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.