Earl Russell: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Patten, for introducing this very important topic. It is one on which, in this country, we are all out of step but our Johnny. When Lord Wilberforce spoke in the farewell debate for Lord Taylor of Gosforth, he pointed out that the only two countries dealing with this issue which did not have a written constitution were Britain and Israel. It is a very...
Earl Russell: My Lords, if the Minister studies the judgments of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Reed, on liabilities of the disabled, I think she will find an example of flexibility outstanding even by the examples of parliamentary practice.
Earl Russell: asked Her Majesty's Government: Whether they propose to exempt the Health and Safety Executive from plans to reduce the size of the Civil Service.
Earl Russell: asked Her Majesty's Government: Whether the commitment in the Comprehensive Spending Review to increase the number of criminal convictions to 1.25 million by 2007–08 is compatible with ensuring justice in individual cases. Question number missing in Hansard, possibly truncated question.
Earl Russell: asked Her Majesty's Government: What attempts have been made to quantify the risk that a reduction in sickness absence from work may increase the spread of infection in the workplace.
Earl Russell: asked Her Majesty's Government: Whether they will ensure that staffing reductions in the Department for Work and Pensions will not reduce access to the Social Funds at weekends or out-of-hours for the destitute; and Whether they have made an assessment of the likely effect of staffing reductions at the Department for Work and Pensions on the speed and accuracy of future benefit payments.
Earl Russell: asked Her Majesty's Government: How staffing reductions at the Department for Work and Pensions are likely to affect the rate of errors in the administration of the Child Support Agency.
Earl Russell: asked Her Majesty's Government: How they intend to combine the principles of the consultation document Parental Separation: Children's Needs and Parents' Responsibilities with the principles of the Child Support Acts 1991 and 1995 that one parent is always with care, and the other parent is always absent.
Earl Russell: asked Her Majesty's Government: What consequences they expect from any attempt to enforce the prosecution of beggars.
Earl Russell: asked Her Majesty's Government: Given the commitment in the Comprehensive Spending Review to produce savings by halving the number of people applying for asylum in the United Kingdom, to what extent the Goverment can control this figure.
Earl Russell: asked Her Majesty's Government: Whether in appropriate circumstances they will provide better sound insulation to properties under their control to diminish the anti-social effect of loud music.
Earl Russell: asked Her Majesty's Government: Whether the projected contract to supply oxygen to patients who use it for home treatment will involve (as some concentrate systems do) full emergency cover at night and out-of-hours; and whether they have made an analysis of the cost of such cover weighed against the cost of emergency hospital admissions caused by its absence.
Earl Russell: I am grateful to the Minister for his reply. I appreciate that he was entirely unprovided with any warning of the point about the Housing Act 1988. This morning I did not know that I was going to make it myself. However, I would be grateful if the Minister could take it away and think about it because it is causing quite considerable hardship.
Earl Russell: I would like to support this amendment. In doing so I declare a pecuniary interest as the owner of a good quality house, built in the 1880s, but which is now in need of some £10,000 worth of ordinary running repairs. That is not an uncommon situation. Although I have a pecuniary interest, I believe myself to be speaking in the public interest, although that is a matter for the Committee to...
Earl Russell: No doubt, the amendment requires further thought, but I cannot help feeling that the answer requires further thought also. The Minister said it would cost a great deal—yes, it would—but the important question is not how much it will cost but whether it will cost more or less than the alternatives. The Government know that building new houses, with all the attendant confusion of planning...
Earl Russell: While the Minister was talking, it struck me that the amendments were framed in terms of compulsion, whereas Amendment No. 29, in the name of my noble friend Lady Maddock, was concerned with permissive action to allow people to do what they wanted to do. There is necessarily a place for compulsion, but it is an unpleasant, expensive and labour-intensive process that will not become easier...
Earl Russell: The amendment draws attention to the fact that the interface between housing law and university housing, like Topsy, has grown—and has done so in a somewhat illogical way. In relation to multiple occupation, universities are outside the system of controls; but in relation to rents, under the Housing Act 1988, universities are inside it. It is possible to argue that that is back to front....
Earl Russell: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the criterion for restricting free speech is not that it causes offence, however gross, but that it tends to provoke a breach of the peace? Does she further agree that the question of whether Mr Griffin passes that test is open enough for us to wish to hear the verdict of a court upon it?
Earl Russell: My Lords, I would be grateful if the Minister could tell the House how the Government decide which of the financial wants of universities they choose to classify as needs. What evidence do they use to reach that decision?
Earl Russell: My Lords, one of the points on which the least thought has been given in the preparation of the Bill is its differential effect between subjects. I drew attention at Second Reading to its harmful effect on departments of chemistry. The provision multiplies that. I say that on behalf of the late Lady Young, as well as on my behalf; it is a cause on which we often worked together, and were...