On top of that, the next challenge we face in this country is terrorism. We have recently discussed the Prevent strategy and the role it can play. The question that arises out of this Queen’s Speech is what it means for defence. I simply make this point and will be extremely brief. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord West. I think there is no question that we face a more dangerous situation. I am not a huge enthusiast for aircraft carriers that need substantial escorts out of the very limited number of escorts that we have, and I would like to see more platforms available for their work. I see that it is said today that the National Audit Office is holding up the publication of a report on the reserves. I am very worried indeed about whether the reserve programme and the numbers for the Army are going to come through. In this dangerous and uncertain world, we now need to look very hard at the situation over our defence expenditure.

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3.54 pm

Lord Collins of Highbury (Lab): My Lords, I start by echoing the remarks of the Minister and my noble friend Lady Morgan in congratulating the Government on hosting the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict and in helping change global opinion on this issue. I also thank the Foreign Secretary for standing up so strongly for the rights of lesbian and gay people who are facing not only discrimination and anti-gay laws but also increased violence, as we have witnessed in Russia, Uganda and, sadly, on the streets of London, too.

While I remain disappointed that the Government have failed to meet their pledge to legislate, I welcome their achievement in reaching the UN’s target for spending 0.7% of gross national income on aid. I hope this commitment will become an enduring political consensus, but we need to do far more to persuade many of the public. We need to make the case strongly and at every opportunity that development changes and saves lives. We also have to make the argument that development is also in Britain’s best interests. The UK would be much better off growing and trading within a strong global economy with a sustainable climate, supported Governments and secure borders, as the noble Lord, Lord King, argued so strongly in his own contribution.

The worldwide improvement over the past 50 years has been widespread, but too many people have been left behind. Inequality is growing. Seven out of 10 people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the past 30 years. Too often, people say that there is a choice between the interests of richer countries and those of the developing world, but we know that improving tax fairness benefits both the developed and the developing world. Climate change, too, affects all of us, rich and poor. The World Bank and the UN have both outlined the serious impact that climate change is already having and will continue to have on achieving our international development goals.

The coalition describes itself as the greenest Government ever, yet says little on climate change these days. It would be helpful to know more about how DfID is ensuring that all of our investments are climate resilient. In advance of the two major UN conferences on climate change and international development next year, it would be good to hear from the Minister how the Government are co-ordinating their engagement on these two opportunities, the outcomes of which are clearly so dependent on one another.

Today, the issue is less about how much we spend and more about how we spend it. Legislation to introduce a public register of beneficial ownership is a positive step in the gracious Speech. It is really important that we increase transparency in company ownership. The best recent estimates suggest that between $21 trillion and $32 trillion in private assets alone are held in tax havens—an estimated 23% to 30% from developing countries. In fact, developing countries lose between $120 billion and $160 billion annually in lost tax revenues due to illicit financial flows. This loss is greater than the entire global aid budget.

Greater transparency in company ownership will make a huge difference in stopping money from being

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illicitly taken away from developing countries. Labour is committed to restructuring our existing support by, first, doubling the £20 million DfID currently gives to help Governments build up their own tax-collecting capabilities. If successful, we will look at going even further. This is development for the long term, which can pay for itself.

However, if we are to challenge the root causes of inequality in our world, it will mean changes for working people, too. Decent jobs under decent conditions for decent pay are a vital part of development as well. I think we were all shocked to see the revelations of slavery in today’s Guardian. They are truly shocking. This brutal abuse of migrant labour in the name or profit and cheaper food has to stop. That is why Labour will reverse the Government’s decision to withdraw funding from the ILO, and we will work with our international partners like the ITUC to ensure that those who have the will to work hard can have the power to get on. Empowering the powerless is what we will do, and, under Labour, that will be what DfID will stand for.

3.59 pm

Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury (LD): My Lords, I will talk about something rather different: namely, culture. Frankly, the fact that it has been tacked on to a debate in which the rest of your Lordships are speaking, with great erudition, about more interconnected subjects, is symptomatic of how the DCMS has to struggle to get heard in government. Despite the greatness of this country’s cultural heritage and endeavour, the subject is somehow a poor relation as far as the arena of political debate is concerned. I know that so many noble Lords in this House are interested in culture, but I think that probably about three of us will talk about it today.

However, at least culture has made it as a subject for debate; in the past it has not even done that. I am glad to say that I do not think that that will not happen again, as the contribution of culture to the economy across the multiplicity of areas that are the creative industries has begun to be recognised. Statistics published in January reveal that the UK’s creative industries are now worth £71.4 billion per year, and that in growth terms they are outperforming all other areas. However, things could be even better. Most creative businesses are small or medium-sized and their business plans involve risk and unpredictability, so they require support in order to achieve their potential.

I am sure that my noble friend the Minister will agree with me that the coalition Government are to be applauded for establishing the industry-led Creative Industries Council, which is also attended by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and the Secretary of State for BIS. The council has been working on identifying barriers to greater growth and will be launching its industry-led creative industries strategy in July. I hope that the Government will act on its recommendations.

The small businesses Bill will provide an improved framework for small businesses to compete successfully, making it easier to start up a business and to gain finance through innovative new sources of finance such as crowdfunding.

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The creative industries are important not just for domestic growth but because they help the UK compete effectively on the world stage. I am lucky enough to be the Prime Minister’s trade envoy to Mexico, and have seen that. Two weeks ago I was handing out prizes to young Mexican entrepreneurs who won a trip to the Digital Shoreditch festival and the chance to find out about the opportunities offered by London’s Tech City. Mexico is in the process of undergoing important reforms, and one area—telecoms—opens up great opportunities for the UK. The Mexicans love British television. One of the great aims of the Secretary of State for Culture is to have a Mexican “Downton Abbey”—which, I am afraid to say, and with apologies to ITV, he believes, however often I tell him otherwise, is made by the BBC.

That leads me to another way in which culture plays a crucial role in promoting our nation’s prosperity: through soft power, which was mentioned earlier by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan. Cultural diplomacy is a major tool by which others understand who we are, what we stand for and what we offer. The BBC is one of the UK’s leading assets in this area because it is respected as being accurate, impartial and objective—a lens through which we are seen by many abroad. It also acts as an important catalyst to creativity at home. As we all know, charter renewal is upon us. I hope that my noble friend the Minister will agree that despite recent difficulties the BBC, funded by the licence fee, should be protected and celebrated.

To have great culture and a thriving creative sector, we need the creators, and one of the biggest challenges the creative industries face is retaining expertise while promoting new talent. We have a booming sector with a skills shortage, so the Government are to be congratulated on the fact that apprenticeships in the creative industries have increased by 155% since 2009-10 and are set to increase further next year. The Lib Dems have been the driving force behind this, and we are now working on how to simplify the route for employers to provide such placements.

However—and finally—we need to start earlier. Does my noble friend agree that it is a sad fact that Darren Henley’s review into cultural education, which on its launch was so warmly greeted by the Secretary of State for Education, should two years later be sitting on a shelf rather than being implemented across our schools? Let us get it off the shelf, dust it down and help ensure that the UK’s creative and cultural industries lead the world.

4.05 pm

Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve (CB): My Lords, ostensibly, few constitutional Bills were listed in the gracious Speech. Apart from the Wales Bill and the recall of Members of Parliament Bill, no others appear obviously constitutional and yet we all know that this year may mark momentous constitutional changes.

I am one of those fortunate people with an Irish, a Scots, a Welsh and an English grandparent. I am a person of the UK. Three of my four grandparents were in uniform in the First World War—the fourth had very young children and was not. Looking ahead, if the majority who will be eligible to vote and do vote

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in the Scottish referendum vote yes, much will change. For those of us with multiple allegiances this is deeply painful. It is, in effect, like being told that that the family is to be broken up, while being denied voice or vote.

I want to ask the Government about what may prove a deep lacuna in the preparation for the possibility of a yes vote. I say this in spite of having read and profited from the report from the Constitution Committee of your Lordships’ House. Those fortunate enough to be resident in Scotland, whether Scots or not, will have voice and vote, but who will speak for the rest of the UK? I appreciate the Government’s reasons for not, as the phrase goes, pre-negotiating for something that may not arise, and the report endorses the Government’s position on that point. However, neither government policy nor the report has provided any clarity about who will speak for those UK citizens not resident in Scotland. The Government of Scotland will speak for those resident there and the assumption appears to be that the Government of the UK will speak for those resident in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. This proposal may be convenient, but I believe that it is flawed.

Until the date of independence, whenever that might be, the Government of the UK will remain the Government of Scotland, together with the Government in Edinburgh with their already extensive competences. This is not disputed: it is after all the context of the referendum. Consequently, during the period of any negotiation, the Government of the UK must maintain responsibility for Scotland. I do not think we can expect the Government of the UK to, so to speak, sit on both sides of the negotiating table. At the stage of negotiation, the Government of the UK will not be, as the report helpfully puts it, the Government of “the continuator state”—they will remain the Government of the UK as constituted at present. Only after independence and the constitution of Scotland as a successor state will the Government of the UK become the Government of a continuator state.

It is therefore important to think now about the way in which the interests of those who will, if things proceed to separation, later be citizens of the continuator state are to be represented in any negotiation. There will be difficult matters to be negotiated: the allocation of the national debt; the allocation of oil and gas reserves, which is different from other allocations of fixed assets; the provision and protection of pensions, to say nothing about banking; the provisions for those who study outside the jurisdiction where they have grown up; and the eligibility of researchers resident in Scotland to apply for UK research funding, which means so much for the excellent universities of Scotland.

The report from the Constitution Committee addresses a number of political issues that will arise in any transition, including how to determine the date of exit of Scottish MPs from this Parliament and whether to end the service of Scots judges on the Supreme Court. However, there remains the most basic question of who speaks for whom. Who speaks for England, Northern Ireland and Wales? How do we ensure that those who are to negotiate are not compromised by conflicts of interest because they remain representatives of the Government of the UK as constituted at present?

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I should declare a further interest here, in that the outcome of these negotiations is a very particular concern, indeed an anxious concern, to everyone from Northern Ireland, with its close cultural and other ties to Scotland and its still-fragile peace process.

4.10 pm

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: My Lords, I should like to comment on four themes of the Minister’s inspiring opening speech. First, on gender-based violence, I join the noble Lord, Lord Collins, and other noble Lords in commending the Government’s excellent work, in particular that of the Foreign Secretary. As we have heard, gender-based violence is pervasive, not only in the extreme evil of wartime rape but in other appalling examples of oppression that have been mentioned, including recent incidents in Nigeria, Pakistan, Sudan, Somalia and, if I may add, the recent gang rape and subsequent hanging of three young girls in India.

Notable cases have caught public attention, but they are the tip of a dark and deadly iceberg of often hidden harm to women, part and parcel of a wider picture of human rights abuse, societal vulnerability and underdevelopment that needs our persistent attention. It is therefore good that the International Development (Gender Equality) Act 2014 now means that no matter who is in government, the Department for International Development will have a legal duty to consider gender in its decisions. However, as noted by the International Development Committee in its report last year:

“Too few DFID programmes address the underlying social norms that drive violence”.

I know that these are matters of serious concern to the Secretary of State for International Development, so it would be good to hear from the Minister what steps are planned to intensify the department’s attention to socially sanctioned gender-based violence, including the measures that are being taken to involve grassroots organisations, religious communities among them, in its programming and funding.

Secondly, on freedom of religion and belief, I am grateful for the reference made by the noble Baroness, Lady Morgan, to the persecution of Christians, but of course there are other religious groupings—Baha’is in Iran and Muslims in Burma, to name just two—that also face severe violence and the threat of violence to adhere to majority religious norms. I am very grateful for both the renewed parliamentary attention to issues of religious freedom and the commitment that the Government have shown to protecting this most basic right. However, I am concerned that the Government may be investing too much energy and expectation in the OIC-led initiative on defamation of religions. I hope that the Government are alert to the danger that the concept of defamation of religion may provide a cloak under which a state acts to repress both religions and individuals who, in expressing their own faith and belief, with no intention of offending another faith or inciting hatred, may none the less be perceived to have contravened the tenets of the majority religion.

The third theme is Syria, a land once exemplary in its religious toleration but one where women now suffer the violence of war, including sexually. Three years on, the conflict is a deadly stalemate. The Government’s efforts to alleviate humanitarian needs

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are commendable but, as they recognise, a political solution remains the only way out of this conflict. I would welcome their view on whether Friends of Syria could do more to discourage the political factionalism that has crippled the Syrian National Council and caused a dangerous separation between the external political leadership, the armed insurgency fighting on their behalf and local communities traumatised by the ravages of war. For Syria to stand a chance of a better future, the international community needs to do more to develop a bottom-up and inclusive peace process. This must include all religious communities. Their voices need to be heard, not marginalised.

Fourthly, there is the 70th anniversary of the D-day landings. I agree entirely with the noble Baroness the Minister, who said that the anniversary struck the chords that define our national identity and should determine our foreign relations: liberty for the enslaved; justice for the oppressed; prosperity and peace for all; reconciliation between enemies; a common commitment to build a better, fairer future; and a determination never to return to the horrors of war between our nations.

These are themes that we have the opportunity to celebrate again with even more vigour in 2015, when we mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the war and acknowledge the trauma of its closing months for armed personnel on every side and for the inhabitants of German and Japanese cities. They are principles of peaceful living and practices for reconciliation that address the deep causes of the oppression of women, the persecution of religious minorities, and of war itself. They give a vision for our role in the world, for which the noble Lord, Lord Triesman, called.

4.15 pm

Lord Jopling (Con): My Lords, I am reminded of how quickly things in life change. One of the most vivid political memories of my life was being at Chequers on that Sunday when Margaret Thatcher first met Mikhail Gorbachev. It was that afternoon when she said those memorable words:

“This is a man with whom I can do business”.

That meeting was the start of what brought an end to the communist-inspired Soviet Union. Now, however, having seen it collapse, we see Mr Putin making continuing efforts to put it all together again. One might say that Humpty Dumpty lives again. I wish to talk about three of his efforts to put it together, and what might be our reaction.

First, Mr Putin has been trying to create an economic Eurasian union. He has already signed up Belarus and Kazakhstan; he did that in Astana a week or two ago. Some of the previously Soviet “stans” and Armenia are already expressing interest in joining. I think it was Hillary Clinton who said, some time ago, that we ought to try to stop it, but I should like to know how we could do so. My view is that there is not much we can do if those countries are willing partners of Mr Putin.

Secondly, and much more alarming, is the way in which he is going about it by military excursions to restore parts of the old empire. He has already done so in Georgia by taking over South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which are already occupied with Russian military. I

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suppose that one of Mr Putin’s great ambitions would be to take over the rest of Georgia, and therefore to control the Caspian Sea pipelines that are not under Russian control as regards the movement of hydrocarbons to western Europe. It is crucial that he fails in whatever ambitions he has to take over the rest of Georgia. I want the Minister in the wind-up to tell us about an important situation. That country is very much hoping that, at the Welsh summit in September, NATO will grant Georgia a membership action plan—a MAP, as it is called. What is the Government’s attitude to that? It will be a difficult decision to take.

We are now faced with Mr Putin’s new incursions into Ukraine and his occupation of Crimea. I suppose Moldova and Azerbaijan could be parts of a future Russian occupation. As far as Moldova is concerned, troops are already well established in Transnistria.

In all Mr Putin’s expeditions and ambitions, the West and NATO have shown great reluctance to get involved militarily. Perhaps our decision not to get involved militarily has given Mr Putin fresh encouragement. However, what we must do regarding these military incursions is react with maximum sanctions. Russia has a weak economy and the sanctions will undoubtedly bite. I realise, of course, that some member states of the alliance are unhappy about the provision of Russian gas. It is necessary that we move, as soon as possible, towards making alternative sources of gas available in those countries where it is important.

I give one small example of sanctions. A few weeks ago in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in Riga, where I represented the United Kingdom with others in the standing committee, we agreed to throw out the Russians. We were led by an outstanding speech from Sir Menzies Campbell. A decision was taken to take away Russia’s associate status.

I come to my final point, which is the position of NATO. All our allies are protected by Article 5, which provides that an attack on one is an attack on all. There is concern about this in the Baltic states, but we must make it very clear to Mr Putin that any incursion into any NATO state would result in hard force. In the next few months, I hope that Sub-Committee C, under my noble friend Lord Tugendhat, will look into EU relations with Russia. It is one of the most important challenges that face us today.

4.22 pm

Lord Grocott (Lab): My Lords, this really is a huge, wide-ranging debate—far too wide-ranging in my view. I do not know how on earth the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wallace, will sum it all up, but I am sure all his skills will come into play. There is one thing, at least in my mind, that is very simple about today: there is one issue that is far more important than any of the others that have been discussed, and the issue we will shortly address, which is the future unity of our country.

Having said that, I suppose I should apologise in advance: that is not where I will focus my own few minutes, not least because of one of the contributions in particular, that from my noble friend Lord Reid—although there have been other very good ones as well. My noble friend has made many splendid speeches

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that I have listened to, but that one took some beating. It was on the weaknesses of the separatist case. It would certainly bear reading or re-reading, I should suggest to anyone who is thinking of doing so.

I am always amused when I hear my good friend Lord Reid speak, and I dare say I will feel similar when my noble friends Lady Liddell and Lord McFall speak. I assume they will address this issue. It is palpably ridiculous to suggest that any of those three and their predecessors, who have presumably been living under the yoke of the union, have somehow become any less Scottish or that their national identity is in any way diminished through all those years of oppression. Presumably I am one of the oppressors; I had not been aware of that, but maybe that is the case. How you can make my noble friend Lord Reid any more of a Scot than he already is is beyond me. Maybe some of the separatists could address those arguments in the period that lies ahead.

I want to use a text on other constitutional issues. My text is from the Queen’s Speech:

“My Government will continue its programme of political reform”.

What political reform? The grandiose schemes for political reform, as outlined by the Deputy Prime Minister shortly after the coalition agreement was signed, were,

“the most significant programme of empowerment by a British government since the great enfranchisement of the 19th Century. The biggest shake up of our democracy since … the Great Reform Act”.

I think that might have been a mild overstatement, but I am happy to say that his attempts at constitutional reform have been largely unsuccessful. I think, for example, of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act. Some people worked pretty hard not to get that on to the statute book. We would have saved a lot of money had people listened to us. I do not have a problem with equalising constituency sizes—that is a perfectly laudable, principled thing to do—but I do have a problem with telling the British people that at the next general election they will have only 600 and not 650 MPs. That would diminish democracy by increasing constituency sizes. I am glad at least that that has been postponed, I hope for good.

I am glad that in the end we had a referendum on the alternative-vote system. It cost £75 million, which we could have spent on other things, but at least the result was terrific and showed British support for the first past the post system. That is something we could certainly adopt for the European elections. Last month we saw the wonderful new PR system that was going to encourage people to flock to the polls as it would give them the chance to express their vote. However, yet again we saw a low turnout for a European vote. Maybe one little bit of constitutional reform that we could have would be to revert to first past the post, and perhaps then we would even get the turnout up to the 36.5% that was achieved the last time the vote was held on the first past the post basis. That would help to reconnect Europe with the people of Britain.

The other great constitutional objective was Lords reform. My word, we gave enough warnings on that, but still the Government ploughed ahead for two

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years, wasting a lot of money. I checked that in a ministerial Question. The amount was £620,000. Five to 12 civil servants worked on it flat out, all to no avail, and they could not even find an answer to the question, “What would a ‘democratically’ elected second Chamber do to relations between the two Houses?”. All the brains in the top ranks of the Civil Service and all the Ministers could not answer that fundamental question satisfactorily. That is why that reform fell and deserved to fall, and I was very pleased about that.

Given that constitutional reform did not happen at a national level, I am glad that at a local level the mayoral referendums flopped as well. They were an attempt to import some American system of government into this country. There were 10 referendums, which cost us a lot of money as well—£2.1 million. I am happy to say that in nine of those referendums the people, including the good people of Birmingham, sensibly said, “No thanks very much. We don’t want that”.

We have mentioned police and crime commissioners, but I will end on the one reform that is still, for my book, unfinished business: the fixed-term Parliaments legislation. What a disaster that has been. Here we are plodding along. If only the Prime Minister—he is not my Prime Minister, obviously—had the power to say, “Look, we’ve had enough of this. Let’s see what the people think”. However, as we did for the last six months of the previous Session, we have to plod on.

I think that the lesson on constitutional reform has been that all these grandiose schemes really were not worth the paper they were, rather expensively, written on. I am glad that there is nothing like them in the current Queen’s Speech, but I hope that future Governments learn that lesson.

4.28 pm

Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon (LD): My Lords, it is always a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Grocott, representing as he does so powerfully the radical and reformist view of the Labour Party.

Europe has been the source and fountainhead of all the really great political ideas and philosophies that we observe: democracy, liberalism, socialism and communism. I was going to say “conservatism”, but somehow I stop short of calling conservatism a political philosophy. Maybe that is wrong and I mean no insult to my coalition friends. Over time, Europe has given birth to all these great ideas that dominate our time. Seventy years ago it gave birth to another one—arguably its greatest, or at least one of its greatest.

After a thousand years of soaking our continent in blood and, by the way, exporting by proxy those wars on to other people’s territory and spilling other people’s blood elsewhere, we decided that it was time to do things in a different way—that Europe would be characterised not by war but by co-operation between the nations of Europe; that we would pool our sovereignties to give us better protection in a hostile and difficult world; and that we would call time on the theory of great powers having the right to suppress the futures and democratic will of smaller nations if they happened to fall within their spheres of influence. And so the European Union and the concept of Europe was established.

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At the very moment when each of these threats is no less and some are greater, it is curious and sad that Europe is in such disarray and the cause of Europe is threatened by those who wish to see us retreat towards European isolationism, not just in Britain but elsewhere. This country is now in danger of sleepwalking straight out of the European Union from which it can benefit so much. We should understand the reasons for that. The European Union institutions have not succeeded in taking that transcendental idea and converting it into institutions that work and are functional.

As we know, there are faults in Europe and the European Union. The Prime Minister is right that Brussels interferes far too much in our lives, but so does Westminster. That is a case for reform, not for abolition. The European Union is dysfunctional. I do not need to be told because I know: I was at the front end of the European foreign policy machine in Bosnia. I was told that trying to do things in Bosnia was like herding cats but it was not half as difficult as herding the cats behind me in Brussels. But this institution can be dysfunctional, too. That is a case for reform and not for abandonment.

The European Union is insufficiently democratic. We have failed to create a proper democratic polity, but are we in Britain able to lecture the European Union on the failure of democracy? Sometimes I find it very curious to listen to noble Lords castigating the European Union for a failure of democracy when they come from a Chamber that has no visible connection with democracy whatever. Indeed, that is a cause for reform, but it is not a cause for abolition.

There are two reasons why this idea cannot be allowed to die and why we must do whatever we can to make it functional and working. First, we live in a global world as never before. We separate domestic issues from international ones, but there is no separation: there is no longer any domestic issue that does not have an international quotient, which includes our jobs, our economy, our environment, crime on our streets and our defence. You will not achieve for the British people what you want in a globalised world unless you are prepared to have a sensible policy that gives you influence on the global world. The only way we can do that is by working with our European partners.

I am a passionate pro-European because I understand the European Union is the only way that I have any hope of delivering to the British people the things that I want them to have: that is, jobs, security and defence, and influence in the world that means that we will be able to shape the world’s institutions rather than be shaped by others. Defence, security, the environment and crime on our streets all require co-operation in the modern global world with our other partner nations.

However, there is another reason why we must set our hand to the task of reform, as the Government have done. I do not agree with the Prime Minister on everything that he says but I agree with the thrust. If we do not realise how much the terms of trade of our existence in Europe have changed in the past 10 years, we are bloody fools. We no longer have an Atlantic partner on which we can rely to be our friend in all circumstances and our defender of last resort. America

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is now looking west across the Pacific as much as east across the Atlantic. We have global economic powers which are bigger than any of the single powers of Europe. They will shape the new institutions and the trading institutions of the world for their advantage. We cannot hope to have an influence on that unless we combine with our European partners.

We now have on our eastern borders a Russian President who is prepared to use tanks and to resurrect the Brezhnev doctrine, and threatens to bring back the idea of great powers that are able to sublimate the will and freedoms of their people if they do not happen to agree with their concept of what their sphere of influence would be. We have to our south a chaotic, dangerous Maghreb and Arab world. If we do not understand that in these new changed circumstances the right reaction for Europe is to deepen the institutions of its foreign affairs, defence and political institutions, we are bloody fools.

If it is the case that we seriously believe that, in the face of these threats, the right response for our country is to retreat individually to the perfect sovereignty of corks floating around behind other people’s ocean liners, then help yourselves. But, in a very turbulent and difficult world, the decades ahead would be much more turbulent and difficult, and much less to the benefit of the people whom we are supposed to serve.

4.34 pm

Lord Kerr of Kinlochard (CB): My Lords, it is always a pleasure and a difficulty to follow the noble Lord, Lord Ashdown. I agree with much of what he said. However, I wish to address a particular issue raised by the noble Lords, Lord Jopling and Lord King, that of Ukraine. If I could catch the Minister’s attention, I would remind her that she told us in her speech that we deprecated the attack on Crimea and the destabilisation of the Donbass and that we welcomed President Poroshenko’s election. I agreed with all that. What I did not hear from her was a policy or a strategy. Sanctions are a very useful support for a strategy but not a substitute for one. I would like to hear a little more about what we are trying to achieve and how we are going about it.

Like the noble Lord, Lord King, I do not think one can approach this without talking to Mr Putin. We need to know what he wants. If Mr Putin wants to break up Ukraine, and really meant that new doctrine about Novorossiya, then there is no deal to be done. If he really means that Ukraine must have no relationship with the European Union, then there is no deal to be done. However, I do not think that even he believes that the association agreement with the European Union prevents a grown-up trade relationship between Ukraine and Russia—which of course it does not. It permits Ukraine to have as many other free trade areas as it likes, and the Russians did not object during the four years in which it was negotiated between Ukraine and the European Union. It is the customs union into which the Russians have spatchcocked Belarus and Kazakhstan that creates the incompatibility, because in that customs union those three countries—Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus—have conferred negotiating powers on the centre, and none of them can now form

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a free trade agreement with, say, Ukraine or the European Union. However, Mr Putin knows all that. I do not know what he really wants and it surely is an important policy aim to find out.

Last time we talked about Ukraine, I mentioned to the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, who presided over the debate, that it might be worth his thinking about talking to Mr Poroshenko and to Mr Putin about the precedent of the Austrian state treaty. The noble Lord gave me a rather dismissive brush-off at the time. I will just make eight quick points in the hope that his doppelganger, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wallace of Tankerness, might be prepared to ask the brilliant young women in the Box for a considered reaction this time. I apologise to the noble Baroness, Lady Falkner, for the tautology, as all young women in the Foreign Office are brilliant by definition. I will not say that all people from the Foreign Office are brilliant, for obvious reasons, but the young women are extremely brilliant.

First, the Austrians took the initiative and negotiated the treaty in 1955 with the Russians. Secondly, it was premised on the neutrality of Austria. President Poroshenko is not asking to join NATO, although he is saying that he wants Ukraine to join the European Union one day. Thirdly, it guaranteed the rights of the minority communities in Austria. Fourthly, it prohibited Nazi organisations. Fifthly, it left Austria free to negotiate its own external relations, and 40 years later Austria joined the European Union. Sixthly, it prohibited foreign troop deployments or bases, and 40,000 Soviet troops left within a month. Seventhly, outside powers, including us, were brought in as guarantors and nobody lost face. Eighthly, it worked—to the benefit of Austria and all of us.

If Mr Poroshenko means what he said in his inauguration speech, the points that he raised would be covered in an agreement along the lines of the Austrian state treaty. And it seems not inconceivable that even Mr Putin might be prepared to accept that he could follow a precedent set by Mr Molotov. This is a shot in the dark—I do not know—and there may be many better ways of achieving conflict prevention and resolution in Ukraine. However, we have to try. It is not enough to threaten and say, again and again, “There will be consequences”. We need to talk to the Russians, talk to the Ukrainians and see whether a solution can be brought about. That is my recommendation.

4.40 pm

Baroness Liddell of Coatdyke (Lab): My Lords, my noble friend Lord Grocott knows me only too well. I would love to put in my tuppenceworth on Ukraine and the EU but I have a distinct sense that my country needs me at the moment—but maybe it thinks otherwise.

In his excellent contribution, the noble Lord, Lord Hennessy, said that there was a sense of a creeping estrangement within the United Kingdom, largely because of what was happening in Scotland. He is absolutely right and I had intended to raise his concept of a constitutional convention in the course of my remarks today. We have a situation in Scotland where there are now proposals from the three main parties on further

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devolution. The time is right to re-establish the Scottish constitutional convention to bring in civic Scotland, secular Scotland, religious Scotland and political Scotland together to look at how we move to the next stage of devolution. However, there are many other issues that we have to address and this sense of estrangement really troubles me.

In his excellent speech, my noble friend Lord Reid referred to something that has happened in the past 24 hours—a vicious attack on a young woman, Clare Lally, who had the temerity to voice the arguments for Scotland remaining in the United Kingdom. Part of the campaign against Ms Lally came from someone who, it turns out, is a special adviser to the First Minister, Alex Salmond, someone paid for by the taxpayer. Mr Gunn, a former journalist, has now apologised to Ms Lally but we now know that the social media campaign against her has been so vicious that she has been reduced to tears. She is the mother of two, one of whom is disabled, and she is a carer of the year. Sometimes when you hold high office you have to show leadership. The First Minister has to show leadership—he needs to sack this man. It is a test not only of Mr Salmond as First Minister but of Mr Salmond the man.

Some of us learnt today that JK Rowling has made a donation of £1 million to the no campaign. Set that against the £5.5 million donated to the yes campaign by a couple who won £161 million in the Euro lottery. The reason I mention Ms Rowling is that if anyone looks at the Twitter feed today they will be appalled. I cannot repeat some of the things that have been said. It contains words that I have never used nor ever will use. The politest—and I apologise to your Lordships’ if I cause offence—is where what purports to be a Scottish charity tweets that JK Rowling is a bitch for her Better Together campaign donation. This is a shame on my country and I am appalled. I urge the First Minister to stand up for the decent people of Scotland who will have nothing to do with this.

Turning to some of the other issues, I am not used to buying men’s magazines but I did buy GQ—partly to see what Mr Salmond had said about Vladimir Putin. However, I came across something even more interesting. Mr Salmond has said that, apart from going into monetary union with sterling, there is no plan B. In the GQ article he says that not only does he have a plan B but a plan C, D, E and F. Why are we not being told what plans B, C, D, E and F are? He was challenged two weeks ago to give his figures for the costs of starting up a new machinery of government in Scotland. He plucked out of the air the figure of £200 million. Well, tell that to the Department for Work and Pensions, which spent that much just on the pilot for universal credit. We need answers. It is insulting to the people of Scotland not to give us answers to these questions.

It has already been said by the three main parties that there will be no sterling union. Of course there will be no sterling union. It would be absurd for the rest of the UK to be prepared to bail out a foreign country, which is what Scotland would become, with a liability in its banking sector that is 12.5 times its GDP. I do not mis-speak: it is 12.5 times GDP. That

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would be barking mad. What is more, it would not be independence. The truly independent way is to have our own currency with our own monetary and fiscal policy and our own exchange rate. We need the truth and we need answers.

I would love to go on for longer, but come 18 September, I will be delighted if I do not have to raise this issue in your Lordships’ House again. I believe that the antipathy, anger, venom and bile that we are experiencing in this campaign, largely but not exclusively from the cybernats and from those in the yes campaign, is a sign that the people of Scotland realise that we are proud Scots who can make our contribution to the United Kingdom, have made our contribution to the United Kingdom and will, please God, continue to do so.

4.46 pm

Lord Alderdice (LD): My Lords, in the debate on the Queen’s Speech last year, I said:

“Unless those of us who are pro-Europe are able to convince the rest of our colleagues in Europe to take seriously what needs to be done”—

on a series of issues—

“our people will not be persuaded that Europe is a viable entity”.—[

Official Report

, 15/5/13; col. 441.]

That would be the ultimate tragedy. We have not succeeded, and I think that we have not even gone the right way about trying to persuade our people. All the talk of jobs, the economy, currencies and our standing in the world is not very persuasive, and furthermore it was not the purpose of the European project. The European project was to ensure that we did not go back to killing each other, as one of my noble friends said earlier in this debate.

I find it astonishing that during a period when we have centenaries and other anniversaries to remind us of what we did to each other in Europe in the last century, we seem to have failed completely to address the need to connect the young people of this generation not just with the sacrifices made by those of previous generations, but with the reason for those sacrifices, and thus the reason that the European project is crucial to ensuring that the next generation does not have to make the same kinds of sacrifice all over again. I plead with the Government to look again at the approach they have taken to the European question and to recognise the tremendous opportunity not to use these anniversaries, but to acknowledge that they are being commemorated to ensure that we do not return to war again.

However, it will not be enough just to persuade and argue. For us to attack Mr Putin or other parties is completely futile. We threaten that all sorts of dreadful things will happen, but we do not make the materiel available to ensure that we could do anything. A week or so ago I came back from Helsinki. My friends there are increasingly worried that while NATO can make all sorts of promises about what it might do, it does not have the capacity to intervene anywhere at all from the military point of view—and Mr Putin knows that perfectly well. There is no evidence that anyone in Europe is taking this seriously. We have less and less capacity to defend ourselves without our American friends, so are we taking it seriously?

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Last year, I spoke of the Middle East and said:

“I desperately hope that when we come to debate the Queen’s Speech next year we will not do so in the context of some kind of catastrophic conflagration that has developed from the situation in the Middle East, because we are perilously close to it”.—[Official Report, 15/5/13; col. 442.]

The word “conflagration” is precisely the one that was used by my noble friend Lord King of Bridgwater. He pointed out that the danger is not just in the Middle East itself. He said that it is from Mumbai to Mali. He is right, but Mumbai and Mali are not just “over there” faraway places: they are here in our own towns and cities, where many people look at what is happening to their friends, families and co-religionists and feel moved to act and react. This is not a question simply of foreign policy; it is increasingly a question of domestic policy. If we do not find ways of paying more attention to how we deal with these matters, we will be facing them in an increasingly serious and dangerous way.

Finally, I turn to Scotland and Northern Ireland. If the First Minister, Mr Salmond, has his way, Scotland will be a separate country and, if he has his way, a part of the EU. If Scotland were to leave the United Kingdom, the possibility of a referendum within the United Kingdom to leave the EU would be much greater, in my view. The border between England and Scotland would become not just an English-Scottish border but an EU border. Furthermore, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland—a border we have increasingly been trying to address through the peace process, to make it more open to people—would become an EU border. Whatever the consequences may be on this side of the water, I have to tell your Lordships of my anxiety about what developments of that kind would do to a fragile peace process on my side of the water within the United Kingdom. These are serious issues as well, so serious that they are not simply matters of the Scots and for the Scots—they affect all of us.

All these issues are related. UKIP is not a United Kingdom issue: look at the results of the elections in the rest of Europe and you will see other parties with similar unpleasant, xenophobic, racist attitudes developing in other parts of the European Union. This blowing apart, this mood that is developing of being against the other and turning in on oneself, is not a local matter, it is not a national matter, it is not even just a European matter, but it is a matter that could take us down the road to serious violence, for which I believe we are ill prepared.

It worries me greatly that with matters of this consequence, our Government decide that we should have a one-day debate with more than 80 speakers to address these issues, which could take us down a road leading we know not where. I hope that my ministerial friend will be able to tell us at the end of today that we will have the kind of time that our Government need to take the advice of your Lordships’ House on matters of this danger and consequence.

4.52 pm

Lord Hylton (CB): My Lords, I should like to move the focus towards Israel and Palestine, where the merciless blockade of Gaza continues, while east Jerusalem and

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the West Bank remain under occupation and colonial settlements grow daily, in direct contravention of international law. The failure of the Kerry round of negotiations must mean that that drift cannot continue indefinitely. Nearly 50 years of occupation is unacceptable, as is the failure to provide a decent future for the many Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. The status quo is not in the interests of Israel and its neighbours, or of the so-called international community.

That the status quo is unacceptable is not just my opinion. It was stated very clearly by Pope Francis during his recent visit to the Middle East. The Arab League realised this 12 years ago. It is high time that the rest of the world came to that conclusion. Israel could be a partner and a technological guide to the whole region, but for that to happen it will have to change its policies radically. I urge the United States, the EU and all other states of good will to help Israel to make the necessary change of direction. Zionism can no longer aspire to own the whole of mandated Palestine.

On the Palestinian side, I am glad to say that there is some good news. Very recently, the Palestine Liberation Organisation and Hamas reached a reconciliation agreement. This, therefore, was more than an agreement between Fatah and Hamas. The PLO claims to speak for the whole Palestinian people and will be able to do so more convincingly as the agreement is implemented. I was interested that the PLO delegation included my acquaintance and friend, Dr Mustafa Barghouti. He established the Palestinian Health Ministry and represents a non-aligned and non-sectarian part of public opinion. What is more, he is totally committed to non-violence.

The Hamas delegation included the Prime Minister and others who have worked hard to maintain successive ceasefires in Gaza. Cynics may say that there have been previous agreements and that they have not worked. On the contrary, this agreement, the text of which I have seen, builds on the Doha declaration and the Cairo agreement. It contains seven points, the second of which provides for a Government of national consensus. This has now been formed as a caretaker to prepare and oversee elections within six months. There will be a legislature for the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, a President and the Palestinian National Council. The remaining points deal with the implementation of the earlier agreements.

The agreement acknowledges the help given by the Government of Egypt, but we should note that this agreement was not made under intense external pressure, as happened before. The agreement will help to reduce the huge disparity in power that harmed previous Palestine-Israel negotiations. The elections will give democratic legitimacy to a new Government and answer the taunts that Israel has no valid interlocutor.

I therefore ask Her Majesty’s Government: what is their response to the Palestinian agreement and the new Government? Some in Israel and in Congress have condemned it unseen and unheard. I urge Ministers to remember the missed opportunities of the past. Will they give this new departure their fullest support? It certainly deserves it.

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4.57 pm

Lord Naseby (Con): My Lords, first, I compliment her Majesty’s Treasury on what it has achieved for our economy; secondly, I compliment those associated with welfare reform, in particular, my noble friend Lord Freud, on what his department has achieved.

I wish I could say that I complimented her Majesty’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, but I regret that I am not in a position to do so. I did not support our actions in Libya or our manoeuvrings in Egypt. I was totally against our policy in Syria, and wrote to the Prime Minister accordingly. All those actions have just destabilised that part of the world—and, worse, caused thousands of deaths and millions of refugees. The Syria war was from the start nothing to do with democracy; it was the fourth Sunni-Shia internal war. If we really want peace there, Her Majesty’s Government have to find a means of talking to and working with Mr Putin and Russia.

It will not surprise your Lordships that I want to say a few words about Sri Lanka. I have been involved with that country for more than 50 years, and I think I know its ins and outs pretty well. I am the elected leader of the all-party group. I do not support any particular ethnic group, political party or Government. I have no business interests there—but I do fervently support the ordinary people in Sri Lanka and I wish to ask a few questions of Her Majesty’s Government.

First, Sri Lanka—a former colony, a founder member of the Commonwealth and one of the few countries that supported the United Kingdom over the Falklands situation—finds today that we, the United Kingdom, are exceedingly unhelpful to it. Why is it that we are so anti the democratically elected Government? Why can we not work with them? Why at every turn must we just listen to the vociferous diaspora, which is usually led by former Tamil Tigers? Why do we not understand that the Tigers were terrorists who murdered every moderate Tamil leader they could find, along with two presidents and thousands of other Sri Lankans—all in the cause of a separate state called Eelam. It was rather similar to Pol Pot.

Can we not understand that after 28 years of fruitless negotiations, it was necessary for a new, democratically elected Government to act to destroy the Tigers? Yes, that meant a bloody war, as the Tigers refused to surrender. However, I know that that Government tried hard to minimise casualties. Why do we refuse to publish the dispatches from our own defence attaché, who was an objective assessor? Why do we think that the Sri Lankan army, which we helped to train, is so different from our own Army? After all, there were allegations against our Army in Iraq, as there were against the Sri Lankan army. I think that in both cases they were highly suspect. Certainly in the case of Iraq, they proved to be bogus.

Do I think that there should be an inquiry into the final days of the war? Yes, I do, but it should be a military inquiry, because all the argument is basically about gunfire et cetera. A retired general should conduct it, perhaps from Australia. There is a wonderful Sri Lankan, Sir Desmond de Silva, who has done splendid

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work in Northern Ireland. There would need to be a gunnery officer, probably from the UK, and obviously somebody from the UN.

It is claimed that the whole issue is about human rights, but I will take just one aspect. I saw the head of the ICRC in Boossa camp and asked him, “Have you, the International Committee of the Red Cross, ever come across terror as defined internationally?”. The answer I got was, “No, I have not and nor have my staff”. How is it, then, that this new group called Freedom from Torture can come up and say that it is rife?

I make a plea that we should work diplomatically with Sri Lanka. That may mean a slightly less subservient approach to the Tamil diaspora and the media around the world. It will mean that the reconciliation, which is already happening, will be speeded up. In what way? They have been very brave in bringing forward trilingualism, which is quite an achievement. Thousands of Tamils have gone back from all over the world to Sri Lanka and settled down quite peacefully. There is total freedom of movement in the country and while there is a lot of criticism of the press, there is actually more freedom of the press in Sri Lanka than in Singapore. Certainly, the LLRC inquiry is slow—but not half as slow as Chilcot has been.

I finish on this note. Over the weekend, I sat and listened to the words of President Obama. He said that we,

“waged war so that we might know peace”.

Why is it any different in Sri Lanka, where so many thousands of young men and women across all ethnic groups gave their lives to rid their country of terrorism?

5.03 pm

Lord McFall of Alcluith (Lab): My Lords, my speech on the Scottish issue will be vigorous and a statistics-free zone. While I recognise the centrality of the economy—not least the currency, which I have mentioned previously—I want to focus on what we have built together these past 307 years and what we may lose if we wake up as foreigners to each other on 19 September. Have no doubt that both of us will be diminished: Scotland in terms of its trade and investment, prosperity and security, and the rest of the United Kingdom in its global authority and position in the world—not least with multinational bodies—and its leadership role, where it has been a beacon as a liberal and harmonious society to many developing and emerging countries.

My simple message today is that all of us need to engage in the national conversation, where warmth and friendship dominate. Let us minimise the abuse and the bitterness so eloquently expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Liddell, who mentioned the abuse encountered by JK Rowling and Clare Lally, a former constituent of mine. We need to elevate this discussion to include what is good, valued and treasured in our relationship in which we have worked together for more than 300 years. However, being Scots, reality must prevail. In my view Simon Schama correctly assessed the situation when he wrote in an article in the Financial Times a couple of weeks ago that the UK is a,

“splendid mess of a union”,

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but one which we tear asunder at our peril. He went on to assert that there will be,

“incredulous sorrow at the loss of our common home … A psychological wound will open that is unlikely to heal for a very long time”.

Why should there be sorrow? It is because we have seen the friendships enabled by the union outweigh its enmities. That great Scot Adam Smith introduced a concept of sympathy in 1759 in TheTheory of Moral Sentiments which he defined as the capacity to enter into an experience of someone not necessarily like you. In his opinion this was the fundamental principle around which just societies, as well as rich ones, evolved. That has been the history of the United Kingdom.

The very exciting Scottish actor James McAvoy appeared on the “The Andrew Marr Show” two weeks ago. He would not be drawn on how he would vote but in my view he went to the core of the issue when he said that if it matters to your heart and you look at yourself in the mirror and it is important to be separate from people down the road, then you should vote for independence. Therefore, if one needs to jettison the unionist part of one’s soul in order fully to express one’s Scottishness, the only option is to vote yes. However, most of us are content to live with our multilayered identities. Indeed, even Alex Salmond stated as late as January this year that being British was part of his identity.

All my life I have been resident in Scotland but I have lived in England and Ireland and have visited Wales many times. Never have I felt that I was among others who differed fundamentally from me in terms of culture and values. I was struck by differences in background, wealth and political philosophy but those same differences exist within Scotland as they do elsewhere.

The noble Lord, Lord Parekh, who has first-hand knowledge of colonialism in India, and, indeed, is a former professor of Glasgow University, expressed the issue succinctly in a previous debate when he described the UK as a liberal democracy and,

“a beautiful synthesis of English liberalism and the Scottish sense of community and solidarity”.—[

Official Report

, 30/1/14; col. 1422.]

The First Minister has said:

“Scotland is not oppressed and we have no need to be liberated”.

He also said:

“Ours is a lucky nation, blessed with natural resources, bright people and a united society. We have an independent education system, legal system and NHS. They are respected worldwide”.

I say “hear, hear” to that. The question I ask Mr Salmond is, “Why divorce?”. Has any of us experienced a painless or good divorce? Absolutely not, so why are we going through this possibly painful experience?

In his poem Mending Wall, the eminent US poet Robert Frost wrote:

“Before I built a wall I’d ask to know

What I was walling in or walling out,And to whom I was like to give offence”.

We are all walled in presently but, before we wall some out and perhaps needlessly give offence, we need to converse about our common home—the UK—in order that we continue to walk together rather than walking apart and ensure that on 19 September we will engage as fellow citizens rather than as foreigners.

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5.09 pm

Lord Taverne (LD): My Lords, there are many achievements of the coalition that are to its credit, but not the Prime Minister’s policy towards Europe and, in particular, his commitment to a referendum in 2017. Its folly was exposed in a debate in this House in January, when we debated the Private Member’s Bill on a referendum. What is the policy and what has been Mr Cameron’s strategy? It is for a major repatriation of powers, which would involve treaty change, and after a new deal had been done that would be submitted to a referendum in 2017. I apologise for repeating some of the arguments made in January, but they were never answered and they are of extreme importance.

In 2017, it would be the referendum year and so not exactly the year in which to conclude a very difficult deal. The process of negotiation was completely ignored: there would first need to be a vote for a convention, then there would have to be a unanimous vote for an intergovernmental conference and anything that it unanimously recommended as a deal would have to be ratified by the different countries, in many cases by a referendum. There is not a cat’s chance in hell of achieving all this within two and a half years of the next election, so what would happen? In March, to his credit, the Prime Minister somewhat modified his aims in an article in the Daily Telegraph in order to avoid a treaty change and some of the difficulties mentioned.

There are two obstacles to his policy now. The first question is whether the Conservative Party, which especially after the next election is likely to be even more anti-European or Europhobe than many of its members are now, would accept the modified proposal and less ambitious aims. Secondly, the timetable problem will not in any way be resolved, because there cannot be a special deal for Britain only. It would have to be a Europe-wide deal. There is no support whatever in any country for a special deal for Britain.

It is true that there are many people who want changes in Europe. The difficulty is that they all want rather different changes. To take one small example, Sweden wants to repeal the ban on chewing tobacco and the restoration of wolves. More seriously, the French want more protection for their agriculture and, generally, not more free trade and they are very set on a social Europe, whereas many people want to modify, for example, the working time directive. The five years it took to secure our budget rebate after hard negotiation would be a doddle compared to getting 28 nations together to agree a new deal for Europe.

Further, the Prime Minister needs allies, because he has a lot of support for some of the things he seeks, and he has consistently made difficulties for allies so that they can hardly support us. He gratuitously alienated the Poles, the Romanians and the Bulgarians, and he has made life very difficult for Angela Merkel because he keeps threatening that if we do not get what we want, we will leave, and more and more voices are being raised in Europe which say, “If you threaten to leave, for God’s sake go. Good riddance”.

What then would be the consequence if there was no deal or only a cosmetic deal of the kind which the Conservative Party after 2015 is unlikely to accept? The result would be that, if there is a Conservative

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overall majority at the next election, the odds are on exit because if Cameron, despite not having a deal, says he will still recommend that we stay in, the party would replace him with a more Europhobe Prime Minister. If he has changed his mind, as sometimes he has hinted, and would then say we should leave, what would be the result? The odds would then be on exit because you would have an anti-European Government, a stridently hostile anti-European press and a significant UKIP influence. That would be completely different from the situation in 1975, when all three parties were united in favour of staying in, the press was in favour of staying in and there was no mood of poisonous xenophobia created by UKIP.

The issue is not the principle of a referendum, because the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats are in favour of a referendum if there is a major treaty change and a new deal has been reached. Then it should be put to the people because we will know what sort of Europe we are asked to stay in or leave. What I do not understand is why pro-Europeans ignore these arguments. The principle is not that of the referendum but of the question of timing.

5.15 pm

Lord Alton of Liverpool (CB): My Lords, the Government and the Foreign Secretary deserve to be congratulated for the commitment that they have made to combating violence against women. The House can take real pride in the role that the Minister of State, the noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, has taken in demonstrating that gender, talent and faith can be great assets while holding high office.

How very different the situation is in Nigeria, where Boko Haram—which means “eradicate western education”—can abduct and kill with impunity. How very different the situation is in Sudan, which incarcerates a woman and sentences her to death on trumped-up charges of adultery and apostasy. How very different the situation is in Pakistan, where a brave and courageous schoolgirl, Malala Yousafzai, was shot for defying the Taliban’s opposition to education for girls; a country disfigured by honour killings, blasphemy laws and impunity in the face of the assassination of its courageous Minister for Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti, whose killers have still not been brought to justice.

The jihadists, from Boko Haram to Omar al-Bashir, the President of Sudan, who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, hold a common, distorted ideology, which festers in poverty, hates difference and exploits grievance. For majorities, such as women, or for followers of minority faiths, life is often a living hell. Last week, the charity Open Doors said that, today, one Christian is martyred every three hours. On 31 May, the Times, in a powerful leading article, said:

“Western politicians until now have been reluctant to speak out … We cannot be spectators at this carnage”.

When they are not being murdered, they are being forced to pay extortionate jizya tax—protection money—to leave or to die, like the two men who were recently crucified by ISIS in Syria. I was given an account only today from Syrian refugees who are in Jordan, unable to pay a ransom. The head of the family was kidnapped and executed.

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Last night, as we heard from the noble Lord, Lord King, and my noble and gallant friend Lord Stirrup, Mosul fell to ISIS. Not surprisingly, overnight, 120,000 Christians were reported to have fled from Mosul to the plains of Nineveh. When he comes to reply, I hope that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wallace of Tankerness, will tell us what is being done to protect those people who are fleeing from the depredations of ISIS.

I also hope that the noble and learned Lord will update us on the plight of the 276 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram in April in north-east Nigeria, along with 20 more women abducted this week. I hope that he will also answer the question left partially unanswered yesterday when I raised the case of Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese woman sentenced to 100 lashes and execution, and forced to give birth while shackled in her prison cell. I asked if we would unambiguously offer Meriam Ibrahim and her two little ones asylum and refugee status in this country, demonstrating our values against the values of those who have perpetrated what, for me, is the real crime.

Sudan’s archaic, cruel and medieval laws have also led to Intisar Sharif Abdallah being sentenced to death by stoning and to Lubna Hussein being sentenced to lashing for dressing indecently—that is, for wearing trousers. According to Al-Jazeera, in Sudan in one recent year, 43,000 women were publicly flogged. As we have seen in Darfur, where an additional 600,000 IDPs in the past year have brought the number of displaced people to more than 2.2 million, and in the genocidal campaign in South Kordofan, this is a corrupt Government which uses Sharia to prey on the weak and to kill its own people.

Three months ago, Sudan suspended the work of the International Committee of the Red Cross. In April, it expelled a senior official of the United Nations. When did we last raise these questions in the Security Council? This, after all, is a country which signed up to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is not worth the paper on which it is written as far as Sudan is concerned. We have to be clear about the implications when a radicalised view of Islam comes to prevail and when democracy, modernity and secularism are seen as spectres—the implications are there of course for the United Kingdom too.

The noble Baroness represents an alternative approach based on plurality, tolerance, decency and common humanity. I have previously argued in your Lordships’ House that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights should be at the heart of such an approach and, indeed, of our foreign policy, and should inform every aspect of the positions that we strike. The implementation of the declaration should be the goal of our foreign policy and a condition of both aid and support.

I will end with one final example. I have chaired the All-Party Group on North Korea for 10 years. Earlier this year, the United Nations commission of inquiry, chaired by Mr Justice Kirby, said of North Korea:

“The gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a State that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world”.

If that is so, why have we done nothing so far to ensure that the findings in that commission of inquiry report have been laid before the Security Council?

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5.20 pm

Lord Carlile of Berriew (LD): My Lords, the European Union does not help itself by issuing pettifogging regulations on the roundness of oranges or the shape of tomatoes, nor by its burgeoning bureaucracy. For the future, its leadership must mirror its membership. It is not acceptable in the present economic climate—at least in mainland Europe—that the President of the Commission should be without direct experience of a complex, mixed economy. But whoever the leaders of Europe are, they must be sensitive to the recent rise of nationalism, racism and other prejudice.

My sister Renata Calverley’s book, Let Me Tell You a Story, published last year, is her searing recollection of her extraordinary survival as a two to seven year-old child fugitive, hiding from the Nazis in Poland day by day and just about surviving. Families such as ours were more than decimated by the Second World War—by prejudice, totalitarianism and nationalism. However, unlike my sister, I was born after the Second World War, and I have never had to do military service in any form, save as a less than distinguished army cadet at school. I have had over 65 peaceful years—and why is that? It is because—and we should remember this as central to the reasons for having the European Union—the United Kingdom, Germany, France, the Netherlands and now Poland, the country we let down the most in the 1930s, and other countries, are part of the same political organisation. We share and solve issues together and confront nationalism and prejudice. Those are the vials that contain the precious essence of our past and future security. As the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, said earlier, of course we should reform the European Union on its merits. However, we abandon the European Union at our peril and at the risk of European peace and security.

I turn to Iran and Iraq—the register refers to my interests in this connection. Iran has committed more human rights violations this year than ever before. President Rouhani and the theocratic mullahs he serves routinely execute—in public and usually from cranes—people who do no more than I am about to do now: question my own Government’s policy. The mullahs exert sinister and sometimes dominant influence on the disastrously falling Government of Iraq; we read today of terrorists marching towards Baghdad. That has led to the abandonment of any pretence of protection in Iraq for the Iranian opposition resident in Camp Liberty. Murder and deprivation are now regularly imposed upon Camp Liberty, and the state of Iran is behind it.

My point for the Minister is that it is unprincipled and unwise to decouple human rights from nuclear issues in talks with Iran. Iran is a rogue state—we should not forget that. Rouhani is no Gorbachev, though there are some world leaders who appear to believe that he is. Without a clear demonstration of change in their approach to political and religious freedoms, those who rule Iran must not be trusted in any other sphere, including the nuclear. As I said earlier, we abandon Europe at our peril, but in relation to Iran and Iraq we abandon principle at the price of innocent lives.

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5.25 pm

Lord Low of Dalston (CB): My Lords, it will be immediately evident to your Lordships that I am not the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich. I am grateful to the noble Earl and the Whips’ Office for accommodating my need to be elsewhere when I would have come up for my original turn on the speakers list.

I am pleased to follow so many powerful speeches urging a stand against barbarism in other parts of the world, and that I am able for once to make a speech that welcomes the course of government policy and action. Two months ago, on 10 April, the International Development Select Committee published its 11th report on disability and development. For too long disability has been overlooked in the UK’s and other countries’ international aid and humanitarian efforts, so I very much welcome the report. Its recommendations are comprehensive and far-reaching and I very much hope that the Government will respond positively to them. This is an opportunity for the UK Government once again to show leadership in the field of international development by supporting people who are frequently the most deprived and marginalised.

I have been heartened to see the lead being given by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for International Development, Lynne Featherstone, to ensure that disabled people are included in all development programmes being led and funded by DfID. Her announcements on funding the construction of accessible schools only and on taking the lead on addressing the need for more data on disability globally are a most welcome start.

As your Lordships will know, we are at a crucial moment for development as Governments debate a post-2015 development framework to replace the current millennium development goals. I very much welcome the ways in which the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for International Development are continuing to champion the call for a transformative shift in post-2015 development whereby no one is left behind by insisting that targets are considered achieved only if they are met for all relevant income and social groups. The prioritisation of disabled people in development programmes is crucial to ending poverty. As the Select Committee says, development goals will remain out of reach unless we urgently step up our work on disability.

I believe that it is essential for the UK as a world leader in development to lead by example in inclusive development, responding positively to the Select Committee’s recommendations and making immediate plans to implement more ambitious disability inclusion. I encourage the Government to continue advocating for this transformative shift as discussions on post-2015 development continue in the UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development and at the General Assembly in September.

With the general election on the horizon, I agree with the committee that DfID should move quickly to put in place a cross-cutting disability strategy to ensure that the increased focus on inclusion is embedded for the long term, even as key individuals move on. The strategy should be developed in consultation with disabled people and their representative organisations in lower-income and middle-income countries, and

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should embrace the principles and commitments contained in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The strategy should be published with clear objectives and timescales, supported by a larger team of specialists and by strong reporting processes at DfID. We have seen clearly with DfID’s important focus on women and girls that a sustained strategic focus by the UK on the most marginalised can have a transformative impact and influence other donors and developing-country Governments.

The Select Committee has recommended that a larger team be put in place with a director-level sponsor, a wider network to champion disability in country offices, basic training for all DfID staff and strong reporting processes to ensure accountability and that the commitment can be sustained even as Governments change and key individuals move on.

As the report recommends, DfID should choose one or two substantial sectors and a small number of countries to focus on initially. Given my work as president of the International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment and my role as vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Education for All—and I declare an interest in that regard—your Lordships will not be surprised to hear me say that I urge DfID to prioritise education, given how fundamental education is to poverty reduction and given the leadership position that the UK already has on aid to education. However, this needs to be set out within a long-term timetable, showing how DfID will expand from this focused approach to more sectors and countries in due course to achieve progressively the full inclusion of disabled people in all UK aid programmes.

The report notes that education for disabled children is a complex area and that one size does not necessarily fit all. It recommends that forthcoming guidance on inclusive education should take a nuanced approach. I support this, but also urge the department and Ministers not to let complexity or imperfect data stand in the way of urgently needed action. Great progress can be made for disabled people, even as evidence and approaches are being refined. I therefore urge the Government to accept the International Development Select Committee’s recommendation that DfID should not let imperfect data stand in the way and should set challenging milestones for implementing large-scale programmes and reporting results disaggregated by disability in annual reviews, project completion reviews and logframes.

In conclusion, I congratulate the Government on the progress that they have made so far to include disabled people within their programmes. I now call on them to take the report of the International Development Select Committee seriously and announce a plan for a disability strategy and a larger team to make provision for inclusive development a reality.

5.31 pm

Lord Davies of Stamford (Lab): My Lords, two grave events have occurred so far this year, the full import of which has not yet been fully appreciated, which threaten in its very foundations the international system with which we have become familiar and have probably taken for granted over the past decades. The

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Russian annexation of Crimea is the first occasion since the Second World War when frontiers have been changed in Europe by force. It is the first occasion for 50 years that that has occurred anywhere in the world, including outside Europe. I do not need to remind the House of the two occasions when an attempt was made to change frontiers by force, opposed very successfully and bravely by British forces—in the Falklands and, later on, in Kuwait. That is a position that we now face, and we have to ask ourselves what kind of precedent and uncertainties are being created and how the rest of the world will react to these new circumstances and new precedent.

The second grave event is the fact that a British guarantee has been clearly and openly violated—again, apparently, entirely with impunity. We and the United States were both signatories to the 1994 agreement guaranteeing the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, which has clearly been gravely breached by the annexation of Crimea. In this country, we used to take our guarantees extremely seriously. The House will recall that we went to war in August 1914, in accordance with the guarantee that we had given to Belgium under the Treaty of London. We went to war in September 1939, in accordance with the guarantee that we had given to Poland some six months earlier. We have to ask ourselves how seriously we, let alone anyone else, will take British guarantees in future. These are incredibly serious matters.

Of course, I do not suggest that the position created by Mr Putin’s aggression is entirely analogous with that of the outbreak of the two world wars. No historical circumstances are entirely analogous anywhere—that is quite clear. But unlike the Germans in the two world wars and unlike the Soviet Union in the invasion of Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan, Mr Putin did not just send his tanks or aircraft crudely across the frontier; he used much more subtle means. He displayed his training as a KGB officer, using absolutely brilliantly a mixture of subversion, infiltration and black propaganda. The very close analogy in my view is with the Sudetenland and Czechoslovakia in 1938. That was a time when Hitler was still quite cautious before he had become overconfident. He and Henlein were able to subvert Czechoslovakia, again by playing on the nationalism of the German-speaking Sudetens, and on the international sense of guilt about Germany having suffered unduly under the Treaty of Versailles. I had a terrible sense of déjà vu when I listened to the noble Lord, Lord King, talking about how we had not been sympathetic enough to Russia in recent years. Hitler’s 1938 aggression was enormously successful and very subtle, and six months after annexing the Sudetenland, with international acquiescence, he was able to take over Bohemia and Moravia and turn them into a German protectorate—and Slovakia became an independent country.

We are now facing a period of uncertainty in which many people, not just Mr Putin but others as well, will be looking for the weaknesses in the international system—how the rules have changed and how they might get away with what they had previously never considered possible. In other words, the system is under test. Our international system is under probe.

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The Chinese, who have recently been extraordinarily aggressive with their neighbours, will be watching events extremely carefully and drawing conclusions from all that.

What should we do? We need to do three things. First, we need to decide on the situation that we face, which I have just described. Secondly, we need to take a view on where Mr Putin is going immediately from here. I think that he is likely to want to embed his gains by doing a deal with the West on the basis of the neutralisation of Ukraine. That may be on the analogy of the Austrian state treaty, as the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, suggested, or perhaps on the analogy of Finland in Cold War days under Presidents Paasikivi and Kekkonen. The neutralisation of Ukraine is not in itself bad, but it would be appalling if it was imposed by the West on Ukraine. What a gruesome and dreadful situation we would find ourselves facing if we in the West accepted that Crimea could exercise the right of self-determination to join Russia but Ukraine could not exercise the right of self-determination democratically to join NATO or the EU if it subsequently wanted to do so. We should not go down that road. Thirdly, we should prepare ourselves for the worst. We should consider imposing effective sanctions. We need to look very carefully at what might happen if we were to impose serious economic sanctions. I have previously suggested sanctions directed at the Russian banks.

We should certainly reverse our cuts in defence spending. In this respect, I totally endorse the powerful case made by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Stirrup, and my noble friend Lord West. We and the rest of the European Union have been disgracefully cutting our defence spending for years while Putin has been increasing his, year by year, by substantial percentages. By doing what we have been doing, we could not have been sending a more effective signal of our abdication. We must reverse that position. We must also support Ukraine concretely. We should provide arms, training and intelligence support. That is enormously important.

We in the European Union need to reduce our energy dependence on Russian natural gas. I am glad that moves have been made in that direction in terms of putting LNG capability in Germany. We need to look again at putting in pipelines to bring natural gas from Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan, without passing through Russia. That will be expensive, but if we and the European Union have to use public funds, that would be a good insurance premium to pay.

Finally—I know that this will be very controversial in the House—this is the moment when we need to make some progress towards a common foreign and defence policy in the European Union. It should be on the basis of every country being committed to spending 2% of its GDP on defence. This needs to be on an EU-wide basis because there are four neutral EU countries that are not members of NATO. We want to get away from the “free rider” issue and the idea that some countries can take their defence for granted. We need to make sure that we do what the Americans have for a long time been calling on us to do: become capable of taking on a greater defence burden ourselves. On that basis, we shall strengthen our solidarity with

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the United States and increase our credibility in the world, which so badly needs restoring after the events of the past few months.

5.39 pm

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer (LD): My Lords, the gracious Speech mentioned continuing work on the issue of Iran and nuclear weapons. That is an important but only small part of the nuclear weapons challenge. The gracious Speech was silent on the fact that all the work to go into the next Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, which will take place in May 2015, needs to take place this year. The NPT is an opportunity that comes up every five years for the world to take a step away from the abyss. We have heard a lot today about instability and conflagration; that has been painted very vividly in this Chamber. If noble Lords take into account that proliferation is a fact of life as well, they will see that we really need this NPT to succeed.

One of the inadvertent consequences of fixed-term Parliaments for the UK is that, as in 2010, the next conference will fall at election time. The preparations for the 2010 conference were very thorough. The UK went into it with a constructive and active stance, but then political attention was entirely diverted because of the election. There was then a different Government with somewhat different policies—our coalition Government—and there was a change of stance from the UK during the conference. It confused the other countries, which were trying to get somewhere with that 2010 conference. We have to solve that issue before the 2015 conference. I do not have the answers, but the Government and all the political parties here need to come to some consensus on our contribution to the NPT. UK government policy is now to rely more and more on the NPT as the forum where these nuclear issues will be solved.

I attended the UN open-ended working group that Ban Ki-moon called in Geneva. Our ambassador’s absence was a matter of a lot of speculation. People asked me why the UK did not attend. I asked some Parliamentary Questions when I came back and I was told that the UK Government think that the NPT Review Conference is the place for such discussions. I then asked some more questions about why we did not go to Norway or Mexico when those countries hosted two conferences on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear war. The reply was of course the same: that the forum for such things is the NPT Review Conference. The Government are putting all our eggs in the NPT basket. We owe it to the rest of the world to ensure we have a coherent stance that will carry over from one Government to the next. Earlier in the debate a noble Lord—I am sorry, I cannot remember who—called for more involvement from us in international treaties. This is an absolutely classic case for more involvement.

Earlier, I mentioned increasing proliferation, and I have taken some press from the past couple of weeks. On 4 June this year, there was this from New Delhi:

“India’s first indigenously built nuclear submarine quietly pushed out of its base for sea trials … India will join a club of just six nations with nuclear submarines carrying ballistic missiles”—

and a doctrinal challenge, as India has always separated the delivery mechanism from weapons. Who knows

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what will happen now there have been elections: that may not change, but it may. My second bit of press states:

“China has deployed three nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines to a naval base in the South China Sea”.

That was reported on 28 May. These are just intentional actions. If noble Lords were to look at accident reporting, they would see that on 4 June the Daily Telegraph reported a “close to death” situation in a nuclear submarine when the air conditioning failed. We have increasing proliferation and the continual possibility of accidents: as more and more fissile material is used, it is more and more possible to have accidents.

Finally, I refer noble Lords to the European leadership group, some members of which come from this Parliament—indeed, some from your Lordships’ House. That group makes it quite plain just how important this NPT conference is in addressing these matters. Its statement, which came out very recently, underlines that the situation in Ukraine and many of the issues that noble Lords have raised today make nuclear non-use ever more pressing.

5.45 pm

The Earl of Clancarty (CB): My Lords, I want to take this opportunity to expand further on an issue that I raised last month in an Oral Question: the protection of cultural property in times of conflict. I am grateful to Professor Peter Stone of the International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies at Newcastle University and of Blue Shield for his briefing. Blue Shield, for those who do not know, has nothing to do with American healthcare but is the international organisation concerned with this issue. It has been described as the cultural equivalent of the Red Cross.

We have perhaps a peculiar grouping today, as the noble Baroness, Lady Bonham-Carter, pointed out, in which culture is being discussed alongside defence and foreign policy. Nevertheless, for this particular issue, it would be helpful to have the ear not only of the DCMS but of the Ministry of Defence, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and DfID.

It is disappointing that the Government have not pledged to include, as part of their final Session, legislation to ratify the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. This parliamentary year would be the perfect time to do this and there was clear support around the House at Question Time last month for it to happen. My understanding is that the Bill drawn up by the previous Administration in 2008 would not need to be changed a great deal and that therefore this would be a relatively simple thing to do.

It is now recognised that there are many reasons—not just the clear one of cultural and artistic importance—for protecting the world’s museums and archaeological and other cultural sites. Such reasons include the social, the humanitarian, a respect for people’s own culture, the economic and, yes, the military as well. It is, for example, increasingly recognised that the protection of culture is a so-called “force multiplier”. It can aid military success. As Peter Stone has pointed out, respecting the living heritage, such as a minaret, may not increase good will but it will not damage it irreparably, which

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might otherwise be the case. In Syria, the looting which has devastated archaeological sites is also a means by which fighting is financed and therefore prolonged. Protecting culture helps with rebuilding a country in social and economic terms.

In May, the Minister, the noble Lord, Lord Gardiner, said:

“What is important in practical terms is that our Armed Forces are very conscious of the protocol and the convention, which is why they adhere to what is intended”.—[Official Report, 12/5/14; col. 1652.]

However, it must be emphasised that that in itself is not quite good enough, because what cannot then be done, until the convention is ratified, is for this country, its academics and others to speak out and influence leaders and colleagues across the world with the requisite moral authority, as well as to work with other countries to develop a greater understanding of the problems involved.

In evidence given to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee on the draft Bill in 2008, Brigadier Gordon Messenger, director of Joint Commitments (Military) at the Ministry of Defence, said:

“I know of no reason why the military would not be anything other than fully supportive of progress towards the Bill and ratification”.

It is my understanding that that position has not changed.

Of course, the criticism can be made that others who have ratified this treaty, such as Iraq, have themselves behaved badly. However, as a world community, it is the only thing we have, and we now appear exceptional internationally in terms of our commitment, or non-commitment—both real and moral—to this principle. Britain is the only significant military power not to have ratified. This is not a good place to be. Peter Stone says that not ratifying,

“leaves the UK isolated internationally and at a significant disadvantage in our aspiration to be a global leader with regard to international humanitarian law. This position undermines our claim to be at the forefront of working for global security and peace”.

Why, after 60 years, has Britain still not ratified? The sense is that, as with all matters cultural, which end up low down in the political pecking order, it has simply neglected to do so. It is high time that the Government put this right. Continuing conflict and indeed unfolding events give an urgency to this. I hope that the DCMS takes a lead on this issue and presses for parliamentary time to be made available so that the convention can be ratified as soon as possible.

5.49 pm

Lord Cavendish of Furness (Con): My Lords, altering the rhythm of this debate once more, I want to speak on constitutional affairs—or, rather, to discuss what I see to be a threat to our constitution. I have heard it suggested sometimes that the British public have only limited understanding of the great issues that affect their daily lives. Even in your Lordships’ House, I have heard speeches that only just stop short of implying much the same thing. A number of European officials are on record as being openly contemptuous of voter intelligence and dismissive of their aspirations. A view

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has plainly taken hold that the lack of “demos” within the European Union contributes to the displeasure that has been increasingly directed at the political class, and notably so in recent weeks.

If my life’s experience has taught me one thing, and it applies to all organisations large and small, where accountability is absent or weak even, it is that you can expect trouble as sure as night follows day. The consequences of failures in accountability include incompetence, unfairness, waste and fraud. Some or all of these consequences are not just a danger, they are an inevitability. While I would agree wholeheartedly with those who believe that a significant element of public anger stems from the shortcomings and the undemocratic and unaccountable nature of today’s EU, there is also a compelling case that we should look closer to home to find the genesis of much of the public’s disquiet.

When the measures to update the electoral register were sabotaged as retribution for Parliament having failed to support House of Lords reform, some people may well have derived satisfaction from the thought that they had damaged my party. Never mind my party, whatever the motive, the effect of that action was to swindle the voters who in consequence will have to participate in next year’s general election using an old and out-of-date register. I find it hard to imagine a more unforgivably cynical or self-serving ploy. Nowadays, it looks as if the public share that view.

However, that misses another point. It may well be that your Lordships’ House could be improved and I am sure that it could. But at least it works, and I hear very little public demand to suggest that its reform should be a top priority. Where I sense many people feel an urgent need for reform is in the conduct of another place. Consider the continued and relentless use of programming and guillotine Motions in the other place, and the growing perception that House of Commons debates are irrelevant even when the subject matter is of huge public interest. The public see sparsely attended events where a handful of MPs, increasingly with little or no experience of the real world, often are seen reading from briefs prepared by lobbyists and who have vested interests.

Well within my memory, there was a substantial body of Members of the other place who were content to be and to remain respected Back-Benchers. This respect derived in large part from the fact that Back-Bench MPs really did hold the Executive to account. With new entrants today expecting almost immediate preferment, the party Whips enjoy a power that makes a mockery of the concept of MPs holding Ministers to account.

I have always held the view that the overwhelming majority of people who enter public life do so for honourable reasons. Very often things go wrong not because of bad intent but as a consequence of a collective failure to uphold the concept of accountability. I want to point to the apparent reluctance of modern Governments to reflect more than they do on the uses and misuses of power. The fact that Governments should have, and need to have, authority should not blind them to the fact that they govern by consent.

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Consent is not limited to what voters decide at election time. It needs to be sustained through day-to-day accountability. This weakness, in terms of accountability, spreads through all our institutions and all aspects of our national life. A senior figure in the BBC recently told me that no one knew how decisions were reached in his organisation. The same want of accountability is to be found in the huge array of quangos and monopolistic utility companies. It has led to atrocious service and an arrogant disregard for people’s needs and aspirations. Many of our corporate giants are patently unaccountable to their shareholders as well as frequently the enemy of small business. I was very pleased to see measures contained in the gracious Speech to curb some of their excesses.

Of course, no one conspires to govern badly but we must all take some responsibility when good policy surrenders to meretricious soundbites, personal integrity is at such a premium in public life and such a huge proportion of decision-making is ceded away to distant institutions without the consent of the people whose lives those decisions affect. I commend the coalition Government for the measures outlined in the gracious Speech and they will have my support. However, I hope the Government will reflect in the year that remains to them on the issues that probably cannot be remedied through the legislative programme alone. They need to react to the perception that power continues to be centralised and that we are governed less and less by people who enjoy popular support and more and more by new oligarchies both public and private.

We most surely need to understand that the recent election results were not uniform across Europe. We in Britain did not give encouragement to the National Front or any other extremist party. The public reminded us that we in these islands have a 2,000 year-old inherited settlement, unique to the English-speaking world, under which the freedom of the individual is better protected that anywhere else on earth, where government is servant not master. People believe that the often ancient institutions devised to protect them from unaccountable power are being compromised and weakened. There will be a heavy price to pay if their message is ignored.

5.56 pm

Lord Hunt of Chesterton (Lab): My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Cavendish. I do not agree with everything he said, but people’s suspicion of experts is something that I know about from my time running the Met Office. I shall focus my remarks on a very significant point towards the end of the Queen’s Speech regarding the Government’s continuing support for measures to deal with climate change. I want to make a point about how such action should relate to other programmes to do with the environment and its effect on people.

The present position is that there is an upward trend in global warming which is now predicted to exceed 4 degrees over the land areas of the world and continue to produce very considerable effects in terms of disasters such as cyclones, droughts and heat waves. One can see this in many countries. The number of deaths, for example, in natural disasters per year is of

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the order of 100,000. As for other environmental factors in the world—matters such as air pollution—the World Health Organisation estimates deaths from these will exceed 1.5 million people per year.

Even more serious now is that air pollution affects the youngest of children in Asian cities. There was a rather famous Chinese young lady who lived on the crossroads near Beijing and died of lung cancer. This country is concerned with lung cancer and smoking, but that is a voluntary disease. When children face that kind of situation, it is something that we have to consider. The fact is that there are connections between these natural and human disasters which are worsening as a result of the effects of climate change. One of the effects is to produce longer periods of static wind or conditions such as very high or very low temperatures. There is much evidence to that effect.

One of the other features of the Queen’s Speech is that the Government are continuing their programme of investment in low-carbon power, including nuclear power. I commend the Government on moving ahead on nuclear power and these other programmes. I would point out again that it is important to have an overall system of both nuclear and non-nuclear power because there are periods—as commented on in Germany this winter, and in this House in 2010—when the wind stops, the clouds appear and back-up sources of power are needed.

The UK is working within the international community to minimise climate-related threats. As this debate is focused on international work, I should comment on how we and other countries work with the United Nations agencies and monitor that work. The UK contributes significantly in terms of both finance and expertise to the UN agencies, including the World Bank, the United Nations Environment Programme and the programme for climate change. A worrying point made to me recently by a World Bank official was that although the UK is the second-largest contributor to the World Bank, we have a very much smaller number of experts there than other countries do. As the Germans have large numbers of experts there, what happens when a question on, for example, an urban railway arises? Lo and behold, the World Bank will support a big project proposed by Siemens. Equally, however—as the noble Lord, Lord Low, pointed out—the UK has great expertise in education, science and business, and it is important that we should have the right number of people there to make our contribution. I also support the noble Lord’s remarks on disability and environmental hazards. Many disabled people are particularly vulnerable, for example in floods in cities.

Next year there will be the regular 10-yearly United Nations international disaster reduction meeting. This will take place in Japan and should lead to further scientific and technical improvements. The UK plays a very important role through our insurance industry. Equally, however, we have to use our expertise to provide warnings to communities which might suffer badly.

I feel that progress on some scientific issues is moving rather slowly. It has always been said in the West, and in the United States, that earthquakes are impossible to predict. We heard in a seminar in London

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that the Russians have two or three institutes that are doing remarkable work in this respect. Earthquakes are now regularly being caused by fracking. The United States Geological Survey—not a very left-wing organisation—has commented that the number of earthquakes in Oklahoma has increased by 300% at the sixth level on the Richter scale. We should consider this at the United Nations meeting. We should also consider—the issue has been raised in debates in this House—the social and economic consequences of natural disasters.

This year and next year will be important for building on the commitment on climate change made at Durban. The targets for the reduction of carbon emissions should be agreed at the meeting in Paris in 2015, with a view to all countries finally agreeing and implementing them by 2020. It is remarkable that at Durban the Chinese agreed to this, and we are expecting Chinese participation.

At the most recent meeting of legislators—in Mexico City this week, which I attended—it was interesting to hear Governments and their delegates expressing their belief that it is important to demonstrate more visibly their commitment to urgently tackling climate change, sometimes through simple means. One example, as the noble Lord, Lord Deben, mentioned, is the use of smart meters in cars to indicate the level of their carbon emissions; or, as in France, to inform drivers on motorways that driving at high speeds is not only dangerous but causes higher carbon-emission levels. I have had no joy in talking to the Department for Transport in this country. It would be progress if people could be shown that they add to the carbon in the atmosphere when they drive fast on motorways.

The recent IPCC report on the social and economic impact of climate change now recommends that national and international policies on carbon reduction should be connected to policies covering the environmental benefits of tackling it—I have mentioned air pollution—as well as the benefits in terms of reducing poverty and vulnerability more generally. Security is also important. The Pentagon takes a strong view on this, to the fury of Republicans in the United States.

There is also the question of the preservation of biodiversity. A number of economists, some of whom are distinguished Members of this House, have the strange idea that we can put off dealing with climate change for decade after decade because—according to their strange calculations—it will become cheaper and cheaper to deal with. In the mean time, however, we are losing biodiversity.

If we are to have an integrated approach it is important that we consider all these factors together. That will be a challenge for the Government. From my time in the Met Office I know that we need to have an integrated approach through international bodies, Governments and civil societies. These integrated measures must first be formulated—universities can play a role in that—and then implemented and then, finally, reviewed by Parliament. In the 14 years that I have been a Member of this House we have had two debates on the United Nations agencies, and I led both of them. It is important that we should review this development and I hope that the Government will support it.

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6.04 pm

Lord Sharkey (LD): My Lords, in last year’s debate on the Queen’s Speech I spoke about the situation in Cyprus. I thought we were then looking at the most favourable prospects for reunification that we had yet seen and I called upon the Government to increase their involvement. A year later, my cautious optimism seems not to have been entirely misplaced. Detailed negotiations are under way. The FCO has been very active and deserves congratulations for that. It has continued its informal dialogues with the diasporas, talked to civil society organisations and taken the bold step of inviting the Turkish Cypriot leader and his negotiator to London. This is the first time that Turkish Cypriots have been invited formally to London and it is a welcome step. None of this means, of course, that negotiations will be easy or successful.

On Monday, I attended a lecture at the LSE given by Dr Kudret Özersay, the Turkish Cypriot chief negotiator. Dr Özersay was frank about the difficulties but he was cautiously optimistic. He made a compelling point about the conditions for success. Clearly, the first condition is the production of a federal, bi-zonal, bi-communal plan acceptable to the political leaderships of both sides. However, if this plan is to gain popular approval in a referendum on both sides, it must pass one other test. Will acceptance of the plan produce a better state of affairs for the people of the north and the south, or, as Dr Özersay put it, will both sides recognise the harm to them involved in rejection of the plan? This was clearly not the case for the Greek Cypriots with the Annan plan.

The international community has a role to play here, especially the guarantor states and the EU. We cannot and should not intrude upon the negotiations—any solution has to be by Cypriots for Cypriots—but we can encourage and help make clear the benefits of reunification. Britain and the EU here have an opportunity to redeem past mistakes—Britain for allowing the divided island to join the EU in the first place; and the EU for the post-accession broken promises that it made to the north.

The situation in the eastern Mediterranean grows increasingly unstable and dangerous and the BBC is reporting that ISIS is now fighting for Tikrit after taking Mosul. This growing instability is a reminder that we need a Cyprus settlement this time around—not only because failure will undoubtedly provoke a deepening and hardening of the divisions on the island but because, regrettably, the behaviour of Turkey is becoming more worrying.

Turkey’s stability and orientation are vitally important to NATO and to the interests of the West in general. Turkey’s development has been hugely impressive: from authoritarian, agrarian and poor to democratic, industrial and relatively wealthy, but inclining once again towards authoritarianism. There is a sad record of imprisonment of journalists, of restrictions on the freedom of speech and of executive interference with the police and the judiciary. There is the danger of a deepening division between the secular west and the pious Anatolian heartlands. This is greatly to Turkey’s disadvantage, not only in its relations with the West but economically.

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Admiration of western values has long been a driving force in Turkey, both politically and culturally. However, unfortunately, the attraction of the West and of the EU has declined significantly in recent years. Prime Minister Erdogan’s then chief adviser, Yigit Bulut, recently called the EU,

“a loser, headed for wholesale collapse”.

Turkey’s last EU Minister and chief negotiator said:

“Turkey doesn’t need the EU. The EU needs Turkey. If we had to, we could tell them ‘Get lost, kid’”.

All this is bad news for the EU, for the West and for Turkey. Our influence has been allowed to wane.

Given the public hostility of France and Germany and the long delays in the accession negotiations, it is no wonder that many Turks no longer see the prospect of EU membership as either realistic or desirable. This is a cause for concern. The West needs Turkey as a friend and an ally. Her Majesty’s Government have always understood that, while others have not. We are currently engaged in persuading our EU partners of the merits of reform, and the merits of Turkish accession may not sit easily alongside these discussion. Nevertheless, I urge Her Majesty’s Government to persist in their strong advocacy of Turkish accession. Europe will be weaker and more vulnerable without it.

6.10 pm

Lord Ahmed (Non-Afl): My Lords, the gracious Speech mentioned Iran and Afghanistan. I would like to speak briefly about India, Pakistan and Kashmir, the DfID money for education in Pakistan, and the money given to MKRF, a charity that is linked to the media group, Geo TV, which has given substantial amounts to its own company.

I congratulate the Indian people on the successful democratic elections. I remind the House that when the newly elected Prime Minister of India, Mr Narendra Modi, was serving as the chief minister of Gujarat, thousands of Muslims were killed, including two British citizens from Batley in west Yorkshire. I want to make three points about what concerns me most in relation to the BJP manifesto. The BJP, supported by parties such as the RSS, has declared that it will build a Hindu temple on the land where the Babri Mosque stood and was then demolished. I fear that this will cause riots and bloodshed again.

My second point is made as a British citizen of Kashmiri origin. The BJP has committed to abolishing Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which gives special status to Kashmir due to the commitments made by India to the United Nations Security Council that a free, fair and impartial plebiscite would be held. The BJP’s manifesto commitment to abolish Article 370 is a clear provocation against the rights of the Kashmiri people that will result in further bloodshed, tension along the line of control, and possible threats of nuclear war between India and Pakistan. More than 100,000 people have already been killed and tens of thousands of women have been raped. This morning the noble Baroness spoke about the international conference being held in London this week regarding sexual violence as a tool of humiliation in war zones. I therefore ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they would support an independent inquiry into rape in

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Indian-administered Kashmir since 1997. Thousands of youths have been killed in fake encounters and extrajudicial actions, many of which have been listed by the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-administered Kashmir in a report about unmarked graves.

My third point is that before the elections, Prime Minister Modi stated that if the United States can enter Pakistani territory to kill Osama bin Laden, India also has the right to go into Pakistani territory to pursue those who are allegedly responsible for attacks on Indian soil.

I welcome Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to India for the oath-taking ceremony of Mr Modi. It was also good to see the exchange of gifts for the mothers of both the Indian and the Pakistani prime ministers. However, those gifts should be extended to the mothers of the thousands of Kashmiri martyrs and the mothers of Pakistani and Indian soldiers on the settlement of the Kashmir issue, as well as all the other issues which include water, borders, fishing and line of control disputes.

My final point is in regard to DfID’s programme in Pakistan. I thank the research team in the House of Lords for providing the latest information, and I thank the British Government and the British people for constructing, since 2009, more than 20,000 classrooms, training 45,000 teachers and helping some 400,000 girls to go school. I also thank them for aiming to train, by 2020, 100,000 community midwives, constructing or renovating more than 70 midwife schools, and providing legal aid and counselling for 35,000 women victims of violence.

No other country in the world has lost more soldiers and police officers than Pakistan, and its economy has lost more than $70 billion due to the war in Afghanistan and terrorism in Pakistan. Providing food, medicine and financial support for 315,000 women from the poorest families and jobs for tens of thousands of people is much appreciated while Pakistan tries to recover from these terrible times. However, I have some deep concerns related to money that has been allocated for the educational awareness programme of the not-for-profit organisation, MKRF. Members of the same family are the owners of Geo TV, which is currently suspended in Pakistan because of the allegations made against the Pakistan intelligence services and the army. I want to ask why money has been given to this charity, which is directly linked to a business that is the beneficiary of DfID money. What was the business proposal and why was the grant money not subject to competition rules? I have put down Written Questions and I have asked the Chairman of Committees, but I have yet to receive any answers. Finally, more than 100 police cases have been registered against the owner of this media group and a warrant of arrest has been issued against him. Will the funding still continue?

6.15 pm

Lord Eames (CB): My Lords, the gracious Speech referred to Northern Ireland in these words. The Government would continue,

“to promote reconciliation and create a shared future”.

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In reflecting on those words, I declare an interest as the co-chair of the Consultative Group on the Past, which reported to the House in 2009. Few would dissociate themselves from those sentiments in the Queen’s Speech, but I want briefly to emphasise some of the reality which stands in the way of their achievement. As the noble Lord, Lord Empey, reminded noble Lords, trust can so easily be destroyed, and of course we can refer to the recent dealing with on-the-runs.

Next September, we will mark the 20th anniversary of the ceasefires declared by the republican and loyalist paramilitaries. I speak as one of the two observers of the destruction of loyalist arms. In these two decades, the people of Northern Ireland have experienced the ups and downs of a devolved Administration. Local political life has undertaken responsibility, and in the main has shown a willingness to learn the lessons of devolved answerability for everyday life and affairs. Much of everyday life today reflects normality, but there remain issues which have the potential to drive us back into the darkness of the past—and none of them more important than how we deal with that past. That is part of the reality which confronts the idealism of the words in the gracious Speech.

Northern Ireland’s “peace” has been portrayed beyond the Province as something achieved and an end to our problems. Much of the world has moved on as though it is “all over” and stability is an achieved fact. But I ask the House, and particularly the Government, to recognise the reality: the reconciliation and truly shared future envisaged are still very much “business in progress”. The truth is that a simplistic conclusion that success has already been achieved is hurtful and insulting to those who have been injured or bereaved in the Troubles. Such a conclusion has been used to justify ignoring the legacy of the past and the demands of victims and their families. There is a perception that Westminster has accepted the “success” version of events as a reason to somehow remove itself from real involvement in addressing the legacy of the past. Until there is an agreed method of dealing with the past, inquiries, coroners’ courts, investigative journalism and the courts will continue to produce obstacles to the achievement of a real and genuine shared future. Those obstacles call for courage and a new way of thinking.

The report of the Consultative Group on the Past followed a countrywide listening process with the proposal of a legal commission which would combine the principles of investigation, storytelling and reconciliation. We rejected the idea of a truth commission, as in South Africa, and we ruled out a general amnesty. But we did propose a legacy commission that, within a set frame of time, would deal with the past in an effective manner. That proposal has found favour in the Haass proposals, the work of Amnesty International, the Victims’ Commissioner and many international investigative reports since 2009.

The proposals were not perfect—we never claimed that they would be—but they combined to provide a way that could be a basis for the future. Until some way is found and agreed, the pain of the past will continue to blight too many lives and will mean that the future hope of a shared community will remain a dream.

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6.20 pm

Lord Judd (Lab): My Lords, it is a great privilege to follow the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames. He has served his people of Northern Ireland with commitment, distinction and courage over many years, and what he said tonight is no exception. We all need to listen carefully.

Like others, I welcome the Minister’s reference to the summit taking place in London today, and I very much endorse the gladness of my own noble friend Lady Morgan about it. In the long run, our leadership on this issue will depend on the effectiveness with which we handle these issues internally in our own lives and in the areas of the world for which we are responsible. We cannot separate the rhetoric from the performance. Our credibility stands on our own performance, and that applies equally when the Government speak so powerfully—as they have today and as they do repeatedly, with our present Foreign Secretary—about the importance of human rights.

I take second place to nobody in stressing the importance of human rights but, again, the world looks at us and makes a distinction between the rhetoric and the reality. That is why we have to be absolutely committed in all we do—whatever the provocations, however severe or acute they are—to the application of human rights in our affairs and in the affairs for which we are responsible. This is not a burden, as those who drew up the universal declaration in the aftermath of the Second World War understood. Human rights are the cornerstone—the foundation—of security and peace in the world. It is not an oversimplification to say that where there is an absence of human rights, there will always be a danger of alienation, extremism, terror and the rest. Where a very widely operational atmosphere of human rights is applied and fulfilled, there will be very little room for the extremists to recruit.

We live in the midst of a paradox, which this debate has underlined very strongly. On the one hand, we live in a time when the reality of global interdependence has never been more evident. It is true in economic affairs; it is true in trade affairs; it is certainly true in the issues of global warming and climate change; it is true in health; it is true of almost every major issue with which government is confronted. It is difficult to think of any of the issues facing our children and grandchildren that will be resolved within the context of the nation state alone. All will require international co-operation.

Yet we see this new unpleasant reality of political alienation. We cannot bury this and pretend it does not exist. It is there. It is not simply those who vote for less pleasant, extreme parties; it is the very large number of people who do not vote at all and who could become their prey. For that reason, we must recognise that, in the age of globalisation, people feel threatened and insignificant and that they have no strategic influence on their lives. We must understand that if we are to build peace and security, it is essential to recognise the importance of identity, not to deny it—and that involves cultural identity, not just political identity—and then to have the courage and imagination of leadership to enable people to see that in the confidence of their identity they must move forward

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to co-operation. We must all move forward to co-operation because of what I said in my opening remarks: all the issues that face us necessitate effective international co-operative approaches.

That must also be true in our institutions, certainly as we talk of the reform of the European Union. We have to go back to first principles and recognise that there was a very real debate at the beginning about the virtues of confederalism and federalism. Perhaps what we have learnt in history is that there is a great deal to be said for the confederal approach, whereby you build within the institutions of the European Union the shared commitment and the co-operation necessary to deliver effective policies—not to impose authoritatively and administratively a whole range of policies without those having been debated among the countries and therefore becoming seen as real issues among the people of the individual countries.

It is also perhaps true that we should look at the issues of federation in the context of our own society. I will make only this point about the Scottish issue. I am a half-Scot so I am very much exposed to the debates within my own family. I am very proud of my Scottish blood. If we get a no vote in the referendum, let us not be fooled into thinking that the issue will go away. It will not go away. I do not want to be dispiriting but there is always a danger of that debate turning nasty. In that context, we have to start talking much more imaginatively about different structures for the United Kingdom. We should have done it long ago. I think that we will have a strong future as the United Kingdom if we have a federal United Kingdom in the long run because that is the logic of everything we are trying to do by fiddling here and there—more economic powers for Scotland here, more powers for Wales there. The logic is to get on with building a strong federation in which each part of our United Kingdom can co-operate freely in the common interest.

6.27 pm

Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank (LD): My Lords, sandwiched between matters of life and death, I dare to mention culture and to address the future of English Heritage. I certainly do not require my noble friend to genuflect to my remarks but I hope that the appropriate Minister will reply by letter reasonably promptly.

Today’s occasion was provoked by a letter I received on 3 July last from the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, in her capacity as the chair of English Heritage. At that time I was unaware of her impending departure from that role and I am very sorry that she has gone. But the issues I wish to explore are not personal.

When I first knew the sites of English Heritage in the 1950s, they were marked by the characteristic green cast iron notices of the Ministry of Works dating from the Ancient Monuments Act 1913. More recently, I have visited Eltham Palace—which is not a palace at all—I expect to visit Audley End next weekend, and I walk from my home in Highgate to Kenwood almost every week. I am pleased by the rehabilitation of Kenwood House, apparently at a cost of £6 million—although, it seems, not wholly from the grant in aid but from the Iveagh bequest. Perhaps in due course Ministers will confirm that. At last there is a suitable visitor centre at Stonehenge.

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Such developments and the growth of the membership to more than 700,000 have left both Houses mostly silent. But the letter sent to Members of the House by the noble Baroness, Lady Andrews, invited comment on important issues. The pretext of the noble Baroness’s letter was the outcome of the latest spending review. It said that English Heritage was “delighted” that the Government would provide a one-off sum of £80 million to invest in repairs and enhancement in properties. The letter continued to say that English Heritage would work with the Government,

“to consult on establishing a charity which will in future care for the historic properties”.

It added:

“In due course, the charity will become self-funding, no longer requiring direct funding by the tax payer”.

In my reply to the letter, I said that I was alarmed that it seemed to me to be a proposal of privatisation. As for £80 million being generous, it was not much given to support 420 sites spread over what seemed to be eight years. I added that:

“I am deeply sceptical about self-funding if the standards of English Heritage are to be maintained”.

In due course, last December, the department published a consultation document. The consultation took place over two months over the winter, but I am not aware that there was any opportunity to debate the proposals in the House.

I now recognise that privatisation was a loose and misleading characterisation, given that there is no intention to sell any properties, but if there is to be no funding from the taxpayer and income comes from membership, donors, sponsors and commercial activities, the character will change.

What will the role of the culture and media department be in this respect? Will it appoint the chair of both the new charity and the new Historic England? Who will be the chair of Historic England: an academic or another businessman? What will be the balance of responsibility, status and authority between the two bodies, and who will appoint the trustees of the charity?

The key decision is to bring public spending to an end. On the face of it, it is far from clear that two bodies will not cost more than one. In my early years, I cannot remember any admission charges to sites, but there now seems to be a charge in 114. Which of the bodies will now decide to make or raise the charges for visitors to the site? In particular, can Ministers confirm that there is no proposal to negotiate any variation in the terms of the Iveagh bequest, by which admission to Kenwood is free?

I have made it clear that I remain seriously uneasy about those major proposed changes. When the department has reached its conclusions, I hope that Ministers will make a full statement to Parliament, allowing time before anything is to be finally settled.

6.33 pm

Lord Craig of Radley (CB): My Lords, after the noble Lord, Lord Rogers, I return to matters of life and death. Does the Minister share my concern about how interpretation of human rights legislation—I stress the word “interpretation”—has impacted or may impact on the actions or behaviour of the Armed Forces? Does he agree that it threatens, even erodes, the ethos

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of trust and mutual support that forms the bedrock of discipline and all activity in the three services? The Armed Forces Acts have laid down a litany of what constitutes a service crime or misdemeanour. Behaviour of all in the services are bound by that legislation.

The statutory quinquennial revision and renewal of those Acts are used to ensure that they were relevant to and remained in step with inevitable changes in social and societal behaviour and other perceptions of the day, but they do not directly deal with human rights. The Armed Forces and human rights legislation are potentially incompatible. Only service men and women effectively contract with the state to make the ultimate sacrifice, backed by the Armed Forces Acts to enforce discipline and obedience.

How does that mesh with Article 2, the right to life, under human rights legislation? In 1998, in concert with the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, I spoke to amendments to exclude the Armed Forces from the Human Rights Bill, on the grounds that it would be preferable that aspects of human rights conventions be enacted within the Armed Forces Acts. At Third Reading, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor sought to reassure the House. He said:

“I urge your Lordships to be of the view that the convention is a flexible instrument. It poses no threat to the effectiveness of the Armed Forces”.—[Official Report, 5/2/98; col. 768.]

Since then, numerous cases against the MoD have been brought under that Human Rights Act. The noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor’s reassurances have been frittered away—most spectacularly by the Supreme Court findings last June.

The cardinal point for me in that ruling was that it was far from unanimous; three of the seven judges dissented. In their minority view, they stated that,

“the approach taken by the majority will make extensive litigation almost inevitable after, as well as quite possibly during and even before, any active service operations undertaken by the British army. It is likely to lead to the judicialisation of war”.

Is that not a wake-up call? A position of absolute legal clarity on the field of battle for forces stationed overseas, or even on home soil, does not exist.

That is the last thing that servicemen and their commanders want to hear. They expect to and should want to deal in absolutes: is it right or wrong; is it legal or is it not; am I covered or am I not? Nuanced findings and the plethora of cases dealt with or being dealt with by the MoD over the past decade or so can but create confusion, muddle and uncertainty.

I will quote verbatim the majority finding of the Supreme Court because it is very important. It stated:

“It will be easy to find that allegations are beyond the reach of article 2 if the decisions that were or ought to have been taken about training, procurement or the conduct of operations were at a high level of command and closely linked to the exercise of political judgment and issues of policy. So too if they relate to things done or not done when those who might be thought to be responsible for avoiding the risk of death or injury to others were actively engaged in direct contact with the enemy. But finding whether there is room for claims to be brought in the middle ground, so that the wide margin of appreciation which must be given to the authorities or to those actively engaged in armed conflict is fully recognised without depriving the article of content,

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is much more difficult. No hard and fast rules can be laid down. It will require the exercise of judgment. This can only be done in the light of the facts of each case”.

So no prior certainty there for the Armed Forces in the wide field that lies in that middle ground.

As is clear from the number of cases faced by the MoD in recent years—some settled out of court; others being challenged by the MoD in the courts—there is a plethora of claims in this middle ground. The Supreme Court finding can only embolden more to be made.

I believe that the time has come for that minority view of the Supreme Court that war cannot be controlled or conducted by judicial tribunals to be reflected in new legislation that will not countenance it for the Armed Forces.

6.38 pm

Lord Thomas of Gresford (LD): My Lords, as a member of the Association of Military Court Advocates, I associate myself with the remarks of the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig, and tell him that we shall be addressing the issues at an international seminar at Yale University in the autumn.

I may be from Wales, but it so happens that my four children would be, under Mr Salmond’s plan for Scottish independence, entitled to Scottish passports—although not, it seems, my grandsons Angus, Finlay and Murray.

My family’s links with Scotland derive from coal mining and two mining communities, one in north Wales and the other being the West Lothian coal field. My late father-in-law, who trained at the Polkemmet mine near Whitburn, came to manage Gresford colliery in Wales, among others. At that time, it was still recovering from the dreadful disaster of 1934 in which 266 Welsh miners lost their lives underground. That terrible event drew miners together: the hymn tune “Gresford” became “the Miners’ Hymn”, played by colliery bands in Wales, Scotland, Durham and the north-east, Cumbria, Nottinghamshire and Kent.

Nobody in Gresford claimed the coal for Wales. Nobody in Fauldhouse claimed the coal for Scotland. The people of Britain—drawn together by hardship and adversity, by lost lives in the Great Wars, by poverty and privation—struggled to pool their natural resources and talents to build together a modern liberal country, in which citizens are guaranteed equal social and economic rights. The noble Lord, Lord Reid, set out those rights in his excellent speech this morning, so I will not repeat them.

While this struggle was happening, nationalism was an irrelevance. Saunders Lewis and the Reverend Valentine, founders in 1925 of the Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru, the Welsh National Party, thought it right to set fire to an RAF training camp and aerodrome in the Llyn peninsula just before the Second World War. They ensured that the official policy of their party to that war was neutrality. Neutrality was also advocated by Douglas Young, the then leader of the SNP, which was founded in 1934. They all ended up in prison. A later generation has sought to give nationalism in both countries a more respectable face, but the central aim of independence remains. Why do nationalists wish to

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break up the common venture of the United Kingdom? Why is devolution, which surely enhances the distinctive identities and cultures of our different peoples but keeps us together, not enough?

What nationalism has succeeded in doing is create tensions within and between the constituent nations of the United Kingdom as to who gets what and what is fair. Nationalism complains about Westminster government and of domination by London. It resents the English, yet there is now increasing discontent in England over Scotland’s share of public spending. There is a perception in England that additional funding enables the Scots—and the Welsh—to enjoy popular policies, for example on tuition fees, which are not available to the English. There is indeed a political question to be resolved which has no mention in the gracious Speech, no doubt because of the imminent Scottish referendum.

In the end, it comes down to the Barnett formula. Under that formula, the amount spent on public services in Scotland is much more per capita than is spent in England and significantly greater than in Wales. The position as between Scotland and Wales would be reversed if the Barnett formula were replaced by funding based on the actual needs of the people, as the Lords Select Committee under the noble Lord, Lord Richard, rightly pointed out in 2009. We have a splendid paradox: Mr Salmond warns the Scots that a no vote means abolition of the Barnett formula and the removal of their mother’s milk but, on the other hand, the Welsh Labour Government say that Barnett must go. The people of Wales may not vote for or against the tax-raising powers that we shall soon be debating in the Wales Bill unless Barnett is replaced.

What devolution must be about is the use of all the resources of these islands to support and develop those areas of the United Kingdom that are most in need—to spread the load, to ensure equality and opportunity and to relieve poverty whether in Wales, Scotland or those areas of England and Northern Ireland where the old industrial or rural economy has collapsed. We stand together. We build together, as we always have. When this referendum is out of the way, all of us, whether Scots, Welsh, English, Irish or a mixture of all or any, have serious business to do.

6.44 pm

Lord Wigley (PC): My Lords, I am delighted to follow the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford, although he will not be surprised that I do not agree with a large amount of what he said. Had he been speaking 100 years ago, I wonder whether he would have applied the same logic to the position of southern Ireland and its quest for independence.

It is the constitutional aspects of the Queen’s Speech which I wish to address today. There are three issues in ascending immediacy. The first is Europe and the need to find a method of confirming the UK’s ongoing EU membership in the wake of the unsettling effect of the UKIP vote in the European Parliament elections and the pressing need to remove the uncertainty which, if allowed to rumble on, will undermine our economic recovery. I warmed to the passion brought to this matter by the noble Lords, Lord Ashdown and Lord Alderdice.

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Secondly, we have before this House the Wales Bill, which has been carried over. I want to flag up my intention of seeking to amend that Bill to respond to developments since the Bill was introduced in another place. In particular, there is the willingness of the Government to consider even further taxation devolution to Scotland—the very issue which they refused to accept in the Welsh context, despite the recommendations of the Silk report; namely, the ability of devolved Administrations to vary income tax without being tied into a lock-step principle.

However, the most immediate issue is the forthcoming referendum on Scottish independence, which will have huge consequences whatever the outcome. I sometimes think that some noble colleagues in this Chamber—although I most certainly exempt the noble Lord, Lord Judd, from this charge—believe that if there is a no vote, everything continues as the status quo without any change whatever. If that is the intention of Government, they should make it clear; and if it is not, they should spell out what they see as the alternative options to a yes vote and how that would affect Wales, Northern Ireland and, indeed, England.

It is of course a matter for the people of Scotland, and the people of Scotland alone, to make the decision on independence. I warmly welcome the fact that the UK Government have accepted this approach. A small group of us, from both Houses, visited Barcelona last month at the invitation of the Catalan Government—I have registered my interest—and we learnt of the aspirations of the Catalan people to have a similar independence referendum. Noble Lords will be pleased to know that Catalan leaders looked with considerable envy at the approach agreed between the UK and Scottish Governments in regard to holding a referendum and abiding by the decision of the Scottish people. I am happy to associate myself with such sentiments. The fact that successive Governments at Westminster have recognised that the Scottish, Northern Irish and Welsh people are free to take such a decision is immensely to the credit of the UK. I salute the leaders of all parties who, over the past 25 years, have adapted the UK’s unwritten constitution to accept the national right to self-determination of our respective national communities.

While I suspect that I could carry most of the House with me on that aspect of the constitutional issue, I know that I shall not be able to do so in regard to my next comments. If I were a Scot, I would most certainly be voting yes in the referendum. I would be doing so to establish a new partnership of equals among the nations of these islands. I would be doing so to accept the full responsibility of self-government, which has been accepted by 193 countries around the world and by 28 member states of the EU, 16 of which have a population of fewer than 10 million. I would ask myself, in comparison to those countries, why should Scotland’s voice be attenuated by having to pass through a London filter? I would ask myself how I would look my grandchildren in the eye if I had spurned the first opportunity in 300 years to take on the full responsibility of self-government.

I remember the first time that I canvassed for Plaid Cymru in the south Wales coalfield valleys, back in 1967—this links up to a point made by the noble

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Lord, Lord Thomas. I struck up a debate with a group of retired miners outside a Rhondda pub. On the issue of self-government, they said: “Boi bach, you’re 50 years too late. If we’d gone for it then, it might have worked but by now the coal is finished”. If Scotland were to fail to rise to the historic opportunity it has in September, I wonder whether in 50 years’ time there will be Scots saying: “We might have made a go of it 50 years ago, when the oil was still flowing”.

Whatever the result of the referendum, I hope that that it will be technically recognised as valid by all sides and that everyone resolves to get the best outcome for all—and that may mean some compromise. I hope that when we debate the issue in a couple of weeks’ time, the Government will be forthcoming on how they will deal with the consequences of Scotland’s vote, whichever way it may go, and that if they have a plan they will take both Houses and all four nations into their confidence as to what it is and how it will be made to work.

6.50 pm

Lord Selsdon (Con): This is perhaps one of the few occasions during my time in this House when I feel confused. A couple of hours ago, I snapped a tooth off and it was repaired very quickly. Therefore, I may appear a little gaga. However, I would like to ask the Government some questions.

I begin by saying that the world is round, the earth is flat and in the middle of the world is Greenwich. The United Kingdom is in the centre of the world, so some things are to the east of us, some to the west and some to the north and the south. However, does the EU come under the heading of foreign affairs or domestic affairs? I am slightly confused about that. We joined the EU because of trade but there is no mention of trade in the debate’s title. We are faced with a form of European Japanese knotweed—that is, legislation which seems to throttle everything that we want to do. People believe that by introducing new rules and regulations progress will be made.

Perhaps the Minister will say whether the EU comes under the heading of foreign affairs. I do not approve of referendums—I always wonder whether the plural of referendum is referendums or referenda—as I was treasurer of the Conservative group on Europe and had to raise money to fund the previous referendum. They are not British instruments. Is Scotland a referendum, and what is devolved? Am I? I am a Scot; but I am not sure whether I am—I have never had a vote.

In this confused environment, could we please consider the importance of trade? Like my noble friend Lord Howell, I wish to draw attention to the significance of the Commonwealth. Does the Commonwealth come under the heading of foreign or domestic affairs? We should look at the remarkable strength of the countries to the east and west of us and at the political changes that have taken place. If we look at coastlines, which is a favourite subject of mine, we will see that 60% of the economic exclusion zones—that is, the 200-mile limits around countries—belong to Commonwealth countries. France is the only other country that comes anywhere near us in this regard, with about 15% of this area. We are a maritime nation and 21% of all the ships floating

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on the face of the earth are Commonwealth ships. Does this matter? I am confused as I do not know what strategy we have in this regard.

As regards defence, I never understood why we had troops in Germany for so long and why we have withdrawn them. What will happen to the Navy if Scotland becomes independent? Will all of it move down to Portsmouth? There is much uncertainty about these issues and I am confused about them. Indeed, I am too confused to make a constructive speech. I would just like somebody to tell me which of the headings shown on the annunciator constitute foreign affairs and which constitute domestic affairs. We are mixing up foreign with domestic.

6.53 pm

Lord Parekh (Lab): My Lords, I want to address two issues arising out of the Queen’s Speech. One relates to foreign affairs and the other to constitutional matters.

By and large we have enjoyed very good relations with India. The recent election of Mr Modi as the Prime Minister presents us with a unique opportunity in India’s history to deepen and expand our relations with that country. Mr Modi has brought about several extremely important changes in the administration of his country and injected new life into what has so far been a largely somnolent Government. His party has a clear majority and will stay in place for the next five years. Therefore, there is no danger of unstable coalitions.

Mr Modi has concentrated on good governance, administrative affairs and speedy decision-making. Most important of all, he has decided to concentrate on three issues: development and infrastructure projects of all kinds; university and pre-university education; and good relations with neighbours, especially Pakistan. All three have profound implications for us. The tremendous concentration on development opens up all kinds of opportunities for our businessmen and entrepreneurs. Pedagogical advice will be needed to fulfil the desire to expand education and create scores of new universities. That is going to require an enormous amount of help from the rest of the world. We can certainly capitalise on the opportunities that that offers. Only yesterday the Indian Prime Minister said that the Foreign Education Providers Bill will be passed. The Bill, which has lain quietly for four years in the lower House of the Indian Parliament, will enable foreign universities to set up their own campuses and provide a series of exchanges with their own satellite institutions. Given all this, we ought to consider urgently how to deepen our co-operation with India.

Mr Modi has said that he would like to have closer relations with Pakistan and put an end to the rivalry between the two countries. Afghanistan may become more stable when the Americans leave provided that India, Pakistan and the UK adopt a sensible foreign policy towards it. For all these reasons I believe that we should take the initiative in finding ways to expand and deepen co-operation between the two countries at various levels, as we did some months ago when we talked to Mr Modi on these issues.

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Some people raise concerns about the communal violence that took place in Gujarat when Mr Modi was Chief Minister there. My own feeling is that, although the communal violence that took place between Hindus and Muslims should not be forgotten, one should not be too obsessive about it either. Mr Modi’s role in that episode has not been proven. The violence occurred when he had been the Chief Minister for hardly more than three or four months. He asked the neighbouring states for police help but it was not readily available. Similar incidents have happened in other parts of the country, including when Mrs Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister, but they were largely ignored. From my point of view, the more important consideration is that Mr Modi tried to reach out to the Muslim community after the events. Therefore, it is not at all surprising that 22% of the Muslims voted for him in the last election. In the light of all that, I suggest that, although we should not forget what happened in 2002, we should put it behind us and concentrate on how best to co-operate with the Indian Government.

The constitutional issue that I want to touch on briefly concerns something that matters to me greatly. Glasgow University gave me my first job as an academic. I have great affection for Scotland just as I have great affection for this country. The idea that Britain could split up is something that I find deeply painful, although intellectually I can see that a case can be made for it. With fewer than 100 days to go to the referendum, there is no clear indication which way it will go. Some of my senior colleagues who work in Scottish universities tell me that it could go either way and that one mistake on the part of the Government here or on the part of those who advocate a no vote could sway the result. As a student of history and politics who has studied secessionist movements in India, I sound a note of caution. I am pained by the way we seem to be making the mistake that is often made when dealing with secessionist, nationalist movements of this kind, which is to use the language of intimidation and to threaten people with dire consequences if they vote to put their proposals into effect. Telling Scots, “If you do this, there will be do defence work, there will be no participation in the pound, you might not be able to stay on in the EU—in other words, your economy will not be what it is and you will be worse off by 30% or 40%”, is counterproductive. We think it might frighten people into doing our bidding. It does not do that. It has three consequences, none of which we would want to happen.