5 Lord Faulks debates involving the Leader of the House

G7: Charlevoix, Quebec

Lord Faulks Excerpts
Monday 11th June 2018

(6 years, 1 month ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park
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What I can certainly say is that we understand the importance of the steel industry in this country. We want to make sure that jobs are protected and we will continue to do that going forward. I will see if there is any further information that I can provide.

Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks (Con)
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My Lords, the Leader of the House will confirm that, notwithstanding our leaving the European Union, we will still be a member of the G7, working closely with other members, and that we will be in a position to agree and, in so far as possible, enforce any relevant sanctions.

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park
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Yes, my noble friend is absolutely right.

Salisbury Incident Update

Lord Faulks Excerpts
Monday 12th March 2018

(6 years, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park
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We believe that this most certainly does go against the spirit of that treaty. We will be discussing that but, as I said, we have spoken to the Russian ambassador, we have set out our two explanations for this incident and I do not want to prejudge what may follow. We should wait, and decisions can be made on the basis of that response.

Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks (Con)
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My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Newby, suggested that the Americans may think that our response to these things is not sufficiently robust because we do not want to discourage investment into this country. Perhaps my noble friend the Leader of the House can confirm that, by introducing unexplained wealth orders and agreeing to set up a register identifying the beneficial owners of property, we are in fact ahead of the game and leading the world in trying to stamp out this sort of behaviour.

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park
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I can most certainly confirm that. In fact, the first unexplained wealth orders have already been issued by the courts.

Brexit Negotiations

Lord Faulks Excerpts
Monday 11th December 2017

(6 years, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks (Con)
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My Lords—

Lord Taylor of Holbeach Portrait Lord Taylor of Holbeach (Con)
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My Lords, it is the turn of the Labour Benches and I suggest that we hear from the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours.

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Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park
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The ability of our courts to ask the ECJ for a view will be voluntary, very narrowly defined and time limited. Our courts can choose to ask the ECJ for a legal view on the law in relation to citizens’ rights where there is a point of law that has not arisen before. If the past is a guide, we would not expect this to happen very often; it currently happens for about two or three cases a year in this area of law. This ability will be strictly confined to those citizens’ rights as exercised under the withdrawal agreement by EU citizens who were settled here before we leave the EU. It will not extend in any way beyond that.

Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks
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The noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, suggested that the response of the UK Government to the continued relationship with the ECJ might be typical of a general hostility towards international tribunals. Will my noble friend the Leader of the House confirm that it means no such thing and that the fact that we will no longer have a relationship with the ECJ is simply because we will no longer be a member of the European Union? We therefore do not need the ECJ to determine disputes that arise out of that membership, save for that important and limited exception referred to in relation to EU nationals, and subject of course only to whatever may be in the implementation agreement that is to follow.

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park
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I entirely agree with my noble friend, who said it far better than I did.

European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill

Lord Faulks Excerpts
Monday 20th February 2017

(7 years, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks (Con)
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My Lords, I should begin by telling the House that I voted to remain in the European Union. I am sure that, as my noble friend Lord Lang said, the House is not remotely interested in my reasons, but they were in fact congruent with the reasons that I attempted to advance from the Dispatch Box. Noble Lords will know, if they have had ministerial experience, that that is not always the case. Other noble Lords may have had better or different reasons for voting to remain. But we know neither the reasons for voting to remain nor the reasons why the majority voted to leave the European Union. We can speculate, of course, that it was to do with immigration or sovereignty, or a dislike of the European Court of Justice. But we do not ask voters to give reasons for their votes, whether in council or parliamentary elections or in a referendum. The noble Lord, Lord Mandelson, clearly has greater insight into voters’ motives than I do.

The referendum Act which I had the privilege of assisting through your Lordships’ House does not contain implementation provisions. What did voters or parliamentarians expect to happen, were the British people to vote to leave the EU? If they had read the Government’s publication of February 2016, The Process for Withdrawing from the European Union, they would have realised that the Prime Minister had indicated clearly that the British people, if they voted to leave, would expect the UK Government to notify the European Council straight away, pursuant to Article 50.

During the passage of that European referendum Bill through your Lordships’ House there were debates, often heated, about the virtues or otherwise of membership of the European Union. A great many amendments were put down, but they were concerned with the franchise—what one might call the rules of engagement in relation to the referendum campaign. All the major parties agreed that there should be a referendum. No parliamentarian put down an amendment spelling out what the consequences of an out vote would be. There was, for example, no amendment on thresholds or the sort of Brexit that would follow—let alone anything about a second referendum.

Following the referendum vote, the Government thought that they could rely on the royal prerogative to trigger Article 50 but decided not to do so immediately. As noble Lords know, there followed a legal challenge. Ultimately, the Supreme Court concluded that, notwithstanding a resolution of the House of Commons in favour of triggering Article 50, the notice could follow only actual legislation—although the Supreme Court was at pains not to be specific about the form of legislation. One could say that this short Bill before your Lordships’ House represents minimal compliance with the Supreme Court’s ruling—but in my view it respects the decision of the court. At paragraph 122 of the Supreme Court’s judgment the noble and learned Lord, Lord Neuberger, said, in speaking for the majority:

“There is no equivalence between the constitutional importance of a statute, or any other document, and its length or complexity”.


Notwithstanding the interesting observations by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, the Bill shows respect for the rule of law and the decision—and, of course, for the independence of the judiciary. After the decision of the Divisional Court there was a lamentable attack on the judges by some of the media. The Government were rather slow to condemn it. I am glad to say that they were much quicker to evince acceptance of the Supreme Court’s judgment.

Why was it important to defend the independence of the judiciary? It was not because of any hypersensitivity on the part of the judges, who are used to robust criticism of their judgments; it is because of the critical importance in the function of the constitution that the Government should show respect for the rule of law. If one needs any illustration of the importance of that principle, one only has to look to the United States of America at this very moment. I should add that I do not suggest for a moment that the role of judges in the constitution does not deserve examination. Indeed, there is an important debate to be had about the proper reach of judicial power—one that is taking place under the auspices of Policy Exchange’s Judicial Power Project. However, there can be no doubt that the Supreme Court acted entirely within its powers in the Gina Miller case and came to a conclusion that was in accordance with the law.

Various noble Lords have put down amendments to the Bill, seeking no doubt to improve the legislation—but on what basis can they reasonably do this? Is it because they are seeking to attribute reasons for the United Kingdom voting to leave which were not in fact provided by the vote? I suspect that the motive is a perfectly worthy one, which is to ensure that the terms of our departure are as satisfactory as, in their view, can be obtained—or, in the case of the Liberal Democrats, that we have an opportunity to think again.

No one on either side of this debate can properly be described as lacking in patriotism. All noble Lords, I am sure, are anxious to ensure the best possible outcome for the United Kingdom—and I do not welcome veiled, or not so veiled, threats to abolish this House if it does not simply acquiesce with the Commons. However, respect for the rule of law and the democratic process drives me to the clear conclusion that we, the unelected House, should pause long and hard before fettering the Government’s undoubted powers to withdraw from the European Union under Article 50.

Rarely do Bills return to the House of Commons without your Lordships having improved them. I am sympathetic to the amendments that concern the rights of EU citizens and the desirability of a so-called meaningful vote after a putative deal has been reached, but I expect to be reassured on these points by my noble friends the Ministers, who will regard these amendments as essentially probing. Our chance to influence matters will come, but we must realise our limitations as the unelected House. The noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, whose enthusiasm for and experience of the EU is much respected, said in the recent edition of the House magazine that,

“the unelected Lords may again have to pressure the Commons to better represent the people”.

There are so many ways in which I am uneasy with that observation that I think it had better speak for itself. No doubt when the noble Baroness winds up this debate she will be able to enlighten us on the democratic legitimacy of that observation. My present view is that we should send this Bill back to the Commons with neither a word added nor a word subtracted.

House of Lords: Working Practices

Lord Faulks Excerpts
Thursday 1st November 2012

(11 years, 8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Faulks Portrait Lord Faulks
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My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Filkin.

On arrival in your Lordships’ House two years ago, I was given a mission statement by the Clerk of the Parliaments. Although I did not feel that he was altogether happy with the expression “mission statement”, the contents of the document were, as you would expect, clear and cogent. The statement and the helpful talks about the way in which the House of Lords worked helped me and a number of other new Members to get to grips with the potentially rather mystifying ways in which your Lordships’ House proceeds. One thing that struck me particularly about those procedures was their essential fairness to all Peers in the sense that any Peer of any party, or none, could become involved in any issue and there was not the customary crush of seniority which besets so many institutions.

That brings me to one of the three short points that I should like to make. Although I understand well why the suggestions for a Back-Bench committee have been well received—I have been greatly reassured by some of the comments during the debate this afternoon—I have some slight reservations in the sense that those who may not be on the committee, or who may not have the ear of the committee, may feel the danger that they are being excluded, even if it is only a perception. Those who are not particularly keen on being organised may feel a little unease about that. I hope that those fears can be allayed in due course.

My second point relates to Third Reading, and here I very much echo what my noble friend Lady Seccombe said. As a lawyer, of course, I look to the rules and the practice deviates very considerably from the Companion in terms of Third Reading. It is noticeable that speeches are lengthy and if one wishes to respond to a speech that has gone on for 10 minutes it is difficult to do that in one minute, so speeches proliferate. The result is that some quite valuable votes do not get taken, and there is some arbitrariness about the ones that are taken. I hope that there can be a self-denying ordinance about this, if nothing else.

I hope that my third and final point will not be regarded as one of special pleading. It relates to expertise. It is axiomatic that your Lordships’ House is a House of experts with a pretty thick veneer of expertise. It struck me how genuinely diverse the House is; there is no such thing as a typical Peer. However I put in a plea for current expertise. The accumulation of wisdom is extremely important, but there is something to be said for being able to report from the front. As a barrister, I am particularly aware of the many distinguished lawyers who decorate this House and who keep up to date with relevant developments. I regret that we will no longer have in the House former Law Lords and former Supreme Court judges. Those of us still in practice are aware of the everyday issues and can bring something valuable to debates. I, as a veteran, like the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham, of the LASPO debates, would sometimes have welcomed others who were constantly dealing with the sort of issues that your Lordships’ House had to wrestle with in that very long and difficult Bill. I hope that whatever changes are made in your Lordships’ House, the practices of the House will enable those of us who wish to maintain current practice but nevertheless contribute to debates to do so.