Debate on the Queen's speech

Lord Renton of Mount Harry

The Queen’s speech on this Wednesday will give us the programme of Bills that the Government intends to introduce in the six months before the 2010 election campaign starts. I am thinking of speaking in the debate next week on Business which is stangely allied in the programme for the day with Culture.

I would be very interested to know what subjects any bloggers who read this would think the most important. Six months is a short time for a Government. What would you do if you were now a Minister in the Labour  Government?

37 comments for “Debate on the Queen's speech

  1. Matthew
    16/11/2009 at 6:31 pm

    From the “oink oink flap flap” department, there’s probably time to consider introducing Proportional Representation of some form 🙂

    Or maybe re-think the policy of sending homosexual asylum seekers back to countries where homosexuality is illegal and saying “just be discreet”?

  2. 16/11/2009 at 7:00 pm

    I’d like to think that any government minister in the likely dying days of an administration would work with the civil servants to ensure a smooth handover to their replacements.

    Even though you disagree with their policies, a democracy would try to ensure a smooth handover rather than trying to rush through “poison pill” legislation to ensure current policies are implemented after the voters have decided they don’t want them.

  3. Carl Holbrough
    16/11/2009 at 7:26 pm

    Pray !
    Obey the whip (outrageous bullying at work)


    What are the important issues concerning the public ?

    1)The expenses scandal, sort it out now for good.Stop the whinging MP`s. I have to obey the rules of Inland Revenue regard what I can legally claim as expenses they should too.

    2) Immigration. It has to be bought under control including the illegal students getting into the Country via fake education establishments.

    3) More affordable housing for those that work hard but whose salaries are not large enough to buy. It is outrageous the system punishes workers whilst rewarding irresponsible youngsters and immigrants.

    4)Making sure our regulators can afford to implement current and upcoming legislation. Police are currently underfunded and under manned. Sentences that take into account the cost involved in bringing the perpetrator to justice.

    5)Remove the whips. This would never be allowed in business or any other realm save a dictatorship. The Political parties do not employ or indeed pay the MP`s they cannot be allowed to bully/coerce public servants.

    6) Removal of excessive powers of Councils e.g. the ability to use law relating to terrorism for school places/council tax etc.

    7) Make divorce a darn site harder and when it is achieved a lot more equal.Their is no equality in divorce at present.

    et al.

    The best thing a Labour Minister can do right now is assure he has a position to go to when he/she loses his seat.

  4. Mr Mulholland
    16/11/2009 at 7:55 pm

    Renegotiate with Europe.

  5. 16/11/2009 at 8:14 pm

    “What would you do if you were now a Minister in the Labour Government?”

    I’d banish myself to an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. 😉

  6. Dave Atherton
    16/11/2009 at 8:31 pm

    Bearing in mind 52 pubs are closing a month and 80,000 people have lost their jobs as a result of the smoking ban, is it not time to discuss and amendment with separate, ventilated smoking rooms?

    • chas
      16/11/2009 at 8:57 pm

      Such an amendment may regain the Labour party a few million votes from smokers.

  7. BTS
    16/11/2009 at 9:11 pm

    Probably request that they start handing out the pistols and cyanide capsules now in case there’s a backlog..

  8. Tug wilson
    16/11/2009 at 9:15 pm

    It is hard to see how this Labour government introduced the smoking ban on so-called health grounds then refuse to execpt the carnage the ban has had on our hospitality industry,it is time for reform of the ban to allow choice and to allow our Great British Pubs and Clubs to remain in business and in so doing save thousands of jobs in the industry.

  9. Nannyknowsbest
    16/11/2009 at 9:30 pm

    I would NEVER be a Labour Minister this being an oxymoron in the first place but, if I were a minister, this is what I would do.

    Make an effort to address the fact that the country is losing £14M a minute. Firstly by getting the country back to work and instead of spending billions on supporting banks who will not lend, finding a way to give small businesses access to funds for cash flow and investment. Secondly, by addressing the fact that many people “earn” more in benefits than when working – by cutting the benefits to subsistence levels.

    I would arrange a referendum (probably on line) about the EU and accept the results as binding – after all, us ministers are bound by law to represent the wishes of the majority – not to ignore them (that’s treason).

    I would look at abuses of power (misfeasance in public office) and prosecute those suspected of such action.

    I would then look at the UN definition of “Social Genocide” and seriously look at our current situation with respect to admitted policy on immigration and our “integration” with the unlawful EU – and act accordingly.

    Above all, I would “come clean” about the actual “state of the country”, this being far worse than anyone is willing to admit and take whatever action is required to ensure that this information is in the public domain (as by law it must be).

    Lastly, if I were a Labour Minister, I would, prior to the Queen’s Speech, report to Paddington Green Police Station and admit my treason, sedition and malfeasance in public office.

    This, naturally, will never happen – it could only happen in a democracy, a democracy run by honest and “honourable” people.

    In summary – why even bother with the Queen’s Speech. It’s all farce and froth anyway (I seem to recall one where we were to be given a vote on the EU – simply change a word and, hey presto, we don’t have to!!) -save the money for the last “surge” of expenses and the salaries of the MPs voted out.

    Well as they say, you asked.

    Oh – just as an afterthought, I would name one person with the stated cause of death being “second hand smoking” on his or her death certificate – if unable to do that, I would repeal this insane “law” and, at a stroke, take some 200,000 off the dole.

    If you think that my views are jaundiced and sour, then, trust me, you are right – but, outside the Westminster Village, people are fed up with more and more “laws” (many of which contradict each other”) and be assumed to have the mentality of a 5 years old – whilst 5 years olds are being assumed to have the mental prowess of a 50 year old. The country is sick.

  10. 16/11/2009 at 9:31 pm

    Repeal the smoking ban.

    There are no discernible health benefits from it. And the result is that more people are smoking, not less. And it has brought the closure of over 4,000 pubs, and countless other clubs and cafes. The most enormous damage of all has been done to the communities that have grown up around these places over many years, bringing division in families and between friends.

    This has been the most shameful and destructive piece of totalitarian legislation in 50 years. Elaine Murphy, who has had a hand in it, has a lot to answer for.

  11. Len
    16/11/2009 at 10:20 pm

    Actually, Dave, I’d like to point out that those figures are not quite clear cut. Mark Easton’s blog* highlights the fact that the classification of ‘pubs’ is a highly subjective thing and that many of these pubs are not closing, just, for example, selling more food, causing them to move between one of the sixty six categories of licenced premises that exist (of which the traditional old ‘pub’ is just one it seems). So the situation is not quite as bad as it seems.


  12. 16/11/2009 at 10:23 pm

    Demand an election – why are we bothering with a Queen’s speech when no legislation can be passed before an election?

    it’s a completely pointless period and it’s shameful that Parliament hasn’t been dissolved yet, good on Nick Clegg – it’s not surprising the Tories are happy with this thoroughly undemocratic status quo

  13. 17/11/2009 at 2:24 am

    If I were a Labour minister my decision would be dictated by whether I place country or party first.

    Placing country first I would pluck up the courage to say that the current extent of governmental spending is unaffordable and that the cost of the State machine should be cut by at least one third.

    Placing party first I would pretend that Gordon Brown is an economic genius who has led us to untold wealth, only to be thwarted at the end by evil Americans.

  14. Chris Whittaker
    17/11/2009 at 8:53 am

    Lets make it even better Dave ,all astablishments should have the choice of Smoking or not Smoking as it is their Business after all ,not the Governments and the Health and Safety executive stated in 2006 that they” Cannot produce epidemiological evidence to link levels of exposure to second hand smoke to the raised risk of contracting specific diseases” so what is the problem except for a smell ?

  15. Carl Holbrough
    17/11/2009 at 10:53 am


    8)MP`s only to be elected from people that have lived in the area they intend to represent for at least 5 years. There is far too much fiddling by parties to get the people they want elected by foisting them on areas they have no idea about. They cannot truely represent an area they do not know.

  16. Croft
    17/11/2009 at 11:33 am

    As a former Chief practitioner of the black arts ’89-90 I expect you know exactly what the purpose of the Queens Speech is; to flush out Tory policies by goading them into attacking some unfunded motherhood and apple pie proposals. Time constraints ensure many of the proposals won’t ever see bill form let alone get passed but they are an election manifesto of sorts and that is all Labour ministers will be concerned about.

  17. killemallletgodsorte
    17/11/2009 at 12:28 pm

    I’d take a loaded Webley and Scott .38 and offer it to Gordon Brown, the worst parliamentarian ever, and gently persuade him that there is no point in living after next May, as Mandy et al know all the secrets about nappies and rocking horses.

  18. 17/11/2009 at 3:23 pm

    Well, Lord Renton, you’ve certainly come up with a question here! It reminds me of Eric Morecombe’s “Get out of that without moving!”

    I think we should accept that there’s no quick fix solution to the problems of either the country or the Labour Party.

    The surface problems are, of course, economic, as they almost invariably seem to be when governments have problems with elections. Having said that, the background music set by other policies is not helping either.

    The Government needs to be seen to be embarking on the measures necessary to balance the books. I would advise modest increases in taxation and reductions in universal allowances to restrict them to those in need as viable first measures able to command respect without overly damaging Labour’s prospects. A proportion of this money could subsidise new jobs, the remainder to reduce borrowing.

    I sympathise entirely with the smokers, but do not see how U-turning on this issue will help at this stage.

    I would also increase devolution to the Welsh Assembly by removing the requirement that Welsh measures have to be approved in council in London, which, as I understand it, puts the Welsh on a level playing field with the Isle of Man.

    I do understand the present set up gives the Welsh far more autonomy than anyone in England is likely to achieve for the next several millennia, but then, I didn’t set out to conquer anywhere.

    • Chris F J Cyrnik
      17/11/2009 at 7:58 pm

      This rotten Government reneged on their manifesto pledge not to bring in a blanket smoking ban. The very least they can do is repeal this spiteful and unnecessary ban.

      Many social lives have been destroyed because of this…and this has changed the social fabric of this once tolerant society of ours.

      This ban has largely been predicated on dubious ‘junk science’ about so-called ‘passive smoking’ killing people…which of course it never has…there is no intrinsic medical proof, ie; autopsy evidence that anyone has ever been killed by ‘passive smoking, still, you can’t expect out of touch bods in politics to understand that…can you?

      There are several big gardens round my neck of the woods that share a massive dung heap for composting purposes…I’m sure that when it runs out…you lot would provide a suitable replacement!

      • Dr Steven Johnson
        18/11/2009 at 11:43 pm

        You don’t seem to understand Mr Cyrnik that SHS(second hand smoke)kills at least 100,000 people a year, and this figure is growing daily.

        I organize and run an anti-smoking patrol watch in my community with other like minded people, and we have had much success in bringing about prosections for those who choose to flout the ban.

        We gather photo and camcorder evidence of those illegally smoking, and pass it on to the relevant authorities, who then take the matter further.

        Also we give this information to local GPs and dentists, who assure us that those caught out by our vigilance will be refused treatment when the time comes.

        There is broad agreement in and around our community that this is a good approach, and is working well.

      • Dave Atherton
        19/11/2009 at 11:14 am

        Dr. Steven “University Of Phoenix” Johnson

        I must get on a plane to Arizona and set up an anti speeding patrol. I will follow you around in your car and very time you speed, jump a red light, tailgate or use your cell phone I will collate the camcorder evidence to have you prosecuted. Its for your own good and the community.

        So you pass the information on to doctors and dentists so they are refused treatment? I can assure you under American medical law you can sue the practitioner for malpractice.

        Don’t you sum up the fascist intolerence of anti smokers, you are a depraved individual.

      • Helen
        19/11/2009 at 2:46 pm

        If you deem your approach to be working so well Dr Johnson, then why are more people, as you state, being killed daily?

        The blanket ban was an unecessary, extreme measure resulting in huge damage to the economy and communities in general. This is before the political fall-out as a blanket ban never existed in the labour manifesto.

        It’s no wonder that in the majority of places that blanket bans are used, smoking prevalence increases.

        Unfortunately, it’s once bitten twice shy for me. I could never believe a word written in a labour manifesto again.

      • 19/11/2009 at 4:05 pm

        @Chris Cyrnik & Steven Johnson:Are you two an item? Just asking.

  19. Carl Holbrough
    18/11/2009 at 11:48 am

    Looking at brief details of the Queens speech on the BBC site it appears absolute waffle.

    1) Reduction of the budget deficit by 50% in 4 years.
    Unlikely as they won`t be in power, nor do I believe they have the technical ability to achieve it.

    2)Financial Services and Business Bill – clamp down on bonuses for bankers taking too many risks.
    What exactly is “Too many risks” ? Banking is a risky business, shares etc., is a gamble and bonuses are based on results.The Banking industry already has enough voluntary and indeed regulatory organisations.

    3) The Flood and Water Management Bill – give councils powers to prevent floods.
    I believe they already have the powers, it is money they state they are short of, possibly due to mismanagement.

    4)Social Care Bill – neediest elderly to get home care.
    I`m going to sound extremely harsh now. I`m sorry but if you have assets and are able to pay you should, after all I think the people that are complaining the most are the sons and daughters who would like a windfall when their parents die. By all mean put into place a scheme where the elderly stay in their homes but care cost is put against their assets and recouped upon death.

    I know that sounds really bad but what is happening is that people are inheriting parents homes and renting them to social cases for which the Government pays rent. These rents are currently around £180 per week for a 3 bed property. Add to that the average families tax/child credits (2-3 kids) at approx £250 per week and this family will never be able to afford to go to work. If the housing problem is not solved, in some cases by being harsh, the social welfare problem will not be solved.

    5)Policing, Crime and Private Security Bill – DNA of more sex offenders added to database

    Innocent people who have been accused already have their DNA kept for 6 years. So perhaps I need more details of whats intended.

    6)Energy Bill – give Ofgem more powers to keep prices down

    Very vague at present.

    7)Bribery Bill – make it offence to bribe foreign officials and for business to fail to prevent bribery

    They`ll be a loophole or an excuse.

    8)Digital Economy Bill – set up fund to bring in universal broadband by 2012

    Microsoft love you Labour. Will they be bringing in grants to maintain equipment in homes next.Laughable, some rural homes haven`t got proper sewage, electric or gas.

    9)Cluster Munitions Prohibition Bill – ratify international ban on cluster bombs

    Which Israel, Iran and who knows will ignore.

    • wolfgang
      18/11/2009 at 3:27 pm

      Quite. Notice how its bribe foreign officials. Couldn’t possible have bribery of British officials made illegal.

      Why no prosecutions so far?

      Why no ammendments to make it a criminal offence?

      Or is it that someone attempted to bribe a Lord, but because the Lord wouldn’t have succeeded its not a problem? I remember that being used as an excuse.

  20. Senex
    18/11/2009 at 1:13 pm

    How about a UK public holiday in November?

    “Since 1947, or possibly earlier, the National Turkey Federation has presented the President of the United States with one live turkey and two dressed turkeys, in a ceremony known as the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation. The live turkey is pardoned and lives out the rest of its days on a peaceful farm.”

    Historically, a bird in the hand is worth two in the Bush?

    Ref: Thanksgiving: 1942 to present

  21. Carl Holbrough
    19/11/2009 at 10:15 am

    Dr Steven Johnson said
    “Also we give this information to local GPs and dentists, who assure us that those caught out by our vigilance will be refused treatment when the time comes.”

    This is an abhorrent practice, denying treatment to anyone who needs it. There are many things that are done which cause damage such as alcohol, which on a Saturday night fills our hospitals let alone the damage to brain, liver etc. There is also much evidence that alcohol causes as much cancer as tobacco.

    Please note I am not for tobacco but will not see any part of our Nation denied treatment because of bigotry. If the Government hasn`t the courage for a complete ban, you cannot blame smokers and if they did you would then have to treat smokers as it would be classed an addiction as is heroin etc.

    Dr Steven Johnson please answer me this. Do you not give charity to 3rd World nations, who are in famine, simply because they will not practice contraception ?

    Apologies my Lord for what may seem an abrasive post but some things infuriate.

  22. Dave Atherton
    19/11/2009 at 10:49 am

    @Dr Steven Johnson.

    How wrong can you be on passive smoking. BTW are you the Dr. Steven Johnson of the University of Phoenix? The way you spelt organise gave your foreign credentials away.

    On passive smoking I will give you two pieces of American evidence. In 1993 Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), chairman of the House subcommittee on Health and the Environment, the Congressional Research Service produced a definitive study on the perils of secondhand smoke. Their conclusions, contrary to Waxman’s expectations, rejected the hypothesis that mainstream smoke and secondhand smoke are chemically identical, stating that secondhand smoke is “substantially diluted… when compared to even low levels of active smoking.” They further stated that:

    •the statistical evidence does not appear to support a conclusion that there are substantial health effects of passive smoking;
    •it is possible that very few or even no deaths can be attributed to ETS;
    •if there are any lung cancer deaths from ETS exposure, they are likely to be concentrated among those subjected to the highest exposure levels… primarily among those nonsmokers subjected to significant spousal ETS.
    •‘Even when overall risk is considered, it is a very small risk and is not statistically significant at a conventional 95% level.’

  23. Rob Simpson
    19/11/2009 at 2:12 pm

    Yes, repeal the smoking ban. Not only has it not saved one single life, not only has it caused financial devestation to thousands of businesses, pushed 10s of thousands out of work and marginalised millions, it gives tinpot tyrants like Dr Stephen Johnson a mandate to push his fellow citizens around… safely.

    I notice he’s not prowling the streets looking for kids up to no good, muggers or drug dealers. No, no, no, THEY might retaliate.

    Lets starting winding in the surveillence and bully state and start treating liberty like it’s actually important.

  24. woolfgangkleidung
    19/11/2009 at 5:37 pm

    The problem on the second hand smoke is that the test is being applied the wrong way round.

    Smoke cigarettes kills people, and that has been shown statistically.

    Now can you offer proof that second hand smoke doesn’t?

    No, all you can offer is that you haven’t taken a large enough sample.

  25. Dave Atherton
    19/11/2009 at 6:21 pm


    Your wish is my command. I accept many of the arguments on ACTIVE smoking, it is PASSIVE smoking where we differ. The 2003 Enstrom/Kabat study had 118,000 participents, 35,000 were partners of smokers. It covered a 38 year period from 1960 to 1998 and was 95% funded by the anti smoking American Cancer Society (ACS) and after the “wrong” results were found in 1997 the last year was funded by tobacco companies. Al the data was supplied by the ACS and was peer reviewed by the British Medical Journal. It says in plain English that passive smoking is not “causal” of lung cancer and heart disease. Its conclusions were:

    “Conclusions The results do not support a causal relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality, although they do not rule out a small effect. The association between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and coronary heart disease and lung cancer may be considerably weaker than generally believed.

    Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, primarily asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema, has been associated with exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, but the evidence for increased mortality is sparse.”

    • woolfgangkleidung
      19/11/2009 at 8:01 pm

      It’s a question of freedom.

      There are two types of freedom. The freedom to do something, and the freedom from something.

      Here the question is who’s rights take precedence? Your right to smoke, versus other people’s rights not to smoke.

      Freedoms not to always win.

      Now for your arguments. Given we know the harm of active smoking, you have to show the absence of harm from passive smoking.

      That is a much higher hurdle to pass than the proof for harm since you can’t prove your case if the answer is ambiguous.

      However, the evidence for harm from is in your own post. Why should the hurdle only be that passive smoking is outlawed if it kills. Maiming others not a sufficient hurdle?

      PS My posts on the costs of the Lords are disappearing into the ether again.

  26. Nannyknowsbest
    19/11/2009 at 9:06 pm


    No matter how much one tries, it is mathematically impossible to “prove” a negative.
    One could take the details of every person that has ever lived, has ever died and will ever die in the future and, despite ones best efforts, one cannot “prove” that SHS did NOT kill them. Simply because, everyone concerned also drank water, ate food and probably got married and had children. If you can PROVE that none of these factors killed them, regardless of their cause of death, then I will present the “proof” that you ask for with reference to SHS. Can you “prove” that, in some waym you were not responsible for the recent death of my Father in Law – by something that you either did, or failed to do?

    I so not seek to enter an argument but, one simply cannot prove that the absence of anything could have a tangible effect – life, the Universe, mathematics and physics simply dictate that to be a fact.


  27. Tug wilson
    19/11/2009 at 9:39 pm

    The problem with “claims” over SHS deaths in the world, no one can produce any evidence to back up such claims,to say smoking is bad for the smoker is one thing,but to claim that the wisp of smoke from a smoker will kill others,then that would require proof,no such proof can be shown.The majority of studies make it very clear that SHS is Not a danger.

  28. wolfgang
    20/11/2009 at 3:09 am

    “Conclusions The results do not support a causal relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality, although they do not rule out a small effect. The association between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and coronary heart disease and lung cancer may be considerably weaker than generally believed.

    Let me put this statement in the same statistical terms. [I’ve a degree in the subject]

    The results do not support the assertion that passive smoking has no risks.

    It’s the dual of the statement.

    Now, where do you start from?

    From your pro smoking position, you start by saying smoking has been shown to have risk, now you have to prove in addition that passive smoking has no risk.

    However, that’s a set up.

    Smoking causes deaths. Now for passive smoking the onus is on you to prove its not risking.

    It’s not smoking has been shown to be a risk, now show passive is a risk.

    Given we know that smoking is a risk the default case is that any smoking is a risk.

    ie. Juggling flaming torches is a risk. Now prove juggling razors is a risk.


  29. wolfgang
    20/11/2009 at 5:10 pm

    Here you are operating in statistical space. It’s not about proof, its about probabilities.

    It’s more than 95% certain that smoking causes death. You are asking that its more than 95% certain that passive smoking causes deaths to be the threshold.

    I’m saying that is wrong. Given the causal link with smoke for smokers, the test for you should be that there is a 95% chance that passive smoking does not cause damage.

    You’re saying that we can’t show 95% certainty either way, so we have to assume its safe.


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