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Lords Chamber

Volume 621: debated on Wednesday 7 February 2001

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House Of Lords

Wednesday, 7th February 2001.

The House met at half-past two of the clock: The LORD CHANCELLOR on the Woolsack.

Prayers—Read by the Lord Bishop of Bradford.

The Lord Chancellor: Leave Of Absence

My Lords, before public business begins, I take the opportunity to inform the House that I am to make an official visit to Portugal and Spain on 12th, 13th and 14th February, when the House will sit. I will be holding meetings with Members of the government and the judiciary in both countries and will be addressing the joint British Council/Spanish Bar Association human rights and law conference. Accordingly, I trust that the House will grant me leave of absence.

Speaker's Conference

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will set up a Speaker's Conference to examine the role and performance of both Houses of Parliament and their relationship to each other.

My Lords, I do not think that that would be appropriate. A Speaker's Conference traditionally consists only of Members of the other place. It would be wrong for it to examine the role and performance of your Lordships' House and its relationship with the other place. The Government continue to believe that the proper vehicle for this examination, which we agree is important, is a Joint Committee of both Houses, as we have already proposed.

My Lords, I quite understand that the Government are well content with the domination they presently enjoy over both Houses of Parliament. However, in the long term, would it not be wise for the Government actively to seek ways in which public respect for Parliament might be restored? They could perhaps start by making it appear as though Parliament were not so much a part of their own far from infallible machine.

My Lords, I am not sure that your Lordships would agree that the Government have domination over this House. We hold Parliament in the greatest respect. We have taken steps to see what advances can be made, in particular the appointment of a Royal Commission. We hope that many matters of value to Parliament will be considered by the Joint Committee.

My Lords, are the Government really proposing to move to a stage two Bill on House of Lords reform without any form of parliamentary consultation, either through a Speaker's Conference or a Joint Committee of both Houses, on issues such as the composition of your Lordships' House?

My Lords, we set up a Royal Commission; the Royal Commission received evidence from a wide range of sources; there could be a public debate on the Royal Commission's findings. We have proposed a Joint Committee of both Houses to consider the parliamentary aspects, and we are discussing through the usual channels the detail of that Joint Committee.

My Lords, now that we have had the opportunity of experiencing the changes and of living with them for some time, would it not be sensible to have a serious debate on the various options in order that the views of the House can be made known to the Joint Committee when it is eventually set up?

My Lords, there should be a national debate in response to the Royal Commission. The Royal Commission aimed—in my view, correctly—to gather together a wide range of opinions and then express a conclusion in its report, which it did.

My Lords, in considering this matter further, will the Government bear in mind that the major factor to be considered is the vast amount of legislation that there now is, and has been for some years, and that this House is so much better qualified in its expertise and experience than another place?

My Lords, the issue of the scrutiny of legislation is incredibly important and needs to be looked at. It is an issue at which the Joint Committee which is being discussed through the usual channels could look in detail.

My Lords, does the noble and learned Lord agree that another important piece of unfinished business is the relationship between the two Houses of Parliament and the Welsh Assembly? Does he not think that legislation could conveniently be hived off to the Welsh Assembly and that it is time for urgent consideration of the possibility of equating the Assembly's legislative powers to those of the Scottish Parliament?

No, my Lords, I do not think that. We should see how the Welsh Assembly operates over a period of time. I do not think it is appropriate to consider any changes in relation to it at the moment.

My Lords, the Minister will be relieved to know that I agree with his answer to the noble Lord, Lord Carlile. However, does he not think it appropriate to examine the ways in which both Houses now devise primary legislation? That would assist the National Assembly for Wales, when devising its secondary, subordinate legislation, to ensure that it is more properly related to what happens in this House. Is there not an opportunity here to look at the way in which secondary legislation is scrutinised throughout England and Wales to ensure a clearer way of devising primary legislation—and, indeed, the ways in which the National Assembly for Wales is referred to in primary legislation? There is a consistent inconsistency within government in the way that Bills are drafted. There is no clarity as to where the Assembly's powers are derived from in terms of primary legislation.

My Lords, both Houses should consider the scrutiny of legislation, both primary and secondary. The Joint Committee will look at that issue. The noble Lord is right, the Welsh Assembly also looks at secondary legislation. It would plainly have an interest in seeing how it was done.

My Lords, can the Minister be more precise about the timing of the announcement of the Joint Committee? When shall we know its membership and its programme? Will it be before May or after May?

My Lords, discussions are going on through the usual channels as to, for example, whether or not the Liberal Democrats agree to such a committee and what its composition should be. When those discussions are complete, obviously we can make an announcement. But I am not in a position to make an announcement as to timing at the moment.

My Lords, I am baffled by the Minister's answers. He has just said that it is up to the Liberal Democrats to decide whether there will be a Joint Committee. Surely that is for the Government to decide. Will the Minister answer the question put by the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart; namely, why do the Government wish to exclude Parliament from the consultative process of the Joint Committee in discussing the composition of this House? Should not Parliament be the primary place for Parliament itself to come to a conclusion about composition, and to place that conclusion before the Government? Secondly, can the Minister give a single example of how Parliament has been strengthened in the past three and a half years?

My Lords, as to the noble Lord's first point, discussions are going on about the form of the Joint Committee. It would be wrong to make any announcement before those discussions have been completed. It would also be wrong to suggest—as the noble Lord said I did—that the Liberal Democrats in any sense have a veto in relation to that process. The noble Lord's second point was whether Parliament will have an opportunity to discuss the composition of this House. Of course it will. There has been a Royal Commission; there will be a Joint Committee; and when legislation is proposed, Parliament will then have an opportunity to discuss it. Thirdly, he asked whether there has been any example of Parliament being strengthened. The reform of the House of Lords has been introduced—in our view, that strengthens Parliament.

My Lords, while we on these Benches certainly do not expect to have a veto, we do expect to have a voice. I should like to lend support to the proposal that there should be a full discussion in Parliament before draft legislation goes ahead. In my experience, once legislation is drafted it is always too late to make major changes.

My Lords, I accept what the noble Baroness says about the Liberal Democrats not having a veto, but it is plainly right that they should have a voice in determining the terms of the Joint Committee. I hope that they accept that that is the process that is going on at present.

As regards the issue of second stage reform, there has been a Royal Commission; there will be a Joint Committee; then there should be a national debate; then, it seems to me, the next stage should be legislation.

My Lords, surely this House and another place should have a voice before legislation is tabled. Once a Bill is on the table, there is a narrow corridor down which you have to go. Unless you kill the Bill, you finish up with some variety of what has been put there by the Government. Parliament is here to control the Government, not to be steered by them.

My Lords, both Houses of Parliament will obviously have a view and a voice in relation to what happens. It is a matter for the usual channels to determine what debates should take place. But the process has so far involved stage one reform—which was accompanied by a large number of debates in both Houses about stage two reform; then there was a Royal Commission; a Joint Committee will follow; then there will be a national debate, and then legislation.

Food Imports: Inspection

2.46 p.m.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, following recent concerns about contaminated food entering the United Kingdom, they will ensure that adequate numbers of inspectors are appointed to cover all possible ports of entry.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health
(Lord Hunt of Kings Heath)

My Lords, food inspection services at ports are the responsibility of the relevant local authorities. It is incumbent on these authorities to ensure that they have the resources and facilities in place to carry out their statutory duties in relation to imported foods.

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that Answer. My Question was tied to the deplorable importation of contaminated meat from Germany, which has occurred five times over the past months. The imports included spinal cord, which is one of several specified risk materials and which has been very visible in these cases. Is it possible, however, that more specified risk materials may have slipped through into this country? According to a report in the Sunday Express, the Food Standards Agency is said to be furious. So it should be. What action have the Government recommended in regard to the importation of contaminated meat, and what action will they now take?

My Lords, the noble Lord is right to point to the seriousness of these matters. However, the very fact that the Meat Hygiene Service was able, through sample inspections, to detect what had happened indicates that the system is working well in this country. But we cannot be complacent. As a result, with effect from 30th January, the official veterinary service has been instructed by the Meat Hygiene Service, when carrying out its next routine visits to a cutting plant or a cold store, to perform a specified risk material inspection of all beef carcasses imported from Germany. In addition, the Food Standards Agency has written to all local authorities advising them that all premises likely to receive consignments of German beef should be subject to further random checks, and that any beef imported from Germany should be inspected during these visits. At the same time, we have vigorously taken up with the European Union the issue of whether the German Government are enforcing the rules and regulations effectively in Germany as regards this matter.

My Lords, would the problem be avoided if we were allowed to stamp meat as being imported from Germany; or are we prevented from doing so? Why, as was reported in the newspapers last Sunday, has the research into the BSE prion been delayed for two years? Surely it is important that this should be resumed immediately?

My Lords, as regards research and the general issues regarding BSE, the Government's response to the inquiry of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Phillips, will be published very shortly.

As regards the labelling of beef, there is no issue as regards the source of the beef which was the subject of concerns identified by the Meat Hygiene Service. The issue is that elements of specified risk material were discovered. The question is whether the German Government have an effective system to ensure that the proper rules and regulations are implemented. As a result of what has been discovered in the past few weeks, the Food Standards Agency has taken up this matter directly with the European Union. The chair of the Food Standards Agency will meet with Commissioner Byrne, who is the commissioner responsible, tonight. One of the issues he will discuss with the commissioner is the German authorities' responsibilities in this area.

My Lords, is it possible for German beef to be processed in this country, for example, to be minced, and then sold packaged without it being plain to the consumer that it is German beef? Is it in the British national interest, given the present state of agriculture in this country, that we should import foreign beef?

My Lords, we import little beef from Germany or, indeed, France. I certainly believe that British beef should be enjoyed and bought with vigour by people in this country. But I do not believe that we should put in place arbitrary restrictions on imports that go beyond the EU rules and regulations. As regards French imports, for example, other countries sought to stop them and the issue is now the subject of proceedings by the European Union. The best procedure is to be vigorous, as the Meat Hygiene Service is, to ensure that where we discover problems we pursue them vigorously through the European Union. That is what we are doing.

My Lords, does my noble friend share my surprise that the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, who lectured this country for years when Secretary of State about the virtues of a market economy, seems to have changed his mind? Is not the real issue that we need to press not only the German authorities to adopt the same standards that exist in our abattoirs, but that all European Union countries should adopt those standards immediately?

My Lords, certainly we can be proud of the way in which abattoirs in this country are managed and inspected. I hope that the rigour with which this country pursues those inspections will be followed by other countries within the European Union. That is why we are pressing as determinedly as we can for action to be taken by the European Union in relation to Germany where clearly things have gone wrong in the past few months. As regards the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, he is right that products containing beef are not subject to the labelling requirements of the EU beef labelling system, but they, like other foods, are subject to the place of origin requirements of the food labelling regulations 1996. In relation to labelling, we continue to press for much clearer information for all products.

Intimidation: Protection Of Public


asked Her Majesty's Government:

What measures they have taken to prevent the intimidation of people engaged in lawful activities; together with associated arson and criminal damage; and whether such measures have had any success.

My Lords, the Government are committed to doing whatever is necessary to help the police to tackle intimidation. Tough laws exist to protect businesses and individuals from violent or threatening protests, but we intend to strengthen these further to give the police additional powers to ensure that businesses and individuals can go about their business without fear of violence or intimidation. The measures we are proposing will allow the police to take action to prevent extremists protesting outside people's homes and will also strengthen the law against the sending of malicious communications.

Arson and criminal damage are serious criminal offences and perpetrators are liable to arrest and prosecution. The Government are consulting closely with the police service, the Crown Prosecution Service and the courts to achieve an effective and consistent approach to enforcement of the law, focusing particularly on animal rights extremists.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply. Does he agree that intimidation has gone quite beyond animal rights terrorism to include such things as last year's fuel protest, numerous attacks on synagogues and mosques in recent months and some intimidation of witnesses? Will the Government seek to mobilise public opinion as well as the police against this kind of behaviour and in protection of public safety and the Queen's peace?

My Lords, sadly, the various forms of intimidation to which the noble Lord referred have been a feature of modern life for some time. The police do an excellent job in balancing the legitimate rights of peaceful protest with effective enforcement action. Our Government stand firm against intimidation, as we demonstrated clearly last year when the fuel protestors acted in the way they did in certain circumstances. We stand firm against intimidation wherever it comes from. That is our avowed course and intent.

My Lords, will the noble Lord tell the House whether any arrests have been made in recent months arising from personal injury or damage to personal property committed by those who claim to represent animal rights?

My Lords, I have some statistics for the Cambridgeshire police which indicate that around 200 people have been arrested, reported or warned in connection with protests at the Huntingdon Life Sciences centre between April and December of last year. The latest information suggests that there have not been any arrests since the commencement of this year but that the police have been effective and vigorous in their policing of protests there. They deserve to be supported not just by the Government but also by your Lordships' House and the public at large.

My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that many of us take the view that these attacks on the scientific community by so-called "animal rights activists" are wholly outrageous and that every possible step must be taken to deal with them? Is he aware, following the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, that it would be helpful if the Government could get some information from the Crown Prosecution Service and ACPO on the figures for arrests outside the county of Cambridgeshire?

My Lords, before I answer the question, I hope that I may say how pleased I am to see the noble Lord resume his usual position.

We, of course, design our processes and procedures so that we collect information effectively through the National Public Order Intelligence Unit, which works with the Metropolitan Police and very closely with the ACPO steering group to collate information about arrests of the kind that the noble Lord mentioned. It is important that we collect such information. People need to know that the police are taking a firm grip of the situation; they certainly have done so in places such as Cambridgeshire. As I said earlier, the police deserve our sympathy and support. They have a difficult job to do sometimes in trying circumstances.

My Lords, is the Minister aware that it is not just those who are carrying out research on animals who are threatened? I have just come from the National Farmers Union conference. Many farmers are worried about the intimidation that they and their families are subjected to. What are the Government doing about that? The difficulty is that most of these farmers live in rural areas and the Government have failed to provide enough policemen in those areas.

My Lords, we greatly sympathise with the position of farmers. We want to ensure that they are well protected. Where there are problems, I am sure that farmers make detailed notes of the situation and ensure that their local constabularies are well informed. It is worth reflecting that this Government have done more to ensure that rural police forces are supported than any previous government.

My Lords, noble Lords groan and wince, but we have ensured that the police funding formula favours rural police forces. We have given specific grants to ensure that police services are well served, well supported and adequately funded.

My Lords, can the Minister tell the House of violence done to others by members of hunts?

My Lords, I always like to help the noble Lord but on this occasion I cannot do so.

My Lords, would the Minister like some information about the violence done to people who pursue a lawful activity—hunting?

My Lords, for the Minister to sit there looking pained is not good enough.

My Lords, I was not aware of that. People who enjoy such activities should enjoy them for what they are. Some of these questions go far beyond my brief.

My Lords, we are into the 25th minute of Question Time and there is another important Question.

Transplant Operations

3.1 p.m.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What measures they are taking to restore confidence in transplant operations following the events at Alder Hey children's hospital.

My Lords, there is an important distinction between donation of organs for immediate use in life-saving transplants when family agreement is always sought and keeping organs for retention following post mortem. We are shortly holding a summit to reinforce this distinction and to consider how to boost organ donation rates for transplantation.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. I agree that we need to draw the clearest distinction between organ retention and organ transplantation. I am sure my noble friend will agree that it would be a tragedy if the natural anger and concern felt over the events at Alder Hey were to lead to a fall in the number of organs for transplantation given that 6,000 patients are awaiting transplants.

Will the summit meeting consider all the aspects concerning donors, in particular whether there are new ways in which people can make clear a wish to leave their organs for transplantation? Can the noble Lord confirm that placing leaflets in pay bills, credit card bills and census returns will be considered as ways of encouraging people to make available their organs for transplantation?

My Lords, yes, we want to encourage as many people as possible to put forward their names for membership of the organ donor register and, as importantly, to inform their relatives that they would be prepared to be a donor should the circumstances arise.

We shall consider a number of initiatives. In the past year there have been some good initiatives. I refer to Boots charge cards and the Goldfish credit card. The Sun is again launching a campaign which has resulted in many more thousands of people signing on to the register. At present, we have 8.3 million people on the register. That figure is impressive but it would be marvellous if we could encourage millions more.

My Lords, is the Minister satisfied with the monitoring of the clinical performance of doctors?

My Lords, I believe that the steps taken by the Government over the past three years go a long way towards ensuring the effective monitoring of the clinical performance of doctors. Specifically, clinical governance lays down a corporate responsibility on the boards of NHS trusts. In addition, we have to tackle the issue of poorly performing doctors. The assessment centres to be established will be able to tackle poor performance as soon as problems are identified, dealing with poor performance in a more effective and sensitive way.

My Lords, I think that it is the turn of the Liberal Democrats.

My Lords, as someone who has donated the organ of a loved one for transplantation, I welcome the summit and wish it well. However, will the Minister further inform the House of the proper procedures for returning to bereaved parents the babies' organs which have been kept at Alder Hey for research? If what one heard from one of the parents on the "Kilroy" programme last Friday is true, at present the procedure lacks sensitivity for the feelings of the bereaved parents.

My Lords, in addition to the trauma suffered because of the activities of Professor Van Velzen, one of the conclusions of the Redfern report was that over the past year, the return of organs should have been handled more sensitively. Some parents have had the trauma of being misinformed. Some parents have endured the trauma of having to attend three to four funerals of their child.

In publishing the Redfern report, one of the Government's most important conclusions was the establishment of the retained organs commission. It will have an important role: advising NHS trusts on how to handle organ returns sensitively, effectively and efficiently in the future. There may now be some delay regarding return of organs because it is important that NHS trusts first receive that advice.

My Lords, the House has been informed previously that even with the existence of a donor card, when one dies, one's body—even that of an adult—is not one's own at the time of death. The consent of relatives still has to be sought. Is that still the position or has there been any change?

My Lords, I am happy to confirm that the consent of relatives must be sought. I believe that that is done, particularly through transplant co-ordinators, in the most sensitive way possible. That is why, when people sign on to the organ donor register, they are encouraged at the same time to tell their relatives of their action so that relatives know of their intention.

Business Of The House: Debates This Day

My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing on the Order Paper in the name of my noble friend Lady Jay of Paddington.

Moved, That the debate on the Motion in the name of the Baroness Whitaker set down for today shall be limited to three hours and that in the name of the Lord Tomlinson to two hours.—( Lord Williams of Mostyn. )

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Global Poverty

3.8 p.m.

rose to call attention to HM Government's commitment to the White Paper Eliminating Global Poverty: Making Globalisation Work for the Poor; and to move for Papers.

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this debate was proposed in the debate on the gracious Speech last year by my noble friend Lord Tomlinson and I am grateful for the opportunity to introduce it. The White Paper, Making Globalisation Work for the Poor, is particularly timely. That is not because globalisation is really a new phenomenon. The spur to trade from new means of communication is an ancient human pattern, although vastly accelerated by the liberalisation of more of the world's economies and the rapid growth of information technology. What makes the White Paper timely is the connection of globalisation with its other strapline, eliminating world poverty, and the prospect of a better world order to achieve that.

For the world to turn its back on the good companion of globalization—the reform of international institutions, the spread of good governance and active civil society—risks driving ever more of a wedge between the fifth of the world's population which lives in extreme poverty and the rest. That wedge is not just a prosperity, health, education or digital divide but also a dangerous divide across which can leap organised crime, disease and war—with its attendant consequences of forced migration and unprecedented numbers of refugees—to draw the developed world into conflict.

These are issues which arouse strong feelings, particularly among young people. Oxfam, Christian Aid, ActionAid, Save the Children Fund and CAFOD supporters include many young people—some through family links, like many of those who joined in the voluntary response to the tragic earthquake in Gujerat. Where politics may have turned young people off, international development turns them on, whether it is the struggle for a sustainable environment or humanitarian aid, the rewarding experience of teaching in a gap year or working as a trained VSO nurse. Those young people will take note of the White Paper and recognise the quality of the Government who produced it. The nearly 8,000 hits last month on the White Paper website, which is the medium of the younger generation, added to the sell-out of its first print run of 10,000, suggests that it is being taken note of.

A few young people think that we can turn back globalisation. There is a robust debate about how, or even whether, the liberalisation of the world economy can be achieved fairly and justly. That debate was rather roughly conducted at Seattle, Prague and recently Davos. But it seems to me that the issues of world poverty and globalisation engage young people in politics as it should be—and that means the exercise of choice and decisions about life chances for all, for the many, not the few. In the words of Amartya Sen's recent British Academy lecture on "Other People":
"The themes of these protests have been consistently more important than their theses".
I disagree with the thesis that globalisation undermines the route out from poverty, and I think that the White Paper presents more hopeful alternatives. It confronts squarely the issues of managing globalisation. I congratulate my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development and her colleagues on it. It covers topics ranging from growth, trade, governance and conflict prevention to the need to invest in people's health and education, technology transfer and targeted research. It deals with the role of private finance, the sustainable environment, more effective development assistance and the part to be played by the international institutions. It integrates the role of the Government in enabling economic growth with the need to ensure equitable distribution through the democratic process. It holds out the prospect of realisable achievement of the targets for eliminating poverty in the first White Paper.

The White Paper also promises a development Bill—the first primary legislation on the subject since 1980. I hope that my noble friend the Minister will be able to say something about its contents.

I look forward to the contributions of distinguished noble Lords. I shall therefore confine my remarks to the untying of aid, the influence of corruption, the importance of civil society and trends in research priorities.

Development is impeded when aid is tied to the products and services of the donor country. The receiving country loses the benefits of fair competition, the chance of local procurements and the sense of responsibility for its own budgets. Our Government are to be congratulated on joining others in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development who have agreed to untie financial assistance to the least developed countries. That sends the right signal that British aid will be clearly aimed at the relief of poverty. It increases the pressure on the few remaining countries that confound their aid with their trade through that form of protectionism.

It is notable, but hardly surprising, that the CBI supports untied aid. There is some distance to go. The admirable campaign by the charity ActionAid to challenge tied aid as a breach of European Union competition policy has yet to reach fruition.

When countries with centrally planned economies move towards market economies, their governments have enormous powers of patronage during the privatisation and deregulation process. The ensuing development has often been distorted by corruption. The UK's commitment to implementing the OECD convention on combating the bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions is to be applauded. I declare an interest as a member of the UK advisory council of Transparency International, which, through its 75 international chapters, promotes understanding of the damaging effects of corruption and tights against it. It is excellent that legislation has been promised in the UK. It will be better still when the legislation has been passed. Can my noble friend give any indication of when it will be brought forward?

As well as so-called grand corruption in government contracts, there is also petty corruption. While grand corruption can hold up the development of essential infrastructure or substantially reduce public revenue, corruption on the part of the hospital service, the university admissions board, the village policeman or even the installer of telephones makes the everyday life of individuals a misery. It is costly for those who can afford it and marginalising for those who cannot. Few things can so destroy faith in political processes or the management of society.

It is important for people who live in a country where corruption is viewed as an aberration to understand what it is like for people who live where it is the norm—where no public service can be accessed without bribery and there is no proper redress. The effective counters to petty corruption are in the institutions of civil society—a mix of independent institutions, such as the judiciary and the media, and citizens' interest groups, which can freely draw attention to abuse and obtain impartial inquiries. Non-governmental organisations, not least women's organisations, have a strong part to play. The Department for International Development is doing good work on civil service reform and the better management of public finance. How can the Government strengthen civil society further, particularly local NGOs?

The interests of the developed world predominate in health research, which massively affects the lives of poor people in the medium term. The White Paper draws attention to the fact that less than 10 per cent of international research goes to 90 per cent of the world's disease burden. What can the Government do to redress that balance? There are also concerns about whether the agreement on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights will increase the cost of essential treatment drugs for poor people. The Government's proposal for a commission on intellectual property rights is most timely. When will it be up and running?

Agricultural research is one of the keys to better food production from our finite land mass. I look forward to the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Taverne, on the potential of crop enhancement—unhelpfully known as genetic modification—for agriculture in marginal lands. When I was last in Kenya, I saw at first hand a drylands project administered by SOS Sahel, in which I declare an interest as a board member. The farmers were trained and enabled to carry out trials and make decisions about the best varieties. That process produced more secure food supplies and, most importantly, it put the power to improve their lives back in the farmers' hands through the development of their own expertise. That is how research can include the voice of the poor.

Many of my observations refer back to the lack of influence that the poor have over the factors that control their lives. That is reflected in the conduct and composition of the international institutions, as other noble Lords will analyse and as the White Paper indicates. There is a need for international rules which allow exploitation of opportunity to flourish without imposing damaging consequences on the people caught up in the slipstream.

Globalisation could work within the framework of universal human rights and shared social objectives, to quote Kofi Annan, and the international institutions could enable the process to work more effectively. We can take heart from the success which has been achieved so far in the debt relief campaign initiated by my right honourable friends the Secretary of State and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. By the end of last year, 22 countries had been approved—more than recently forecast. That represented an effective marshalling of world conduct through international institutions.

But, in conclusion, all the targets set out so forcefully in the first White Paper for the elimination of poverty and urged on the World Trade Organisation by my right honourable friend will be reached only if globalisation can be made to work for the poor. If it can—and I am convinced that with political will it can—the elimination of extreme poverty is within reach, as is greater peace, stability and prosperity for the whole world. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.

3.21 p.m.

My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, on initiating this debate. I welcome the opportunity to discuss the White Paper. It provides an opportunity to examine exactly what we can do for others in less fortunate circumstances in some of the harshest parts of the world.

By definition, it also provides an opportunity for us to examine our own lifestyles. We live in a fertile country; we do not want for food; we live in relative comfort with all modern amenities—electricity and safe drinking water—and our lives are made easier and more bearable thanks to the technological advances which we sometimes take for granted. We must not forget that those benefits are underpinned by a stable democracy and the fair rule of law. We should never take those last two for granted, but I fear that we do. It is right that we should want those who are less fortunate than ourselves to share the benefits.

It is a fact of modern-day life that the first that we hear and see of the Third World is from the television. We sit in the safety of our warm homes and watch pictures beamed in live from around the world. Watching pictures in real time transfixes us all but, at the end of it, we turn off the television and get on with our lives. However, we are still unable to stop thinking about those desperate people.

It is a sad fact that in the media bad news is good news. The cameraman who arrives first at scenes of suffering and destruction gets the scoop. All too often we witness not only the suffering of others but also our own inefficiencies. Never has the expression "Time is of the essence" been more appropriate than when dealing with disaster regions.

We share the horror of those who are suffering. I always feel proud of the way that British people respond with immediate offers of financial and other provision. However, I am saddened by the knowledge that the response to those in trouble is often delayed and is sometimes too late to assist those for whom the help was intended.

Last year, the Government were found wanting in their response to the flooding in Mozambique. It was embarrassing to see the squabbling between government departments over who would pay for helicopters. With that in mind, I consider it strange that this White Paper does not mention disaster relief at all. That is in contrast to the 1997 White Paper, Eliminating World Poverty: A Challenge for the 21st Century, in which the subject was given prominence.

I seek an assurance from the Government that the faults of last year have been remedied and that, when we are next called upon to send heavy life-saving equipment to a remote part of the world, it will be done swiftly and without bureaucratic hold-ups. We saw a swift response to the tragic events in India. Our teams were able to take high-tech equipment and get to work within a few days of the earthquake striking. Now we must ensure that India is given assistance in rebuilding the infrastructure of the affected region. Again, that must be done without added bureaucracy.

Therefore, I am somewhat bemused that the Government intend to increase the funding to the EU by almost £300 million. Last year, the International Development Select Committee published a report, The Effectiveness of EC Development Assistance. It makes quite shocking reading. Perhaps I may quote from the document, which states:
"The fundamental mistake has been to allocate excessive funds in the first place for predominantly political reasons".
The Communication on the Reform of the Management of External Assistance—an EU body—was frank in its admission of the extent of the problem, stating:
"The average length of project/programme implementation has continuously increased over the last few years with a corresponding trend in the backlog of outstanding commitments that reached over 20 billion euros by the end of 1999. In the last five years the average delay in disbursement of committed funds has increased from 3 years to 4.5 years. For certain programmes, the backlog of outstanding commitments is equivalent to more than 8.5 years' payments".
The committee was also concerned to discover that not a single penny of the 250 million euros allocated for reconstruction in Nicaragua in the wake of Hurricane Mitch had been spent.

The Patten report has made recommendations, including the need for more staff. I should have thought that more staff would be last on the list when trying to eradicate excess bureaucracy. Would it not make more sense to place greater emphasis on bilateral aid programmes? As a method of delivery, they are swifter, and aid can be better targeted. They are also subject to proper scrutiny by Members in another place and by your Lordships. Holding a Brussels-based institution to account from these shores is difficult, to say the least. Better accountability ensures that the job gets done with the minimum fuss.

Perhaps I may ask the Minister whether the Government will consider increasing bilateral aid programmes. If the European Union gets its house in order and if we are satisfied that the reforms have been successful, perhaps we can then reconsider increasing our aid flows through that institution.

3.28 p.m.

My Lords, I warmly congratulate the noble Baroness on introducing this debate and on the way she did so. We are all most grateful to her. In this otherwise excellent paper, there are two weak areas which I want to address: health and food.

Success in fighting world poverty depends crucially on better health and more efficient farming. With a global decline in government spending, progress in both depends to a considerable extent on global companies. However, such companies largely have their own agenda: making profits from the rich. For example, only 1 per cent of the 1,200 or so new pharmaceutical compounds marketed in the past 20 years was intended for tropical diseases. In a recent article in Prospect, The Economist journalist, Shereen El Feki, pointed out that in pharmaceutical laboratories much work is done on arthritis and hypertension, but little on schistosomiasis or other parasitic diseases.

Fortunately, the position is improving. Merck has long provided free drugs to cure river blindness; Pfizer is helping to eliminate trachoma in Morocco; and drugs to combat AIDS are at last becoming available in Africa at more reasonable prices. However, the governments of the developed world need to consider incentives to encourage more work to be done on the diseases of the developing world.

I turn to agriculture. The green revolution has run out of steam. As I have previously argued, a major contribution to the need to feed 2 billion extra mouths must come from the use of transgenic crops, although they are, of course, only part of the solution. In many of the poorest parts of the world huge benefits could flow from very simple improvements in farming methods, but they have never been tried. Other good, older practices have in many cases been forgotten. However, in view of the pressure on marginal land and the scarcity of water resources, there is need for plants that are modified to be drought resistant and for more productive cereals.

I am appalled by the fact that some NGOs attack the technology which can produce those crops—crops, for example, which can modify rice to help provide vital nutrients such as iron and vitamin A, and vaccines which can be taken through eating genetically modified bananas instead of being injected by syringe. To oppose those developments is sheer prejudice. Such opposition is not based on any scientific evidence. It would represent a victory of dogma over humanity. It is in fact downright immoral.

However, it is a fact of commercial life that multinational companies—the agro-businesses—look for their profits mainly from products designed for the developed world. The OECD and the DfID should support the application of that new technology to the developing world by incentives and every other possible means. The White Paper makes no mention of that, perhaps because the proposal is controversial.

The multinationals do make a useful contribution. Syngenta and the two inventors of golden rice are assigning all their commercial rights to the International Rice Institute in Manila. That means that subsistence farmers in any developing country will in time be able to cultivate golden rice varieties licence-free. Syngenta and Monsanto have also made freely available their valuable data on the sequence of the complete rice genome. In time, that will benefit wheat, corn and barley crops. Thanks to the Rockerfeller Foundation, increasing numbers of scientists in the developing world can now promote GM technology locally.

It is important for NGOs to accept the new technology, as in time they will. I believe that some of them are already looking at it again. The role of NGOs could be vital.

The green revolution saved much of the world from hunger, but it had its downside. Its approach was uniform and drove many small farmers off the land. GM technology, if misapplied, could also lead to a greater degree of monoculture. The next green revolution must be based on local communities and local practices and cultures, and it must recognise the need for complexity and diversity. The NGOs are dedicated to the improvement of the life of the poor. Once they are reconciled to the new technology they, as much as anyone else, can ensure that it is effectively applied.

3.33 p.m.

My Lords, I extend my thanks to the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, whose knowledge of this subject and whose sincerity are well known in the House. I welcomed the White Paper in our debate on the Queen's Speech, and I am delighted to do so again.

This is a White Paper of admirable policy statements rather than an action plan, and it is therefore difficult to criticise. In fact, it is so comprehensive that I cannot find anything missing from it—not even disaster relief.

I shall, however, start by challenging the Government on the amount of development assistance that they promise in chapter 7. Paragraph 286 refers to a "radical shift" from 0.26 per cent of GNP in 1997 up to 0.33 per cent in 2003–04. That is a welcome increase but seen over a longer period it is no increase at all. We have been at 0.33 per cent before and I well remember the Labour Party advocating a much higher figure during the 1980s.

Surely the Government should be planning to make a genuine move towards the UN target—perhaps 0.37 per cent or 0.38 per cent. If they did that, they would have the right to boast about it. With the 2015 targets in mind, we need to make provision now for spending more than 0.33 per cent, which will make a difference in 14 years.

Far from proving that we are meeting the international development targets, the White Paper rather candidly shows that we are already falling behind them. That was pointed out by one of the UN agencies this week. The wavy red lines in the figures on pages 21–22 of the White Paper show that infant mortality, gender disparity and primary school enrolment are not moving fast enough. Even the number of extreme poor, which has declined recently in absolute terms, disguises huge regional imbalances. Meanwhile, as the departmental report last year pointed out and the White Paper again admits, there is a "critical shortfall" in statistical capacity and evaluation.

I would like to see at least one target kept to; that is, universal primary education. In that context there is, potentially, enough political will. We all want children to succeed or to have the opportunity to do so However, it has become clear since Dakar that the Education for All movement led by UNESCO has failed to make any real progress for a decade. The same thing happened to Alma Ata. That is because of the lack of local participation and of coherent policies on the part of international financial agencies.

It is not too late to pull the situation around. ActionAid estimates that it would need an additional 8 billion dollars a year from all sources over the next 10 years if there is to be any hope of meeting the targets. That is a realistic figure and the Government would do well to aim at it during their coming period in office.

Education deserves a particular focus. Paragraph 352 of the White Paper appears to confirm that the G8 summit in 1999 decided that progress towards the targets would be measured annually. It would be helpful if the noble Baroness clarified that.

I have seen a six-point plan for eliminating child poverty. It was signed by 14 charities, including Christian Aid and Save the Children. I declare an interest in the work of several of those charities, and I know that their conclusions are based on field experience. They say that an unacceptable number of children—at least 600 million world-wide—are living in poverty. Of that number, nearly half are aged between five and 14 and are working full time or part time to help their families to survive. Another 183 million are under five and weigh less than they should for their age.

Education comes high in the six-point plan, but not as high as economic reform, which includes debt relief and reform of the way in which aid is delivered to children. It is significant that aid agencies which are primarily concerned with child welfare should single out improvements in economic policy, the management of public sector expenditure and reforms in the way in which foreign aid is delivered. Failures in the system are not attributable only to conditions in developing countries, as is commonly assumed; they are very often the result of poor planning and mismanagement in donor countries, as we know from the shambles of the EU's development assistance programme.

In that context, I readily acknowledge the commitment demonstrated in the White Paper towards improving the effectiveness of EC aid, including the aim of achieving the 70 per cent figure in relation to low-income countries by 2006.

Again, however, what is the value of that kind of target when we in "developed" Europe have been unable to deliver aid on time or to the right people for more than 13 years? Other improvements in the quality and targeting of aid will undoubtedly benefit the poor. They include the untying of UK assistance, which I welcome, and continuing support for debt relief. Such measures have been widely welcomed by the aid agencies.

I had intended to say a lot about globalisation but, in the short time available, I congratulate the Government on their success with global citizenship. I suggest linking the DfEE with two international departments—that could even be the subject of the next White Paper.

3.38 p.m.

My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, on this important debate.

I also pay tribute to the Secretary of State for the tremendous way in which she tours the country helping people to begin to understand international development issues. She is indefatigable. Two or more weeks ago, I was at a meeting in Shipley that was addressed by Clare Short. It was in a church hall that was packed to the doors and it had attracted people from a wide range of backgrounds who were concerned about and committed to international development. That raised a question: how representative of the general public was that group? The feeling is that they were very unrepresentative. Questions were asked about what profile would be given to international development issues in the manifestos that will be forthcoming (if there is a general election) from any party that aspires to power.

I read in a very interesting book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, by Thomas Friedman, the following:
"You need a picture of the world because no policy is sustainable without a public that broadly understands why it is necessary and sees the world the way you do".
I join others who commend the White Paper. But nobody for one moment would pretend that the White Paper itself is going to educate, convince and motivate the general public. I should be grateful to hear from those who are to reply to the debate their plans to help to educate the public and to get the public motivated to grasp the nettles of globalisation.

The word "globalisation" has almost become a kind of bogey word. That is a great pity. Certainly in the long term, we all stand to benefit. An appeal to self-interest is quite appropriate here because every single one of us stands to benefit from improvements in the conditions of people throughout the world. But, in the short term, there is a price to pay. It is an extremely painful price for those who lose their jobs and who face despair in their lives.

It is extremely important that a vision is given, not a very learned document, which helps to open the eyes of the public and to motivate them. I hope very much that whoever has the reins of power will continue to work with the Churches, voluntary organisations and NGOs because I believe that they have a key role to play in public motivation and education.

It is often said at public meetings that there are certain problem countries and that those countries are very difficult to help. I take the point. Paragraph 78 of the White Paper states:
"Violent conflict is one of the biggest barriers to development in many of the world's poorest countries…It is estimated that 10.6 million people in Africa are internally displaced—the majority of them uprooted by war".
That is true of Sudan. In two weeks' time, I hope to be in Sudan again. Many who have been to that country have seen the deprivation and poverty, not least of southerners displaced into refugee camps around Khartoum and Port Sudan—and there has been a war in Sudan for 18 years. But oil is now beginning to flow, and to flow profusely. I understand that one of the companies involved is BP Amoco. People around the village and church halls of the country are asking on what that revenue is spent. I am conscious of the fact that just a few weeks ago, the Anglican cathedral in Lui was bombed, presumably mistaken for a military target, and has now been flattened.

I wonder whether the Government and those who aspire to power have, or will have, conversations with bodies like BP Amoco to discuss the possible use of the revenues that arise from their involvement in such a country.

I wonder also what the Government will do in terms of what we crudely call "joined-up thinking". International development and the concerns of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office must come together, and the search for peace and reconciliation must be pursued with all urgency. My plea is that the so-called "problem countries" will not be put on the back-burner but will be given even more special attention.

3.44 p.m.

My Lords, from these Benches it is my pleasant duty to congratulate my noble friend Lady Whitaker on introducing this debate and giving us an excellent start.

I shall confine my remarks to the last chapter of the report, which is all about international institutions and I shall speak only about international financial institutions. However, before I do that, perhaps I may say that one particular feature of globalisation is that it affects them and us. In that respect, the poor and the people who may lose out from globalisation are not just out there and the people who gain from globalisation all here. There are costs as well as gains involved in globalisation and it is extremely difficult to say that we want only the costs and do not want the gains. Those things come together. When a plant in Llanwern shuts down, that is as much an effect of globalisation which is happening in Wales as when something happens which, for example, shifts manufacturing from here to China or Malaysia. Therefore, we must understand globalisation as a process which is here and which is not going to go away. It is not possible to drive it; it is not a motor car. We must understand it and try to grapple with it and see what can be done about trying to harness its energies rather more towards gain than loss.

The most important aspect is the institutions of global governance. It is a particular feature of our post-war world that most of the institutions which are currently important—the IMF, the World Bank and the United Nations—were set up in 1945 when the world was a very different place. It was different in two respects. First, there seemed to be at that time a faith that a concert of great powers would run the world in a benevolent way. Therefore, the Security Council was set up with five permanent powers which, unfortunately, are above any international law. Therefore, the UN itself started in a hierarchical way and continues to be a hierarchical institution.

The IMF and the World Bank also share the characteristic that the majority of their governing bodies are represented by what we now call the G7 powers. They have the money and the quotas, and votes come with the quotas, not one nation one vote. But since globalisation finally came to have an impact on the world, roughly from the 1980s onwards, the legitimacy of that governance and those institutions has increasingly been doubted. Their impact is greater but it is very difficult to appeal to them or to change their ways of thinking. That is particularly true of the International Monetary Fund because both in the structural adjustment problems of the 1980s and the Asian crisis, it was seen that very often its analysis was wrong. It is difficult for victims to appeal to it and to influence its ways.

We need a more accountable, democratic voting structure in the IMF, the World Bank and, one hopes also, the UN. I suggest that a qualified majority voting system, which has been adopted increasingly in EU decision-making procedures, should be urged upon the UN Security Council. Perhaps Her Majesty's Government could take a lead in that respect.

The one institution which I would strengthen and which I should like to champion, an institution which has been demonised, is the WTO. The WTO is the first institution of the globalisation age. There is a symmetry between all nations. No nation sits in judgment on another. Of course, there are large nations and small nations, rich nations and poor nations. But its procedures are such that even the United States must be subject to its decisions; it cannot escape that.

Somehow, we need to harness that sort of model in which countries are treated symmetrically and there is obedience to a framework of rules. A framework of rules built in such a way as to give legitimacy to the international institutions of today would be very welcome.

In that respect, we must find ways to harness the tremendous energy which civil society possesses through NGOs and various other fora. Somehow we must be able to plug that into the global governance process. If we could do that either at UN level or somewhere else, that would be a very welcome change.

3.50 p.m.

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, for initiating a debate on this significant White Paper. In the short time available I shall concentrate on access to justice, protection from crime and violence and its relationship to poverty.

I declare an interest as a board member of Penal Reform International and an associate of the International Centre for Prison Studies at King's College, London, where I am involved in work in this area.

Quite rightly, the White Paper points out the importance of justice. It says that the provision of law and order is a priority for the poor. Poverty does not mean being without only food, medicine, clothes and shelter, but also suffering other forms of deprivation. It can mean villagers being without protection from people who steal their cows or their crops. It can also mean being at the mercy of corrupt police who arrest poor people regardless of guilt or innocence, expect money in exchange for release and if no money is forthcoming, the poor are charged and thrown into an overcrowded jail where there is little food and water and where infectious diseases are rife. Poor people can be arrested, charged and left in prison for years waiting for a trial that never happens. In Malawi I met a man in prison charged with murder who had been waiting 10 years for his trial.

Women are particularly likely to find no protection in the justice system and often children are completely powerless. The White Paper quotes the World Bank Voices of the Poor Study, which shows that poor people attach great importance to security, without which it is impossible to improve their lives. The noble Baroness, Lady Seccombe, pointed out how we take the rule of law for granted, but too often in developing countries the services that provide that security—the police and the criminal justice system—are themselves sources of abuse and violence.

Such unequal power relations are deeply embedded in many societies. Without action to reform the justice area, poverty will not be reduced. In a recent document published by DfID, called Justice and Poverty Reduction, those arguments are set out in greater detail, along with suggestions for policies that address them. The approach in that document is welcome. For too long, assistance to the justice systems of developing countries has consisted of imposing on them a structure based on western systems that they could not afford and which denied the strengths of their own approaches to justice. The emphasis on a British-style judicial process and legal framework has left many poor people in developing countries with no access to justice. The formal courts are too far away from the villages; they are conducted in a language that most poor people do not understand; and the proceedings often require goods that are in short supply such as interpreters, photocopiers and electricity. Sometimes bribes are required.

For those reasons, many poor people rely on traditional and customary systems that have many advantages. They aim at reconciliation and restitution rather than punishment and they involve the community. Instead of the end product being isolation from society and social exclusion, it is reconciliation and an agreement that satisfies both parties and restores social harmony. The moves by DfID to fund programmes, to make those traditional justice systems more attuned to human rights considerations and fairer towards women are very welcome.

In conclusion, I ask the Minister what plans DfID has to disseminate the message about the new policy on justice and poverty reduction, first, throughout DfID itself and the offices overseas and, secondly, to other development donors who are not all so far forward and are still spending millions of pounds trying to impose western justice systems wholesale on poor countries with different traditions. Can the Minister also say whether there are any targets or output measures for work in the justice and poverty area and, if so, what they are? If not, does DfID intend to develop some?

3.54 p.m.

My Lords, I too am grateful to my noble friend Lady Whitaker for introducing this debate with such dedication. Many issues have already been raised by noble Lords but I shall focus on one or two. I declare an interest as I work as a consultant in health education programmes in developing countries, largely in the former Soviet Union. I shall talk mainly about HIV/AIDS in developing countries. I wish that I had time to speak of wider health issues, such as TB and malaria, and I wish that I had time to address issues of reproductive health. We know that in developing countries and in countries in transition, syphilis and chlamydia pose severe problems and that every year many thousands of women die from unsafe abortions. In poor societies, fertility regulation is complex and difficult.

In parts of the former Soviet Union, I see devastation from poverty and its resultant health problems such as TB, alcoholism and gastro-intestinal diseases as well as sexually transmitted infections. HIV/AIDS is becoming a major threat.

Before discussing HIV/AIDS in more detail I have two questions for the Minister. First, can she assure the House that, if the United States decreases its funding, the British Government will consider extra funding for population and reproductive health programmes? Secondly, is she able to give an indication of continued UK support to the former Soviet Union?

As many noble Lords know, HIV/AIDS constitute a global crisis. AIDS-related illnesses and high death rates, particularly in Africa and Asia, mean that there are shortages of skilled workers, families are left without support, children are orphaned, and children do not attend school because of family crises. All that has a serious impact on social and economic development.

In the White Paper it is encouraging to see recognition of that problem, describing it as,
"both a human and development tragedy".
The statistics are stark. More than 22 million people have already died of AIDS, with 16,000 new infections every day. More than 90 per cent of those infections occur in the developing world. The cost to economies is huge. Average life expectancy has fallen by 20 years in a number of sub-Saharan African countries. African countries where less than 5 per cent of the adult population is infected will experience a modest impact on GDP growth rate. However, as HIV prevalence rises to 20 per cent or more, as it has in a number of countries in Southern Africa, GDP rates may decline by up to 2 per cent a year.

Human suffering from loss of loved ones or personal affliction is great. UNAIDS points out that many people with HIV or AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa die without even aspirin for pain relief or lotion to soothe skin irritation. Yet another tragedy is that big European and American drug companies do not attempt to ensure that people in, for example, Southern Africa, have easy access to life-saving drugs. I am somewhat more cynical than the noble Lord, Lord Taverne.

The VSO position paper on drug deals points out that in many cases, prices of originator medicines are higher in developing countries than in developed countries. What a dreadful irony! Drug companies are seeking to persuade western governments to impose trade rules that will stop poor countries buying drugs more cheaply or producing them more cheaply themselves. Under World Trade Organisation rules governing standards for intellectual property rights (TRIPS), that could be possible. The DfID has announced a commission on intellectual property rights in order to benefit developing countries. Perhaps the Minister can give the House yet another assurance that such a commission will be open and accountable and will involve all stakeholders, including pharmaceutical companies and developing countries.

4 p.m.

My Lords, we sometimes overuse hyperbole in Parliament. Any adverse event becomes a crisis. Faced with the crisis with which this debate deals—one in four of the world's population living in grinding, absolute poverty, not the relative poverty that we often discuss in this country—we can hardly find the words to deal with it. We therefore owe the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, our gratitude for giving us an opportunity to convey our sense of urgency to discuss the consequences of the crisis and to consider what can and should be done about it. There is no doubt that we are considering a deadly combination of personal misery and global instability on a vast scale, which I believe is as much a challenge to the conscience and statesmanship of the wealthy developed world as the plight of the Victorian poor was to the comfortable and powerful in this country 150 years ago.

What can be done? In general, we can all set our hands to the plough of sustainable development, striving for a better balance between economic, environmental and social goods and continuing to grow our economies, but having a greater regard for both inter-generational equity, that is, environmental conservation, and intra-generational equity, that is, poverty remediation. That requires a better context of global governance, to which several noble Lords have referred, and more appropriate local action, both in partnership between all the players—government, NGOs, business and local communities. I believe that business in particular has a constructive role to play in such partnerships. I welcome the emphasis on this in the White Paper.

I have just returned from the United Nations Environmental Programme Agency's governing council in Nairobi, at which I represented the world business community on behalf of the International Chamber of Commerce and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development. We discussed the follow up to Kofi Annan's global compact, which was agreed last year between the UN and a number of major international companies, including several From the UK—Unilever, BP, Shell and Rio Tinto, of which I should declare I was a director and still advise.

As noble Lords will know, the compact covers human rights, labour and the environment. Interestingly, the main concern in Nairobi on all sides was that this admirable agenda be more fully extended to cover the social dimension of poverty by the time of the world summit (Rio + 10), scheduled to be held in Johannesburg next autumn. Perhaps the Minister in her reply will assure us that Her Majesty's Government intend to take next year's world summit as seriously as the United Nations, business and the NGOs plan to. In that context, it is interesting that business finds it easier to deal with the idea of sustainable livelihoods and the creation of sustainable livelihoods than simply with the idea of poverty relief.

Of course, there are global imperatives—debt relief, market access, continuing flow of targeted aid, improved international institutions—but the place where business can particularly be effective is locally. Let us remember that four-fifths of the capital flows into the third world now comprise foreign direct investment. Therefore, the key issue concerns the multiplier that can be applied to that foreign direct investment.

There are many examples of humanitarian aid. Last week Rio Tinto gave 1 million dollars to the disaster fund for Gujarat, the region in which most of its Australian diamonds are cut and polished. It is not so much that kind of one-off humanitarian assistance that matters, but that responsible business should weekly be conducted in the developing world in a way that helps to multiply its effectiveness: transferring technology, which the Kyoto protocol envisaged; outsourcing to local suppliers; subcontracting to small and medium local companies; providing training for employees and the local community; building local infrastructure in an environmentally and socially responsible way; outreach programmes on health, education and enterprise creation. The banks and insurance companies have a special role to play in the provision of micro-credit and micro-insurance, which is relevant to ensuring shock resistance, to which the poor are particularly prone and with which sustainable livelihoods deal so well.

There is growing support in business. Much is being done, but much more needs to be done. The key to that support lies in partnerships with local communities, bringing in all the actors and ensuring that business plays a part. The task, which requires all hands to the pump, is enormous. Partnership is the key to that. I therefore welcome the lead given by Her Majesty's Government in this direction in the White Paper.

4.5 p.m.

My Lords, I declare an interest as a member of the Oxfam Association and as a trustee and member of other development NGOs, as well as doing professional work with Saferworld, the NGO think-tank on security matters.

I, too, warmly thank my noble friend Lady Whitaker for the opportunity to debate this vital matter today. The Secretary of State, her civil servants and political advisers are to be congratulated on a timely and challenging White Paper. We now eagerly await the promised Bill to give it substance.

Despite the White Paper's encouraging optimism, the task remains complex and immense. Only this week the International Fund for Agricultural Development has said that the target to cut world poverty by half by 2015 will not be met. The fund argues that fewer than half the number of people required, if the target is to be met, are in fact escaping from poverty each year; yet still, it points out, 1.2 billion people exist on less than one dollar per day. Aid is being diverted to big cities from rural areas, where 75 per cent of the population live. Land reform, with improved access to markets, remains essential, as does the provision of water in rural areas for irrigation.

There is much in the White Paper on which I should like to comment—not least, the environment, debt and the indispensability of the redistribution of wealth. However, in the very short time available, I shall concentrate on only three points. First, I am reassured by the acknowledgement in the White Paper that the OECD, with its exclusive, wealthy membership, was not the right forum for negotiating a genuinely multilateral agreement on investment. Level playing fields in themselves are not an end. It is important that nations should be enabled to reach a level of fitness to play on those fields. That requires country-by-country tailor-made arrangements, for obviously no two countries are ever exactly the same. That understanding must remain central to any development strategy.

Secondly, I am sorry that DfID does not take a more forward position in the immigration, refugee and asylum policy. The issue is certainly one of globalisation. It is centrally related to the human rights that the White Paper espouses. It is closely related to the global market which DfID dutifully embraces, a market, incidentally, of free movement of goods and capital but not of labour—a gigantic distortion in market principles. And now—and the White Paper is uncharacteristically tentative on this—while DfID stresses the priority of building up human resources, we may be preparing still further to drain the developing countries of the skilled people they most need.

The issue is also intimately bound up with security, to which DfID now pays great attention. We need the voice of DfID in the formulation of asylum policy. Has DfID had any input at all into what will be considered at the Paris summit this week? Its commitment to humanity should be a sobering voice of reason in an ever more hysterical debate, disturbingly influenced by an apparent competition in playing to prejudice.

Thirdly, it is good that DfID is taking conflict, the arms trade and the reform of the security sector seriously. Too often conflict and opportunist arms trade, together with bad and corrupt armed forces and police, undermine the prospect of progress. Will my noble friend the Minister update us? Is the new policy planning unit in the Council secretariat of the European Union paying enough attention to the provision of resources for non-military preventive policies and programmes in conflict-prone regions outside Europe, notably in the high risk area of sub-Saharan Africa? If not, why not? And can DfID push for change? What specific action is being taken by DfID to persuade the Development Council that security sector reform is an appropriate priority for the European Union development budget? Strategic export control legislation remains essential. Five years have elapsed since the Scott report. When shall we see the draft Bill promised in the Queen's Speech? As for the arms brokers, who are too often the sinister merchants of death, when will the undertaking given by Stephen Byers at last year's Labour Party conference be honoured? When will a licensing system be introduced and will that system cover the activities of arms dealers who are British citizens wherever they reside or operate?

Finally, will the sensible recommendations of the quadripartite Select Committee in the other place be implemented? Will prior parliamentary scrutiny of arms deals be introduced? Retrospective scrutiny is clearly not enough.

The White Paper is impressive. We have a Minister and a department with determination and vision. They deserve all possible support in the battle which has yet to be won. Not least, we should cheer them on in their concern to make the European Union the effective force in that battle, which it has so far lamentably failed to be.

4.10 p.m.

My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, on having introduced this extremely important debate. She has given the House one of its first opportunities extensively to discuss the issue.

There is no doubt that eliminating the scourge of poverty is one of the greatest moral challenges facing the world in the 21st century. I commend the objectives and targets set out in the report. I also welcome the focus on eliminating world poverty and the shift away from aid-for-trade policies.

I want to focus on two issues. The first is the plight and key challenges facing the poor in sub-Saharan Africa. The second is how the Internet could accelerate the process of achieving some of the targets outlined in the report.

The recent World Bank report, headed "Can Africa claim the 21st Century?", makes fairly alarming reading. The average income per capita in many sub-Saharan countries is lower now than at the end of the 1960s, with incomes, assets and access to essential services unevenly distributed. The lagging primary school enrolments, high child mortality and endemic diseases, particularly malaria and HIV/AIDS, have imposed costs on Africa of at least twice that of other developing regions. HIV/AIDS, which was raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Massey of Darwen, is one of the biggest plights facing sub-Saharan Africa. It is reversing some of the social gains of the past 40 years, with more than 25 per cent of the adult population in Botswana and Zimbabwe now infected with HIV.

The situation has been made worse by the massive capital flight and the loss of skills. It is estimated that 40 per cent of African private wealth is abroad, not to mention the high proportion of educated Africans living abroad. What a difference it would make if both wealth and people from Africa went home!

On several occasions during the 1990s, international agencies proclaimed a turning point in the economic fortunes of sub-Saharan Africa. I have often alluded to the words of President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa on the African renaissance. Those hopes of an African recovery have sadly been dashed by the violent events beyond its borders, particularly in Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as by the political and economic crises in Zimbabwe. These conflicts perpetuate poverty, which can be reversed only by long-running peace building and political reforms.

It is remarkable how rapidly countries can recover with a consequential return of capital investment when peace and stability is achieved. A good example of that is Mozambique, despite its recent hiccups. Halving severe poverty by 2015 will require annual growth of more than 7 per cent. Investing in people, particularly women, is essential for accelerating poverty reduction. There is no doubt that gender equality can be a potent force for accelerating poverty reduction.

Chapter 3 of the report covers the use of the Internet. Many commentators believe that the information revolution could widen the already horrendous divide between the very rich and the very poor. In Africa, less than half the population has ever made a telephone call and one in 1,000 Africans currently have access to the Internet. I must declare an interest as managing director of a large global Internet service provider. I am convinced that the Internet will play an ever-increasing role in both giving access to greater education and opening new economic markets for under-developed countries. The challenge will not be in the delivery of content, but more in the delivery of affordable access to the Internet. As most of Africa lacks a fibre optic infrastructure, the cost of satellite access will need to be reduced dramatically.

My time is up. I entirely agree with the Secretary of State that,
"the future is a matter of political will and change—.
There are no short-term solutions, but I believe that the report provides a clear light at the end of the tunnel.

4.16 p.m.

My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lady Whitaker for initiating the debate. I also thank the Secretary of State for International Development and her colleagues for producing an impressive and fascinating document.

Some of us who grew up in India lived in the midst of poverty, although perhaps not in it. We know that the poverty we are talking about is not the kind that is to be seen in the West. It is a poverty which often results in a painful, premature and lingering death; sometimes life is no better than death itself. Life is wretched and devoid of dignity and it is morally obscene that 1.2 billion people in the world should be living that kind of existence. It addresses the conscience of all of us and it is in that context that I want enormously to welcome the report.

Several noble Lords spoke of the type of changes they want to see made. My noble friend Lord Desai spoke of democratising international institutions. I want to highlight four points which the report fails to notice or to which it does not give adequate importance. First, part of the responsibility lies with the governments and the well-off people within the developing countries, a point which needs to be made. It is striking that often in developing countries one sees only limited protest against poverty and that the middle classes and the affluent sections of society should be unwilling to pay taxes or to make the required sacrifices. Their consciences need to be pricked and their sense of social responsibility awakened. Therefore, there is much to be said for mounting international pressure and for supporting radical and progressive growth in those societies.

Secondly, although trade is important—I am all in favour of globalization—it is important to recognise that it has its limits. It leads to a complicated international circuit. The raw material originates in one part of the world; it travels thousands of miles to be manufactured in some other; it goes back a few thousand miles to where it will be transported in the ships of another country; and finally the product arrives where the raw material began its initial journey.

Let us look at the consequences of that process. Transport costs rise; currency exchanges and speculation distort the international circuit; and the local markets (where the material originated and the products were expected to be consumed) are subjected to the fragility of the international economy.

Therefore, although there is much to be said for global trade, there is also a good deal to be said for localised production and the establishment of industries where the raw materials and the people to do the work are located. The report uncritically assumes, as its very title suggests, that globalisation is the only way to eliminate poverty. I do not share that fashionable fad.

Thirdly, as the report rightly recognises, poverty is tied to acute armed conflict and the absence of any kind of stable political and legal institutions. Twenty-four of the 40 poorest countries suffer poverty precisely because of such conflicts. The problem is particularly acute in Africa where every fifth person is a victim of such conflicts. If we are serious about tackling poverty, we should also be able to tackle conflicts, which means anticipating them and working out political solutions to control and, it is hoped, eliminate them. There is much to be said for specialised agencies of the European Union and the United Nations liaising with academic institutions to work on conflict solution, to spot conflicts before they appear on the horizon and to find ways to mobilise the concerned citizens in those countries.

Finally, the report relies rather heavily on governments. I entirely agree that governments in the West and elsewhere have a great role to play in tackling poverty. However, we should not forget that ordinary citizens in the West also have an important role to play. After all, governments can give only what they are able to obtain from citizens. Therefore, unless ordinary citizens are actively engaged in the problems of the poor, governments will be handicapped in a variety of ways. I suggest that, rather than rely on the compassion of ordinary citizens, we should mobilise a sense of international solidarity and partnership.

Various ideas have been floated, only two of which I mention. First, I have heard it argued that an international lottery similar to the UK's National Lottery may be a good idea. Secondly, hypothecated tax, involving no more than, say, one extra penny, could generate far more money than the development aid that is currently available. That hypothecated tax, which might be based on income or luxury goods, could be compulsory or binding only on those who volunteered for it. In short, the problem that faces us is acute and heart-breaking, and it is about time that we broke away from traditional thinking and explored new and imaginative ideas.

4.23 p.m.

My Lords, we are hugely grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, for initiating this debate. We are also grateful to Her Majesty's Government, and the Secretary of State in particular, for a second White Paper on development issues, raising their profile so effectively in the community. We need to continue that conversation in the coming months. I hope that the House will forgive me if I do not rehearse the many points in the White Paper on which I am in agreement but instead focus on a matter which I believe requires further debate. I am not wholly convinced that the White Paper has grasped the downside of the liberalisation of world trade. Globalisation and liberalisation have gone hand in hand in recent years. Those of us who speak for the civil society agencies—I speak for Christian Aid—see far too much evidence of the mixed impact of globalisation today. This is a complex matter which I believe requires prolonged effort and fresh thought.

Whatever our point of view, all of us have a duty to work together on these issues for the benefit of the poor.

I begin by referring to the World Trade Organisation. Neither its present structure nor policy wins a huge level of support in the agencies or large sectors of the emerging economies of the south. Over half of the least developed nations do not have representatives at the WTO in Geneva, and 30 countries did not send representatives to Seattle. The manner in which the WTO conducts its business is heavily biased towards the economies of the north. Many believe that the policy of liberalisation has done little to decrease the growing gap between rich and poor. While it is true that there are some gains to liberalising trade, manifest problems need to be addressed at a fundamental level. For example, the involvement of large companies by the WTO in the process of drafting and negotiating deals does not create confidence among the peoples whom they seek to serve.

The danger of the present structure and policy is that the power of the corporate and financial sectors rooted in the north drives growth in international trade in ways that benefit the north but do not focus on the needs of the south. Instead of communities producing food and goods to meet local needs and enable local development, economies are pressed to restructure and serve the trading interests of the powerful in the north. That could hasten the process of urbanisation in the south through the impoverishment of rural farming. Those with small subsistence holdings will be driven out of the market and there will be a hastening drift into the cities. Unemployment, squalor and disease attached to burgeoning African cities, already happening in South Africa, are not a recipe for reducing poverty by 2015; rather, those developments will feed social, moral and political disorder. Globalisation cannot be harnessed to the needs of the poor through a simple commitment to trade liberalisation. In an unequal world, justice for the poor requires protection within the systems of trade with some agreed and enforceable rules.

When one visits, as I have done, the poorest communities in some of the poorest countries of the world one realises how dependent are large numbers of people on basic farming. They need security of tenure, targeted help to develop good food production, training and support in education and healthcare. Those matters are basic to their survival and development. Interestingly, a similar issue arises in the United Kingdom where farmers struggle to engage in an unequal relationship with major retailers. They are beginning to believe that they need to develop more immediate local trade structures with their local communities. How the local and the global live together in harmony is at the heart of this issue.

Development needs three things: the removal of the burden of debt; fair structures of trade; and strong locally rooted systems of investment and development. The White Paper has made an excellent start on which the Government are to be congratulated, but it needs a deeper and longer journey to deal with the structures of trade if we are to effect the kind of change that will truly liberate the world's poor.

4.28 p.m.

My Lords, I too join in thanking my noble friend Lady Whitaker for initiating this debate. Poverty may be flashed across our television screens every day. Images of the outbreak of internecine conflict, the heart-wrenching consequences of famine and drought and the impacts of natural disasters, as we saw just last week in India, remind us of the horrors of poverty and the toll that it takes on people's lives. But those disasters which grab the headlines tell only a tiny part of the story of poverty. Often they occur in places where poverty is already acute and widespread. Sometimes poverty itself fuels the flames of ethnic conflict or compounds the consequences of natural disasters. However, away from the glare of the television camera there is another set of images: grinding poverty around the world which makes inroads into people's lives and is oppressive, harsh and desperately unfair.

The Government's White Paper is a tribute to the understanding and sensitivity of colleagues in the Department for International Development who are to be commended, as is the Chancellor of the Exchequer on his global initiatives on debt relief. The enormity of the problems is overwhelming. The agenda set out by the White Paper for an assault on poverty is one in which the organisation which I chair, the British Council, has an important role to play. In my job I am fortunate to be able to travel to many different parts of the world. I have the opportunity to meet the citizens of very poor countries. Those I speak to urge the British Council to focus its work on young people. They say we must seek to protect their human rights, their opportunities for the future, and their right to an education, to democracy, to employment, and, more than anything, to self-respect and dignity. The British Council may not be able to help the orphans of Ahmadabad. Mozambique, El Salvador or Sierra Leone, but it has a role to play in making their worlds better places for tomorrow.

The White Paper ranges widely over issues of poverty and is a great insight into the problem. The British Council suggests a number of areas of priority, but focuses on three in particular. The first is working to establish more democratic and accountable systems. Poor countries deserve that. The issue of governance must be a priority. It is one where Britain can make a contribution and a great impact. The second is to ensure that all people have access to education throughout their lives. The third is the establishment of a communications infrastructure that will support these priorities. These are areas where the UK can really add value and make a difference.

It is not only our long history of democracy but also our constant evolution that gives Britain really valuable experience. Devolution, the way in which we compromise with the EU, changing the role of this House and the way in which we have established new human rights legislation are all experiences which show how British democratic institutions can evolve in tune with contemporary needs. It means that we can join debates with representatives of the developing world as partners, share experiences and learn but not impose solutions from outside. That is what makes Britain such a valuable partner in this kind of work.

It has become clear in our connections with the developing world that free and responsible media are central to any new access to information, power and rights. New communications technologies have given rise to a whole new generation of young journalists who have a vital role to play in safeguarding democratic systems. It is important that their work is supported and that links are made between journalists. The British Council is playing its part in that.

Our experience in Britain of dynamic government and the role of the media in an accountable democracy is invaluable. In its work in poor countries the council's programmes in governance and human rights seek to exploit the benefit of our experience as Britons working in partnership with people to help them to realise their basic rights.

There are other areas I should like to mention. One hugely important area is education. Getting all children around the world, particularly girls, into school is a top priority. The UK has an important role to play in that. Decentralisation in Britain has brought schools and the communities they serve much closer together. There is an invaluable role for the council in assisting that kind of thinking in the developing world.

Finally, there are great concerns about the digital divide marginalising poor countries and communities and threatening to isolate those countries from the global economy. Again, the British Council has a way of working in developing countries. It has received some additional funding and hopes to establish a network of knowledge and learning centres in order to make those technological facilities available to the poor of the world.

Therefore, I gratefully welcome the White Paper. I commend it to the House. It will make a great contribution to the debate on poverty in the 21st century and a great contribution to changing the reality of many people's lives.

4.34 p.m.

My Lords, I want to give special emphasis in the debate to the effects of globalisation on the poor children of the developing world.

I declare an interest as an honorary member of the Consortium for Street Children. I have visited many children's projects in Latin America and Asia. What saw very well reflects what Charles Dickens wrote in Bleak House when he said that in the little world in which children live nothing is more finely perceived and nothing more keenly felt than injustice.

There are 250 million children who work. Millions live as internal refugees because of armed or civil conflict. As the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, pointed out, of the 1.3 billion on this planet living in extreme poverty, 600 million to 700 million are young children. They escape sometimes from their hunger and misery, not to a better life but to a worse life on the streets, to drug addiction, to sex tourism or violence. What injustice.

Fortunately, there are those who seek to overcome it. I identify three groups. The first are governments, local communities and NGOs in the countries of the developing world. Many of them do their best. But they have not the money, the resources or the experience to achieve what they should. Secondly, NGOs and charitable organisations in this country and around the world—the consortium that I have mentioned and well known organisations such as Save the Children—do an enormous amount for children. But it is vital to remember that they are not an alternative to government or community action. They are supplementary to it, although in many countries I fear their role is regarded as a substitute for action rather than a supplement.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, action needs to be taken by our government and other governments. There are three aspects to that. The first is debt relief. It is a waste of time expecting a poor debt-ridden country to produce the framework that will solve poverty. It cannot be done. The Government, the Chancellor in Cologne and our unilateral action last autumn emphasised the need for effective debt relief.

Secondly, there is the Department for International Development. It has taken three steps which I commend. First, it has stimulated other countries to act as we are acting. Secondly, it has required of the donee countries that they, too, seek to develop and solve their own problems. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, it has targeted poverty. It has done that through a most effective Secretary of State. She says what she thinks; and she fights for what is right. What a happy coincidence to find these qualities in a Secretary of State for International Development.

Those three actions by the Government make up an effective programme. I want to add four more. First, international companies are at the base of globalisation. It is a tragedy that in 1998 the OECD programme for ethical development collapsed. It must be revived. International companies must invest and develop in an ethical and reasonable way. Secondly, following the point raised by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bradford, we should educate the young. I suspect that many of those in that audience that night were young people. Why does not the DfID, through the Department for Education and Employment, bring this problem to our young people? I suspect that the response would be immense.

Thirdly, there is sex tourism. It is an unpleasant topic, but it is a blight on South-East Asia, the Caribbean and Latin American countries. We should work internationally for the same kind of programme of registration of sex offenders that we believe is fit to protect our children. Why should it not apply to the children of the developing world?

Last of all, when countries receive help, at the end of each year is it not reasonable that they tell their population and the world what they have done that year for children, health, welfare and education? Surely, that is not too much to ask them to do.

This debate does not give time for reasoned argument, but it is an opportunity for a clear message. Globalisation is, if anything, an economic concept. It has no moral content. It needs to be invested with one. Kofi Annan has said so and the White Paper says so. Children deserve nothing less than a reasonable minimum of food, schooling, jobs and a future of hope rather than despair. I commend the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, on moving the Motion. I applaud the Government for their programme and I invite the House to be continually watchful about what is happening to the poor children of the developing world.

4.40 p.m.

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, for choosing this subject for debate. I have listened with great interest to the well informed and interesting contributions from all sides of the House. Although my work in this field has been largely in the UK and in Europe, I am a board member of the International Federation on Ageing and was formerly its secretary-general.

I am delighted at Her Majesty's Government commitment to international development and for the aims expressed both in this White Paper on global poverty and in the first one published in 1997. However, I have one quite serious criticism of the White Paper. It is that it does not get across the vital importance of tackling global poverty among older and indeed chronically disabled people.

I, together with Help Age International, an organisation of which I am a trustee, firmly believe that older people should be specifically targeted for poverty reduction. The White Paper is largely silent about them. Yet the inclusion of older people in development policy and practice across the board—from poverty to AIDS and from gender to human rights—is one of the critical issues for the 21st century, not least because we live in a rapidly ageing world.

In Africa, the proportion of older people is projected to increase by over 90 per cent within 20 years. In China, nearly one-third of the population of Beijing will be over 60 by 2025. In Asia, the numbers of people aged 65 and over will more than double in 25 years. Longevity is projected to increase across the world, especially for women and for those people reaching 75 and over. This shift is occurring much more rapidly than here in the developed world. Ageing in this part of the universe took place very slowly. It was a long process. We were rich by the time our population started to become old. For example, it took 100 years for the proportion of French older people to double. In the developing world a similar shift is likely to occur in 20 years.

Furthermore, demographic change is happening in most developing countries but without an infrastructure of social security or pensions. Where they do exist, only 10 per cent of older people have access to them. So we need to ask ourselves: if we are concerned to end global poverty, how will we reach this goal in an ageing world? That question is all the more pertinent when we consider that older people also tend to be the poorest, wherever they live. The future that currently beckons for those growing old in the developing world is one of chronic and debilitating poverty.

It is also important to recognise older people as contributors to family and community. They need to be valued in old age as participants in society. The age of retirement is not an issue in almost all developing countries. As Senator Julia Alverez, an excellent campaigner for older people and ambassador to the United Nations from the Dominican Republic, said:
"It is not an issue because it doesn't happen. You work until you die".
That is why we must include an older person's angle in research, from which older people are often excluded, and in programmes that impact on older people directly, including poverty. In short, we should uphold the UN principles of older persons: care, dignity, participation, self-fulfilment and independence.

Another group I wish to single out is widows. In many parts of the world, widows lose all their possessions and their rights to them, including their home, their children and any social standing they once had. They are not necessarily old people. In fact, very often they tend to be very young. They are punished for committing a heinous crime. The crime is to have married a man who has subsequently died. In many places, the status of widowhood confers on them a life sentence of dire poverty.

As we speak, a conference bringing together organisations and representatives of widows in many parts of Africa and the Indian sub-continent is taking place in London. There are 40 million widows in India. In Africa, 60 per cent of adult women are widows. They are in poverty due to the tragic consequences of widowhood together with conflict and AIDS. The organisation running the conference—Empowering Widows in Development—is a small and new NGO. I was a founding trustee of it and I respect its aim, which is to give these women the ability to change the negative attitudes and lack of rights which they face and which often condemn them to a life of acute poverty and to be outcasts in their own societies.

In conclusion, I seek reassurance that the enormous implications of our ageing world and the situation of widows of all ages will become issues for development work by international development policy-makers. Poverty is the main threat to older people and to widows world-wide. They are consistently and disproportionately among the poorest of the poor. It is a matter of basic human rights that we address this issue. I hope that we in this country can begin to do so. I hope that the Minister can add to the work that the Government have already done in the White Paper and much else besides when, a year or so from now, Her Majesty's Government attend the United Nations Assembly on Ageing in Madrid. Let us make sure that poverty is on that agenda and that more is done to eliminate it. Inaction will surely undermine any current targets of the UK Government and of the UN agencies, targets which are so important to all of us.

4.48 p.m.

My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend Lady Whitaker on the way she introduced this excellent debate. I shall speak briefly about the issue of land reform, the importance of which is described in paragraph 92 of the White Paper. It states:

"Land reform, providing secure access to land and other productive assets for poor people, whether through ownership, tenure or customary use rights, is essential in building a market economy which will work for the poor".
I agree. But more needs to be done to give effect to that expression of good intentions.

I have an interest as patron of the Terre Initiative in ensuring that the interests of the poor in central and eastern Europe are looked after. This endeavour is strongly supported by the Real Estate Advisory Group of the United. Nations, the Economic Commission for Europe, and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors through its foundation. Economic progress in central and eastern Europe is uneven and often concentrated in the urban areas, with the result that rural communities are falling behind. Page 21 of the White Paper shows that over the period 1990 to 1998 the number of people in eastern Europe and central Asia living on less than one dollar a day has increased from seven million to 24 million. It is very much in the interests of all sections of Europe that the central and eastern European region should be economically successful and that those countries which are applicant members for the EU should be able to take full advantage of their membership. In that way it will be possible for the continent as a whole to devote its limited resources to the areas of even greater need elsewhere in the world.

The challenge for mature economies now is to harness land in developing countries in a way that will help in a country's social and economic development. The creation of a viable market in real estate can increase a country's GDP by between 25 per cent and 30 per cent. In enabling land rights, we must not forget the increasingly serious issue of the environmental impact of different land uses. As we know only too well in our own country, facilitating the use of land must be linked with environmental controls.

Land as an asset does not need to be made. It already exists. What is required is the creation of the legal and administrative framework and supporting systems such as banking, valuation services and insurance. It is only through the exchange mechanism of a market that the value of land can be realised.

At present, the EU considers land reform to be a country-specific matter. Accordingly, with respect to the EU accession candidate countries, it concerns itself with the issue only to the extent that a country's policies in land restrict capital flows, such as on ownership of land by foreigners. This may be fine for existing EU countries because, by and large, they all have mature land markets. But for accession countries, the situation is very different. They are faced with what appears to be indifference on the part of the EU as to what needs to be done, but at the same time they are told that nothing must be done to prevent foreigners from owning full rights in their land. They find it difficult to obtain co-ordinated help because the EU and other international bodies have not organised their funding support on a cross-sector basis.

The United Nations, through its Real Estate Advisory Group in Geneva, is beginning to get this right. In December, it accepted a paper from the RIGS Foundation, produced with the support of the World Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which will now be going to the UN General Assembly for policy acceptance.

However, it is the EU which must change its approach. If more is not done now to help central and eastern Europe, the reform process could stumble and be delayed for perhaps a generation. The Know-How Fund used to facilitate the transfer of information and expertise so that people were enabled to help themselves. That is what is needed here. With help, the transition economies can defeat one of the last barriers to achieving the degree of market capacity required so that their people can truly benefit from globalisation.

The Government's White Paper represents an excellent opportunity for the UK to take a strong initiative in Europe and to lead a co-ordinated drive to get the EU to change its policy in this important area of land reform. I hope that, when my noble friend comes to reply to the debate, she will be able to give the House some comfort on this issue.

4.53 p.m.

My Lords, I join other noble Lords in congratulating my noble friend Lady Whitaker on raising this debate. To learn that Her Majesty's Government will work to manage globalisation in the interests of poor people, that they are setting themselves development targets, that the connected world is to work for everyone and that the international rules by which countries play will be fair, is music to the ear. In my few minutes, I should like to draw the attention of noble Lords to the small islands of the Caribbean.

Over the years, the islands have seen their agricultural base slaughtered in the struggle for trade. Cocoa, sugar, nutmeg and bananas are the most important crops. I realise that the White Paper urges that we should not try to prevent change, but rather look towards reform in order to improve life in the countryside and provide support for those who are losing out, so that they can adapt and move forward. Those are fine sentiments. But the CARICOM countries comprise small and heavily populated landmasses. Grenada, for example, is 21 miles long by 12 miles wide. Others are even smaller. No matter how successful such an island may become through advanced technology, I fear that to neglect the agricultural base could be seen by some as folly indeed. The islands may not be able to produce the volume, shape or size of produce needed by world markets, but they can trade successfully within the basin, if only they receive help.

I have recently returned from Grenada where I met traders who complained that they were unable to find small trading ships to transport their produce. The large ones have disappeared because they are no longer competitive in world markets. A market exists between the islands. However, producers have been losing heart because their produce has been allowed to rot. Airfreight is far too expensive, while there are too few small vessels.

Another area of concern which I should like to raise is that Her Majesty's Government have refused to pay proper pensions to the over-60s who have returned to the Caribbean after a lifetime of work in the UK. In the 1950s, they were the people who worked on the railways and in factories, as well as being the mainstay of the National Health Service. They paid their contributions towards their pensions. I cannot understand why they are being treated less favourably than those who remain in Britain. Furthermore, Britain encounters a downside by not paying proper pensions. When illness strikes these people, they return to Britain for treatment, thus placing a heavy burden on health services and causing unnecessary stress for the individuals concerned.

Does the Minister agree that, for reasons of history, Her Majesty's Government should be at the forefront of international development assistance to the increasingly beleaguered Caribbean region? Does she further agree that, in the light of uncertain times ahead for Caribbean economies and increasing threats to social stability from drugs and crime, as well as vulnerability to natural disasters, the Caribbean should be treated as a special case and that assistance for development in the region should be increased?

Perhaps I may also ask the Minister what measures Her Majesty's Government are taking to assist the small, heavily burdened governments of the region to identify and nurture alternative forms of economic development. Should UK development assistance be increased to target this important area?

4.58 p.m.

My Lords, I, too, thank the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, for introducing this important debate. I should declare an interest as a patron of RAPID UK—Rescue and Preparedness in Disaster—an NGO charitable organisation. Noble Lords may have heard a RAPID volunteer, John Miller, describing the rescue of a child in India when he returned to Manchester early last weekend.

It is well recognised and self-evident that in many poverty-stricken areas of the world, natural disasters restrict and destroy well funded attempts at eliminating world poverty. I should like to discuss two areas in which this country is among the world's leaders. The first relates to immediate response to such disasters—as in the Indian earthquake; that is, response between the time of occurrence and five to six days afterwards. Secondly, I should like to mention preparedness for disasters in areas particularly prone to them.

I should like to emphasise, first, that I am full of admiration for the work of the Minister's department through the UN and through its own emergency response unit. We should also be very proud of our NGOs in this field, such as the International Rescue Corps, RAPID UK and Care International, to mention only a few. Co-operation between such groups is still in its infancy, but better co-ordination and support result in better outcomes. That means the saving of more lives quickly.

The UK response to the San Salvador and Indian disasters was absolutely correct, but at opposite ends of the scale. In the first, a decision was taken by an official in the Minister's department not to send search-and-rescue units due to the localised nature of the mudslides, when the need was for people and shovels rather than for high-tech search-and-rescue units. In the case of India, the decision from her department, almost immediately, was to put search-and-rescue units on standby and to organise transport for them. However, in between the two extremes there are grey areas where we should strive to improve the assessment, deployment and command structure on site.

We are dealing with part-time volunteers and a full-time department. However, there is no commonly agreed line of communication between either each of the different search-and-rescue groups or between them and the department. For example, on frequent occasions, these NGOs independently contact our embassies in the disaster countries directly; independently they ring different departments at various airlines to try to find seats. I must pay tribute to the airlines—especially British Airways—for, over the years, giving up free seats to them.

At the same time, the Government's emergency response unit is doing the same thing. Independent assessments are being made with sometimes conflicting outcomes: "Do we go or not"? There have even been questions over who booked what seat, and of some people cancelling other seats when they decide not to go. Therefore, there are sometimes different reaction times and confusion as to who has gone where, with the appropriate equipment or otherwise.

On site, the co-ordinating role is not always clear—or, indeed, sufficiently knowledgeable—as to the capability and expertise contained in the different units. This hinders efficiency and can cost lives. There are no commonly agreed practices—such as the hours to be worked, whether to work overnight and so on—and it is embarrassing for people to be resting when survivors are digging out their relatives.

My second area concerns preparedness for disasters. I shall give two examples, but noble Lords should bear in mind that I am talking about volunteers, on a shoestring budget with little or no government funding. What they do costs only several thousands of pounds, not the millions spent in support of post-disaster efforts.

Over the past four years, RAPID has, on its own initiative, been involved in providing advice to, and training of, emergency services in the disaster-prone, shanty-town area of Lima in Peru. This work is recognised by both governments.

In 1998 it took up the same role in the Quindio region of Columbia. A preliminary report was submitted with the intention of a full report and a development plan to follow. Prior to the latter taking place, there was a devastating earthquake, which killed many thousands. However, even the advice contained in the preliminary report saved many lives. The Government of Columbia recognised this and presented a representative of RAPID with their distinguished service medal for pre-disaster help and quick response to the earthquake.

Some of the advice was elementary—or would seem to be—but it was effective. I refer, for example, to clearing a road from the airport so that search and rescue and other aid could get to the site. RAPID was also shown a brand-new fire station with its control centre on the roof. However, the authorities were advised, luckily, that after an earthquake neither would exist.

Finally, perhaps the Minister will consider appointing an independent person or group, acceptable to her department and the NGOs, to see whether the administration of the UK's response could be improved. Funding must play an important part. I fear that disaster reduction preparedness lies between emergency response and development programmes. However, it is relevant to both.

5.3 p.m.

My Lords, I welcome the debate introduced by my noble friend Lady Whitaker. It is a good opportunity to discuss a most important and credible White Paper from a Government whose policies on relief of global poverty are not only more generous than those of previous governments and many other developed countries, but also contain many highly intelligent and original aspects, especially in stopping futile debt repayments and in connecting different initiatives. Nevertheless, there are gaps in the policies that could be remedied.

It is essential that there should be more emphasis on helping countries to reduce the impact of natural disasters, a point made earlier, and other adverse environmental factors. Paragraph 260 of the White Paper points out that natural disasters are as devastating as conflicts—as the Red Cross has also emphasised—but the rest of this section of the White Paper is devoted to the longer-term problem over the next 50 years of climate change, which will certainly have a devastating effect. As sea levels rise, it will cause flooding on low-lying coastal areas and islands; as temperatures rise, it will lead to many thousands of deaths in urban areas, especially of poorer people, as we have seen already in countries such as the USA and China.

However, in the short term, there are so many natural disasters every year, which cause hundreds of thousands of deaths and enormous financial damage, that one might have expected to see more emphasis on this in the White Paper. There have been mudslides in Venezuela, earthquakes in Gujarat, hurricanes in the Caribbean, and Hurricane Mitch destroyed much of the economy of one or two countries.

The media focus on the human tragedies but do not emphasise that in some countries the impact of such disasters is now much less through the use of science and technology and social and economic actions, as one sees in Hong Kong, Japan and India. At a major conference held at the Royal Society in 1999, at the end of the International Decade of Natural Disaster Reduction, we learnt that disasters are now much better forecast and the risks are much better mapped. For example, tropical cyclone and mudslide damage in Hong Kong is now quite small in comparison with the effects we regrettably saw in Venezuela.

Similarly, there has been a reduction of the impact of disasters through better engineering, which has greatly reduced the loss of life in more advanced countries. The social organisation in some countries is also very effective in post-disaster situations. Drought and seasonal variations which cause disaster in some countries are now fairly well predicted in other countries and special agricultural steps are taken.

The question for the department is how these developments can be spread to more countries. The United Nations agencies—which perhaps have not had a very good day here today—can play a great role, especially in the exchange of information. The present situation is fairly chronic in terms of the lack of information, as Mr George McGovern, the United States delegate to the Food and Agricultural Organisation, pointed out. Only when data are freely available will the kind of Internet revolution referred to earlier be possible.

Such co-ordination between UN agencies requires, in the first instance, co-ordination between the government departments and agencies which send their representatives to these UN agencies. Such coordination in the UK and in most countries of the world is still quite weak, as I saw when I was the chief executive of a UK government agency, the Met Office, and represented the UK at the United Nations agency for weather and hydrology—namely, the World Meteorological Office.

I was very pleased to learn recently of the setting-up of the new environmental planning department in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. One of its objectives—which is slightly sotto voce in the document—is co-ordination. There is a problem between co-ordination and leadership by a department, an aspect of Whitehall mystique which we need not go into today. I hope it will be able to involve the 10 to 20 government agencies and institutes and, it is to be hoped, the private sector more effectively in future. I include in that the Hazards Forum Committee on Natural Disaster Reduction, in which I declare an interest as a member.

The United States Government are rather more effective at involving all their agencies and organisations with the UN than we are in the UK and most other European countries. There is a danger that the United States may take more of a lead in this whole area.

Finally, I should like to encourage the early work of the department to involve the London insurance markets and the poorest 42 Commonwealth countries in insuring each other against the effects of natural disasters through the newly-formed Disaster Management Agency, whose chairman, Sir Humphrey Maud, had a letter published recently in the Economist. As we heard, unlike the European Union, this organisation aims to pay out after five days. That is a good example of the commercialisation and globalisation that I hope we shall see in the future. I hope that the UK will involve all its strengths in this area. The DfID will have a vital role in facilitating this UK strength.

5.9 p.m.

My Lords, I, too, welcome the debate introduced by my noble friend Lady Whitaker. I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak. As one might expect of a banker—I am an advisory director of HSBC Investment Bank—I want to talk about money—or, rather, about money laundering.

I welcome the sentiments of the White Paper. The first thing to be said about money laundering is that this slangy terminology is a pity. It is a seriously corrosive offence, and one that is worthy of all our attention and co-operation in confronting it.

Money laundering is the process of inserting the proceeds of drug dealing, extortion, bribery and corruption into the global banking system, so that it sits on a par with the savings of ordinary people or the profits of legitimate businesses. The point is that money laundering enables the perpetrators of widespread unpleasant crimes to benefit from them financially. While we fail to counter the efforts of money launderers, the drug dealing and corruption which make life totally miserable for ordinary people in developing countries, and which make economic growth so difficult to achieve, will continue.

Efforts to counter money laundering tend to be directed in two directions. The first—the one that we hear about—is the effort that is made to encourage banks and financial institutions in the developing countries to behave in a responsible way: to make sure that they know their customers and inquire assiduously into the origins of any funds that flow into their accounts. That is very important for the long term; however, in the short term it is very difficult to achieve—because the one thing that money launderers have at their disposal is lots of money, and it is easy to bribe people in developing countries because they have very little. In this case, the action lies not with exhortation to the developing countries, but right here, in the developed countries.

The goal sought by a money launderer is an account with a licensed bank in one of the developed countries. An account with the "Cosa Nostra Bank of Domenica"—or for that matter, with the real life Overseas Development Bank and Trust of Domenica—is a very limited utility. The goal is an account with the Chase Manhattan, with the Credit Agricole, or with my own bank, HSBC. It is primarily, therefore, for us in the developed countries to enforce and strengthen our defences against this offence.

In some ways this has been a good week for law enforcement. The Basle Committee on Banking Supervision has produced guidance to banks and supervisors on customer due diligence. It could not sound more boring, but it is extremely important. There is also an FATF progress report on the non-co-operative countries—the many countries that are making no serious attempt whatever to control this offence. All this increases the pressure on financial institutions to get their procedures right and to pay attention to all the detail that helps to repel the criminal customer.

However, per contra, the recent report published in America by the Senate Government Affairs Committee on correspondent banking sinks the heart. A correspondent bank is one in another country with which one has a trading arrangement. It was originally conceived as a service for customers—and so it has proved to be; except that, squarely in the eye of the committee, although not in the dock, are a dozen US-based banks, including very respectable names such as the Bank of America and Chase Manhattan, which have formed alliances with offshore banks. They have taken no trouble whatsoever to find out with whom they are allied, and have washed a great deal of money through their accounts. To quote Senator Levin:
"Some of these foreign banks operate without the most basic controls or oversight that Americans expect at a regulated financial institution, and they have highly questionable owners, employees, and customers. Yet all of them managed to open U.S. bank accounts and run millions of dollars through them. The U.S. banks that gave them accounts were, at best, asleep at the switch and, at worst, didn't care what these foreign banks or their clients were doing".
Frankly, I should be amazed if any report on English-based banks produced such a damning indictment. I do not believe that we are either as negligent or as delinquent. But, to paraphrase the well known statement, it is not enough for respectable bankers to refrain from doing evil; they must actively confront those who would do evil.

In that context, I welcome the undertaking in the White Paper, which repeats the commitment in the Queen's Speech, to introduce legislation to strengthen our capacity to deal with money laundering. I look forward to helping to discuss the matter in this House.

5.14 p.m.

My Lords, perhaps I may begin by commenting on the White Paper in general terms and then focus on a narrow but important area; namely, reproductive health. It is an interest that I share with the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker. I am grateful to her for giving me the chance to address the subject. I want also to pay an oblique tribute to the Secretary of State, and also to George Foulkes, who was until recently the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for International Development. He has done an extremely good job and has been extremely helpful and effective in the area that I have mentioned. We wish him well in his promotion. I would have liked to say more about work in this area if there had been time.

To turn to the White Paper, there is no doubt about the Government's commitment—to use the word in the Motion. For the moment, I still accept as beneficial the use and purpose of targets—some fairly distant—as, among other uses, a way of providing some focus and ambition. What I feel less sure about is the somewhat idealistic view of human nature and the implication that we should all be ready to resort to sweet reason and that this will help us to cure the awkward failings that human beings are heir to. In fact, I support that language in the White Paper. I think it useful to have ideals described and to keep them in mind as a kind of optimists' map of future progress. However, as someone who is almost an "old hand", I am only too aware of the failings of human beings, not only individually but also as collectives, tribes or nations, not least in political groups.

With this White Paper we are partly addressing the shortcomings of systems in other countries. However, the Secretary of State reminded us, in her refreshingly robust and colourful language, of the serious shortcomings in the management of our EU management budget contributions. The noble Baroness, Lady Seccombe, attempted to flesh that out with statistics. However, her colourful language came nowhere near that of the Secretary of State.

Similarly, the White Paper acknowledges the grossly distorting nature of the EU common agricultural policy and the need for its reform: and we are here exhorting other, less privileged countries to standards of good housekeeping, order and rationality. Perhaps I am saying that we are long on giving advice, but short on taking our own advice. Nevertheless, that advice may generally be good.

I now focus on the narrow but integral area of reproductive health. The international development target, confirmed on page 13 of the White Paper, is:
"Access through the primary healthcare system to reproductive health services for all individuals of appropriate ages as soon as possible, and no later than the year 2015".
I remind the House that the essence of that is enabling choice; there is no longer the idea of compulsion or of playing the numbers game.

This philosophy is not, and should not be regarded as, an optional add-on to development. It is coming to be regarded as an essential right for people, especially women, to be able to make the choice that they deem appropriate.

In the wider context of the White Paper, focusing on the poor, it is also accepted that the infrastructure of a fragile developing country can be overwhelmed by population increasing at a greater rate than its environment can sustain.

Turning to a more specific matter in this field, following on the US election, we understand that we are faced, as the noble Baroness, Lady Massey of Darwen, said, with a significant possible cut in supporting American funds to international NGOs which have any connection with abortion. If that is so—as seems to be happening, judging by newspaper reports this week—the EU development section can begin to redeem its lamentable record by trying to make up some of the difference. This is likely to affect the vital on-going and future programmes of such respected organisations as the UN Population Fund and the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF).

I very much hope that the Secretary of State can give the Government's firm and speedy support to what seems to be an initiative led by the Danish EU Commissioner. Poul Nielson. I hope that the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, may be able to give us some assurance on the Government's views and their willingness to make up some of what is apparently called the "decency gap". Such a contribution by us would seem to be a splendid example of globalisation at work.

5.20 p.m.

My Lords, this very comprehensive and challenging White Paper sees globalisation as a potential means of lifting people out of poverty, but admits that, as it is, it may increase rather than decrease poverty. But to me the generally upbeat style lends it a rather unreal flavour. It gives little indication that international trade and investment is, and always has been, based on maximising profit. The multinational companies that now undertake two-thirds of the world's trade invest where they can get the best return for their money; the basic principles are much the same now as they were 200 years ago. The private sector does not usually ask "What is needed, how can I help?" but rather "How much can I get for my money?". Perhaps we have moved on from the time when the following passage was written:

"Surplus capital will never he used for the purpose of raising the standard of living of the masses … instead it will be used to increase profits by exporting the capital abroad, to backward countries [where] profits are usually high, for capital is scarce, the price of land is relatively low, wages are low, [and] raw materials are cheap".
That was written in 1916 on the subject of imperialism. I shall leave it to noble Lords to guess the name of the author but one clue is that when it was written Karl Marx was already 30 years dead. Though we do not refer to imperialism much now, it is still alive and well though it wears kid gloves. Alhough the international financial institutions, the World Trade Organisation and the multinational corporations deal with nominally independent states, their economic power, compounded as it is by international debt, is today's equivalent of yesterday's gunboat or Maxim gun, and the net flow of wealth is from the south to the north, especially in Africa.

The White Paper recommends that the influence of developing countries on the decisions of the international financial institutions and the World Trade Organisation be increased. But there are many difficulties. Paragraph 239, for instance, states:
"23 least-developed country members of the WTO have no representation in Geneva, where there can be more than 40 meetings a week across a diverse range of subjects".
And the multinationals are probably in the wings, skilfully lobbying country members. Like my noble friend Lord Desai I should be most interested to hear from my noble friend how we intend to correct this kind of gross imbalance.

When Britain was at its economic peak in the late Victorian era we pressed vigorously for free trade while the USA and Germany built their economic strength behind tariff walls, as Japan did after 1945, and the Asian tigers a few years later. It is surely unfair to expect poorer countries to abolish their tariff protection when their economies are still weak. To flood them with cheap industrial goods or subsidised agricultural products is to stifle indigenous enterprise and agriculture and condemn them to continued poverty. But tariffs are no bar to foreign direct investment which can still be quite profitable. I would love to be able to refer to other noble Lords' points as I go along but time presses.

Rural people in the developing world are having to leave the land and move to slums in the cities, as our ancestors did in the 19th century. But we achieved our "affluent society"—though 20 per cent of us are still relatively poor—through political and industrial struggle over the past two centuries. Should we not encourage the people of developing countries to do likewise, preferably with the help of the International Labour Organisation?

The White Paper speaks of,
"strengthening the voices of civil society"
—a fine sentiment—but will we defend the human rights of trade unionists who organise and strike for a living wage? Will we protest vigorously enough if they are arrested or extra judicially murdered, as they frequently are in developing countries with whom we trade? Or will we acquiesce with governments who label them as hooligans, communists or terrorists?

Finally, I have one question to my noble friend about health. Globalisation has contributed greatly to the spread of the HIV pandemic. I am very pleased that DfID is funding research into the much hoped for vaccine. However, if the pharmaceutical industry could be persuaded to reduce the price of its combination therapy to its marginal cost, which it could do without losing money—it might accept that it would forgo some profits and yet, as it is not selling to Africa, it is not making any profits there anyhow—it might become affordable to treat people with HIV/ AIDS in the developing world and prolong their lives, with enormous economic benefit. A better health infrastructure would also be needed, of course, to administer the treatment, but if this were also achieved, it would remain as a permanent gain for the countries concerned, helping to achieve the international development targets in health which are now slipping well behind schedule. This would be a sound and very popular investment in any case. Has my noble friend any news on that front?

5.25 p.m.

My Lords, I, like many noble Lords, thank the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, for allowing us finally to debate the White Paper. The Minister will have a difficult job in replying to such a wide-ranging debate.

The White Paper deals with the Government's approach to globalisation. As documents go, it is readable; it is well put together and shows a sensible approach. Many noble Lords have discussed the dangers that globalisation poses. Many have mentioned that the rich will become richer, as the noble Lord, Lord Rea, pointed out. Indeed, some of the institutions that are part of the make-up of globalisation, such as the WTO, show the dangers that are inherent in it. A particular example is America, a country which does not grow or sell any bananas itself but has taken it upon itself, through the WTO, almost to destroy the ACP countries' banana production. That lobbying in Washington on behalf of the banana industry—and the money spent—has threatened such diverse industries as the cashmere industry in Scotland.

However, the danger areas should not be over expressed; there are a number of benefits. The noble Lord, Lord Holme of Cheltenham, discussed the benefits that industry brings. Although there is a danger that industry will look to making profits, it is only through inward investment and private capital flows that many of the developing countries will break the cycle of poverty and aid dependency.

Agriculture and genetics were mentioned by my noble friend Lord Taverne. Although I thoroughly agreed with the point he made that in the future genetic manipulation of core crops will yield benefits, there was always the danger that seed companies developed the science of genetics and terminator genes to gain a monopoly of seed grain. Happily, however, that threat has been averted.

The noble Lord, Lord St John, mentioned the Internet. I agree that the Internet is a closed book to many in Africa. However, I echo the comments of the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy, who said that the British Council, through its offices in many countries, is giving people access to the Internet. I have visited many British Council offices and have seen evidence of that in their libraries.

It is dangerous to suggest that the DfID is the only player in the fields of aid and development. That is obviously not the case. However, I believe that it is one of the best. A good example is DfID's response to the recent earthquakes. The earthquake in India was mentioned by the noble Baroness, Lady Seccombe. The question is not what should be done, but why, as the DfID is already on the ground, as it were, we are not spending more.

Development issues have been at the centre of government policy. Many people associate themselves with the issue in the fields of education and health, and with regard to the real threat of the pandemic of AIDS which afflicts the poorest countries. The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bradford referred to the meeting in a village hall; I have been to many such village hall meetings. It is an issue which affects people from all strata of life.

I applaud the DfID, in particular for the lead it is taking in ending the policy of tied aid. However, we need to consider the area of scrutiny at home. One of the Government's key policy commitments is that they will,
"work with others to reduce violent conflict, including through tighter control over the arms trade".
An issue has raised its head recently which must cause concern if that is one of the Government' aims. In an open session of the Joint Select Committee considering strategic export controls on 30th January 2001—unusually, the official report has not yet appeared on the Internet; a transcript was taken from the video of the session—the Foreign Secretary said:
"Since the UN mission there, MINURSO is actually overseeing the refurbishment of the guns … This was a licence which was originally refused and there was then an appeal submitted. In between our refusal and the hearing of the appeal the UN, in both the Western Sahara and New York, confirmed the refurbishment was within the terms of the ceasefire agreement, and that they were willing to supervise the refurbishment. They assessed the project as 'force neutral'. On that basis—with the full agreement of the UN—we then proceeded to grant the appeal".
For those who are not aware, at stake is the refurbishment of 105 millimetre Royal Ordnance guns—they are capable of hurling high explosive shells 17 kilometres—positioned on the berm, a sand wall which has divided the Western Sahara for over 15 years and is armed against the Polisario. Refurbishment of those guns has to indicate a change in government policy. Under a ceasefire, the area is being monitored by the UN. To state that the UN is overseeing that refurbishment is no justification.

I refer to a change in government policy because in a letter of 7th September 1998, Derek Fatchett stated:
"When considering Export Licence Applications for Morocco, the situation in the Western Sahara is an overriding concern. As you know we support the United Nations in their efforts to achieve a resolution of the dispute through a free and fair Referendum. We would not be able to reconcile this objective with supporting one side or the other be it via the export of arms or through some other channel".
I do not understand how the Foreign Secretary can state that refurbishment of light artillery—it is very effective, portable artillery—can be force neutral. I also fail to understand how a licence was given on appeal considering that it breaks the criteria used when considering conventional arms export licence applications. In paragraph 8 under "international aggression", a Select Committee report states:
"The Government will not issue an export licence if there is a clearly identifiable risk that the intended recipient would use the proposed export aggressively against another country, or to assert by force a territorial claim".
Even if the Government can reconcile their position within the criteria on applications for licence, the question is raised whether that position drives a coach and horses through the EU code of conduct on arms exports. The Council of the European Union is,
"DETERMINED to prevent the export of equipment which might be used for internal repression or international aggression, or contribute to regional instability".
It is an area that faces an internationally adjudicated referendum. The fortification divides the Western Sahara, occupied by Moroccan forces, from the Polisario group which may be on the point of re-initiating hostilities. I hope that that will not occur. How can refurbishment of artillery pieces be regarded as force neutral? Will the DfID make representations to the Foreign Office to review the matter? The decision should be reviewed within government departments. Consideration of a judicial review is under way.

Perhaps this issue will prompt the introduction of a system which was promised in chapter 2 on page 33 of the White Paper. It states that the Government will,
"Introduce a licensing system to control UK arms brokers and traffickers, and work for tighter controls internationally at next year's UN conference on small arms".
From the speeches today, we know that such a Bill would be welcomed.

5.37 p.m.

My Lords, all noble Lords are grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, for initiating a high quality debate. It has been more an occasion for messages, as the noble Lord, Lord Brennan, said in a telling speech, than elaborate discussion. There is no doubt that the White Paper has been well received by commentators and those concerned with development. The general view is that it is long and strong on analysis and discussion—perhaps a "White Essay" rather than a White Paper—and somewhat weaker on developing policy initiatives to meet the entirely new global conditions that the development process now faces. When we consider the detailed actions there is a tendency for the White Paper to have caught that fatal infection described in the The Times as "targetitis". I shall return to that issue.

I start on a more positive note. The analysis of globalisation and its effects is excellent. The emphasis placed by the Secretary of State on the need to use globalisation to harness accelerated development and the uplifting of those in poverty is right. The point made in the White Paper is correct: that globalisation is not the danger. It is not the risks that flow from globalisation; the dangers were there already. The process of globalization—the gigantic transparency and competitive forces which it generates—are powerful potential instruments for meeting those dangers. So globalisation itself is not the evil; it is the means of meeting the evil.

Much has been said about the globalising process applying only to a prosperous minority of the world, excluding 70 per cent or the 1.2 billion to 1.3 billion people who live in extreme poverty. I am not sure that that is right. The globalisation process, with its gigantic accompanying revolution in communication and information spread, reaches every society whether we talk about the poorest in drought-ridden sub-Saharan Africa or those squatting in the suburbs of swollen mega-cities. All those people are entwined in the revolutionary processes of information technology, as the noble Lord, Lord St John of Bletso, remarked. Nor am I happy about the phrase "digital divide". It is very fashionable; it is used in the White Paper. It was much used at the Davos world economic forum, and has been used in many speeches. It implies that somehow the digital revolution has caused the divide. That is not so. The inequalities were possibly greater 20 years ago, before anyone had heard of the Internet. Those inequalities have been accelerated by years of anti-market, illiberal, anti-globalisation policies. Anyone in India, for example, knows that those policies have made poverty worse in some quarters. The one hope is that globalisation can be mobilised and harnessed to reverse those trends.

It used to be said that free trade helped the strongest. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Rea, and others mentioned that. That is no longer the case. In today's world, trade liberalisation is the instrument that helps the poorest. However bad its organisation, the WTO is the one hope for trade liberalisation. Trade restriction is used by the richer and more advanced countries to protect their monopolies and labour standards. That was the problem at Seattle. To his shame, President Clinton said that he was going to support the lobbies of the American labour unions. That was a signal to the world's poorest countries that the game was over before it had begun. They were not going to get a fair deal at Seattle, which ended in chaos.

There is a good deal of confusion about the effects of trade liberalisation. I had the privilege of attending the Davos conference, which was solely about ways in which globalisation could be mobilised to help the world's poorest people. There were many brilliant ideas about how that could be done, some of which are being put into practice. I was surprised and saddened—or perhaps I was not surprised—that when I left Davos my way was blocked by screaming protesters who appeared to be against the causes that would help them most. It is a crazy world of contradiction that we live in. Those who protest most are trying to destroy the goals they claim to support.

One lesson that we have learned about the problem of "targetitis", identified by The Times, is that aid and development effectiveness cannot be measured by aid volume. I hope that the Government have learned that. There is a machismo about percentages. That is a hangover from the days of aid donor giving, with each country saying how good it was because it was giving more. That language is out of date. We should concentrate on quality rather than quantity of aid.

It has been argued that simply setting big and ambitious targets does some good in itself. That is not so. The International Fund for Agricultural Development, which the noble Lord, Lord Judd, mentioned, has told us frankly that the 2015 target for halving the number of those living in poverty is doomed. We still have the UN target of 0.7 per cent of GNP hanging round our necks, but it looks more remote than ever and it is unrealistic in terms of aid effect and development.

Giving more to the UN agencies will not necessarily help development, because they are very inefficient. They need checking before we pour more funds into them. The European Union has rightly received a pasting today, not least from my noble friend Lady Seccombe in her well focused speech early in the debate. However, nothing that has been said in the debate can equal the robust words of the Secretary of State, who has described the EU as the worst agency in the world. We cannot go further than that. We should long since have applied new methods to the co-ordination of aid in Europe. That should not include creating vast bureaucracies in Brussels.

The problem is that grand theories stumble on crippling detail. The new reality in development is beginning to emerge. There is no better recent book for analysing that new reality than Hernando de Soto's Mystery of Capital. He argues that development cannot succeed, however much aid is poured in, without property rights and local capital. Those are the key to poorer societies becoming less poor. I give the Government credit for mentioning that in paragraphs 53 and 92 of the White Paper, but those comments are in the wings of the general thrust of the document when they should be centre stage.

De Soto argues that the poor have assets, but they cannot turn them into wealth. To do that, they need the rule of law and political stability, as the noble Baroness, Lady Stern, reminded us. They also need good governance, as emphasised by the noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy. Those are tasks that the British Council is superbly equipped for. That is where our priorities in aid promotion and using our resources should be.

The basis of the new reality that we have to face is that non-governmental organisations, private corporations and new and novel coalitions between public and private bodies will be the driving forces of development. That means that private corporations have an increasing social responsibility for the corporate governance standards that the noble Lord, Lord Holme, mentioned. We should not rail against multinationals and tell them to keep away from development. Far from suffering from wicked multinationals, the poorest societies need much more attention than the feeble flow of foreign direct investment that they currently receive. They need more globalisation, not less.

That is the message of the debate and the White Paper. We can have plenty of good ideas and express all our concerns vividly about the fact that billions of people still live in poverty and billions of children suffer appallingly, but we must not be distracted by yesterday's stale aid debate. We need to focus on the new way in which development can be promoted and the ways in which globalisation, the informational paradigm and the Internet system that now links the world in an entirely new relationship can carry development forward more vigorously and more hopefully than ever before.

5.47 p.m.

I thank my noble friend Lady Whitaker for giving us the opportunity to discuss this important subject. I cannot begin to do justice to the breadth of the issues raised. The debate has been well-informed and wide-ranging. Noble Lords have given me a Herculean task in trying to respond to all the issues that have been raised. I shall write to anyone whose specific questions I am unable to answer because of lack of time. I also thank noble Lords for their positive comments about the work of the department and its officials and the leadership provided by the Secretary of State.

A number of noble Lords have already reminded us of the reasons for having the debate. In an era of growing wealth, 1.2 billion people live in abject poverty, without adequate food, water, healthcare or education for their children. It is within our grasp to remove extreme poverty from the world. That is the greatest moral challenge facing our generation. However, it is not just a moral duty; it is also in our interests. Many of the world's biggest challenges—growing conflict, refugee movements, disease, environmental degradation and rapid population growth—are caused and exacerbated by poverty and inequality. That will bring instability and danger to future generations wherever they live.

The White Paper on globalisation is the continuation of the process begun in 1997, when our first White Paper committed the Government to reducing the proportion of people living in poverty by half by 2015, working to establish a safer and more secure world and promoting greater global social justice. Therefore, the White Papers must be read together.

The noble Baroness, Lady Seccombe, said that significant mention was made of disaster preparedness in the first White Paper. In terms of a continuation of the debate, the second White Paper puts disaster preparedness into the context of environmental degradation. That is why more specific comments are found in the first White Paper and more general comments in the second one.

We recognised that achieving the international development targets required a new approach—one which saw development as an investment in the building of a more equitable and sustainable world. It meant putting poverty reduction at the centre of our discussions with developing countries and working with them to develop their own poverty reduction strategies. It meant supporting developing countries in a number of ways; for example, through debt relief. Many noble Lords touched on the UK's key role in delivering deeper and faster debt relief.

Achievement of the targets also meant providing support through aid untying, working for a more open international trading system, helping developing countries to build their own capacity in order that they might play an effective part in trade negotiations, and working for reform of the international institutions. It has also meant taking a more coherent and integrated approach across government.

My noble friend Lady Whitaker made reference to the international development Bill. The Bill will establish in legislation the Government's over-arching aim of reducing world poverty. We have made a lot of progress but much remains to be done. This White Paper examines the opportunities and risks created by the process of globalization—the growing inter-connectedness and interdependence of the modern world.

I say to noble Lords, and in particular to the noble Lord, Lord Howell, and the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, that the action plan is contained within the White Paper. At the beginning and end of each chapter we say what we will do. Underpinned by the two White Papers are target strategy papers, which look specifically at each of the international development targets.

The central message of the White Paper is clear. We can help to shape globalisation so that it works for the world's poor. Access to knowledge, technology, goods, services, capital and markets can create the conditions for faster reduction in poverty, enabling developing countries to benefit from global economic integration rather than being excluded from it.

However—here I agree with noble Lords—there are also risks. If the poorest countries are not drawn into the global economy, they will become more marginalised. For example, we know that growth rates in Africa—I believe that this point was made by the noble Lord, Lord St John of Bletso—remain well below the level required to halve the incidence of poverty in the continent by the year 2015. Therefore, either outcome is possible. The future is a matter of political will and choice.

I believe that four key themes have underpinned today's debate. First, in order to capture the benefits of globalisation, we need a combination of efficient markets and effective governments. In response to my noble friend Lord Parekh, it is our view that strong private sectors and efficient markets are indispensable at global, regional, national and, indeed, local levels. But they are not everything. Effective governments are equally important. They must be equipped competently to carry out basic functions, including the provision of law and order. In addition, they must be accountable, responsive and democratic, with poor people being given a bigger voice.

The noble Baroness, Lady Stern, talked in particular about the issue of security and justice. We are supporting programmes of reform in order to make the justice system as a whole more responsive to the needs of the poor in such countries as Bangladesh, Jamaica, Malawi, Nigeria and Uganda. I can assure the noble Baroness that it is our intention to work with those countries on solutions which are appropriate for them.

To my noble friend Lord Rea I say that rights at work are an important component of our human rights strategy. We have a commitment to the ILO core labour standards and to the ILO Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour. We recognise that business must also play a part. The noble Lord, Lord Holme of Cheltenham, plays an important role through his work on corporate social responsibility, bringing business and government together, and also through his work on the global social contact.

With regard to reproductive health, the noble Viscount, Lord Craigavon, and my noble friend Lady Massey raised the question of our reaction to the decision of the US Government to bar abortion-related NGO work. The US decision will make no difference to the commitment of this Government to help poor people to access good quality family planning and sexual reproductive health services.

The second theme to have come out of the debate is the need to establish a much more integrated and joined-up approach to development. We need to tackle, for example, conflict and corruption. Those areas were raised by my noble friends Lord Judd and Lady Cohen. Of the 40 poorest countries in the world, 24 either are in the midst of armed conflict or have just emerged from it. In Africa, 20 per cent of the population live in countries affected by armed conflict. We have started a process of integrating conflict reduction programmes into our own programmes so that they promote the right environment in which to foster peace.

The right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Bradford made a plea for joined-up thinking. At present we are establishing two pooled budgets which will finance the conflict prevention activities currently resourced by the FCO, the MoD and the Department for International Development. One covers sub-Saharan Africa; the other covers the rest of the world.

While talking about issues of conflict and conflict prevention, perhaps I should address the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale. This Government have made our arms exports more accountable and transparent than has almost any other country. For the first time, we have established new national criteria on export licences and have followed that up by obtaining agreement for the EU code of conduct. For the first time, we have published annual reports which detail the export licences that we have agreed, deliberately inviting scrutiny. We have made clear our intentions to update our legislation on arms export controls in order to bring it into line at the earliest possible opportunity with the EU code of conduct.

My noble friend Lady Cohen gave a clear exposition of the process of money laundering. The Government have produced an anti-corruption strategy supported by commitment to legislation. A new proceeds of crime Bill will tighten the law on money laundering. We have also made a commitment through legislation to give the UK courts jurisdiction over UK nationals who commit offences of corruption abroad. At the international level, our priority is to generate stronger commitment to a co-ordinated approach among governments and development agencies.

We also need to boost investment in education and health. Investment in people, skills and knowledge is essential for countries that wish to be part of the globalising economy. That, of course, includes children. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Brennan, that the Government, through the leadership of the Chancellor, have decided to spearhead an initiative to address child poverty through improved progress to reach the international development targets by the year 2015. The UN and the World Bank will produce an annual report on the achievement of those targets for the G8.

The noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, my noble friend Lady Kennedy and other noble Lords mentioned education. The achievement of universal primary education is an absolute priority for us. Of our total education commitment of resources of £800 million, almost 80 per cent is allocated to basic and primary education. I shall not go into further detail on what we are doing with regard to education, but I shall be happy to write to noble Lords on the matter.

My noble friend Lady Massey of Darwen and other noble Lords raised the problem of AIDS/HIV. We are committed to a strategic response to AIDS/HIV by raising the profile of the epidemic, creating enabling environments for HIV prevention and control, caring for people who live with HIV/AIDS, and improving knowledge and technology. We have committed more than £100 million to HIV/AIDS work since the start of 1999, and we have recently committed a further £25 million to the International Partnership against AIDS in Africa and to other initiatives, and £14 million to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.

On the subject of drugs, which was raised by my noble friends Lord Rea and Lady Massey, we are working in collaboration with many partners, including drug companies and national governments, to make existing drugs affordable and accessible through several strategies while at the same time retaining incentives for future drugs development.

We also need to spread the benefits of technology and research. That matter was picked up by my noble friend Lady Whitaker. The Government commissioned work to develop proposals to tackle the lack of incentives for and perceived risks of increased investment in research into vaccines and treatments to tackle HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB.

I say to the noble Lord, Lord Taverne, who spoke in particular about health and food, that our approach to GMOs and to developing countries is based on the general principle that the health of people and the environment is of primary concern. We believe that GM technologies could have the potential, when managed responsibly, to produce considerable benefits for poor people and the environment. We are working to promote efforts to help to build bio-safety capacity in developing countries.

Underpinning all of those efforts is our commitment to policies that promote human rights, including the rights of women and girls, and those that support effective governance and democracy. Those are areas in which the British Council has been particularly effective. I agree with my noble friend Lady Kennedy that work on governance needs to be given priority.

A third strand of the debate involves the need to improve the effectiveness of development assistance; that is a vital priority. Too many resources are not targeted at the poor. A significant proportion of resources remains tied to the purchase of goods and services from donor countries.

As my noble friend Lady Whitaker said, we will untie all UK development assistance from 1st April 2001 and we will urge others to follow our lead. We will also increase development assistance to 0.33 per cent of GNP by 2003–04. I inform the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, who questioned that amount, that the aid budget will have increased by 45 per cent in real terms between 1997–98 and 2003–04. Our ultimate goal is the 0.7 per cent figure, but we recognise that we have to take steps along the way to achieve that.

The fourth theme of the debate was the need for a stronger international system that focuses on the systematic reduction of poverty to enhance the efforts of governments and to take collective action when required. We need the IMF, the World Bank. regional development banks, the UN and all development agencies to collaborate to support governments that are committed to meeting the international development targets.

I agree with my noble friend Lord Desai that we must have fair international rules and strong international institutions to harness private capital and trading opportunities in order to improve the life of the poor. We need representative institutions, in which all can pursue their interests equally. That is what the World Trade Organisation is for.

I agree with the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Guildford—we need fair structures of trade. I agree that developing countries must be able to participate effectively in the WTO. We are doubling our effort in that regard and looking at ways in which to do more with other donors to boost capacity in Geneva and in the capital.

Before I turn to specific matters raised in this debate, I want to make one final general point. The partnership approach—working with governments, business, trade unions and NGOs—is an absolute priority. I inform the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, and the right reverend Prelate that our relationships with NGOs are particularly important to our work.

The noble Viscount, Lord Brookeborough, raised the question of co-ordination during disasters. My noble friend Lord Hunt of Chesterton also raised the issue of disasters. Our strategic partnership with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is strengthening the capacity of the UN system as a whole to co-ordinate the international response to humanitarian emergencies and national disasters. We want a system that is efficient and effective. While our ultimate aim is to build a better international humanitarian system, there is a role fm donor governments such as the UK to fill a gap with regard to rapid direct response.

I inform the noble Baroness, Lady Seccombe, who thought that we were found wanting in our response to the floods in Mozambique, that we were the first on the ground there, that it was our money that paid for some of the fuel and some of the helicopters that we saw being flown by South African pilots to rescue people in Mozambique. Our aim is always to source regionally because that is faster and more effective than always trying to send resources from the UK to places where disasters have happened.

I do not have time to discuss the EU, but part of our strategy involves levering those aspects of the international system that have the capacity to be effective. In 1998, the EC was the fifth largest provider of aid and the largest provider of humanitarian assistance. We have to reform the EC and make it effective.

I was grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Greengross, for raising the issue of older people. As life expectancy has risen from 46 to 64 since the 1960s, it is becoming increasingly important to address that matter.

I inform my noble friend Lord Faulkner that land reform is essential in building a market economy that will work for the poor. I agree with my noble friend Baroness Howells that Caribbean countries remain particularly vulnerable to changes in the global trading system. We are taking several initiatives in that area. I would be happy to write to the noble Baroness on that.

I say to the noble Lord, Lord St John of Bletso, that achieving the targets in Africa will depend primarily on action being taken by African governments. I shall write to the noble Lord on those issues.

Development awareness, which was raised by several noble Lords, is important. We have several regional policy fora and development awareness schemes in schools to take forward the debate. I shall write to my noble friends on the Commission on Intellectual Property Rights.

I conclude by repeating the words of the Secretary of State for International Development. She said:
"Cynicism and negativism are the enemies of progress".
It is when people see that progress is possible that the demand for reform and advances is energised. This debate has demonstrated that the ideas and policy commitments in the White Paper can play a central role in helping us to shape a more decent and sustainable future.

My Lords, the time allotted for this debate has now elapsed. Does the noble Baroness wish to withdraw the Motion?

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.

European Union Enlargement

6.8 p.m.

rose to call attention to the Nice Treaty and the case for European Union enlargement; and to move for Papers.

The noble Lord said: The Nice Intergovernmental Conference was not a unique or special process. There had been three previous intergovernmental conferences, each of which led to significant treaty changes. First, there was the Single European Act. Since I am speaking in this House, I must acknowledge the leading role of the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher, in the production of that legislation.

Secondly, there was the Treaty on European Union, the so-called Maastricht Treaty, for which the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, and Mr. Francis Maude deserve high praise. I praise them even though the noble Lord has shown reluctance to have his responsibility laid against him for posterity. That is made clear in his book, In Office, in which he wrote:
"After our morning prayers meeting I was talking to Francis Maude, the Financial Secretary, and said, 'I just wish I didn't have to go over to Holland and sign the Maastricht Treaty. I can't bear the thought that my signature will forever be on that Treaty. 'Francis replied, 'Really? I am very happy to go if you want".
It was stunning prose, so good that it makes the Treaty of Nice seem an exciting read. But Francis Maude did go and Francis Maude did sign.

It is important to reflect on what, among other things, he signed on our behalf. He signed a treaty which at Article J.4.1 states:
"The Common Foreign and Security policy shall include all questions relating to security of the Union, including the eventual framing of a common defence policy, which might in time lead to a common defence".
So in the discussions post-Nice, let us, perhaps, hear no more cant from any Conservative spokesman about European defence co-operation.

Finally, there was the third of the treaties, the Amsterdam Treaty, for which I must give due praise to my right honourable friend the Prime Minister because I believe that he deserves substantial credit in that regard.

Such intergovernmental conferences or, rather, the subsequent treaty changes that emerge from them should, I believe, be seen as Treaty of Rome amendment Acts, bringing that treaty, the treaty which we, the British people ratified by referendum, up to date in the changing circumstances which include enlarged membership.

In anticipation of the Nice summit, the European Union Select Committee produced what I believe was an extremely useful report on the Nice intergovernmental conference in advance of that conference taking place. The report of the Select Committee pointed with abundant clarity to the organic link that existed between the next enlargement involving those current applicants who qualify and the necessary institutional changes to the European Union itself which had to be addressed but which had not been resolved at Amsterdam, the so-called Amsterdam left-overs.

Obligations, therefore, existed on both sides—on the side of the applicant countries and on the side of the European Union. Applicants had been told back in 1993, at the Copenhagen European summit that they had to satisfy the so-called Copenhagen criteria and those criteria are quite specific. I remind your Lordships what they were. The summit conclusions stated:
"Membership requires that the candidate countries has achieved stability of institutions, guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law. human rights and respect for and protection of minorities, the existence of a functioning market economy as well as the capacity to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the Union. Membership presupposes the candidate's ability to take on the obligations of membership, including adherence to the aims of political, economic and monetary union".
That was what we expected of applicant countries. All we had to do was to do at Nice that which we had singularly failed to do at Amsterdam; namely, to effect the institutional change.

The European Union obligation was quite specifically post-Amsterdam, attached to the Amsterdam Treaty as a protocol, a protocol on the institutions with the prospect of enlargement of the European Union. That protocol set out our agenda—the need to deal with both the size and composition of the Commission, and the reweighting of votes in the Council. To that agenda was added subsequently, by declaration, the consideration of a significant extension of recourse to qualified majority voting.

So the link of the outcome of Nice to enlargement was clear. The Treaty of Nice dealt fully with the Amsterdam left-overs and brings into effect the three main institutional reforms which need to be implemented as a precondition of enlargement.

The first is qualified majority voting. It serves our interests, as much as anybody else's, to see the extension of qualified majority voting into areas such as trade liberalisation and improved financial controls. That was done while safeguarding what were perceived as essential British interests in relation to the need for unanimity on treaty changes, border controls, defence, social security, taxation and own resources.

The second issue was the reweighting of votes in Council. In that regard, the increase, the first since Britain joined the European Union, in the strength of our votes in Council is to be welcomed. It was brought about by a Treaty of Nice which reweighted the votes of all member states to give greater weight to the proportional size of each member.

Thirdly, there was the Commission's size, which could in part be seen as a quid pro quo for the reweighting of votes in Council where we, together with the other larger countries which had two Commissioners, agreed that by 2005 we should give up our second Commissioner, that decision limiting the increase in the size of the Commission after enlargement.

Some people, not necessarily in your Lordships' House, have suggested that the extension of qualified majority voting is somehow wrong in principle. But I have referred to the earlier treaty changes and in those two treaty changes—those with which the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher, and the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, were heavily involved—there were no fewer than 42 extensions of qualified majority voting, 12 of them in the Single European Act of the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher and 30 in the Treaty of Maastricht. So in principle there is nothing sacrosanct about changes in qualified majority voting.

As I say, Nice was necessary to create the balanced equation. Nice fulfils the institutional reforms needed for enlargement while serving our essential interests; and the Copenhagen criteria outlined the obligations of the applicants in the enlargement negotiations.

I know that the Treaty of Nice covered other matters besides the Amsterdam left-overs—the charter of fundamental rights, enhanced co-operation, European defence, a subsequent IGC in 2004. All those issues are important, necessary and deserving of agreement but I shall not deal with them today as they are not directly linked to enlargement.

So we turn to the central question: why is the enlargement, which required so much preparation in the Nice summit, such an important goal and why is it worth so much effort? I say with absolute confidence that the peace, stability and security enjoyed by the overwhelming majority of the states who have been members of the European Union for over 50 years must now be extended to the countries of central and eastern Europe.

Enlargement, at the same time, brings a reduction in barriers to trade and business. The single market, on which the noble Baroness, Lady Thatcher, spent so much of her time, is a single market which will now grow with enlargement by up to 40 per cent to a market of 500 million consumers.

Enlargement increases our international competitiveness, with consequential benefits of both employment and consumer benefits. It also increases the rate of our economic growth. The whole process of enlargement reduces pressures which have been of great concern in your Lordships' House and in another place—the pressures for economic migration which currently exist in the countries of central and eastern Europe.

Additionally, the process of enlargement, by bringing applicants into the European Union and by bringing their police and border controls into line with our common standards, plays a significant role in aiding the fight against international crime. That boosts pan-European environmental standards. Also enlargement brings about great benefits in terms of culture, tourism and sport.

Finally, when we look at some of the benefits of the process of enlargement, more than anything the process entrenches democracy and underpins respect for human rights. However, we should not see enlargement as an act of altruism towards our neighbours. Enlargement is a process that serves our interests and our needs every bit as much as theirs.

In what I hope was a relatively rash moment—

My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, I agree with the thrust of his argument in relation to enlargement. However, when he talks about the benefits to trade, does he believe that it is extraordinary that a country like Estonia on joining the EU will have to increase tariffs, re-introduce subsidies on agriculture and raise taxes? Is that not a rather odd thing to have to do?

My Lords, that does not quite fit in with the thrust of what I was saying. It is a pity that the noble Lord did not have the foresight to put his name down on the speakers' list in order to give us directly his wisdom, so much of which rests on his experience of treaty enlargement negotiations—the Maastricht Treaty.

As I was saying, in what I hope was merely a rash moment of opposition politics Mr William Hague threatened to campaign against ratification of the Nice Treaty. I say, as seriously as I can, that I believe that such an act would not only be a betrayal of the hopes that successive governments in this country have encouraged in the applicant countries, but it would also be a betrayal of our self-interest.

This Government have done well by Europe in the Nice Treaty; they have done well by our national interests. But they have also served us well in honouring our commitments to the countries that are seeking to consolidate their futures in the democratic community through membership of the European Union. I believe that this Government deserve our support in that. They will certainly have mine. My Lords, I beg to move for Papers.

6.23 p.m.

My Lords, I am sure that all noble Lords feel indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Tomlinson, for having initiated this debate and for the elegant way in which he has done so.

Enlargement is a worthy aim and Nice was billed as the summit to prepare for it. It is sad to note that, in the event, no firm target date was set for the accession of a single country. There is no doubt at all that Mr Blair signed up to a whole raft of measures that will not hasten enlargement by one day. Indeed, much of what was agreed had nothing whatever to do with enlargement; some of what was agreed was calculated to make enlargement more difficult; and the really important obstacles to enlargement were not addressed at all.

The Times rightly suggested that the heads of government may have come out of the last meeting reciting the general confession from the Book of Common Prayer,
"We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done".
With their record it is a bit rich to argue, as some have, that those who say that the Nice Treaty should not be ratified while it includes matters that are completely irrelevant to and obstructive of enlargement are irresponsibly thwarting the ambitions of the applicant countries.

Of course, institutional change was necessary. The weighting of votes, the size of the Commission and the size of the Parliament are all matters to be addressed. It is hard to argue that the outcome was satisfactory. A Commission of up to 27 in number, when there are already more Commissioners than jobs to be done, and an even larger Parliament would look pretty absurd, but at least the heads of governments addressed the right problems. What on earth has the European Charter of Fundamental Rights to do with enlargement? The same can be said of the Rapid Reaction Force. With only seven minutes for my speech I cannot speak on that, much as I would like to do so.

Perhaps I can say a word about qualified majority voting. Some of the decisions, such as those regarding appointments and rules of procedure, seem sensible enough, but others certainly cannot be justified on the basis that without them an enlarged Union could not operate effectively. Those changes are calculated to increase the flood of unnecessary and damaging regulations, giving more and more power to the centre, when member states should have been trying to redeem some of the promises made at Maastricht and Amsterdam and make a reality of subsidiarity.

I make my point by referring to a few of the decisions on qualified majority voting. Article 191 enables regulations to be made governing political parties and, to the alarm of some, not only in regard to funding. More importantly, Article 13 deals with action to combat discrimination. That certainly has nothing to do with enlargement. Article 137 deals, among other things, with worker consultation and conditions of employment for third-country nationals. That does not contribute to enlargement. Article 144 involves the setting up of a committee to promote co-operation on social protection matters. Article 65 deals with judicial co-operation in civil matters. Article 159 deals with social and economic cohesion outside the structural funds. There is also the extension of EU competence in several home affairs matters.

Surely all those steps have in common the fact that they are all part of the remorseless move towards central government, the steady leaching of power from national governments to the centre. They will not make it easier for new members to join or for the EU to accept new members. It is demonstrably absurd to argue, as some have, that greater integration is necessary to make enlargement possible. One does not make it easier for new members to join a club by increasing the number of rules that they have to obey if they join. Instead of putting even more obstacles in the path of those wanting to be members and continuing to add to the acquis communautaire burden, it would have been more sensible for existing rules to be relaxed for new members. That would enable countries like Poland to join once they had agreed to abide by the EU's free market provisions, but without them having to conform to EU social policy. That would have been a much more constructive and sensible approach.

Then one comes to the biggest absurdity of all. Few would doubt that the most formidable barriers to enlargement are reform of the CAP and the budget, but neither was on the Nice agenda. Of course, it is true that the reform of the CAP did not require a treaty change, but plenty of matters were discussed that did not require a treaty change or an IGC. The other day, Mr Cook said that the reform of the CAP could not really be discussed and made a condition of enlargement because France would block the whole process. That is all very well, but how can enlargement work without reform? If the CAP were applied to Poland, where almost a quarter of the population live on small inefficient farms, the whole system would be at risk of collapse. That must be so, even after the changes agreed at the Berlin European Council. Perhaps the Minister will comment on that in reply.

What of the budget? If dramatic changes are not made to the structural, social and cohesion funds, will not the admission of the first-wave applicants mean a tripling of the budget? Is that correct? If it is, how on earth can that be sustainable? Surely it is a problem that needs to be solved before enlargement can take place.

I have almost reached the end of my time. I sincerely hope that those difficulties, great as they are, will be overcome and that, in spite of those difficulties, we shall soon be welcoming as members the countries of eastern Europe in particular, when we shall have a truly European community.

6.30 p.m.

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow my noble friend Lord Tomlinson in speaking in this debate from this side of the House.

I have, as always, listened to the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, with interest, affection and some nostalgia. With respect, he is in the position of somebody who, seeing a brick wall, has an irresistible urge to bang his head against it. I know of nothing that would have been more supportive of a complete stop to the negotiating process than a major discussion of the CAP at Nice. It seems to me that that would be the way to bring it to a halt. Perhaps the noble Lord does want to bring it to a halt. I give him credit at least for not wanting to. In my modest life on the fringes of international diplomacy, it has always seemed to me very unwise to take an unanswerable issue and run your head against it, only to find that the whole of the negotiations come crashing down around your head when you fail. It does not make sense.

The issue about the Treaty of Nice can be put in the form of one question; namely, was that treaty successful in making enlargement easier and more practical? Put the other way round, if the agreements had not been reached at Nice, would enlargement be more or less difficult? I believe that the answer to those two questions is clear.

Since we are in the seven minute rush in this debate, I fear that I shall not be able to make many of the points that I should have liked to advance, but I want to consider two issues. If enlargement had not been resolved at Nice, I do not think that it would have been as feasible as it is. The first issue concerns the size of the Commission; the second concerns qualified majority voting.

A Commission organised as it now is would clearly be unworkable even in a Union consisting of as many as 20-odd countries. One Commissioner per country is probably the best answer for the time being. I accept that. But I do not think that it will be a permanent measure. At some stage the issue of rotation will have to be considered. That is another issue which, had it been raised directly at Nice, would no doubt have made the negotiations much more difficult. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, would have liked it to be raised for that reason.

Some countries would not, in the long term, be able to have a Commissioner for the whole term of the Commission. The question would then arise which commissioners would leave, for how long, and what effect their absence would have. It has been suggested that consideration may be given to the model of the Security Council of the United Nations, comprising a core of permanent members and a number of non-permanent members who serve on the Security Council for two years and then retire. It would be difficult to translate that model into the European context. In the European Union one is dealing with a greater national pride and a greater sense of national identity than exists at the United Nations in New York.

There is also a danger that a country with no Commissioner may prove to be much more difficult in the Council. If a country had not raised issues in the Commission and those issues came before the Council, there might be a tendency for that country to say, "We had nothing to do with it in the Commission. We shall not have very much to do with it in the Council either". I have no solution to this problem. However, the point that I want to make is that the arrangements will not necessarily be permanent. The chances are that they will have to be revisited.

I turn briefly to the second issue about which I want to say a few words—qualified majority voting. If a community of six cannot effectively and efficiently operate without extensive majority voting, clearly a European Union of 12 or 15 or more cannot. Experience has shown that the unanimity requirement entrenches national blocking positions, even when they are not necessarily in the long term interest of the member states concerned. The failure to make progress towards a single market in the first 30 years of the European Union's existence very clearly illustrates that point.

The scope for using qualified majority voting often brings about a willingness to reach an agreement acceptable to all concerned, taking account of their positions. It is an impasse towards consensus. One should not underestimate, first, the importance of achieving a consensus in a group of institutions such as the European Union and, secondly, the pressure on individual countries to do precisely that.

I sometimes wonder why Britain is so scared of qualified majority voting. The figures are very interesting. Britain has on occasions found itself in a minority, and thus been voted down. But far more often it has been in a majority. In the period 1998 to 1999 there were 85 contested qualified majority votes. In that period Britain abstained or was in a minority on only five of those occasions. On the other 80, we found ourselves in a position of agreement with the majority that emerged. Important British interest can be furthered only if there is majority voting, not only for the completion of a single market but for moves to a liberal world trading system in goods and services and for reform of the common agricultural policy.

I want to say a brief word about sovereignty. I do not understand—I have tried to understand it and I shall persist in trying to understand it, but it defeats me—the passion with which eurosceptics hang on to the notion of sovereignty and hang on to what I perceive to be outdated political ideology and, in many cases, outdated political institutions. A very interesting article by Dominique Moisi was published in the Financial Times in January about Nice, about sovereignty and about what is happening in Europe. It states:
"On the final day of the Nice summit, the lead story on the evening news on France's public television network was not EU diplomacy but the latest scare over food safety. What they eat is more important to ordinary Europeans than the relative weighting of national representatives who speak for them.
"Similarly. for companies engaged in the competitive world of mergers and acquisitions. nationality matters less and less. In its place, the notion of culture prevails. A perverse logic is at work: the less sovereignty means in our modern, interdependent world, the more desperately we stick to it".
I believe that that principle is right. I hope that those who contemplate voting against the ratification of this treaty will take note of it.

6.38 p.m.

My Lords, I welcome this debate, initiated by the noble Lord, Lord Tomlinson. It gives us an opportunity to examine at least three important matters, now that we have been able to reflect a little on the results of the intergovernmental conference at Nice now that we have the final text; I received it today. In politics we receive a lot of instant reaction. Perhaps this House can make its contribution in the form of a more considered judgment.

The first question to be considered is whether there is genuine coherence and continuity in the sequence of intergovernmental conferences that have in recent years been held, and to some degree suffered, at least in terms of public perception of the European Union. In short, do we know where we are going? Intergovernmental conferences are extremely important. In some senses, they are constitutional conferences, intended to change either the division of responsibilities between the Union and the member states or the operation of the Union's powers and responsibilities. They are the exercise of the sovereignty of the member states which rule the European Union.

A recent reading of the Old Testament tempts me to express the situation as follows: Maastricht begat Amsterdam; Amsterdam begat Nice; and Nice is expected to beget another child in 2004. But are they planned babies—at least that in 2004? We shall see.

Secondly, we are now able to express a considered judgment on the main points which were decided at Nice. I should like to do that.

Thirdly, the completion of the Nice agenda makes it possible to set out more clearly the major priorities for action and politics in the EU in the coming years and how best to achieve them.

First among those is enlargement, which the noble Lord, Lord Tomlinson, so rightly stressed. In response to the wish of many countries and more than 100 million people to share in the success of the EU, we are approaching a major change. I believe that, among the priorities, the public in this country deserve to be told what are the current and future objectives of the Union and not be fed from a diet of yesterday's European leftovers. Perhaps the Government can estimate the date of the arrival of the first new member states. I know that negotiations are still in progress.

I turn to the continuity of the policy from Maastricht to Amsterdam, to Nice, and apparently to Brussels in 2004. The grandfather of those children, Maastricht, had as its principal objective the treaty underpinning economic and monetary union and the single currency. However, in this age of mass communication, it is instructive to remind ourselves how, on the one hand, the leaders of Europe underestimated the hesitations of the public and how, on the other, commentators, particularly in the United Kingdom, underestimated the drive of those leaders to achieve economic and monetary union and the single currency. Economic assessment should always be very cautious. That applies to me today and in the perspective of enlargement. But some of the negative comments on the birth of economic and monetary union already appear somewhat bizarre. The actual picture of the euro-zone seems to be very positive. There is a good growth rate; there is very low inflation; there is steadily falling unemployment; there is rising confidence in the perspectives for the economy, particularly in France, and there is a remarkable moderation in wage settlements. The euro-zone will probably have a budget surplus this year—I must say that I would never have forecast that—because budget discipline has been maintained, including in Italy, France and Greece.

Furthermore, there is a continuity of policy in the economic and monetary field. Perhaps before long we shall be able to say that the policy is like the internal market, at cruising speed, and begin to think about the application of economic and monetary union in the acceding countries of central and eastern Europe.

The actions which made inevitable Amsterdam and Nice were not in the economic field but in the so-called "political" changes in the treaty, because some of the Maastricht results were either demonstrably weak or difficult to operate. In addition, the treaty contained specific requirements to look again at the common foreign and security policy and defence. Thus there is again a continuous line from Amsterdam to the St Malo Declaration, the Cologne and Helsinki summits, and the decision to establish the EU capability of up to 60,000 troops for humanitarian and rescue tasks through to crisis management, including peacekeeping. We have discussed that in this House often enough.

I have travelled hopefully and I have now arrived at Nice. There, a new factor was enlargement. I believe that at that point the EU had woken up to enlargement. It had been around for quite some time, but the EU had by then woken up to it. In fact, Amsterdam did a lot for enlargement but it did not deal with the institutional issues. Those had to come to Nice, How then do we judge Nice? First, it achieved the political perception that potential barriers and difficulties for enlargement of the Union are now removed. It achieved that widely in Europe, perhaps with the sole exception of the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, and it is widely felt throughout Europe. That perception has not been dented in the period since Nice. It is worth a lot; it is a starting gun for enlargement about which I am pleased.

For the rest, the treaty changes will be examined carefully and will probably give rise to controversy. I can hear it already. I consider that for the most part they represent good housekeeping. The changes on voting weights are more favourable to the United Kingdom than is the present system, but they make it slightly harder to reach a QMV decision. The greater powers of the Commission President are a modest change. The number of Commissioners will be potentially restrained but we are not sure how. Qualified majority voting has been extended in relatively limited fields.

That sounds little more than faint praise. Overall, I take the view that what we have, or should have, for the Minister is loud applause for the expected impetus that the treaty will give to enlargement, and the "Good Housekeeping seal of approval" for much of the rest. However, I believe that in addition to potential benefits, there are risks from the rendezvous in 2004 and we shall need careful preplanning for that.

Finally, I hope that having passed this hurdle we shall make an effort to stress to the public what are the principal new priorities of the European Union now. They are enlargement to a more diverse Union; the success of economic and monetary union and the single currency, whether or not we are in; the Rapid Reaction Force; and new co-operation in the areas of immigration, asylum and the fight against drugs and crime. I have no hesitation in commending that programme to my fellow citizens.

6.47 p.m.

My Lords, like other speakers in the debate, I begin by congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Tomlinson, on introducing it. When before Christmas I compulsively turned on my television set, trying to discover from news bulletins the progress and outcome of the Nice Summit, I felt much as I do on election night. I knew that in reality a step-change in our political history was taking place.

Like election day, the outcome is not a success for a series of distinct policies; rather it is a triumph for a particular package of policies. In the run-up to the IGC, politicians and the media debated the merits, or lack of them, of this policy, that policy and the other policy. But once the IGC concludes, we move, as it were, from the a la carte menu to the plat du jour. We in Britain, and those in other member states, are now given an old-fashioned Hobson's choice; a choice of take it or leave it. The changes must be taken as a whole or not at all. While I favour some and not others, we no longer have the pleasure and luxury of picking fastidiously between them.

I happen to believe that there is no evidence to support the wilder claims of those who argue that this agreement presages a Dark Age of European centralisation. It is my view that, taken overall. Europe is constitutionally much the same as it was before, which is no doubt why the extreme euro-centralisers, the upholders of the true faith of the Monnet doctrine, are accusing the heads of state of betraying the pure doctrine of Europeanism. Indeed, I suspect that one of the main messages from the Nice process is that there is no unanimity at all about where we go from here.

It is true that defence policy is on the move. But I suspect that given the way the world is changing that is inevitable. I believe that the issue is not change in itself but rather ensuring that change is compatible with, subordinate to and at ease with NATO. It is remarkable how little these far-ranging political changes require constitutional change.

As has been said, it is true that the political framework of the Union was left at Amsterdam lo be adjusted at a subsequent IGC to provide an adequate framework for enlargement, which I believe to be the overriding political imperative of the day. It has been done—just—but the outcome is not a glorious one; it shifts the structure just sufficiently.

While the outcome of this IGC is a necessary pre-condition of enlargement, it is not by itself a sufficient precondition, but the world of political reality is the one step that we must now take to bring that about. Other changes need to be made before enlargement can occur, but essentially they are policy and not constitutional changes. For example, as my noble friend Lord Waddington pointed out, there must be CAP reform before enlargement. However, it is a little unfair to criticise Nice for not addressing that issue because at no point was it ever intended that it should. After events in Germany over the past few weeks, I begin to believe that it may be mad cows rather than mad policies that are the catalyst for that long-awaited and very desirable change.

From my work in the European Parliament I sense a concern throughout the European institutions, which I share, that at European level we cannot go on in a state of permanent constitutional revolution. After all, there is agreement for another IGC in 2004, which in practice means that preparations must start now. Somehow or other we must find a constitutional settlement which simplifies the rules of European governance and makes them as understandable and user-friendly as possible. That settlement must set up a more stable relationship between the work of individual members in their own countries and their collective efforts across the Union. We must put in place arrangements which serve our fellow citizens, not merely the political elite, advance democratic principles and the rule of law, protect diversity while preserving coherence and find a way to ensure that subsidiarity not only works but is seen and, therefore, believed to work.

In many ways, Nice was inglorious. Its outcome was a modest compromise brokered by a politically divided presidency, but in part its significance is that it helped to pave the way for enlargement. However, it may be that, with the benefit of hindsight, in the more medium term its very modesty will clearly show the importance of achieving a settlement in European affairs and bringing to an end the helter-skelter of ad hoc European political evolution. I believe that that is a very real challenge which is almost certainly more difficult than the issues under consideration at Nice itself.

As a nation we must now get to grips with the post-Nice agenda without nostalgia for the 1950s—an era that has long since vanished—and our inheritance of classic diplomatic intergovernmentalism. In short, I suspect that perhaps the greatest importance of Nice is that it triggered the post-Nice agenda. That agenda is a very big challenge both for those countries like our own which are now members and for those which want to join and have moved one small step closer to doing so as a result of the Nice treaty.

6.53 p.m.

My Lords, I too thank and congratulate my noble friend Lord Tomlinson for giving us this opportunity to debate Nice and enlargement after a period of reflection. Make no mistake: enlargement is a very big step and will have a major impact on all of us. My noble friend Lord Tomlinson reminded us that enlargement would make a major contribution to stability and security in Europe. I agree that it will encourage peace and democracy. There are implications for asylum and immigration. I refer not only to the movement of unskilled people but the luring away of educated people from new members. There are also implications for crime and drugs and the environment. Clearly, double standards over environmental policy would be unacceptable. However, I believe that, on balance, peace, democracy and stability and the co-operation that results will help to resolve the issues and that the effort will be worth while.

What about the economy? Certainly, companies will benefit by having access to a larger single market, especially one that demands greater investment in infrastructure and more consumer goods. But there will also be more price and wage competition. More outsourcing to eastern Europe will mean the loss of more manufacturing jobs in western Europe. However, globalisation is now unstoppable with or without enlargement. Enlargement will bring globalisation to eastern Europe in a more orderly manner, in much the same way that the United States ordered its relationship with Mexico. Therefore, I believe that business will welcome enlargement, because in the end consumers will benefit both within the Union as it is today and in an enlarged Europe.

What about agriculture? Obviously, the CAP must be renegotiated before enlargement can take place. As my noble friend Lord Richard said, it must be at the right time. But is that a bad thing? I do not believe that it is. Renegotiation of the CAP is long overdue. Enlargement will not be easy, but on balance I believe it is right that it should go forward. With that in mind, how should we look back at Nice? Frankly, with mixed feelings. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Williamson, that Nice signalled that enlargement would happen and the British negotiators achieved their immediate objectives. We increased our voting power. My noble friend Lord Tomlinson reminded us that we preserved our veto on tax, social security, defence, border controls and treaty changes. We also secured QMV where it was in our interests so to do. But the manner in which that was done left a nasty taste. The spectacle of all 15 members scrambling for position was, frankly, embarrassing. There was very little intergovernmental co-operation but just self-interested bargaining between individual member states. Alliances were based on need and usually lasted just for a single issue. There was little demonstration that countries took a broader view of their common interests.

The noble Lord, Lord Waddington, may have a point that bargaining over voting power has the effect of adding further complications to the passing of new laws. The noble Lord is concerned that Europe is becoming a superstate. These are not the actions of a superstate.

Where do we go from here? A decision in principle has been made about enlargement but it is not a coherent one. Therefore, we need a clear sense of direction from the Government and a perception that enlargement is proceeding. There must first be moves towards intergovernmental co-operation. That has already begun with this week's announcement of co-operation on external frontiers and fighting drugs and crime. I believe that the British public will view action on those issues as a welcome demonstration of intergovernmental co-operation.

Agriculture: obviously, there must be a long and difficult transitional period and, therefore, we need to start talking soon.

Business and industry require some kind of road map for enlargement. Business will require a much clearer time frame if it is to plan its investment and development in a larger economic zone. Business will also ask for clarification of the division of power between the regions, national governments and the EU so that it knows with whom it must work on business projects. However, I believe that the most important way to give direction to the perception that enlargement is proceeding is to ensure the fair treatment of applicant countries. One reason why Nice left an unpleasant taste in my mouth was the way that the present members tried to allocate fewer votes to future members than their populations merited. I believe that that exploited power in an unwarranted way.

I hope that the Government will make clear that at the next constitutional conference in 2004 candidates for membership will be invited to attend and participate, not merely as observers, irrespective of the state of the negotiations. If applicants are to go through all the hoops to become members it is only right that they should be consulted on the rules of the organisation that they are to join. Perhaps if General de Gaulle had taken that attitude there would today be a much smaller hard core of anti-Europeans in this country. After Nice one thing is clear: we cannot choose to ignore enlargement; we can only choose not to act, and that would be a mistake.

7 p.m.

My Lords, this Motion, for which we are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Tomlinson, invites us to consider two matters which, as the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, pointed out, are only partly interrelated—the Nice Treaty and the case for EU enlargement. Because the English translation of the final draft of the treaty has only just reached your Lordships' House, it is difficult to tackle the first issue effectively. No doubt that is why so many noble Lords one might have expected to be here today did not put down their names to speak. Even with the sketchy amount of small print which was not available to us until just the other day, it seems clear that the treaty is not nearly as innocuous as was claimed a few weeks ago.

There are many worrying aspects, including the sinister proposed Article 7. I should like the Minister to comment on one aspect in particular when she comes to reply; that is the proposal to regulate—in other words to fetter—EU-wide political parties. Is that not likely to lead to an eventual ban on parties which press for the retention or restoration of national sovereignty and which resist further integration? Of course the Government's hands will be largely tied, since they foolishly, in my view, agreed to abandon the veto in this area, as well as 38 others, with few real benefits being received in return.

Perhaps I may now turn to the second part of the Motion—the case for EU enlargement. I am a pro-European in the true sense of the word. First, for the obvious reasons that we have always been culturally and, for the most part, ethnically European; and, secondly, as a result of experience. I was first taken to continental Europe at the age of five; I started to go myself at the age of 15; and have gone innumerable times since. With five exceptions—Iceland, Poland, alas, Lithuania, Romania and Bulgaria—I have visited every country in Europe and can claim to know seven or eight reasonably well, including Turkey.

I like the people of the Continent, although not always their governments, in the same proportion broadly as I like the people of this country; in other words, very much more often than not. If the ordinary people of the Continent had been given the chance to decide by referendum whether British greengrocers should be allowed to go on selling apples and potatoes in imperial measurements, I have no doubt that 90 per cent, or possibly 95 per cent of them, would have said yes. But, of course, the decision was not in their hands but in the hands of an unrepresentative bossy elite.

It follows that I wish the people of the Continent well, particularly those of the applicant countries. It would be sad if they embarked on a course which might appear attractive now but which they might later come to regret. I do not think they would regret things if they entered into a fair and balanced—with the accent on fair—free trade agreement with the EU, or if they joined NATO. That is a step which would greatly reassure those applicant countries which fear a still heavily-armed Russian federation, Libya, or any other potential military threat. But I am far from sure that it would be to their net benefit to join an EU where, as the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood intimated, subsidiarity is a sick joke; where the CAP remains unreformed; and where the voracious expansion of the acquis communautaire ensures that the EU and its agencies continue to poke their noses into the nooks and crannies of people's everyday lives instead of merely ensuring that the single market functions smoothly. Indeed, that very point was made by an EU Commissioner, Frits Bolkestein, only two days ago.

When I was in Malta in December—a country I have known for 35 years—a great row was brewing because the EU had ordered the country as a condition of entry to alter its waste disposal arrangements at great cost. It is not as if Malta were dumping its rubbish in the Mediterranean only to wash up on the shores of Sicily. In such an event the EU would have every right to interfere. No, it was a purely internal matter and accordingly no business of the Greeks, the Swedes, the Belgians, or, for that matter, the British. No wonder opinion polls now show only 50 per cent of the Maltese want to join the EU, with 40 per cent opposed.

It is no wonder, too, that 46 per cent of Estonians are now opposed to joining the EU. Not only do they and other applicants now realise that they will not be in line for the largesse which so much benefited the Greeks, the Spanish, the Portuguese and the Republic of Ireland, but they stand to be treated as second class citizens if they join. Estonia has 1.42 million inhabitants, yet, as a consequence of backroom deals done at Nice, it has been allocated no more seats in the European Parliament and no more votes in the Council of Ministers than Luxembourg, which has only 30 per cent of the population of Estonia. To a lesser degree, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania are also unfairly treated, even if, for some reason, Lithuania fares quite well.

As for those in the applicant countries who remain keen on joining, in my estimation a good proportion comprise well-educated young people who are less concerned with the long-term good of their country than with their own career prospects. That is perhaps understandable. They want to be able to seek work in London, Paris, Milan or Frankfurt without the hassle of visas or work permits. However, they have probably not yet realised that the Germans and the Austrians want to keep them out of the EU by demanding a seven-year moratorium, post accession, on labour mobility. So much for the spirit of European brotherhood which the EU claims to foster!

7.6 p.m.

My Lords, I begin by thanking my noble friend Lord Tomlinson for initiating the debate.

The agreements reached at Nice removed the last institutional barriers to enlargement—the Amsterdam leftovers—which is a cause for much satisfaction. The sighs of relief in the applicant countries have been audible. But there still remain formidable obstacles on the path to accession, as the candidate countries, to their intense frustration, are only too aware. When we speak, as we do, of enlargement as inevitable, that inevitability removes the word "if", but it still fails to answer the question "When?".

We should constantly bear in mind that public enthusiasm for accession in the applicant countries may still be wide, but in many counties it is not deep. That is true of Poland and the Czech Republic among others. Some countries have been preparing for membership for a decade now. They have done so with a conscientiousness not always complemented by an equivalent degree of commitment among some interlocutors within the Union. Protestations of support for enlargement among the existing members have sometimes been longer on rhetoric than they are on action.

I ask why the Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom and Sweden in a joint article published in the Financial Times on 21st November 2000, stated that,
"the European Union should consider setting an early target date for the first accessions".
I ask why because I fear that this is another example of the hopes of the applicant countries being raised, only to be frustrated by subsequent shifts in policy. The Swedish presidency is to be praised for making enlargement its overriding priority, but it appears to have no plans to set during its presidency target dates for the conclusion of negotiations with any of the applicants. That is obviously a serious disappointment for the leading candidates and little encouragement for those who follow them. Will the Belgian presidency prove equally hesitant?

That said, I certainly take off my hat to Sweden's Foreign Minister, Anna Lindh, for her declared preparedness to move ahead of the indicative programme agreed at Nice and to bring forward, if possible, the launch of negotiations on some of the toughest issues, such as agriculture, regional policy, and justice and home affairs. That of course will depend critically on the applicant countries making available in time the information needed to let the negotiations proceed. That should not be beyond their capabilities, but the setting of target dates for completion and then entry would surely provide an extra incentive, not just to the applicants but to their EU interlocutors as well. It would certainly do wonders for public opinion in the applicant countries.

If the European Union governments are sincere in their wish to see the first wave of new entrants become members in time to participate in the European Parliament's elections in 2004, the new entrants will need, in view of the ratification process, to complete negotiations some time in 2003. If that is the intention, the Swedish presidency would do well not to let its presidency slip past without setting out a realistic timetable and seeking the European Union's and the candidate's commitment to stick to it. Some argue that target dates take the pressure off. I profoundly disagree. Let us not forget that the setting of, and strict adherence to, a precise timetable for the launch of European and monetary union contributed greatly to the ultimate keeping of the rendezvous with the single currency. I urge Her Majesty's Government, therefore, to encourage Sweden and all others to set out a calendar that is realistic and stringent.

In a seven-minute intervention one can touch only lightly on even the most important issues. Perhaps I may therefore list my further concerns about the enlargement process in the form of brief questions, not all of which I expect my noble friend the Minister to answer, because at present not all of them can be answered.

First, will the member governments of the Union do more to counter the spreading of unfounded fears that enlargement to the east will result in massive migration to western Europe and catastrophic loss of jobs? There is no credible evidence to sustain that prediction.

Secondly, will countries such as Germany take fully into account the difficulties faced by some applicant countries over the requirement to establish rigid frontiers with neighbouring countries with which they have currently very open relations? I am thinking in particular of Poland and Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, assuming that the first is the earlier entrant, and Hungary, with its Hungarian ethnic minority, and Romania.

Thirdly, will Her Majesty's Government be vigilant in ensuring that applicant countries are party to any discussions on further EU reform that may follow the foreseen agreement at Laaken under the Belgian presidency in December 2001 where the content, calendar and working methods of such reform discussions will be decided? It goes without saying that they must be parties to the 2004 IGC.

Fourthly, will governments bear in mind, as the Swedish presidency has, that Spain has already warned that it will find it hard to broker a deal on the share-out of regional funds—a very sensitive issue for Spain—if that is still on the negotiating agenda when Spain takes over the presidency after Belgium in January 2002?

Fifthly, and most importantly, will Her Majesty's Government please not accept as inevitable that at France's demand there can be no opening of discussion on the reform of the CAP until after France's 2002 presidential elections? The costs of the BSE crisis in Europe risk blowing the CAP apart anyway, so why not bite the bullet and get down to the reform without further political prevarication?

Those are but a few of my concerns. They are all problems that will not easily be solved. But they can be, and must be. The objectives of enlargement demand that. But we are not just talking about peace and security on the continent of Europe. In that context, I quote President Kwasniewski of Poland, writing in a recent edition of European Voice. He wrote:
"At the end of the 20th century, another obstacle to unification disappeared: the threat of East-West confrontation. Integration became something more than just a remedy for the evil which Europe had imposed on itself. It became a means by which to pursue joint interests, an expression of the common identity of the Europeans".
Later in the article he wrote:
"The time has come to say that the Union will not threaten the existence of the nation-state. It is instead a projection of nations in a wider geopolitical space. The success of the European Union depends on a synergy of all that individual nations contribute".
We must not delay in opening the door to those now free, democratic nations which have so much to contribute.

7.13 p.m.

My Lords, I want to discuss a part of the Treaty of Nice which I believe will certainly be seen by the applicant countries as a factor linked to enlargement. I refer to the part on security and defence policy.

I have a preliminary problem in discussing this subject. My problem is finding a name for the organisation that is proposed. It started by being referred to as a European army. That was banned as being unsuitable. It then became a European rapid reaction force. The Secretary of State for Defence has made it perfectly clear that he does not like that either. I asked the Ministry of Defence what it is called. The answer was "a pool of capabilities". That does not seem to have exactly the ring required for an organisation of this kind. So, in order that we may discuss the matter with greater ease, I ask the noble Baroness who is to reply whether she has a name for it; and if she does not, will she ask the Ministry of Defence whether it can produce one, preferably a name with some tone to it?

The leading document on the subject is the presidency conclusions. Those reached us very recently—slightly before the treaty itself. The French version reached us late in January; the English version, only late last week. What is the status of the presidency conclusions? I have never been able to discover that. Were they agreed by the conference itself? Have they been written by the French Government since the conference? Have they been agreed between the European Union members? Do their proposals constitute something for discussion with NATO? They are extremely relevant to NATO. If so, are they subject to alteration?

I am in favour of Europe playing a bigger role in its own defence and I have taken that view all working life. But I believe that this particular project has serious defects. In my recollection, it was first given strong support at St Malo, when the Prime Minister met President Chirac. In making the proposal, the Prime Minister reversed the line he had taken far the previous two years. The central problem with the proposal seems to be that France and the United Kingdom see in different ways what for convenience I shall call the rapid reaction force. France wants something distinctly separate from NATO. That is consistent with its long-standing desire to reduce the influence of the United States in Europe. The United Kingdom, I believe correctly, wants to see the organisation as close as possible to NATO, perhaps even within NATO. That creates a tension which is clear in reading the presidency conclusions. This issue is at the centre of United States concerns. We should have no doubt that the Americans are concerned.

Mr Rumsfeld, in Munich last weekend, said that he was "a little worried" by the proposals for the rapid reaction force. He went on to say:
"Actions that could reduce NATO's effectiveness by confusing duplication or perturbing the transatlantic link would not be positive".
Coming from the United States Secretary of Defense, those are fairly strong words.

General Colin Powell, whom the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs saw yesterday, putting his best face on it, said, as reported in The Times today:
"I think if we approach the European Strategic Defence Initiative [ESDI] with an understanding that it's firmly embedded in Nato, there's no reason to see this as destabilising".
He went on to say that the all-European force must not duplicate NATO planning structures and must augment the overall military capacity of both NATO and the European Union.

I believe that the present proposal fails both the tests put forward by General Powell. The presidency conclusions lay great emphasis on the autonomy of the European Union. They propose two separate military organisations—one from the European Union and one from NATO—running all the way down the line. That is clumsy, costly and unnecessary.

As I see it, the Americans are concerned for three reasons. First, they believe that the proposed structure will produce bureaucratic confusion. Secondly, it will cost more and will therefore impose an extra burden on the defence budgets of the European Union countries, which are greatly inadequate anyway, as I believe many of us agree. Thirdly, the Americans are concerned about the possibility of the development of a European organisation parallel to NATO which could mean at some stage a European group putting up a united front in opposition to the United States. Those are legitimate concerns and I believe that the proposal should be radically re-examined.

7.20 p.m.

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Tomlinson for making this debate possible. Around 18 months ago, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a conference organised by the British Council in Prague. Its theme was European enlargement. I should like to remark on the contrast between the aspirations for enlargement felt by the many people from eastern European countries attending the conference and the rather more detached and somewhat remote attitude demonstrated by those attending from western Europe. For the people of the eastern countries, enlargement of the EU and the ability of their countries to join the Union was the most overwhelmingly important item on their countries' respective political agendas. I was left with the feeling that enlargement was important not only for them, but also for the European Union as a whole and, more specifically, for this country.

As a consequence, I helped to establish an all-party European Union accession group which covers those who are keen on matters European and those who are a little more sceptical but nevertheless agree about the benefits of enlargement. I am grateful for the help given to the group by the ambassadors of a number of candidate countries. I hope that it is in order to mention them. I am delighted that the ambassadors from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have found the time to attend our debate this evening.

In the short time available, it will not be possible to deal with the specific issues of Cyprus, Malta and perhaps even Turkey, so I shall confine my remarks to the eastern European candidate countries. I believe that enlargement will bring enormous benefits to this country and to the European Union as a whole. The EU will then become the world's largest market. Enlargement will help to build the co-operation needed to tackle organised crime and drug trafficking and will help to improve environmental standards, so sadly neglected by the communist regimes of eastern Europe but now costly for the accession countries to remedy. High economic growth will result for the EU. British companies will benefit from access to a larger market. They will also benefit from increased competitiveness, which will be necessary through the enlarged market. I shall be interested to hear the Minister's response to this point, but I believe that we shall see reduced migration pressures, while democracy and human rights will become more firmly entrenched.

The timetable for all these developments is crucial. I look for a date to be set enabling the first wave of countries to join and take part in the European elections in 2004. That will set the standard by which various dates can be measured. It means that 1st January 2003 will probably become the latest date for acceptance, with ratification being completed soon afterwards, provided that parliaments throughout the EU work quickly. The June 2001 summit in Gothenburg will therefore represent an important benchmark in the process. It is important to bear in mind these dates, otherwise we shall see slippage.

It is worth noting that some of the countries included in the first wave—I refer in particular to Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary—already increase their import and export trade with the European Union year on year. Slovakia, which started a little later, has also made rapid progress in moving towards increased trade and meeting the accession criteria.

I appreciate that agriculture presents a difficulty. While I was a Minister in Northern Ireland with responsibility for agriculture, I was able to attend some of the discussions held by the Agriculture Council in Brussels, in particular when Agenda 2000 was being debated. I have to say that if the negotiating position of the British Government—as it was put forward by my right honourable friend Nick Brown—had been accepted in full, we would have moved much further along the way to dealing with the difficult problems posed by the CAP. He pushed that issue very hard indeed. I believe that the forthcoming World Trade Organisation negotiations will also be helpful in this respect. I see CAP reform as a process on which we have already embarked and which we must continue to pursue. It will need to be developed further after the accession countries have joined.

Poland has the largest agricultural element among the first wave of accession countries. At present, it has to compete with EU-subsidised agriculture, which does not help it in its agricultural restructuring programme. Britain has a responsibility to offer legal advice and help, especially as regards trade and commerce—also matters which are costly for the accession countries. Indeed, it is worth remarking that Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary have already established links with western Europe through their membership of NATO.

Perhaps I may conclude by saying this. The EU must also concern itself with values: human rights, democracy and the upholding of certain standards we accept as normal but which were denied to the eastern European countries through the years under communism. The accession countries want to embrace these values and are moving rapidly towards achieving them. After the long, bleak years of communism, the accession countries want to rejoin a democratic Europe in its fullest sense. I believe that we have a responsibility—a moral obligation—to welcome them into the European Union as friends and allies. In turn, the accession countries will gain in political and economic stability. Membership of the European Union will help them in the important but difficult process of modernisation.

I know that the Government are supportive of this development, but I should like them to demonstrate their enthusiastic support. I hope that this debate will help to reinforce the Government's position; namely, that we need to move forward as soon as possible.

7.26 p.m.

My Lords, I welcome this short debate and I hope that the House will continue to follow the issues as we move from this conference on to the next intergovernmental conference in 2004. I should like to make three main points in my short contribution.

First, there are clear limitations to the intergovernmental haggling approach which we witnessed in all its gory detail at Nice. Afterwards, the British Prime Minister's remark to the effect that, "We cannot go on like this", is one that needs to be repeated. The European Union needs to have a more effective and efficient institutional structure. It is a major issue and one which we shall have to keep on debating from now until 2004.

Secondly, the IGC was marked by a clear change of atmosphere on the subject of enlargement. A number of member governments were still in denial that enlargement was going to take place until shortly before the Nice Summit. It now appears that enlargement is going to take place. From now on, we are considering an institution which, within three or four years, will have more than 20 members.

Thirdly, clear commitments were made to hold another intergovernmental conference in 2004 and to continue with an active debate on what the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, described as the "post-Nice agenda". That debate should be conducted as openly and widely as possible. It should involve national parliaments, the public and it should engage the candidate states.

The German Chancellor, reporting in detail on the Nice Treaty to the Bundestag on 19th January, stated that:
"We thus made it clear that we intend to continue to reflect on Europe. … I would just like to mention the demarcation of competences between the national and European level, the division of powers between institutions in Brussels, the future status of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, the reorganizing of the treaties and the role of national parliaments".
As we all know, the first "stocktaking" of progress on this debate is due to take place in December of this year at the Laaken European Council. Various reports stated that the British Government were unhappy about holding the debate in public and had exerted extreme pressure on Joschka Fischer, the German Foreign Minister, not to raise difficult questions during his visit to Britain a few weeks ago. I thought that that was extremely unfortunate. I hope, at the very least, that after the forthcoming general election—whenever it is held—that the British Government will overcome their fear of the media and launch a more active debate. Perhaps we could even look forward to a White Paper from the Foreign Office on this issue. It would help to move the debate forward.

I welcome the progress on enlargement. From now on, we are operating on the basis that we shall have a Community which, within four or five years, will embrace more than 20 members. Within six or seven years, the membership will have moved on to 25 or even 27 and beyond. I should like to emphasise that we are now engaged in a long-term process.

A minor decision taken at the Nice European Council which will have long-term implications concerned the expansion of the European Conference to include not only Turkey, but also Iceland and Norway, the countries of the western Balkans and perhaps, in time, the Ukraine. The stability pact for south-eastern Europe clearly implies that in time—and that means 15 or 20 years ahead—Albania, Macedonia and the other states will eventually become members of the European community. That long-term commitment will cost a lot of money and we need to make sure that we all understand its long-term implications.

I praise the Commission for pressing forward with negotiations even when member governments have not been entirely happy with the speed at which they have been progressing, and for its clear commitment that these negotiations will conclude by the end of 2002. I very much hope that Her Majesty's Government will give the Commission every support in making sure that that progress is maintained.

However, I should like to flag that there are some problems ahead. Her Majesty's Government and others have not been giving sufficient importance to the delicacy of the position of Turkey. There is a real danger that the member governments will pretend to negotiate with Turkey and the Turkish Government will pretend to be moving towards accepting the Copenhagen conditions. We now need to give relations with Turkey as much importance almost as we are giving to relations with Poland if we are to prevent the Turkish question becoming a major problem within the next two or three years.

The post-Nice agenda clearly needs to start with a review of where we have now got to with the successes and the failures of the Nice Treaty. As the noble Lords, Lord Waddington and Lord Richard, said, the Commission as a college is clearly still too large. It will be absurdly large if we move towards a European Union with 25, 27, perhaps eventually 30 plus members.

The first step, however, has now been taken. The idea that there will not necessarily be one commissioner for every state has been accepted in principle. I hope that the British Government will now agree with the French that an efficient commission needs to be much smaller. The way forward has to be to strengthen the role of the permanent representatives in Brussels as the representatives of their states in the European policy process, and to move towards a small college of nine or 11, as the French and others have proposed.

I regret that, in the haggling, the French presidency allowed the European Parliament to become oversized. I hope that the Government will attempt to pull that back. I note that Her Majesty's Government, among others, are proposing that the role of national parliaments should be strengthened in various ways, and I welcome the current inquiry of your Lordships' European Union Committee.

Perhaps I may suggest to the Government that they should take on board and push the question of the seats of the institutions. At four o'clock in the morning on the last day of the Nice Treaty hagglings, the Belgians got a concession—which they may well live to regret—that, of the European Councils, two will in future be held in Brussels and eventually all four will be held in Brussels. It seems to me that there is a lot of haggling one could do the next time round about perhaps transferring the European Councils to Strasbourg. This would allow the European Parliament to meet in Brussels in future—which would be rather more efficient—and stop the absurd trek of the European Parliament's offices between Luxembourg, Strasbourg and Brussels. We need efficient and effective European institutions.

I note that there has been some further development in justice and home affairs. I have seen almost no press comment that Articles 29 to 31 of the Nice Treaty establish a European judicial co-operation unit, the so-called "Eurojust". I hope that one of the sub-committees of your Lordships' European Union Committee will look at the implications of that.

I noticed also that there was some further progress on European security and defence policy, although I regret that—as it was reported in a number of other national newspapers—at the request of the British Government, this was underplayed because they did not wish to embarrass the British media.

I also strongly regret that qualified majority voting on structural funds failed because of Spanish opposition. I hope that Her Majesty's Government will attempt to reverse that decision well before enlargement.

We are heading towards a constitutional framework, and that is what we have to discuss in the post-Nice agenda. That ought not to frighten us. I recall that the noble Lord, Lord Hurd, when he was Foreign Secretary, once said—when he thought that there were no reporters present—that we should now regard the Treaty of Rome as part of the British constitution. That is the state we have got to and, therefore, we need to make sure that Europe, as well as the United Kingdom, has a properly organised constitutional structure.

That would require Her Majesty's Government to take an active role in leading public debate on the implications of enlargement and on the structure of the institutions needed both at home and abroad. That means not only prime ministerial speeches in Warsaw but prime ministerial speeches also, please, in London, Manchester and Edinburgh—and, as the Spanish need to be alerted to the concessions they will have to make, they need to be made in Madrid. Her Majesty's Government need to maintain pressure on other governments for completion of enlargement negotiations.

What does this require of the Conservatives? We have to hope that after the election they will accept that Britain is in Europe, not half-way across the Atlantic; that the European region requires efficient and effective multilateral institutions; and that they will overcome their hysteria over any suggestion that the sharing of power among different levels of government, either within the United Kingdom or within the European region, unavoidably has some federal characteristics—particularly when they are so enthusiastic about drawing Britain much closer instead to the United States, which is a strong federation, and to Canada, which is a loose federation.

7.36 p.m.

My Lords, we are all very grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Tomlinson, for introducing the debate. We are grateful, too, that the treaty, in English, arrived in time for us to study it before the debate. The last time we debated a treaty—the Amsterdam Treaty—there was a document before us which set out in great detail the effect that all the amendments in the new treaty had on the existing treaty's structure. Before we debate this matter again—and I trust that we shall debate it many times before a Bill comes before the House, if and when a Bill comes before the House—I hope that we will have such a document. It makes it much easier to know which way we are going.

One would not expect it, but this debate is taking place against a background of a raging debate throughout the whole of Europe—in both the applicant state area and the existing EU—about the future structure of the European Union. The noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, quite rightly referred to this, but it does not seem to be prominent in the Government's thinking or their publicity. The battle is between the integrationists, who think that the old model of more and more central power is the right way forward, and the inter-governmentalists, who are putting the brakes on. They may have been in favour of qualified majority voting in the past, but they are saying enough is enough, which is a reasonable comment to make. It is not only the British who are saying that.

I, personally, think that both models are out of date and that it will emerge in due course that the true path to European unity lies along lines which have not come into government discussion or perception—although, as I shall explain in a moment, one or two forward thinking research institutes, including those supported by the Government, are beginning to understand what is driving European unity, and it is not an endless series of treaty making and treaty structures.

There should be no doubt that we on this side of the House believe very strongly in enlargement. We think that the Europe of the future needs the nations of central Europe just as much as the nations of central Europe want to be part of the Union, as the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, so eloquently said. We note the proposition before us in the debate that the Nice Treaty, the various protocols and the presidential conclusions removed the obstacles to enlargement. I wonder whether confidence of that kind is wise. It may be enthusiastic, but is it wise to hold that view with such simplistic zeal? As the noble Lord, Lord Grenfell, reminded us, there is a long way to go. As any discussions in London with any of the ambassadors of these countries—let alone any visits to their capitals—will reveal, the path still looks extremely long and the obstacles substantial.

Of course, the biggest obstacle—we should not pretend otherwise—is the whole agriculture support question, the common agricultural policy. Poland has more farmers than the United Kingdom, France and Germany put together. This is a huge task ahead of us. Now, on top of that, comes BSE, smashing the whole structure of the agricultural budget. This is an obstacle that towers above anything that may have been resolved by the odd protocol coming out of Nice about institutional reform. Although those matters are important, this is 10 times more so. The budget is still 44 billion euros. Although that is less than it was, it is still enormous. One has even heard suggestions from Belgium and other countries that, in order to meet the extra costs, a new tax on the citizens of Europe must be required. These are frightening prospects, and ones that have not yet been addressed.

In addition, as my noble friend Lord Waddington said with great eloquence and clarity, it is not only a question of reforming the CAP. The arithmetic of the budget must be addressed. It simply does not add up without changes to the structural and cohesion funds which, again, have not been addressed. If we are really interested in obstacles and in the path to enlargement, that is where we should focus our attention.

When we are asked to accept that Nice was the magic curtain raiser to enlargement, we have to point out that it also added new obstacles along the path. Everyone knows that the acquis communautaire is an enormous meal for the applicant countries to digest— and they may not all succeed. The Nice treaty made it substantially larger in adding to the acquis communautaire.

It is no more than common sense, as my noble friends pointed out, that the more decisions are organised centrally in the European context, the more difficult it will be to accommodate the enormous diversity of an enlarged Europe. Enlargement will bring in all kinds of new cultures, methods and patterns. It will bring in new labour standards and a vast range of matters in relation to which uniformity and standardisation will be the impossible enemy. So we should not merely accept the proposition that Nice equals the magic route to enlargement. It clearly does not. There are other major problems. It is unwise not to focus on those but merely to satisfy oneself with the lesser idea that Nice solves the whole matter.

The Nice treaty also paved the way for the European Commission to have a role in the controversial area of defence matters. That is another worrying development. Again, the applicant countries want to join a security structure based in NATO and in the Atlantic Alliance. Many people, particularly in Poland, are horrified that, just as they are arriving, they are finding the NATO structure thrown into question and, as my noble friend Lord Blaker said, full of new ambiguities.

Quite where we stand, I do not know. The Foreign Secretary, who is extremely agile in these matters, appeared to be telling the story in Washington yesterday (as quoted in The Times) to General Colin Powell that the new plan is firmly anchored in NATO. Tell that to the Turks, or to the Norwegians! They will not believe it. They have found that, although key members of NATO, they are not attached to a firm anchor. We must be clear as to what was really being proposed. Was it the St Malo formula; or have we retreated to something different? Before judging the virtues of the Nice summit, we must get that straight.

As the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, and other speakers mentioned, the Nice summit pointed the way to the forthcoming intergovernmental conference, which is billed as a kind of constitutional conference. There are those among the Europe-builders who want to see the European Charter of Fundamental Rights made mandatory, on top of the European Convention on Human Rights. This is something that we need to watch carefully in the interests of the applicant countries, which, again, are finding difficulties in meeting all these standards and which now see another great layer of standards placed before them that they must achieve.

I strongly share the view that the applicant states should be brought into the process now—not, as the treaty says, "in ways to be defined". That is too vague. They should be involved now in a structure that will be their lives and their European Union as well as ours. I have no difficulty in seeing the treaties as a kind of constitution. That is indeed what they are for Europe. Nor do I have difficulty with the idea, although it may be hard to achieve, that we are to have to simplified treaties.

Commissioner Bolkestein, who talks a great deal of sense, said yesterday that there is still,
"a danger of a creeping process of more and more things becoming the subject of legislation in Brussels".
He is absolutely right. He went on to say:
"Federalism is something we should forget about".
Perhaps the federalism scare is going away. It has certainly been there. The people of Europe have long since rejected the idea. The truth is that the federal model is failing.

We have been polite about Nice in this debate. Nevertheless, we know that the comments outside are that the Nice summit was badly botched and that there was little unanimity. I quote my noble friend Lord Inglewood. There are still all kinds of divisive issues at work which undermine the feeling of those of us who have always worked for a stronger Europe but who feel that some of the ideals are now being ground to dust under the present model and the present patterns of officialdom.

For me, the unlocking insight into what will happen next in Europe—this may help those who are in a "mental maze" as regards the European construction—is that we are not going to get a completed Europe; there is not a final destination, as Commissioner Barnier has been quoted as saying. That kind of Cartesian logic does not operate. The Europe that we shall see will possibly be one of several structures. The Economic and Social Research Council has conducted some fascinating studies in which it argues that,
"On a collective basis, in both in the European Union and other European institutions, novel forms of policy-making are being attempted".
The council goes on to question the whole doctrine of the acquis communautaire. The year 2004 will be an opportunity for new thinking for a diverse kind of Europe, not one in which one size fits all—a Europe in which nation states will be more important than ever as the bedrock of stability and identity.

In conclusion, you cannot bind people together by forcing people together. The apologists for Nice seem not to have learnt that; however, I believe that the rest of the people of Europe have.

7.47 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
(Baroness Scotland of Asthal)

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Tomlinson, for introducing the debate, and for his spirited canter through the history that brought us to Nice and the vision for the future. I find myself echoing much of what the noble Lord said.

I should say straightaway that the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, was right to remind the House that the CAP was never meant to be part of the Nice agenda. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, that the Government are fully committed to EU enlargement and to CAP reform. Further CAP reform is clearly desirable, but it is not necessary for enlargement to take place. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Richard, that making CAP reform a pre-condition for enlargement would have delayed accession.

The Nice Treaty is good news for Britain. I say that particularly to the noble Lord, Lord Howell, who I think, in his heart, may share that view. It is good news for the EU and good news for Europe as a whole. Nice will deliver a stronger Britain in a wider Europe.

We went to Nice with six objectives: to increase Britain's voting weight in the Council; to reform and streamline the Commission; to secure more qualified majority voting where this is in the UK's interest; to protect our veto where UK interests are best served by unanimity; to establish more flexible forms of EU co-operation; and to open the door for enlargement. I am glad to say that we have achieved all six of our objectives.

The deal on vote reweighting boosts the UK vote from 10 to 29. That enhances our influence relative to the medium and small countries. It ensures that the three largest member states (including the UK) will still be able to block decisions up to and including a European Union of 27; and it maintains our parity with Germany, even though Germany has 20 million more people. That is the first time since we joined the EU that we have increased our voting weight. We are proud to be the Government who secured this. I say to the noble Lord, Lord Haskel, and others who raised the issue, that this increase will benefit the smaller states. Her Majesty's Government have been a vigorous supporter of the smaller states and of enlargement. That will not change. Our voice will, it is hoped, be heard more effectively and more clearly.

We secured a smaller and better Commission. The next Commission will consist of one Commissioner per member state. I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, and a number of other noble Lords who emphasised the issue of institutional change and that the need for effective and efficient instruments with which to deliver that is of the utmost importance. Once we reach 27 member states, the Commission will be capped at a level below 27 with equal rotation for all member states.

We secured other reforms which will make for a more efficient Commission; for example, the right of the President of the Commission to decide on the Commission's internal organisation and to sack a Commission member if circumstances warrant. We secured more qualified majority voting where this was in the UK's interests. I was surprised and disappointed that the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, did not see the benefits for democracy and human rights which have been achieved by the changes which he highlighted and which have been proposed but which he questioned. However, I was comforted by the balance and sense of the noble Lord, Lord Richard, who spoke immediately after.

Qualified majority voting has helped us in a number of ways, for instance, in the ECJ's procedures, where this will make for more efficient justice; in trade in services and industrial policy, where UK business will benefit; and on appointments, where we are now more likely to get the right person for the job. We preserved our veto exactly where we said we would on tax, social security, defence, own resources, border controls and treaty change. We secured a more flexible EU. The new enhanced co-operation arrangements mean that groups of member states can now more easily move forward together in a given area. The UK and others will have the freedom to opt in but do not have to take part. We have secured language that ensures there will be no threat to the single market, and no hard-core or second-class members.

If I may respectfully say so, the noble Lord, Lord Richard, asked the correct questions as regards assessing Nice. We opened the door for enlargement. Nice agreed that these institutional changes complete those necessary for the accession of new member states and confirmed that the EU will be ready to welcome them from the end of 2002.

We also secured a good outcome on what happens after Nice. We agreed that there will be another intergovernmental conference—as many noble Lords have already mentioned—in 2004. That IGC will consider, first, how best to deliver the competences of the EU; secondly, how best to simplify the treaties to make them easier to understand; thirdly, the role of national parliaments in the EU; and, fourthly, the future status of the charter of rights. We ensured that the next IGC will not be an obstacle to enlargement—in fact, the new member states and applicants will play a full and active role in that IGC—and that the review of the charter of rights in 2004 will be without prejudice as to the outcome.

Moreover, Nice also agreed on the need for a deeper and wider debate on the future of Europe, and that before the next IGC there should be far-reaching consultations involving the people of Europe, civil society, national parliaments and others with an interest. A number of noble Lords have rightly highlighted that issue. This is not a superstate agenda; it is a British agenda as laid out by the Prime Minister in Warsaw last October. It is a people's Europe agenda and we welcome it.

This is why we welcome the Nice Treaty; why, as my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs has said, we aim to bring the treaty forward for ratification as soon as possible; and why we regret Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition's commitment to oppose a treaty which is manifestly in Britain's interests.

I cannot agree with the noble Lord, Lord Waddington, that Nice will not hasten enlargement. That is not a view taken by the applicant countries themselves. I was glad to hear that the view I have expressed was shared by a number of noble Lords. I refer to the noble Lords, Lord Williamson of Horton, Lord Inglewood, Lord Grenfell and Lord Dubs, and virtually all noble Lords who followed. I reassure the noble Lord, Lord Howell, that neither the applicant countries nor Her Majesty's Government take a simplistic view in relation to this matter. They and we understand the complexities and believe that the confidence and satisfaction we feel about the result achieved at Nice is well founded.

Nice opened the door for enlargement and the re-union of Europe. If I may, I remind the House why this Government, and successive governments before us, have supported that goal. Enlargement will enhance stability and security in Europe. It will help to entrench democracy and human rights. It will bring down barriers to trade and business, giving UK companies access to a single market of half a billion people. It will increase the prosperity of UK companies. The accession of the central and eastern European applicants will boost UK GDP by, on independent estimates, £1.75 billion per annum. It will help the fight against international crime. It will strengthen Europe's, and so Britain's, voice in the world.

I wish at this stage to answer a number of the questions posed by the noble Lord, Lord Williamson of Horton, and the noble Lords, Lord Grenfell and Lord Dubs, about the progress made so far. Where are we? The Luxembourg six—Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia—have opened all but two chapters in negotiations; that is, 29 out of the 31 chapters of the acquis, including the main difficult areas and have provisionally closed chapters 12 to 17. Accession negotiations with the Helsinki six—Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Romania and Slovakia-launched on 15th February 2000, are well under way. They have each opened between nine and 16 chapters and have provisionally closed six to 12. Target dates have galvanised previous negotiations. It is Her Majesty's Government's view that there is a strong case for setting a target date at the Gothenburg European Council in June 2001. The noble Lord, Lord Dubs, was right to highlight that as an important date.

The Commission's strategy envisages completion of negotiations with the best prepared countries by June 2002. That gives real credibility to my right honourable friend the Prime Minister's call for new member states to participate in the European parliamentary elections in 2004. With efforts on both sides there is no reason why that should not be achieved.

I hope that I shall be forgiven for mentioning once more the fact that over 50 per cent of our trade in goods and services is with the EU, that up to 3.5 million jobs depend on membership of the single market, and the fact that we attract inward investment because of our place in the EU. The UK gets 23 per cent of all investment into the EU, 40 per cent of all Japanese and US, and 50 per cent of Korean. As the chairman of Mitsubishi UK said last year:
"We locate in Britain because one of Britain's important strengths is its ability to act as a gateway to Europe".
The reforms which we agreed at Nice have strengthened further Her Majesty's Government's deeply held belief that the right policy, and the only realistic policy, for Britain is one of constructive engagement and partnership within the EU. We shall maintain that policy.

I turn to some of the specific questions that I was asked. First, I turn to the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Monson, about the statute for European political parties. I believe that the noble Lord referred to the revised Article 119 which provides a legal base for the regulation of the funding of European political parties. European political parties already exist. They were first recognised in the Maastricht Treaty. This revision is to allow transparency in their funding and is a recommendation of the European Court of Auditors. We want a statute quickly. Qualified majority voting will help us to deliver that. The statute will apply to all European political parties regardless of their views and it will not, of course, apply to national political parties.

I turn next to the plethora of questions—if I may respectfully say so—fired by the noble Lord. Lord Grenfell, in his normal dynamic style. I agree that the fears of mass migration westward following enlargement are unfounded. We should make every effort to underline that fact. Her Majesty's Government's commitment to that is clear. The nature and efficacy of border controls are part of the accession discussions so there will be an opportunity for those matters to be dealt with. We are absolutely committed to involving applicant countries in the consultation process leading to the next IGC as well as in the IGC itself. The noble Lord also raised the issue of the common agricultural policy which I covered earlier.

I turn next to the issues raised by the noble Lord, Lord Blaker, and touched on gently by the noble Lord, Lord Howell, in relation to the name to be given to the European defence initiative; and the status of the European Council conclusions. I fear that the Ministry of Defence may have given the only possible answer to the noble Lord. The European strategic defence initiative creates only a capacity to act, not a standing force to do so. It may not be a catchy name; but the "European army" is simply misleading. I think that in this House, if in no other place, we appreciate accuracy. The conclusions of the European Council were agreed by the heads of government at Nice and are politically binding.

Having only 20 minutes allocated, I had thought that I should be racing through my speech. I can now speak more slowly.

My Lords, perhaps the noble Baroness has a moment to clarify her remarks about party political funding. She spoke about more transparency but is it not a question of more money? Taxpayers' money is to be handed from the European institutions to parties which satisfy the criterion of being European. Is that right?

My Lords, the real question is the effect. The need is to ensure transparency in the nature of the funding. The noble Lord knows well that the funding of European parties has been a matter of concern. How are they funded? From where does the money come? How do they account? There is unanimity of view that it is important that that transparency be maintained. These procedures will deliver that.

We have had a good debate. One of the interesting and warming aspects is that virtually without exception—there may have been two noble Lords who disagreed—there has been agreement that enlargement is a thoroughly good thing. Nice has brought about institutional changes which enable enlargement to take place more smoothly and effectively, although there may have been slight disagreements between ourselves as to how much further matters should have gone. Many different views are always expressed on Europe. A healthy debate is an important debate—and we have had a very healthy debate.

Nice has proved that developments in the European Union are going in the way that Her Majesty's Government and Britain would want. We have achieved the progress I mentioned because our partners know that we are committed to making a success of our EU partnership. It is essential that we remain part of it, influencing and driving the process where necessary. Our aim is the successful promotion and protection of British interests and the enhancement of peace and harmony in Europe generally.

8.4 p.m.

My Lords, it has been an excellent short debate. I thank all noble Lords who participated. I am particularly grateful to the Minister for the scope of her response. It has been an entirely satisfactory occasion on a subject to which undoubtedly noble Lords will have to return on other occasions. I beg leave to withdraw my Motion for Papers.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.

Local Elections (Northern Ireland) (Amendment) Order 2001

8.5 p.m.

rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 18th January be approved [4th Report from the Joint Committee].

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, the order applies only to Northern Ireland and mirrors the provisions already introduced for other types of elections there. This order amends the local government election rules contained in the Electoral Law (Northern Ireland) Act 1962 and extends certain provisions of the Registration of Political Parties Act 1998.

Your Lordships may recall that among other things the 1998 Act provided the opportunity for political parties to register their names and, if they so chose, their party emblems. Once registered, a party benefits from protection against the unauthorised use of its registered name and its candidates may request the inclusion of their party emblem on the ballot paper. Under the 1998 Act returning officers have the power to ensure that candidates at elections do not provide a description for inclusion on the ballot paper that might lead voters to associate them with a registered party unless they produce the necessary authorisation. This authorisation takes the form of a signed consent form from the nominated officer of the registered political party concerned. The intention is to reduce any grounds for confusion for the voter at the polling station.

The 1998 Act also provides that where a candidate has been authorised by a registered political party to use that party's name on the ballot the candidate may, if he so chooses, request that the party's registered emblem be printed next to his name on the ballot paper.

The provisions of the Act did not apply to local elections held in Northern Ireland and, therefore, this draft order is necessary to afford registered parties the same protection as they have at other types of elections.

As noble Lords will see, the schedule to this draft instrument provides a new specimen ballot paper illustrating these changes. In addition, the provisions provide for expenses incurred by a third party in respect of an election to be brought into line with those of local government elections in Great Britain.

Articles 15, 16, 18, 19 and 24 reflect equivalent changes introduced by the Representation of the People Act 2000 to parliamentary election rules. Those provisions made it easier for blind or partially-sighted persons to vote without assistance and allowed for those with any physical incapacity to vote with the assistance of a companion. This order now extends those provisions to local election rules also.

The order further provides for suspension of the requirement to vacate an elected office following conviction for a corrupt or illegal practice during the period in which an appeal could be made. This follows changes to the provisions of the Representation of the People Act 1983 and brings Northern Ireland local government elections into line with the procedures followed in parliamentary elections.

I consider these changes important not only in updating local election procedures in Northern Ireland but also bringing them in line with Great Britain. I beg to move.

Moved. That the draft order laid before the House on 18th January be approved [4th Report from the Joint Committee].(Lord Falconer of Thoroton.)

My Lords, having voted early and often during my time in Northern Ireland, I observed that the ballot papers were invariably very long by British standards. There were many more candidates than I had been used to in England.

I am surprised, therefore, that in the mock ballot paper in the schedule at the back of the order the party logos shown are curiously selective including, as they do, the UMW, which has only two or three local councillors but excluding that of the Alliance Party which has 42 councillors across Northern Ireland. It is a strange omission given that the order refers to local government. Perhaps the Minister can explain that curious selection. Apart from that complaint, I have no objection to the order and warmly support it.

My Lords, I am grateful for the support for the order. The point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Smith, is explained by the fact that the logos were intended to be by way of example and nothing else. The ballot paper is meant only to be illustrative and not prescriptive. That is the reason that it is in the form that it is.

My Lords, I am grateful for that reassurance. I hoped that it did not reflect a particular mindset.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Representation Of The People (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2001

8.10 p.m.

rose to move, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 17th January be approved [4th Report from the Joint Committee.]

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, the regulations. made under the powers conferred by the Representation of the People Act 2000, put into effect the major part of the provisions of that Act and deal with the detailed arrangements for the registration of electors and the conduct of elections.

The Representation of the People Act 2000 emerged from the deliberations of the working party on electoral procedures which was set up after the last election with a mandate to review our electoral arrangements and make recommendations on improvements. The working party, chaired by my honourable friend in another place, the Member for Knowsley North and Sefton East, was a multi-disciplinary body that consisted of representatives from the major political parties as well as experts in the field, such as electoral administrators and government officials. In addition, all the smaller political parties and many other interested organisations were consulted on the various proposals. The working party reported in October 1999 and a Bill was immediately introduced to put into effect its recommendations. The Bill received Royal Assent in March 2000.

The regulations implement provisions for Northern Ireland similar to those due to be introduced for England and Wales and for Scotland. They relate to the rolling registration of electors. They also make better provision for disabled voters, allow for the registration of homeless people, remand prisoners and mental patients and implement a number of other changes to make it easier to register to vote.

I should make it clear that the provisions in the regulations for England and Wales easing the requirements for absent voting are not extended to Northern Ireland. It is not considered appropriate to ease the restrictions at present, due to the concerns that remain over electoral abuse.

Another provision that I wish to highlight is the device prescribed in Regulation 12 to assist blind voters. The device has been tested by groups of blind and partially sighted voters and received their support. It will be available in each polling station for those who want to use it. For the first time, a blind or partially sighted voter will be able to mark his or her ballot paper unaided and with the confidence that the mark has gone in the right place and against the candidate of their choice. It also allows the voter to remove the ballot paper, fold it and place it in the ballot box themselves, with no assistance from a companion or from the presiding officer.

The regulations also deal with the details of applying for registration as a service voter or an overseas elector. They mirror the provisions of the regulations for Great Britain.

Part III of the regulations deals with the new arrangements for registration. There will no longer be a single qualifying date for registration as an elector and only one time in the year when that registration can be changed. From the publication of the new register in a few weeks, when the regulations come into force, voters will be able to change their registration at any time of the year. They will no longer have to wait until the next annual canvass to get themselves on to the register in their new area. However, the stipulation that requires anyone registering in Northern Ireland to be resident there for three months before registering remains.

The regulations set out how registration officers will make the provision work. The electoral office will also have the power to delete names from the register, such as those of deceased persons or those who have registered elsewhere, as well as powers to seek further information to confirm eligibility.

All that will make for a more accurate and flexible electoral register, which will also be more user-friendly. We are aware that a large number of people remain unregistered. We hope that making it easier to register will make voters more inclined to do so.

I have one further point to draw to your Lordships' attention. Section 9 of the 2000 Act, concerning the sale and supply of the register, has not been dealt with in the regulations. That section provides for voters to opt out of having their name included on the register that is available for sale. We have not yet drafted regulations on the sale of the register, but we intend to turn our minds to that immediately.

The regulations make a fundamental shift in how we organise our electoral affairs in Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. I hope that the House will join me in recognising the important changes that are being made to the electoral system and will view the regulations as a step forward in making registering and voting simpler for all. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 17th January be approved [4th Report from the Joint Committee].—(Lord Falconer of Thoroton.)

My Lords, we welcome the regulations, which will modernise the polity of Northern Ireland.

My Lords, I find myself in the unusual position of having to congratulate the Government. I very rarely find myself in that position but, having read the orders, I feel that an attempt has been made to normalise the position in Northern Ireland.

It would not be right to build up our expectations that the regulations will ensure squeaky clean elections in Northern Ireland. That is highly unlikely. I remember my first election in 1951 when I was helping another candidate in West Belfast who won by 25 votes after five recounts. I am certain that those 25 votes were put into the ballot box illegally by some of his more enthusiastic supporters.

A few years later, I won my first election for a council seat by 17 votes. I am almost certain that I saw 17 of my supporters going down to two polling stations in North Belfast to render me their support.

There are two constituencies in Northern Ireland where there is real abuse of the electoral system—in Fermanagh and South Tyrone and in Mid-Ulster. One has only to look at the postal vote returns in those constituencies to see that it would be impossible for those votes to be legally made without massive personation.

I would like to think that the outcome of the coming elections will genuinely reflect what the people of Northern Ireland think. It will not be possible to say that we will have the cleanest election ever, but the Government's attempt to grapple with the problem of personation is to be admired.

The Minister referred to the provisions that will enable blind or disabled people to vote. One has only to hark back to a few months ago and remember the objections that were made about the Florida election. I hope that the regulations will make it possible for legitimate votes to be cast without any later challenge.

My Lords, I associate my party with the remarks of the Minister and the noble Lord, Lord Fitt. Anything that can be done to reduce the danger of personation is clearly welcome at this of all times.

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Fitt, has given us a little insight into one or two heavily fought elections or by-elections. He mentioned personation. I am sure that your Lordships and the Government are well aware of various other malpractices over the years—perhaps over the centuries—in Northern Ireland. They include voting by dead electors, multiple voting and, I am sorry to say, the intimidation of electors before or just after voting.

I hope that the noble and learned Lord will reassure us that the Government are doing their utmost to prevent such behaviour, given that the outcome of the forthcoming general election will be very important and significant for the further implementation of the Belfast agreement.

My Lords, I am grateful for all the support for the regulations from around the House. Of course I assure the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, that the Government will take every step to ensure that electoral practices are as proper as possible.

Under the new regulations, once a voter dies, they will be removed from the rolling register almost immediately. That does not happen under the current register. That is one of various examples—it would not be right to go through them all—of how the regulations will considerably improve the position.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Representation Of The People (England And Wales) Regulations 2001

8.20 p.m.

rose to move, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 17th January be approved [4th Report from the Joint Committee].

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move the Representation of the People (England and Wales) Regulations 2001. It may be convenient if I speak at the same time to the Representation of the People (Scotland) Regulations 2001. Both are made under powers conferred by the Representation of the People Act 2000. Although they differ in some points of detail, they will have the same effect in their respective parts of the United Kingdom. They are similar to the regulations moved in respect of Northern Ireland by my noble and learned friend Lord Falconer of Thoroton. In fact, he has stolen most of my script!

They put into effect the major parts of the provisions of the 2000 Act and deal with detailed arrangements for the registration of electors and the conduct of elections. The regulations implement the provision in the Act which relates to what we now refer to as "rolling" registration of electors. They ease the requirements for absent voting; they allow the registration of homeless people, remand prisoners and mental patients; they make better provision for disabled voters; and they make a number of other changes in order to make it easier to register to vote. The overall intention is to begin a process not only of modernisation of our electoral arrangements but of greater involvement and participation.

Part 1 of the regulations deals with various interpretational and miscellaneous points, including the provision for communication by electronic means. That means that inquiries can be e-mailed, application forms can be downloaded from the Internet for filling in and returning, and information will be available on websites. The intention is to bring the registration process up to date in order to meet the needs of modern lifestyles.

My noble and learned friend Lord Falconer made comments about Part 1 of the regulations with which he dealt. That part is designed to provide a device to assist blind voters. I shall not go through that again. The provisions for England, Wales and Scotland are exactly the same.

Part 2 of the regulations deals with the details involved in applying for registration as a service voter or as an overseas elector. Again, my noble and learned friend Lord Falconer described those details perfectly well and I do not need to repeat them. Similarly, he covered matters relating to registration.

It is perhaps worth saying that the regulations set out in detail how electoral registration officers will make the system work. Primarily, they give electoral registration officers the power to delete names from the register, such as in relation to deceased persons—this is an important point—or those who have registered elsewhere, as well as powers to seek further information to confirm eligibility. All that will ensure that we have a more accurate and more flexible electoral register and one which is more user-friendly.

Part 4 of the regulations concerns the provisions for absent voters. From 16th February, when the regulations come into force, there will no longer be a need for confirmation by a medical practitioner or employer that a voter cannot reasonably he expected to attend the polling station. In fact, voters will not be asked to give a reason for requesting a postal vote; they will be able to seek one for whatever reason

In line with the recommendation of the Working Party on Electoral Procedures, no change has been made to the proxy voting arrangements, save in one regard—time limits for applications. For both proxy and postal votes, the time limit for applications to be received by EROs will be up to six days before polling day. That contrasts with the previous limit of 11 days. Again, all those arrangements make the system more accessible and it will be easier and more convenient for people to cast their vote in whichever way suits them best.

Part 5 of the regulations goes on to describe in detail the procedures involved in the issue and receipt of postal ballot papers where minor changes have taken place to enable greater flexibility.

These regulations have the broad support of electoral administrators, although understandably they are a little anxious about how they will apply them.

We have already said that the regulations are in place because some unfinished business remains in relation to the 2000 Act. My noble and learned friend Lord Falconer made reference to Section 9 of the Act. That section concerns the sale and supply of the register and provides for voters to opt out of having their names included on the register, which will be available for sale. Because we wanted to concentrate on the regulations which have an electoral impact, we have not yet drafted regulations in respect of the sale of the register. Those will be made under Section 9 of the Act. However, we shall turn to them immediately and we hope to have a draft available for consultation before Easter. I commend the regulations to the House.

Moved, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 17th January be approved [4th Report from the Joint Committed.]

My Lords, we welcome the regulations. I want to make one or two small points. The whole thrust of the regulations—as, indeed, was the thrust of the Act—was to make it easier for people to vote. That is most welcome.

One worrying aspect of the Florida election, to which the noble Lord, Lord Fitt, referred, is that it has made new technology—or at least middle-aged technology—in elections fall into some disrepute. That is a pity. Although we want to avoid butterfly ballots and hanging chads, I believe that there is much to be said for using the newest of technologies both in composing the electoral register and in voting. We certainly welcome the idea of using electronic communications for registering votes and for keeping the register up to date.

The question with regard to Section 9 is slightly worrying. As the Minister will recall, when we debated the Bill in this House concerns were expressed about the sale of the register. We are perhaps getting close to a general election. We are told that the new orders will be in place before Easter. However, I hope that Ministers recall the concerns that were expressed in Committee about how widely the register could be used for commercial reasons and about what rights people had to omit themselves from it. I am sure that we shall want to examine the Section 9 orders very carefully. We do not want to deal with them "on the bounce" on the last day before the Easter recess or anything so unworthy as that.

My Lords, we must congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Bassam, on not allowing his thunder to be stolen entirely by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer. I wish to point out that the procedure for objecting to registration and appeals depends very much on the skill of the election officials. I am sure that our confidence in that respect will not be misplaced, and we support the order.

My Lords, I forgot to mention that the noble Lord should be very happy about the similarity of the two briefs. I believe that that is called "joined-up government".

My Lords, noble Lords would be amazed at just how much effort is required to ensure that we are joined up.

I want to mention two issues in order to reassure the noble Lord, Lord McNally. With regard to the presidential elections, I suppose that, on reflection, the Florida election was marred by the counting process and procedure. In the United Kingdom we have sought to introduce new technology in compiling the register and increasing its accuracy and timeliness.

I believe that preparation is important. If the register is well prepared, I am sure that it will be accurate and that there will be far fewer disputes. I consider that we are using new technology sensibly. However, I believe that we are probably stuck with the Thursday version of the stubby pencil in the cubicle for some while yet, but that may be overtaken in due course.

The noble Lord also raised the issue of the Section 9 orders. I can only reaffirm the reassurance which I believe I gave in my initial comments. Of course, it is an important matter. If the noble Lord is genuinely concerned, as I am sure he is, and if he wishes to rehearse his concerns, I shall be more than happy to set up meetings between now and when the orders are brought forward. I make that offer more generally to other noble Lords of both Opposition parties who may also have concerns.

I say to the noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman that I think that we have got some of the best election administrators in the world. They are highly trained and specialised, and they are very proud of their profession. I know that their professional organisation is very highly thought of by people in political parties. It goes without saying that they are highly skilled. They have welcomed the proposals. They believe that the proposals will simplify matters and make the administration of elections generally much easier for them and, more importantly, for electors. We all want a high turnout when the general election comes, whenever that is.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Representation Of The People (Scotland) Regulations 2001

8.30 p.m.

I beg to move the second Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 18th January be approved [4th Report from the Joint Committee].—(Lord Bassani of Brighton.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Terrorism Act 2000 (Code Of Practice For Authorised Officers) Order 2001

Terrorism Act 2000 (Code Of Practice For Examining Officers) Order 2001

Terrorism (Interviews) (Scotland) Order 2001

Terrorism Act 2000 (Carding) Order 2001

8.31 p.m.

Lord Bassam of Brighton rose to move, That the draft orders laid before the House on 15th, 16th and 29th January be approved [4th and 5th Reports from the Joint Committee].

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in order to expedite matters, I shall discuss simultaneously the four orders; namely, the draft Terrorism Act 2000 (Code of Practice for Authorised Officers) Order 2001, the draft Terrorism Act 2000 (Code of Practice for Examining Officers) Order 2001, the draft Terrorism (Interviews) (Scotland) Order 2001 and the draft Terrorism Act 2000 (Carding) Order 2001.

These four draft orders represent a package of business that is relevant to the implementation of the Terrorism Act 2000, which, as noble Lords will be aware, is currently scheduled for 19th February.

The purpose of the Terrorism Act 2000 (Code of Practice for Authorised Officers) Order 2001 and the Terrorism Act 2000 (Code of Practice for Examining Officers) Order 2001 is to bring into force the draft codes of practice that were laid before the House on Monday, 15th January. Under paragraph 5 of Schedule 14 to the Terrorism Act, "officers", which by virtue of paragraph 1 of that schedule includes an authorised officer and an examining officer within the meanings of Section 24 of and Schedule 7 to the Act, are required to perform functions in accordance with any relevant code of practice. Under paragraph 6 of Schedule 14, the Secretary of State is required to issue the aforementioned codes of practice.

The code of practice for authorised officers, who by definition include a constable and immigration or customs officer, covers the exercise by such officers of functions relating to the seizure of terrorist cash. I recall that noble Lords were particularly interested in that subject during the passage of the Terrorism Act 2000. In particular, I was asked why those powers were restricted to border seizures only; that is, to the UK's external borders and the border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In answer, noble Lords will recall that I made reference to on-going work flowing from a report by the Performance and Innovation Unit which appeared in June last year on the proceeds of crime, resulting in a proceeds of crime Bill, which will be published in due course. The detail of that Bill is still under consideration and discussion, and I therefore regret that I am unable to give any assessment today of the way in which that Bill might impact upon the seizure provisions contained in the Terrorism Act, or, more pertinently, on whether those proposals will in any way supersede the provisions of that Act. However, I am sure that there will be ample opportunity to reflect on that once the detail of the Bill is clear.

Returning to the draft code of practice, authorised officers are reminded of the scope of the power to seize cash, which is defined as: coins and notes in any currency; postal orders; travellers cheques; and bankers drafts. It also covers the use of immigration and customs officers, who would be expected to act only rarely in the capacity of an authorised officer. The code stipulates also that prior authorisation to seize cash should be obtained from a senior officer—in the case of the police, that means an inspector. That, we believe, is a sensible precaution, particularly in view of the potential for interference with the ECHR right to peaceful enjoyment of possessions.

There is no minimum or maximum amount of cash that can be seized under the Act. That fact is reflected in the draft code. Noble Lords will doubtless acknowledge the fact that terrorists do not necessarily need large amounts of money to pursue their objectives.

Otherwise, the code sets out the procedures to be followed during seizure and includes important stipulations, such as counting cash in the presence of the individual concerned and not removing cash from the individual's presence until the cash has been physically seized. The code also has in its annexe a written notification to be handed to the individual; it gives important information about the seizure process and about what next will happen to the cash. Procedures for making applications to a court for the detention, further detention, forfeiture and release of such cash are provided for in Rules of Court under Section 31 of the Act; the Magistrates' Court (Detention and Forfeiture of Terrorist Cash) Rules 2001 and the Crown Court (Amendment) Rules 2001 provide for appeals. Both sets of rules were made by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor and I can confirm that they were laid before the House on 29th January.

I turn to the code of practice for examining officers, which is also made under Schedule 14 to the Act. By virtue of paragraph 1 to that schedule, an examining officer is defined as a constable, an immigration officer and a customs officer designated for the purpose by the Secretary of State and the Commissioners of Customs and Excise. As far as that is concerned, I can confirm that it is our intention that customs officers at ports in Great Britain will be designated for that purpose.

As with authorised officers, the draft code of practice envisages that officers who are not constables would act only rarely as examining officers. That proposed supporting role should not in any way be seen, however, as undermining the value placed on those agencies to assist in the fight against terrorism—it is more a recognition of the front-line role taken by the police in combating terrorism.

The code of practice for examining officers is designed to provide officers with key information about the scope of their powers, such as who they are entitled to examine and for what purpose—that is, for determining whether someone is, or has been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. The draft code then seeks to remind examining officers of the kind of considerations that should accompany the application of those powers; that is, an appropriate degree of care and sensitivity, the intention being to cause minimum embarrassment or offence to the individual in question.

Otherwise, noble Lords will see that the draft code covers issues such as the records of examinations; detention; searches; the production of information; and the treatment of juveniles and other vulnerable people. I hope that your Lordships agree that that last issue is of particular importance and that the code should acknowledge that. It would be naive to assume that juveniles would never find themselves caught up in terrorism. That regrettably means that examining officers may need to pay attention to such people. It is right, therefore, that the code should look to give examining officers guidance on how to proceed in those matters.

As is currently the case, a notice will be handed to those who are examined beyond the one-hour point and it will give key information to the examinee. Your Lordships can find a copy of that notice in the annexe to the code. Paragraph 35 of the code in fact requires that that notice be displayed in a prominent position to try to ensure that nobody is left in any doubt about what is happening to them.

In conclusion, I hope that your Lordships will agree that the code represents a useful and helpful document that should go some way to achieving a degree of harmonisation in the way in which examining officers perform their functions under the Act.

I shall now briefly discuss the next of the four draft orders before us; namely, the Terrorism (Interviews) (Scotland) Order. That order is made under paragraph 19 of Schedule 8 to the Act. Under that paragraph, the Secretary of State is required to make provision to require that in Scotland, except in such circumstances and subject to such conditions as may be specified in the order, where a person detained at a police station under Section 41 of the Act, or Schedule 7 to it, has been permitted to consult a solicitor, the solicitor shall be allowed to be present at any interview that is carried out in connection with a terrorist investigation or for the purposes of Schedule 7, which relates to port and border controls.

Your Lordships may be wondering what the purpose of the order might be. It is essentially to enable provision to be made for a person arrested or detained in Scotland to have rights of access to a solicitor which are broadly equivalent to the rights which a person detained in the remainder of the UK would have. More specifically, it seeks to ensure that, within the distinctive and separate system of Scottish law and procedures, there is available for Scotland the facility to change the circumstances relative to a solicitor being excluded from interview broadly comparable to the flexibility achieved in England, Wales and Northern Ireland by, respectively, PACE code of practice C and the draft code of practice for the RUC under the Terrorism Act.

If that enabling paragraph were not in the Act, the arrangements relating to access to a solicitor in Scotland would apply to terrorist cases also and the person detained would have no right to the presence of a solicitor during an interview.

The order therefore seeks to mirror, so far as it can, whatever circumstances or conditions will apply in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The position in those jurisdictions, under PACE and the draft Northern Ireland code of practice for the police, is that a solicitor may be required to leave the interview only if his conduct is such that the investigating officer is unable properly to put questions to the subject. Article 4 of the draft Scotland order therefore introduces only a specified condition that the solicitor's behaviour should not interfere with or obstruct the conduct of the interview. We cannot see any justification for introducing any other circumstances or conditions for Scotland that would not apply elsewhere. The intention must be to harmonise procedures across the United Kingdom as far as is possible. I am advised that Scottish police fully support that aim.

Before moving on from this draft order, it should, however, be recognised that the PACE codes and draft Northern Ireland code substantially qualify the action taken to remove a solicitor from interview in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Those codes remind the police, for example, that this is a serious step to take and that an officer of the rank of superintendent or above who took the decision should consider whether the matter should be reported to the Law Society. Unfortunately, it is neither appropriate nor possible for such a provision to be included in paragraph 19 of the statutory instrument.

Therefore, we propose in the circular on the Terrorism Act which the Government have in mind to issue to inform the chief officers for Scotland what the position is under PACE Code C for England and Wales and under the draft code of practice for Northern Ireland. Further, we shall suggest that if a police superintendent was of the view that a solicitor's conduct was such to cause him to require the solicitor to leave the interview, then the superintendent should also seriously consider whether there was need to inform the Law Society of Scotland of the solicitor's conduct. In that way, we hope that there would be a sufficient degree of consistency in the way that that issue was handled in the various United Kingdom jurisdictions. I am sure that noble Lords will agree that that is highly desirable.

The last of the four orders concerns carding, which was also the subject of considerable interest in this House during the passage of the Terrorism Bill. Before turning to the order in detail, I should like to take this opportunity to remind noble Lords just what the power means.

Under paragraph 16(1) of Schedule 7 to the Act, the Secretary of State may, by order, make provision requiring a person to whom paragraph 16 applies, if required to do so, to complete and produce to an examining officer a card containing such information as the order may specify. In accordance with paragraph 16(2), the order may also require the owners or agents of ships or aircraft to supply the cards. But I can confirm that this order will not impose that requirement and its supply will be left to the police.

It is perhaps worth reminding your Lordships to whom paragraph 16, and therefore the carding requirement, applies. It applies to those who disembark or embark at a sea or airport in Great Britain or Northern Ireland from or, as the case may be, on a ship or aircraft travelling between Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the islands.

I recall in discussion of this provision in Committee on the Terrorism Bill reminding noble Lords of how mindful we were, and are, about the sensitivities attached to implementing the carding provision and that we therefore believed it right to introduce a switch-on, switch-off mechanism to enable the provision to be taken out of use if the situation allowed. And that is the key, for we have said also that the prevailing security situation was likely to be one of the main factors, if not the main factor, in bringing forward a draft order. That being so, the regrettable fact is that there are still those, at present, opposed to the Northern Ireland peace process and determined to pursue their aims by violent means. This has been demonstrated, sadly, all too starkly in recent weeks and months by attacks both in Northern Ireland and in Great Britain generally.

Unfortunately, therefore, the security advice is that the provision should remain in force for the time being. And it is worth remembering that this order represents a continuation of the current position rather than the introduction of a new counter-terrorism measure. I regret the necessity for that but I regret more that there are those who refuse to put violence behind them.

The information obtained via the cards will be the same as that obtained via cards issued under the Prevention of Terrorism Act; that is, full name, nationality/citizenship, date and place of birth, home address, address visiting, purpose of visit, occupation and employer. The police have been consulted about the form of those cards and agree with the draft as set out in the schedule to the order.

Finally, it is right to acknowledge some of the concerns expressed by noble Lords in Committee proceedings on the Terrorism Bill about this provision. If I recall correctly, there was discussion about the effect on operators of carding, not least if it is applied inconsiderately.

In leaving it to the police to supply the cards, I hope that your Lordships will agree that at least one potential source of irritation to operators has been removed. And, from the application point of view, I should stress that police are aware of the need to implement the provision carefully and sensitively. Indeed, the draft code of practice for examining officers makes specific reference to that. Therefore, I hope and believe that that will result in proportionate use of the provision. Of course, there will always be concerns about the potential for such a measure to infringe on individual rights. But the Government are satisfied that, on balance, any interference is slight and represents a proportionate response to the very real threat of terrorism.

I am sorry that I have had to go through the orders at length but it is important to place this on record and to put the matters fully before your Lordships' House. I commend the orders to the House.

Moved, That the draft orders laid before the House on 15th, 16th and 29th January be approved [4th and 5th Reports from the Joint Committee].—(Lord Bassam of Brighton.)

My Lords, the noble Lord need give no apologies for going into such detail. The need to respond to various acts of terrorism over the years has produced various pieces of anti-terrorist legislation which has given concern that the ratchet on the civil liberties of us all has turned in the wrong direction.

The object of us all is to try to reach a time when such special powers are not needed and the various activities can be covered by the normal criminal law. Alas, as the Minister pointed out, we have not yet reached that stage and reluctantly we must continue to give special powers to our authorities.

There is also the fact that, as I am sure the noble Lord, Lord Fitt, will confirm, many terrorist organisations seem to have slipped very easily into organised crime so that the overlap between any politically-motivated activities and purely criminal activities has long since become blurred.

Therefore, we welcome the time that the Minister took to explain the Government's attitude and also the points he made that, where possible, the powers would lapse if circumstances changed. In that spirit, we give a warm welcome to the measures.

My Lords, I too welcome the draft orders in so far as they apply to Northern Ireland. It does not take much reading of the affairs of Northern Ireland to recognise the totally different atmosphere which prevails there at present. In the past month, there have been 40 pipe bombs, which are very easily made and can be extremely destructive, thrown into the homes of innocent people because of their religion. That has happened particularly in Larne and Lurgan.

There is a very real fear in Northern Ireland that the pipe bombs may get out of hand and innocent people will be killed. That could start a whole spiral of terrorist and political consequences.

It is right that the Government should retain the powers that they have at the moment to try to combat that outburst of terrorism. In doing so, I recognise that, as the noble Lord, Lord McNally, said, there are some regulations which will never be acceptable to some people in Northern Ireland because they are engaged in a Mafia-type activity. That has been going on now for many years. The Minister should recognise that it will take a long time before we can eradicate that scourge of activity from the political face of Northern Ireland.

I welcome the proposals in a very personal sense. When I was Member of Parliament for West Belfast, there was a great deal of terrorist activity going on. There were many people, innocent people, who lived in what could be classified as nationalist areas; in other words, Catholic areas. From my everyday work as a Member of Parliament in my advice centre, I know that many innocent people were taken to the interrogation centres and badly treated. Time and time again I made representations to various Ministers to prevent such things happening.

I believe that the noble Lord, Lord McNally, mentioned this matter a few days ago. If one gives way to such things, it simply helps the terrorists. The terrorists were able to exploit the situation in which young innocent people were ill treated in the interrogation centres. The noble Lord, Lord McNally, may remember that in February 1979, when the previous Labour government were in power, the then Chief Constable of Northern Ireland was an Englishman, Kenneth Newman. Allegations were made and there was such fear and hysteria in nationalist areas about young people in particular being ill treated in interrogation centres that the then Labour government set up what became known as the Bennett inquiry. A report was issued in February 1979 and although it said that there was no evidence on which to lay the blame on any particular policeman, one had only to read the conclusions of that report to realise that serious malpractice had been perpetrated by the police in those interrogation centres.

In many ways the issues raised following the publication of that report, having regard to the way in which it highlighted the malpractice, led to the defeat of that Labour government two months after the report was published. In 1979 in my constituency in West Belfast, there was absolute hysteria about what was happening in those interrogation centres—I speak with knowledge of West Belfast, but it was happening elsewhere in Northern Ireland—so I found it impossible to vote with the government in a vote of confidence.

For those reasons I welcome the codes of practice. I believe that they will do a great deal to instil confidence into those who will have to accept the continuation of interrogation centres, because they may not disappear overnight. One hopes that they will not last long and that the codes of practice may be unnecessary.

I welcome these orders. However, the paramilitaries will be opposed to them. They do not find any police activity acceptable. They do not want a police force. That is clear, as they refuse to accept the new police force. In this situation, the orders are to be welcomed. The Government are to be congratulated on bringing these matters forward. We now have a Chief Constable in Northern Ireland who is from Belfast. He understands the sensitivities in relation to the interrogation centres and the allegations that are made. I believe that the codes of practice will make it impossible for such allegations to be made against the police in the months ahead.

My Lords, following the fine contributions from the noble Lords, Lord McNally and Lord Fitt, I have little to add. The noble Lord, Lord Fitt, has mentioned the increasing move into organised crime by the terrorists. With the ever-increasing sophistication of terrorism and, sadly, given the terrorist situation in various parts of the UK, we on these Benches are satisfied that these orders strike the correct balance between making the Act effective and respect for the individual. We support them.

My Lords, on the Code of Practice for Examining Officers who will work at ports, an interview of nearly an hour may, in certain circumstances, cause a completely innocent person to miss their flight or boat or connection at the far end of their journey. Therefore, I believe that it would be helpful if the Minister made it clear that the powers will be used only where there is real suspicion against a particular individual. In the past, as I am sure he knows, there have been many complaints about officers taking people in on the off-chance because they do not like a person's face. That is unhelpful and counter-productive. I hope that that does not happen now or in the future.

My Lords, I welcome the warm words of support from all sides of the House for these four orders. Any government are greatly helped when there is a broad range of support as that establishes two points: first, that we have achieved political consensus; and, secondly, it provides real confidence in government policy in these difficult areas.

On the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, of course we appreciate that the powers need to be used with the utmost sensitivity. The intention is not to irritate passengers or to inconvenience them unnecessarily. Of course, the code reminds officers who deal with such sensitive matters of those important points. We need to secure public support for the measures, and the way in which they are operated will encourage that support. We entirely respect the point made by the noble Lord and we shall maintain that spirit.

I spoke of the orders as they relate to Scotland and the circumstances in which solicitors would have access to their clients. I believe that that is a testament of the careful way in which we have approached this legislation, not least because I believe that it strengthens the position of the person being detained in a way that was not present before and because it modernises—a word that is not always popular in your Lordships' House—the way in which the anti-terrorism legislation works in the United Kingdom.

We have tried to reflect on past practice, to improve procedure, to aid and abet transparency, and to improve the quality of primary and secondary legislation. That has been our objective. I believe that the orders give good effect to that. I am grateful for the encouragement and support of the House and for the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Hylton. I trust that the orders will have the full confidence of everyone.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Terrorism Act 2000 (Code Of Practice On The Exercise Of Police Powers) (Northern Ireland) Order 2001

8.58 p.m.

rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 16th January be approved [4th Report from the Joint committed

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, in speaking to this order I shall speak also to the Terrorism Act 2000 (Code of Practice on Video Recording of Interviews) (Northern Ireland) Order 2001. On the code of practice on video recording of interviews, we have already considered various UK-wide codes of practice to be made under the Terrorism Act 2000 and which are due to take effect on 19th February when the Act is commenced. No doubt your Lordships will recall from the excellent debates during the consideration of the Act that two further codes, specific to Northern Ireland, are to be made. The first is for police interviews with terrorist suspects to be video recorded with sound and for the video recording arrangements to be governed by a code of practice. The sound and vision code, if I may refer to it as such, will replace the existing system of silent video recording in Northern Ireland. The purpose of this order is to bring into force the code of practice under the Act governing the video recording, with sound, of interviews with terrorist suspects in Northern Ireland. Debates have already taken place in both Houses on a separate order, which will require the police in Northern Ireland to conduct interviews in accordance with the code.

As I have said, this code replaces an existing code of practice governing the silent video recording of interviews with terrorist suspects in Northern Ireland. The difference is that the new code requires video recording with sound. I hope that your Lordships will welcome this significant and positive development, which improves upon the existing silent video recording arrangements. Sound and vision provides additional protection for the detainee, guards against unrecorded interviews or verbal abuse, intimidation and harassment and helps to guard the police against unfounded allegations and complaints.

The introduction of sound and vision recording of interviews with terrorist suspects has long been advocated by the current and previous Independent Commissioners for the Holding Centres. The Chief Constable of the RUC also fully supports this measure. Through this order and its related code, the Government are pleased to facilitate the system of sound and vision video recording.

The draft code covers a range of issues that must apply when interviews with terrorist suspects are video recorded. The code also contains guidance for police officers and others on the application and interpretation of the code. Briefly, the code is in nine sections: general; obligation to video record interviews; objections by the detained person; requirements relating to video recording; the interview; after the interview; master tape security and access; copying of master tapes; and master tape destruction.

I deal briefly with the consultation process that took place before the publication of the code. The publication of the draft code was announced on Monday, 6th November. The code was sent to a wide range of interested organisations and was made available on the Northern Ireland Office website. There followed an eight-week consultation period, ending on 29th December.

Useful comments were received from a range of organisations. I am pleased to announce that the code has been modified to incorporate those. At paragraph 1.1, the code will be made available in Braille, in large print format and on audio cassette. Paragraph 3.4 advises that, where a person wishes to discuss matters unconnected with the investigation, the police should, where practicable, seek a medical opinion if they have concerns about an individual's capacity to elect for that discussion to be unrecorded. Paragraph 9.2 has been redrafted to make it clear that all tapes must be kept for at least six years. Some tapes will be kept for longer periods—for example, in the case of a prison sentence that exceeds six years. In addition, the language of the code has been made gender neutral.

As required under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, I can also confirm that an assessment of the impact of this code has been carried out. The Secretary of State is satisfied that the new code contains sufficient safeguard provisions to avoid an adverse impact on any of the nine equality groups in the Northern Ireland Office's equality scheme.

I turn to the order dealing with the code of practice on the exercise of police powers. Section 99 of the Terrorism Act 2000 makes provision for the exercise of police powers to be covered by a code. The purpose of the code of practice on the exercise of police powers order is to bring into force the code of practice under the Terrorism Act governing the detention, treatment and questioning of detained persons and the identification of persons by police officers in relation to terrorist suspects in Northern Ireland. The order to give effect to the code is made under paragraph 101(4) of the Terrorism Act and was, as I have said, laid on 16th January.

I should outline some of the detail. The code runs to 85 pages. I hope that I shall be forgiven if I give only the flavour of the content. The police code will apply only to the police in Northern Ireland. On 19th February it will replace the code currently in force under Section 61 of the Emergency Provisions Act 1996. The new code is modelled as closely as possible on the PACE codes of practice. In the light of helpful responses from the public consultation exercise, we have made improvements to the original draft. I should also say that the Home Office plans to review the PACE code. As a result of that review, additional changes to this code may be needed in due course.

The code is in two parts. Part I covers the detention, treatment and questioning of detained persons. That part of the code applies to an interview, or any part of an interview, carried out by a police officer of a person detained under Section 41 or Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act after midnight on 18th February 2001, where the interview takes place in a police station. Part II covers the identification of persons by police officers. This part of the code applies to any identification carried out by a police officer, at a police station, of a person detained under Section 41 or Schedule 7 to the Terrorism Act after midnight on 18th February 2001.

Like the PACE codes, the police code is extremely detailed and comprehensive and contains thorough guidance for police officers and others on its application and interpretation. It features significant safeguards throughout. It should be welcomed as a continuation of, and improvement to, the existing safeguards that are in place via the EPA code. To mention three key features, the code provides, first, for the detainee's rights to be explained to him or her by the custody officer; secondly, it sets out the arrangements for access to medical attention; and, thirdly, it ensures that the need for detention is subject to regular review.

Featured in the code is an important new safeguard which I know was of significant interest to your Lordships during the passage of the Act. Section 6 of Part I of the new code sets out provisions dealing with the right to legal advice. The Act intended to ensure that access arrangements were consistent across the UK. In paragraph 6.7, the new code specifically provides that solicitors shall be permitted to be present during police interviews of terrorist suspects at police stations in Northern Ireland. I am pleased to announce to your Lordships that the Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary has already introduced this measure with effect from 29th September 2000. That is a welcome development which I am sure your Lordships will strongly endorse.

The code was published in draft on Monday, 30th October. It was sent to a wide range of interested organisations and was made available on the Northern Ireland Office website. There was an eight-week consultation period, which ended on 22nd December. We received eight substantive responses, which covered a wide range of issues. A total of 96 distinct groups of issues were identified, and 36 substantive amendments were made to the code. In addition, the code will be made available in Braille, in large print format and on audio cassette. The language of the code has been made gender neutral.

Further amendments may be made in due course. Some submissions raised issues which essentially read across to PACE. As I have already said, the PACE codes are due to be reviewed. To give just one example, some comments were made about the appropriate adult arrangements in this code and it is planned to revisit this in the light of the PACE review. Your Lordships will also want to note that a new caution to reflect the European Court of Human Rights judgments in the cases of Murray, Averill and Magee will need to be added, as will a caution in respect of Section 109 of the Act. The new caution to reflect the Murray, Averill and Magee judgments is likely to be a key feature of the PACE codes review.

As required under Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, I can also confirm that an assessment of the impact of the code has been carried out. Again, the Secretary of State was satisfied that the new code contained sufficient safeguard provisions to avoid an adverse impact on any of the nine equality groups.

In conclusion, the Government's aim is to ensure that the treatment of persons detained in police custody in connection with terrorist crime is fair, professional, transparent and accountable. We also want to see proper safeguards in place to protect the police from unjustified complaints. These new codes of practice are key to that aim.

The range of safeguards contained in these codes of practice demonstrates that the Government continue to attach the greatest importance to the protection of the rights of all, including those in police custody. I endorse the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Fitt, in relation to the previous orders: it is essential that the process of detention is properly governed. I believe that the measures make a substantial contribution to that. I commend the order to the House.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 16th January be approved [4th Report from the Joint Committed].—(Lord Falconer of Thoroton.)

My Lords, we welcome both orders. I endorse the Minister's observation that it is most helpful to all parties concerned, not least the police, that there will be both sound recordings and video recordings of interviews. We strongly support the orders.

My Lords, discussions took place in Northern Ireland prior to the promulgation of the code of practice and I am sure that the Government interviewed as many responsible people as possible. Were all the political parties in Northern Ireland invited to take part in those discussions? Some political parties in Northern Ireland are allegedly associated with paramilitary activities, and I do not believe that they would be at all interested in a code of practice.

Will the Minister state whether all the political parties took part in the discussions? Did it seem to him or to those involved in the discussions that the political parties were anxious to see the code brought into practice? If the Minister could tell us that some of the political parties did not want the code of practice, that would say something about Northern Ireland. It would be a serious indication of the ability of those parties still to comfort those who are engaged in paramilitary activities.

My Lords, I welcome the two codes of practice because they contain a large number of useful safeguards. It has been a long and sometimes uphill struggle to achieve both video and sound recording of interviews. That makes it all the more important that there should be no questioning of suspects and arrested persons outside the police station; for example, between the point of arrest and the police station in, say, a police or army vehicle. I would welcome reassurance on that issue.

My Lords, I am grateful for the support which the codes of practice have received from around the House. They represent a significant step forward. As regards the consultation process, I stated that both codes were sent to a wide range of interested organisations. They included every single political party. I am told that the only political party which responded was Sinn Fein and, as I understand it, Sinn Fein did not object to the content of either of the codes. Finally, perhaps I may write to the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, about the point which he raised.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Terrorism Act 2000 (Code Of Practice On Video Recording Of Interviews) (Northern Ireland) Order 2001

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 16th January be approved [4th Report from the Joint Committee].—(Lord Falconer of Thoroton)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House adjourned at fourteen minutes past nine o'clock.