicholls, L.|
|Cayzer, L.||Harmsworth, L.|
|Chelmsford, V.||Harrowby, E.|
|Chesham, L.||Harvey of Tasburgh, L.|
|Chilver, L.||Harvington, L.|
|Clanwilliam, E.||Haslam, L.|
|Clark of Kempston, L.||Hayhoe, L.|
|Cockneld, L.||Hemphill, L.|
|Colwyn, L.||Henley, L.|
|Constantine of Stanmore, L.||Hertford, M.|
|Courtown, E.||Hesketh, L.|
|Cox, B.||Holderness, L.|
|Craigmyle, L.||HolmPatrick, L.|
|Cranbrook, E.||Hood, V.|
|Crathorne, L.||Hooper, B.|
|Crawshaw, L.||Hothfield, L.|
|Crickhowell, L.||Howe, E.|
|Cross, V.||Howe of Aberavon, L.|
|Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Huntly, M.|
|Cumberlege, B.||Hylton-Foster, B.|
|Dacre of Glanton, L.||Inglewood, L.|
|Ingrow, L.||Prior, L.|
|Ironside, L.||Pym, L.|
|Jeffreys, L.||Radnor, E.|
|Jenkin of Roding, L.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Johnston of Rockport, L.||Rawlinson of Ewell, L.|
|Keith of Castleacre, L.||Reay, L.|
|Kemsley, V.||Rees, L.|
|Kenyon, L.||Remnant, L.|
|Killearn, L.||Renfrew of Kaimsthorn, L.|
|Kimball, L.||Renton, L.|
|Kitchener, E.||Renwick, L.|
|Knollys, V.||Rippon of Hexham, L.|
|Knutsford, V.||Rodger of Earlsferry, L.|
|Lane of Horsell, L.||Rodney, L.|
|Lauderdale, E.||Romney, E.|
|Leigh, L.||Roxburghe, D.|
|Lindsey and Abingdon, E.||St. Davids, V.|
|Liverpool, E.||St. John of Fawsley, L.|
|Long, V.||Saltoun of Abemethy, Ly.|
|Lothian, M.||Sanderson of Bowden, L.|
|Lucas, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Lucas of Chilworth, L.||Savile, L.|
|Lyell, L.||Seccombe, B.|
|McAlpine of West Green, L.||Sharp of Grimsdyke, L.|
|MacAndrew, L.||Sharpies, B.|
|McColl of Dulwich, L.||Sherfleld, L.|
|Macfarlane of Bearsden, L.||Shuttleworth, L.|
|Mackay of Ardbrecknish, L.||Simon of Glaisdale, L.|
|Mackintosh of Halifax, V.||Skelmersdale, L.|
|Macleod of Borve, B.||Skidelsky, L.|
|Malmesbury, E.||Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L.|
|Mancroft, L.||Stanley of Alderley, L.|
|Marchwood, V.||Stewartby, L.|
|Margadale, L.||Stodart of Leaston, L.|
|Marlesford, L.||Strange, B.|
|Massereene and Ferrard, V.||Strathclyde, L.|
|May, L.||Strathmore and Kinghorne, E.|
|Merrivale, L.||Sudeley, L.|
|Mersey, V.||Sherfield, L.|
|Miller of Hendon, B.||Swansea, L.|
|Mills, V.||Swinton, E.|
|Milverton, L.||Tebbit, L.|
|Monckton of Brenchley, V.||Teviot, L.|
|Monk Bretton, L.||Thatcher, B.|
|Montgomery of Alamein V.||Thomas of Gwydir, L.|
|Mottistone, L.||Thorneycroft, L.|
|Mountevans, L.||Tollemache, L.|
|Mountgarret, V.||Torphichen, L.|
|Mowbray and Stourton, L.||Townshend, M.|
|Moyne, L.||Trefgarne, L.|
|Moyola, L.||Trumpington, B.|
|Munster, E.||Tugendhat, L.|
|Murton of Lindisfarne, L.||Ullswater, V. [Teller.]|
|Nelson, E.||Vinson, L.|
|Nelson of Stafford, L.||Vivian, L.|
|Norrie, L.||Wade of Chorlton, L.|
|Onslow, E.||Wakeham, L.|
|Oppenheim-Barnes, B.||[Lord Privy Seal.]|
|Orr-Ewing, L.||Walker of Worcester, L.|
|Oxfuird, V.||Watkinson, V.|
|Park of Monmouth, B.||Westbury, L.|
|Parkinson, L.||Whitelaw, V.|
|Pearson of Rannoch, L.||Wigram, L.|
|Peel, E||Willoughby de Broke, L.|
|Pender, L.||Windlesham, L.|
|Perry of Southwark, B.||Wise, L.|
|Peyton of Yeovil, L.||Wolfson, L.|
|Pike, B.||Woolton, E.|
|Platt of Writtle, B.||Wynford, L.|
|Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.||Young, B.|
|Polwarth, L.||Younger of Prestwick, L.|
|Prentice, L.||Zouche of Haryngworth, L.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and Motion disagreed to accordingly.