Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: My Lords, I wish to raise problems relating to the charity commissioners. I am encouraged by the fact that my noble friend talked about their impartiality and integrity, which has been mentioned by other noble Lords. However, I worry about the charity commissioners because I feel that they have shown prejudice and partisanship, particularly with regard to independent schools. I confess to an...
Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: My Lords, as an old history master, I must give a little correction; Peers assessed themselves until, I think, 1663. That said, the noble Lord, Lord Desai, was right to say that you must consider the history of every country when you consider their constitutions. As the 38th speaker on the speakers list, I can only underline what other noble Lords have said. The fact is that the British...
Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: Can I correct the noble Lord? What about Canada?
Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: I am puzzled that this amendment was rejected on the ground that it had been heard before. It is true that we voted to protect the churches, but an amendment relating specifically to Catholic orphanages has not yet been discussed. I would like the noble Baroness to explain this act to me.
Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: We did not have a vote.
Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: My Lords, since the late Lord Falkland has been mentioned, his last words, when he turned to the enemy and got himself shot, were that he was leaving a world that he no longer liked and no longer wanted to live in. Let us hope our legacy is not that.
Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: Why should I and noble Lords trust the Executive to deal with mice when they cannot deal with the economy?
Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: Would the noble Lord explain how other members of the European Community-France, for example, and Germany to some extent-restrict teaching in their faith schools to members of the faith and the practice of the faith? How have they avoided the European Court?
Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: My Lords, I want to widen the debate somewhat, because it touches the very roots of democracy in society. It has been a fundamental principle of the democratic state, certainly over the last 100 years, that independent corporations within the state have a freedom and enjoy a freedom. Churches and faith groups are independent corporations. Their life does not spring from the state, but from...
Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: My Lords, will the Minister consider a rather sadder side and bear in mind the fact that the British Empire, represented by the Queen and her father, sacrificed itself to preserve us from tyranny? When the Commonwealth fought Hitler, it collapsed, so the sacrifice of the British Empire should be borne in mind.
Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: My Lords, when the Merovingian kings lost their power, they called the man with the real power "Mayor of the Palace". Why not use that title?
Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: My Lords, I was in Africa in the 1950s, and the problems mentioned by the noble Earl were apparent then. The imperial Government failed to solve them. Why does the noble Earl, or the Minister, think we can do anything now? The whole problem of tribal resentment was apparent then. Only if you reorganised the frontiers that emerged in the 19th century could you resolve it. Is it worth us even...
Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: My Lords, forgive me for saying this, but has the Minister considered the medieval practice of burying people in shrouds? Medieval graveyards were used for 1,000 years and re-used without a problem. I will pay money to anyone who can produce a tombstone previous to about 1670 in a graveyard. Surely the public can be persuaded to follow the wisdom of their predecessors.
Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will ensure that the Parkinson's disease drug Midodrine is prescribed uniformly across Somerset and across England.
Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: My Lords, has the Minister allowed for the ingenuity of the rodent population? When I suffered an infestation, the rats were looking through my drawing room window to see either me or the television, and it took weeks to get rid of them.
Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: My Lords, I realise that it is not etiquette to say this, but, as a product of the north-east where I was brought up and educated, I have to say that from a family that had never gone to university, five of us went to Oxford and Cambridge. I am talking about the early 1950s. I have to defend my locality; it was not as bad as the noble Baroness says.
Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: My Lords, in his briefing notes, the Minister reminds us that this is a landmark piece of legislation. In particular, he tells us that for the first time in over 30 years, we are changing the education leaving age. He looks to history, as an historian would, and calls to mind that in 1918 HAL Fisher considered keeping children in full or part-time education until 18. That was never...
Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: My Lords, have the Government paid attention to the fact that a student loan can affect one's eligibility for a mortgage? To my knowledge, young students are affected by that. What are the Government doing about that?
Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: My Lords, I bow to the others' expertise in this area. However, are Her Majesty's Government not more worried about the Palestinian issue and the growing rift between Sunni and Shia, which could spread over the whole of the Middle East? We tend to ignore this, but do we not do so at our peril?
Lord Pilkington of Oxenford: My Lords, is the Minister prepared to deplore the Protestant Reformation in that in the Catholic Middle Ages we had many more holidays?