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Lord Carter: My Lords, the prospect of a three months' delay on the use of a horse carcass boggles the imagination. There are four ways in which this matter can be dealt with and they are being investigated. There is the marking of the animal. In farming terms, they are freeze-branded. There is the possibility of a passport to be attached to the animal. There is also the possibility

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of the micro-chip. Various ways are being investigated to ensure that the horse is not destined for human consumption. If that is the case then the vet can treat it.

Women's Sexual and Reproductive Health

2.58 p.m.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What priority is being given by the Department for International Development, in relation to women's sexual and reproductive rights, to provide further relevant services, including education, in the poorest countries.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the Government's White Paper on international development highlighted the priority given by this Government to the international development goals, including reproductive healthcare, information and services for all by 2015, and universal basic education by the same date. We want to ensure that all women, as well as men, can exercise their rights to the education, information and services necessary to control their fertility, protect their sexual health and raise healthy and educated children.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply. Does he share my concern that the lack of access for millions of couples to family planning and reproductive health services in many parts of the world result in very high maternal mortality rates? Will the Government redouble their efforts to persuade the US and other governments to match our contribution to the development of such services in poorer countries?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I share the noble Lord's concern that millions of people around the world still do not have access to those basic services. However, there have been some significant improvements; 57 per cent. of couples around the world now use some form of contraception compared with 9 per cent. 30 years ago. In countries such as Bangladesh that has resulted in the number of children per family decreasing from seven to three. With regard to the American position, we regret the restrictions which have been put, through that country's internal political processes, on such provisions. America has historically invested substantially in this area and we hope that it will change its mind and do so again.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that in Afghanistan women receive no education whatever, as Ms Carol Bellamy of UNICEF re-emphasised this morning at a meeting of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group? Will the Government consult, particularly with Islamic faiths in the OIC, to see whether additional pressure could be brought to bear on the Taliban and whether it could be explained that the education of women is fully compatible with the rules of Islam?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I am well aware of the desperate situation of many women in Afghanistan. We

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shall use all our diplomatic influence to try to ensure that changes are made there. It is important to recognise that that situation does not appertain in the vast majority of Islamic countries, as is shown by the example of Bangladesh that I have just given.

Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, following the question from the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, does the Minister agree that this is not only a problem in the poorest countries but that, as Mr. Nemir Kidar said recently, it is a problem throughout much of the Arab world? How will the department encourage better education for women in all such countries in order to assist their liberalisation, which is surely at the root of the problem?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I agree with the central point raised by the noble Baroness and that education plays a major role in this. Encouraging girls to stay on at school for at least as long as boys has a direct effect on their knowledge of this subject and consequently on the number of births in such countries and the safety of those births. There is a particular problem in some Arab countries, but the priority of the British aid programme will remain the poorest countries.

Baroness Lockwood: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that following the Cairo Conference the European Union allocated 300 million ecus for expenditure on women's reproductive health rights by the year 2000? Is he also aware that currently there is insufficient expertise and administrative capacity in the unit controlling that money for it to be able to deploy those sums effectively? Will my noble friend ensure that that matter is put on the agenda of the Council of Europe so that we can be assured that the money is spent effectively, perhaps by bringing in expertise from countries such as the United Kingdom which has considerable experience in this area?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I am aware of the situation with regard to the European Union's programme. The Commission has exceeded its target expenditure commitment of 300 million ecus, which followed Cairo, but there are some problems over allocation and with regard to the prioritisation of the programme. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State has drawn those problems to the attention of the Commission and other member states. We are helping the network of experts who are helping the Commission to improve the effectiveness of its programmes in this area.

Viscount Craigavon: My Lords, can the Minister comment on the total resources which the Government are devoting to this area of reproductive health? Are the present Government building on what in my opinion was the excellent record of the previous government in increasing the department's total expenditure on this to something like 4 per cent. of the total expenditure on overseas development aid, which is the internationally agreed target? Have we reached that target or are we still aiming at it?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, both the previous government and this Government have increased the

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proportion of our total aid budget which is directed at health education in this area from 1.5 per cent. at the time of the Cairo Conference to almost 4 per cent. now. However, our view is that that is not necessarily the only way to tackle the problem because broader health education and broader education in general contribute to the ultimate success of our policy on reproductive health.

Earl Russell: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the right of women to receive or to refuse contraception is equally a human right? Might it be easier to obtain international agreement if we were to proceed on that human rights basis?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I agree with the noble Earl. Both are clearly human rights and both should be respected in any health programme that we support.

The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, is there not a critical link not only between reproductive health and education, but also between population and employment, and particularly the employment of women because of the security that that can bring their families? Are the Government aware that the White Paper says very little about that connection with employment although it says a lot about women and gender equality? Can the Government do more to redress that imbalance and to support more income-generation programmes relating to population?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the emphasis of the White Paper and of our strategy on the education of women and their role in the economy is clear. The direct effect of Her Majesty's Government's efforts in this area may be a little unclear. Nevertheless, part of our programme is to ensure the full participation of women in developing countries in economic and social life as a whole without, however, the exploitation which has often previously characterised their participation.


Lord Carter: My Lords, at a convenient moment after 3.30 p.m., my noble friend Lord Gilbert will, with the leave of the House, repeat a Statement that is to be made in another place on the Strategic Defence Review.

Scotland Bill

3.6 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): 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.--(Lord Sewel.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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House in Committee accordingly.


Clause 1 [The Scottish Parliament]:

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 1, line 8, at end insert ("which shall consist of two chambers.
(1A) This Act makes provision for the establishment, composition and powers of the lower chamber of the Scottish Parliament, and (other than in subsections (1) to (1B) of this section and in section (Second chamber of the Scottish Parliament)) references to "the Parliament" and "the Scottish Parliament" shall be construed as references to the lower chamber.
(1B) Section (Second chamber of the Scottish Parliament) makes provision relating to the establishment of a second chamber of the Scottish Parliament.").

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 1, perhaps I should begin by saying that it may be quite some time before we reach Amendment No. 391! This amendment and the others grouped with it essentially seek to introduce a second chamber into the Scottish parliamentary arrangements and a method by which we might arrive at the composition of that second chamber. I decided that it was perhaps wise not to suggest that those of your Lordships with Scottish residence should form the second chamber. I thought that the Government might find that a little too easy to knock down with the usual lines that, as we know, come spinning out of Downing Street from time to time. That is why I have suggested that the Prime Minister, in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition, should set up a commission of not more than 15 members who would take evidence, discuss the issue, and come to conclusions, perhaps with options which they would present to the Government and to Parliament. We could then proceed to create a second chamber for the Scottish parliament.

At Second Reading a number of your Lordships pointed out that the proposals before us did not envisage a second chamber, but a unicameral parliament. A number of your Lordships expressed some concern about that and I have no doubt that we shall hear that concern again today.

We all know the arguments in favour of a revising chamber--although perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Sewel, is not quite as sympathetic to that argument today as he might have been at this time yesterday! However, assuming that the noble Lord takes such matters in reasonably good humour, I believe that he will find the argument for a second Chamber compelling. The very fact that the Government have made it clear that they do not want the current composition of this House to continue but that they do want this House to continue indicates that they believe that there is a place in our system for a second chamber.

One knows that all governments use this House considerably during the passage of legislation, and it is upon that that I wish to concentrate. Noble Lords do other things. This Chamber has Question Time and considers secondary legislation. That is a function that could be performed by a second chamber of the Scottish parliament. Noble Lords also have a particular role regarding European legislation. That is something that

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your Lordships do uniquely among parliaments, unicameral and bicameral, around the rest of the European Union.

However, the main daily task--I nearly said "daily grind"--of noble Lords is to look at legislation. Under all governments in this Chamber amendments have been proposed from the Opposition, the Cross-Benches and the Government. Recently, in a lecture on the House of Lords I learnt--I presume it to be right--that in this Session the Government themselves will have chalked up about 2,000 amendments in your Lordships' House on legislation. That does not include amendments that have been moved from other parts of the House. Most of them have been accepted by the Government without Division, and a few have been forced upon the Government. I do not know whether I have amended this Bill to the extent that the Welsh Bill is being amended, but I have tabled a significant number of amendments in your Lordships' House which are perhaps the result of undertakings in the Commons or points raised in this House.

No one in this House can doubt that this system depends upon the existence of a second chamber in order to iron out the problems of legislation and to give the Government the opportunity to listen to the arguments, and make the necessary changes, not only in this House but outside. In the sister (or cousin) Welsh Bill the Government have tabled a number of very significant and welcome amendments. One day about 37 or 38 of the 70-odd pages of the Marshalled List were taken up by government amendments. It is perfectly clear that in our system the second chamber plays a vitally important role. No doubt the Committee will be told that not every system has two chambers. That is certainly true. There are parts of the world where only one chamber exists and they appear to get along perfectly well; in other parts of the world there are two chambers and they appear to get along perfectly well.

The argument from the Government Benches on a number of constitutional issues that irritates me most is that it is done one way in one country and a different way in another country, that we should copy what everybody else is doing and that we do not have enough confidence to stand by our own traditions and methods. Some of them may appear to be fairly arcane to people outside this country but those methods have grown up over hundreds of years of democracy--which is a lot more than can be said for many of the countries whose constitutional arrangements we are asked to copy.

Every country exercises its democracy in a different way because of its history, size and the way in which its political parties have grown up. All these issues determine how our constitutional arrangements work. I do not believe that just because Norway, Sweden and Finland--to name the three that I suspect we shall hear a good deal about--have unicameral parliaments, we must do the same here. In the wintertime they have endless nights. It does not mean that we should try to do the same here, although some wish to muck about with the clock in order to bring that about in this country. We are all different. I am all for these differences. I do not suggest to these countries that they

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should adopt bicameral parliaments. That is their business. Therefore, it is to our traditions and way of working that we should look.

No doubt the Government will say that a new Scottish parliament, which after all will be a legislature, should look at different ways of working and does not have to carry on the traditions that have been pursued in the United Kingdom Parliament. As the Civil Service and the mindset of most of us is formed by a system that has been in operation for centuries in this country the chances are that the Scottish parliament will continue to operate along the lines of the House of Commons as far as concerns legislation. Even in the case of ordinary legislation, unless it is agreed by all channels--when it is agreed by all channels there is probably greater scrutiny--it takes about three or four months. We are aware from our experience in this Parliament that that is not really enough. Another two or three months are required in the other Chamber if we are to get it right. We do not always succeed even then, given the fact that there are two bites at the cherry. Two different sets of people look at legislation and a bit more time is allowed for the Government to consider and reflect upon what has been said. I suggest to the Committee that in this country legislation is greatly improved by the existence of a second chamber.

I have little doubt that we shall be told that the Scottish parliament can use other methods. Later on we shall be investigating some of those other methods, but I do not believe that we should leave that to chance. The second chamber deserves at least consideration. I am not particularly thirled as to how it should be composed. I do not believe that it should be composed as a reflection of the first chamber. Perhaps it could be elected on a different basis from the first chamber. For example, one person for every unitary authority may give more weight in the whole system to the rural areas of Scotland than to the heavily populated Central belt. Under that system Glasgow, Orkney and Shetland, the Western Isles and so on would each have one member. It would not be entirely balanced because the Highland Region, which is fairly large, would have one member. I am not thirled to any particular method. But there is one method that we can certainly use. Members could be appointed. Some governments make very sensible appointments to your Lordships' House in the way of Life Peers. I am quite sure that a way can be found whereby a small number of people who represent various interests in Scotland are brought together to perform the role of a second chamber.

However, the object of my amendment is not to determine the composition of the second chamber. That will be decided by a commission which will report on the issue. My main proposition is that we should make provision for that to happen under the Bill and debate whether or not there should be a second chamber. If we are not to have a second chamber, we should debate how the checks and balances that a second chamber would provide under this and many other systems can be provided in the Scottish parliament.

Unlike the Welsh assembly, the Scottish parliament will be passing primary legislation across a very wide field for the people of Scotland. That singles it out as a

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different body from the Welsh assembly. I have not made proposals similar to those of my noble friend Lord Roberts of Conwy in respect of the Welsh Bill because I do not believe that the position is the same. In Scotland one is considering a legislature with considerable powers over a very wide field. For that reason I believe it is right that in this Chamber, if not in the other, we should at least discuss whether or not there is merit in having some form of second chamber in the Scottish parliament.

I look forward to hearing the Minister's response. I hope that he will address the general question of how legislation is to be dealt with. That will be useful for the later stages of the Bill when we try to ensure that any vague promises about how legislation is to be dealt with are put on the face of the Bill and not just left to a wing and a prayer.

This is a useful debate to begin with because the British tradition, as I started by saying and conclude by saying, is that we should have two Houses--a second Chamber that is a revising Chamber which does not compete with the other place but complements it. It would enhance the system of government we are developing in Scotland. I beg to move.

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