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Lord Rooker: My Lords, the devolved Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland use a purely historic system of organising the single farm payment. That decision was not taken for England. They are totally different systems, even though they all come within the ambit of the common agricultural policy. It is a good point about hindsight and what might have been done, but I am

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dealing with the present and the future. There are enough people, whether it is the Select Committee or the National Audit Office, looking at what has happened over the past two or three years with the decisions made on the computer systems, the business plan, and the principal decisions for me not to get involved. I am interested in the present and the future; I cannot change the past. I have to work with the system that was introduced.

The Earl of Erroll: My Lords, the Minister said that nearly 800 forms were rejected. Is that just because of a minor box-ticking error? I know that some farmers have had their claims rejected. The forms are very complicated—only one box need be wrong and the entire claim can be refused. Will the RPA please start looking more kindly on people who are not used to doing this sort of complicated paperwork?

Lord Rooker: My Lords, the hill farm allowance is public money, half of it from the European Union, and it was subject to the auditors and the rules. There are appeal processes, but I am not aware of any major dispute about the rejected claims. The words of the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, who is in his place, ought to be emblazoned above every farmyard’s accountant’s office. I said I wanted them put in a leaflet, if possible. He said the best value-for-money thing he ever did as a farmer was to fill in his Defra forms.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, I appreciate that, but many people who have filled in their forms have not had the same service.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, which other countries have had the difficulties that we seem to have been experiencing?

Lord Rooker: My Lords, the single farm payment was not introduced throughout the European Union in the same year, but Germany introduced it and met some difficulties. I understand that a team from the Rural Payments Agency has been in discussion with our German colleagues to find out what went wrong there so we can learn from their experience. All EU countries will introduce it in a different way. It has not been plain sailing. I understand that the French are starting to do it this year, using a system that is different from ours but conforms with the agreement that they have with the European Commission.

Baroness Tonge: My Lords, will the Minister confirm that the reason why there have been no problems in Scotland is probably that the Minister there is a Liberal Democrat?

Lord Rooker: My Lords, it may have something to do with the system that was introduced. I am not complaining—there is plenty of evidence that, once

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we can get the English system working in the long term, it will be far superior to what is involved for farmers in the devolved Administrations.

Climate Change

3 pm

Lord Sheldon asked Her Majesty’s Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): My Lords, the Government’s assessment of future climate change comes from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2001 report, which indicated that mean global temperatures will rise between 1.4 and 5.8 degrees centigrade above 1990 levels by 2100. This will result in rising sea levels and more extreme weather, with increased risk of severe flooding. For the UK, the UK Climate Impacts Programme’s scenarios project warmer and wetter winters and hotter and drier summers, with more extreme heatwaves.

Lord Sheldon: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply, but does he agree that it is difficult to look at the situation 100 years from now with any certainty of what may happen in reality about climate change, as well as many other matters? Given that we contribute about 2 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions and China, the United States and India contribute about 70 per cent, why are we making our contribution appear so important? Since global warming could mean a warmer Britain and could even be welcomed, as we have seen this summer, why should we not go along with the consensus, rather than wishing to be a world leader on climate change, as the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said we should be last Thursday?

Lord Rooker: My Lords, being a world leader will actually be good for business as well as meaning that are taking responsibility for looking after the planet. We will not be here in 100 years, but others will, and we have a responsibility if we know something is happening out there to do something about it. I would invite anyone who has not seen it to go and have a look at Al Gore’s film, “An Inconvenient Truth”.

There are assessments that say that the UK will get hotter, but one aspect of climate change could be the slowdown or possible stopping of the North Atlantic Ocean thermohaline circulation of the Gulf Stream. I assure my noble friend that that would not lead to us in the UK just worrying about cold winters; we would be a lot colder than we are now. In other words, the predictions go both ways. If climate change stopped the circulation in the Atlantic of the Gulf Stream, we would be in really serious trouble. The predictions are there, and the situation has been assessed by the scientists. It is not simply something that has happened in the past that comes around every few

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hundred years. There is enough evidence that human behaviour has changed what happens on the planet; therefore, we have to use human behaviour to try to rectify or take account of that.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, with all the risks that the Minister explained in his first Answer of rising sea levels and flooding, why have the Government cut the budget for flood defences and adaptation work to Natural England and other such bodies?

Lord Rooker: My Lords, the short answer is that the capital budget for flood protection has not been cut.

Lord Hamilton of Epsom: My Lords, have the Government yet found a causal link between CO2 levels and global warming? There were periods at the time of the Romans and in the Middle Ages when the weather got very much hotter and at that stage, of course, CO2 levels were insignificant.

Lord Rooker: My Lords, there is quite a bit of science to this, and I am an engineer not a scientist. People have claimed that these cycles have come and gone over the years, and I understand that Milankovitch, the Serbian mathematician, had a look at the way in which the planet oscillates from time to time and the orbit changes very slightly—these things happen maybe every 100,000 years. The fact is that that has been discounted. Other scientists—now there is a consensus—would say that human behaviour is making a difference to the climate. We have a responsibility to push this thing ahead as a world leader. That is our role, and it is one that we gladly share with others.

Lord Soley: My Lords, does the Minister accept that our problem really is the speed of change of the climate, which reduces the ability of organisms to adapt to it? Will he also take this opportunity to tell the House a little more about the economics of biofuels? All the evidence is that, when the oil price rises to $70 or $80 a barrel, biofuels become profitable. Given the demand from India and China, $80 a barrel does not seem unlikely. Could he tell the House a little more about what we could do to encourage the use and development of biofuels?

Lord Rooker: My Lords, I am glad that my noble friend asked that question, although we have had no discussion of it. The fact is that ordinary life need not stop as we adapt to climate change. We have enough evidence to show that in the past few years, between 1990 and 2005, when our emissions fell by 15 per cent, GDP rose by more than 40 per cent. If we can manage the situation, we could have new industries and new products.

With biofuels, I can give an example of how the situation will not shatter our way of life in terms of

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having to change and adjust. Yesterday, I was a guest of Energy Efficient Motorsport at Silverstone for the British Touring Car Championship. Engines there were running and racing on 85 per cent bioethanol fuels. In other words, not for the first time, British engineers are leading in technology transfer; we are working on fuels that we have grown and that are sustainable and do not damage the atmosphere. That will transfer to ordinary motoring so that others can make use of the land to grow crops and grow our fuel.

Lord King of Bridgwater: My Lords, is not the danger of the Government’s reply in referring to what the situation may be in 2100 the implication that things move quite slowly? Is not the proposal inMr Al Gore’s film that things are actually moving very much faster than was previously thought? I think that the Minister said that the Government’s position was based on assessments made at the 2001 intergovernmental Conference. Would it not be a good idea perhaps to update that, to make people aware that there is a real risk that things are moving very much faster than was previously thought?

Lord Rooker: My Lords, the noble Lord is bang on. I understand that a review of that is due in 2007, so we will be able to get a new assessment. Also, the economist Professor Stern will shortly publish his report, which he has worked on for world organisations. With regard to the noble Lord’s point about what is happening, one of the examples given is that heatwaves such as the one that occurred in Europe in 2003 are predicted to be a normal occurrence by 2040 and will be considered cool by 2060. The 2003 heatwave, of course, caused over 30,000 extra deaths across Europe due to heat-related mortality. Something is happening, it is happening quickly, and we need to respond to it.

Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, does my noble friend think that getting the agreement of the United States on climate change can be viewed pessimistically or optimistically?

Lord Rooker: My Lords, it has been assessed that legal requirements will force changes by companies. There is no question about that; getting them todo so voluntarily will probably not work. But, to paraphrase my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, one does not have to love George W Bush to appreciate that American scientists have got nearer to joining the world consensus than they have in the past.


3.07 pm

Lord Grocott: My Lords, with the leave of the House, we will have a Statement repeated later this afternoon—it will come some time conveniently after 5 pm. It is on Northern Ireland, and it will be repeated by my noble friend Lord Rooker.

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Animal Welfare Bill

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the amendments for the Report stage be marshalled and considered in the following order:

Clauses 1 to 13,

Schedule 1,Clauses 14 to 51,Schedule 2,Clauses 52 to 62, Schedule 3,Clause 63,Schedule 4,Clauses 64 to 67.—(Lord Rooker.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Violent Crime Reduction Bill

Report received.

Clause 1 [Drinking banning orders]:

Lord Thomas of Gresford moved AmendmentNo. 1:

The noble Lord said: My Lords, to the select few who remain, I hope to be forgiven if I remind your Lordships of something of the background to drinking banning orders and the basic objection in principle we have to them in the way they are expressed in the Bill.

We recognise that there is a problem with excessive drinking in this country, particularly among young people. However, the drinking banning orders use the machinery of the ASBO. The ASBO is something we have objected to throughout. The drinking banning order is an application to the court—either a magistrates’ court or a county court—by the police or a local authority to obtain an order against an individual whose conduct is disapproved of.

The order imposes,

A civil order is being obtained and therefore the rules that appertain to civil proceedings, in particular the procedures of the court, are not as stringent as they are where criminal charges are concerned. It is possible to obtain such an order entirely on hearsay evidence—the tittle-tattle of the neighbourhood, as it were. It is also possible to obtain that order not because the offensive behaviour is proved beyond reasonable doubt—the ordinary standard in a criminal case—but simply on a balance of probabilities that the behaviour complained of has been established more rather than less. If it is breached in any way, the drinking banning order can be followed by criminal proceedings in the ordinary sense. A breach of a banning order will result in a

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fine. If that fine is not paid, as sometimes will be the case with people with a drink problem, it can be followed by imprisonment.

The amendment to which I speak seeks to put at least some curb upon the making of these orders. At the moment the orders can be made,

We are all familiar—some may be more familiar than others—with the normal criminal charge of being drunk and disorderly, but this is “criminal or disorderly”; in other words, disorderly conduct which does not amount to a criminal offence can still provide the foundation for a drinking banning order. We therefore have a combination of things. It is not necessary for the police or the local authority seeking such an order to prove that the person against whom the order is to be made has committed a criminal offence but merely that he has been “disorderly”, whatever that means.

As I indicated earlier, the making of the order is just a step forward to the creation of a fresh criminal offence. If on a balance of probabilities and on hearsay evidence a person, because of his disorderly behaviour, which is not a criminal offence, is made subject to a drinking banning order, he can end up being charged with a crime of breaching the order. He gains a criminal record for conduct that is not criminal at all. By definition within the Bill as it is currently drafted, he is guilty of a criminal offence for breaching an order relating to simply disorderly but non-criminal conduct. That is the point that I make in Amendment No. 1. The same point is made in relation to Amendments Nos. 5, 7 and 15, where the same disjunctive concepts of criminal or disorderly conduct appear.

We think that it is entirely wrong in principle ‘first’ to use such a vague term as “disorderly” and, secondly, since it is almost by definition not criminal conduct, to enter into a procedure which can result in a criminal conviction. I hope that is a sufficient explanation. I beg to move.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, this Bill is of such moment to the Government that it began a year ago last summer in another place and is now staggering towards its conclusion.

We support measures to give the courts more effective powers to ban individuals from licensed premises if that will materially improve public order. We remain concerned that the measures in the Bill hit headlines in newspapers but do not hit at the underlying causes of public disorder. We do not wish to weaken the impact of drinking banning orders. In Committee, we had a full debate on this, and I tabled amendments at that stage. I approach the debate in a rather different manner to that just espoused by the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford. Certainly, we do not wish to see the curbs imposed on DBOs that would follow on from the amendment that he has proposed today. We made that clear in Committee too.

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It might be for the convenience of the House if I remark here more generally about matters today. We used the Summer Recess and last week to have a series of meetings and discussions with the bodies that will be affected by the variety of measures in the Bill. We have also met the Bill team and Ministers. As a result of those meetings, many of our concerns have either been allayed or, I hope, will be addressed by government amendments and commitments which we anticipate, if all goes well, will be put on the record at the Dispatch Box by Ministers today. On that basis—that is the reason for my silence later—I will be very sparing with some of my comments as we go through our proceedings this afternoon. I give notice that I will not move Amendment No. 6. I hope that Members will not take my silence for the fact that I have nodded off; I hope not, far from it. I shall leap into action when we come to my amendments later. I do not wish to detain the House unduly.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Baroness for her very constructive introduction to business this afternoon. Her use of the word “staggering” towards a conclusion on this Bill was probably an inadvertent pun relating to the matters in hand. We like to think that we are moving to a clinical finish on effective legislation; but descriptions can get lost in translation. I am grateful to her also for her kind comments about the work that has been undertaken during the Recess. I trust that we can make good progress this afternoon on Report. I apologise in advance if some of my explanations are lengthier than they might otherwise have been but that will be because we want to try to address the issues to which the noble Baroness has alluded.

I shall now address the amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Thomas of Gresford. The noble Lord will not be surprised to hear that these amendments do not find great favour with the Government. I hope that he will not take offence at that, but clearly we have a difference of view—a carefully and well understood difference of view. The group of amendments would together have the effect of restricting the circumstances in which an individual can be given a drinking banning order to engagement in criminal but not disorderly behaviour. The House will be aware that amendments on similar lines were proposed in Committee. We have now debated this matter at some length in the other place and in this House.

It is worth emphasising that the latest British Crime Survey tells us that some 24 per cent of people say that people being drunk or rowdy in public places is a “very” or “fairly” big problem in their area. The behaviour of those who misuse alcohol can intimidate members of the public and cause disorder and general nuisance, and we cannot ignore that fact. In Committee, I referred to some examples of what might constitute disorderly conduct but might not necessarily be caught by the criminal law. I mentioned noise nuisance and disturbance, the kicking of dustbins late at night, or shouting or swearing in the

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street as examples of disorderly conduct. I am sure that many of us come across that sort of thing from time to time.

It is however not the case that any sort of conduct that could be described as someone causing a noise or making a nuisance of themselves could lay that person open to a drinking banning order. The conditions for an order are clearly set out in the Bill: the individual must have engaged in criminal or disorderly conduct while under the influence of alcohol; and as such an order must be necessary to protect other persons from further conduct by him of that kind while under the influence of alcohol.

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