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Lord Tebbit: I am a little puzzled by the effects of this subsection. As I read it, it seems that the Secretary of State could quite lawfully, if the provision is enacted in this form, believe that an organisation is concerned in terrorism connected with the affairs of Northern Ireland and has not established or is not maintaining a complete and unequivocal ceasefire and yet be free not to specify. That is the problem here. The Secretary of State could think that such an organisation is still involved with terrorism and has not established a
Lord Mayhew of Twysden: I, too, have great difficulty with this clause. The key to this part of the Bill is to be found in the passage that the noble Viscount, Lord Brookeborough, has just identified. It is paragraph 2 of the section headed "Prisoners". It states:
Lord Holme of Cheltenham: I said at the beginning of the debate that from these Benches we would not support things which sought to go further than the agreement. However, having listened to what noble Lords have said, and having studied, as we have been directed to by several noble Lords, paragraph 2 on page 25, I have been persuaded by the debate and should like to ask the Government why they will not replace the word "may" with "shall".
Lord Dubs: I have listened to the arguments put forward. This amendment was considered in another place but was not accepted there. The Bill quite rightly gives the Secretary of State the power to identify organisations that do not meet the test in Clause 3(8). That this should be expressed as a power is correct and is consistent with the fact that it is the Secretary of State's belief in the matters specified in subsection (8) which determines whether an organisation is or is not specified.
Your Lordships will understand that the Secretary of State will be careful to use that power in the appropriate circumstances. As such, there is no value in placing the Secretary of State under such a duty. Indeed, it is inconceivable that the Secretary of State would not take this responsibility very seriously. It is, after all, an absolutely fundamental part of the whole Bill. I believe that the element of discretion which is given to her so that she can exercise her responsibilities fairly and properly is a reasonable one.
Subsection (10) makes provision for the Secretary of State to keep under review the organisations identified under Clause 3(8). That was added at the request of the UUP to make the review process clear. The Secretary of State has shown herself capable over her period in office of making difficult decisions. After all, in the past she has thrown parties out of the talks when she has been under pressure from others to keep them in. The Secretary of State takes a very robust attitude to her responsibilities and I am quite sure that she would give effect to them fairly and properly, as expressed by noble Lords here. But I do not believe it is necessary to go as far as to make the amendment that has been suggested.
Lord Tebbit: I am grateful to the noble Lord. We do not have to doubt the ability or the integrity of the Secretary of State of the day. After all, persons change. Ministers come and go. The Secretary of State is not specified here as Ms. Mo Mowlam; it is the office which is held. Therefore, the personality of the present holder of that office is irrelevant to the matter. Indeed, as I understand it and if I recollect rightly from my own experience in government, if the Secretary of State were to be incapacitated for some reason, another Secretary of State could carry out this function. I recollect being somewhat surprised to discover that one day many years ago when, as Secretary of State for Employment, I was asked to sign an order prohibiting a suspected terrorist from entering Great Britain. When I observed, "That is a bit outside my responsibility, isn't it?", I was reminded that the Secretary of State is the Secretary of State.
We cannot accept what the noble Lord has said. I would be grateful if he would give us an example of when the Secretary of State would not wish to specify an organisation which was behaving in this way. What would be the disadvantage of putting the matter specifically as my noble friend has suggested? I cannot conceive what it would be. Indeed, the Minister said that he cannot conceive such a situation either so why do we not make the words in the Bill match those that he has uttered?
Lord Dubs: I suggested that the Secretary of State would exercise her responsibilities properly under the Bill and that there would be no question of anyone feeling that she was not doing that. Given her track record, I believe that that is a reasonable conclusion to reach, as the noble Lord, Lord Tebbitt, has more or less agreed. I am suggesting that it is not necessary to go as far in the Bill as the amendment proposes.
I do not intend to press this amendment tonight, but I hope that the Minister will think very carefully about this matter. He has not provided any explanation of the circumstances which would justify a decision not to specify; nor has he given any reason why my amendment would in any way frustrate the agreement which, time and time again in these debates, we are reminded cannot be departed from in any way. I make it clear that this is a matter to which I suspect a number of noble Lords will return at Report stage. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, most of us think, subjectively, that where we come from is very special. Many even think "There's no place like home". In the case of north-west England, where I come from, it must be true, for millions of more objective people from elsewhere think the same.
Inbound tourism to the North West is today a major and fast growing sector of the region's economy. It provides at least as many jobs as the defence, aerospace, automotive, textile and clothing sectors. Tourists also create a huge number of jobs in other sectors. On the north-west coast 40 per cent. of the jobs tourism creates are outside the tourist industry.
The region's growing popularity is proof of its attractions to tourists. In addition to the coastal resorts, they include not only the undoubted natural beauty of the nearby Lakes and Peak District but also the "paradise", as it was royally described, of the Trough of Boland. Other attractions include our rich cultural heritage; our fine universities and cathedrals; the North West's historic role as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and of movements for social improvement; and its more modern shrines like the set for "Coronation Street" at Granada Studios.
Among the movements for social improvement founded in the region there is one, the Co-operative Movement, in which I have an interest to declare. I do so with pride as former President of the Co-operative Congress, the highest honour the British Co-operative Movement can confer. The CWS, based like other major co-operative institutions in Manchester, is today the biggest enterprise in the North West, with its increased turnover in 1997 of £3.025 billion. The working people who pioneered the movement in Rochdale in 1844 inspired a world venture that today comprises 700 million co-operative members in over 70 countries, all of which have contacts with the movement here.
The other interest I must declare is that I first stood for Parliament in Liverpool, with my noble friend Lord Sefton as my admirable election agent, leaving me with an enduringly high regard for that city, before serving for 33 years as a Member of Parliament for Manchester, my native city. Thus some might conclude that my view of the comparative merits of the North West is not wholly unbiased.
The region's towns and cities each have their attractions for particular groups of tourists, and Liverpool and Manchester of course have commercial, cultural and sporting links worldwide. Manchester will host the next and, given due support from the Government to bridge a funding gap, the best-ever Commonwealth Games, while Liverpool, birthplace of the Beatles and home of one of Britain's two most successful football teams, hosts the world's most exciting horse race every year. International exhibition and conference business also makes an important contribution to tourist income for both of our major cities.
Tourism is the second largest source of employment after retailing in the North West. Its growth potential is far greater than that of the traditional manufacturing industries and makes it one of our most important means of economic regeneration. If with the Government's help we can further increase inbound tourism, we shall benefit both the region and the national economy, to which it already contributes £25 billion a year.
Compared with just 13 per cent. for the North West, the latest figures available show that 63 per cent. of overseas visitors came to London. But the growth of inbound tourism to London is not without its problems. Ever-increasing congestion at the London airports makes it all the more urgent for the Government to spread the benefits of tourism more evenly across the country by improving access to the regions.
The North West has so much to offer, but for overseas visitors to see and enjoy it they need direct access to the region, free of the hassle of transfers over the London airports. This would ease pressure on Heathrow and Gatwick and enable the North West Tourist Board--and such bodies as England's North Country and Marketing Manchester--to promote the region to much greater effect and compete on more equal terms with London and tourist destinations across the globe.
It is much to the advantage of the North West that it has in Manchester one of the world's best airports. Over 16 million passengers a year pass through it and that figure is forecast to reach 30 million within the next decade. Much to my delight, my right honourable friend Tom Clarke MP, the Minister for tourism, visited Manchester Airport recently. He heard in detail about its potential for increasing inbound tourism and the pace of economic regeneration in the North West. It was a most timely visit and I am extremely glad he was able also to meet John East, who so ably chairs the board of the renowned Halle Orchestra, another of our tourist attractions.
Since Tom Clarke's visit the Government have made two welcome announcements that create further opportunities for Manchester Airport to develop to its fullest potential. First, the UK's bilateral treaty partners were informed that the capacity and frequency of direct international air services into regional airports would no longer be linked with issues concerning access to London's airports in bilateral negotiations, provided that UK airlines have the opportunity to operate on the same routes. While this falls short of the full Open Skies policy for which the regional airports continue to press, it is an important move in the right direction.
The second announcement, from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, allows Manchester and some other regional airports to fund their development through borrowing on the strength of their balance sheets. This was a major step forward for which I hope my noble friend, who also deals with Treasury matters, will thank himself for me most warmly! The constraints suffered by Manchester and other local authority-owned airports in terms of public sector borrowing requirements were pushing the more successful airports into the private sector for no good reason. Happily now Manchester Airport can retain its present status and focus on regional benefit, while being free to act in a more commercial way so far as its funding is concerned.
Much credit is due to the Government for these announcements. But there is more they can do to enable the major regional airports to make their regions more attractive to tourists. They should develop a proper methodology for assessing the regional economic impact of air services and continue to roll back the barriers to genuinely free international access to regional airports. Specifically, they should allow airlines providing direct international flights into Manchester and other regional airports to fly on to third countries, carrying revenue passengers between each of the destinations served. This is the so-called "fifth freedom" of the air. It would increase the viability of services and add significantly to inbound tourism.
Even more importantly, the Government should allow Manchester Airport a further commercial freedom, one well justified by its pivotal role in the regional economy. The freedom we seek is to allow the airport company to diversify, to pursue its own commercial objectives without being bound narrowly to the operation of the airport itself.
As of now, the airport is barred from this normal business activity because of limitations on its local authority owners--a matter of vires. This has significant implications. Your Lordships will be aware of the impending loss of duty-free trade generated by travel between member states of the European Union. The British Airports Authority, which owns London's airports, can hedge against this loss of income by diversification. It undertakes property development, for example, and invests in airports abroad. But for Manchester such action is impossible because of its more limited powers. And in the case of projects to improve surface access to the airport, the airport company is often relegated to a back-seat role because it cannot put money into them on a commercial basis.
Freedom to invest in such projects would be of immense value to the airport and the North West. It would also further promote inbound tourism by speedier access to all parts of the north from the airport. Growth at the airport creates new employment of the order of 1,000 on-airport jobs for every 1 million more passengers. More inbound tourists from more nations around the world will mean increased spending in the region, sustaining jobs, creating new ones and allowing more investment to make it more attractive to its visitors and the UK as a whole more appealing to overseas tourists.
I know the Government will want to respond positively to the points I have raised and that my noble friend, with his customarily instinctive helpfulness, will do all he can, informed by this debate, to work with us to make the North West an ever more accessible, attractive and welcoming destination for inbound tourists.
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