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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I agree with my noble friend that this is a matter of very great gravity. However, the Government have made their position on the constitutional question and on the economic question very clear. We have taken the view that, although there are important constitutional considerations, those considerations would not rule out membership of EMU if the balance of economic advantage for this country were in favour of our membership. That is why we have set economic criteria and that is why, although we continue to consider the constitutional issues, in the end it is on economic criteria that a decision will be made.

Lord Ezra: My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that, when the time is right for us to join EMU, our overriding objective should be to work towards its continuing success based on our considerable experience in the conduct of monetary affairs?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am sure the noble Lord is right to say that we could at that time make a great contribution to the success of European monetary union.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord can help me with his original reply. Is he aware of what Senor Romano Prodi, the Prime Minister of Italy who took Italy into EMU and currently the Commission's president-designate, said in Italy on 21st June? He stated:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, Mr Prodi himself put another construction on his remarks. He was speaking during a video conference to Italy's Chemical Industry Association. He did indeed make the remarks to which the noble Lord referred. He said, because he was trying to gee up Italian industry, that,

    "instead of an opportunity, the euro could become our downfall if radical choices are not made. We must be absolutely virtuous". But he clarified his remarks afterwards by saying:

    "My remarks only moved the market because they were reported in a very ambiguous and wrong way".

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    I think that Mr Prodi knows the position about membership of EMU as well as we do.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that he made an extremely important statement when he answered the Question? Is he further aware that what he did was to drive a coach and horses through the basic principle of our constitution that one Parliament cannot bind its successor?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I had no intention of making an extremely important statement, either in my original Answer or in any subsequent answer. I am reflecting government policy, which has not changed for a considerable period.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, will my noble friend answer the question?

Lord Marsh: My Lords, was not the real reason for Senor Prodi's statement a perfectly honest recognition that the governments currently in euroland will, as they have done in the past, break and ignore the rules whenever it suits their national interests? That is what worried the 400 or more business men and women who met yesterday for the Business For Sterling conference. They were worried specifically about that degree of instability.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I have no direct knowledge of the conference to which the noble Lord referred. I was not present, as no doubt he was. But I certainly reject his assertion that other countries in the European monetary union are constantly seeking to evade the convergence criteria. What was remarkable about the first half of last year was the way in which there was genuine convergence which made it possible for those 11 countries to agree to go into European monetary union and to set a rate of exchange for it.

Lord Jenkin of Roding: My Lords, does not the Minister's original reply underline the truth of the proposition that, far from being a building block on the way to building an effective European Union, a unified currency has to be the last brick in the edifice, if we ever get that far? The line now being taken by the organisation New Europe is a great deal more realistic than that taken by those like the noble Lord, Lord Shore, who believe that we should never go anywhere along that road, or those like the Government who think that we should join as soon as possible.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, far be it from me to seek to adjudicate between the various bodies that are setting themselves up, such as those referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Marsh, and that referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, to express perfectly legitimate views about monetary union. The Government have made their position entirely clear. Nothing I have said has departed from that position.

Lord Bruce of Donington: My Lords, my noble friend has made an important constitutional

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announcement this afternoon concerning what is irrevocable and what is not. At the same time, will he agree that no Parliament can bind its successor?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I have made no important constitutional announcement. I have simply reiterated what has been the constitutional position and the view of Her Majesty's Government over a considerable period of time. My noble friend is entitled to his constitutional views, just as my noble friend Lord Stoddart is. He challenged me for not answering his second question. I did not do so because I thought I had rejected the premise on which that question was based. I do so now again.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, in that case, will the Minister tell the House whether the House of Commons and this Parliament would be capable of taking the United Kingdom out of EMU if ever it had once been so foolish as to join?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I reject the words, "so foolish", used by the noble Lord. Clearly, if the Government, Parliament and the people of this country decide to enter EMU, they will be doing so on the basis of long-term advantage, not short-term considerations.

Lord Haskel: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that it is best to leave this decision until it suits our economic interest, and not to attempt to make decisions now on matters of principle?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, that has indeed been the Government's position for a considerable period of time. We reject the views both of those who believe it is necessary to enter now, regardless of other considerations, and those who believe that it would never be possible or necessary for us to enter.

HFC Bank Bill

3.31 p.m.

Read a third time, and passed.

Business of the House: Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

It may be helpful in moving this Motion to say to the House that the agreement of the usual channels has been sought and achieved to take this important piece of delegated legislation today, even though the Joint Committee has not yet reported on it. The order is necessary given the defects in legislation reported to the House by my noble friend Lord Williams of Mostyn in

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repeating the Statement yesterday. I hope that in these unusual circumstances the House will approve the business Motion that is before it.

Moved, That Standing Order 70 (Affirmative Instruments) be dispensed with to enable the Motion to approve the draft Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989 (Revival of Parts IVA and IVB) Order 1999 to be taken today, notwithstanding that no report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments on the draft order has been laid before the House.--(Baroness Jay of Paddington.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Privileges: Select Committee

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the Viscount Cranborne be appointed a member of the Select Committee in the place of the Viscount Whitelaw.--(The Chairman of Committees.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Water Industry Bill

3.33 p.m.

Lord Carter: My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen and His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales to acquaint the House that they, having been informed of the purport of the Water Industry Bill, have consented to place their prerogatives and interests, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.

Read a third time.

Clause 6 [Right of consumer to elect for charging by reference to volume]:

Baroness Miller of Hendon moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 5, line 12, at end insert--
("(7A) In any case where--
(a) the premises had been let for residential purposes for a term of six months or more but not for a term exceeding 5 years, whether commencing before or after the commencement of this Act,
(b) the lessee for the time being had given a measured charges notice to the undertaker without the express written consent of the lessor for the time being,
(c) the premises have reverted to the original lessor, whether on the expiry of the term, or upon forfeiture or abandonment or disclaimer or surrender of the lease or by any other means, and
(d) the lessor to whom the premises have reverted intends to occupy them as his principal place of residence,
the consumer, (here meaning the lessor for the time being) may within 12 months of the premises reverting to him give a notice to the water undertaker revoking the measured charges notice.")

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I should like to speak also to Amendment No. 2. This is the substantive amendment, and Amendment No. 2 is merely the paving amendment.

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I have mentioned the problem that these amendments seek to resolve many times in this House during the course of our debates on the Bill. I mentioned it first at Second Reading, again in Committee, and again on Report. I want to emphasise yet again that the amendments have nothing to do with water or water meters. They are concerned with landlords and tenants, and the right of landlords not to have their property changed by a tenant after the lease has expired.

Clause 6 provides that the customer has a right to elect to have a metered supply of water. Subsection (5) provides that he can change his mind within 12 months and revert to the previous method of payment. Under Clause 11, a landlord may not prohibit his tenant from exercising the option of a meter. If the tenant stays longer than a year, the landlord is committed forever. That cannot be right.

As well as having referred to the problem on numerous occasions in this House, I wrote to the Minister. He kindly answered in full detail, but did not address any of the points to my satisfaction. However, the Minister was extraordinarily courteous in allowing me to have a meeting with him yesterday which took up a great deal of his time. Considering that he and the noble Baroness, Lady Farrington of Ribbleton, had a long day before them on the Greater London Authority Bill, I should not like them to think that I was anything less than extremely grateful for that.

As a result of that meeting, I have made enormous concessions regarding my original points. I do not want to go through all those points again. The amendment that is before the House makes the matter clear. The period has now been reduced to five years. Originally I referred to "a short tenancy"--I understand that 21 years is considered a short tenancy in normal landlord and tenant proceedings. Now the reference is to "5 years".

I have also reduced the provision as follows. If a landlord grants a lease and the tenant, without the landlord's consent--as he is perfectly entitled to do--opts for a meter, the position would be amended. Within that period the landlord may return and want the premises for himself. If the premises have reverted to the original lessor and the lessor intends to occupy the premises as his principle place of residence--not to let them to anyone else--the present position seems incredible. Someone can have a tenancy, live in someone's property for up to a year, opt for a water meter and, after the year, decide to ask the water company to change that method of payment. Given that a tenant can do that, it seems extraordinary that the landlord of the property for which the method of payment was changed without his permission cannot revert to the former method of payment in the limited--I emphasise "limited"--conditions that this amendment suggests.

Perhaps I may repeat an example that I gave previously. Let us suppose that a landlord who has two young children works for a company and is suddenly posted to Saudi Arabia. His water charges are dealt with by means of the old rateable value. He lets his apartment to a tenant who has no children and decides that it would be cheaper to opt for a meter. The meter is installed, and the tenant leaves after a year. The landlord returns, wants to move back into his own home and finds that, no matter what, he cannot

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change the new position. The tenant himself, after the year, could, but the landlord, the owner of the property, cannot.

In no other way can a landlord lose his rights beyond the length of the lease as a result of his tenant changing the position.

Whether it be a right of way or other improvements that the tenant wishes to put in, he cannot alter the property in that way.

I believe it is a matter of natural justice. I have said that before and I say it again. I do not wish to take up too much of your Lordships' time. I think I have argued it well-- I say that with the greatest modesty. I could read to your Lordships what I said at Second Reading and go through again my logical arguments at the Committee and Report stages. But the point I emphasise again is that this is not a matter of the water, the water meter and so on. It is the basic right of whether a tenant can alter the property in the end against the interests of the landlord when the landlord did not give permission. I beg to move.

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