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House of Commons

Wednesday 16 November 1994

The House met at twenty-seven minutes to Twelve o'clock


[ Madam 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.

2.30 pm

On resuming --




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 Return or Election of any M, he is to withdraw during the time the matter is in debate; and that all Members returned upon double Returns do withdraw until 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.

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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 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


That the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis do take care that during the Session of Parliament the passages through the streets leading to the 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.

Votes and Proceedings


That the Votes and Proceedings of this House be printed, being first perused by the Speaker; and that she do appoint the printing thereof; and that no person but such as she 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.


That the said Journal and Index be printed by the appointment and under the direction of Donald William Limon Esq, CB, the Clerk of this House.

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

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Queen's Speech

Madam 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

The Duke of Edinburgh and I look forward to receiving the State Visit of His Highness the Amir of Kuwait in May and His Excellency the President of Finland in October next year.

The Duke of Edinburgh and I look forward to our State Visit to South Africa in March. We also look forward to our visit to New Zealand and to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting there in November next year.

My Government attach the highest importance to national security. They will work to continue the process of NATO's adaptation to the changing security environment to allow it to play a wider role in protecting stability throughout Europe. At the Budapest summit in December they will seek to enhance the role of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe in conflict prevention and resolution. They will also work for full implementation of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty. The United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent will be maintained.

My Government will continue its efforts to promote a peaceful settlement in the former Yugoslavia.

Preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction remains an important priority. My Government will work to promote the indefinite and unconditional extension of the Nuclear

Non-Proliferation Treaty; and will pursue energetically negotiations for a verifiable and comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The fight against terrorism in the United Kingdom and elsewhere will be maintained.

My Government look forward to the enlargement of the European Union in January. They will work with our partners to give greater substance to the Europe agreements between the Union and countries of Central Europe, with the aim of preparing these countries for eventual membership of the Union.

My Government will work for early implementation of the Agreements concluding the GATT trade negotiations, and for early establishment of the World Trade Organisation.

They will seek to ensure that the principle of subsidiarity is applied to European legislation. They will promote budgetary discipline in the Union and combat fraud. They will participate in the study group which from June 1995 will prepare for the 1996 Inter-Governmental conference.

My Government will continue to promote respect for human rights. They will maintain a substantial aid programme to promote sustainable development and good government.

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The United Nations will celebrate its Fiftieth Anniversary in 1995. My Government will continue efforts to enhance the capabilities of the United Nations, particularly in peacekeeping and preventive diplomacy.

My Government will play an active part in tackling drug misuse, drug trafficking and organised crime at home and abroad.

Support for consolidation of a peaceful and stable democracy in South Africa will remain a priority.

My Government will continue to work for the long-term stability and prosperity of Hong Kong. They will seek to develop co-operation with China to implement the Sino-British Joint Declaration in the best interests of the Hong Kong people and a smooth transition in 1997.

Support for political and economic reform in the former Communist countries of Europe and Asia will continue.

My Government will maintain support for the Middle East Peace Process.

They will work for yet stronger ties with the countries of the Asia Pacific region.

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

Legislation will be introduced to give force to the changes in the European Community's system of own resources following the agreement at the Edinburgh European Council.

My Government will continue with firm financial policies designed to support continuing economic growth and rising employment, based on permanently low inflation.

Fiscal policy will continue to be set to bring the budget deficit back towards balance over the medium term. My Government will reduce the share of national income taken by the public sector.

My Government will continue to promote enterprise, to improve the working of the labour market, and to strengthen the supply performance of the economy. They will bring forward legislation to promote increased competition in the gas industry and to reform the

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agricultural tenancy laws in England and Wales. A Bill will be introduced to create a Jobseeker's Allowance, reforming benefits for unemployed people and giving them better help into work.

Legislation will be introduced to equalise the State pension age between men and women and to improve security, equality and choice in non-state pensions.

My Government will continue to implement policies and programmes responsive to the needs of the individual citizen, in line with the principles of the Citizen's Charter.

They will introduce a Bill to tackle discrimination against disabled people.

My Government will bring forward legislation to make further improvements to the management of the National Health Service; and to provide for people with a serious mental disorder discharged from hospital to be cared for under supervision.

Legislation will be introduced to transfer the Crown Agents and the commercial activities of the Atomic Energy Authority to the private sector; and to authorise the construction and operation by the private sector of a high speed rail link between London and the Channel Tunnel.

The delivery of environment policies will be strengthened by legislation to establish environment agencies for England and Wales, and for Scotland.

Legislation will be introduced to reform the Scottish Criminal Justice system.

In Northern Ireland my Government will build on the progress already made to secure peace and a comprehensive political accommodation founded on the principles of democracy and consent. They will uphold law and order and strive to strengthen the economy and create equality of opportunity for all sections of the community. They will seek to maintain close and constructive relations with the Republic of Ireland.

My Government will promote further measures of law reform. 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

Madam Speaker: Before I call the mover of the Loyal Address, I must inform the House of the proposed pattern of debate for the Address.

Thursday 17 November--foreign affairs and defence; Friday 18 November--home affairs and environment; Monday 21 November--industry and education; Tuesday 22 November--health and social security; Wednesday 23 November--the economy.

2.35 pm

Mr. Bob Dunn (Dartford): 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.

First, may I thank you, Madam Speaker, for calling me early in this debate.

I am conscious of the great honour given to me, my family and my constituency on being asked to move the Loyal Address. It is to my constituency of Dartford that the honour most surely and rightly belongs, as I have been returned as its Member in four successive general elections- -at each election, the Conservative vote has been significantly higher than the time before. I note with real humility that, earlier this year, I became the longest continuous serving Member of Parliament that Dartford has had this century.

My record of service to date cannot compete with that of a predecessor, Sir William Hart-Dyke, who, like me, served as an Education Minister but was Conservative Member for Dartford from 1865 to 1906--a period of 41 years. I must tell the House that it is my firm resolve to sit here longer than Sir William.

The constituency, which is triangular, is a perfect blend of town and country. It is about five miles across and eight miles from the River Thames in the north to the apex of the triangle in the middle of the Brands Hatch racing circuit in the south. The House also knows that the Thames provides another service; it separates Kent from Essex.

The constituency comprises the borough of Dartford and the three northern parishes of the Sevenoaks district council--Horton Kirby and South Darenth, Hartley and Fawkham and Ash-cum-Ridley; names that are known to every hon. Member.

For decades, Dartford has made a significant contribution to the social, economic and political history of our region and our country. Given its location near to London, the channel ports, the A2, A20 and M25, Dartford stands ready to seize the opportunities that have been created by the announcement of the Thames gateway project; the proposed relocation of the campus of the university of Greenwich on Dartford north marshes; and the recent go-ahead for the construction of an intermediate station at Ebbsfleet on the channel tunnel rail link. Dartford faces a dynamic and exciting future for jobs and for learning. I am glad to have assisted in the creation of that future. In 1992, my hon. Friend the Member for Gedling (Mr. Mitchell) seconded the Loyal Address with a witty and noteworthy speech in which, unknowingly perhaps, he

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gave the definitive description of the qualities necessary for the Members selected to propose and second the Address. In 1992, my hon. Friend told us that he had been advised by a "distinguished and senior member" of our party that

"The motion is nearly always proposed by some genial old codger on the way out and seconded by an oily young man".--[ Official Report , 6 May 1992; Vol. 207, c. 56.]

Well, there we have it. The House may remember with some kindness that I was not always a genial old codger on the way out, but that I was once an oily young man.

Indeed, on 4 November 1981, I was asked to second the motion on the Loyal Address. I made inquiries then, which showed that--since 1885, at any rate- -I was the first Member of Parliament from Dartford to second the motion. By the same token, I am the first Member of Parliament for Dartford to propose it--thus becoming, in my own lifetime, a legend in joining the select band of Members--such as my right hon. Friend the Member for Mole Valley (Mr. Baker) and Lord Rippon of Hexham--who have completed the double since 1945.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover): He is a retread.

Mr. Dunn: I heard a pip squeak.

Thirteen years have elapsed since I seconded the motion on the Queen's speech. The House will remember that, in 1983, I became Minister for Schools, and that in 1988 I stopped--or, rather, was stopped from--holding that post. I was ever conscious of the advice given to me after my return to the Back Benches: "Be sure that the going up is worth the coming down." I also received a second bit of advice: "You can warm your socks in the oven, but that does not make them biscuits." At the time, I did not understand the significance of that advice, but I now see clearly that it applies to the Labour party.

During my time as Minister for Schools, I was delighted to serve under two outstanding Secretaries of State--Lord Joseph, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Mole Valley. I am able to say that I helped to shape crucial and radical education legislation in the 1980s. I helped to enact the Education Reform Bill of 1988; I contributed to the abolition of the Greater London council; and I myself terminated the wretched existence of the Inner London education authority.

During my time in the House, I have battled with education spokesmen for the official Opposition. The first was a grammar school boy, the right hon. Member for Islwyn (Mr. Kinnock). The second was a public school boy, a Wykehamist--the hon. Member for Durham, North (Mr. Radice). The third was the product of a direct grant school, the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw); and the fourth had been head girl in a direct-grant school--the hon. Member for Dewsbury (Mrs. Taylor). It was a matter of supreme irony to me, a secondary modern school boy, that I spent my time defending opportunities in an educational system which those spokesmen seek to destroy, but which had given them the best advantage.

Those people do not like to be reminded of that advantage now--in rather the same way, I suspect, as all references to links between the Labour party and Mr. Clinton are being quietly dropped. Indeed, before I came into the Chamber, rumours were spreading that the Leader of the Opposition was now looking for a new role model, and had decided to base himself on Ramsay Macdonald; and that the deputy leader of the Opposition had decided to base himself on himself.

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The Queen's Speech referred to legislation that will authorise the construction and operation by the private sector of a high-speed rail link between London and the channel tunnel. I welcome that legislation, because it makes Ebbsfleet and all the economic benefits associated with it a closer reality. It will also provide, through parliamentary procedure, local authorities, institutions and, above all, the people of Kent with the opportunity to give Parliament--in the form of petitions--their views on the impact of the rail link as it affects them and their communities.

The Queen's Speech also refers to the environment. It says: "The delivery of environment policies will be strengthened by legislation to establish environment agencies for England and Wales, and for Scotland."

I welcome that with all its implications for the environment and the National Rivers Authority.

The Queen's Speech also refers to the Government's determination to secure peace in Northern Ireland. We should all give the Prime Minister our thanks, and wish him the best of luck in the great work that he is about.

Other recollections and incidents have gone through my mind while preparing this speech. I remember asking a Liberal Member who is no longer in the House--he was so dim that even the other Liberals noticed--how the Liberals could provide accurate voting intentions within a few days of the start of a by-election campaign. I was congratulating him on his party's efficiency. "Bless you," he said, "We simply think of a figure that seems reasonable and publish it." He moved off, laughing.

Recently, my wife was approached outside church by a constituent who said, "Mrs. Dunn, I am not political, but when I see Tony Blair smile I know what it must have been like to be Red Riding Hood." I recall speaking with colleagues who agreed that the children of Members of Parliament enjoy stories with a political flavour. There is the one about the time the Labour party stole granny's Christmas bonus, which was followed by a second story the next year. If the House is sitting quietly, I shall begin my favourite story. Once upon a time, an elderly couple lived out on the windswept moors of Holland Park. They considered themselves to be poor, or at least to identify with the poor. During the day, they spent long hours raising food parcels for needy folk such as Ken Follett, Maureen Lipman, Lady Antonia Pinter and Melvyn Bragg.

One evening, the old man noticed that his wife was crying. He said, "What's the matter, my dear? Is an issue bothering you?" "No," she said, in a strange overseas accent--she came from a distant village over the water-- "I'm starving." The old man thought deeply, and then he rang the bell. A footman came in, and the old man ordered bread and butter for his wife. When the old lady had finished eating, they got into their limousine and drove away to the inherited family mansion in Essex, talking happily about the virtues of socialism and the benefits of self-sufficiency.

The moral of the tale is that those who preach the virtues of socialism rarely practise it. For them, self-sufficiency is inherited wealth, marrying inherited wealth, which is not the same as creating wealth. For us on the Conservative Benches, self-sufficiency is sturdy independence and people taking decisions about their lives for themselves. For us, the state is the servant of the people, not the people the servant of the state.

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