Infected Blood Inquiry

Viscount Hailsham Excerpts
Wednesday 24th April 2024

(2 months, 3 weeks ago)

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Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe (Con)
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As the noble Baroness rightly says, it has been known for many years that many dozens of children with haemophilia at Treloar school in Hampshire were infected with HIV and hepatitis C in the 1980s through contaminated blood products. We are acutely aware of the distress and suffering of those individuals and of the bereaved families of those who have died. We expect Sir Brian Langstaff’s report to reveal the full circumstances of how this appalling tragedy came about.

The Government’s aim is to deliver compensation to those eligible as speedily as possible. Government amendments to the Victims and Prisoners Bill are designed to do this. One particular amendment will set up an arm’s-length body to deliver the compensation scheme, as recommended by Sir Brian. It will provide for interim payments to a particular group who have so far received no compensation, and for early commencement of the ALB and the interim payments. The ALB will be set up straightaway in shadow form, led by an interim chief executive, so that the practical work for delivering compensation can begin as soon as possible.

Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham (Con)
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My Lords, in noting what my noble friend the Minister said, on the matter of compensation, I am sure he will agree that those who received inflected blood products, or their estates if they are deceased, should receive early compensation. That also applies to dependants who can establish clear financial loss. Beyond that, should we not be a bit cautious about compensation? Otherwise, the bill will be colossal.

Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe (Con)
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My noble friend is quite right to highlight what is likely to be a very significant impact on the public finances as a result of compensation in this area. It is important that any decisions on compensation funding are taken carefully. I think the House would expect the Government to work through the associated costs to the public sector while considering the needs of members of the community and the very far-reaching impacts this scandal has had on their lives.

Media and Lobby Briefings

Viscount Hailsham Excerpts
Tuesday 4th February 2020

(4 years, 5 months ago)

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Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe
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My Lords, the Government support a free and open press, and we will continue to do so. I can only re-emphasise that there has been no attempt whatever to deprive journalists of information on any matter of government policy.

Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury Portrait Baroness Bonham-Carter of Yarnbury (LD)
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My Lords, Downing Street’s director of communications, Lee Cain, said:

“We are welcome to brief whoever we want whenever we want”.


But does the noble Earl not agree that this democratically elected Government are not welcome to ban whatever news outlet or journalist they want whenever they want? What were the criteria for this smaller meeting and where was the transparency? When does a smaller meeting shrink so much that it becomes Dominic Cummings or some other special adviser on his or her own?

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Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham
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My Lords, I apologise to the noble Baroness, Lady Bonham-Carter. Unfortunately, I am deaf in one ear and I do not always spot where people are speaking from. I hope that she will forgive me.

I must ask my noble friend: if the facts were so clear and in accordance with precedent, why did several respectable journalists from respectable organisations feel they had to leave as a protest?

Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe
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I cannot comment on whether there was a genuine misunderstanding or whether certain people chose to misunderstand the basis on which invitations had been issued.

Global Britain

Viscount Hailsham Excerpts
Monday 3rd February 2020

(4 years, 5 months ago)

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Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham (Con)
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My Lords, Ministers constantly say that we are not going to align. Would it not be wise for the Government and, indeed, all Ministers to remind businesses seeking to trade into the European Union that they are going to have to comply with regulations set by the European Union, regulations which now, post Brexit, we will have no hand in setting?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park
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The noble Viscount is quite right. Obviously, whenever you import or export you are subject to the rules of the country you are doing trade with but, as we have said, we believe that we can come to an agreement with the European Union. We already have high standards, we are already very closely aligned and we want to make sure that we have a good deal. That is what we will be talking to the EU about. We are ready to go and both sides have now set out their negotiating mandates. Previously, we have been criticised for not being clear about our position: we have been clear; the EU has put forward its proposals and we look forward to constructive discussions over the coming months so that we can come to a deal that works for both sides.

Constitution, Democracy and Rights Commission: Civil Society

Viscount Hailsham Excerpts
Tuesday 14th January 2020

(4 years, 6 months ago)

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Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham (Con)
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My Lords, may I suggest to my noble friend that, in order to enhance the status of the commission, it be made a royal commission? Alternatively—here I may be pre-empting a point to be made by my noble friend Lord Cormack—it might be made a subject of a Speakers’ conference, as suggested by my noble friend in his speech during the debate on the gracious Speech last week.

Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe
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My Lords, I have read my noble friend’s speech of last week, and the points he made have been registered. I can say again only that no decisions have been taken on the precise form that the commission should take. However, the most important thing is for it and the work that it does to command public confidence.

Prorogation Recall

Viscount Hailsham Excerpts
Tuesday 3rd September 2019

(4 years, 10 months ago)

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Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe
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He believes strongly that the focus must now be on obtaining an acceptable deal from the EU Commission and being given time to do that. He is clear that there is a strong chance that he will be successful.

Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham (Con)
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My Lords, there are at least four members of the Cabinet who during the leadership election protested strongly against Prorogation in the present circumstances, and there are many members of the Cabinet who are calling for the deselection of Conservative Members of Parliament for voting against the Government when they themselves have done that on many occasions in many months. If this were the conduct of Labour Ministers under Mr Corbyn, how would my noble friend the Minister characterise such conduct? Would he use the words “hypocrisy”, “double standards”, “outrageous” and “deplorable”? If not, why not?

Leaving the European Union

Viscount Hailsham Excerpts
Wednesday 22nd May 2019

(5 years, 1 month ago)

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Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham (Con)
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My Lords, may I say to my noble friend that she should suggest to the Prime Minister that, if the withdrawal agreement makes no progress, she should have cross-party discussions in order to ascertain whether there is support for revoking Article 50 preceded by a further referendum to authorise that step?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park
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My noble friend will know that both the Conservative and Labour parties at the last election stood on manifestos to deliver the result of the referendum. We have had talks with the Opposition which were very constructive; unfortunately, we could not come to a complete agreement, but we have put into this deal a number of the issues that the Opposition Front Bench expressed, and we very much hope that this will be enough to help MPs support the deal and make sure we can get the withdrawal agreement past Second Reading.

Leaving the European Union

Viscount Hailsham Excerpts
Tuesday 12th February 2019

(5 years, 5 months ago)

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Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham (Con)
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My Lords, if I may, I say to my noble friend that this is a deeply disappointing Statement. Instead of asking Parliament to hold its nerve, which is an exercise only in procrastination or party management, surely the Prime Minister should say to Parliament that staying in the European Union on existing terms is far better than any deal she can negotiate. Surely that should be her recommendation to Parliament and to the country in a further referendum. She may fail and she may fall, but if she does that, she would be doing right by her country and would earn a great deal of respect.

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park
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The Prime Minister is committed to implementing the result of the 2016 referendum. She has negotiated a deal and we are now seeking legally binding changes to the withdrawal agreement to deal with the concerns on the backstop, while guaranteeing no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, in order that we can get the House of Commons to agree a deal that is in the best interests of both the UK and the EU.

Leaving the European Union

Viscount Hailsham Excerpts
Monday 21st January 2019

(5 years, 5 months ago)

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Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park
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Obviously, it was a large defeat last week and the Prime Minister has recognised that, which is why she has begun these conversations, along with other senior members of the Government and Cabinet. We want to find solutions that can command support across the House of Commons, so that we can leave the European Union with a deal that is good for both of us.

Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham (Con)
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My Lords, I commend to my noble friend the excellent biography of Disraeli by Lord Hurd of Westwell. She would note in there the chapter on the Corn Laws, when Peel decided to put the national interest before party interest. She would then go on to read the judgment by Disraeli on Peel, which is contained in his biography of Lord George Bentinck. Disraeli said of Peel that he was the greatest Member of Parliament that ever lived. Is there not a lesson for the Prime Minister here?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park
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The Prime Minister is being flexible and is looking forward, because she is opening dialogue with MPs and parties across the House of Commons. The purpose of those meetings is to find areas of consensus on a way forward so that we can move on.

Leaving the European Union

Viscount Hailsham Excerpts
Monday 14th January 2019

(5 years, 6 months ago)

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Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham (Con)
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My Lords, if the House of Commons rejects the deal tomorrow, as seems very probable, would my noble friend agree that any consequential outcome other than crashing out without a deal—which seems to be an outcome that has no parliamentary majority—will require more time? In those circumstances, would she agree that, in the event of the deal being rejected tomorrow by the House of Commons, urgent steps will be taken to persuade the European 27 to extend the exit date—or, if that is not possible, to revoke Article 50?

Baroness Evans of Bowes Park Portrait Baroness Evans of Bowes Park
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We have been clear that it is not our policy to withdraw or revoke Article 50. However, the Prime Minister has been very clear that we are focusing on winning the vote tomorrow. Our intention has always been to respond quickly and provide certainty on the way forward in the event that tomorrow’s vote does not pass, both in terms of setting out our next steps and any subsequent vote, and that is what we will do.

Privileges and Conduct Committee

Viscount Hailsham Excerpts
Monday 17th December 2018

(5 years, 7 months ago)

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Baroness Hussein-Ece Portrait Baroness Hussein-Ece
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I am grateful. I was present at the debate on 15 November. It was quite by accident—we had all been told that no Division of the House was intended. It was a Thursday afternoon, so Members of your Lordships’ House were leaving in numbers to catch trains and attend other commitments. The numbers were dwindling as the long speeches went on. However, I stayed to listen, because I felt increasingly dismayed by the tone and the imbalance of the debate that was unfolding. I thought it was no longer your Lordships’ House, where we debate matters of public interest, but that it had morphed into a court of law.

I listened to successive eminent QCs and other lawyers—people I respect enormously—stand up and say for how many years they had known Lord Lester. Collectively, those who spoke had probably known him for over 150 years. Someone said 40 years, another said 30, and another said that their families went on holidays together. I thought to myself that they would surely recuse themselves and not take part if there were a vote because, as the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy, said, they had a bit of an interest.

Before coming to your Lordships’ House, I served as a councillor in two London boroughs for a total of 16 years. In the code of conduct, according to the Nolan principles, it would be quite improper for any councillor to take part in a debate or vote if they had an interest. If it involved a member of your family or a close friend, you would recuse yourself. I chaired the overview and scrutiny committee for years. I would not have tolerated anyone taking part in a debate such as we witnessed on 15 November. Many Members are councillors or have been councillors. I shall read a sentence from the code of conduct, which is very clear:

“You must ask yourself whether a member of the public—if he or she knows all the facts—would think that your personal interest was so significant that it would probably affect your decision on the matter. If he or she would think your judgement would be affected, then you have a prejudicial interest”.


That is certainly what we witnessed on 15 November.

I did not intend to speak. I was not prepared and no one had sent me briefing notes. However, I felt that I ought to stand up and speak, and to address the imbalance. I know the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, objected to some of the comments being made. I spoke at length, trying to balance the debate. We heard over 15 times about Lord Lester’s integrity and contribution—and rightly so—but we heard nothing about the complainant and her contribution to public life. Somehow that was not worthy of discussion. I felt it was important to put that on the table and add it to the debate. I am glad that I did.

I was not sure at the time—I thought I was maybe missing something and that this was how such reports were debated in your Lordships’ House—but I thought it important to introduce some balance as someone who, as I said at the time, experienced sexual harassment years ago. I can still remember it and its impact on my professional life at the time. I was glad that I had spoken. After the debate, when I went home, I opened my emails. I had many emails from members of staff, both here and outside, in other political parties, and from Members of your Lordships’ House who had heard about it, read Hansard and wrote to me saying, “Thank you for speaking up. I am so sorry I was not there. I fully intend to be there next time. We did not think it would go on so long and that there would be a Division”. I am glad that this is happening on a Monday, when your Lordships’ House is better attended by people who want to be involved in this debate and have their say.

Then I heard about the 74 members of staff here who wrote in alarm after reading what had transpired in that debate. I say to those women who wrote— 74 really respected members of our staff—that we hear them. I hear them. We hear them and we attach great respect and responsibility to their concerns. When you read that sexual harassment, bullying and groping are “far too common” in the House of Lords, what does that make you think? We really need to take women seriously. There is another generation now who will not tolerate that kind of behaviour—and nor should they. When they say that they want Parliament to be a safer environment to work in, surely we all want that. That is what this is about. We must listen to women and support them as well.

What is missing in these procedures is any support for the complainant; I am glad the Senior Deputy Speaker said that. She was cast adrift. It was all very well for Lord Lester’s eminent and well-connected friends to use their positions to write columns in the Times, to give interviews to the media and to speak in a very prominent way—they have that. The complainant did not have any such recourse or support apart from her immediate family and friends. That needs to be addressed and we need to consider what has happened in the other place following the Dame Laura Cox report on bullying and sexual harassment, because it is clear that Members of your Lordships’ House should not “mark our own homework”. It is time we had more independence in the way that these proceedings are dealt with.

I endorse the report and welcome its conclusions. I pay tribute to Ms Sanghera for her courage and resilience as she goes through a very difficult time. I hope she can draw a line under this and move forward with her life. I say to all other women who want to come forward: please do, because you will be listened to.

Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham (Con)
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My Lords, I rise to express my concern at the procedures that this House has adopted with regard to the case of Lord Lester. In expressing these views, I make it plain that I am making no criticism of the commissioner. I accept that she was conducting her functions in accordance with the rules that were laid down by this House. My concerns lie with the procedures that we have put in place, rather than the manner in which they were exercised.

Lord Lester has resigned from this House, so this debate can be more general in content than was the case on 15 November, when his future was being discussed. I will make just two comments about Lord Lester. For the avoidance of doubt, he is in no sense a close friend of mine. First, I do not take his resignation as an admission of guilt. I can well understand that this process has been extremely distressing for him. He has said that these events have had a serious impact on his health and for that reason he wishes to draw a line under them. I can well understand that decision. It is a sufficient explanation for his resignation. Secondly, Lord Lester has made an important contribution to the law on human rights, to this House and in public life in general. That is an important legacy, which, notwithstanding the findings of this report, will always stand to his credit.

My concerns about the procedure that this House adopts are of long standing. I first expressed them in 1997 in the House of Commons when the case of Neil Hamilton was under consideration. Mr Hamilton was no friend of mine. His was not a popular case. But I formed the very firm conclusion that he had not been fairly handled by the parliamentary process then in place, which is substantially the same as our own.

I regret that I could not be here when this matter was debated on 15 November. I have, however, read the Hansard and the two reports produced by the committee. I am reassured to note that the views that I am about to express are very much in line with those expressed by, for example, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Woolf, the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, and the noble Lord, Lord Thomas. I am happy to associate myself with them.

I have never held high judicial office nor been a frequent advocate before the Supreme Court; I am but a jobbing barrister, but I have jobbed for 50 years on and off in both the criminal and the civil courts. I presently act as the legal assessor to the regulatory panel for the Nursing and Midwifery Council and the Health and Care Professions Council, and until last year I helped to regulate the doctors as a legal assessor. For these regulatory panels—indeed, for all the statutory panels of which I am aware—Parliament has laid down by statutory instrument a precise procedure that has to be observed in order to ensure that the principles of natural justice and fairness are observed, and the appellate courts are rigorous in enforcing compliance with those requirements. Paragraph 15 of the further report states that,

“professional bodies have systems very similar to our own”.

That is not my experience. It is not correct in respect of professional bodies regulated by statute. In respect of them, the further report is wholly mistaken.

Very recently I was the legal assessor in a case that is relevant to the one we are considering. A registrant was alleged to have had sexual relations with a former patient during and after the provision of treatment. In accordance with the procedure laid down by Parliament, both parties were represented by counsel; the regulator’s lawyer opened the facts of the case and submitted to the panel the previously made statements of relevant witnesses; and the relevant witnesses were called and cross-examined. The registrant then gave evidence and was cross-examined. Closing submissions were then made. This was the procedure laid down by Parliament. It ensured that a fair process was observed. Had it not been followed, the appellate courts could have intervened.

Yes, the registrant had had sexual relations with the former patient, but these had commenced after the conclusion of the treatment and at the instigation of the patient. Moreover, the sexual relations were continuing, years after their commencement. These facts were not clearly apparent from the papers and emerged as a result of the process that I have just described. They were highly relevant to the ultimate conclusion.

Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Portrait Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb (GP)
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Forgive me—I just do not see the relevance of this. I am sure there is almost no Peer in this House who does not think that our processes are inadequate and are going to be changed in future. I wonder if the noble Lord is trying to describe a system that he wants imposed here. I suggest that that would be better given in writing to the committee, rather than our hearing about other processes at this time.

Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham
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My Lords, when you have a topic of this importance, touching as it does on the liberties of Members of this House, it is entirely right that we should take part in a public debate. To say to the contrary is to try to suppress argument, and I will not be party to that.

Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Portrait Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb
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I was not trying to suppress debate; I was trying to suppress planning for future processes, which is clearly going to be a committee job.

Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham
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I hope that future processes will be informed by the nature of this debate. I hope that noble Lords will participate in considerable numbers, so that future processes can be properly formulated in accordance with the views of your Lordships.

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Baroness Smith of Basildon Portrait Baroness Smith of Basildon (Lab)
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The noble Lord has complained about the process not being one of cross-examination. I do not know if he heard the noble Lord, Lord McFall, explain at the beginning of this debate why this is an inquisitorial, not a cross-examination process. In normal practice, victims of sexual harassment would not be cross-examined. He might have found it helpful if he—and others— had examined the transcripts of the commissioner’s inquisitorial process by which she questioned the complainant, Jasvinder Sanghera. Has he taken the opportunity to read them?

Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham
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In the end, of course, it is a matter of opinion, but I practised at the bar for 50 years, and I believe very strongly that cross-examination is essential if you wish to find out the truth of matters.

None Portrait A noble Lord
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You would be wrong.

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Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham
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The noble Lord may say it is wrong, but that is my opinion. It is based on a great deal of experience and is in accord with the recommendations.

Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham
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If the noble Baroness will forgive me, I will proceed for the moment.

None Portrait Noble Lords
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No.

Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham
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Very well. If it is the wish of the House I will certainly give way to the noble Baroness.

Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall Portrait Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall
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Before the noble Lord proceeds with his argument, will he please answer the question put to him by the Leader of the Opposition?

Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham
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Of course I believe that we need to look at our procedures and I am quite willing to consider the prospect of having an alternative method. I know, for example, that the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss—

Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall Portrait Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall
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That is not the question to which I referred. The noble Viscount was asked by my noble friend whether he had read the transcripts of the evidence. There is a simple yes or no answer to that, I believe.

Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham
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I have not read the entire transcript.

None Portrait Noble Lords
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Oh!

Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham
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I have not read the entire transcript of the evidence but I have read the entirety of the first and second reports. Furthermore, I have read all the appendices to them.

I come back to the central issue. We have set in place an inquisitorial system and we have to ask ourselves a very serious question. Does it measure up to the requirement in the Guide to the Code of Conduct which requires us to address and respect the principles of natural justice and fairness? We need to ask ourselves if there is a good reason why we do not. I am bound to say that I cannot identify a plausible reason for this. Moreover, our procedures do not comply with the recommendations made to Parliament by committees appointed to consider our procedures.

It is true that some of the recommendations to which I am about to refer were made in different contexts, but I suggest that they set out principles of fairness and natural justice which are general in application. I simply do not accept the arguments for not applying those principles, which appear on page 18 of the further report. The Joint Committee on Parliamentary Privilege reported in March 1999 and the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, recited—

Is the noble Baroness trying to intervene?

Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham
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I am so sorry; I did not mean to embarrass the noble Baroness. The noble Lord, Lord Pannick, recited the chief recommendations of the 1999 committee, which included a recommendation that the person alleged to have committed the wrong should have the opportunity to call witnesses at the appropriate time and to examine other witnesses.

Baroness Smith of Basildon Portrait Baroness Smith of Basildon
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I apologise to noble Lords for intervening again. Does he accept that that particular committee in 1999 was not looking at an internal disciplinary process but was in fact looking at how to deal with contempt of Parliament, which is a much more serious matter than an internal disciplinary issue?

Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham
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It was laying down general principles of natural justice and fairness—that is the point. I believe that they have an application for all these proceedings. The recommendations in the 1999 report do not stand alone. Incidentally, the membership of that committee was extraordinarily distinguished. It included not only Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead but a former Lord Chief Justice, a former Attorney-General, a former Solicitor-General and two former Home Secretaries. Their views were not lightly to be disregarded.

In substance, they were repeated in the 1995 report on standards in public life. Again, they are substantially the same as those made in 1967 by the Select Committee on Parliamentary Privilege—again, a different context, but with principles of general application. That committee recommended that the rights granted to a person against whom a complaint is made should include the right to examine, cross-examine and re-examine witnesses and to make submissions to the Committee, including by an authorised representative. In the spirit of due diligence—

Baroness Falkner of Margravine Portrait Baroness Falkner of Margravine (LD)
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Does the noble Viscount accept that none of the cases he is speaking about mentions sexual misconduct—as paragraph 4 of appendix 2 on page 18 points out? Did he hear the intervention by the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy, which absolutely emphasised that standards of conduct have moved on and that the context to which he refers is not the context in which women today expect to be treated—and to which I should say men would probably also ascribe? Does he accept that the House wishes to move on and that his peroration, although enormously important, could perhaps be put to the committee in writing—not because we are disinterested in what he has to say but because I am sure the Senior Deputy Speaker will accept that there might be a consultation where we will all have the ability to express our views on future conduct? We are now dealing with the report in hand and it would be expeditious if Members could keep their speeches relatively brief so that those of us who also want to intervene might have an opportunity to do so today.

Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham
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That might apply also to interventions.

None Portrait Noble Lords
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Oh!

Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham
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No, let us be fair—that could very well apply to interventions. I think it is perfectly true that people’s understanding of the gravity of sexual misconduct has changed, but I very much hope that our understanding of the requirements of natural justice and fairness has not.

I recognise that Members of your Lordships’ House will say, “Thank God the lawyers have no role to play in these proceedings”. I get an echo of that from around me. My answer is that noble Lords would not say that if they had the misfortune to be a party to misconduct proceedings which could destroy their reputation.

When I started in law—

None Portrait Noble Lords
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Oh!

Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham
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I recognise that lawyers are not the most popular members of the community. When I started in the law, it was held that it was better by far that guilty persons should go free rather than that an innocent person should be convicted. I believe that that remains the proper approach. We are now at serious risk of reversing that proposition. Perhaps society appears willing to tolerate the risk of the innocent being convicted so that all of those supposed guilty are caught in the net.

Our stated objective, as set out in the Guide to the Code of Conduct, is to ensure that allegations against Members are handled in a way that accords with the principles of natural justice and fairness. I do not believe that our present procedures do that. Indeed, they could get worse.

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock Portrait Lord Foulkes of Cumnock (Lab)
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I am not seeking to speak in this debate because I think this debate is serving no purpose whatever. The Senior Deputy Speaker has moved his Motion and we will not divide on it. As I understand it, there will be a review of the whole procedure, in which we will all be given the opportunity to make recommendations and suggestions. Why are we continuing with this—albeit erudite—completely irrelevant debate, when we have counterterrorism to deal with and then a Statement on Brexit?

Viscount Hailsham Portrait Viscount Hailsham
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It is never irrelevant to assert the importance of natural justice and fairness, and that is what I am doing. I am deeply concerned by the comment in the further report, which states that,

“cross-examination may be inappropriate for dealing with complaints of sexual harassment”.

On page 19 of the further report, it is stated that future changes in procedure for the investigation of sexual misconduct will recommend improvements aimed at providing better support for the complainant rather than for the Member. I welcome the former commitment but not the latter. We must be careful not to compensate for perceived historic injustices by creating future traps for the innocent. I believe that the procedures now in place expose Members of this House against whom allegations are made to the risk of serious injustice. We must be willing to look at those procedures again, with a view to ensuring that the principles of fairness and natural justice are respected.