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Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, is it not a cause for shame that some people come to this country believing that they will receive reasonable accommodation and find that it simply does not comply with the lowest standards of health or safety? The noble Lord really should think seriously about this.
Viscount Astor: My Lords, I disagree with my noble friend. The tourism industry in this country is extremely important. It provides £33 billion in income for this country and 1 million people work in the industry. It is an extremely successful industry. I do not believe that we should talk it down.
Lord Donoughue: My Lords, does the Minister agree that his department's own document on tourism entitled Competing with the Best states on page 9 that over 30 per cent. of all visitors to this country are very dissatisfied with the hotel accommodation they receive, and states on page 14 that our hotel industry is not internationally competitive? How can the Minister's own statements this afternoon be reconciled with the statements made by his department?
Viscount Astor: My Lords, the tourist industry in this country is growing at about 6 per cent. a year; the European average is 8 per cent. a year. Therefore, there is competition and we need to improve. I believe that the industry in this country produces good value for money. It is perfectly true that there are areas, particularly in London, where some hotels do not offer the quality of accommodation that they should for the price that they charge. That was clear in the survey in which 30 per cent. of visitors said they would like to see an improvement. However, 70 per cent. said they were happy with the situation.
Viscount Cranborne: My Lords, I know that this Question arouses a great deal of interest, but I am conscious that the noble Lord, Lord Desai, has been extremely patient. As always I am in your Lordships' hands, but I think that perhaps we should move on.
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, the Board of Banking Supervision will complete its work as soon as it can. The Governor of the Bank of England has told my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer that it may be able to submit its report in the early part of July, depending on the nature and timeliness of preliminary responses by those named in it and progress by the board in drawing out the lessons and implications from the Barings episode.
Lord Desai: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. Is he aware that when the Barings collapse occurred one reason given for conducting the inquiry in private was that it would be speedy? Is it not astonishing that despite that there has been a long delay in submitting the report? Would it not have been better if the inquiry had been open to the public so that we could have seen the evidence as it was gathered by the Board of Banking Supervision and Control?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, one of the principal reasons why the inquiry was constituted in that manner was in order that it should be quick and that we should have a report rather quicker than we did in the case of the BCCI inquiry. I do not believe that the suggestion proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Desai, would have assisted in achieving that.
Lord Boyd-Carpenter: My Lords, in view of the importance of the credit of the British banking system to the whole of the British economy, is my noble friend aware that many of us strongly support his insistence on an early receipt of this report, and if necessary action on it?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for his comments on the seriousness of this matter which is, of course, a view which the Government share. However, it is also important, first of all, to be thorough in this inquiry so that the facts are properly established and the lessons that can be learnt from it are the right lessons. Secondly, it is important that we operate within the proper legal constraints which stop a precipitate helter-skelter rush to a conclusion.
Lord Lawson of Blaby: My Lords, as the Minister who was responsible for the creation of the Board of Banking Supervision and Control, may I ask my noble friend whether, despite the Governor's aspirations to produce a report by the beginning of JulyI am sure that at the time those aspirations were given in good faiththere will be no pressure whatever, either from the Governor of the Bank of England or from any other quarter, on the independent members of the Board of Banking Supervision to produce their report into this highly complex and important matter before they are fully ready to do so?
Lord Eatwell: My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that the credibility of the investigation into the Barings affair has been compromised by entrusting the investigation of the behaviour of the Bank of England in this respect to a board which operates under the authority of the Bank of England? To enhance the credibility of the report will he ensure that the evidence given to the board is published in full?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I have no evidence to support the allegation about the taint of this particular inquiry to which the noble Lord opposite referred. I can assure the House that the matter will be reported as fully as is possible.
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, the general law applies and we will deal with the predicament in which Mr. Leeson finds himself in the same way as we would with any other British citizen in such circumstances.
Lord Boardman: My Lords, as the report may well be highly critical of certain individuals does not my noble friend agree that it is right and just that it should be thorough even if it takes longer than many of us would have hoped?
Lord Haskel: My Lords, as the Bank of England is an interested party in this matter does not the Minister agree that the report would be more thorough if it was undertaken by someone other than an interested party?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, it is important to be clear on the role of the Board of Banking Supervision's independent members. We have every confidence that we will receive an impartial, thorough and properly argued analysis of what occurred and that the proper results and conclusions can be drawn from it.
Lord Desai: My Lords, does not the Minister agree, given all the difficulties we have heard about this afternoon, that it would be better if the task of banking supervision was taken away from the Bank of England and given to an independent body?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, that is not the conclusion that the Treasury and Civil Service Committee of the House of Commons reached when looking into this matter. The committee concludedthe Government agree with thisthat there is no overwhelming case for separating out the responsibility for prudential supervision to a separate body. It was interesting to note the evidence given to that inquiry by Professor Sir Charles Goodhart who argued that the distinction was, perhaps, more of form than of substance.
Lord Eatwell: My Lords, given the obvious great interest in this matter in your Lordships' House, will the Minister undertake that when the report is available time will be allocated to consider it fully in a debate in the House?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, it is intended there will be a Statement made to the other place. It is then up to those on the Benches opposite if they wish the Statement to be repeated here, and that is a matter for the usual channels.
Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, at a convenient moment after 3.30 p.m. my noble friend the Leader of the House will, with the leave of the House, repeat a Statement that is to be made in another place on the Halifax Summit.
This Bill is the first of a package of four consolidation Bills on the Order Paper in my name. With the leave of the House, I shall speak briefly to all four together and then move the remaining Bills formally.
The purpose of the four Bills is to consolidate legislation on criminal matters in Scotland. The Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Bill is the largest measure. It effects the first consolidation of criminal procedure since 1975. The opportunity has been taken to present the law in a more coherent and better structured form.
The Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Bill draws together a number of enactments dealing with substantive law which were included in the procedural statutes which are to be repealed on consolidation. The opportunity has also been taken to bring together a number of other statutory offences so that all may be found more conveniently.