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7 Nov 2002 : Column 478—continued

Mr. Roger Williams (Brecon and Radnorshire): Does the Minister agree that it is essential that magistrates receive training in the exercise of these powers and

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duties? Although we all hope that the need to use them would never arise, if it did, there would be no time to instruct them on their nature.

Mr. Morley: Magistrates already receive training, and part of it is to take into account reasonableness.

The hon. Member for St. Ives (Andrew George) raised an important point about how farmers and landowners would become aware of the procedures. I reassure him that one of the changes that we have introduced as part of the lessons learned is that, should there be a decision to cull, the first thing that will be done is to send a note to the farmers concerned informing them of that fact and why the decision had been taken. We can include information on such procedures in those notes, so that they will be aware of their rights.

The whole idea of the slaughter note, which is part of the slaughter protocol, is to explain why a measure is being applied. The need to explain in certain circumstances why culling may be necessary is an improvement and marks a step forward in communication. Even with the greater prominence of vaccination, which I welcome, we have to accept that it is likely that culling will be used for different reasons, depending on the epidemic and the advice given. We need to understand that.

I thank my colleague, Lord Whitty, and my parliamentary colleagues for their contributions. I also thank my officials for their hard work. They have been very much involved in the Bill. I am also grateful for the guidance from the Chair on procedural matters.

The Bill is not about looking back. I hope that its measures allow us to look forward to future disease control strategies, which I have no doubt will be very different from earlier strategies. There will be greater involvement in the process. There are new opportunities, new technologies, new methods of working, improved communications and better contingency arrangements for a range of risks that threaten the livestock industry. I hope that the Bill is seen not as a threat to the industry, but as part of a range of measures designed to engage it, to give people a say and, above all, to ensure that we have a first-class livestock industry equipped to deal with the various threats that it faces from a variety of sources.

Question put and agreed to.

Government amendments in lieu of subsequent Lords amendments agreed to.

4.43 pm

Sitting suspended, pursuant to order [29 October].

6.30 pm

On resuming—

Message to attend the Lords Commissioners:

The House went; and, having returned:

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Royal Assent

6.58 pm

Mr. Speaker: I have to acquaint the House that the House has been to the House of Peers, where a Commission under the Great Seal was read, authorising the Royal Assent to the following Acts:

Copyright (Visually Impaired Persons) Act 2002

Employee Share Schemes Act 2002

Public Trustee (Liability and Fees) Act 2002

Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002

Private Hire Vehicles (Carriage of Guide Dogs etc.) Act 2002

Adoption and Children Act 2002

Commonwealth Act 2002

Enterprise Act 2002

Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002

Animal Health Act 2002

HSBC Investment Banking Act 2002

Barclays Group Reorganisation Act 2002

Milford Haven Port Authority Act 2002

City of London (Ward Elections) Act 2002

7 Nov 2002 : Column 481


Her Majesty's Most Gracious Speech

Mr. Speaker: I have further to acquaint the House that the Lord High Chancellor, one of the Lord Commissioners, delivered Her Majesty's Most Gracious Speech to both Houses of Parliament, in pursuance of Her Majesty's Command. For greater accuracy, I have obtained a copy and also directed that the terms of the speech be printed in the Journal of the House. Copies are being made available in the Vote Office.

The Gracious Speech was as follows:

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

My Government has taken action in support of economic stability and sound public finances, and has continued to increase investment in public services and tackle child poverty.

Education is my Government's top priority. An Act has been passed to promote diversity, choice, innovation and higher standards in schools. The Act provides new opportunities for school partnerships, improved support for teachers, more options for tackling weak and failing schools and greater freedom for successful headteachers and governors.

Legislation has been passed to reform health services and strengthen regulation of the health professions.

An Act has been passed to increase powers against money laundering, establish a Criminal Assets Recovery Agency and make it easier to recover the proceeds of crime and drugs.

Legislation has been passed to modernise and reform the police service and to establish a new complaints system.

Legislation has been passed to reform and streamline the system for dealing with immigration and applications for asylum.

Legislation has been passed to reform employment dispute resolution procedures and to introduce new employment rights, including measures to balance work and parental life.

Legislation was also passed which introduced a new system of tax credits and a new pension credit for pensioners.

An Act was passed to improve productivity and enterprise through reform of the competition, insolvency and consumer protection regimes.

Draft legislation has been brought forward on a number of matters including on Communications, Local Government and Extradition.

Members of the House of Commons

I thank you for the provision you have made for the work and dignity of the Crown and for the public service.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

In Northern Ireland, my Government continued to work closely with the political parties and the Irish Government to secure the full implementation of the Belfast Agreement.

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Acts have been passed to maintain the arrangements on decommissioning and to reform the criminal justice system, both part of the Belfast Agreement. Provision has been made for new measures to combat electoral fraud in Northern Ireland.

My Government has continued to co-operate with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the interests of all of the people of the United Kingdom. A White Paper was published outlining proposals for devolution to the English regions.

My Government invited Parliament to set up a joint committee of both Houses to enable Parliament to reach a view on the second phase of House of Lords reform. Legislation was passed to allow political parties to make positive moves to increase the representation of women in public life.

An Act was passed to reform the system of land registration. Legislation was also passed reforming residential leasehold law and improving leaseholders' rights and to create commonhold.

My Government brought forward legislation to make the age of entitlement for concessionary fares the same for men as it is for women.

An Act has been passed to reform adoption law to make children's welfare paramount, encourage more adoption and strengthen regulation of overseas adoptions.

Other important measures have been enacted.

My Lords and Members of the House of Commons

The Duke of Edinburgh and I were pleased to receive the state visit of the King and Queen of Jordan last November.

We recall with pleasure our visits to Jamaica and New Zealand in February and our subsequent visit to Australia on the occasion of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. The Duke of Edinburgh and I were also delighted to pay a visit to Canada in October.

Following the shocking events of 11 September, my Government has taken decisive action to help combat terrorism around the world and support the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

My Government has continued to play a leading role in efforts to improve the competitiveness of Europe's economies and bring the European Union closer to its people. Legislation has been enacted enabling the United Kingdom to ratify the Treaty of Nice and implement decisions on the Union's future funding.

My Government has played a key role in agreeing a timetable for enlargement of the European Union and in identifying practical ways to strengthen the Union's foreign and security policy, particularly its support for peace building in the Balkans.

My Government has worked to strengthen NATO, equip it for the challenges of the future and develop its growing partnership with Russia.

My Government has worked for a more effective global effort to reduce poverty, including initiatives on debt relief and HIV/AIDS, and has enacted legislation to strengthen the poverty focus to Britain's development work.

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My Government ratified the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change along with other EU partners, as well as the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

In the United Nations, the Commonwealth and other fora my Government has been active in promoting human rights and tackling the causes of conflict, including support for UN efforts in newly independent East Timor.

My Government enacted legislation to grant British citizenship to British Overseas Territories citizens in qualifying territories.

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