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House of Commons

Wednesday 7 November 1990

The House met at twenty-nine minutes pastEleven o'clock


[ Mr. Speaker-- in the Chair ]

Message to attend Her Majesty :

The House went ; and having returned :

The Sitting was suspended until half-past Two o'clock, and then resumed.




That all Members who are returned for two or more places in any part of the United Kingdom to make their Election for which of the places they will serve, within one week after it shall appear that there is no question upon the Return for that place ; and if anything shall come in question touching the the Return or Election of any Member, he is to withdraw during the time the matter is in debate ; and that all Members returned upon double Returns do withdraw till their Returns are determined.


That no Peer of the Realm, except a Peer of Ireland, hath any right to give his vote in the Election of any Member to serve in Parliament.


That if it shall appear that any person hath been elected or returned a Member of this House, or endeavoured so to be, by Bribery or any other corrupt practices, this House will proceed with the utmost severity against all such persons as shall have been wilfully concerned in such Bribery or other corrupt practices.



That if it shall appear that any person hath been tampering with any Witness, in respect of his evidence to be given to this House, or any Committee thereof, or directly or indirectly hath endeavoured to deter or hinder any person from

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appearing or giving evidence the same is declared to be a high crime and misdemeanour ; and this House will proceed with the utmost severity against such offender.


That if it shall appear that any person hath given false evidence in any case before this House, or any Committee thereof, this House will proceed with the utmost severity against such offender. Metropolitan Police

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That the Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis do take care that during the Session of Parliament the passages through the streets leading to this House be kept free and open and that no obstruction be permitted to hinder the passage of Members to and from this House, and that no disorder be allowed in Westminster Hall, or in the passages leading to this House, during the Sitting of Parliament, and that there be no annoyance therein or thereabouts ; and that the Serjeant at Arms attending this House do communicate this Order to the Commissioner aforesaid.

2.33 pm

Mr. Robert Adley (Christchurch) : I shall be very brief, Mr. Speaker. You will remember that in 1970 the late Mr. Marcus Lipton referred to the growing ineffectiveness of this Sessional Order. Twenty years later, traffic has hardly diminished in and around Parliament square. Parked coaches especially cause traffic jams at every entrance to the square. Could you, Mr. Speaker, please use your good offices to see that these tower blocks on wheels are banned from parking within one mile of this place?

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South) : I am pleased that Parliament is not allowing the Sessional Orders to go through on the nod. Some people were unkind enough to suggest that on the last occasion when I raised this issue, it was because of the television cameras--[ Hon. Members :-- "Oh no."] I agree with you, Mr. Speaker, that that would be a scandalous interpretation.

I wish to draw attention to the all-party notices of 18 October 1990. On the occasion of the visit by the President of the Italian republic on Tuesday 23 October, the Sessional Orders relating to access to this place were not repeated. The all-party notices state :

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"These closures will take effect at 11.15 am and the roads will be re-opened at approximately 1.30 pm. Provided they identify themselves to the Police, members of Parliament proceeding to or from the Palace of Westminster or the Parliamentary outbuildings (whether on foot or in motor vehicles) may pass along the streets which have been closed until the latest possible moment."

The Sessional Orders are unqualified. There is no

"until the latest possible moment."

Access is unqualified. I know that we have to be courteous of the President of the Italian republic, but that does not mean to say that, because we are in the Common Market, the rules of the House should be subordinated, swept to one side or qualified to say that, in effect, at some stage the Commissioner of Police may deny entry to the House by road because of the visit of the President of the Italian republic. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, I ask you to ensure that that sort of qualification is not introduced again.

One last point on the Sessional Orders is that on the last occasion when I raised the matter of students gaining access to this place, a number of them wrote to me and said that it was right that citizens should have access, in addition to hon. Members, because they are the people who will guide our destiny in future.

Mr. Speaker : I will ensure that all those points are made known to the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis.

Question put and agreed to.

Votes and Proceedings


That the Votes and Proceedings of this House be printed, being first perused by Mr. Speaker ; and that he do appoint the printing thereof ; and that no person but such as he shall appoint do presume to print the same.


A Bill for the more effectual preventing Clandestine Outlawries ; read the First time ; to be read a Second time.



That the Journal of this House, from the end of the last Session to the end of the present Session, with an index thereto, be printed. Ordered,

That the said Journal and Index be printed by the appointment and under the direction of Sir Clifford John Boulton, KCB, the Clerk of this House.


That the said Journal and Index be printed by such person as shall be licensed by Mr. Speaker, and that no other person do presume to print the same.

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Queen's Speech

Mr. Speaker : I have to acquaint the House that this House has this day attended Her Majesty in the House of Peers, and that Her Majesty was pleased to make a Most Gracious Speech from the Throne to both Houses of Parliament, of which I have, for greater accuracy, obtained a copy.

I shall direct that the terms of the Gracious Speech be printed in the Votes and Proceedings. Copies are available in the Vote Office. The Gracious Speech was as follows :

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

I look forward to visiting the United States of America in May and being present on the occasion of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Zimbabwe next Autumn.

My Government attach the highest priority to national security, and to the preservation of international peace with freedom and justice. They will give full support to NATO as the basis for collective Western defence, and will maintain adequate and effective nuclear and conventional forces. They will play a full part in adapting NATO strategy and will take forward work on restructuring our forces to reflect the welcome changes in Europe and threats to peace in other parts of the world.

My Government will work for balanced and verifiable measures of arms control. They welcome the prospect of an agreement on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and will be active in further negotiations on this, and in the multilateral negotiations in Geneva on the abolition of chemical weapons.

My Government will continue to uphold the purposes and principles of the United Nations. My Government will work with the utmost determination, together with our Allies and the whole international community, for the unconditional implementation of the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council which require the withdrawal of Iraq from Kuwait, and the restoration of the independence and legitimate government of Kuwait. My Government will maintain their efforts to secure the release of all Britons held hostage or detained in Kuwait, Iraq, Lebanon, and elsewhere in the Middle East. My Government will continue to work for long-term peace in the Middle East including a settlement of the Palestinian problem.

My Government will host the next Economic Summit in London in July.

My Government will work to strengthen still further the good relations between the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union, and to buttress the new democracies in Eastern Europe. They will play an active part in the Paris meeting of Heads of State and Government of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe.

My Government welcome the unification of Germany and look forward to working closely with the Government of the United Germany. My Government will continue to work with our Community partners to complete the Single Market ; to reinforce budgetary discipline ; to continue reform of the Common Agricultural Policy and to bring about a successful conclusion to the Uruguay round of multilateral trade negotiations. They will contribute constructively to the inter-governmental conferences on Economic and Monetary

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Union and Community institutions beginning in December. They welcome the new European Bank for Reconstruction and Development to London.

My Government will promote further international co-operation on environmental issues.

My Government will maintain a substantial aid programme aimed at promoting sustainable economic and social progress and good government in developing countries.

My Government will continue their policy of encouragement to all sides in South Africa to enter negotiations to create through peaceful means a democratic non-racial society.

My Government will work vigorously to fulfil their responsibilities for Hong Kong, building on the Sino-British Joint Declaration. They will honour their commitments to the people of the Falkland Islands. My Government will continue to play a full part in the Commonwealth.

My Government will maintain their fight against terrorism in the United Kingdom and overseas.

Members of the House of Commons

Estimates for the Public Service will be laid before you. My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

My Government will maintain firm financial policies, strengthened by the Exchange Rate Mechanism, designed to reduce inflation and foster the conditions necessary for sustained growth. They will continue to promote enterprise and improve the working of the economy.

They will maintain firm control of public expenditure with the aim of keeping its share of national income on a downward trend. A Bill will be introduced to facilitate contractor operation of the Atomic Weapons Establishment. Legislation will be introduced to provide for the sale of the Insurance Services business of the Export Credits Guarantee Department.

My Government will promote improved efficiency and safety in transport. Legislation will be introduced to encourage privately financed roads ; to reform procedures for streetworks ; to improve road traffic ; to convert trust ports into private companies ; and to provide for a second Severn crossing.

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Legislation will be introduced to improve arrangements for compensation for compulsory purchase of land and buildings and to make the town and country planning system more efficient. My Government will continue to work for the regeneration of our cities.

My Government will vigorously pursue their policies in fighting crime. A Bill will be brought forward for England and Wales to deal with sentencing of offenders and to strengthen the parole system. My Government will work vigorously to combat the trafficking and misuse of drugs nationally and internationally.

My Government are concerned to strengthen parental responsibility for children. Measures will be introduced to improve the assessment, collection and enforcement of maintenance.

A Bill will again be brought before you to give our courts the jurisdiction to try alleged war criminals.

My Government will continue to take action to improve quality in education. A Bill will be introduced to establish new machinery for negotiating the pay and conditions of school teachers in England and Wales.

My Government will continue to work to improve the quality of Health and Social Services.

In Northern Ireland, My Government will be resolute in their efforts to defeat terrorism : a Bill will be introduced to replace existing anti- terrorism legislation. They will sustain their efforts to secure political progress, to strengthen the economy and to promote mutual respect and trust throughout the community. They will maintain positive relations with the Republic of Ireland. For Scotland, a Bill will be introduced to create a Natural Heritage Agency to achieve an integrated approach to conservation and countryside matters.

Legislation will be introduced to provide new benefits for disabled people.

Other measures will be laid before you.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels.

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Debate on the Address

[First Day]

Mr. Speaker : Before I call the proposer and the seconder of the motion on the Loyal Address, it may be for the convenience of the House if I inform the House that the proposed subjects for debate for the rest of this week and for next week are as follows : Thursday 8 November--foreign affairs and defence ; Friday 9 November--industry and transport ; Monday 12 November--rights, freedoms and responsibilities ; Tuesday 13 November-- education and training ; Wednesday 14 November--the economy.

2.38 pm

Mr. George Younger (Ayr) : I beg to move,

That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, as follows : Most Gracious Sovereign,

We, Your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in Parliament assembled, beg leave to offer our humble thanks to Your Majesty for the Gracious Speech which Your Majesty has addressed to both Houses of Parliament.

It is a special honour, which I greatly appreciate, to be invited to propose this motion, but I must start this year on a note of sadness. No one who was present on this occasion last year will ever forget the brilliant and amusing way in which this speech was made by Ian Gow. I know that I speak for the whole House when I say that we miss him, particularly today, but we are happy to recall many memories of serving in this House with such a delightful and courageous friend.

It is to the constituency of Ayr that the honour today surely belongs and I feel greatly privileged to have represented Ayr in the House for 26 years. My predecessor was Sir Thomas Moore who represented Ayr for nearly 40 years with distinction and skill. It also happens, by coincidence, that before him Ayr was represented from 1906 to 1922 by my great grandfather Sir George Younger who rose to be Chief Whip in the coalition Government of the first world war and later to chairman of the Conservative party.

There were still some constituents who remembered my great grandfather when I was elected in 1964 and I am indebted to one of them for an insight into his debating style which the House may feel seems to have been somewhat more robust than mine. He was apparently addressing a large meeting in Ayr town hall at a time when there was much agitation about the big social issue of that day which was whether a man should be allowed to marry his deceased wife's sister. Those who are familiar with "Iolanthe" will recall mention of this issue by the Fairy Queen. My great grandfather, however, was speaking about imperial preference and a heckler continually shouted out, "What about marriage with deceased wife's sister?" Eventually my great grandfather silenced him by responding, "Sir, if elected, I will make it compulsory."

In its origins, the Ayr constituency goes back to the formation of the Scottish parliamentary seats after the Treaty of Union in 1707. There were county seats and borough seats and the constituency was entitled Ayr Burghs until it was officially changed to Ayr 20 years ago. The composition of the constituency has changed in detail many times over the years, but has always been based on

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the two seaside towns of Ayr and Prestwick. Troon has been excluded at times, but is now firmly back in the constituency, giving a perfect excuse for the Member to attend the Open golf championship as a matter of duty.

The constituency measures about 10 miles by seven, but in terms of numbers of electors it is the biggest constituency in Scotland. I am sure that I shall not be accused of natural bias if I add that by any standard it is in a most attractive setting, looking across the Firth of Clyde to the island of Arran and the Mull of Kintyre, although they are not part of the constituency. Many historical events have taken place in or around Ayr. It has been a royal borough since 1204 and the earliest reference to Prestwick goes back to 1174, but, as those dates are a source of perennial dispute, I will be wise to pass on quickly. The history of the area is so long and varied that I can do no justice to it in the time available today.

Ayr is best known the world over as the birthplace of Robert Burns, Scotland's national bard and one of the great masters of the English language in literary history. Therefore, I have the task of representing Robert Burns in this House which is not quite as much a sinecure office as it sounds. There is the duty of attending innumerable Burns suppers every January. That is usually most enjoyable, although some years ago I endured one such supper which lasted five hours during which the only refreshment offered was orange juice. It was a challenge which I would not willingly repeat. The duties do not end there. I have a constituent who believes that she is in regular touch with Robert Burns and he is, thus, able to raise matters with me from time to time. It may interest the House to know that Robert Burns is opposed to capital punishment and also, rather more surprisingly, to the televising of Parliament. I am glad to be able to add that I had a telephone call from my constituent last week to say that Robert Burns is now much less unhappy than he was about the community charge. My constituent added that she has now got her rebate fully paid.

I am glad to say that the economy of Ayr is better today than it has been at any time in the past 25 years. Unemployment, as elsewhere in Scotland, has fallen steadily and we have more people in work than we have ever had. We have many small businesses in the tourist and service industries, as Ayr is the major market town in the area with excellent shopping facilities. Tourism is particularly important because of the worldwide attraction of the Burns country, although we wish that the Scottish tourist board would encourage us to market the Burns country everywhere as the unique product that it is. In Ayr we also have one of the finest racecourses in Britain where many classic races such as the Scottish grand national and the Ayr gold cup are run. Incidentally, its whole future was put in doubt by the effect of the old rating system under which Ayr paid more than twice the rates paid by Ascot. The reform of that system in recent years has been crucial in securing the future of the Ayr races. I am grateful to my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland for all that he has done in that regard.

We have a considerable amount of manufacturing industry in the constituency. In aviation we have Caledonian Airmotive, a highly successful company which refurbishes General Electric aero engines and exports to

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Europe and America. It is now expanding its markets to the far east. Last year it was given a Queen's award for exports. Our biggest industry in the constituency is British Aerospace, which now makes the enormously successful Jetstream 31 commuter aircraft. It exports strongly all over the United States of America. The orders and options currently stand at more than 400 aircraft, 306 of which have already been delivered and 51 will be delivered this year. Jetstream is the world leader for regional commuter aircraft with 50 per cent. of the market and there are now real hopes of progress in the far east market as well. Next year we look forward to the launch of the next aircraft, the Jetstream 41. That will be a highly significant Scottish event, as it will be the first aircraft to be entirely designed and built in Scotland since the 1950s. That brings me to the most important and most difficult issue that we face--the future of Prestwick airport. That hangs in the balance since the decision of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport to allow Prestwick's transatlantic traffic to go to other airports. Most of it has now done so, leaving the best airport in western Europe from an environmental point of view without any significant passenger traffic. I and most of my constituents disagreed strongly with that decision, but we have accepted it, however reluctantly. What we now ask for is positive help from the Government in attracting new traffic by negotiating "fifth freedom" rights where possible and leaning on British airports to allow Prestwick to compete effectively for the new traffic it needs. When air space is increasingly at a premium everywhere it would be foolish indeed not to make use of an asset such as Prestwick airport. Hon. Members who spend long hours in Committees upstairs may like to know that the fine textile coverings for the chairs on which they sit are made by British Replin, a firm in Ayr. If Committee work should ever become too heated in the forthcoming Session, it might be of some comfort to the more sensitive among us to know that British Replin won a Queen's award this year for producing special flameproof safety fabrics for aircraft.

I am glad to tell the House that in Ayr we feel that our businesses and industries are doing well and that we can look to the future with confidence. In these difficult economic times, it is a welcome change from the past to note that the Scottish economy is at present performing very well. After all the scare talk about the alleged destruction of manufacturing industry, it is remarkable that manufacturing output in Scotland is higher than it has ever been and much of it is in new, high- technology industries, which bring not only jobs but technology for the future.

There are more Scots in employment than ever before. I congratulate my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland on the continuing fall in Scottish unemployment. I hope that he will use his newly gained power over industrial training to ensure that maximum training is concentrated on the long-term unemployed, of whom there are still far too many.

I welcome the measures so clearly outlined in the Gracious Speech. They build on the long series of radical reforms that have been put through by Governments led by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. As a constituency Member, I particularly welcome the proposed Bill to enforce the payment of maintenance by

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fathers for their children. It has long been a scandal how some fathers have been able to avoid responsibility for their own children.

I also welcome the references in the speech to our role in the European Community. As a long-standing supporter of our full membership, I agree that we have a vital and constructive role to play in improving the way forward to the single market and other reforms. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer is to be congratulated on devising the only credible scheme there is for progress on stage 2 of the Delors plan. He and my right hon. Friends are absolutely right to sign up only to what they can see and evaluate. I do not believe that the House will support major measures that are not fully spelt out. If my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and the Government continue to follow that course, they can count on my full support.

The Queen's Speech is different from its predecessors in that it reflects the traumatic world events in which we are involved. The freeing of most of eastern Europe and the collapse of the Warsaw pact have lifted the main threat to peace that we confronted for 40 years. We all hope that eventually it will enable us to spend less on defending ourselves, but I am sure that we can rely on my right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Defence to keep a modern and balanced defence capability through NATO. I include in that the essential need to make some provision to deal with the unexpected. Throughout history it has always been the unexpected that is most likely to happen.

That is exactly what we now face in the middle east. Suddenly, we are confronted with a new, ruthless source of cruelty and injustice which no decent person can ignore or condone. It is important that there has been such unanimity on both sides of the House in the face of that wickedness and the inhuman treatment of our hostages. It has been a great achievement of leadership by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, President Bush and all the diplomats involved that the United Nations has been brought together to take such a strong stand.

As to what happens next, the whole House will profoundly hope that a solution can be reached without further bloodshed. But, as the House is aware, the United Nations Security Council has made quite clear what it insists must be done. It will be our duty to do all we can to play our part, however hard it may be, in fulfilling the resolutions that have been passed.

The House may face difficult decisions during the year that lies ahead. We do our work with the whole nation watching us and they will expect us to be true to our history of opposing cruelty and injustice wherever and whenever we find it. The Gracious Speech gives us a clear lead, and I offer my full support to my right hon. Friend and the Government in whatever lies ahead.

2.54 pm

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