Conservative peers shone during questions on the economy yesterday. They sparred with Lord Myners, who was made Financial Services Secretary in October 2008. To his credit, he has a varied CV - having been a teacher, journalist, business leader, banker and academic.
The Earl of Caithness put an elegant boot into the Government:
"My Lords, given the complete mess that the Treasury made of last year’s forecasts—it expected a budget deficit of 2 per cent of GDP when it is more likely to be 10 per cent, and expected economic growth of at least 2.5 per cent when in fact it is likely to be minus 3.5 per cent—would the Minister agree with the OECD that half of our problems were structural and related to government policy and nothing to do with the worldwide recession? What are the Government going to do about that?
Lord Myners: My Lords, my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will give a detailed analysis of the situation in the world and domestic economies when he makes his Budget presentation tomorrow. We are in the midst of a truly extraordinary global recession. For the first time in 60 years, the IMF has forecast a net reduction in added value for global economic activity. This problem is not confined to one country; it is a global problem. That is why the Prime Minister, in his chairmanship of the G20, led a global solution."
Former Chancellor Lord Lawson of Blaby (above right) did the same:
"My Lords, will the Minister explain to simple-minded folk like me how it is that when the British economy was expanding, at a time when the whole world economy was expanding, that was entirely to do with the success of the British Government; but now that the British economy is contracting rather faster than most of the world in a contracting world economy, it is nothing to do with us but is entirely to do with the world?
Lord Myners: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Lawson, knows that I am new to the world of politics, so it is perhaps harder for me to find an easy answer to that question than it would be for many others who have come to this House from the other place. But let us look at the facts. Over the 10 years to 1996, GDP per capita in the UK was the lowest in the G7. Over the following 10 years, it was the second highest in the G7. Since 1997, which was an important year, as no doubt the noble Lord remembers, UK real GDP per capita has increased by more than any other G7 economy. That was a tribute to the masterful management of the economy by my right honourable friend who was the Chancellor in those days, who is now our Prime Minister."
Conservative peers have tabled written questions about Britain's (uncodified) constitution.
The Conservative Party has some tough decisions to make about these kind of issues. They may not be glamorous, but they matter. Can ConservativeHome readers offer some suggestions as to how we can avoid laying siege to our constitution as New Labour have?
The Earl of Caithness asked about the presence of judges in the upper chamber:
How many representations they have received since the passing of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 about the presence of Law Lords in the House of Lords; and from which individuals or organisations. [HL6260]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): Ministers have received two letters and one Parliamentary Question from the noble Lord, Lord Carlile of Berriew, answered by my noble friend Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 29 September 2008 (Official Report, col. WA416) specifically about the presence of Law Lords in the House of Lords since the passing of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005."
That question was followed by another:
"The Earl of Caithness asked Her Majesty's Government:
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The Government set out in their proposals for establishing a separate Supreme Court the importance that they attached to a visible and institutional separation between the judiciary and the executive and the legislature.
However the UK has never been governed under a system of the pure separation of powers. In a parliamentary democracy, where the executive are directly dependent on and constituted from the legislature, it is appropriate that the executive should be directly represented in both Houses of the legislature."
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