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Baroness David: My Lords, surely consultation before publishing a Bill or passing an Act is sensible. Does the Minister agree that only two banks and I believe one building society showed any interest whatsoever in that legislation and a great many others were strongly against it?
Lord Henley: My Lords, obviously consultation is possible before the passage of legislation, but detailed negotiation was not possible until we had concluded that legislation. The noble Baroness is right. There were only two banks and a number of other financial institutions which were interested at the later stages, but at the earlier stages a considerable number expressed interest.
Lord Henley: My Lords, not without notice, but the detailed negotiations which relied upon the passage of that Act took place after its passage. As I made clear to the noble Baroness, the 1996 Act enabled us to conduct that market test which was so important in terms of coming to the conclusions that we did.
The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Earl Ferrers): My Lords, there is no simple solution. We all wish to see our public war memorials respected and cared for as befits their role in commemorating those who gave their lives in the service of their country. War memorials range from large national ones like the Cenotaph in Whitehall--for which the Government are responsible--to a simple cross on the village green. In most cases, responsibility rightly lies with the local community which erected the memorial, often through public subscription.
Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply just before remembrance weekend. Has he considered the suggestion made in a leading article in The Times that local schools might
Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for that example. He is right. There are many occasions when the local community can help to look after memorials which are often dedicated to those from the community who died. The suggestion in The Times that schoolchildren might look after them is interesting, but the Government could not direct schools to do that. I see no reason, though, why a particular school might not be encouraged to clean and tend them, or even for a CCTV to be donated.
Lord Merlyn-Rees: My Lords, is the Minister aware--his noble friend Lord Chesham is--that a number of us visited Malaysia recently? We found the Commonwealth war graves cemetery, as one would expect, to have been looked after marvellously. All of them are. The following week, when my wife and I visited Georgetown in Penang, we came across a scaled down version of the Cenotaph which was not well looked after. A plaque had been removed and a small tree was growing up the side of the memorial. Does the Foreign Office have any responsibility for keeping an eye on such matters, because it would be better removed rather than allowing it to stand as it is.
Earl Ferrers: My Lords, most of the war graves abroad are the responsibility of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to which we give a substantial sum of money--some £24.5 million a year. I am not familiar with the memorial in Penang to which the noble Lord refers. I assume that it would come under the responsibility of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, but if it does not, I shall look into the matter.
Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, I am sure that were my noble friend Lady Strange here, as current president of the War Widows Association--I was an earlier president--she would say how distressing it is for widows if they find that these memorials, which are of such significance to them, are damaged or destroyed in any way. Does my noble friend agree that there is a general problem with vandalism, some of which is not directed specifically at these memorials? It would be directed at any memorial.
Earl Ferrers: My Lords, my noble friend is entirely correct. When these memorials are damaged it causes enormous distress not just to people in the locality but to the relatives of those whom the memorial commemorates. I agree with my noble
Lord Williams of Elvel: My Lords, I am sure that the House will agree with the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, that, coming up to Remembrance Day, we should cherish the memorials of those who gave their lives for our country. I hope very much that the Minister will agree with that. Is he aware that the Question on the Order Paper asks the Government to give advice? It may well be that schools, communities or local authorities should be responsible for these matters. Will the Government step forward and give some advice? It is up to government to lead.
Earl Ferrers: My Lords, in my Answer I tried to explain where I thought the responsibility lies. It does in fact lie with the communities whose dead are recorded on the memorials. It is for local communities to respect those memorials. Of course the noble Lord is correct when he says that approaching Remembrance Day we should particularly remember those who have fallen and whose memorials are referred to in the Question. It is essentially a matter for the local community. I have suggested ways in which that should be done. There are a few national memorials such as the Cenotaph, the Merchant Navy Memorial at Tower Hill and the Royal Air Force Memorial at Runnymede which are the responsibility of the Government. They are looked after properly and well.
Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, as the wickedest form of vandalism is stealing metal, as valuable scrap, and carved stone for sale to garden centres, would that be less likely if the memorials and their surroundings were kept in good condition?
Earl Ferrers: My Lords, my noble friend makes a good point. The answer is yes. When places are in a derelict condition--it does not matter whether it is a memorial, a house or building--that, in itself, encourages vandalism. If it is kept in proper and good order, the chances of vandalism occurring are less. I hope therefore that people in the localities will be able to look after their own memorials. If that were to be done by local people, schoolchildren or well wishers, it would be a good thing.
Lady Saltoun of Abernethy: My Lords, is it possible to protect war memorials from vandalism or theft without a 24-hours-a-day guard being placed on them or locating them in places where such supervision can be provided?
Earl Ferrers: My Lords, of course one cannot guarantee anything against theft or vandalism. If we start protecting them with fences that would remove the purpose of memorials. One could possibly have CCTV. It would be for people in the locality to decide whether they think that is the right thing to do. The real problem is caused by those people in the community who commit vandalism of whatever nature.
Moved, That a Select Committee be appointed to consider hybrid instruments and that as proposed by the Committee of Selection the following Lords together with the Chairman of Committees be named of the Committee:
Moved, That a Select Committee be appointed to consider personal Bills and that as proposed by the Committee of Selection the following Lords together with the Chairman of Committees be named of the Committee:
As this is the final Motion in the annual series of committee Motions placed before your Lordships' House, and without wishing to divert your Lordships from the usual way in which your Lordships prefer to deal with these Motions--that is to say, largely but not entirely formally--I should like to take the opportunity to thank noble Lords in all parts of your Lordships' House for participating in the work of these committees, which is so vital, and, in particular, I should like to thank the usual channels and the Convenor of the Cross-Bench Peers for the very extensive work which they do in preparation for the placing of these Motions before your Lordships.
The work that they do is time consuming. They do it in a painstaking way. I am the happy recipient of the outcome of the consultations which they undertake. I say that because that work contributes also to the formation of these committees which, through their reports in particular, play such an important part in establishing and enhancing the reputation of your Lordships' House. I think particularly of your Lordships' investigative
Moved, That a Select Committee on the Standing Orders relating to private Bills be appointed and that as proposed by the Committee of Selection the following Lords together with the Chairman of Committees be named of the Committee: