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Lord Kingsland: My Lords, like my noble friend Lord Wakeham, I should like to congratulate the Labour Party on winning a historic third term in office with a clear working majority. More particularly, I should like to congratulate the noble and learned Lord on remaining on the Woolsack, the noble Baroness,
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Lady Scotland, on continuing as a Minister at the Home Office, and, although she is no longer with us today, the noble Baroness, Lady Ashton of Upholland, on retaining her position in the Lord Chancellor's office.

I must say that I lament the passing of the noble Lord, Lord Filkin, from the Government's Benches. I can believe only that it occurred in a fit of absentmindedness on behalf of those responsible for making these decisions; and I trust that, once they recover from their spasm, the noble Lord will be quickly restored to the position he so well deserves to occupy. Therefore I shall not utter, or at least not yet, a funeral oration on his behalf.

As my noble friend Lady Anelay said, it was her task to deal with Home Office matters and my task to deal with constitutional matters. To say that my noble friend Lady Anelay and I are rhapsodising at the prospect of another four years of opposition would be to exaggerate. But, nevertheless, I trust that my noble friend and I will conduct our role from these Benches with what I hope is regarded by the other side as our customary good-humoured determination.

But for a moment I shall trespass on my noble friend's territory to speak briefly on the vexed issue of violent crime. Many noble Lords have spoken most eloquently on this topic during the debate; and I think there is a general agreement that we are not going to get much closer to solving this problem simply by increasing the number of policemen and expanding our prisons.

To us, a crucial component of solving the problem is missing from the Government's programme. The noble Baroness, Lady Linklater of Butterstone, referred to the issue of respect. Thirty years ago, when a child left school and entered the world, respect was an instinctive part of his or her social apparatus. It was not something that had to be consciously inculcated; it was there as a result of family upbringing and education. As a society we can no longer rely on that; and, therefore, alongside what we are doing in the criminal justice system we need a proper programme for families and schools to reintroduce what we appear to have lost.

To say that is simple; but to find the means of solving the problem is difficult. Part of the solution must be to aim that when a child comes back from school, it comes back to a home. That is not so easy nowadays with, on the one hand, so many single-parent families and, on the other, so many families where both parents work and are therefore not there when the child returns. I believe that more needs to be done to make a family a real home.

Moreover, I wonder whether I am being overly daring when I say that, in some ways, the balance of power between children and staff in school has moved too much in the direction of the children and too far away from the staff. Unless the Government grapple with this issue over the next few years, they will find that the problem of lack of respect is even further away from being solved.
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I turn now to constitutional issues. I should like to deal first with the perspicacious intervention made by the noble Lord, Lord Owen, on the European Community. The European Community has become a constitutional system of great power. By the time we joined it in 1972, it was already a judicial federation; and, as a result of the Single European Act—promoted by the Conservative government of the day and ratified by Parliament—it also became a legislative federation. The reason that was acceptable was that the Community exercised its authority over a very limited area—that of trade and the movement of services and capital.

It has, in the latter years, begun to trespass into much more difficult territory, into the exercise of governmental discretion by nation states. This is a bridge too far for the European Community at the moment because it does not have the necessary legitimacy to exercise such power. It may be that in 20, 50 or 100 years' time the constitutional arrangements of the Community will have that legitimacy and respect from the nation states; but it is manifestly true that it does not yet have them. It would, moreover, be extremely dangerous to ask the European community to overstretch itself because, if it does so, it will implode, and something that is a remarkable success story will end in dust.

The noble Lord, Lord Owen, asked important questions about two such areas. The first question is whether or not the Court of Justice ought to have a role in the formulation of foreign policy and in making judgments about foreign policy decisions. The answer to that must be, emphatically, no, it should not, and that ought to be made clear by the Government as soon as possible.

The second question is whether we ought to engage in any set of arrangements which involve the integration of the Commission with the European Council. The answer again should be, emphatically, no, we should not, because this is another area which moves from a legitimate field of community activity into a field which, if you follow its logic through, would end in a federal state.

These are, potentially, component parts of our constitutional arrangements and therefore it is quite proper that we should consider them in the debate today.

Turning to the domestic issues of your Lordships' House, I want, first, to ask a series of questions of the Government. The first one flows from the intervention of my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway on the subject of the Speakership of your Lordships' House. My noble friend drew your Lordships' attention to the debate that we had on the Constitution Reform Bill in which the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said:

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Can your Lordships' House continue to assume that that is the case? That is my first question.

My second question concerns an issue raised by a number of my noble friends—I recall, in particular, my noble friends Lord Waddington and Lord Elton, but I believe that it was raised by one or two other noble Lords as well—about the undertaking given by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Irvine, in respect of hereditary Peers.

Let us suppose that the 92 hereditary Peers were removed summarily from your Lordships' House without more. That would give the Government a majority of 50 over the Opposition and it would be within 20 votes of an overall majority over both the Opposition and the Liberal Democrats. In other words, effectively, the Government would be one set of new peerage appointments from having a majority over both parties.

In the debate on 30 March 1999, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Irvine, who was at that time Lord Chancellor, said that the 10 per cent, which referred to the 92 hereditary Peers,

Can the noble Baroness assure your Lordships' House that this undertaking, given in honour by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Irvine, continues to be government policy?

The Government's manifesto says that as far as the composition of your Lordships' House is concerned, this will be a matter for a free vote in another place. Why have the Government excluded a free vote in your Lordships' House on this matter? Why should not a free vote in your Lordships' House also carry weight in the deliberation? Will the Government anticipate this free vote by publishing, for example, a White Paper? Or if the Government do not publish a White Paper, will they express a view? The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, at the last Labour Party conference, expressed a preference for an indirect electoral system. Is that still the preference of the Government or have they given some further thought to what might be another alternative? All these are issues on which your Lordships' House is eager to hear the Government express their view.

I listened very carefully, and with huge admiration, to the speech of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donaldson of Lymington, about the proposed 60-day limit. When I read about this and heard about it, I was astonished to hear that another place had the constitutional authority to interfere in the procedures of your Lordships' House. I always thought that it was a hallmark of the privileges of Parliament that another place did not interfere in your Lordships' procedures and your Lordships' House did not interfere in the procedures of another place. So what business has another place to dictate how long your Lordships take over a particular Bill?

Moreover, have the Government considered that this may well be rather counter-productive? I recall, together with my noble friend Lord Saatchi, sitting on
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the Opposition Benches for month after month dealing with the Financial Services Bill. In the course of its passage through your Lordships' House, the Government tabled nearly 2,000 amendments to the Bill. How would the Government cope with such a situation if there were a limit of 60 days?

As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Donaldson of Lymington, said, much will of course depend upon how the business is managed and how much time the Government give to opposition amendments. But it is always open to your Lordships' House, at the end of the day, if it feels that its own scrutiny is incomplete, to reject the Bill altogether, in which case the Government will have to wait for the provisions of the Parliament Act to become engaged.

All this seems to me to be tied up with a statement in the manifesto which talks about the role of your Lordships' House as being to complement, not to replicate. But surely complementing is what your Lordships' House is doing. Your Lordships had a wonderful illustration of this in the speech of my noble friend Lord Higgins when he described the passage of the Pensions Bill. Scrutiny in another place was virtually zero. Without the scrutiny of your Lordships' House, the Bill would have been a bad Bill. As a result of the very hard work done by your Lordships, it was at least like the curate's egg.

The existing system is a very good illustration of complementarity. The consequences of reducing the powers of scrutiny in your Lordships' House, however, would be a net reduction of parliamentary powers over the Executive. As so many of your Lordships have said, that is the crucial issue. It is not a question of whether one or another House has a particular set of powers over the executive; it is whether collectively Parliament has the right amount of control over the executive.

The noble Lord, Lord Parekh, made an extremely thoughtful speech, in the course of which he said that in an election we were electing not only a government but a parliament. We elect a government to govern and a parliament to control the government. It is the second half of the noble Lord's illustration that, I am afraid, the Government are in danger of forgetting. In a society whose hallmarks are the rule of law and democracy, control of the executive is just as important a component as the running of the executive itself.

The Government often catechise their long list of constitutional reform; but the one area that they have not touched with reform is the whole question of the control of the executive. What better illustration did we have of that than the closing stages of the Inquiries Bill? The Government wanted to transform the system of public inquiries and applied that transformation to every single activity in the country, excepting decisions of Ministers. The noble Baroness, Lady Ashton of Upholland, said, in the dying phases of that Bill, that that was a matter for Parliament to decide; if Parliament wanted to introduce a proper system of control over Ministers and wished effectively to indict
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Ministers for their misdemeanours, the Government were not going to legislate for it, but Parliament, itself, could take control.

Well, the noble Baroness has made a wonderful offer. Why does not your Lordships' House consider establishing Select Committees with real teeth that can take evidence from Ministers on oath and can subpoena papers and require Ministers to attend? Why does not another place do the same? That would be the answer to the noble Baroness's invitation—and no doubt she would nod with approval, if your Lordships' House went in that direction. If the Government will not provide the instruments of control over the executive, your Lordships' House and another place must do everything that they can, with their privileges, to fill the necessary gap.

I have noticed out of the corner of my eye that the noble Lord, Lord Alliance, is in his place. I conclude by saying what a marvellous maiden speech that was and to echo what the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, and many other noble Lords said about it. What the noble Lord, Lord Alliance, has achieved in his professional career is a great inspiration to so many young people, and we are absolutely delighted that he is now among us.

9.43 pm

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