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Queen’s Speech — Debate (2nd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:27 pm on 9th May 2013.

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Photo of Lord Cobbold Lord Cobbold Crossbench 3:27 pm, 9th May 2013

My Lords, I begin by strongly supporting the words of the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, on the need to update the national drugs policy. It is an important omission from the Speech. In other respects, I welcome Her Majesty’s somewhat low-key Speech and agree with most of its policy objectives. For example, the aim to reduce the burden of excessive regulation on business is welcomed as long as the proposed Bill does not add yet another layer of obfuscation.

On the question of immigration, it is vital that any new legislation does not threaten the tourist business, which is of the utmost importance to our economic well-being. Stories of 10-page visa application forms for Chinese tourists to this country cannot be in our best interest.

Although the Government’s commitment to continue to make a case for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom is to be welcomed, it is sad that a similar commitment has not been made for the United Kingdom to remain part of the European Union. The future of our relationship with Europe has just taken two major shocks, namely, UKIP’s success in the recent local elections and the article of the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, in the Times of 7 May.

Our relationship with the European Union will dominate debate in the months to come and, as a supporter of that relationship, I wonder whether it might not be best to hold the promised referendum sooner, rather than as currently planned. It is a difficult decision for the Prime Minister, and I wish him well.