The Countryside

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:10 pm on 1st December 1999.

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Photo of Baroness Hayman Baroness Hayman Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Minister of State (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food) 7:10 pm, 1st December 1999

My Lords, like all other noble Lords who have spoken in the debate, I pay tribute to the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, for allowing us the opportunity to debate subjects which could not be fully covered in the Queen's Speech debate, when we naturally focused on areas of legislation rather than the areas of broad-ranging policy which have been illustrated today. I know of noble Lords' concern on that point.

As we have come to expect from the noble Earl, he introduced the debate in a witty and wide-ranging fashion. He even spoke about his legitimacy. I think we can probably all agree that the noble Earl is probably best designated as the primus inter impares in this House. If we did it in that way we would not have to have a contentious debate about the relative legitimacy of either set of the impares. I shall leave it at that. The noble Earl is probably in a better position than I am because I am still trying to work out from the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Rotherwick, whether I am an incompetent politician on the way up, which seems highly unlikely, or an incompetent politician who is clapped out and on the way down--