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Lord Wallace of Saltaire: I intervene briefly to say that I am a little puzzled by the approach of the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan. My understanding of the intergovernmental conference was that this protocol was mainly pushed forward by the last British Conservative Government. Its exact phraseology stems from that government. The Minister might care to suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, that he asks his friends and colleagues what they intended it to mean.

Earlier today the noble Lord made an extremely strong speech on the importance of the principle of subsidiarity. He has just urged that the Community should now add a whole host of new regulations raising animal welfare standards across the Community as a form of vast centralisation. We have to be consistent here. On grounds of subsidiarity, we should resist pushing too many animal welfare matters to the top. It is one of the areas in which the British Government have been a centraliser in the European Union. Therefore, I hope that the Government will interpret this protocol in as strong a subsidiarity fashion as possible.

The Earl of Clanwilliam: A great deal of subsidiarity will be required across the borders of Europe as regards the description of sentient animals. Every country except our own seems to have a much more overt approach to animal welfare. As a result of the health and safety rules exercised by the European Union, half the abattoirs in this country have been removed with the result that animals are suffering enormously from having to travel vast distances in order to get to the only available abattoir left. I do not believe that that has been an advantage.

We might be able to introduce mobile abattoirs to the Europeans. But whether they will accept anything that we like, I do not know. If one is to talk about sentient animals we must talk about chicken farms. These involve the most ridiculous and appalling activities that have been invented, but perhaps that is not relevant to this debate.

Baroness Ludford: Perhaps I may ask the noble Earl about abattoirs. As I understand it as a result of consistent listening to "Farming Today", the question of abattoir regulation is very much an example of mass gold plating of EU directives. The Ministry of Agriculture lay a regulation. As I understand it, it was more to do with Whitehall than with Brussels that we have lost some of the smaller abattoirs. It is not entirely fair to say that it was due to EU regulations.

The Earl of Clanwilliam: If this is another attack on the wretched Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, then so be it. We should have regard to welfare

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which is contrary to the natural nature and traditions of ideas of animal welfare across Europe. There will be a great deal of difficulty in procuring an agreeable degree of consent throughout Europe on this subject.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Government are very happy to recognise the role that the previous government played in the efforts to secure the protocol that we are discussing in this amendment. We welcome it. But it might be as well for me to remind the Committee that the protocol recognises that animals are sentient beings and requires that their welfare needs are properly taken into account in the development of Community policies on, specifically, agriculture, transport, the internal market and research. I can see that the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, has this off by heart. It is important that the protocol focuses on those four areas.

I do not suppose that the noble Lord will be surprised to learn that the Government cannot accept his new clause. The animal welfare protocol is legally binding. Failure to abide by it can be challenged in the courts. In the end, it is for the courts to interpret its provisions. It is important to note that the protocol has been welcomed by the RSPCA which, after all, has a record second to none in this country on matters relating to animal welfare and rights. I hope that I can explain the Government's thinking on the term "sentient being" and deal with the other questions raised. A number of noble Lords have asked what the word "sentient" means. The Oxford Dictionary is good enough for us. "Sentient" means capable of sensation or feeling. It is the acknowledgement that animals are sentient that is the additional justification for the Community's protection of animal welfare, so that animals are no longer regarded solely as "goods". I am sure that there are many arguments about what adds up to a degree of feeling or sensation. I suspect that it is the degree of development of the central nervous system of the animal concerned, but the basic point is that animals have a central nervous system and feel sensation and pain.

The noble Lord raised a number of points, including religious rites, cultural traditions and regional heritages. We believe that the effect of the provisions will be very limited. We expect it to be interpreted narrowly and not to reduce dramatically the effect of the new protocol. However, the noble Lord is right that it does not involve matters such as religious slaughter and bull-fighting. I am sure that the noble Lord will be pleased that it will not restrict fox-hunting because the protocol is restricted to agriculture, transport, the internal market and research. That means that it does not include fox-hunting. There may be many strong feelings about fox-hunting in this House, as elsewhere, but that matter is not affected by the introduction of the protocol.

The noble Lord also asked about the role of the ECJ. Its role will be to ensure that the Council has, as the protocol requirements set out, paid full regard to the welfare requirements of animals. It will not be for the ECJ to reach a judgment on what the welfare requirements are; that is for the Council. I hope that

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I have dealt with the noble Lord's specific points to his satisfaction and that he will now feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Renton: Before my noble friend replies, although I was very interested in what he said, he has had a most effective answer from the Minister and I very much hope that he will therefore withdraw his amendment.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: There is a question over whether foxes which are being hunted in Northern Ireland and then cross the border do not fall within the scope of the provisions, but I do not want to press that matter at this stage.

Lord Moynihan: I am somewhat reeling from those comments from both sides of the Committee. I refer first to the intervention of the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire. I never believed that I would stand before your Lordships' Committee in this European debate and hear that we were being more communautaire than the noble Lord would like us to be on any subject. However, that will not sway me from supporting Protocol 10 for the many reasons that I outlined in my opening remarks, but it will provide a cause for reflection in the future. Equally, I did not expect to hear such eloquent and fulsome praise for the Minister's reply to the amendment that I moved and the urging of my noble friend Lord Renton that I should not press my amendment to a vote this evening. Suffice it to say that on this occasion I am in agreement with him, although I do not believe that I would have put it quite so fulsomely.

I believe that the answer provided by the Minister was admirable. I tried to lead her down a logical road to be trapped by fox hunting, but I did not succeed. Obviously, she was aware that that argument might be deployed this evening before the Committee. I am grateful to her for the important and serious points that she raised in the context of animal welfare within the European Union. Against that background I am happy to seek leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

10 p.m.

Lord Moynihan moved Amendment No. 43F:

After Clause 1, insert the following new clause--


(" . Within six months of the passing of this Act a Minister of the Crown shall lay before both Houses of Parliament a report on the meaning of "public service broadcasting" set out in the Protocol on the System of Public Broadcasting in the Member States annexed to the Treaty of Amsterdam.").

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 43F concentrates on broadcasting. I am aware that a number of my noble friends will intervene in this debate. The new clause on public broadcasting relates to Protocol 9 which deals with the system of public broadcasting in the member states. Protocol 9 permits member states to finance public service broadcasting in individual countries on two conditions: first, that the funding to broadcasting organisations is for the fulfilment of public

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service broadcasting; and, secondly, that it does not affect trading conditions and competition within the European Union to an extent that would be contrary to the common interest. In the words of the protocol broadcasting

    "is directly related to the democratic, social and cultural needs of each society".

I have tabled the new clause for one specific reason. Nothing can be more central in demonstrating that public broadcasting is directly related to the democratic, social and cultural needs of each society than the work of the BBC World Service. The term "public broadcasting" is not adequate to express both the critical importance and the deep social and democratic significance that the work of the World Service holds for many people in the world. I crave the indulgence of the Committee if I focus on this point for three or four minutes.

In this Committee there is overwhelming consensus that the BBC World Service sets accepted standards of excellence. By providing an objective and accurate source of information, it is internationally acclaimed--most rightly so--as an upholder and promoter of democracy. For millions, including world leaders in the fight for democracy, such as Aung San Suu Kyi, the pro-democracy leader in Burma, and Nelson Mandela, now President of South Africa, the World Service has provided a beacon of fair, trusted and respected news coverage--more so than any of its free world rivals. This is a broadcasting service with over 138 million listeners worldwide. Listeners in Europe value and appreciate the news bulletins and other business, sport, music and arts programmes which it broadcasts in English round the clock. Further, 17.5 million people listen in Europe in any language. For a total of 104 hours a week Germans, Greeks, Poles, Slovenians, Czechs and Hungarians can all listen in their own languages. Right now a special service is also being provided for Europe. To coincide with the UK presidency of the European Union, a tailored series of programmes linked to the issue of enlargement is being broadcast in English and other European languages. These programmes will include in-depth analysis of issues related to the accession process as it affects individual applicant countries, as well as focusing on the themes of education, agriculture, harmonisation of legislation and economic convergence. In reaching an audience of millions of central and eastern Europeans and helping them to understand and be fully aware of the historic process of enlargement of the European Union, these programmes are invaluable.

As the protocol permits funding of public service broadcasting, insofar as that funding is granted to broadcasting organisations for the fulfilment of the public service remit as conferred, defined and organised by each member state, and that in funding such broadcasting the realisation of that remit should be taken into account, I should like to ask the Minister for an update on the work of the joint FCO/BBC World Service working group which reconvened last autumn.

As the Committee will be aware, the working group, with access to independent advice, was set up in 1996 to ensure that concerns over financial arrangements and

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fears of a sacrifice in the quality raised by the BBC Director-General's restructuring proposals were addressed as well as the requirement to maintain editorial independence. What action have the Government taken to implement the 20 measures to safeguard the World Service agreed by the FCO/BBC World Service working group in October 1996, and what further suggestions have been proposed since it reconvened?

It is clear that the World Service is a source of great pride to this country. It requires and deserves our fulsome and vigorous support. It is incumbent upon us to provide such support, particularly when we consider that the World Service is a uniquely powerful asset on the world stage. It projects those critical and fundamentally important values of democracy, objectivity and fairness, which are then identified by opinion formers as British values. Its voice helps shape this country's reputation and image.

I look forward to any assurances that the Minister can give, in the belief, on this occasion at least, that I have moved an uncontroversial amendment which has allowed me to focus upon the important work of the BBC World Service which comes so neatly into the work expected of those who broadcast under Protocol 9. I hope that the Minister will comment briefly on that. I do not expect a long answer. I gave her no notice of the questions that I was going to raise. I shall stop at that point, because I know that my noble friend Lord Inglewood wishes to intervene in this debate on some of the issues raised in Protocol 9. I beg to move.

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