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Lord Hoyle: My Lords, can my noble friend confirm that the Environment Agency has stated that the operation of Mox will have a very negligible effect in this country and, therefore, it will be almost, if not totally, non-existent in Norway? Given that Cumbria has suffered from foot and mouth, which has affected both farming and tourism, does my noble friend agree that the creation of 350 new jobs at Mox and 1,500 indirect jobs, coupled with the 10,000 jobs already at Sellafield and the thousands of indirect jobs, will give a real boost to the economy in Cumbria?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I accept the importance of BNFL to the economy and employment in Cumbria. It is a vital part of that economy, particularly in the current circumstances. Now that BNFL appears to have its own internal monitoring and control in order and has greatly reduced the level of emissions, we should support its efforts and the decision to build the Mox plant.
Lord Glentoran: My Lords, what representations have Her Majesty's Government received from the Government of Japan in relation to the recommencing of exports of Mox fuel? Where does that leave the legal challenge being mounted by Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace alleging that the Government have distorted the financial figures relating to Mox?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, the claims of Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace--and, indeed, those of overseas governments--are the subject of legal proceedings. I cannot therefore comment with safety on the way in which the Government will receive them. As to the situation with Japan, we wish to resume the processing of Japanese fuel. This has been the subject of continuous correspondence with the Japanese authorities and we now appear to be reaching a successful conclusion. So any allegation, wherever it is made, that the Japanese are no longer interested has to be treated with some circumspection.
Lord Roberts of Conwy asked Her Majesty's Government:
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, employers are required to notify the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry only when they are proposing to make 20 or more redundancies at one establishment within a 90-day period. Adding up these notifications would not give a true picture. It would under-estimate the number of redundancies, as it would not include those involving fewer than 20 dismissals; and it would over-estimate the number, as it would relate to proposed rather than actual redundancies, which are sometimes avoided--the two do not cancel each other out.
Lord Roberts of Conwy: My Lords, I am not surprised at the noble Lord's failure to answer my Question. Does he agree that, in spite of the unexpectedly good growth figures for the first quarter, the outlook for employment, output and investment is deeply worrying for the future? Should not the Government take decisive action to shore up business confidence in the interests of all concerned?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am notorious for seeking to answer the Question on the Order Paper rather than seeking to make cheap political points of the kind that the noble Lord invites me to make. His Question relates to the period since May 1997. Since that time the number of jobs in this country has increased by 1¼ million and unemployment has decreased by 584,000. In Wales, 24,000 new jobs have been created and there are 32,000 fewer unemployed.
Lord McCarthy: My Lords, will the noble Lord admit, however, that there is a very real chance of an increase in redundancies in the next six or 12 months? As the Government are reviewing industrial relations legislation, is this not a good time also to review the provisions in respect of redundancy? For example, should we not examine the fact that no one receives any redundancy payments until he or she has been in a job for two years? There is also the fact that he or she cannot go out and look for work with permission from the employer unless he or she has worked for two years. Surely now is the time to improve our redundancy laws, just as we have had to review the laws on unfair dismissal. As they stand, they are almost certainly sex discriminatory and they represent indirect discrimination.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I appreciate the point that my noble friend makes about redundancy assistance. However, the issue goes a good deal wider than the statutory redundancy payments,
Lord Razzall: My Lords, I am sure that the Minister will share the surprise on these Benches at the words of the noble Lord, Lord Roberts of Conwy, and the U-turn on the Conservative Benches towards interventionist economic policies. However, will he accept that there is a serious issue here, particularly with regard to manufacturing industry in this country? Actual redundancies are occurring as I speak and prospective redundancies have been forecast by a number of major manufacturing companies. What do the Government propose to do about that?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Yes, my Lords, of course I accept that point. I welcome the noble Lord's support for the Government's position as opposed to the changing position of the Official Opposition. Clearly, with a great increase in economic uncertainty in the world and disturbances in global markets, there will be continued problems, in particular with manufacturing employment in this country. They are not answered simply by the assistance to which I referred earlier; they must be answered by the continuing policies of stability and growth that have informed this Government's economic policies over the past four and a half years.
Baroness Miller of Hendon: My Lords, is the Minister aware of the survey by Ernst & Young indicating in relation to UK manufacturers that the profit warnings level between July and September this year is the highest ever? What is the Government's estimate of what this may mean to future employment, and what do they intend to do about it?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, we shall set out our estimates of the economic situation, including employment, when we produce the Pre-Budget Report next month. We do not provide a running commentary between the Pre-Budget Report and the Budget.
Lord Boardman: My Lords, will the noble Lord answer the Question? It relates to the number of private sector industrial and commercial redundancies announced since the general election. That is very different from stating that he cannot say how many are taking place. Following all the Minister's qualifications, will he answer the Question?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I gave the Answer in considerable detail. There are no figures announced for industrial and commercial redundancies. The only figures available to the Government are those that are notified when there are more than 20 redundancies in one establishment over a 90-day period. There is no answer available to the Government on the specific Question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Roberts--which is why I attempted to be rather more helpful.
Lord Elton: My Lords, how many of those were there?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the figures would not be meaningful. I do not know why I have to repeat myself. They do not represent redundancies, because they miss out all the smaller redundancies; they do not add up, because many of the proposed redundancies that are announced never take place. It would be meaningless, and I should be misleading the House, were I to attempt to give such figures.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass.
Moved, That the Bill do now pass.--(Baroness Amos.)
Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, I begin by repeating our continued support for the principles underlying the Bill.
The conferral of British citizenship on British Overseas Territories citizens is most welcome. However, it has become more and more evident during the passage of the Bill that it is based on--and I hate to use the word--"spin". By this, I mean that the rhetoric surrounding the Bill promises great things, while in reality the legislation makes few significant changes.
That is due largely to the language of citizenship. An individual living in a democracy has both rights and responsibilities. The idea was well rehearsed both at Second Reading and in Committee. It is the essence of citizenship. Yet the granting of British citizenship to British Overseas Territories citizens will be,
The second problem that we have encountered is the definition of "residence". The noble Baroness, Lady Amos, has been careful to point out that many of the benefits and responsibilities associated with British citizenship will be applicable only to those British Overseas Territories citizens who exercise their right to live and work in the United Kingdom. Am I correct in thinking that British citizenship is to be perceived as a right? Duties and benefits come only with taking the decision to reside in the United Kingdom.
The crucial point is that only residents of the United Kingdom are entitled to the full benefits of British citizenship, while those who choose to stay in their territory of origin will remain largely unaffected. On this subject, perhaps we may clarify the procedure whereby a citizen claims the right of abode in the
Much has been made of the opportunities for education and training arising from the Bill for British Overseas Territories citizens. Making our excellent educational resources available to citizens from the overseas territories is most important. My noble friend Lady Young spoke at length and with notable passion on this subject. However, the Bill will do little in that regard. Again I quote the noble Baroness, Lady Amos:
We are presented with that all-important distinction between British citizens from the overseas territories and British citizens resident in the United Kingdom. I hope that that distinction does not come to jeopardise the possible wealth of opportunity open to British Overseas Territories citizens.
However, that is not enough to give these citizens a status comparable with that of their counterparts who are resident in the United Kingdom. Gibraltar is of particular concern here, as my noble friend Lady Hooper will mention. British citizens reside in Gibraltar yet that territory has no representation in the European Parliament. I realise that that is beyond the scope of the Bill in question but I think that it is relevant.
Finally, I say once again that we fully support the Bill. We feel, however, that some areas still require clarification, particularly with regard to the procedures whereby newly created British citizens claim their rights. Does the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, agree that nowhere in the Bill are the territories concerned referred to other than in the context of their change of name? Does this suggest that everything else about these territories remains the same? We hope that any areas of doubt will be cleared up during the passage of the Bill through the other place.
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