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Lord Boyd-Carpenter: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that Answer. Is he aware that most valuation officers do not go into the houses which they value? How then can they claim to be taking the age and condition into account?
Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, the position on valuation is of long standing. The listing officer looks at the houses and the area and makes his judgment on that basis. If the owner of the house does not agree he can appeal and have his appeal heard by the tribunal.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, is the Minister aware that I find that Answer most interesting? Will he confirm that the European Union is perhaps the most highly politicised body and certainly very divisive not only of the people in the country but also of political parties? Does he agree that if the EU is allowed to advertise its wares on radio, or on television for that matter, it will be in order for the Campaign for an Independent Britain, of which I am chairman, and others to advertise the disbenefits? Will it be in order for us to point out to the people of this country that because of the EU they pay £18 a week more in food costs; that every family pays an extra £180 a year in taxation; that we have had a £97 billion trade deficit with the EU and the consequent loss of jobs; and that EU policies, as we heard in the first Question, are destroying our fishing industry and many other industries because of stupid regulations?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, the noble Lord asks an extremely drawn-out question. The proper person to whom it should be addressed is not me but a representative of the Broadcast Advertising Clearing Centre, which is the central copy clearance body responsible for preventing certain categories of television and radio advertisements.
Lord Bruce of Donington: My Lords, is the Minister aware that Her Majesty's Government, individually as a government, or through the Council of Ministers, or through the European Council, have abandoned all efforts to limit the amount spent by the Commission through the European Community budget on propaganda? Is he further aware that at the meeting in Madrid the matter was not even raised by the British Prime Minister, as he admitted in his Statement in another place yesterday? Is it to be the case that £50 million a year is to be spent by the Commission on its own propaganda without any authorisation and as of right in spite of the fact that it is broadcasting propaganda of a highly tendentious nature to promote only its own interests and policies unique to the Commission?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, the noble Lord draws to my attention an aspect of government policy which, if it be, is not known to me. The European Commission's information budget is agreed in detail with the Council and the European Parliament. That budget subsequently must be discharged by the European Parliament and will be scrutinised by the European Court of Auditors. The new Financial Commissioner, Mr. Liikanen from Finland, is strengthening budgetary controls in the Commission and has strong support from the United Kingdom Government in that respect. I am not in a position to answer the detailed points in the noble Lord's question, which are somewhat wide of the Question on the Order Paper. I shall write to the noble Lord when I am able to do so constructively.
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, the position of the United Kingdom Government in respect of any possible single European currency is well known; they are reserving their position to examine the merits. Any information which may be disseminated by the European Community or the Commission about the details of that is a matter to be dealt with by the Council of Ministers.
Lord Monson: My Lords, perhaps I may refer to one of the Minister's earlier answers. Did he say that there is no obligation on broadcasters to maintain a political balance as regards advertisements as opposed to the programmes?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, the position as regards advertising on commercial radio and possible political activity is spelt out in detail in Section 92 of the Broadcasting Act 1990. In particular, two criteria must be met for a broadcast to be carried. First, the person placing the broadcast must not be political, although it can be placed by an administrative or governmental body. Secondly, the advertisement itself must not be political.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, my noble friend mentioned the information office of the Commission. Would he agree that much of the information that it puts out is inaccurate? Would he further agree that when a country puts out inaccurate information officially it amounts to propaganda? Finally, would he agree that propaganda is one of the hallmarks of a fascist state?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I have no evidence of inaccurate information emanating from the office of the European Commission. If the noble Lord has, I would be grateful if he would draw it to my attention.
Lord Donoughue: My Lords, since the House appears to be almost traumatised by the prospect of the dire impact of the Brussels spin doctors on the simple minds of the Anglo-Saxons, will the Minister enlighten us by giving an example of one of these acts of propaganda?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, the advertisements to which reference has been made are three that were recently broadcast on commercial radio. It may be of interest to the House if I read the typescript of one of them. It is called The Connoisseur and reads:
Lord Beloff: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that the fact that the European Commission finds it necessary to spend any money at all on praising its policies suggests how deeply unpopular it is, not only in this country but throughout Europe?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, if I have understood the advertisement properly I believe that its purpose is to draw to the attention of citizens the rights that they have to seek redress where they have suffered damage.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, is the Minister aware that there was great amusement when he read out the text of the advertisement? Is he further aware that many people are offended not only by the advertisement but also by the hijacking of the greatest piece of music ever written for the political purposes of the European Union?
I refer to the question asked by my noble friend Lord Bruce of Donington. Is the Minister really happy that the European Union will be spending many millions of pounds on advertising the European single currency and EMU in this country and that the Government will not use the same methods to put across their point of view which I believe is that of the majority of British people? Why will the Government not give an assurance that they will counteract the blatant propaganda put out on behalf of the EU?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I explained in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, that I wish to look into this matter and reply in detail. But the noble Lord is looking ahead an extremely long way as to what the European Community may or may not do in that regard. As regards the use of music, I imagine that it is a matter of great distress to those who love the old German folk song "Tannenbaum" that it was hijacked by the Red Flag.
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