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House of Lords

Monday, 13 July 2009.

2.30 pm

Prayers-read by the Lord Bishop of Newcastle.

Death of a Member: Lord Kingsland


2.37 pm

The Lord Speaker (Baroness Hayman): My Lords, it is with the deepest regret that I have to inform the House of the death yesterday of Lord Kingsland. On behalf of the whole House, I extend our condolences to his family and friends.

Noble Lords: Hear, hear.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): My Lords, I rise to pay tribute to Lord Kingsland. Members of this House, I know, will be shocked to learn of the death of Christopher Kingsland. The House will want to send condolences to his family and friends for their sudden loss, but this House has lost a great deal too. This House has lost one of its most warmly and widely regarded Members. Though the lawyers of this House may find it hard to believe, there are times when this House does not want to listen to lawyers-but not Christopher Kingsland. This House always wanted to listen to Christopher Kingsland, though from these Benches-as I can personally testify-it was not always a comfortable experience. His forensic skills in debating and analysing legislation meant that taking a Bill through this House with Christopher as your opposition was one of the toughest jobs that a Minister has to do. The House always wanted to listen to Christopher Kingsland because Members knew what they would get: clever, thorough, fair-minded and searching analysis. Skilled and rigorous in opposition, Lord Kingsland was positive and constructive in opposition too. As we all know, in this House reaching agreement is often as essential as winning a vote and Christopher Kingsland was as expert and successful a negotiator as he was a debater, and legislation was very often much improved by him being so adept at both.

Lord Kingsland's illustrious legal career saw him called to the Bar in 1972 and take Silk in 1988. His love of the law and his brilliant legal mind saw him appointed as a recorder and subsequently a deputy High Court judge, work he managed successfully to combine with his work in this House. Before he entered your Lordships' House in 1994, Lord Kingsland served as a Member of the European Parliament, rising to become his party's Chief Whip and leader of the Conservative group of MEPs. It was during this time in the European Parliament that I first met Christopher. I still recall the twinkle in his eye and the wonderful sense of humour which he would, in time, use to such great and painful effect against the government Front Bench in this House. I regard it as a great privilege to

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have sparred with him across the Dispatch Box, as I was doing only last Wednesday at what turned out to be his penultimate appearance in this House.

I am sure the whole House will mourn his death, salute his courage in fighting illness, and celebrate, value and remember his life. This House has lost a fine Member, a man who was a tribute to his party, this House, and the country he served in a range of ways. He leaves a very large gap on the Benches opposite and in this House as a whole. The House will miss him; his insight, his courtesy, his skills and his intelligence. We and his family and friends have lost a very great deal in losing Christopher Kingsland. He was a decent man, a fair man, a good man, and this House is a more diminished place today without him.

Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, I echo the sentiments of the Leader of the House. Lord Kingsland was one of the hardest-working Members of the Opposition, balancing his life at the Bar with that of being the shadow legal affairs Minister, which allowed him to be involved in almost any aspect of legislation that he wanted. He used that option with an energy and drive shared by few others. In his 15 years in the Lords, he built up a formidable reputation for his razor-sharp intelligence and eloquence. The House has lost a hard-working servant of the nation, and we on these Benches have lost a good, loyal friend who was always happy to lend a hand, even before he was asked.

He had a tremendous sense of the value of our nation's ancestral constitution, which he understood deeply, and he was greatly saddened by the destruction of the office of Lord Chancellor-not for himself, as there are few as devoid of ego as was Lord Kingsland, but for the loss of a unique institution that he believed worked so well.

Lord Kingsland made his home in Shropshire, where he concentrated his political career by representing the people of that county in the European Parliament from 1979 to 1994. Europe's loss was our gain, and once he had re-established his career at the Bar he joined the Opposition in 1997 and led for us on most of the legal and constitutional Bills that came forward from that time to this. Indeed, so great were his enthusiasm and dedication that when I spoke to him last week to try to limit the amount of time that he was spending in the Chamber, he insisted that he was well, enjoying himself and could not bear to sit on the sidelines. It was this tenacious spirit that ensured that the Government did not get their way when they repeatedly tried to remove the right to trial by jury.

Of course, politics was not his only love, but it was his underlying passion. As the noble Lord, Lord West, will affirm, he was a keen sailor in Cowes, and so he could not help but offer a word or two of advice on the Marine and Coastal Access Bill.

In a world of celebrity and intrusiveness, Lord Kingsland was a deeply private individual-not because he had anything to hide; on the contrary, he had much to be proud of, but he never wanted people to make a fuss. He would have been embarrassed by the tributes this House makes today. A couple of years ago, he was quietly married to Carolyn, and to her we send our deepest condolences for a too-brief period of their lives spent together.

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It is not too much to say that his loss will be keenly felt across the political boundaries that divide this House. I held Lord Kingsland in the highest esteem and with the greatest affection. His was a life of public duty and public service, and it will be a long time before we see one like him again.

Lord McNally: My Lords, I know that our conventions mean that many people who want to pay tribute to Lord Kingsland today will be prevented from so doing. Occasionally, when one gets that phone call that one of our colleagues has died, the feeling is one of sadness, but it has usually been about a life well lived and long lived. I do not think that I have felt a feeling such as that which I felt this morning since I heard of the death of Lord Williams of Mostyn. It was the same feeling that Lord Kingsland had so much more to offer and was someone who stretched across this House to all Benches in terms of friendship and respect for the qualities that he brought to this House.

On these Benches, my noble friends Lord Thomas of Gresford, Lord Goodhart and Lord Lester have expressed to me today their personal sadness. Lord Kingsland was, indeed, a lawyers' lawyer, but, as has already been hinted, he was also a parliamentarians' parliamentarian. The last time that I debated with him was during the debate on the Privy Council. I can see him hunched over that Box-well briefed, articulate, devoid of malice or ideology, but razor sharp. It is indeed a loss to those Benches and to any prospective office that he may have held, but, much more, it is the loss of a very decent man and a very good friend to all of us.

Baroness D'Souza: My Lords, this is a terrible shock for us all, but I think immediately of Lord Kingsland's wife and stepchildren and of his many devoted friends and colleagues in your Lordships' House and far beyond. I offer them my sympathies on behalf of the Cross Benches.

In my short time here, I was lucky enough to have had the benefit of his wise counsel and to witness time and again his fierce adherence to principle, whether on matters of legal precedence, free speech or parliamentary procedure. He seemed to always have time to listen and to be a very good listener, and he was prepared to change his mind if the facts warranted it.

It must be a comfort to all that he had returned to his beloved Shropshire for his final hours. I, with many others, was at a dinner which he and his wife also attended on Saturday evening in Oxfordshire. He was his usual modest, sociable and urbane self. Although, once again, the shock is very great, I and his friends and family may be comforted to know that his last night was a happy one, spent among those who deeply respected him during his long and very distinguished career in Europe, in the Territorial Army, at the Bar and in this House.

The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, from these Benches we add our tribute to and give thanks for the life of Lord Kingsland and the very considerable contribution that he made to the public life of this

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country. He was a dedicated public servant and I, for one, marvelled at his mastery of legal affairs, his skill in debate and the clarity of his mind, especially, as far as I could see, as he never ever used written notes. Meticulous attention to detail and careful and thorough preparation were his hallmarks. He was never polemical and was genuinely warmly regarded on all sides of this House. We remember his integrity, his graciousness, his humility and his lightness of touch, as befits a skilled and passionate sailor. He will be much missed by all of us, and from these Benches we send our prayers and deepest sympathy to Lady Kingsland and her family.

The Lord Speaker: My Lords, I spoke earlier on behalf of the House, but perhaps I may be allowed one personal sentence of sorrow at the loss of a wise and generous man and an admirable parliamentarian.

Cluster Munitions


2.47 pm

Asked By Baroness Howe of Idlicote

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): My Lords, before the UK can ratify the convention, its prohibitions must be implemented in UK law. A cluster munitions prohibitions Bill is included in the draft legislative programme for the fifth Session for consultation. Nevertheless, the Government have begun to implement the convention's key provisions. All UK cluster munitions have been placed in a destruction programme and cluster munitions are now subject to the most stringent trade controls.

Baroness Howe of Idlicote: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply and declare an interest as the patron of the Port Talbot branch of Soroptimist International. International soroptimism has championed the cluster munitions campaign for many years. I warmly congratulate the Government on their decision-announced just after I had tabled my Question, although I am sure for better reasons than that-to introduce the necessary legislation to ratify the convention banning these terrible weapons, whose victims are almost all civilians, especially innocent children. Can the Minister assure the House that this essential Bill will be introduced immediately after the Queen's Speech? In view of the broad support for the convention from noble Lords of all parties and none-all of us, in other words-will he consider starting the Bill here, thereby ensuring its swift route to completion?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, let me say to the noble Baroness that I have the best source beside me, the Leader of the House, who shares her desire to see the Bill introduced. Whether it is introduced in this House or another place first is a matter for parliamentary

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managers to agree, but I assure the noble Baroness that, even while we await the enactment of the Bill, we are, as I said, moving to make sure that cluster munitions are eliminated from our arsenal and that the other provisions of the Bill are essentially enacted by administrative arrangements.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, the last US Administration were one of the obstacles to negotiating a cluster munitions convention and the question of US troops operating with UK troops under such a convention was very complicated. Can the Minister assure us that the new US Administration have sufficiently changed policy on this to make life much easier for British troops on combined operations?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, we hope so. To be fair, the new Administration have had a lot on their plate, so we have not yet been able to have detailed discussions on this issue. It is important to add that a number of key countries in this industry are not signatories. It is not just the US; China, India, Pakistan and Brazil are also not signatories. Even beyond the interoperability issues regarding the US, there is a lot of work to be done to turn this into a universal convention.

Lord Trefgarne: My Lords, I do not disagree with the principle of banning these dreadful weapons but, in view of the large number of nations that will not be adherents to the treaty, is the Minister satisfied that that will not place United Kingdom forces at a disadvantage? Have the Chiefs of Staff been consulted?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, the Chiefs of Staff strongly support this. This weapon has done untold damage to civilians and, in doing so, risks being in breach of international humanitarian law. It is exactly the kind of weapon that, by killing innocent civilians, means that you lose the hearts and minds side of the war. I can say with great confidence that they support this. We have never used these weapons in Afghanistan. The last time that we used them was in Iraq. Even without this convention, these weapons have outlived their usefulness.

Lord Hannay of Chiswick: My Lords, will the Minister accept my personal congratulations on the role that he played in bringing about the British decision to sign the Dublin convention, which was considerable and not entirely straightforward? How are the Government getting on persuading countries that did not sign the Dublin convention when it was open for signature last December to join it? Will he confirm that speed of our clearing the road to ratification will be a crucial element in being part of the governance of this convention when it comes into force?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, on the latter point, I absolutely agree. The convention comes into force six months after the first 30 countries have ratified. It is enormously important that we are part of that first 30. Twelve have ratified so far, so getting this Bill through is critical. On the first point, I have to acknowledge

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that there is a gulf between the countries that were part of the Oslo process and those that still believe that these weapons are important. We are struggling to find a way to bridge that so that we can universalise the ban, but it is a long road ahead.

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, will the Minister accept that we on this side will give full support to enabling the legislation to be brought forward for the UK to ratify this convention? He said that, of the signatories to the convention, which comprise about 98 in all, only 12 have now ratified; I do not want to be smart but I think that the latest figure is 13. The rest need to ratify and, on top of that, we need to bring China and America completely on board. Without that, we will not get the safety and security for our own Armed Forces-an issue rightly raised by my noble friend Lord Trefgarne-which they all deserve and which will bring an end to this horrific weapon in our time.

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, the noble Lord is completely correct. We have to work to persuade other countries to join this. As he is aware, we have looked at other routes. A protocol was proposed to the conventional weapons treaty but unfortunately there does not seem to be a mechanism for bridging the argument between those who feel that that would dilute the convention's provisions and those who want no constraints on the use of these weapons. There is a long diplomatic road ahead.

Lord Goldsmith: My Lords, I add my congratulations on what the Government are doing and what my noble friend has said, but could he help us on one point? When the legislation comes forward, will we have any difficulties with the definition of cluster munitions, because in the past the question has been raised by some whether certain munitions, especially so-called smart munitions, fall outside the definition and therefore outside the ban?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, one of the conclusions-one of the last-minute features, if you like-of the deal that brought this together was indeed to draw up a definition that no longer differentiated between so-called smart and, I suppose, non-smart weapons. The nature of the warhead and its indiscriminate number of capsules has been the key condition. Therefore, that issue is behind us.



2.55 pm

Asked By Lord Astor of Hever

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): My Lords, first, I am sure that the whole House will wish to join me in offering sincere condolences to the families and friends of Trooper Christopher Whiteside of the Light Dragoons,

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Rifleman Daniel Hume of 4th Battalion, the Rifles, Private John Brackpool, serving as a Rifleman with the Prince of Wales's Company, 1st Battalion, Welsh Guards, Corporal Lee Scott of the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, and Corporal Jonathan Horne, Rifleman William Aldridge, Rifleman James Backhouse, Rifleman Joseph Murphy and Rifleman Daniel Simpson, all from the 2nd Battalion, the Rifles. They were killed on operations in Afghanistan during this past week. I am sure that our thoughts are with not only those families but all those involved in current operations.

Turning to the Question, our troops are in Afghanistan alongside those of more than 40 countries under United Nations Resolution 1833, reaffirmed in September 2008. Our aim is to stop Afghanistan becoming a safe haven for those who plan terrorism that can threaten security in the United Kingdom. We are there to help Afghanistan become an effective state, with a view to transferring responsibility to the Afghan security forces over time, with international forces moving to a training and supporting role.

Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, on behalf of these Benches, I pay tribute to all those young soldiers. The death of so many young men shows the extent of the sacrifice that military families are making on our behalf. Ministers say, rightly, that it is vital that we succeed in Afghanistan, yet, despite promises that our troops will be supplied with everything they need, why do they still fail to provide sufficient helicopters in a country with the most dangerous roads on earth? Far too many troops are being moved by road and being killed by IEDs. Can the Minister tell the House why the Government turned down the request by commanders for 2,000 British reinforcements for Helmand?

Baroness Taylor of Bolton: My Lords, I am sure that the whole House agrees with the sentiments expressed by the noble Lord. Our thoughts are with military families.

I hear what the noble Lord says about helicopters. We have to be clear that helicopters are not a panacea. They are not a simplistic solution to the problems that our forces are facing with IEDs. We have increased helicopter numbers by 60 per cent since November 2006. Helicopter flying hours are up by 84 per cent. We cannot take and hold ground with helicopters; we have to use whatever means of transport or whatever tactics are appropriate at any particular time. In respect of troop numbers, the Prime Minister announced earlier this year the increase that we are making up to 9,000, particularly to provide security for the elections. It is important that other countries also do their part and increase their numbers.

Lord Inge: My Lords-

Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords-

Lord Inge: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. Is she saying in that answer that therefore she believes that we do not need any more helicopters or any more soldiers on the ground in Helmand province?

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