Results 61–80 of 97 for speaker:Lord Biffen

European Communities (Amendment) Bill (20 Nov 2001)

Lord Biffen: I never suggested that it was. I am quite aware that the report of the Select Committee has been available for some while. The fact that it has been available and has not yet been debated ahead of this debate appears to me to be quite deplorable. In that sense, I was echoing the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Bruce.

European Communities (Amendment) Bill (20 Nov 2001)

Lord Biffen: I want to take up the point that was made by the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, about the availability of the European Union Committee's report on the Court of Auditors, which was proposed by this House. It was widely acclaimed and should be central to our discussions. The way in which the amendment is drafted inevitably prevents a wide-ranging discussion—it would be similar to the discussions...

European Communities (Amendment) Bill (20 Nov 2001)

Lord Biffen: My noble friend Lord Howell, who moved the amendment, highlighted one of the continuing anxieties—not so much what the proposed changes in the treaty imply, but whether ultimately they will lead to further consequences. As has already been said, this debate is being carried out not in a vacuum but against the wishes of Senor Prodi. He is obviously the star turn so far as concerns my noble...

European Communities (Amendment) Bill (15 Nov 2001)

Lord Biffen: The history of public funding of politics has been miserably unhappy. It has never been accepted with much enthusiasm, certainly not in this country—although one has to accept that it is very much a part of a method of operation. If one confines one's observations to one's domestic experience, there is no doubt that the so-called Short money is probably least subject to critical scrutiny....

European Communities (Amendment) Bill (15 Nov 2001)

Lord Biffen: The Minister quoted management of the Danube, which is obviously appropriate in the context of European enlargement. In what way does he believe that the existing management of the Danube by the riparian nations is inadequate and would be enhanced as a result of the changes now proposed? I ask that question because I cannot believe that the noble Lord would have introduced that example...

European Communities (Amendment) Bill (15 Nov 2001)

Lord Biffen: I intervene briefly primarily to say how much I appreciate the Minister's kind words about G. C. Coulson, the great Protestant historian. I never thought that such an opportunity would fall my way, least of all in debates upon the European Union. It just shows that there are small nuggets to be mined even in the most unpromising of circumstances. At this stage of the evening, one begins to...

European Communities (Amendment) Bill (15 Nov 2001)

Lord Biffen: The noble Lord, Lord Willoughby de Broke, made a powerful argument about some of the detailed implications of the provision. I want to consider it in the broader sense in which it was introduced by my noble friend on the Front Bench. Particular emphasis was placed on the general terms of social exclusion. Most of us who have been in politics have lived with social exclusion. We know of the...

European Communities (Amendment) Bill (15 Nov 2001)

Lord Biffen: In order to spare the noble Baroness further reading, I can assure her that all the conditions she attached to enhanced co-operation would make it wholly unacceptable to Sir Richard Body.

European Communities (Amendment) Bill (15 Nov 2001)

Lord Biffen: With great diligence, the noble Lord, Lord Watson, has demonstrated how Article 17 can bear the full weight of a general discussion about NATO. I shall not follow him far in that direction since I wish to welcome the remarks of my noble friend Lord Howell. He said that we regard the treaty, and the context in which it is understood, as having profound implications for NATO relationships. The...

European Communities (Amendment) Bill (15 Nov 2001)

Lord Biffen: We are enjoined by the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, in rather magisterial fashion, to be restrained and relatively narrow in our address to the amendments. I sympathise with that aspiration. However, when we proceed with European law by treaty, one of the difficulties is that we are almost boxed into generalised discussions. The existence of prerogatives in matters which were raised by the noble...

WTO: Ministerial Conference (15 Nov 2001)

Lord Biffen: My Lords, I appreciate that the meeting was an agenda-setting occasion, but can the Minister say whether any consideration was given to the desirability or otherwise of open trade in genetically modified agricultural products—or is that something to be left for the future?

Afghanistan (5 Nov 2001)

Lord Biffen: My Lords, this has been a measured and, I believe, productive debate on Afghanistan. It certainly has been distinguished by two remarkable maiden speeches from my noble friend Lord King of Bridgwater and the noble Lord, Lord Jones. I shall refer to their speeches later in my remarks. It is now eight weeks since 11th September. I confess that I still feel a bewildered and numbed horror at the...

European Communities (Amendment) Bill (1 Nov 2001)

Lord Biffen: My Lords, the entrance fee for this debate is to pay a tribute to the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, and to congratulate her on being appointed Leader of the Liberal Democrats. I happily make that payment. My noble friend Lord Howell of Guildford has explained the modalities that prevent us from voting on this legislation this evening, which I understand. If I were still in the other place, I...

European Communities (Amendment) Bill (1 Nov 2001)

Lord Biffen: My Lords, of course I do. If we are to bandy about statistics, the United Kingdom component of the European Union direct elections is one of the biggest and most profound challenges of all, as the figure has fallen to 24 per cent. I turn to the second consideration. For many across the spectrum of those who endorse membership of what was then the Common Market, the prospect of open trade was...

Foot and Mouth Disease (3 May 2001)

Lord Biffen: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, for the qualified optimism of her report and hope that it will not be touched with hubris. Indeed, I do not think that it will be. After such a terrible few weeks, it is heartening to see some signs that the measures, albeit highly contentious, are now bringing the outbreak under control. Is the Minister able to say at this stage that the...

Elections Bill (5 Apr 2001)

Lord Biffen: My Lords, this mini debate is but a token of what it should be, but it is infinitely greater than what was offered by the other place when considering the measure. It is a matter of constitutional import. The speech by my noble friend Lord Norton emphasised that. I should like to try to underline some of his comments. It is a simple test. Imagine that this was taking place not just ahead of a...

Foot and Mouth Disease (4 Apr 2001)

Lord Biffen: My Lords, I am grateful to be able to speak in the gap. I am also grateful to my noble friend who introduced the debate and to Michael Meacher for suggesting that there will be a public inquiry following the conclusion of this miserable episode. The emphasis is on the word "public" because such an inquiry must be wide-ranging and relentless. That is the least that we owe to those who have...

Offshore Combustion Installations (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Regulations 2001 (16 Mar 2001)

Lord Biffen: My Lords, I owe an explanation to the noble Lord, Lord Sainsbury, and to your Lordships generally. My late arrival was occasioned by my having spent four hours this morning in a dialysis chair. None the less, I am pleased to have arrived in time to make a brief observation. I apologise for not giving notice of this to the Minister. These provisions have been widely discussed within the...

Written Answers — House of Lords: Anglo-Georgian Trade (16 Mar 2001)

Lord Biffen: asked Her Majesty's Government: What has been the trend in Anglo-Georgian trade since 1996; what are the prospects for improvement; and whether Export Credit Guarantee cover will be made available for this business.

Foot and Mouth Disease (13 Mar 2001)

Lord Biffen: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Elvel, mentioned his interest in 30 acres of pasture land. I echo that. I too have 30 acres of Somerset pasture land. I believe that that makes me a people's landowner. But above all, although it is an interest, I can truthfully say that it is barely an influence on my opinions on the matters being discussed this evening. What is an influence is the...


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