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Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, will the Minister tell us how many of the local pay deals have conditions attached to them which mean that, in effect, most of those who are to receive the pay award will not receive the full 3 per cent.?

Baroness Cumberlege: My Lords, half of the offers that have been put on the table have some qualification. But in many cases that will mean that overall nurses receive higher levels of pay. In fact, we now know of trusts which are offering between 3 per cent. and 9 per cent. In all the examples which I gave nurses will receive more than they would have done if they had stuck to national agreements.

Lord Laing of Dunphail: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that any pay system which gives the same reward to those who work less effectively and with less commitment than their colleagues, and with no regard to local conditions, must be flawed?

Baroness Cumberlege: My Lords, my noble friend is absolutely right. As someone who has built up one of the most successful British companies and employed large numbers of staff, he will know the ingredients of success. Centrally negotiated wage agreements are fast becoming irrelevant and inappropriate in today's world. We must move away from that. No organisation can run its business when it has no control over 70 per cent. of its costs.

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Russia: Military Co-operation

3.26 p.m.

Lord Belhaven and Stenton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, as reported in The Times of Friday 12th May, Britain is planning to step up its military co-operation with Russia to an unprecedented level in spite of the continued conflict in Chechnya.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Henley): My Lords, my department signed a memorandum of understanding on military co-operation with Russia in 1993. That began a valuable, but relatively modest, programme of contacts which we believe is important in establishing good relations with Russia and promoting security and stability in Europe. Planning and implementation of the programme is of course taken forward in the light of all recent developments.

Lord Belhaven and Stenton: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply but he does not seem to have answered my Question, which is whether the article to which I referred in The Times is correct.

Lord Henley: My Lords, I have seen the article and, to some extent, I think that it overstates the amount of defence co-operation envisaged. The exercise that is mentioned in the article is due to be held in the United Kingdom and not in Russia. We have not invited a group of Russian officers to train in the United Kingdom as such. They will merely visit some of our defence establishments. However, we recognise the need to nurture our defence links with Russia in order to promote growing stability, as I said earlier, in the post Cold War era.

Lord Craig of Radley: My Lords, do not the Armed Forces welcome the opportunity to train in new areas? Contacts between our servicemen and their counterparts in the host nation help to contribute to an understanding of Western values and objectives.

Lord Henley: My Lords, the noble and gallant Lord is absolutely right. We certainly welcome any opportunities to train in other parts of the world, in particular because it relieves some of the pressure on our own training lands in the United Kingdom, which may cause a degree of concern in this country. The noble and gallant Lord is absolutely correct as regards his assertion that co-operation among the armed forces of parties which were formerly not exactly friendly can only be for the benefit of all concerned and help to promote greater stability.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, how can it be said that Western values have been drawn to the attention of the Russian forces when they continue to bombard indiscriminately towns and villages in Chechnya and even shoot at columns of refugees? That is contrary to the Geneva Conventions and the Budapest Declaration of the OSCE. What measures are available to the Council of Ministers of the OSCE when Russia continues to flout the recommendations made by that council that there should be a ceasefire and a negotiated settlement in relation to the problem in Chechnya?

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Lord Henley: My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord will realise that we are very concerned about all reports of human rights abuses and civilian casualties in Chechnya. What is going on there is certainly a setback for hopes of greater Russian-Western co-operation. We have made that absolutely clear to the Russians. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister made that clear to President Yeltsin on his visit to Moscow on 9th May.

We welcome the establishment of the current OSCE mission in Chechnya. We hope that it will make an extremely positive contribution to resolving that crisis. We have heard some fairly encouraging news that round table talks may be arranged under its auspices and we hope that that may lead to further progress.

Lord Hylton: My Lords, was not the timing and the publicity given to the remarks by the Chief of the General Staff in Moscow very unfortunate, following so close on the atrocities that we have witnessed in Chechnya? Further, will the Minister accept that the long-term objective of military co-operation is very desirable, especially to give real meaning to the rather nebulous partnership for peace?

Lord Henley: My Lords, the noble Lord will appreciate that I am not responsible for what The Times publishes and when it does so. As I believe I made clear earlier in my response to my noble friend, we believe that The Times overstated the case and the amount of co-operation that was envisaged. I welcome the point made by the noble Lord that military co-operation, in the main, can probably only be for the good.

Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, in the light of what the Minister said about the desirability of building bridges with Russia and, indeed, integrating her into a European security order—something which the Labour Party endorses—can he comment on the desirability of expanding NATO to include Poland and other East European countries while excluding Russia and other CIS states?

Lord Henley: My Lords, we shall continue to co-operate with Russia and develop links with that country. We obviously would like to see NATO developed further. I understand the concerns of the Russians on those particular points. However, I do not believe that we can allow the Russians themselves to impose a veto on any further development of NATO, particularly in terms of taking in—should the time come when it is possible to do so—Poland and the other Visegrad nations.

Lord Belhaven and Stenton: My Lords, can my noble friend the Minister tell the House whether the report that British officers are being enrolled in the Russian Army programme for potential peacekeepers is true? If it is true, can my noble friend assure the House that the sort of peacekeeping that the Russians have in mind is not what we have seen in Chechnya?

Lord Henley: My Lords, the sort of peacekeeping that we have in mind is certainly not what is reported from Chechnya. However, as I said earlier, we believe that co-operation between our Armed Forces and the Russians

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is something which can contribute to the stability of relations between the East and West. That is certainly something that we shall continue to build upon.

Employment Rights Bill

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern): My Lords, I beg to introduce a Bill to consolidate enactments relating to employment rights. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a first time.—(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Bill read a first time, and to be printed.

Industrial Tribunals Bill

The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, I beg to introduce a Bill to consolidate enactments relating to industrial tribunals and the Employment Appeal Tribunal. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a first time.—(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Bill read a first time, and to be printed.

Licensing (Sunday Hours) Bill

3.32 p.m.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Baroness Blatch.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.


Clause 1 [Permitted hours in licensed premises]:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 1, leave out lines 15 to 17 and insert:
("(3) In subsection (6) (off-licences), the words "or Good Friday" shall be omitted and at the end of that subsection there shall be added the words "and the permitted hours on Sundays, other than Christmas Day, shall begin at ten in the morning".").

The noble Lord said: I move the above amendment on behalf of the noble Lord, Lord Brabazon of Tara, who, unfortunately is required to be in Brussels today. In doing so, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 4. The noble Lord has asked me to give his apologies to the Committee and to deal with his two amendments. The amendments deal with very small matters. They do not refer at all to Sunday hours, but only to one day a year; namely, Good Friday. So far as concerns Sunday, the Bill deals with the anomaly which survived after the Sunday Trading Act of last year which stated that, although large shops and supermarkets may open for a total of six hours between the hours of 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., they can only sell alcohol between 12 noon and 3 p.m. That means that during the period before 12 noon and after 3 o'clock supermarkets

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have to do what some of them were doing illegally before the Sunday Trading Act last year; namely, they have to put cordons around their drinks shelves and refuse to serve drinks during that time. The Bill before us removes that anomaly on Sunday.

However, the amendment refers only to Good Friday when the Sunday restrictions on the total opening of supermarkets or large shops do not apply. On Good Friday, supermarkets can be open from 8 o'clock in the morning until quite late at night. Yet the Bill as drafted forbids them to sell alcohol before 10 o'clock in the morning. That is based on the analogy of the Sunday opening provisions.

The Bill was initially rather more complicated because it included Christmas Day, but those provisions have now been taken out by government amendment in another place. I suggest that it would be a small, harmless but still welcome rectification of an anomaly if the legislation were now to be amended to allow off-licences to sell drink from 8 o'clock on a Good Friday morning rather than from 10 o'clock as is the case at present.

Of course, Good Friday is an important part of the Christian year, but it is not universally observed as a public holiday all over the country. As I understand it, in large parts of Yorkshire, Good Friday is not a public holiday and the following Tuesday is taken instead. Those who go to the three-hour services, for example, on a Good Friday will not really be affected by permission being granted to sell alcohol between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. The benefit would be that the barriers, the cordons, the signs, and so on, which are required for the partial closure on Sunday, and which, under the present legislation have to be retained, could be removed.

I do not suggest that we are discussing an earth shattering amendment in any way, but I do suggest that it would be in keeping with the conciliatory way in which the Government have approached the Bill for it to be passed now. I can assure the Minister that, if it were to be passed in this Chamber, there would be no attempt to delay the Bill in another place on its return there. I beg to move.

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