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Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn: I am grateful to my noble friend for moving the amendment. The face of the Bill is very short of references to cultural properties, although they fall within its scope. Indeed, this is where the protection of our cultural properties and the regulation of the import and, particularly, the export of illicit cultural properties falls. As far as I am

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aware, there is no other such legislation other than one piece of Common Market legislation which has been subsequently brought into effect in this country. These are important matters which are not made clear throughout most of the Bill.

It is a matter for satisfaction, a matter of progress. A year ago, the Government announced their acceptance of the proposal by the illicit trade advisory panel, chaired by Professor Norman Palmer, that the 1970 UNESCO convention would after all these years be ratified by the United Kingdom. The working party went into great detail. It explored the various implications and concluded that it would be possible for the United Kingdom to ratify the convention without further legal provision.

It is therefore puzzling that, although an announcement was made in March last year, there has been no clear or evident progress. For that reason, in January, I set down a Question for Written Answer. I was pleased to receive from the Minister for the Arts the reply to which my noble friend referred, indicating that she hoped to be able to make a further announcement to this House shortly.

What are the impediments? That is the specific question I posed previously to which I did not receive a specific enough answer. I am not aware of any impediments—nor are those with whom I am acquainted who know about the law relating to cultural properties. I understand that it was necessary to arrive at certain technical clarifications with the legal departments in Scotland to ensure that there would be no contradictions and that Scottish law would be in harmony with United Kingdom law. However, it was my understanding that those issues had been entirely clarified.

Therefore, I very much hope that in responding to the amendment the Minister may be able to tell us what precisely are the impediments to the papers now being laid by the Government before both Houses of Parliament. I believe that that is a formal procedure which will take only a few weeks, and that it will have the effect of ratifying the Bill. It is a simple matter of laying orders. I should be interested to know what is impeding the Government from laying these important but straightforward orders.

4 p.m.

Lord Hylton: This is a helpful amendment. I hope that the Minister will have in mind not only the possibility of an order preventing the export of British antiquities but also the separate and different case of antiquities belonging to another country which have been brought to London, probably for sale and possibly for re-export. A long and complicated case relating to Egyptian antiquities was written up in the press recently; but is by no means the only such case. This is an important matter.

Lord Redesdale: I support the amendment. The noble Lord, Lord Renfrew, referred to the announcement made last March. It was made to a

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conference hosted by the Institute of Field Archaeologists at the Society of Antiquarians at which the noble Lord and I spoke. The announcement was greatly appreciated by the archaeological community. The amendment moves that process on. I echo the question: when will the necessary convention be ratified?

Lord Davies of Oldham: We have a great deal of sympathy with the thinking behind the amendment. It is the Government's intention to accede to the 1970 UNESCO convention. The Government believe, however, that the amendment is unnecessary and that it would have some unfortunate consequences. It is unnecessary because the Bill already provides that a control order may be made for the purpose of giving effect to any,

    "other international obligation of the United Kingdom"—

and that commitment will be unchanged if the government amendments to the clause are accepted.

The Government announced in March 2001 that they intended to accede to the convention. That remains our intention. As the convention will impose international obligations on the UK, the Bill as currently drafted is sufficient to cover the situation were the Government to decide that a control order was needed to give effect to an obligation arising from the convention or any other to which they might decide to accede in future.

The key point is to ensure that the Bill contains the power to enable the UK to accede to its international obligations—whether in regard to UNESCO, or any other international obligation. As I have mentioned, the Bill provides that necessary power. In singling out UNESCO, the amendment is, therefore, rather specific and could be limiting. For those reasons I hope that the noble Baroness will withdraw her amendment, although we recognise the intention behind it.

The noble Lord, Lord Renfrew, raised the point—confirmed by the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale—that accession to the UNESCO convention was identified as a government commitment almost a year ago. It is the case that it has taken rather longer than anticipated to accede. Over that time, a number of legal and policy issues have required clarification in consultation within government, as have some aspects with regard to Scottish legislation to ensure compatibility. There has also been consultation with UNESCO on some outstanding issues. I am happy to place on record the fact that this process is reaching completion. My noble friend Lady Blackstone hopes to be able to make an announcement to House very shortly.

The noble Lord, Lord Hylton identified areas of considerable complexity. That explains why great care has been taken to ensure that all aspects are covered before we eventually sign up to the UNESCO convention. The noble Lord's point perhaps helped to reinforce the Committee's appreciation of just how carefully the Government scrutinise such issues. I reiterate that I am able to give an assurance that an announcement will be before the House in the very near future.

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Baroness Anelay of St Johns: I thank the Minister wholeheartedly for his statement that we can expect to hear from the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, "very shortly"—which in government terms means that I may yet to live to hear it! I hope that it will be possible to make the announcement before Report. I shall consider between now and then the wording of a possible further amendment. I should, of course, be delighted to give the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, the opportunity to make such a statement on the Floor of the House rather than by Written Answer.

I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Renfrew and to the noble Lords, Lord Hylton and Lord Redesdale, for their support. I am sure that it was given on the practical basis that we do not want in any way to limit the scope of the Bill or to exclude the possibility of the Government being able to accede in the future to other international obligations if it is proper to do so. The amendment was merely to highlight the fact that there is a long-outstanding matter with regard to accession to the UNESCO convention and that we are becoming somewhat impatient.

As I said, I shall consider carefully whether to bring an amendment back on Report which might properly raise the matter without being limiting. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment No. 43C, as an amendment to Amendment No. 43, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 43D, as an amendment to Amendment No. 43, not moved.]

On Question, Amendment No. 43 agreed to.

[Amendment No. 44 had been withdrawn from the Marshalled List.]

Lord Redesdale moved Amendment No. 45:

    Page 4, line 20, leave out from "order" to end of line 22 and insert—

"(a) has been laid before and approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament, and
(b) provides—
(i) for the order to expire, or
(ii) for the provision imposing controls to cease to have effect,"

The noble Lord said: In the absence of my noble friend Lord Phillips of Sudbury, I shall speak to Amendment No. 45, which is grouped with Amendment No. 47, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Hendon. The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that the House has an opportunity to scrutinise any resolution laid before it. I beg to move.

The Deputy Chairman of Committees (Lord Brougham and Vaux): I advise the Committee that if the amendment is agreed to I cannot call Amendment No. 46 and that if Amendment No. 46 is agreed to I cannot call Amendment No. 47.

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Baroness Miller of Hendon: The Explanatory Notes on Clause 5(2) state:

    "It may be considered necessary . . . to introduce orders imposing export controls, transfer controls, technical assistance controls or trade controls on a temporary or emergency basis".

I accept that that is possible. Amendment No. 45 also accepts that.

However, we believe that the emergency powers that the Government are seeking last far too long. The Government seek to be able to make an emergency order that would last for 12 months. I cannot conceive of an emergency that would last for that period. Much more importantly, the Government are seeking powers to make orders that are not restricted by the schedule, which entirely defines the reasons for which a control order may be made. In other words, Parliament would be giving the Secretary of State the power to make control orders for specific purposes and in specific circumstances, but the Minister is seeking powers to go outside those restrictions in some unspecified situation.

The only restriction that the Government accept is that Clause 12(2) requires such an emergency order to be ratified by a positive resolution of both Houses of Parliament within 40 days. In our view, that is the wrong way of going about the problem.

If such unforeseen circumstances arise, of course the Government should make an emergency order. However, experience tells us that those who legislate in haste often repent at leisure. Either the emergency situation will have resolved itself within the three months that we are proposing and the order can be allowed to lapse, or the situation will have clarified itself into one that requires a permanent control order. As that situation is outside the ambit of the schedule, it should be dealt with by an amending Act, not by a so-called temporary emergency order.

What happens if the emergency is not resolved within the 12 months that the Government are asking for? Is there to be a series of orders lasting 11 months and three weeks, even with the positive resolution procedure in place? It cannot be right for the Secretary of State to have the power to make orders having a considerable effect on individuals, and even to subject them to criminal sanctions, when the basis of those orders is not defined in the substantive Bill.

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