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Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, we welcome this agreement. As the Minister said, it will help to foster trade between the European Union and Tunisia and will promote co-operation between Europe and the Mediterranean countries of North Africa more generally.

Good relationships need to be forged between those countries which line the Mediterranean on both sides. That is obviously of particular importance to our southern European partners in the EU. Clearly in the case of Tunisia there are considerable disparities between its level of economic development and that of the European Union average. However, that is not a reason for rejecting an association of this kind as set out in the agreement and I note that the European Union will support economic reform, structural adjustment and social development in Tunisia through the agreement.

While I wholeheartedly welcome the agreement, perhaps I may put three or four questions to the Minister. The transitional period allowed before a free trade area is finally established is to be a maximum of 12 years. I wonder whether the Minister will say what is the Government's present estimate as to how long that transitional period will actually take.

Secondly, will the Minister tell the House the current level of trade between the UK and Tunisia and how that compares with German/Tunisian trade and French/Tunisian trade? Will she also tell the House what plans there are for similar agreements with other Maghreb countries?

The Maghreb is an important area and one where closer ties and greater integration are needed between its countries. Finally, will the Minister say what steps are being taken by the European Union to encourage that integration and to avoid a situation in which each of the countries making up the Maghreb region simply indulge in a competition to get closer the EU rather than closer to each other?

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Lord Thomson of Monifieth: My Lords, from these Benches, we welcome this agreement.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, as I said in my opening remarks, the EU-Tunisia agreement is the first important building block in the Euro-Med partnership. I could not say for certain which other countries will immediately follow but a number are making preparations. However, there is no doubt that Tunisia is the most advanced. I believe that this progress is in the interests of the UK as well as the EU. Therefore, we should give our firm support to it.

The noble Baroness asked me about the possible length of the transitional period. The answer is not entirely in our hands. Twelve years is the maximum time but given that the long-term goal of the Euro-Med free trade area is that that should be in place by the year 2010, I imagine that the first and standard bearer for the other Mediterranean countries will take about that time. But it will depend to some degree on the access to agricultural products, which is something with which some of the southern European countries have the greatest difficulty.

The noble Baroness asked me about trade between Britain and Tunisia. I do not have the figures here and I certainly cannot give her the figures in relation to Germany and France. For many years France has had a very close trading relationship with Tunisia. However, I shall write to the noble Baroness with all the comparative figures and leave a copy of that letter in your Lordships' Library.

It is true that we are very keen to see greater integration by the Maghreb countries. They already meet on--I think it is--a twice annual basis. Certainly Morocco is extremely interested in this procedure. Morocco and Tunisia have a very special interest because everyone wishes to see moderation in North African politics. One way of bringing that about is by enhancing the level of trade. There is no distance between us there. We believe that there should be greater integration. Tunisia is already enjoying almost unrestricted access to the European Union under the 1976 co-operation agreement for industrial goods. But this new agreement will start the process of a free trade agreement according to WTO rules and that is why it may take up to 12 years because there are quite a number of differences to be bridged.

Tunisia will gradually remove tariff and non-tariff barriers on non-EU goods. The other Maghreb countries will be watching very carefully to see how that is done and how successful it is. I have no doubt that their work will be based on the work of Tunisia.

Certainly the operation of the free trade area will be much enhanced by the competition provisions and the harmonisation of laws in other areas. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Thomson of Monifieth, for his welcome of the order. There is much to be done. This is a starting process. We shall supply further information to your Lordships as we proceed down this very important path.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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Licensing (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill

3.39 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (The Earl of Lindsay): 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.--(The Earl of Lindsay.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.


Clause 1 [Licensing conditions for certain events]:

The Earl of Balfour moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 1, line 8, at end insert ("or renewing").

The noble Earl said: In November 1973, or thereabouts, I was a parliamentary commissioner on an opposed order, promoted by the City of Glasgow, which we approved. That order became the Glasgow Corporation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Order Confirmation Act 1974. I am grateful to the Public Bill Office and the Private Bill Office for giving me a photocopy of that Act of so many years ago.

The order covered persons of any age and applied to any place of public entertainment--that is to say, dancing, music or suchlike--but excluded licensed premises, dwelling houses, premises used mainly for religious worship and clubs for instruction or training. It also covered both the licensing "and the renewal" of a licence of any premises covered by subsection (3) of the new Section 18A to the 1976 Act, which appears at the bottom of page 1 of the Bill. Hence the first of the amendments standing in my name on the Marshalled List. I beg to move.

The Earl of Lindsay: I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Balfour both for the explanation of the amendment that he has moved and, indeed, for the historical perspective that he brings to this part of the proceedings. It is clear that my noble friend is, as ever, driven by a spirit of constructiveness and helpfulness.

On the face of it, what is proposed is eminently sensible. Licensing boards should, of course, consider whether they need to exercise their duty in respect of imposing appropriate conditions not only when they are considering an application for an entirely new licence or permission but also where these come up for renewal. Indeed, that was always the intention. In fact, we have gone further by also providing that boards can vary existing licences to enable conditions to be attached as appropriate. The insertion of a reference to renewing the licence or permission is, however, unnecessary.

The definition of grant to be found in Section 139 of the Licensing (Scotland) Act 1976 provides that a grant in relation to a licence includes a grant by way of renewal and that references to "granting" and "application" are to be construed accordingly. The provision of the 1976 Act will of course extend, as appropriate, to the new measures once they are enacted. Consequently, the matter is already covered. However,

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I am grateful to my noble friend for giving me the opportunity to explain the position in greater detail. In view of my explanation, I hope that my noble friend will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

The Earl of Balfour: I am very happy with the reply just given by my noble friend the Minister. Clearly, I do not wish to put anything into the Bill which is unnecessary. Therefore, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

3.45 p.m.

The Earl of Balfour moved Amendment No. 2:

Page 1, line 16, leave out ("prescribed").

The noble Earl said: In moving the above amendment I shall, with the leave of the Committee, speak also to Amendments Nos. 3, 6, 8 to 10 and 12 to 16. Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 should be taken together. I shall explain the reason for that after speaking to Amendment No. 6, which is the principal amendment. It introduces an additional and new subsection (3A) to the Bill which, as noble Lords will see from the Marshalled List, would ensure that, on granting or renewing a licence, the board would "impose conditions as to": first, the maintenance of law and order; secondly, controlling the number of persons present at any one time; thirdly, the means of escape in case of fire and proper fire precautions, including the lighting, sanitation and ventilation; fourthly, the safe condition and heating of the premises; and, finally, the hours of opening and closing the premises to avoid nuisance in the neighbourhood.

Subsection (3B) of the amendment would enable the licensing board to specify the conditions required from the applicant. Subsection (3C) would enable the board to revoke a licence where any conditions have not been complied with. Subsection (3D) would enable the board to know something about the background of the applicant and the exact address of the premises. Lastly, subsection (3E) would enable the board to hold on to any plans of a premises which it may wish a fire officer or a police officer to know about. Those words have been lifted directly from that Glasgow order of all those years ago. I felt that they were so sensible, particularly for my suggested new subsection (3A).

I wish to draw the attention of Members of the Committee to Clause 1(4) which is to be found at the top of page 2 of the Bill. It deals with the conditions that the Secretary of State may prescribe. In Amendment No. 8, I am suggesting that he should be permitted to prescribe additional conditions.

Moreover, as regards the provisions in subsection (6), which permit:

    "The holder of a licence [to] appeal to the sheriff against--

    (a) the terms of any condition"
except, quite rightly, under subsection (4), I am suggesting that the very important safety provisions in my proposed subsection (3A) should also be excluded by my Amendment No. 9. I hope that my brief explanation covers the consequential amendments,

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Amendments Nos. 2, 3, 9 and 10, together with Amendments Nos. 12 to 16. I should like to record my thanks to the Public Bill Office for its assistance in the drafting of these consequential amendments.

On Second Reading, other speakers and I expressed our concern about "rave" parties, which persons as young as 15 can attend. My noble and learned friend the Lord Advocate said that the safety provisions we were seeking were covered in the Civil Government (Scotland) Act 1982. I must admit that they are partially covered in Section 41 and Schedule 1, but not as comprehensively as I am seeking to achieve with my amendments to this Bill. I commend the amendments to the Committee. I beg to move.

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