Baroness Evans of Bowes Park debates involving the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office during the 2019 Parliament

Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Excerpts
Friday 9th September 2022

(1 year, 7 months ago)

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Lord Bishop of Durham Portrait The Lord Bishop of Durham
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My Lords, I begin by paying tribute to Her Majesty the Queen for all that she gave to us and thanking those noble Lords who have already made tributes. The noble Lord, Lord True, and the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, moved me to tears for the first time, for which I thank them—because tears matter.

My first personal meeting with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was as Bishop of Southampton. In 2007, Romsey celebrated the 500th year of its royal charter and the 900th anniversary of the foundation of its wonderful abbey. Her Majesty had been a regular visitor to Broadlands, the home of the Mountbatten family, so local people took the opportunity to tell me their memories of bumping into Her Majesty as she walked locally, popped into the shops or made her way to worship in the abbey. This highlighted for me her humanity, interest in people’s lives, concern for the local community and commitment to worship and prayer.

At the close of the service, together we examined James I’s seal on the royal charter. She delighted in explaining to me the continuity between her seal and his: notably, both were seated on a horse. She made an observation on the horse’s gait, for she was concerned for its welfare. Concern for welfare also struck me during my visit to Sandringham as the bishop in residence when I was Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham. Her conversation included concern for the welfare of her family, the nation, the Commonwealth and her beloved—that is the word that she used—Church of England. It was “education Sunday”, so there was some discussion with Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh on education in our nation. While Prince Philip took a fairly robust approach to the discussion, Her Majesty was entirely focused on wanting to know that the welfare of children as well- rounded human beings was at the heart of all our education.

Her commitment to welfare makes me note also that yesterday morning there was the wonderful news of the success of the malaria vaccine. Given Her Majesty’s love of the Commonwealth, and the scourge that malaria remains, might we consider that one memorial could be that this be known as the Elizabeth malaria vaccine, and that a significant sum be committed by us as a nation to its distribution through the Commonwealth nations that need it, in memory of her?

In conclusion, I celebrate, with others, the centrality of Her Majesty’s faith in Jesus Christ, and her life of prayer. I know that the people of the north-east of England, whom I have come to learn expect the Bishop of Durham to speak on their behalf, always valued Her Majesty’s visits to the region. They will want me to express on their behalf today their sorrow at Her Majesty’s passing, their prayers for the Royal Family in their grieving, their commitment to our new King, His Majesty King Charles III, and their deep thanksgiving for Her Majesty’s life of faith, service, kindness and duty. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, in heaven, we thank you. His Majesty King Charles III, we promise our loyalty.

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Con)
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My Lords, just over three months ago, I had the honour to lead the tributes in this House for Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee. As I commented in my closing remarks, it was probably the most uplifting debate that I was involved in as Leader of the House. The love, affection and respect that noble Lords from all Benches had for Her Majesty shone through every contribution, so it is with the most immense and profound sadness that I speak today.

The Queen gave us seven decades of dedicated service. Just as she proclaimed she would at the age of 21, she devoted her life to the United Kingdom, the realms and the Commonwealth. As the Prime Minister said yesterday, Queen Elizabeth was the very spirit of our nation, the rock on which modern Britain was built. Her service and dedication were truly remarkable.

Holding the role of Leader of this House is a privilege in all its respects and daunting in many, but I would be lying if I did not admit that most of the “Pinch me, is this really happening?” moments that I experienced over the last six years involved Her Majesty. Perhaps the most public was carrying the cap of maintenance during the State Opening of Parliament. During her reign, she opened every Parliament bar three, a testament to her overriding sense of duty. Little did I realise that my role was not only a huge and terrifying responsibility but a feat of endurance, as that cap is a lot heavier than it looks.

As Leader of the House and Lord Privy Seal, you have the honour of attending, among other things, state banquets, the diplomatic reception, the Remembrance Day service at the Cenotaph and, of course, Privy Council meetings. I was always amazed and impressed by Her Majesty’s knowledge about any topic that you could think of, her ability to put anybody at ease and the twinkle in her eye when you did not quite follow established protocol. I suspect that noble Lords will not be entirely surprised to learn that, despite my best efforts, I saw that twinkle on more than one occasion.

When we moved to virtual Privy Council meetings due to the pandemic, it was sadly no longer possible to have those enjoyable informal conversations in person with Her Majesty after the official business. Instead, all of us attending were asked to update Her Majesty on our areas of responsibility. She was always very interested and, of course, extremely knowledgeable about what was happening in your Lordships’ House. As well as highlighting the important work that we were doing, I always tried to include an amusing anecdote or comment, as there was nothing quite like the feeling of knowing that you had made Her Majesty chuckle. Sadly, it has turned out that I attended the last meeting that she presided over.

EU-UK Partnership Council

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Excerpts
Tuesday 18th January 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

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Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Evans of Bowes Park) (Con)
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My Lords, we have not yet heard from a non-affiliated Member, so we will do so now.

Baroness Hoey Portrait Baroness Hoey (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, how will Her Majesty’s Government judge the success of this partnership and whether it is worth continuing in the future?

Peat

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Excerpts
Tuesday 18th January 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

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Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Evans of Bowes Park) (Con)
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My Lords, it is the turn of the Liberal Democrats. The noble Lord, Lord Jones of Cheltenham, wishes to speak virtually and this is a convenient point to call him.

Lord Jones of Cheltenham Portrait Lord Jones of Cheltenham (LD) [V]
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My Lords, the UK’s peatlands are of immeasurable importance, storing three billion tonnes of carbon—as much as the forests of the UK, Germany and France combined. What discussions have the Government had with other countries about stopping the extraction of peat, and was any progress made at the recent COP 26?

DWP: Support for Larger Families

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Excerpts
Tuesday 11th January 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

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Baroness Stedman-Scott Portrait Baroness Stedman-Scott (Con)
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We recognise that some people may require extra support over the winter as we enter the final stages of recovery. That is why vulnerable households across the country will now be able to access the new £500 million support fund to help them with essentials. We have provided £670 million in 2021-22 for local authorities to support these people. We are investing over £200 million per year in holiday activities. We are increasing healthy-start vouchers. We are establishing a 60-day breathing period and, as I have said before, without reading out a long shopping list, I will say that we are doing a lot to help people.

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Evans of Bowes Park) (Con)
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My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Jones of Cheltenham, wishes to speak virtually, and I think this is a convenient point to call him.

Lord Jones of Cheltenham Portrait Lord Jones of Cheltenham (LD) [V]
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My Lords, every child deserves decent food, shelter and care, and an equal opportunity for good education and healthcare, whatever the size of their family. Leading environmentalists, including Sir David Attenborough, say that the world’s greatest problem is an ever-increasing human population. Do the Government believe that vasectomies provide part of the answer and do they think that male sports stars, celebrities and politicians who have six, seven or eight children should have a vasectomy to set an example and help save the planet?

Kazakhstan

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Excerpts
Tuesday 11th January 2022

(2 years, 3 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, as I have said, we have made very clear through our direct exchanges with my Kazakh counterparts the importance of upholding human rights—the right to free protest and the right to challenge Governments. We have been reassured by statements and comments made recently but, as the noble Lord, Lord Alton, pointed out, it is about not just statements but actions. We are observing the situation very closely.

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Evans of Bowes Park) (Con)
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My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, wishes to speak virtually. I think this is a convenient point to call him.

Lord Campbell-Savours Portrait Lord Campbell-Savours (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, is not one of the drivers behind Kazakhstan’s unacceptable aggression America’s unrelenting desire to foment trouble in former Soviet satellite states? If our policy is to promote democratic values in Kazakhstan, would it not be more effective to foster a very different policy approach from that adopted by the Americans and challenge many of the decisions they are now taking in eastern Europe?

Social Security (Up-rating of Benefits) Bill

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Excerpts
Amendments 6 to 8 not moved.
Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Evans of Bowes Park) (Con)
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My Lords, before my noble friend moves her amendment, it is my duty to draw the attention of the Committee to the advice I have received from the Legislation Office and ask the Committee to endorse it. It is rare for a Leader to advise the Committee in these circumstances. Since 1999, my predecessors have done so on only four occasions, and on all but one the House has endorsed the impartial advice given.

My noble friend’s amendment is not admissible under the rules governing what is relevant to a Bill. The Public Bill Office, therefore, properly and promptly advised me of that fact. Paragraph 8.56 of the Companion to the Standing Orders states that the Leader of the House

“draws the House’s attention to the advice when the amendment is called, and asks the House to endorse the advice of the Legislation Office … the admissibility of an amendment can ultimately be decided only by the House itself, there being no authority that can in advance rule an amendment out of order.”

To ensure that the advice is clear and available to all, I have placed the Clerk’s advice and my open letter to the party and group leaders about it in the Library of the House. If I may briefly assist the Committee, I will explain further why my noble friend’s amendment is not admissible before turning to the unusual decision the Committee is being asked to take.

The amendment is not within the scope of the Social Security (Up-rating of Benefits) Bill. This is because the Bill covers one narrow topic and has only one purpose: the uprating for one year of the basic and new state pension, the standard minimum element of pension credit, and survivors’ benefits in industrial death benefit. Only amendments relating to the purpose of the Bill or touching on matters closely connected with it are permitted. My noble friend may point to the title of the Bill as being broad, but I am afraid that, in this case, that is not relevant. As the Clerk’s advice says, the scope of a Bill is defined by its purposes as contained in its clauses and schedules, not the title. Bills can have what might seem to be very wide titles but be narrow in scope. The advice from the Clerk is clear and unambiguous, and I hope my noble friend will not seek to challenge it and will not move her amendment today or bring it back at a later stage.

However, the fate of the amendment is ultimately in the hands of the House, as the Companion says, so, if I may, I will end with a wider point about how we work. So far this Session, 1,144 amendments have been considered by your Lordships’ House. The fact that every amendment is debated, and every point of view considered, enhances the quality of the legislation that makes its way on to the statute book. But this works only if we all respect the rules and conventions the House has set itself. We are a self-regulating House, and we rightly take pride in that, but that does not mean there are no rules. It means Members’ good sense and restraint must be relied upon to police those rules we set ourselves in our Companion and Standing Orders.

Many Members feel incredibly strongly about particular issues that are close to their hearts but work within the rules of the House to achieve the changes they passionately believe in, because they understand the damage to the House, its reputation and standing if they do not. So I very much hope noble Lords will carefully consider their stance on this amendment. As a House, we rely on the professional and impartial advice of our clerks; we rely on the judgment of Members to abide by the few rules we have; and we rely on the House as a whole to ensure that, in the last resort, the rules are enforced.

Amendment 9

Moved by

Pandemics and Environmental Degradation

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Excerpts
Wednesday 24th February 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

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Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer Portrait Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer (LD) [V]
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My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply. This pandemic is a stark example of exactly what those pieces of research have found: what happens when nature is abused, whether through habitat destruction or the wildlife trade, can wreak stark things for humans. I know that the Minister, through his work with the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures, is aware that evaluation and disclosure by corporates and the investment sector is very important, but does he agree that subsequent action is even more important? What lessons would he draw from all the work on carbon issues, so that we move from high carbon emissions to much lower carbon emissions and an ambition for net—

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Evans of Bowes Park) (Con)
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That question is far too long. Can we hear from the Minister, please?

Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Portrait Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park (Con) [V]
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My Lords, there is no doubt that increased risk of pandemics is just one of the many reasons why continued destruction of the natural world is so short-sighted and damaging to our long-term interests. Ecosystem degradation and habitat disruption can dislodge pathogens; it can also bring wildlife into closer contact with humans and livestock; and climate change can lead to shifts in wildlife vector ranges and is likely to increase the risk of future pandemics by driving the mass movement of people and wildlife. This is a priority issue for the UK Government.