Former Sleaford and North Hykeham Conservative MP Douglas Hogg has made his maiden speech in the House of Lords.
He was awarded the Life Peerage by Prime Minister David Cameron in August, having stepped down from the Commons in 2010 as an MP in 2009 after the expenses scandal.
The former minister always denied using public money on the moat at his 13th century manor house, but under pressure agreed to repay the cost, which was listed on paperwork submitted to the Commons Fees Office relating to expenses claims.
The Prime Minister put his name forward for a life peerage in the 2011 New Year Honours, but it was blocked by the House of Lords Appointments Commission.
Viscount Hailsham, as he is also known, inherited a peerage that no longer comes with a seat in the Lords and twice stood unsuccessfully for election to one of the 91 hereditary seats in the chamber.
He was among 26 Conservatives given life peerages this summer, including William Hague, Sir George Young and David Willetts.
Mr Hogg spoke in the Lords yesterday (Thursday). He said: “For well over 50 years, I have been a silent attender at the deliberations of this House, initially on the Steps of the Throne, then later at the Bar of the House. I have always been immensely impressed by the important role that this House plays in the working of the British constitution. Therefore, for me, it is a huge privilege and pleasure to have the opportunity of addressing your Lordships directly from these benches.”
Looking at the Privy Council Bench he added: “I am conscious of my father and father-in-law. They used to sit there together, mostly in harmony and very often grumbling about the shortcomings of a government spokesman.
“I am also very touched to see the noble Baroness my wife on the Cross Benches. This is not an Oscar ceremony and anyway I eschew the emotional stuff but it was very brave of her to marry a prospective politician and very resilient of her, if I may say so, to attend his maiden speech — she has heard an awful lot of the other ones. Frankly, without her I would not have survived the political course.”
He continued: “I am deeply touched by the kind reception I have received from so many of your Lordships and the staff of this House. In return, I am very conscious that the qualities expected of a Member of this place are very different from those that are expected down the corridor; in particular, a more collegiate, less partisan approach to debate and a certain self-restraint as to the frequency and length of one’s interventions.”
Viscount Hogg welcomed new measures in the Government’s strategic defence and security review, especially the enhancement in equipment and recognition for nimbleness and flexibility. He said: “The Chancellor is to be congratulated on making the resources available. But our forces are lean and in a crisis we may not have the opportunity to repair the deficiencies. So I hope that the Government will be sensitive to the need to accelerate some of the programmes. In that context, I will make a point about Paris. Our security forces are well used to dealing with prolonged sieges and terrorists who are anxious to escape with their lives, but we face something different now; namely, suicidal killers intent upon widespread and immediate murder. In respect of them, I hope that our services are properly armed, equipped and trained.
“The second point I want to make relates to keeping your word. One needs to be very cautious about giving assurances and uttering threats but, once done, they must be honoured; otherwise, policy-making loses all credibility.
“My third point relates to Russia. Putin’s Russia is never going to be a comfortable neighbour, but we now have real issues in common. I hope that we can come to some modus vivendi. True, it will be at a price. The annexation of Crimea will not be reversed and the displacement of President Assad will not be the first priority, but I think we can come to a modus vivendi.
“Lastly, on ISIL, I speak as one of those who voted against the second Gulf War. I was a teller on that Motion and assisted with its drafting, but I think that the House of Commons made the wholly right decision yesterday. I do not believe that bombing specific targets in Syria will defeat that organisation, but not to play our part will diminish our standing among those already engaged. It would also display a shaming degree of disengagement. The moral and ethical basis for such action clearly exists. The recent Security Council resolution gives explicit legal authority and, incidentally, it was declaratory only of long-existing principles of deterrence and self-defence. Precisely those principles justify the use of lethal force against individuals such as Jihadi John, who have committed heinous crimes against all humanity. For they have made themselves outlaws in the true sense of the word in that by putting themselves outside the reach of the law, they have also put themselves outside the protection of law.”