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Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, I do not believe that the devolution of policing and justice will have any impact on this. There is not a problem at the moment, and with the devolution of policing and justice there will continue to be no problem. As I understand it, the Home Office will still be involved. However, if I am wrong, I will certainly come back to the noble Viscount in writing.
Lord Bew: My Lords, it has already become clear in this discussion that the issue raised by the noble Lord, Lord Cope, is connected to the issue of devolution of policing and justice. One of the most remarkable things that has happened in Northern Ireland over the past 15 years is the way in which north-south co-operation, which was previously very controversial, is now uncontroversial and largely accepted on both sides of the community. The one exception is this area where we have not been able to demonstrate mutual benefit. Therefore, does the Minister accept that, in view of the controversy surrounding devolution of policing and justice, it is vital that both Governments redouble their efforts to ensure that we deliver to citizens on both sides of the border real progress in this area?
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, I entirely accept what the noble Lord says. It is clear that there is a perceived problem. However, from my discussions with Northern Ireland officials and everybody else to whom I have spoken, it is a perceived problem. In reality, there is no problem in getting information from one side of the border to the other. However, I will certainly look into this again.
The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): My Lords, first, I know that the whole House will wish to join me in offering our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Corporal James Oakland from the Royal Military Police, who was killed on operations in Afghanistan last week, and Corporal Thomas Mason of The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, who succumbed to his injuries at the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine, Selly Oak on Sunday.
On the Question, as the Secretary of State for Defence announced in another place yesterday, £20 million has been found by the Treasury to ensure that routine training for TA members can continue.
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Turning to the Question on the TA, we obviously welcome the government U-turn. There is no way that the Regular Army could continue the war in Afghanistan without the TA. Does the Minister agree that the original decision to suspend training was a shocking error of judgment? What signal did Ministers think it would send out to serving and future TA recruits, to employers of territorials, and, crucially, to the Taliban?
Baroness Taylor of Bolton: My Lords, I happily acknowledge the expertise that the noble Lord has-and, indeed, that other noble Lords in this House have-in the Territorial Army. I know that there is a great deal of experience here. He asks what led to the decision. In part it was the improved recruitment to the Regular Army, which is more than 1,000 up on last year. Land Forces decided that, because of those pressures, this was something that they would look at. They made recommendations up to Ministers, but Ministers of course accept the responsibility for the decisions that were made.
The TA has played a very significant role in Afghanistan: 540 TA members are deployed there at the moment, and we have had over 15,000 deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003. So there is no doubt about the contribution that has been made. I think it important to remember that, in all of those discussions, it was made absolutely clear that no one who was going to be deployed would have other than the full training that they needed prior to deployment.
Viscount Slim: My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that many of the men and women gazing down upon her now from up above us are officers-battle-tried officers-of Her Majesty's Army? Is it not a fact that they are most welcome in your Lordships' House today? I am sure they will be most interested in the Minister's answers.
Baroness Taylor of Bolton: My Lords, this is a very good opportunity to reiterate the appreciation of the whole House for all of those who serve in the Territorial Army, and indeed for all of our reservists. Earlier this week I had the pleasure of meeting some of the employers who have been mentioned, and who are extremely important in making sure that this system that we have is so successful. The last week has had some unintended benefits, one of which has been an opportunity for everybody to express their appreciation of the TA.
Lord Lee of Trafford: My Lords, may I first enjoin these Benches in the earlier tribute? The very embarrassing U-turn by the Government on the TA seemingly came about as a result of a phone call from John Reid to the Prime Minister. As a former Government Chief Whip
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The Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells: My Lords, I, too, welcome the noble Baroness's response on training. One of the concerns among the territorial service personnel in my diocese is how many of them return to work after a very considerable commitment in the field. What provision is made in training to enable those personnel to return in a way that enables the fullness of their lives to be taken up appropriately?
Baroness Taylor of Bolton: My Lords, that is an extremely important point and one which was, in a way, touched on in the reserves review earlier this year. It is important that those who are in the TA have all the benefits of all of the support mechanisms that we now know are necessary for all of those who serve in the Armed Forces. Whether the people who have served come back well or have been injured, or their families need support, or mental health problems arise later, we have learnt a great deal in recent years about how to improve the service that we give to our personnel. The TA, and indeed all reservists, should have the same entitlements. We endeavour to make sure that that is the case.
Lord Craig of Radley: My Lords, the TA is but one element of the Reserve Forces. The Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force, in particular the Royal Air Force Regiment, field personnel in the operational theatres and now in Afghanistan. Can the Minister assure the House that there is no reduction in the training funds made available to these two forces?
Baroness Taylor of Bolton: My Lords, this difficulty came about, as I mentioned earlier, because of the increase in recruitment to the Army. That is why it was Land Forces that made the original suggestion. It does not affect the other services.
Lord Kinnock: My Lords, the whole House will doubtless recognise the crucial significance and usefulness of the TA and its counterparts in other parts of the Armed Forces. Does my noble friend recognise that it is passing strange that when a Government heed advice and change policy, it is a humiliating climb-down, but when they fail to do so they are being stiff-necked and arrogant? Could my noble friend, with all her experience, refer us to the oracle of immaculate judgment that appears to advise the Opposition Front Bench?
Baroness Taylor of Bolton: My Lords, I fear that some things are beyond me. I think that we should all be somewhat cautious in the statements that are made. After all, those who are calling for no cuts anywhere are very often the same people who are not proposing any increase in defence spending whatever. As for the Territorial Army, it was the party opposite which reduced numbers from 90,000 to 60,000.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): My Lords, on 21 May this year I reported to the House that I intended to establish a leader's group to consider the House's code of conduct and the rules relating to Members' interests, and to make recommendations. I am now in a position to report to the House that the Leader's Group, chaired by the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, has now completed its work. The group's report is being published today. Copies are now available in the Printed Paper Office and will be published online. This is a unanimous report, from a group chaired by a Member from the Cross Benches and including representatives from all the political parties. I urge all Members of the House to study and consider it.
On behalf of the whole House, I place on record my thanks to the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, all the members of the group and the staff of the House, who provided the secretariat for the group's work. The group also included, until his untimely death, the late Lord Kingsland, in one of the last of his many acts of service for the House. It may be helpful to the House if I indicate now the process which we are proposing for the consideration of the report.
I said in May that the report would go to the Committee for Privileges, but I am advised that precedent suggests that the report should come directly before the House, and my proposals are in line with that precedent. It is intended that the House will have an opportunity on Monday 30 November to debate the report and approve the proposed new code of conduct. In addition, the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, is proposing to hold a number of meetings with Members of the House to discuss the report in advance of its consideration by the House as a whole.
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I undertake to continue to keep the House informed on these and related issues. I believe that the report of the Leader's Group offers a vital blueprint for the future of the House. It is a thorough and important piece of work, which deserves careful consideration by Members of the House. I am confident that Members will give it that consideration, and I commend the report to the House.
Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness the Leader of the House for taking the first available opportunity to make that announcement. I echo her thanks to the group for its sterling work, and I thank her for her kind words about Lord Kingsland. I am also grateful to her for setting out so clearly the procedure that is to be followed for the discussion of this important report. Like all Peers, I am delighted to hear that precedent means that it will go before the whole House first.
Lord McNally: My Lords, from these Benches I thank the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, and his group, and particularly my colleague and noble friend Lady Hamwee for serving on a group that has done such great service to the House. I also associate myself with the tribute to Lord Kingsland; it was indeed one of his last great services to this House.
We need to study the report carefully, as the Leader of the House has said, and I welcome the offer from the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, of a further consultation with Peers, and the offer of a debate on 30 November. I also put on record my thanks for the leadership shown by the Leader of the House and the Lord Speaker in carrying this forward. It is because of that leadership that we have had, at this end of this building, a welcome absence of political point-scoring while we tried to go through this process. A year ago I said that the rules governing this House were vaguely drawn and lightly policed. That light-touch regulation produced one of the cheapest and most cost-effective legislatures in the world. However, we all recognised that things could not stay as they were. The Eames report is one more example of the determination of this House to put our house in order. This House does a good job, and this report-and the SSRB study that we will receive very soon-is an exercise in improvement, not in collective punishment. In that spirit, I welcome the report, promise full co-operation from these Benches and again record my thanks to the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, and his colleagues.
Lord Williamson of Horton: My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady D'Souza, regrets that she could not be present in the House, but we also thank the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, for both the substance and the clarity of the report. At the current time, when we have so much speculation about parliamentary
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Lord Peston: May I introduce a slightly discordant note? First, I have not read the report, and therefore am unable to join all the leaders in saying that I welcome it-I would prefer to read the report before welcoming it, because I might not welcome it. Secondly, did I understand my noble friend the Leader of the House to say that when it comes to be debated in the House, it will be on the basis of whether we accept it or not? My own judgment-given the soundings I have been taking on a whole range of suggestions to do with our future-is that it would be much better if we had a Take Note debate on this report, so that we could listen to each others' views on the matter, and then come back to a more controversial debate in which we might amend or not. Given the other pressures that have come on to us from other reports, a Take Note debate would be an ideal way of finding out their Lordships' views on this subject.
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, I take note of the views expressed by my noble friend, and he is absolutely right to say he should not welcome the report until he has read it. When he has read it, he might then think that a Take Note Motion is not the most appropriate one, but we will discuss that among our colleagues and the usual channels, and we will come back to the House on that.
That this House resolves that the promoters of the Beverley Freemen Bill [HL], which was originally introduced in this House on 22 January 2009, should have leave to suspend any further proceedings on the Bill in order to proceed with it, if they think fit, in the next Session of Parliament according to the provisions of Private Business Standing Order 150A (Suspension of Bills).
That this House resolves that the promoters of the London Local Authorities Bill [HL], which was originally introduced in this House on 22 January 2008, should have leave to suspend any further proceedings on the Bill in order to proceed with it, if they think fit, in the next Session of Parliament according to the provisions of Private Business Standing Order 150A (Suspension of Bills).
That this House resolves that the promoters of the London Local Authorities and Transport for London (No. 2) Bill [HL], which was originally introduced in this House on 22 January 2008, should have leave to suspend any further proceedings on the Bill in order to proceed with it, if they think fit, in the next Session of Parliament according to the provisions of Private Business Standing Order 150A (Suspension of Bills).
That this House resolves that the promoters of the Transport for London (Supplemental Toll Provisions) Bill [HL], which was originally introduced in this House on 22 January 2007, should have leave to suspend any further proceedings on the Bill in order to proceed with it, if they think fit, in the next Session of Parliament according to the provisions of Private Business Standing Order 150A (Suspension of Bills).
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