Debates between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Cormack during the 2019 Parliament

Tue 6th Jul 2021
Tue 21st Jul 2020
Agriculture Bill
Lords Chamber

Committee stage:Committee: 5th sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 5th sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 5th sitting (Hansard): House of Lords

Conduct

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Cormack
Tuesday 6th July 2021

(2 years, 11 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack (Con)
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If the courses are continuing, will he say why they cannot be conducted by members of our own excellent staff? Why do we have to go to outside consultants? Do we invite people to tender for this in order to cut down the cost? The essential point is that there is unhappiness, and it is widespread, about the outcome of the last exercise. It was a great pity that people as distinguished as a former Speaker of the other place and a former Deputy Prime Minister, were very unfairly hauled over the coals.

However, that is over, and we must look to the future. I would like to know—not at length—whether there has been a complete overhaul of the course, if it is to be compulsory, and, if there has been a complete overhaul, whether those of us who had such a disappointing experience last time can assess whether there have indeed been improvements. I rest my case at that point. I do not wish to detain the House longer, but I would be grateful for an answer to the questions raised. I would also mention to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mance, who wrote and invite me a meeting, that I responded to his letter and said I would be glad to have a meeting with him, but several weeks have passed and nothing has happened.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, perhaps I should say first that the view espoused by the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, may be widespread in Your Lordships’ House, but it is not unanimous.

Agriculture Bill

Debate between Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale and Lord Cormack
Committee stage & Committee: 5th sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 5th sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Tuesday 21st July 2020

(3 years, 11 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Full debate Agriculture Act 2020 View all Agriculture Act 2020 Debates Read Hansard Text Read Debate Ministerial Extracts Amendment Paper: HL Bill 112-VI(Rev) Revised sixth marshalled list for Committee - (21 Jul 2020)
Lord Cormack Portrait Lord Cormack [V]
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My Lords, I am delighted to support all three of these amendments. I am probably the least qualified of all in your Lordships’ House to talk about broadband. Even during the previous debate, I lost the picture on my screen and without the Digital Support service would not have been able to regain it. But I accept all that the noble Lords, Lord Holmes and Lord Clement-Jones, have said; they made persuasive speeches and clearly have my support. I hope they will have the support of the Government.

I want to address my brief remarks to the amendments spoken to so eloquently by the noble Earl, Lord Devon, and the noble Lord, Lord Cameron of Dillington. As someone who represented a rural constituency for 40 years in the other place, what they said rang true in every possible way. We must have not only a properly sustained agricultural industry in this country; we also need the rural support industries, of which they both spoke so eloquently and persuasively. I hope that when my noble friend the Minister comes to reply, he will accept the absolute necessity of what they called a ring-fenced rural fund because without it, there will be a bleak future.

We have all seen the devastation already wrought by Covid-19. It will take many in the rural communities much longer to recover than many of those in the urban communities. Businesses will have gone for ever; we need to keep all the businesses we can and add new ones. Most of all, we need young people who feel that there is a future in the rural economy. I give my total support to all three amendments and await with expectation the Minister’s response.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, I had the very pleasant experience on Sunday morning of paying a visit back to Glenscorrodale, the farm-steading where I grew up. Walking around what is no longer a farm, I was reminded of a number of factors relevant to this debate. From a very young age, I was absolutely convinced that it was not the life for me, but I have never failed to admire my brother and cousins, who stayed in the farming life however hard it was for young people to continue in farming as the decades progressed. These three amendments are really important for that reason. I am struck by just how much has changed in farm life over the decades since I was first able to wander around Glenscorrodale, and how much of farm life now is computerised or driven by technology for productivity reasons.