Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, I hope that the Minister will forgive me if I observe that the

20 Nov 2006 : Column 108

limitations of his brief this afternoon on occasion leave a lot to be desired. Will he go back to his right honourable friend in another place and request him urgently to put into place a satisfactory system of liaison between government departments, so that in future when he is asked a Question of this nature he is able to give more thorough answers?

Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, that is a little unkind. The Question is about green taxes. I have explained that taxation and fiscal policy is just one component of the Government’s approach. A lot of work is being done on that. I could go through all the issues in which the Government have been involved in producing their environmental objectives, which certainly embrace taxation matters but cover lots of other things as well. If the noble Lord wants a list of those now, I would be happy to try to provide one, just to show how extensive my brief is. In fact, my brief is so extensive that I cannot find the piece of paper that it is written on.

There is a whole range of measures that, if I keep talking, I will get to sooner or later. There is not only the climate change levy, but climate change agreements, reduced VAT rates for professionally installed energy saving materials and the landlord’s energy saving allowance. Vehicle excise duty has been reformed, as has company car taxation, and we have used differentials in fuel duties to assist. We have been leading international action, including the Gleneagles agreement, and we have been at the forefront of introducing the EU Emissions Trading Scheme and climate change agreements. We have set up the Carbon Trust and the Energy Saving Trust. There is an energy efficiency commitment, and we have dealt with building regulations and the renewable transport fuel obligation. I will be happy to write further to the noble Lord.

Lord Tebbit: My Lords, why did not the Minister answer the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Barnett, if he has all those briefings?

Lord Blackwell: My Lords, if the Chancellor, at some point in the future, sees fit to introduce green taxes, will the noble Lord undertake to ask the Treasury to provide a corresponding list of non-green taxes that have been reduced to keep the fiscal balance?

Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, I thought that I had touched on that in relation to the climate change levy and the reduction in employers’ national insurance contributions with, at the same time, the introduction of enhanced capital allowances for certain fuel efficiency capital equipment. That is what we have already done, and I outlined earlier our proposals to recycle. I am sure that that will be the subject of a full explanation if and when the changes occur.

Lord Tebbit: My Lords—

20 Nov 2006 : Column 109

Lord Rooker: My Lords, please, we must move on. We have had 11 supplementaries and we are now in the 24th minute of Questions.

Lord Tebbit: My Lords, the Minister has not answered the question that I put to him. He did not even stand up.

Parliamentary Privilege: Media Reporting

2.59 pm

Lord Corbett of Castle Vale My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper. In doing so, I declare an interest as the Member of another place who introduced a successful Bill to provide, in the case of rape, anonymity for the woman and matching anonymity for the defendant, unless convicted.

The Question was as follows:

The Attorney-General (Lord Goldsmith): My Lords, the media have by statute protection from any criminal proceedings if they publish an extract or abstract from an officially approved record of parliamentary proceedings, which means Hansard or the parliamentary channel, provided that they publish in good faith and without malice. This statutory protection does not apply where the report is based on a journalist’s own note of proceedings, but whether it would be in the public interest to prosecute in such cases would depend on all the circumstances.

Lord Corbett of Castle Vale: My Lords, in thanking the Attorney-General for that response, may I ask him to confirm that there are no plans to seek to restrict or interfere with the parliamentary privilege that we enjoy at both ends of this Parliament? Will he also consider drawing the attention of all the media to the provisions of the current Sexual Offences Act that provide anonymity for the complainant and were put on the statute book to make it less distressing—I do not say easy, but less distressing—for women to come forward with such complaints where the circumstances justify it?

Lord Goldsmith: My Lords, I can certainly confirm that there is no intention to seek in any way to interfere with the privileges of this House or of another place. They are a fundamental part of our democracy. As for my noble friend’s second question, I pay credit to the part that he personally played in getting a law introduced to avoid people feeling unwilling to come forward to make complaints because of concerns about publicity. As for informing the media of that law, I am sure that they are very well aware of it already. I do not think that there is any need for me to reinforce that message.

20 Nov 2006 : Column 110

Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, why should the trial judge in the original case where there is a conviction for rape have the right to remove anonymity whereas the judge in the Court of Appeal, where the case may be referred by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, does not have that right? That happened in the Warren Blackwell case and indeed the judge protested during proceedings that she did not have the right to name Shannon Taylor. Why should there not be consistency in the two different legal proceedings?

Lord Goldsmith: My Lords, my noble friend draws attention to the terms of the statute passed by Parliament: the trial court and the Court of Appeal both have the ability to remove anonymity if they regard it as necessary to induce the bringing forward of evidence; and the trial judge, though not the Court of Appeal, has the ability to remove the reporting restriction if it is in the public interest to do so—but not just because there is an acquittal. Why Parliament did not apply the same rules to the Court of Appeal, I cannot say.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, does parliamentary privilege extend to committee proceedings of the House held in public? If so, do the same conditions apply to repetition by the media of statements made by noble Lords in public committee proceedings?

Lord Goldsmith: My Lords, my understanding is that the answer is absolutely yes to both questions.

Lord Howarth of Newport: My Lords, is not the justification for parliamentary privilege that it enables Members to raise in either House matters which they judge to be in the public interest without fear of constraint or reprisal by the Executive, the police or the courts? With such privilege must come responsibility. Should we not think very carefully before we accept that the media should in turn have a freedom to report, even using the words of Hansard, things that they would not otherwise be allowed to report, with the dangers that this might lead to trial by media, intrusion into privacy and varieties of injustice?

Lord Goldsmith: My Lords, my noble friend is right to say that with privilege comes responsibility—although it is plainly not for a government Minister to comment upon the exercise of privilege by any Member of this House or of another place. As for the media, they have their own responsibilities as well. It seems to me that my noble friend makes an important point in suggesting that those privileges should be applied responsibly.

Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, does the Attorney-General agree—I am sure that he will—that the Reynolds v Times case makes it very clear that journalists need to engage responsibly in order to have the benefit of qualified privilege? That is the existing law.

20 Nov 2006 : Column 111

Lord Goldsmith: My Lords, the noble Lord is right, although that case is concerned with privilege in relation to defamation. The Question put to me by my noble friend Lord Corbett relates to criminal responsibility deriving from a particular statute.

Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, my noble and learned friend has actually admitted—accepted—that there is an inconsistency in the way in which these matters are dealt with in the courts, which led to the naming in Parliament in that case. If he accepts that there is an inconsistency, is he prepared to raise within the Government the whole question of bringing to the House new legislation to deal with this inconsistency which Judge Hallett objected to when she was dealing with the Warren Blackwell conviction?

Lord Goldsmith: My Lords, the noble Lord has raised the point—it is there for all to see, including other members of the Government. I am sure that it will be considered by them.

Further Education and Training Bill [HL]

3.06 pm

Baroness Crawley: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Adonis, I beg to introduce a Bill to make provision about the Learning and Skills Council for England; to make provision about institutions within the further education sector; to make provision with respect to industrial training levies; to make provision about the formation of, and investment in, companies and charitable incorporated organisations by higher education corporations; to enable the making of Assembly measures in the field of education and training; and for connected purposes. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Bill read a first time, and ordered to be printed.

European Union (Implications of Withdrawal) Bill [HL]

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, I beg leave to introduce a Bill to establish a committee of inquiry into the implications of a withdrawal by the United Kingdom from the European Union. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Bill read a first time, and ordered to be printed.

Committee of Selection

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): My Lords, in the absence of the Chairman of Committees, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

I also need to propose an oral amendment to the Motion. The Motion on the Order Paper should propose the noble Lord, Lord Shutt of Greetland, as a member of the Committee of Selection and not the

20 Nov 2006 : Column 112

noble Lord, Lord Roper, as stated. I propose that the Motion be agreed to with this amendment.

Moved, that in accordance with Standing Order 64 a Committee of Selection be appointed to select and propose to the House the names of the members to form each Select Committee of the House (except the Committee of Selection itself and any committee otherwise provided for by statute or by order of the House) or any other body not being a Select Committee referred to it by the Chairman of Committees, and the panel of Deputy Chairmen of Committees; and that the following members be appointed to the committee:

B Amos (Lord President)

L Brabazon of TaraL Cope of BerkeleyL GrocottL McNallyB Massey of DarwenL Shutt of GreetlandB Shephard of NorthwoldL StrathclydeV TenbyL Williamson of Horton.—(Baroness Amos.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.


3.08 pm

Lord Grocott: My Lords, before I say a word on timings for today’s debate, it might be helpful if I inform the House that with 46 speakers down—that obviously causes some problems in accommodating them although we shall of course accommodate everyone—the usual channels have provisionally set aside another date for a foreign affairs debate. That Motion will be to take note of developments in the Middle East and Afghanistan. That is provisionally scheduled for 5 December. That means that there will be a further opportunity to raise a number of the issues that may well be raised today.

With that proviso in mind, I point out that if we do the arithmetic with 46 speakers, in order to rise by 10 o’clock, which is our scheduled concluding time, speeches would need to be of around seven minutes. Should we aim to rise by 11 o’clock, we could accommodate around eight-plus minutes per speaker. My usual arithmetical reminder is that eight minutes is around 1,500 words, which is really quite a lot of words.

Debate on the Address

3.10 pm

Debate resumed on the Motion moved on Wednesday 15 November by the Lord Giddens—namely, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty as follows:

20 Nov 2006 : Column 113

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): My Lords, it is right that we consider foreign affairs, defence and international development in the same debate today. The challenges that we face around the world do not fit neatly into separate boxes, nor should this Government’s responses. Instead, we have committed ourselves to a comprehensive approach that relies on a co-ordinated and integrated joint effort across government by the FCO, the MoD and DfID. I shall focus on the UK’s comprehensive approach.

Globalisation is creating enormous economic opportunity, but with it substantial insecurity. The global economy is undergoing radical transformation in technology, production and trading patterns. Natural resources and global climate are under pressure. Technological change has led to the proliferation of weapons of mass effect. The threat from Islamist terrorism is now genuinely international, operating across borders and using the characteristics of a globalised world—such as the freer flow of people, capital and information—to undermine and attack democratic, open societies across the planet. Our security environment, hence our foreign policy, changed fundamentally after 9/11.

These challenges cannot be met by military means or security measures alone, or even primarily by them. We need to apply a comprehensive approach which is based on a genuine desire to help others, even-handedness and fairness—based on our values—and sometimes, where necessary, based on a willingness to fight to defend those values against those who would seek to destroy them. We also need a will and a capacity to use force as part of this comprehensive approach to deter, to prevent conflict and to establish security where necessary. Parts of the world are highly dangerous. Our military must be able to deal with extremes of violence and win in order to create the environment where democratic governance, the rule of law and economic progress can take root and flourish.

Our comprehensive approach is most necessary in Afghanistan and Iraq, to which I will come shortly, but it extends far beyond. We have learnt to our cost that poverty, poor governance and conflict, if neglected, can spread hatred and regional instability, which in turn foster terrorism across the world. We are systematically addressing these interconnected problems—above all through close co-operation with allies and friends—to promote joint action for common values and interests in a safe, just and prosperous world.

Since 1997, this Government have more than doubled aid to developing countries. Last summer at Gleneagles, G8 Governments pledged increases of $50 billion a year by 2010 and debt cancellations worth another $50 billion. So we continue to work to encourage the good governance which is indispensable for poverty reduction and sustainable development. This includes assisting security sector reform so that judiciaries, police and Armed Forces protect rather than menace their people.

The comprehensive approach recognises that success requires us to address all key areas. To facilitate this we have created the global conflict

20 Nov 2006 : Column 114

prevention pools, which are funded and run jointly by DfID, the FCO and the MoD. They are relatively new and will undoubtedly evolve further, but they stimulate essential cross-government planning, evaluation and learning. Close interdepartmental work has furthered the UK’s leading role in gathering international support for an arms trade treaty, restricting flows of irresponsibly traded conventional arms, especially into conflict areas, reducing instability and saving lives.

There are many unsung successes in the field of non-proliferation, but we must be realistic about the concern which continuing North Korean and Iranian nuclear activities are causing the international community. It is against developments of this kind that officials are studying options for Trident replacement. All the issues will be set out fully in the forthcoming White Paper on the future of the deterrent, but no decisions have yet been taken. Just as the United Kingdom is adapting to today's world, the major international organisations must also reform. NATO, the EU, and even the United Nations are relatively young—striplings compared to nation states, but they need to mature fast to meet the pace of change and become more effective.

NATO, in particular, must successfully complete its transformation into an operationally focused alliance, capable of engaging well beyond its own borders. It must enhance capabilities and ensure that burdens and risks are fairly and efficiently shared among members. As Europeans we will continue to support the progress of the European Security and Defence Policy. The EU must become an effective partner for NATO, but must also be able to act in its own right where NATO chooses not to become collectively engaged.

The UN, NATO and the EU all have important roles in promoting world security, either individually or in partnership. As a leading member, the UK will remain active in working to ensure that they each develop and combine their strengths as flexibly and effectively as possible. The UK's military capability has a clear role within the comprehensive approach as a force for good, with the will and the means to prevent conflict and deal with violence. Where violence is endemic, which has been described as “war amongst the people”, military capability becomes a crucial factor in conflict resolution and reducing sectarian violence. In such circumstances the military role can then be best understood as the muscle in a form of muscular international development.

Today, our forces all too often face murderously unconstrained enemies hiding among the very people they are trying to help and protect. That situation can involve us simultaneously in combat and peacekeeping operations within the same small area, which is sometimes described as the three-block war. While, a century ago, British troops might have been fighting to gain territory, today they often risk their lives to create the security conditions that will allow their responsible withdrawal. This requires multiple skills and the ability to counter very different threats. Military operations will remain inherently dangerous, and in some cases have to deal with the fullest

20 Nov 2006 : Column 115

extremes of violence unconstrained by any legal or moral code. No one should pretend otherwise.

Before turning to Afghanistan and Iraq, I wish, therefore, to pay tribute to all the men and women in our Armed Forces. I have seen the difficulty of their task in both theatres and the tremendous determination and courage with which they carry it out. No one matches their ability to turn from intense combat to development, peace-building and reconstruction. Nor could we hope for success in the comprehensive approach if we could not count on that bravery, professionalism and flexibility.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page