7 Lord Gardiner of Kimble debates involving the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

Northern Ireland Protocol Bill

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Excerpts
As the noble Lord, Lord Caine, was not able to confirm to me on Monday whether the Government are formally seeking that the EU change its mandate for negotiations, in this Bill we are seeking to remove from the protocol a key part that the Government negotiated. So I hope that the Government can provide crystal clarity on this point, because it is needed for the economy of all parts of the UK. I beg to move.
Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait The Senior Deputy Speaker (Lord Gardiner of Kimble)
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My Lords, I must inform the House that, if Amendment 16 is agreed to, I will not be able to call Amendments 17, 18 or 19 by reason of pre-emption.

Lord Judge Portrait Lord Judge (CB)
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My Lords, I shall be very brief and will say nothing about the breadth of the power being sought by Clause 12. I will read Clause 12(3):

“A Minister of the Crown may, by regulations, make any provision which the Minister considers appropriate”.


We all know what that means: a Minister will be empowered to create any regulations as he or she thinks fit. That is not objective: as he or she, sitting down, thinks fit. It is purely subjective. If we allow this piece of legislation to go through, we are saying to the Minister, “At whatever time it may suit you, take a blank sheet of paper and either write with a pen or type on your laptop whatever you think you want”. That will then be put before the Commons and the Lords, and, as they have not rejected anything for an eternity in real terms, it will become law.

Is that really how we think that power should be given to Ministers anywhere within the UK? It surely is not. There are other ways of making regulations. Good heavens, no Minister needs a lesson from me in how to create regulations; we are bombarded with them all time. But I do ask the House: is this really how we expect to be governed? The Minister can do what the Minister likes. The clause uses a different and longer phrase—“considers appropriate”—but it really means no more than whatever he or she wishes. It is not good enough.

Gender Pay Gap

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Excerpts
Tuesday 23rd November 2021

(2 years, 7 months ago)

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Baroness Stedman-Scott Portrait Baroness Stedman-Scott (Con)
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You cannot argue with that. On transparency, I am absolutely with the noble Lord, but the issue of publishing everything on tax and salary is well beyond my pay grade. I will talk to my friends in the Treasury.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait The Senior Deputy Speaker (Lord Gardiner of Kimble)
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My Lords, that concludes Oral Questions for today.

Afghanistan: Women and Girls

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Excerpts
Tuesday 7th September 2021

(2 years, 9 months ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, overseas aid is an important part of our package, but the Taliban must live up to their promises, and no aid will be directed through those channels. We need to work with agencies on the ground to ensure that those who most need the aid receive it.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait The Senior Deputy Speaker (Lord Gardiner of Kimble)
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My Lords, all supplementary questions have been asked, and we now move to the next Question.

Ethiopia

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Excerpts
Tuesday 15th June 2021

(3 years ago)

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Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Con)
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My Lords, I apologise as I did not catch the whole of my noble friend’s question because of the connection, but I picked up the main gist. As the Prime Minister’s special representative on PSVI—preventing sexual violence in conflict—I can assure her that we have prioritised this. On identifying personnel from our team, we are currently looking to formally deploy directly on the ground in the coming weeks. We have been working with agencies on the ground, including UNICEF, Red Crescent and the Ethiopian Red Cross Society. Thus far, although the situation is dire, we are currently supporting 545 survivors— 542 women and 3 men— directly with case management services. The proportion of people impacted internally and through allegations of sexual violence is far greater, so there is further work to do and this is a key priority for me as the Prime Minister’s special representative.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait The Senior Deputy Speaker (Lord Gardiner of Kimble) (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, all supplementary questions have been asked.

Queen’s Speech

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Excerpts
Thursday 28th May 2015

(9 years ago)

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Lord Hylton Portrait Lord Hylton (CB)
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My Lords, I believe I can claim to be the first member of this Parliament to visit, just last week, the canton of Jazira, in what can be called a free Syria. It exists in the far north-east of that country and is one of three mainly Kurdish cantons. These make up what Kurds call Rojava—that is, western Kurdistan. The other two cantons are Kobane, which has already been much in the news, and Afrin, still further to the west. The problem is that ISIS has infiltrated itself up to the Turkish frontier, thus cutting off all three cantons from each other. I suggest that the allied strategy should be to drive ISIS out of the two pockets of land that it occupies, thus reuniting the three cantons. This would help to sever ISIS from Turkey, stopping its flow of recruits and other forms of support.

After crossing the River Tigris, with the approval of the Kurdish Regional Government, I was warmly welcomed by the authorities of Jazira Canton. They provided an escort, transport, an interpreter and comfortable accommodation. I was able to meet members of the elected assembly and of all the political parties, as well as the Executive. I also met young men and women being trained for democratic life and practice, which I found very interesting. I visited a large refugee camp with Yazidi people from around Sinjar and Arabic speakers from Rabia, both of which are across the border in Iraq.

When Assad’s forces and officials fled the north-east of Syria in 2011, the Kurds, as the largest single group, might have seized power. Instead, they decided to create common citizenship with the Assyrians, the Arabs and other smaller minorities. They call this system “self-administration”. It has a constitution providing for the separation of powers and for the ending of capital and corporal punishment, and torture. A social contract has been adopted, strongly proclaiming equality for women.

ISIS has made attacks on Jazira, but these have been held back by the local self-defence forces, who are all unpaid volunteers. The atmosphere in the four towns we visited was peaceful and friendly, despite checkpoints on the main roads. Morale was high and harvests had begun. Sheep and lambs were being exported to Iraqi Kurdistan. I urge Her Majesty’s Government to visit the canton and see for themselves. This can be done quite easily from Irbil.

I have four further suggestions. First, Jazira has a grain surplus. Because of the difficult access, much of last year’s crop is still in store, unsold. Will the Government persuade the World Food Programme to buy these cereals, together with a proportion of the 2015 harvest? Secondly, will they persuade the KRG to allow the construction of a second pontoon bridge across the Tigris? The sections for a stronger bridge are already lying idle on the Jazira bank. To do this would double or treble the transit capacity, to the benefit of all. Thirdly, will they examine the state of the oil field, which has some 1,300 wells, only 30 of which are now producing just for local use? The immediate need is for an efficient small refinery to replace very crude methods that cause pollution and involve the flaring of surplus gas. In the longer term, crude oil could be exported via the KRG and Turkey. Fourthly, and perhaps most difficult of all, will the Government seek to persuade Turkey to open its border enough to allow medical and relief supplies to enter all three cantons, perhaps under the supervision of the usual international agencies? This is essential to meet local needs and those of Syrians who have fled the civil war into the cantons. I am providing the Department for International Development with precise details of the medicines needed. I believe that I have met people who would become friends of this country if only we could act effectively to help them. In any case, we should do so for ethical reasons.

As I have a few minutes, I will turn very briefly to our aid budget, now pegged to 0.7% of GNP. DfID seems to have had some difficulty recently in spending this effectively and has had to rely to a large extent on consultants. I therefore recommend that it examines with great care the two cases of Lebanon, where I was in March, and Tunisia, where a British charity of which I am a trustee helped to facilitate the national dialogue which has enabled reasonable political progress to happen. Those two countries, Lebanon and Tunisia, have each taken in more than 1 million refugees—in the first case from Syria and in the second including some migrants from the rest of Africa. As it so happens, one might say that they are also the leading lights of democracy in the Middle East, so I urge that great priority should be given to those two cases.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con)
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My Lords, I hope it will be helpful to the House if I suggest that if the House is to rise at about 7.30 pm, it would be extremely helpful if noble Lords who are to speak could spend about seven minutes on their contributions. We will otherwise find that the House has to sit late, which I am sure is not the wish of your Lordships. I would be most grateful for your Lordships’ co-operation.

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Lord Maclennan of Rogart Portrait Lord Maclennan of Rogart (LD)
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My Lords, we just heard a very forceful speech, all of which I profoundly agree with. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Davies, for focusing on the European Union, which is, it seems to me, the centre of the debate today. Others have talked about the fallout in the Middle East and the disruption of Africa by extremists. All that is true, but if Britain is going to play a significant role in dealing with these problems, I believe that we have to be part of a strong Europe that can talk to itself about these issues, address the priorities and focus on these global issues. The European Union has the capacity to do that. It is falling apart, in some respects, at the moment, and that is partly because we in this country are taking on 27 members and not addressing the problems of the Union together in a concentrated way. It is inevitable that one against 27 will stimulate opposition. I believe that that is the wrong approach to reforming the European Union.

There used to be a Council of Ministers dealing with the single market. That has passed by, which is, unfortunately, a weakness. The service sector in particular needs attention if we are to see the 70% of the EU economy integrated into the Common Market. The service sector is the area where deepening the single market would deliver the largest gains. We lag behind the United States in that respect and it should be the focus of our Ministers.

There should also be regular meetings between the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament to discern and agree what should be the work programme of the Union. It is not the best way to do things to bat things across the net and to have each body feeling that it can bash out a policy of its own. There should also be an assessment of the impact of rule-making, which should be independent of the Commission. There are commercial bodies that the Council could agree to appoint to assess the impact of the measures being proposed.

The question of subsidiarity also causes anxiety. The Union has in many respects overlegislated, interfering in too pernickety a way with the trade of individual countries. There is a case for national parliaments having an institution in the Union in Brussels so that they are heard before the Union carries its initiation of policy too far. The national parliaments have a good record on showing their appraisals of these things. This country, particularly the House of Lords committee on which I have served and its sub-committees, has shown very effectively how best to analyse what is happening. The yellow-card proposal has not worked as yet. It would seem to me that if a third of the countries were to produce a yellow card it ought to stop the European Union in its tracks.

Some of the criticisms of the Union are made by those who suspect corruption and ill-directed use of budgetary funds. That could be better overseen by the public auditors. They have a record of producing their reactions too slowly. It takes up to two years sometimes, by which time the issue has flown away. That needs to be addressed.

As far as the European Union’s external policies are concerned, it was a great step forward to create the European External Action Service, but it needs to be more integrated domestically and with the Commission. The budget for the External Action Service is not, I believe, big enough. We should look at that because it could be the agency that enables the Union to take stronger action in the global problems that face us.

Finally, if we are to satisfy Britain’s requirements, we need to acknowledge that that the eurozone and those members not in the eurozone need to be working closer together. We need to have observers in eurozone meetings so that if the market might be damaged by proposed decisions, that danger can be raised as early as possible.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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I seek to be helpful again to your Lordships, but we are reaching a point where we will rise particularly late. Many contributions are well served if they are succinct. I hope that noble Lords will forgive me for interrupting again.

European Union (Referendum) Bill

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Excerpts
Friday 24th January 2014

(10 years, 4 months ago)

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Lord Foulkes of Cumnock Portrait Lord Foulkes of Cumnock
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My Lords, there is a problem here. I am ready to move Amendment 40, but no explanation has been given to my noble friends Lord Anderson and Lord Wigley on why their amendments have been pre-empted. With respect, either the Chairman, the Clerk, the Government or the mover of the Motion—there is an option; all four of them—should let the noble Lords, Lord Anderson and Lord Wigley, know why their amendments have been pre-empted. If they have, I am ready to move Amendment 40. If they have not, the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, is ready to move Amendment 33.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble (Con)
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My Lords, it may be helpful if I read from the brief, which suggests that, if Amendment 28 is agreed to, we cannot call Amendments 31 to 39 inclusive because of pre-emption. That is the reason why we are moving to Amendment 40.

Lord Anderson of Swansea Portrait Lord Anderson of Swansea
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Confusion now has sown its masterpiece. I do not understand on what basis my amendment was pre-empted, and, on a matter of courtesy, no one has told me that this was so. We have not debated these matters which, in my judgment, are important. That is why I limited my speech on the report in relation to alternatives to a very brief statement so that I could develop my points in relation to Amendments 33 to 39.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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My Lords, I apologise but my understanding is that the relevant text in the Bill has been removed. Amendments 31 to 39 have fallen, as it were, because of the pre-emption. That provision has gone.

Lord Greaves Portrait Lord Greaves
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Perhaps I can help the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, and the House. This is getting into such a mess that I think we should adjourn now, but that is a different issue. The amendment that has been carried removes subsection (4). All these other amendments seek to insert text on completely different issues after subsection (4). I do not think that the removal of subsection (4) pre-empts text on completely different issues that is sought to be inserted after that subsection. I hesitate to say this when the Clerk is jumping up and down, but just because the relevant measure refers to line 9, and line 9 has been removed, it clearly now refers to where line 9 would have been previously.

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Lord Anderson of Swansea Portrait Lord Anderson of Swansea
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That sounds fairly plausible, but it is the time of day when even plausibility might not be such. We are probably at the point, dare I say, when one might consider drawing stumps. After all, it has been a fairly long day in the field.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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My Lords, I rather think that the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, was already wanting to speak on the group beginning Amendment 40 and that your Lordships would rather like to hear from the noble Lord.

Lord Wigley Portrait Lord Wigley
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My Lords, I support the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, in what he was saying. When he spoke to the earlier bank of amendments, Amendment 28 had not been passed. He therefore had every expectation to be coming to the bank of amendments standing in his name and mine. He said specifically that he would be speaking to them in more detail. It is totally unreasonable that they should be taken out. Can we have an assurance that we can return to all these matters on Report?

Commonwealth Parliamentary Association

Lord Gardiner of Kimble Excerpts
Thursday 8th September 2011

(12 years, 9 months ago)

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Lord Gardiner of Kimble Portrait Lord Gardiner of Kimble
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My Lords, I, too, congratulate my noble friend Lady Hooper because this debate provides an opportunity to recognise not just that the Commonwealth has been a force for good but that it has a strategic importance for our country now and in the future. Too often in the past, we have underplayed the connections and interest we have with our partners in the Commonwealth. That is why I wholeheartedly endorse what the Foreign Secretary and the Minister for the Commonwealth have been working so hard to achieve: the re-energising of our relations within the Commonwealth. The Foreign Secretary’s visit to Australia and New Zealand last year was the first visit to those countries by a Foreign Secretary in 20 years. It indicates in stark terms that our focus has been elsewhere. Fulfilling the role that we have undertaken overseas in recent times may explain in part why, but it does not entirely excuse it. Surely the skill in gaining new friends and working elsewhere is in retaining old ones.

The Commonwealth family remains a unique forum for voices that would not necessarily be heard elsewhere. It is not just Governments that come together. The Commonwealth has a key role in feeding the world’s growing population. We have seen in graphic and heart-rending terms the consequences of nations—particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, where 19 countries are in the Commonwealth—being unable to feed their own people. I therefore draw to your Lordships’ attention to and commend the work of the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth—the RASC—which encourages the interchange of information about developments in sustainable agriculture, forestry, aquaculture and the rural environment throughout the Commonwealth. It aims to encourage member societies in developed countries to help where agricultural education and expertise are needed to enable food production to be increased.

British farmers are actively playing their part, and within the RASC emphasis is being placed on the next generation and the generations of youth to come. Being the only Commonwealth agricultural NGO, the RASC seeks to work more closely with the Commonwealth secretariat and to participate in setting the agricultural agenda. The Duke of Edinburgh was president for more than 50 years, and this influential role is now fulfilled by the Princess Royal. In 2012, the biennial conference of the RASC will be held in Zambia and the theme will be feeding people and Africa’s role in helping global food security. Zambia has vast areas of sustainable agricultural production and commands some 50 per cent of southern Africa’s water resources. What a tragedy that its neighbour Zimbabwe has had its agricultural production devastated.

The Commonwealth is held in great affection by so many. Many of us have family ties. It continues to bind diverse nations together. Whether it is in the healthy rivalry of sport, the values of liberty and tolerance or a desire to enable all our citizens to prosper, the Commonwealth is an institution on which we should build so that all these ideals flourish. That is why I wish the Minister every possible success in his endeavours and responsibilities.