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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, on the question of Kofi Annan, perhaps I can do no better than to quote my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, who said on 7 December 2004:
"Kofi Annan is doing a fine job in difficult circumstances. I appreciate his leadership very much and will be happy if he is allowed to continue with his job without criticism".
We must wait for the outcome of the Volcker committee before we draw any firm conclusions. We concur with Mr Volcker that he should be allowed to continue and that we must not only determine what has happened in the past but, to avoid any shortcomings that there were in the programme, try to draw lessons for the future.
Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, is the issue not who breached the programme rules, but which civil servants in both the British and American Governments knew that the rules were being broken and refused to make recommendations to deal with those breaches of the rules?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, if we say that we must wait for the Volcker committee to report, it is right that we do that. As my noble friend implies, during the life of the Oil for Food programme, we and other member states became aware of attempts to breach the Iraq sanctions regime. In response, the United Kingdom Government took action in a range of ways according to the circumstances. Those included approaches to other governments and the United Nations Secretariat, and action brought through the UN
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Security Council to counter attempted corruption. Where we became aware, we tried to move, certainly so far as this Government were concerned. Serious as the matters are, I counsel my noble friend that we should await the outcome of the Volcker investigation before drawing any firm conclusion.
Lord Hannay of Chiswick: My Lords, does the Minister not agree that the most important thing in the matter is to apply the principles of due process, which are held in high value in the United States too? In this case, due process means the Volcker report, not a kind of lynch mob run by a number of congressional inquiries. Would she not also agree that those congressional inquiries might usefully devote their time to considering how the United States Administration enforced Iraqi sanctions, about which there have been a number of apparently well founded allegations in newspapers as respectable as the Financial Times?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, there have been a number of allegations. Noble Lords will recall from the time of the publication of the ISG report that more allegations were made in it. The noble Lord has suggested that we allow for due process. That is another way of putting exactly the point that I have been trying to make, which is that we must wait for the outcome of a report that everyone expects to be published in May next year at the earliest, although there will be an interim report in January. We should wait for Mr Volcker's committee to complete its work.
Lord Jenkin of Roding: My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that the initial investigation by the British firm of accountants, KPMG, unearthed what the senior investigator described as,
he had ever seen and that it could have involved as much as 20 billion dollars? Is it not therefore of the highest importance, as the noble Baroness said, that this investigation should proceed with no inhibition on the documents that should be disclosed, not only to get at the truth but to allow United Nations officials to clear their name and re-establish their credibility?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Yes, my Lords, I agree strongly with everything the noble Lord said.
Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:
What indices they intend to use to measure the effects on crime and disorder of the Licensing Act 2003.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord McIntosh of Haringey): My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, will know from the exchanges of correspondence we have had on the subject, the full
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extent of our review of the Licensing Act 2003 has yet to be determined. We are considering a number of views before making a final decision on the most appropriate way to do this. However, we have already added additional questions to the British Crime Survey on experiences and attitudes towards visiting town and city centres at night as a baseline for our research.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, would not the noble Lord acknowledge that the British Crime Survey is useless for the purposes of distinguishing areas of high concentration of late-night drinking and others that are relatively free of the problem? Given that the police and ambulance services already collect their own internal statistics on the location of crimes and accidents arising from alcohol, why do not the Government simply ask them to publish those figures so that a whole year's baseline figures will be available when the Act comes into force in August 2005?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I have never said that the British Crime Survey would be the only method we would use to research the impact of the Licensing Act 2003. The three methods to which the noble Lord referred can certainly be considered in addition. I would be a little nervous about suggesting additional data collection at accident and emergency centres, but the other two suggestions can be considered as part of the range of information that we need.
Baroness Gale: My Lords, is the Minister aware of a experiment that took place last Friday evening in Cardiff city centre where a field hospital was set up and paramedics were able to deal with minor injuries caused by drunken people? Will the Minister look at the report and consider any further measures the Government can take in educating young people on the dangers of drink and in encouraging clubs and pubs to stop offering cut-price drinks, which only encourages greater consumption?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I have been told briefly about the field hospital to which my noble friend refers and have asked for further information about it.
Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville: My Lords, does there exist in this field an alliance of charitable organisations similar to that which existed for dealing with homelessness and which was then available for government at local or national level to treat with?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, that is an interesting suggesting. I do not know of an alliance of organisations which would be willing to give evidence, but the group composed of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Home Office and the Department of Health, which are looking into ways of evaluating and reviewing the Licensing Act, would be pleased to hear from any voluntary organisations which wish to contribute their views.
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Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Avebury raised an important point in respect of the collection of data about the operation of the Licensing Act. Is it not vital that local authorities know about the impact of the Act and whether to withhold licences or planning consents in their localities? Does not the timidity on the part of the DCMS in deciding on the indicators demonstrate the consistency in government between that department and the Home Office?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I can agree with the first part of the noble Lord's question but, rather obviously, not with the second. A review is being carried out between the Home Office, the DCMS and the Department of Health. A range of activities, including national measures, a process evaluation of the new Licensing Act, local area comparisons on levels of crime, disorder and public nuisance, and the establishment of evidence of good practice which can be used by local authorities is in preparation. I suggest that if the noble Lords, Lord Avebury and Lord Clement-Jones, table a Written Question towards, for example, the end of January I could answer in the greater detail necessary to set out the whole range of activities which we are undertaking.
Baroness Buscombe: My Lords, whatever happened to the National Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy of which the Government were so proud? Is it a failure?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the review I mentioned was prompted by the National Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy and it is because of that strategy that we take these issues so seriously.
Lord Jenkin of Roding: My Lords, when will the Government announce how they will implement the pledge given by the noble Lord when we debated these matters earlier this year, saying that local authorities' costs in implementing the Licensing Act should be met centrally? Why have they not yet had an answer? Why cannot they be told how it will be done?
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