Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, since I do not accept the premises of the noble Lord, Lord Pearson, I can hardly be expected to follow him in his conclusions. There are issues on both sides. Otherwise, we would not be undertaking these economic assessments. But if we look at the balance of benefits and disadvantages--taking the opposites of my noble friend Lord Tomlinson and the noble Lord, Lord Pearson--it is clear that there is considerable thinking to be done. We are doing that.

Lord Barnett: My Lords, will my noble friend accept that in practice the five tests are virtually never achievable if one takes the sustainability argument within them? Therefore, is there not only one serious test, namely convergence between sterling and the euro? Is there any particular reason why the Government are not willing to accept that it will be possible on that test--an announcement that we are to go in, as I hope we are, in itself will do something in that direction--to negotiate a devaluation between the two currencies?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, that is an interesting thought. Those who have tried to negotiate devaluation have realised on many occasions how little exchange rates--after all, these are floating exchange rates--are at the beck and call of governments of whatever colour. There are considerations which have to be taken into account in reaching the assessment and coming to a conclusion. There are also effects which will take place after the Government's decision and recommendation to the people of this country. Those are equally significant.

Lord Saatchi: My Lords, is the Minister aware that in his answer to the noble Lord, Lord Taverne, the noble Lord flatly contradicted his own Chancellor. If I heard the noble Lord correctly, he thought that there were constitutional considerations concerning the joining of the euro whereas the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said the exact opposite.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, on the contrary. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has always said that there are constitutional considerations but that they are not insuperable.

Lord Tanlaw: My Lords, can the Minister tell me whether I am correct in assuming that if the country joins the single European currency we will switch to the harmonisation of European time?

23 Oct 2001 : Column 919

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, may I be tempted into a personal opinion which is that I rather agree with the noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw? However, it does not follow from our entry into a Europe of single currency.

Golden Jubilee Medal

3.13 p.m.

Baroness Howells of St Davids asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What arrangements they have in place for the award of Golden Jubilee medals to the police force.

The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Baroness Blackstone): My Lords, under the criteria announced by the then Home Secretary on 15th February, the police will not be eligible to receive the medal. Ministers are considering representations made by, and on behalf of, the police. If there is to be any change in the criteria an announcement will be made.

Baroness Howells of St Davids: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for her reply. Perhaps I may direct her attention to the words of the noble Lord, Lord McNally, on 15th October. He said:

    "The most abiding memory of the events of the 11th September was the sight of firemen, police and other emergency services going against the flow and going into danger as others fled from it. There is no doubt that if we ever faced a similar attack, we could rely on a similar sense of duty and heroism".--[Official Report, 15/10/01; col. 366.]

Will the Minister not think again and recommend a medal to every officer, especially as morale is said to be very low in the police force at this time?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, as the daughter of a chief fire officer, I entirely accept everything that my noble friend has said about the extraordinary bravery of all the emergency services involved in dealing with the terrorist attack in New York on 11th September. However, in this country the police in particular receive recognition for valuable service through bravery awards, civil awards in the New Year and birthday honours lists, the award of the Queen's Police Medal and the award of long service and good conduct medals to mark dedicated and exemplary service; so too, do members of the other emergency services, including the fire service.

Lord Dholakia: My Lords, does the Minister accept that sometimes our police forces are called on to perform beyond the call of duty? Is the noble Baroness aware of the valuable work being done by the Metropolitan Police in terms of identifying the British citizens who died on 11th September and in tracing people from all over the world who are missing following the events of that day? Does she further accept that the police have a high profile in terms of

23 Oct 2001 : Column 920

defending minorities at this difficult time? Are those not qualities that should command some kind of medal for those who perform beyond the call of duty?

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, I entirely recognise what the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, has said. I salute the excellent work of the police in New York in the aftermath of 11th September. But, as I have already said, there are a variety of different ways in which this can be recognised; through medals of various different kinds for the police, for the fire and ambulance services and for others who are involved in this kind of work. The Government, after careful thought, decided that eligibility for the award of Jubilee medals next year should be restricted to members of the uniformed Armed Forces, including reserves and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, who have completed a minimum of five years reckonable service at the time of the 50th anniversary of the Queen's succession.

Lord Imbert: My Lords, I am pleased that the noble Baroness, Lady Howells, has asked this Question. I am interested that the Minister's Answer gives a glimmer of hope that the matter will be reconsidered. If I may comment on it--

Noble Lords: Question!

Lord Imbert: May I comment on it?

Noble Lords: Question.

Lord Imbert: May I say that I find the Answer unsatisfactory in total? The Minister said that the police can earn the long service and good conduct medals. It takes 22 years before a police officer qualifies for those. I should mention that police officers, like your Lordships, swear an oath of allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen. The Metropolitan Police in particular has a special relationship with Her Majesty and with the Royal Family because it provides them with 24-hour protection. We could also have asked a question about the non-inclusion of the fire service and those wonderful voluntary organisations, the Red Cross and St. John. I realise that the people on the committee which considered this matter, who I suspect never go out at night, would have done so over a cup of coffee and biscuits. I suspect that they found it too administratively difficult.

Noble Lords: Question!

Lord Imbert: I hope that there will be reconsideration.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, let me assure the noble Lord, Lord Imbert, that those who considered this question do go out at night. As I have already indicated, the Government recognise the important role played by all the emergency services in our public life. These decisions are difficult. The Government have said that they will look again at the question. When they have done so, they will make clear what the decision has been.

23 Oct 2001 : Column 921

I should also stress that Her Majesty the Queen has said that there should be no undue expenditure on the Jubilee. Any extension of the award of the medal would have to be paid for out of existing budgets so savings would have to be made from elsewhere.

Baroness Sharples: My Lords, does the noble Baroness agree that next year is a very special year? Given that we are to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen, perhaps an extension of the award of the medal should be made.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, a large number of medals will be awarded to active uniformed members of the armed services. Of course I recognise that next year will be special and many special events will take place: from a classical music concert open to the public in the gardens of Buckingham Palace to a pop concert open to the public also in the gardens of Buckingham Palace; a huge Golden Jubilee carnival pageant is to take place in the Mall; and a musical equestrian tribute is to be staged at the Royal Windsor Horse Show, entitled "All the Queen's Horses", with a cast of 2,000 people and 1,000 horses. So a great deal will be done to celebrate this special year.

Homelessness Bill

3.20 p.m.

Brought from the Commons; read a first time, and to be printed.

Business of the House: Debates this Day

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. It has been slightly amended for a legitimate purpose, which is to point out that, 50 years ago today, my old sparring partner the noble Lord, Lord Peyton of Yeovil, first became a Member of Parliament. In that time he has been a very considerable parliamentarian, something that is known to all in this House. I have never heard a criticism or complaint made against him, except that he has always been too tactful in asking questions.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page