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Your Lordships' House will agree that legislation made under Section 2 of the European Communities Act 1972 is a much less desirable way of implementing these proposals than legislation under a statute. After all, legislation made under Section 2 of the 1972 Act would be delegated legislation and the House would have no opportunity whatever to amend it. Your Lordships would have to take it or leave it.
I do not understand why the Minister is so opposed to this proposal. After all, the amendment states that the Lord Chancellor and the Secretary of State "may" together make regulations. It is not mandatory, it is permissive; they may or they may not make regulations. So the discretion of the Minister and the Government is in no way constrained by what is proposed.
The Minister raised a number of matters of substance. I have dealt with most of them, both at Committee stage and at Report stage, but perhaps I may prevail on your Lordships' patience a little longer to deal with one or two of the points made by the Minister at this reading.
The first concerns the power of the OFT and the European Commission to make submissions to High Court judges. The Minister is right about that, but what good is it if the High Court judges do not have the experience to assess the merits of submissions put to them by the OFT and the Commission? Without the kind of expertise that judges in the Competition Appeal Tribunal will have, it will be all too easy for the OFT and the European Commission, on occasions to pull the wool over the eyes of the judiciary.
The Minister referred to delay, but if he looks back at the history of the development of litigation in the High Court he will see that, by a process of evolution, specialisation has proved necessary in a number of areas: most notably in the commercial court, in the administrative court and in the Employment Appeal Tribunal.
Here we are proposing to short-cut that process by providing a ready-made specialised court to deal with the inevitable specialisation that will develop as a result of the rapid advance of competition law. Contrary to the Minister's assertion of slowing things down, having this facility to make references to the Competition Appeal Tribunal will speed things up.
Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.
The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat a Statement made in another place by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister on the European Council in Brussels on 24th and 25th October. The Statement is as follows:
"Enlargement has been a goal of successive British governments. It was an historic obligation to offer membership to those nations which won their freedom after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Their membership will establish a single market of 500 million people. We hope that these 10 countries will be joined by Bulgaria and Romania no later than 2007.
"The European Council also welcomed the reforms undertaken by the Turkish Government. The Council agreed that Turkish progress had brought forward the opening of accession negotiations. At the Copenhagen European Council in December we shall decide on the next stage of Turkey's candidature. For our part, the British Government look forward to Turkey's membership of the European Union in accordance with the conditions which all candidates have to meet.
"The last stage of any negotiation is always the most difficult; and the last stage of this negotiation between the existing members of the European Union and the candidate countries is about money: what they pay into and receive from the EU budget, including structural funds and the common agricultural policy.
"The European Union will be generous to the new member states. It is right that we should be, given our own interest in their stability and prosperity. But at the same time we do not want to jeopardise the progress that has been made in reducing agriculture's share of the EU budget from over 60 per cent 20 years ago to 45 per cent now. The reforms agreed in Berlin in 1999 are worth 7½ billion euros to EU consumers and taxpayers. We want to extend that reform in two ways. Firstly, the Commission has brought forward proposals for the mid-term review of agriculture under paragraph 22 of the Berlin Conclusions of 1999 which, if agreed, would de-link agricultural subsidies from production for the first time in the history of the European Union. Secondly, we want to limit the growth of direct payments to farmers once the candidate countries have become full members.
"Before the summit, the main argument was whether enlargement could be blocked by the disagreement between France and Germany over limiting agricultural spending. Fortunately, before the summit, they reached agreement that future agricultural spending should be capped up to 2013 at the levels of 2006 envisaged by the Commission. In effect, because of allowances made for an inflation rate of only 1 per cent, this will mean a real terms reduction over and above the original Commission proposals. This agreement was welcomed by all.
"But there then arose the question of whether, in return for that, reform of the CAP prior to 2006 when the current financial perspective runs out would be postponed. This then dominated the latter stages of the summit.
"In our view, such a blanket opposition to reform would have been wholly unacceptable. It would mean effectively destroying the current reform proposals of the European Commission. It would seriously inhibit the offer the EU can make in the WTO Doha trade talks. Those talks are vital both for free trade and for the developing countries of the world. Those poor countries need agricultural reform in Europe and need it badly.
"Eventually, we agreed specifically that the limit on agricultural spending would be without prejudice either to the European Commission's mid-term review of agriculture based on paragraph 22 of the Berlin Conclusions, or to the Doha trade round. These issues can now be taken forward by the Agriculture Council, which, of course, operates by QMV. Despite the difficulty in negotiating this, it would have been quite wrong for the possibility of CAP reform to have been hindered in this way. As a
"During the European Council I also discussed with colleagues the issue of Iraq. We are all agreed on the need to ensure that Saddam has no chemical, biological or nuclear weapons programmes. We are working hard for agreement on the terms of a tough new Security Council resolution. The key point has to be that the weapons inspectors should return, free to do their jobs properly, without any of the restraints wrongly imposed before. Should there then be further a breach by Iraq, then I have no doubt action must follow.
"We also discussed the development of European defence. We agreed that Macedonia would be a good place to start and that we should therefore work urgently to complete agreement between the EU and NATO. In addition, we had a presentation from President Giscard d'Estaing on the Convention on the Future of Europe. In his speech today I am pleased to see both that the president makes it clear that Europe should co-operate as a union of European states, not a federal superstate, and I believe his proposals on subsidiarity, the role of national parliaments and on Council reform will be welcomed, at least here. We are well placed in this vital debate.
"Before concluding, I should like to update the House on the hostage crisis in Moscow that ended tragically with the loss of so many lives. At 9 p.m. local time on Wednesday, around 50 armed Chechens took several hundred hostages in a theatre in south-east Moscow. Among the hostages were three British nationals: Peter and Sidica Low and their son Richard. Peter Low and a few others were released on Thursday morning. I spoke to President Putin from Brussels on Friday. Britain sent a team of counter-terrorist experts to help. President Putin told me he had no doubt the terrorists were prepared to kill all the hostages, that they were heavily armed with explosives and that whatever decision he took was going to be immensely difficult. After the siege had ended at 5.30 a.m. local time on Saturday, I rang him again to welcome the ending of the siege. I asked him and he was able to tell me they had ensured the safe release of Sidica and Richard Low.
"It is yet too early to know the full facts of what happened. But I ask people to understand that when it was clear the terrorists were starting to execute the hostages, the Russian authorities had to act. I know how hard it will have been to make the right decisions. But there are no easy, no risk-free, no safe solutions to such a situation. And I hope people will understand the enormity of the dilemma facing President Putin as he weighed what to do, in both trying to end the siege with minimum loss of life and recognising the dangers of doing anything that conceded to this latest outrage of terrorism from Chechnya.
"While it is clear that hundreds survived, many did not. The loss of each innocent life will be mourned not just in Russia but throughout the world, and we send our deep condolences to the Russian people at this time".
"The attacks in Bali, the occupation of the Moscow theatre, the other terrorist attacks around the world, and the murder of the American diplomat in Jordan this morning are all brutal and horrifying reminders of this new form of terrorist extremism. A deadly mixture of religious and political fanaticism is being pursued by those who have no compunction about taking human lives, no matter how innocent, and little about losing their own. The only answer is both to defeat them by security, intelligence and policing but also to take head on, especially within the Muslim world, their perversion of Islam in the cause of extremism. I remain of the view that it is not just the methods of extremism but their ideas that must be countered.
"Thanks to the outcome of the summit, the way is clear to finish the enlargement negotiations by December. In the worst days of the Cold War it would have seemed incredible that countries who were under Soviet rule for nearly half a century could find their freedom. But they did. It is this opportunity and challenge of enlargement that has helped them to catch up half a century in the past decade. I hope the House will welcome this important step towards a Europe united, democratic and free".
Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, I begin, customarily, in thanking the noble and learned Lord for repeating the Prime Minister's Statement. We on this side of the House agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments that he expressed about the horrific terrorist outrage in Moscow and its dreadful consequences. It is still too early to judge exactly what happened, but it demonstrates yet again that terrorism knows no boundaries, physical or moral.
I also welcome what the Statement says about the continued progress towards the accession of new member states. That is important for the future stability of Europe, and we welcome the support offered for the decommissioning of dangerous nuclear reactors as outlined in the Presidency Conclusions. The Council agreed more than 200 million euros of support to Cyprus in 2004-06. In the words of the Presidency Conclusions, it is designed to enable the northern part of the island to catch up. Is that spending contingent on a political settlement in Cyprus? What do the Government think should happen if negotiations on the future of Cyprus are unsuccessful?
We also welcome the opening of the door to Romania and Bulgaria, and the more positive attitude towards Turkey. Many find the Commission's sometimes dismissive attitude towards that proud and loyal NATO ally deeply counter-productive. Will the Government urge on our EU partners that positive engagement with Turkey is vital for the future stability
I turn now to perhaps one of the more controversial aspects of the summit: the reform of the CAP. The noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, and I have different perspectives on some aspects of European development, but we have both expressed scepticism about the Prime Minister's sometimes complacent statements that Europe is coming our way, or that success for his views is inevitable. With the CAP confirmed in place for more than a decade to come, and with resources rising year by year, will he now accept that such claims ring utterly hollow? Whatever we think of the deal between Mr Chirac and Mr Schroider, does not the fact that it happened before the summit even began show how completely the Prime Minister has been marginalised? Can he confirm No. 10's astonishing admission that he did not even know that France and Germany were going to broker this deal? What talks did the Prime Minister have with Mr Chirac and Mr Schroider in the weeks before the summit? A briefing given by a British spokesman asserted that Mr Schroider did not understand the details of the CAP agreement. Is that really our official assessment of the German chancellor? Why has No. 10 been talking up in its briefing the Prime Minister's rudeness to Mr Chirac? The Prime Minister lost the substance of the argument in Brussels. Spinning insults at other EU leaders is no way to recover from his isolation; it can only add to the long-term diplomatic damage.
How much money on the basis of the Brussels agreement will British taxpayers be contributing to the CAP until 2013? Does the additional one per cent per annum spending limit apply to rural development subsidies as well as farm subsidies? Will he accept that if he cannot give that assurance, the bloated budget of the CAP could soar far into the future? How will this be paid for, and what other EU budgets will be cut? Where does this leave previous statements by the Government that major reform of the CAP would have been agreed by 2004? Was this weekend's summit not a staggering setback for our key diplomatic objectives?
The noble and learned Lord will agree that the rebate secured in 1984 by my noble friend Lady Thatcher was a major achievement, and we welcome the Prime Minister's past defence of that. But can he confirm that Mr Chirac has now linked long-term reform of the CAP to a new look at the UK rebate? What is our assessment of support in Europe for that position? How resolute will the Prime Minister be in protecting British interests on this vital matter, which has been dealt with so successfully by successive British governments over the past 18 years?
Was there discussion of the statement by President Prodi that the terms of the EU growth and stability pact were "stupid"? If not, why not? How can we be confident about the future framework for decisions on the euro if the president of the Commission and a number of heads of government are daily throwing the growth and stability pact into doubt? Is it not incredible that this was not discussed in the summit itself?
This was a summit that had nothing to say about CAP reform, nothing about Iraq or the war on terrorism, nothing about the growth and stability pact, nothing about the continuing slowdown in economic growth in Europe and nothing about free trade. It was a summit whose central decisions were decided by the big two before the other leaders even met. It was a summit where, I am sorry to say, the Prime Minister was sidelined and his arguments ignored. There are some very great questions before us in Europe of which enlargement, which we all so strongly support, is but one. Whatever our standpoint, should we not be disturbed that our Prime Minister resorts to carping on the fringes and seems to have no influence on the core?
Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, as one who sometimes disagrees with the Leader of the Opposition on matters concerning Europe, I should begin by agreeing with him in his thanks to the Leader of the House for the Statement. I also agree that, in terms of the United Kingdom Government's achievement, by any standard, this was a fairly mixed summit. I say that with some sorrow because, in many ways, the Prime Minister has been very effective in Europe and represented British interests very well. It would be difficult to conclude from the Statement that that is true of this summit.
There is, however, one great development to applaudindeed, it would be a great historic mistake for us not to underline the significance of enlargement. Enlargement has been a long, slow, detailed and often difficult process. It has taken a very long time. At long last, however, we can say that it is certainor as certain as anything can bethat, in 2004, some of the states attempting to join the European Union will do so, and that, by 2007, almost all the applicants from central and eastern Europe will become full members. It is perhaps worth saying in our cynical age that that is a very remarkable achievement indeed. For the first time in historyor at least for the first time since the Habsburg empire, which really was quite a long time agocentral and eastern Europe will be brought
At this point, congratulations turn into great concern about the common agricultural policy, about which the Leader of the Opposition has also expressed his concern. The CAP disfigures the European Union in two ways. First, it has done extraordinarily little to help the smaller family farmers upon whom the health of the rural sector depends. A great deal of the money in the CAP has gone to very large farmers who have done very well from the CAP. Around those large farms, however, villages have disappeared and large tracts of countryside are no longer characterised by prosperity. All too often, even in our own case, there is prosperity for some in the countryside while small farmers go bankrupt. The argument for supporting the whole spectrum of rural developmentagriculture, tourism and local industryis far stronger than the argument for pouring money into guaranteed prices which benefit above all those who are already fairly well-off.
The second element of the CAP which is profoundly disturbing to noble Lords on all sides of the House is the fact that we are essentially backing away from what was promised to the third world at Doha. We have often been toldmost recently in a debate in this Housethat the single most important step we can take to help the now desperate third world is to remove the controls and protection extended to agriculture and associated industries in the EU countries. There is no longer any case whatever for the type of protection offered in the European Union. Moreover, there is a great temptation for the United States to follow those same procedures, and to point to the EU and say that we are not serious about helping the third world either.
I believe that we are serious about helping the third world and that the Government have tried very hard to do so. However, we have to be frank about this. The greatest single action we could take to help would be to undertake major reform of the CAP. At the moment, however, that seems to be off the agenda. Nothing in the Statementwith great respect to the Leader of the Housedid more than imply the smallest moves toward CAP reform. A real-terms increase of 1 per cent rather than perhaps 2 per cent over the next 10 years is hardly a major reform.
Can the Leader of the House tell us anything at all about the Government's attitude to the Fischler reforms which now seem the sole remaining hope for sorting out this truly absurd policy? The Fischler reforms imply a major shift from supporting prices to supporting rural development in the widest sense. If the noble and learned Lord can tell us that the Government are committed to doing everything they can to bring the Fischler reforms into real operation, it would go a little way in mitigating the disappointment that both the Leader of the Opposition and I feel about the relative failure in this sphere.
I shall touch briefly on two other issues, the first of which is Chechnya. Perhaps the Leader of the House can tell us the final assessment on the number of casualties. I am sure that all noble Lords will wish to extend their deepest sympathy to the Russian nationals and the British and other foreign nationals who have suffered so grievously as a result of this terrorist attack. My only comment at this point is that it would be immensely helpful if we were to do whatever we can to keep some kind of political channel open with Chechnya. The war in Chechnya between the Russians and the Chechens has been particularly brutal and bitter. It has now lasted many years. Surely we in this country know better than most that political processes are essential and that trying to crush a national revolt of this kind results only in revenge after revenge leading nowhere.
The final point which I wish to raise with the Leader of the House is a very important question on Iraq. Whatever our views on Iraq, all of us agree that the best possible answer lies in getting the inspectors back, ensuring that inspections are effective, and gaining access to all the possible development sites for weapons of mass destruction. However, can he assure us that the decision on whether the terms of the resolution currently being debated at the United Nations in New York have been complied with will be based on the recommendations of the inspectors themselves, led by Hans Blix? I hope that everyone appreciates how serious it would be if any Security Council memberbe it the United States, Russia, France or the United Kingdomtook upon itself the decision on compliance. I hope that the noble and learned Lord can assure us that that will be an independent judgment made by those who are accountable to the United Nations and not by those who are accountable to any member state, however important and powerful that state may be.
Many of us on these Benches are profoundly concerned about the possibility of moving our focus away from the need to fight terrorism. We are not yet completely convinced that the best way of dealing with terrorism is to concentrate so totally on the subject of Iraq.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I am grateful, as always, to both the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, and to the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, for their responses. However, the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, rather overplayed his hand. It is always dangerous to underestimate the determination of a quiet man. If one looks at the matter objectively, as I always do on these occasions, the Prime Minister had an enormous series of successes. It seemed from the entirely synthetic drama that was puffed up for the
For years the Prime Minister has stressed the importance of the 10 candidate countries moving forward to full membership. He has succeeded in that. The overwhelming majority of those countriesCyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Sloveniaas the Prime Minister said, have laboured under tyranny for 50 years. Within a short period of time they will be welcome to join usif we have the largeness of imagination and heart within the European Unionto contribute to a democratic community.
The Prime Minister has always stressed the importance of Turkey. That has been recognised. The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, and the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, referred to Turkey. I endorse what the noble Baroness said; namely, that Turkey has taken significant steps. I refer to the abolition of capital punishment, which is not, apparently, universal among all those countries with which we deal; the treatment of the Kurds in terms of education; and the other aspects of which the noble Baroness spoke. Those are significant steps and they should never be undervalued.
The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, asked whether the moneys to Cyprus were specifically contingent. I do not believe that they were. Let us see what the Prime Minister said in the Statement. The question of CAP reform was never on the agenda; the presidency made that perfectly plain. The Prime Minister has said that as a matter of political judgment it is irresponsible and foolish to confuse enlargement, which was the agenda of the meeting, with CAP reform. I take up the observations of the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, and those of the noble Baroness. It was made absolutely plain at Brussels that there is no question of our giving up on further CAP reform before 2006 in return for EU agreement to put a ceiling on expenditure from 2006 onwards. The Brussels conclusions make plain that both the CAP mid-term review and the commitments under the Doha development round remain unaffected. I am happy to reaffirm that and perhaps to give a degree of comfort to the noble Baroness.
It was said in the newspapersso it must be truethat Mr Blair was rude to M Chirac. I dare say that he was robust. Whether or not he was robust, he certainly maintained, sustained and delivered the United Kingdom's position. Speaking for my own part, having known the Prime Minister for a little while, I have never seen him be rude on any occasion, not even to colleagues, despite the provocation which the Chief Whip sometimes offers him. The question of the rebate stands intact. It was not open for discussion, as Jack Straw and the Prime Minister said. Our position on the rebate has not been touched in the slightest. Indeed, the 1999 Berlin position remains.
There is a mention in the Prime Minister's Statement of Iraq. The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, and the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, referred to it. The noble Baroness, Lady Williams, asked about discussions on the proposed resolution at the Security Council. Those terms are still being debated, therefore, I cannot give any particular assurance on that, although I remind your Lordships that Secretary of State Powell said that he was hopeful that we would move to a resolution in the earlier part of this week. I simply transmit what Secretary of State Powell said. There have been delicate and long drawn out discussions.
As regards the casualties the noble Baroness mentioned, my most up-to-date informationI do not pretend that it is necessarily perfectis that of the 117 casualties two were shot and 115 died as a result of gas. I underline that that is my present information. I stress that in the nature of things those cannot be more than tentative figures. I am trying to help the House as much as I can.
We hope for agreement on a resolution on Iraq. It is critically important that that situation should not be allowed to drift in limbo. I reaffirm what the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister have said so often; that is, that it is the policy of Her Majesty's Government to act only in accordance with and in conformity with international law.
The noble Lord asked specific questions about Doha and the WTO which I have already dealt with. The purpose of the Prime Minister's attendance was to protect United Kingdom interests in the wider context of the European Union. We believe firmlyI know that not everyone on all sides of the House believes thisthat they are coincident, or are capable of being, and that they are not alternatives. If the Prime Minister's dream of the 10 candidate countries becoming full members by the beginning of 2004 is achieved, it will constitute a significant achievement and advance.
Lord Biffen: My Lords, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Privy Seal has given a measured account of the recent discussions and inevitably has concentrated on the reform of the common agricultural policy. But, as with St Augustine thinking of perfection, it is always to be deferred. It seems to me that reform of the common agricultural policy is always being deferred. But, surely, it is unwise to suggest that there is not a link between reform of the common agricultural policy and the enlargement of the European Union. Is it not a fact that the aspirant countries for enlargement have living standards roughly between one-third and one-half of those of the existing European Union countries? Is it not also true that their economies are substantially dependent on agriculture in terms of economic considerations, but perhaps even more in
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