Debating the Queen's Speech

Lord Norton

The House has begun five days of debate on the Queen’s Speech.  I have been sat in the chamber listening to today’s debate, which focuses on foreign and European affairs, international development and defence.  Though different topics are allocated to each day, the five days of debate are deemed to constitute one debate on the Speech.  As a result, a peer can speak only once during the five days.   The number who are speaking is remarkably large: a total of 187 over the five days.  No less than 43 peers will be speaking in Monday’s debate on home, legal and constitutional affairs, and 41 in next Wednesday’s debate on business and economic affairs, consumer affairs and culture.  There are 38 speakers in today’s debate.  Each back-bench speaker is limited to a maximum of fifteen minutes, but even so the debates are likely to be lengthy.

No less than eight peers will be making their maiden speeches in the debates.  They include three bishops, the Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, and – one to watch – Lord Sugar.  Lord Sugar will be speaking in next Wednesday’s debate on the economy.

9 comments for “Debating the Queen's Speech

  1. woolfgangkleidung
    19/11/2009 at 4:26 pm

    Here something for you to discuss

    The idea of Mandelson for a Pirate Finder General.

    Secretary of State Peter Mandelson is planning to introduce changes to the Digital Economy Bill now under debate in Parliament. These changes will give the Secretary of State (Mandelson — or his successor in the next government) the power to make “secondary legislation” (legislation that is passed without debate) to amend the provisions of Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (1988).

    What that means is that an unelected official would have the power to do anything without Parliamentary oversight or debate, provided it was done in the name of protecting copyright. Mandelson elaborates on this, giving three reasons for his proposal:

    1. The Secretary of State would get the power to create new remedies for online infringements (for example, he could create jail terms for file-sharing, or create a “three-strikes” plan that costs entire families their internet access if any member stands accused of infringement)

    2. The Secretary of State would get the power to create procedures to “confer rights” for the purposes of protecting rightsholders from online infringement. (for example, record labels and movie studios can be given investigative and enforcement powers that allow them to compel ISPs, libraries, companies and schools to turn over personal information about Internet users, and to order those companies to disconnect users, remove websites, block URLs, etc)

    3. The Secretary of State would get the power to “impose such duties, powers or functions on any person as may be specified in connection with facilitating online infringement” (for example, ISPs could be forced to spy on their users, or to have copyright lawyers examine every piece of user-generated content before it goes live; also, copyright “militias” can be formed with the power to police copyright on the web)

    This is one reason why should abolish the House of Lords.

    1. You’re redundant. You’ve passed legistalation in the past that have enabling act features. Since you can’t revise these laws, you are redundant.

    2. You’re also redundant because you haven’t prevented similar laws being passed.

  2. Carl Holbrough
    19/11/2009 at 4:26 pm

    Fifteen minutes in five days for each speaker hardly seems democratic debate, still at least it`s not legislation. I do wonder how Lord Sugar may fair at that, normally Hackney boys and indeed Brooke House boys stick together but on this occasion that won`t be true. I have little time for the self opinionated who think the poor not as good as they haven`t the same bank balance. I ask Lord Norton to point out this blog to Lord Sugar so he may prove me wrong in the coming years, if you would be so kind.

    Lord Norton is there a point to these -debates? – when definitive information is still unavailable ? Or is it simply each Lord laying out their stall so to speak ?

    • lordnorton
      21/11/2009 at 11:23 am

      Carl Holbrough: Fifteen minutes tends to be more than sufficient to make one’s points. Indeed, many peers take far less time than that. The debates can be useful in indicating the stance of peers on forthcoming measures and may alert Government to points they need to consider in drawing up the Bills promised in the Speech. On Lord Sugar, may sure you follow proceedings in the House on Wednesday.

  3. Chris K
    19/11/2009 at 4:48 pm

    I was unable to watch the State Opening yesterday as it clashed with double maths, so I’ve only just watched the recording of BBC Parliament’s excellent coverage, with Sir Michael Willcocks co-narrating. I think I spotted you and Baroness d’Souza next to Baroness Boothroyd.

    It was pleasing to be able to recognise so many parts of the Palace which I saw a mere 3 weeks ago! It was quite amazing to see how the Palace had been transformed, inside and out, in such a short time. A testament to the hard work done behind the scenes. If only government itself could be as efficient!

    Lord Sacks’ maiden speech will be interesting given his recent comments on secularism and its role in the breakdown of society. He is thoroughly decent and genuine chap who I’m sure will make a grand contribution to the House.

    • lordnorton
      21/11/2009 at 11:26 am

      Chris K: I was indeed close to, albeit at a right angle to, Baronesses Boothroyd and d’Souza. As you say, it is amazing how the Palace is transformed for State Opening, most notably the Royal Gallery and the Chamber. The change outside the Palace is also remarkable: it is good to see Old Palace Yard clear of railings and barriers. The transformation each year is done relatively quickly: those responsible for it have a well-tried routine.

  4. Bedd Gelert
    20/11/2009 at 1:03 pm

    Will Baroness Ashton be among them !?

  5. Senex
    20/11/2009 at 8:55 pm

    The government has taken upon itself to create a Fiscal Responsibility Bill that no doubt will never see the light of day in the HoL. As the Commons collectively has a close association with the nations current fiscal problems, none of them saw it coming, what faith must we put in their ability to manage our national debt problems any way.

    To be fair the HoL never saw it coming either but I would argue that it operates outside of fiscal responsibility courtesy of a vindictive Commons 1911. When we combine this lack of oversight with the public’s irresponsibility to debt then I would also argue that the public now has the Commons it deserves.

    If the HoL as second chamber operates to protect the people from its rulers it might in a wider scope also operate to protect the people from themselves. As to the Queens speech, all I see are bills that increase costs at the national level. Is this all that a socialist Commons is capable of? Spend! Spend! Spend! Bribe! Bribe! Bribe!

    The Fiscal Responsibility Bill and halving the deficit in four years leaves me perplexed. My confusion arises from the nature of our war debts 1918 through 1945 and our current debts. These war debts had a repayment term of over sixty years but the government now finds it necessary to pay even larger amounts over such a short term? Are we looking at over 100 billion or more being taken out of the economy in the next four years?

    The only reason that I can see is that we are in the hands of ‘loan sharks’ and they want their pound of flesh. What other explanation is there? Why can’t these amounts be paid off over sixty years, as was the case for the war debts? What’s the God almighty rush?

    Ref: UK settles WWII debts to allies
    War Debt Issue: World War 1
    Relative Values – US $

  6. lordnorton
    21/11/2009 at 11:26 am

    Senex: you are not the only one who is perplexed.

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