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1 Apr 2009 : Column 980

On definitions in respect of clause 2, the important point is that those categories represent a sensible widening of scope, something that we do not have at present. It is true that there is no single agreed definition for peace building, but we do not anticipate a problem in practice. Peace building, as right hon. and hon. Members will be more than well aware, is the phase after peace making and peacekeeping when a violent conflict has slowed down or halted.

Humanitarian assistance is, as right hon. and hon. Members know, deployed at times of humanitarian crisis, such as natural disasters. Political and development assistance is always part of a long-term solution to provide a lasting strengthening of a nation’s capability and capacity to recover from times of trouble.

Several points were raised about procedure, such as the time taken to bring the Bill before the House. Right hon. and hon. Members know that, as with any legislation, we need to find a place for it in the legislative programme. We prepared the Bill by working closely with the British Red Cross, to which I again extend my appreciation and thanks. Once the parliamentary process is complete, the UK will ratify the protocols as soon as possible, and statutory instruments will be laid to give effect to them. There are no significant financial implications.

On the question of scrutiny, right hon. and hon. Members know that the Bill started life in the other place and that it is not practice to take evidence on Bills that do so. However, this Bill is destined for the scrutiny of the whole House in Committee, so there will be no parliamentary opportunity for an evidence session. I repeat that the Bill has been prepared and drawn up in full consultation with the British Red Cross, which has used its expertise to bring many great aspects to the Bill.

On clause 2 and the Bill’s coverage, the protocol covers only UN workers. However, we continue to press for a fuller set of protections—for example, for those who work for Save the Children or Oxfam. Of course, other criminal offences can be committed by people who attack humanitarian personnel, whoever they work for.

On the international legislative position, I reiterate that five countries with UN missions in their territories have signed the protocol. For us, the adoption of the protocol is a very serious matter and a demonstration of the importance that we place on it. In reality, we are seeking to lead by example, but we will continue to lobby international partners to do likewise. As we have heard, 87 countries have ratified the convention. A further 34 countries have signed the protocol, and 16 have ratified it. The protocol will come into force once 22 countries have ratified it.

A question was asked about the protocol’s application. The convention and the protocol apply not only in states that have ratified them, but wherever a UN operation is taking place, so people can be brought to justice in the UK for acts committed elsewhere.

A question was asked about whether the Bill should amend the list of offences in the United Nations Personnel Act 1997. No further change is needed under the Bill, and any necessary consequential amendments were made when sections 1 and 2 of the 1997 Act were changed.

Mr. Greg Knight: The Minister is being very generous in giving way—I appreciate it—but will she tell the House whether this is the first Bill that we have ever debated that contains a logo in the schedule?

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Gillian Merron: It is tempting to answer, but I am afraid that I cannot. I will happily write to the right hon. Gentleman to give him an accurate reply, but I would not describe the red crystal as a logo; it is an emblem of protection, which is certainly how the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies seeks to present it.

A question was asked about the difference between optional and additional protocols. There is no such difference in legal effect. The truth is that the terminology is not always consistent, contrary to what one might like. The word “optional” is used because Governments can decide whether to become party to such a protocol, which commits only those who ratify it.

Further questions were asked about why this is a reserved matter, the extension to the overseas territories and other areas. Such things are, of course, quite normal in the UK legislative framework.

In closing, I ask the House to join me in paying tribute to all those courageous men and women who continue to work under the most difficult and dangerous conditions to save and improve the lives of others. The majority of us have been spared the horrors of war, but for those caught up in conflict, we can only imagine their sense of relief and gratitude for the humanitarian support provided by the UN, the Red Cross, the Red Crescent and the many other organisations that do such work. In passing the Bill, we will make our own small but significant contribution to their efforts. I commend the Bill to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Geneva conventions and united nations personnel (protocols) bill [ lords] (programme)

Motion made, and Question put forthwith, (Standing Order No. 83A),

The House proceeded to a Division.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Alan Haselhurst): I ask the Serjeant at Arms to investigate the delay in the Aye Lobby.

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The House having divided: Ayes 452, Noes 16.
Division No. 94]
[4.53 pm


Abbott, Ms Diane
Afriyie, Adam
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, rh Mr. Bob
Ainsworth, Mr. Peter
Alexander, Danny
Allen, Mr. Graham
Amess, Mr. David
Ancram, rh Mr. Michael
Anderson, Mr. David
Armstrong, rh Hilary
Atkinson, Mr. Peter
Austin, Mr. Ian
Bacon, Mr. Richard
Bailey, Mr. Adrian
Baird, Vera
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Banks, Gordon
Barker, Gregory
Barlow, Ms Celia
Baron, Mr. John
Barrett, John
Battle, rh John
Bayley, Hugh
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Sir Stuart
Bellingham, Mr. Henry
Benton, Mr. Joe
Benyon, Mr. Richard
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blackman-Woods, Dr. Roberta
Blears, rh Hazel
Blizzard, Mr. Bob
Blunt, Mr. Crispin
Borrow, Mr. David S.
Boswell, Mr. Tim
Bottomley, Peter
Bradshaw, Mr. Ben
Brazier, Mr. Julian
Breed, Mr. Colin
Brennan, Kevin
Brokenshire, James
Brooke, Annette
Brown, rh Mr. Nicholas
Brown, Mr. Russell
Browne, rh Des
Browne, Mr. Jeremy
Browning, Angela
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burnham, rh Andy
Burns, Mr. Simon
Burrowes, Mr. David
Burstow, Mr. Paul
Burt, Alistair
Burt, Lorely
Butler, Ms Dawn
Butterfill, Sir John
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Caborn, rh Mr. Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Mr. Alan
Campbell, rh Sir Menzies
Campbell, Mr. Ronnie
Caton, Mr. Martin
Cawsey, Mr. Ian
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben
Chaytor, Mr. David
Clapham, Mr. Michael
Clark, Greg
Clark, Paul
Clarke, rh Mr. Charles
Clarke, rh Mr. Kenneth
Clarke, rh Mr. Tom
Clelland, Mr. David
Clifton-Brown, Mr. Geoffrey
Clwyd, rh Ann
Coaker, Mr. Vernon
Coffey, Ann
Cohen, Harry
Connarty, Michael
Cooper, Rosie
Cooper, rh Yvette
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cousins, Jim
Crabb, Mr. Stephen
Crausby, Mr. David
Creagh, Mary
Cryer, Mrs. Ann
Cunningham, Mr. Jim
Cunningham, Tony
Curry, rh Mr. David
David, Mr. Wayne
Davidson, Mr. Ian
Davies, Mr. Dai
Davis, rh David
Dean, Mrs. Janet
Denham, rh Mr. John
Devine, Mr. Jim
Dhanda, Mr. Parmjit
Djanogly, Mr. Jonathan
Dobbin, Jim
Dobson, rh Frank
Donaldson, rh Mr. Jeffrey M.
Doran, Mr. Frank
Dorries, Nadine
Drew, Mr. David
Duddridge, James
Duncan, Alan
Duncan Smith, rh Mr. Iain
Dunne, Mr. Philip
Eagle, Angela
Eagle, Maria
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs. Louise
Ellwood, Mr. Tobias
Engel, Natascha
Ennis, Jeff
Evans, Mr. Nigel
Evennett, Mr. David
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Mr. Michael
Farron, Tim
Field, rh Mr. Frank
Field, Mr. Mark
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flello, Mr. Robert
Flynn, Paul

Follett, Barbara
Foster, Mr. Don
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings and Rye)
Fox, Dr. Liam
Francis, Dr. Hywel
Fraser, Christopher
Gale, Mr. Roger
Gapes, Mike
Gardiner, Barry
Garnier, Mr. Edward
Gauke, Mr. David
George, Andrew
Gerrard, Mr. Neil
Gibb, Mr. Nick
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gillan, Mrs. Cheryl
Gilroy, Linda
Goggins, Paul
Goldsworthy, Julia
Goodman, Mr. Paul
Goodwill, Mr. Robert
Gove, Michael
Gray, Mr. James
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian
Greening, Justine
Griffith, Nia
Griffiths, Nigel
Gwynne, Andrew
Hague, rh Mr. William
Hain, rh Mr. Peter
Hall, Patrick
Hamilton, Mr. David
Hamilton, Mr. Fabian
Hammond, Mr. Philip
Hammond, Stephen
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harper, Mr. Mark
Harris, Mr. Tom
Harvey, Nick
Hayes, Mr. John
Heald, Mr. Oliver
Healey, rh John
Hemming, John
Hendrick, Mr. Mark
Hendry, Charles
Hepburn, Mr. Stephen
Herbert, Nick
Hermon, Lady
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hoban, Mr. Mark
Hodgson, Mrs. Sharon
Holloway, Mr. Adam
Holmes, Paul
Hoon, rh Mr. Geoffrey
Hope, Phil
Hopkins, Kelvin
Horam, Mr. John
Horwood, Martin
Howarth, David
Howarth, rh Mr. George
Howarth, Mr. Gerald
Howell, John
Howells, rh Dr. Kim
Hughes, rh Beverley
Huhne, Chris
Humble, Mrs. Joan
Hunt, Mr. Jeremy
Hunter, Mark
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Illsley, Mr. Eric
Ingram, rh Mr. Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jack, rh Mr. Michael
Jackson, Mr. Stewart
James, Mrs. Siân C.
Jenkins, Mr. Brian
Johnson, rh Alan
Johnson, Ms Diana R.
Jones, Mr. David
Jones, Helen
Jones, Mr. Kevan
Jones, Lynne
Jones, Mr. Martyn
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Mr. Eric
Kaufman, rh Sir Gerald
Kawczynski, Daniel
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keeley, Barbara
Keen, Ann
Keetch, Mr. Paul
Kelly, rh Ruth
Khan, Mr. Sadiq
Kilfoyle, Mr. Peter
Knight, rh Jim
Kramer, Susan
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Laing, Mrs. Eleanor
Lait, Mrs. Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lammy, rh Mr. David
Lancaster, Mr. Mark
Lansley, Mr. Andrew
Laws, Mr. David
Laxton, Mr. Bob
Lazarowicz, Mark
Leech, Mr. John
Lepper, David
Letwin, rh Mr. Oliver
Levitt, Tom
Liddell-Grainger, Mr. Ian
Lidington, Mr. David
Lilley, rh Mr. Peter
Linton, Martin
Lloyd, Tony
Llwyd, Mr. Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Love, Mr. Andrew
Lucas, Ian
Luff, Peter
MacNeil, Mr. Angus
MacShane, rh Mr. Denis
Mactaggart, Fiona
Main, Anne
Malik, Mr. Shahid
Malins, Mr. Humfrey
Mallaber, Judy
Marris, Rob
Marsden, Mr. Gordon
Martlew, Mr. Eric
Mason, John
Maude, rh Mr. Francis
May, rh Mrs. Theresa
McAvoy, rh Mr. Thomas
McCarthy, Kerry
McCarthy-Fry, Sarah
McCartney, rh Mr. Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
McDonnell, John
McFadden, rh Mr. Pat

McFall, rh John
McGovern, Mr. Jim
McGuire, rh Mrs. Anne
McIntosh, Miss Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
McLoughlin, rh Mr. Patrick
McNulty, rh Mr. Tony
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miller, Andrew
Miller, Mrs. Maria
Mitchell, Mr. Andrew
Mitchell, Mr. Austin
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moon, Mrs. Madeleine
Moore, Mr. Michael
Moran, Margaret
Morgan, Julie
Morley, rh Mr. Elliot
Moss, Mr. Malcolm
Mullin, Mr. Chris
Mundell, David
Munn, Meg
Murphy, Mr. Denis
Murphy, rh Mr. Jim
Murphy, rh Mr. Paul
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Neill, Robert
Newmark, Mr. Brooks
Norris, Dan
O'Brien, Mr. Mike
Olner, Mr. Bill
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, Mr. George
Osborne, Sandra
Ottaway, Richard
Owen, Albert
Paice, Mr. James
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Paterson, Mr. Owen
Pelling, Mr. Andrew
Penning, Mike
Penrose, John
Pickles, Mr. Eric
Plaskitt, Mr. James
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Bridget
Prentice, Mr. Gordon
Prescott, rh Mr. John
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Pritchard, Mark
Prosser, Gwyn
Pugh, Dr. John
Purchase, Mr. Ken
Randall, Mr. John
Raynsford, rh Mr. Nick
Reed, Mr. Andy
Reed, Mr. Jamie
Reid, Mr. Alan
Reid, rh John
Rennie, Willie
Riordan, Mrs. Linda
Robathan, Mr. Andrew
Robertson, Hugh
Robertson, John
Robertson, Mr. Laurence
Robinson, Mr. Geoffrey
Rooney, Mr. Terry
Rosindell, Andrew
Rowen, Paul
Roy, Mr. Frank
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Russell, Christine
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mr. Mohammad
Scott, Mr. Lee
Seabeck, Alison
Selous, Andrew
Sharma, Mr. Virendra
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Mr. Barry
Shepherd, Mr. Richard
Sheridan, Jim
Simmonds, Mark
Simon, Mr. Siôn
Simpson, Alan
Simpson, Mr. Keith
Singh, Mr. Marsha
Skinner, Mr. Dennis
Slaughter, Mr. Andy
Smith, rh Mr. Andrew
Smith, Ms Angela C. (Sheffield, Hillsborough)
Smith, Angela E. (Basildon)
Smith, rh Jacqui
Smith, John
Smith, Sir Robert
Snelgrove, Anne
Soulsby, Sir Peter
Spellar, rh Mr. John
Spelman, Mrs. Caroline
Spicer, Sir Michael
Spink, Bob
Spring, Mr. Richard
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Steen, Mr. Anthony
Stewart, Ian
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Straw, rh Mr. Jack
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Stunell, Andrew
Sutcliffe, Mr. Gerry
Swayne, Mr. Desmond
Swinson, Jo
Swire, Mr. Hugo
Taylor, David
Taylor, Mr. Ian
Thomas, Mr. Gareth
Thornberry, Emily
Thurso, John
Timms, rh Mr. Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mr. Mark
Touhig, rh Mr. Don
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Mr. Paul
Turner, Dr. Desmond
Turner, Mr. Neil
Twigg, Derek
Tyrie, Mr. Andrew
Ussher, Kitty
Vara, Mr. Shailesh
Viggers, Sir Peter
Villiers, Mrs. Theresa
Wallace, Mr. Ben
Walley, Joan
Ward, Claire
Waterson, Mr. Nigel
Watkinson, Angela

Watson, Mr. Tom
Watts, Mr. Dave
Webb, Steve
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, rh Malcolm
Wiggin, Bill
Williams, rh Mr. Alan
Williams, Hywel
Williams, Mark
Williams, Mr. Roger
Williams, Stephen
Willott, Jenny
Wills, rh Mr. Michael
Wilson, Phil
Wilson, Mr. Rob
Wilson, Sammy
Winnick, Mr. David
Winterton, Ann
Winterton, rh Ms Rosie
Wishart, Pete
Wood, Mike
Woodward, rh Mr. Shaun
Woolas, Mr. Phil
Wright, David
Wright, Mr. Iain
Wright, Jeremy
Wright, Dr. Tony
Wyatt, Derek
Yeo, Mr. Tim
Young, rh Sir George
Tellers for the Ayes:

Mark Tami and
Helen Goodman

Binley, Mr. Brian
Bone, Mr. Peter
Brady, Mr. Graham
Davies, David T.C. (Monmouth)
Heathcoat-Amory, rh Mr. David
Hogg, rh Mr. Douglas
Hollobone, Mr. Philip
Knight, rh Mr. Greg
Leigh, Mr. Edward
Redwood, rh Mr. John
Stanley, rh Sir John
Syms, Mr. Robert
Turner, Mr. Andrew
Walker, Mr. Charles
Wilshire, Mr. David
Winterton, Sir Nicholas
Tellers for the Noes:

Mr. Graham Stuart and
Mr. Christopher Chope
Question accordingly agreed to.
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Business without Debate

Delegated Legislation

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),


Question agreed to.

Business of the House


1 Apr 2009 : Column 986

Rating and Valuation (S.I., 2009, No. 204)

5.11 pm

Robert Neill (Bromley and Chislehurst) (Con): I beg to move,

It is a pleasure to return yet again to the issue of the effect of certain changes in port rating. Before the Minister looks up in despair, I should say that I return to it without apology. This debate gives us an opportunity to look not only at the issue set out in the regulations, but at what has given rise to the regulations. The regulations attempt to provide a measure of relief to port businesses that, on any objective measure, have been subject to gross injustice and unfair treatment. This debate gives us the opportunity to address that issue once again.

Mr. Frank Field (Birkenhead) (Lab): Some of us on this side of the House have to make up our minds about what to do, so it would be helpful to know at the beginning how the Opposition are going to vote on the motion.

Robert Neill: If the right hon. Gentleman is patient and listens to me, he will be enlightened in due course. It will help him if I put everything into context; that will lead him to where we are going to be.

How has this regulation come about? It is an attempt by the Government to pick up some of the mistakes of the Valuation Office Agency, for which the Department for Communities and Local Government does not have direct responsibility, but which is the responsibility of the Treasury. Those mistakes were made at a time when, ironically, the Prime Minister was Chancellor of the Exchequer. I do not know whether that had anything to do with the Treasury’s having taken its eye off the VAO, but that is the simple chronology of the matter.

What has arisen is this: after the 55 registered ports were denationalised—for good reasons—it was initially decided that they should be rated under a system different from that relating to other businesses in the UK. Rates were raised through a system of prescription by the Secretary of State. The payments generally took place through a system known as the cumulo, in which the port businesses—the warehousemen, the stevedores, the crane operators, the importers of vehicles, the engineers and so on—paid their rents and rates to the port owner. In due course, the rate element was paid to the local authority, which had a duty to collect. The rates were then paid to the Treasury, as they were national non-domestic rates.

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