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Viscount Ullswater: My Lords, the Audit Commission directed its attention to the question of management, staff and pay. I believe that that needs to be taken into account when looking at the matters in hand because it is up to each local authority to decide on its individual circumstances. I believe that they have not addressed the question of the management of pay as well as they could.

Lord Williams of Elvel: My Lords, following on the question of my noble friend Lord Cledwyn on the definition of inefficiency, would the Minister classify the failure of Westminster City Council to collect some £30 million for repairs from its leaseholders as inefficiency or culpable negligence?

Viscount Ullswater: My Lords, I shall not comment because that is a matter for the district auditor.

Plutonium Smuggling

2.59 p.m.

Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, incidents of smuggling involving nuclear materials are of course a matter of great concern. We believe that the priority must be to

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help to improve the practical implementation of nuclear materials accountancy and physical security in those countries from which the material may be coming. We have been working in a number of international fora to achieve that. We believe that that approach is more likely to succeed than starting negotiations on a new agency. Foreign Office officials will attend the seminar on 14th February.

Lord Jenkins of Putney: My Lords, I am glad to hear the last part of the noble Lord's Answer. In the meantime, can he say whether the Government have considered or will consider the possibility of resourcing and financing sufficiently the International Atomic Energy Agency so that it may be able to fulfil that additional function which I believe we all agree is of extreme importance and urgency?

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, said, this is a matter of great concern. However, we believe that it is important that we address it in a manner which will reap rewards. As I hope I made clear in my earlier Answer, we are not satisfied that the right way to deal with this particular problem is to set up a new agency. We believe that the right way to approach it is along the present lines, using the system of safeguards devised by the IAEA.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, does the Minister's Answer to my noble friend's earlier Question mean that the Government are now in favour of greater transparency about the level of plutonium stocks held in various countries, including their own? If that is the case, can the Minister tell the House what steps are being taken to pursue that goal of greater transparency?

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, as the noble Baroness may know, the UK is chairing a group in the wings of the IAEA in Vienna of plutonium-producing nations with a view to endeavouring to establish whether greater transparency can be introduced. As yet, we have not managed to achieve any agreement or consensus.

Lord Jenkins of Putney: My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord did not register the fact that we are agreed that the existing body provides one means of tackling the problem. We are at least agreed on that point. However, does he further agree that in order to tackle the problem, the agency will have to be more satisfactorily financed and resourced? Does he support that view?

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, it is essential that the agency is satisfactorily financed and resourced. Obviously, the extent of the resources required depends on what the agency is to do.

Allegations against Lords

3.2 p.m.

Lord Marsh: My Lords, under the Standing Orders as I understand them, perhaps I may ask a question of the Leader of the House for guidance.

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There seems to have been a leakage of a paper from one of the Members of this House regarding what is alleged to be improper behaviour on the part of a number of Members of this House. That information has apparently been obtained from someone who I understand the noble Lord is unable to name because he is paid by that person. Apparently, the alleged informant knows of some other chaps who know of other people who are also engaged in encouraging people to behave improperly. Is it possible for the noble Viscount the Leader of the House to give the noble Lord concerned the opportunity to cast light on these matters or to apologise?

The Lord Privy Seal (Viscount Cranborne): My Lords, knowing the jealousy with which all Members of your Lordships' House rightly guard the reputation of this House, I am sure that the noble Lord, Lord Marsh, will agree with me that if allegations of so serious a nature are to be made about this House, whether by a Member of your Lordships' House or by anybody outside it, it is at least responsible for those making the allegations to be able to substantiate them.

I am sure that the noble Lord who has apparently made those allegations—whose nature I have myself only gathered from reading the press—will be in a position to substantiate them. Otherwise, we shall find ourselves in the difficult position of being blackguarded without any evidence to substantiate the blackguard, particularly in view of what the press calls the current climate.

I hope that, if there is any evidence whatsoever to substantiate the accusations that have been made, the noble Lord and his clients (in his professional capacity) will be able to substantiate those allegations. Otherwise, there is a risk of the reputation of this House being blackened in the public mind without substance.

I should like to add one further point. It is clear to all noble Lords that in the present climate it is incumbent on all of us to make sure that no suspicion can attach to Members of your Lordships' House. It is only right that your Lordships should have taken up the suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Richard, that the House should examine the question of whether we should establish a register of Member's interests. As your Lordships know, the noble and learned learned Lord, Lord Griffiths, has kindly consented to chair a sub-committee of the Procedure Committee to investigate that possibility. The Procedure Committee looks forward to receiving the noble and learned Lord's report.

No matter what the Procedure Committee may eventually recommend to your Lordships, it has long been the practice of the House for noble Lords to speak on their honour. Therefore, it is perhaps sensible for me to take advantage of the intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Marsh, to suggest to your Lordships that, perhaps now more than at any other time, all of us should make sure that before we intervene in the business of the House if we have a financial interest to declare we should do so. To err on the side of over-declaration would be a fault on the right side.

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Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill [H.L.]

3.7 p.m.

Report received.

Clause 2 [Breach of Bail conditions]:

The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Lord Fraser of Carmyllie) moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 2, line 26, leave out from ("regard") to end of line 27 and insert ("to—
(a) the fact that the offence was committed by him while on bail and the number of bail orders to which he was subject when the offence was committed;
(b) any previous conviction of the accused of an offence under subsection (1) (b) above; and
(c) the extent to which the sentence or disposal in respect of any previous conviction of the accused differed, by virtue of this subsection, from that which the court would have imposed but for this subsection.").

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, when I sought to move the amendment at Committee stage I encountered a degree of reservation about it. In those circumstances, in case I had overlooked a point, I undertook to reconsider the amendment. I have done so, and I consider the amendment to be necessary. It may help if I explain my reasons briefly.

The provisions in Clause 2 will require a court, in determining the appropriate sentence for an offence which was committed while the offender was on bail, to have regard to the fact that the offence was committed while on bail. In making that determination, it may increase the sentence for the offence over and above any statutory maximum which might otherwise apply.

Under the terms of the new Section 3(2C), Clause 2 will not —or at least not clearly—enable the court to exceed the maxima in the light of any other relevant matters. Those might include the fact that the offender was subject to more than one bail order at the time the offence was committed, that he had a previous record of offending while on bail, and the attitude taken previously by the court to bail abuse by the offender. Those are relevant facts of which the court ought to be able to take full account in sentencing for offending while on bail. All the amendment seeks to do is to ensure that the court's discretion is not unnecessarily restricted when it comes to determine the appropriate sentence for offending on bail. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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