We also heard from the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Morris, about the contribution of the rule of law to

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international law and conflict. It was reassuring and encouraging to hear that the rule of law as we understand it is making a great contribution even in the complex scenarios that international conflict continues to throw up.

Our system has much in it to be admired but, as the noble Lord, Lord Taverne, told us, it is expensive. The expense of litigating can mean—as he rightly said, it has often meant in the past—that it is only the very rich or those on legal aid who can afford to litigate at all.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Woolf, made a great contribution to improving the legal system by the Civil Procedure Rules, but I am sure that he would be the first to admit that it is not beyond further improvement. Various initiatives such as cost capping are helping. The reforms in Part 2 of LASPO, which implemented the Jackson report, are beginning to have their effect. The use of qualified one-way cost shifting and the reduction of the recoverability of ATE premiums in conditional fees have made it a little more economical to litigate. This area is a matter of great concern to any Government. It is a matter, one hopes, of co-operation between government, the judiciary and lawyers to ensure that we have a system that maintains accessibility to all.

The global summit, to which I referred, marks an apt point at which to conclude my remarks. It reflects the enduring relevance of our constitutional heritage while providing an opportunity for the UK legal service to continue to demonstrate its prowess across the globe. Our system has many admirers. To continue the quote from the John of Gaunt speech started by the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, it is indeed a,

“precious stone set in a silver sea”,

as indeed is the noble and learned Lord, Lord Woolf, to whom I pay great tribute for initiating this debate.

5.11 pm

Lord Woolf: My Lords, it is a pleasure to be able to say that this debate has exceeded all my expectations. This is because of the quality and spirit in which contributions have been made. It is not for me now to take up the time of the House by going over the various contributions, but I think that your Lordships will forgive me if I echo one or two points that have been made.

First, I particularly thank those who are not lawyers who have taken part in this debate. Their contributions were of huge value and the debate would have been the lesser without them. I also congratulate those noble Lords who managed to take part in two debates this afternoon and made very distinguished contributions to each. I was much moved by the idea of this being a picnic, and I was wondering what we could bring as presents for people to take away from the picnic after it is over. I am very glad that the Minister was able to provide us with something to take away—I will certainly regard it as an important contribution, as I know will many other noble Lords here—in his assurance that the Government have no intention to either repeal or amend the Human Rights Act.

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I think that both the spokesman for the Opposition and the Minister also deserve to be congratulated on the way that they have tackled the issues before us in this debate. I agree with the Minister that there is a lot left to argue over, which will no doubt occur within this Chamber in the future. I do not think that there will be reference again to the days when I was a student so long ago in University College London,

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when I had the huge advantage of having the noble Baroness, Lady Flather, as a fellow student. I am bound to say, and know only too well, that she has weathered over the years so much better than I have.

Motion agreed.

House adjourned at 5.14 pm.