|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Earl Howe: My Lords, I am sure that none of us would wish to restrict the ability of the National Assembly for Wales to formulate its own legislation in this area. That aside, I would like to support my noble friend on the thrust of his amendment. I hope that we shall hear some robust reassurances from the Minister about private homes and domestic premises. I very much welcome Amendment No. 9, which responds extremely satisfactorily to the concerns that I and others raised in Grand Committee on the otherwise rather open-ended wording of Clause 4.
Lord Warner: My Lords, I begin by responding to Amendment No. 8, tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Naseby. This amendment seeks to ensure that the smoke-free provisions in the Bill cannot extend to private residential dwellings. Let me begin by reassuring noble Lords, as I tried to do in Grand Committee, that this Bill is about protecting people from exposure to second-hand smoke in enclosed and substantially enclosed public places and workplaces. That is what Clause 2 does. We have no intention of making people's private spaces smoke-free by law.
Clause 4 provides a power to make additional places smoke-free. These will be places that will not be enclosed or substantially enclosed, as defined by regulations under Clause 2, but where there is a risk of harm from second-hand smoke due to the inevitable close grouping of people. Examples might be sports stadiums, bus shelters and entrances to public buildings or workplaces. The Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee noted that the power in Clause 4 to designate additional smoke-free places could potentially be used to prohibit smoking in domestic premises. In my response to that committee, and during the debate in Grand Committee, I made it clear that the Government will implement smoke-free legislation in line with human rights requirements, including the right to respect for private life in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Lord Tebbit: My Lords, I think that I heard the Minister say that this legislation did not apply to private homes. That is, of course, true in general. Am I correct in saying that if, for exampleand to use a
19 Jun 2006 : Column 583
rather less contentious example than earlierphysiotherapists offer services to people coming to their homes, that part of the private home used for physiotherapeutic treatment would be a smoke-free zone? Am I right in that reading of the legislation?
Lord Warner: My Lords, the noble Lord may just have to contain himself until I complete my peroration on this subject, in which I will try to cover some of the circumstances to which he has alluded. I will answer his question if he can wait patiently until I explain the structure of the legislation.
The approach that we have adopted is, as I have said, consistent with the example of an exemption from the requirement to be smoke-free given in Clause 3(2). The example in the Bill refers to enclosed work and public premises being exempt where they are a person's home, or a place where a person is living permanently or temporarily. Furthermore, the power in Clause 4 to designate additional smoke-free places will be tightly regulated and subject to the affirmative resolution procedure.
The provision in Clause 3 deals with a range of areas where people may be living permanently or temporarily but which are regarded as their home. A good example of this might be a pub or shop where a person lives in a flat above. In those circumstances, the shop is an enclosed public place and the flat above is a domestic residence, exempt from the provisions of Clause 3. In cases where people are, effectively, regularly conducting a business from their premises, that is regarded as business premises, but it will be up to people to make their own arrangements and to make these decisions.
The noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, raised a number of more common experiences as well as a more titillating experience, down which path he tried to tempt me. I say to the noble Lordand to other noble Lords fascinated by such subjectsthat we are not legislating for every conceivable set of circumstances. We are certainly not legislating for carers going into a person's home where they will be exposed to smoke. The noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, has mentioned his own experience in that area. I have no direct experience of some of the other circumstances to which he alluded. We cannot prescribe for all possible sets of circumstances in this legislation. I am not sure that the enforcement officers of the legislation will be so encouraged to move into some of those premises to carry out their public duties. As I said, we cannot legislate for every possible circumstance and it will be a matter for case-by-case agreement and common sense between the people involved.
However, I acknowledge the concerns raised in Grand Committee about the broad power in Clause 4 to make additional places smoke-free and the desire to strengthen the constraints on the Government's use of the power. That is why I have tabled Amendment No. 9, which raises the threshold for the exercise of this power to cases where, and I think it worth quoting,
We think that that wording makes it absolutely clear that the power cannot be used in cases where the exposure to second-hand smoke is unlikely or only very limited. I hope that that provides noble Lords with the reassurance that we are limiting our ability to use this provision under Clause 4 in the way that I have indicated.
I cannot say that we are tempted to go further down the path urged by the noble Lord, Lord Monson. We have taken a lot of advice on this from parliamentary counsel and we think that this is the right way of framing the restraint on our powers under Clause 4.
Lord Naseby: My Lords, I think that this debate demonstrates the value of a Committee stage. There were deep concerns in Committee. I am pleased that the Minister has listened to them. As my noble friend said from the Front Bench, Amendment No. 9 is greatly to be welcomed. What the Minister said this evening has reassured me to a degree. I just hope that my worries will not materialise. The matter is now firmly on the record.
Lord Tebbit: My Lords, it occurs to me that Members of the House who are active smokersand mention was made earlier of the cigar and pipe smokers or some such organisation of this Househad best see if they can vote for a Speaker of the House who is a smoker, since his apartments here would be his private home. He could then entertain them and smoking could continue in this building for many years to come.
Page 3, line 27, leave out from "if" to end of line 28 and insert "in the authority's opinion there is a significant risk that, without a designation, persons present there would be exposed to significant quantities of smoke."
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, I beg to move that further consideration on Report be now adjourned. In moving the Motion, perhaps I may suggest that Report stage begin again not before 8.44 pm.
Lord Chidgey rose to ask Her Majesty's Government what action they are planning in response to the recent report of the Africa All-Party Parliamentary Group, The Other Side of the Coin: The UK and Corruption in Africa.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, we speak readily of welcoming the new era for the African continent in which we, in the old industrialised world, are committed to supporting new initiatives, investment and enterprise within and between nations that have been overlooked and neglected for too long. But if we are to do that, we must face head-on that scourge of Africathe culture and practice of institutionalised corruptionand we must recognise that the UK, among others, is part of this corruption process. We must look at the other side of the coin. I therefore welcome this debate with your Lordships on the report of the Africa All-Party Parliamentary Group, The Other Side of the Coin: The UK and Corruption in Africa.
The report has gained the attention of the national and international press. It has been highly complimented by the South African Finance Minister. I presented a copy myself to the President of Botswana and his Cabinet, where it was also well received. I therefore hope that the Minister will take this opportunity to set out our Government's response to the recommendations made in the report. In that context, I declare an interest as a vice-chairman of the Africa All-Party Parliamentary Group. I should like to acknowledge the contribution made to the group's work by, among others, the noble Lord, Lord Lea of Crondall, and the noble Baroness, Lady Whitaker, both of whom are here tonight and I understand will contribute later.
The Africa All-Party Parliamentary Group inquiry into corruption and money laundering recognises that institutionalised corruption and the attendant capital flight present a huge obstacle to development in Africa. The report concentrates on the United Kingdom primarily because of the group's United Kingdom parliamentary reference. The group's wish is to see the United Kingdom in the vanguard of international efforts to address this issue, recognising our increasing overseas development assistance. Our Government, particularly DfID, were helpful to the group in bringing together and providing detailed written evidence. The group welcomed the Government's commitment to produce a consolidated cross-Whitehall response, inferring at least increasing cross-departmental working on these matters.
The report cannot be exhaustive, but there are three areas where in particular the UK should contribute to the fight against corruption in Africa: first, tackling the supply side of corruptionbribe payments and mechanisms in international trade and credit that facilitate corruption; secondly, tackling the laundering of the proceeds of corruption; and, thirdly,
19 Jun 2006 : Column 586
safeguarding aid to ensure that it does not become caught up in corruption or inadvertently support corrupt leaders.
The World Bank estimates that some $1 trillion is paid globally in bribes each year. The sums embezzled or stolen from public funds and assets by corrupt officials and the unquantified volume of fraud within the private sector could well triple the overall scale of global corruption. Corruption hits and hurts the poorest people hardest. It obstructs development. It fetters business growth. In a survey of nine African countries, the World Bank ranked corruption as the major impediment to their development. The money lost through corruption has a knock-on effect on development. The indirect effects include losses in investment, in private sector development and in economic growth. Where corruption becomes endemic, development is stifled. The World Bank estimates that where good governance and corruption control have been firmly established, the long-term dividend can be as much as a three to fourfold increase in income per capita, together with an extra 2 per cent to 4 per cent in annual economic growth. Although corruption is and must be seen as a global problem, Africa has gained a particularly bad reputation for corruption from the highest level down through the system. The continent as a whole suffers, with 10 of the 20 most corrupt countries to be found in that continent.
Africa also suffers a sort of double whammy, where the proceeds from corruption are then banked or spent outside of the continent. Capital flight is a huge financial problem for Africa. Estimates of the total amount of illicit proceeds coming out of Africa are, by their nature, not precise, but they are thought to be in the range between $100 billion to $200 billion each and every year, a sum that totally dwarfs aid and debt relief to the continent. Moreover, most of the outflow of illicit funds is permanent, with as much as 80 per cent to 90 per cent of it not returning from those shady accounts tucked away in the world's financial centres.
Within our report, corruption is considered to include offering, soliciting and accepting bribes. The report points out that embezzlement through mechanisms which include siphoning off funds to non-existent companies and through fake and mispriced transactions is rife throughout much of Africa. Up to 60 per cent of transactions are reckoned to be mispriced, with an average of 11 per cent being skimmed off the top. Together with fake transactions, they account for an annual flight of capital in excess of $150 billion.
It is abundantly clear that much needs to be done in our own backyard if we are to contribute in any significant way to tackling corruption from the other side of the coin. In its report, the group highlighted six out of 38 recommendations to the Government as key candidates for action. Of these I will emphasise just three.
19 Jun 2006 : Column 587
The first is to rigorously enforce existing laws and sanctions against international bribery, corruption and money laundering. The issue here is enforcement, as the problem is that investigations are complicated and expensive, while prosecutions are difficult. Yet we now have the Serious Organised Crime Agency: its priorities must embrace corruption and not allow it to be sidelined by concerns over illegal drugs and terrorism, however important and relevant those may be.
Secondly, I emphasise the recommendation that the Government should appoint an anti-corruption champion for a two-year period, to co-ordinate policy coherence and implementation across Whitehall and to work with devolved Executives, Crown dependencies, overseas territories and our international partners. I would like particularly to hear from the Minister whether the Government will consider this proposal from the group seriously. The champion could be a Minister or an official with clout within the financial and business sectorssuch a person could, I suggest, certainly bang a few heads together to get something moving.
The third recommendation that I want to emphasise suggests bringing to Parliament a new anti-corruption Bill before the end of 2006, to address the concerns raised by the Joint Committee about the 2003 draft Bill. The Minister will be aware that the Joint Committee severely criticised the Government's 2003 draft Bill, concluding unanimouslyfrom all parties and in both Housesthat it would not be understood by the police, prosecutors, jurors or the public. Most important, they concluded that it would not be understood by the business and public sector communities.
It is therefore welcome that the Government have relented and initiated public consultation. In parallel to this process and to the work of the Africa All-Party Parliamentary Group, the Minister will be aware that Transparency International has sponsored the preparation of a draft corruption Bill that meets many of the legislative objectives of the group's report. That Bill was introduced in another place under the 10-minute rule by Hugh Bayley MP, chairman of the Africa All-Party Parliamentary Group.
In consultation with group colleagues and Transparency International, I have checked with the Public Bill Office, which has confirmed that it is in order to introduce the same draft corruption Bill in this House. In the event that pressures on the Government's legislative programme prevent Ministers from progressing with the draft Bill in the other place, I plan to bring it forward in this House as a Private Member's Bill after the summer Recess. That will at least allow your Lordships the opportunity to debate and scrutinise it through all its stages. In conclusion, I would be very grateful if the Minister could give some indication on whether this proposal would be given serious consideration by the Government in due course.
19 Jun 2006 : Column 588
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|