Draft Advisory Centre on WTO Law (Immunities and Privileges) Order 2001

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Mr. Battle: DFID is the Department for International Development, not simply aid. This is about fair trade, as is clear from the White Paper entitled, ``Eliminating Global Poverty: Making Globalisation Work for the Poor''. There may potentially be an argument between DFID and the DTI. However, the key point is that there is a budget commitment to back up the move in the direction of ratification. Our job is to get the process moving. If we waited for ever, we could not get the signatures and it would not get off the ground. Our purpose is to get an early commitment to ensure that it happens.

In response to my hon. Friend the Member for Leyton and Wanstead (Mr. Cohen), most, if not all, of the non-governmental organisations and developing countries want and are in favour of the organisation. They are hardly likely to be protesting against it and objecting to it because it is onside in terms of getting a fairer trade deal.

The instrument of ratification can be deposited at any time after the order is made. The deadline of September 2002 has been set by agreement to give us a chance of getting it up and running. If it does not happen by then, it cannot happen at all. We want to be ahead of the game. Once the order has worked its way through the parliamentary procedures, we will be in a position to deposit our instrument of ratification.

This is not about immunities and privileges in terms of diplomats parking in London, because the organisation will be based in Geneva. In a sense, it is a legal fiction. The people concerned will find a building for it there and will live and remain there; they will have no reason to run it from London. Immunities and privileges in the traditional sense do not apply in this case.

In response to the hon. Member for Twickenham, ratification in the House is always independent of the EU. We reserve that right. The centre will cover the full range of WTO matters and, I assume, those of GATT.

I hope that the Committee will approve the order so that we can move forward to ratification. Otherwise, the centre cannot have what is called, in legal jargon, a legal personality. Our job is to give it a legal personality and thereby fulfil our international obligations. I urge the Committee to support the order. The hon. Lady has already said that she will not oppose it. If I have omitted any details in my reply to her, I will check the record and gladly supply them. There is no secrecy involved: the idea is to provide all members of the Committee with as much information as they want. I passionately believe that the centre is a good idea and that we should move it forward, but we must get it right.

Mrs. Gillan: I am grateful to the Minister for the way in which he has answered our questions on this seemingly small order. I also hope that my questions have not been too arduous.

Whether the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or the Department for International Development provides the money, I hope that the Minister will explain how, when and to whom it will be paid and in what instalments. I also hope that he will take up my point on who will be employed. Will—as in the case of the International Criminal Court—founding members have a greater say in the provision of staff and personnel because of their founding contribution?

As a postscript—I do not expect the Minister to answer this now—will he outline whether countries that have not volunteered to support the centre will be pressured to make a contribution? If they are not so pressured, the contribution by the countries that have been generous enough to support the centre could go down. I do not want to damage the reputation of hon. Member for Leyton and Wanstead by agreeing with him, but it seems curmudgeonly that such a large player as the United States has not contributed a single dollar, although less wealthy nations have contributed generously. If the Minister will write with that information, I am happy to accede that the official Opposition have scrutinised the order.

Mr. Battle: I am happy to reply to the hon. Lady now. We have reached an agreement across the Committee. We agree that other countries should contribute because we want to build the organisation. The better the organisation, the better the quality, reach and range of its advice. If, for once, we can agree that other countries—especially the United States—should join in, I will be at one with her. I look forward to working jointly on that issue.

Question put and agreed to.


    That the Committee has considered the draft Advisory Centre on WTO Law (Immunities and Privileges) Order 2001.

        Committee rose at one minute past Five o'clock.

The following Members attended the Committee:
Butterfill, Mr. John (Chairman)
Battle, Mr.
Butler, Mrs.
Cable, Dr.
Clark, Dr. David
Cohen, Mr.
Davis, Mr. Terry
Day, Mr.
Gillan, Mrs.
McKenna, Mrs.
McNulty, Mr.
Tredinnick, Mr.
Trickett, Mr.
Twigg, Mr. Derek

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Prepared 30 April 2001