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Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, the noble Lord is absolutely right. There is a difference between Community regulations which apply directly under the European Communities Act 1972 and directives which leave to member states the form and implementation of legislation under Section 2.2 of the Act.

The important point is that we have real anxieties about some ECJ judgments, particularly where they have had unforeseen or disproportionate cost implications. We are considering ways of addressing those anxieties but have not yet reached any decisions. I should advise the House that not all judgments go against us. A number of recent cases show perfectly well that the European Court of Justice is now more sensitive to member states' anxieties. I shall be happy to acquaint the noble Lord with those cases, should he wish.

Lord Renton: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that, despite the subsidiarity rule, the Commission is still putting forward too many directives? Is she further aware that some countries have no intention of implementing all of them?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, I am well aware of what my noble friend says. That is why we are examining how well subsidiarity is working—where it is working—and where it is failing. Only by a careful examination of that can we put right the points which my noble friend mentioned.

However, there have been judgments where the Court has ruled in favour of member states and against the Commission, where that has been necessary: for example, in the recent WTO/GATT agreement. It is clear that the proper use of the European Court of Justice can be very much a benefit for member states. That also means that the Court must be used against member states when they refuse to comply. The British Government have been to the fore in bringing forward the wherewithal to do it.

Lord Tebbit: My Lords, my noble friend used an interesting turn of phrase. She said that the Court was becoming more sensitive to member states' interest.

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Surely a court of law should be concerned with implementing the law and not fluctuate one way and the other over whose interests it is sensitive to.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, in no way did I intend to imply, as my noble friend seems to have misunderstood, that the Court was fluctuating; nor should it do so. The Court, which at one time seemed to be ruling against member states, has at least taken the law properly into account; otherwise, the inter-governmental arrangements in the EDF case would not have been upheld. For instance, the Court would not have given weight to national rules and legislation on Sunday trading. There are a number of cases in this very difficult area where the Court is looking at and dealing with the law, as it should do. We must make sure that it continues to do so.

Lord Wyatt of Weeford: My Lords, what is the Government's attitude towards the proposed ending of 700 years of British hallmarking of gold and silver, so that in future no one will know what is genuinely gold and what is genuinely silver?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, I am informed that that is not happening, and that the consumer council at its meeting last Thursday did not agree to it.

Lord Annan: My Lords, further to the question of the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, will the Minister confirm that the European Court is governed by Roman law? Will she further confirm that Roman law asks: what is the principle of the law? Sometimes it will adjudicate one way and sometimes another, but it is not governed, as is English law, by precedent. Will the Minister suggest to her right honourable friend the Secretary of State that, because of the drip, drip, drip of anti-European Union propaganda, the time has come for the Government to issue a clearly worded statement to the general public on the advantages of belonging to the European Union?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, certainly I personally agree with the last point made by the noble Lord. I have just been listening to businessmen saying exactly what a great and positive difference our membership of the European Union has made to this country. I shall not go into detail about that today. With regard to the specific question, we must be clear that the principle of direct effect—which is what the Question is all about—does not apply to all provisions of directives. It applies only where certain specific provisions are clear. I shall write to the noble Lord about this matter, so that there is no difference of opinion between us.

Lord Richard: My Lords, can the Minister confirm that it is not the intention of Her Majesty's Government at the IGC next year to try to interfere with what is in the treaties in terms of the decision-making process in relation to directives?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, it has not as yet been decided what will or will not be on the agenda at the IGC. I stand by what I said. We need a strong rule of law in the Community to ensure, as my noble friend Lord Renton asked, that all member states

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comply with their obligations. We went over this matter on 8th March both in a Question from the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, and in debate. I can say to the House that we are quite clear that any changes to the treaty articles that relate to the European Court of Justice should maintain or strengthen the rule of law in the Community. We must aim for that.

Arrests: Advance Disclosure to the Media

2.55 p.m.

Lord Wigoder asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is police policy to disclose in advance to the media details of the time and place of the imminent arrest of suspects, and, if not, what steps are taken to deal with unauthorised leaks of such information.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): My Lords, it is not the policy of the police to disclose to the media details of the imminent arrest of named suspects. Any unauthorised disclosure of information by police officers is a disciplinary offence and could lead to dismissal. The responsibility for the authorised disclosure of information to the press is an operational matter for chief officers.

Lord Wigoder: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for her reply. Will she confirm that the most recent incident involved a well known footballer? Would she agree that there has been a whole series of such incidents in which persons who are at that time presumed by law to be innocent have been arrested at an unearthly hour in the morning and simultaneously have found that not only they but their wives and children have been surrounded by a horde of photographers and journalists? Does she agree that that is not only a gross invasion of personal privacy but is a very real threat to the public peace?

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I am able to agree wholeheartedly with the noble Lord. Even where there is not a complaint, the police are so concerned that they start investigations. They do so with or without a complaint. In the case mentioned an investigation is taking place. If it is found that a policeman has breached a confidence, it can lead to his dismissal.

Lord Molloy: My Lords, if there is only a tiny minority of forces in the country which are not behaving in the normal way and which possibly committed the offences outlined by the noble Lord, would it be worth while having them investigated so that the excellent name of Britain's police forces throughout the country is in no way damaged?

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord. It does not matter whether it is one or many incidents. If there has been a breach of confidence which

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prejudices or intrudes on the privacy of people who are innocent until proven guilty, it will be regarded as a very serious matter and will be investigated.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that she gave virtually the same reply to virtually the same Question a little time ago? Is she further aware that nothing has been done about the matter, that something has to be done about it, that these investigations are absolutely futile and useless, and that it is rather like trying to track down government leaks? What do the Government propose to do about this scandal?

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I am sorry that my noble friend feels that my repeating an answer is somehow or other a sign of weakness. These cases will continue to be pursued. It must be said that it is very difficult to pin down who released the information. Very often there is an assumption that it has come from the police. Indeed, it could come from other people—perhaps journalists on the look-out being very speculative about what may happen. In these days of modern communications, information passes over mobile phones and so on. Where there is a breach of confidence and it leads to intrusion of privacy, or, even worse, prejudices someone's trial, it is regarded as very serious and investigations take place.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, will the Minister confirm that, quite apart from the unauthorised disclosure of information, the acceptance of a gratuity in these circumstances is also a disciplinary offence? To take up the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, is the Minister able to indicate how many disciplinary charges have been brought in respect of such matters in, say, the past three years?

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