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Earl Howe: My Lords, the traffic light system may be easier for the consumer to understand, but is it satisfactory? Is not the more informative system

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developed by the food industry and supermarkets, which shows the consumer the salt content, the fat content, the sugar content and so on of each product, a much better way for the consumer to see what they are buying?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I am not at all sure about that. All I would say to the noble Earl is that a number of companies are using the FSA approach or will be applying it shortly, including Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, the Co-op, Marks & Spencer, Asda, Budgens, McCain, New Covent Garden Food, Avondale, Moy Park, Britannia and Bombay Halwa. I would have thought that, while some companies disagree with it, that is a pretty comprehensive list of blue-chip companies that think that the FSA approach is the right one.

Chad: Refugees

2.59 pm

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty’s Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): My Lords, a joint FCO and DfID team visited Chad from 19 to 24 February to assess the situation, and we remain very concerned over the security and humanitarian position of the refugees and internally displaced Chadians. The team met with the Chadian Foreign Minister, Ahmat Allami, and raised our concerns over the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the east, due to cross-border offensives from Darfur and rising levels of inter-communal violence. We will continue to work with the UN and other partners to secure the best option for a deployment to Chad.

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply. Will he confirm that it is now estimated that there are 380,000 refugees in the refugee camps on the border between Chad and Darfur? They are drawn from the Central African Republic as well as from Chad and Darfur. Ground-to-air missiles have been provided by the Sudanese Government to Chadian rebels, and there is the continued arming of the Janjaweed militia. How does he respond to a statement last week by the United Nations commissioner for refugees in Chad, who said that it is now,

that Janjaweed attacks are “wreaking havoc on humanitarian operations”, that there is “rampant insecurity” and that this is another Rwanda in the making?

Lord Triesman: My Lords, there are some variations in the estimates but I will dispute neither the general figures nor that they include people moving from Darfur and the Central African Republic into Chad. The reality on the ground is that

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there are instances of inter-communal conflict among the people of Chad as well. The volume of arms in the area is growing exponentially, and it is precisely for that reason that the UN secretary-general is reporting to the Security Council today on options for a peacekeeping force to deal with what is becoming an extremely acute crisis.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, did the FCO mission ascertain whether the Governments of Chad and the CAR had agreed to the deployment of the multinational mission in their respective countries, as has now been recommended by the secretary-general? If it does go ahead, will the UK seek to ensure that, unlike in Darfur, its strength and terms of engagement are adequate to protect civilians at risk, including both internally displaced persons and refugees?

Lord Triesman: My Lords, there would be a significant difference between this deployment and that in Darfur. The deployment in Darfur has been undertaken by the African Union and had a relatively restricted mandate—even so, that mandate was arguably not fully used. In Chad, there would be a UN deployment. There have been mixed signals from the Governments of the region about whether they would welcome any kinds of deployment, but I believe that the secretary-general is quite right in saying that for this crisis to be resolved the deployment must be underpinned by adequate funding in order to ensure that there are enough people with enough logistical support and enough of the materials to secure peace over a long period.

Baroness Cox: My Lords, is the Minister aware that more than 33,000 displaced Darfuris in various camps in Chad are sending signed petitions to western Governments pleading for adequate protection to end the widespread destruction, rape, looting, murder and displacement? I am sure that the Minister is pleased that he was able to report that the UN is considering sending a force, but can he give a more specific reassurance to those desperate people in Chad that they will be receiving the adequate protection to which they are entitled, and which they so desperately need? Another genocide, as we know, is in the making.

Lord Triesman: My Lords, I am obviously not in a position to say what will happen later this afternoon when Ban Ki-Moon makes his report to the UN Security Council but I am in a position to say that the Government are using their best endeavours. Last Thursday, I was at the United Nations arguing about the urgency of the requirements of Darfur and Chad, and now also of the Central African Republic. I was seeking to ensure that UN Security Council decisions are acted upon, that nothing forms an impediment to them and that the UN does its part in this expeditiously. All of these things are required and we are working on this day by day.

The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, are the Government in Khartoum co-operating with all the procedures needed for the protection of their own

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people? If they are not, what is the international community doing to remind them of their basic duties?

Lord Triesman: My Lords, the obligations at the moment on the Government in Khartoum are to fully accept a light package of UN support, which is partially undertaken, to accept a heavy package of UN support by the end of next month—this process has not so far been pursued with vigour—and to accept a hybrid UN/AMIS force. Those discussions have barely started.

We have made it clear that we believe that the UN resolutions must be followed completely. I turn to the Government in Khartoum and the rebels, who are capable of very great violence and have exerted great violence; they must understand that they are also becoming liable to prosecution for war crimes at the International Criminal Court, as viewed as necessary in some cases named today.

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, could I be clear that the force of 10,000 for Chad proposed by the UN is different from the original UN force proposed for Sudan, which was blocked by the Sudan Government, different from the light package of support from the UN, which is trying to do its best in Darfur, and different again from the African Union force that has been operating in Darfur? So it is proposed that a big UN force will go into Chad, with some reluctance from the Chadians, who think that it might drag them into the war as well. What precise resources or contribution will we make to a situation that is getting worse by the day?

Lord Triesman: My Lords, these are distinct operations and it would not be helpful to entangle the two at the moment. We have made it clear that we will offer advice on logistics and on command and control; that is the principal contribution which we believe will be most effective.

Budget (Northern Ireland) Order 2007

3.06 pm

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): My Lords, I beg to move the first Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 25 January be approved. Considered in Grand Committee on 21 February.—(Baroness Amos.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Waste (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) Order 2007

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): My Lords, I beg to move the second Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.



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Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 18 December 2006 be approved. Considered in Grand Committee on 21 February.—(Baroness Amos.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Mental Capacity Act 2005 (Loss of Capacity during Research Project) (England) Regulations 2007

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the regulations laid before the House on 15 January be approved. Considered in Grand Committee on 21 February, Sixth Report from the Statutory Instruments Committee.—(Baroness Royall of Blaisdon.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Industrial Training Levy (Engineering Construction Industry Training Board) Order 2007

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): My Lords, I beg to move the first Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 26 January be approved. Considered in Grand Committee on 21 February, Eighth Report from the Statutory Instruments Committee.—(Lord Adonis.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Industrial Training Levy (Construction Industry Training Board) Order 2007

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): My Lords, I beg to move the second Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 26 January be approved. Considered in Grand Committee on 21 February, Eighth Report from the Statutory Instruments Committee.—(Lord Adonis.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Further Education and Training Bill [HL]

3.08 pm

Report received.

Baroness Walmsley moved Amendment No. 1:



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The noble Baroness said: My Lords, once again, the Government have done things back to front. When we discussed the Bill in Grand Committee, we on these Benches expressed our concern that it had been published a week before the Leitch review on skills. We also expressed concerns that Clause 19 had been put into the Bill without any consultation with the universities or even with most of the FE colleges. The fact that the Government have laid so many amendments at this stage could be an indication that they are rushing the Bill into law. Or it could be an indication that they are listening—perhaps I should give the Minister the benefit of the doubt.

We have tabled Amendment No. 1 because we know that the Lyons review of local government is about to be published, certainly before the Budget on 21 March. We are sure from statements that have been made that it will emphasise that strategic regional bodies will need to work closely with local authorities and their partners. It seems strange to us that the local government Bill, too, has been published before the Lyons report. However, in line with what has been said by Lyons, the LGA, the CBI and others, we seek to insert into this Bill a firm duty for the Learning and Skills Council to consult and work with local area partnerships.

The LGA and the CBI recently met to discuss the Lyons report. In their response, Making ‘Place Shaping’ a Reality, they made their commitment to working together crystal clear. They said:

When we discussed the amendment in Committee, the Minister concentrated his reply on the local partnership teams of the LSC, which do not appear in the Bill. He emphasised that these teams, whose areas of operation would be coterminous with local authorities, would work flexibly with the local authorities and other partners to deliver services on the ground and ensure that decision-making and provision planning take account of local needs and conditions.

While we agree wholeheartedly with the need for these teams, we believe that there is a need also for the LSC to be involved with strategic decision-making at sub-regional level. As my noble friend Lady Sharp of Guildford pointed out in Committee, there is evidence to show that travel-to-work areas and areas served by certain industries and centres of further education are formed by sub-regional hubs or clusters of towns and local authorities that have an identity of their own. These groups of authorities have common interests and often join together to undertake activities and make decisions. It is essential that the LSC works at

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this level, as well as at the strategic, regional and the very local levels. We therefore envisage these partnerships to be of many different sizes as appropriate to the groupings that exist in the sub-region. We would be happier if there was reference to them in the Bill. I beg to move.

Baroness Morris of Bolton: My Lords, my response to this amendment remains the same as it was in Grand Committee. We sympathise with the concern of the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, that regional LSCs will be too large and out of touch to handle issues that tend to be local and not regional, but we still feel that colleges should expand their role in liaising with local authorities and other local bodies. We certainly would not like to see the LSC operating at three different levels: national, regional and local.

We hope that the reduction in the number of learning and skills councils will bring about a significant reduction in the bureaucracy and expense that they currently generate. I hope that the Minister’s optimism about the ability of the nine councils to respond flexibly and appropriately to local matters that might be brought to their attention will be justified, but I feel that any difficulties that might emerge from this should be resolved by reducing the scope of the LSCs’ powers rather than by increasing the size of their presence.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Morris, has summed up the Government’s position fully. The noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, was kind enough to say that the Government might be listening on this Bill; I appreciate the compliment. As she knows, we have spent six years listening, to her in particular, and the reason why we have come forward with these proposals goes back to her initial suggestion that we should have a regional structure for the Learning and Skills Council and not the system of 47 local learning and skills councils that we initially set up. She therefore knows that we listen intently and sometimes reach the right position eventually.

Having arrived at the structure of the nine regional learning and skills councils, plus, as the noble Baroness said, the 150 local partnership teams, which we expect broadly to mirror the areas of local authorities, we do not think that it would be a good idea to set in place another structure, least of all a statutory structure, although we completely recognise the importance of engaging with the sub-regional groupings and consulting at that level, as she rightly said.

We believe, though, that the amendment as it is framed would place an additional bureaucratic burden on the Learning and Skills Council and on local authorities. The partner authorities that, under the amendment, the Learning and Skills Council would need to consult when establishing the proposed sub-regional committees are defined in the amendment by Clause 79 of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Bill; they are

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concerned with the aspect of that Bill that deals with local area agreements. The list of bodies for consultation under that clause is extensive. It includes bodies such as the English Sports Council, the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission, the fire and rescue authorities—and I could go on.

We believe that consultation by the Learning and Skills Council with bodies such as these would be onerous and unnecessary. Moreover, as the amendment proposes that the committees would be statutory, further subsequent changes would need to go through the whole process of statutory consultation again with the same bodies. While we share the objective of the noble Baroness to ensure that there are effective means of sub-regional consultation and engagement by the Learning and Skills Council—the LSC is, indeed, committed to that—we do not believe that putting this arrangement in the Bill would be a productive step forward.

3.15 pm

Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply and the noble Baroness, Lady Morris of Bolton, for her remarks. I am somewhat reassured by the Government’s clear statement from the Dispatch Box that the LSC will have the duty to make sure that it works with all levels, including local authorities and the various partnerships that it makes locally. Such bodies know what the needs are on the ground and require the proper routes to communicate those needs to the LSC. I will go away and consider the noble Lord’s words with great care. In the mean time, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2 [Regional Councils]:

Lord Adonis moved Amendment No. 2:

( ) the appointment of a member of a regional council as chairman;”

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I will speak also to government Amendments Nos. 3 and 4. Amendment No. 2 is a technical amendment that clarifies the intention behind the regulation-making power provided in Clause 2. Clause 2 inserts Section 18A into the Learning and Skills Act 2000, which provides for the establishment of regional councils. Section 18A(2) gives the Secretary of State the power to make provision about regional councils in regulations and Section 18A(3) specifies what these regulations may, in particular, make provision about. An illustrative draft of the regulations was made available to the House ahead of Grand Committee.


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