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Lord Lester of Herne Hill: My Lords, I declare an interest as a member of one of the sub-committees of the European Union Scrutiny Committee. The Question on the Order Paper asks about changing the

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parliamentary scrutiny of European Union legislation. Is it not the case that the protocols of the Lisbon treaty will strengthen the power of national parliaments, including this Parliament, by allowing this Parliament for the first time to have access to the European Court of Justice if it is considered that EU legislation breaches the principle of subsidiary? Is that not a way of enhancing our democratic system of government?

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Lester, says, the Lisbon treaty gives national parliaments a direct say in EU law-making procedures and a direct role in deciding whether EU legislation is necessary. Where there are votes of one-third of national parliaments against a proposal, it has to be reviewed and considered. If there are further votes, it is possible to make sure that the proposal is dropped. This is new. It is extremely important that parliaments take the opportunities that have been given to look at EU legislation and scrutiny. The noble Lord is correct that one is able to take this to court.

Lord Tebbit: My Lords—

Lord Naseby: My Lords—

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, I think there is time for both noble Lords.

Lord Tebbit: My Lords, what is the mechanism by which either the British people or their Parliament may veto a law that comes from the Council of Ministers and has been approved by national Governments?

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, I have been very clear that the proposals that come forward from the European Commission can be debated and discussed in Parliament. I know that is not what the noble Lord asked me; he asked me about vetoing what national Governments have put forward. The national Government, in collaboration with the other 26 members, will debate and discuss issues of concern and will represent this country appropriately in the national interest of this country.

We are also clear, as we will say when we debate the legislation, that we have the red lines, the opt-ins and the opt-outs that will ensure that where there are particular issues of concern they are dealt with effectively. The noble Lord can smile; the noble Lord was part of a Government who did more to enhance the cause of Europe than probably any other.

Lord Harrison: My Lords, does my noble friend recognise that the institution of the yellow and orange card systems, giving a greater role to this national Parliament, will extend the opportunities for us to speak on these issues? Is it not high time that we showed the red card to the Opposition, who are against the Lisbon treaty as a whole?

Baroness Ashton of Upholland: My Lords, I will not get into my own football analogies. We have to be clear in your Lordships’ House about the debate we are having. It is about the ratification of a treaty that is an important part of the development of the

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European Union, in which this country should be very proud to play a prominent role. One has only to look at the agenda coming forward for the informal council this weekend to recognise that all the issues before the 27 nations need to be addressed from a position of working together, not one of isolation.

Lord Naseby: My Lords, is there not a big difference? As the one who took the Maastricht Treaty in the other place—

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, I very rashly said that there would be time for both noble Lords to speak. However, I regret to say that we are now in the twenty-fourth minute of Questions.

Asylum: Mehdi Kazemi

3.01 pm

Lord Roberts of Llandudno asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I cannot comment on the details of individual cases. However, I can assure the noble Lord that the United Kingdom Government are committed to providing protection for those individuals found to be genuinely in need, in accordance with our commitments under international law. Asylum applicants have access to the independent appeals process through the courts.

Lord Roberts of Llandudno: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply, but it is not quite as full as I would expect and hope. He will be aware that, since the ayatollahs came to reign in Iran, humanitarian organisations tell us that 4,000 lesbians and gay men have been executed in that country. What representations have Her Majesty’s Government made and what representations do they continue to make about that policy? Secondly, will he assure us on behalf of the Government that no one, gay or otherwise, will be deported to any country where they will be persecuted, tortured or executed?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I have read with serious concern the human rights figures that the noble Lord refers to. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office regularly raises concerns with Iran in the context of individual cases, most often around methods of punishment used by that regime. Representations are also made through the EU, as this has been found to be the most effective way of making such representations. The Border and Immigration Agency enforces the return of Iranian gay men only when we are satisfied that they are not in need of protection. We do not seek to enforce returns to Iran unless our decision-making processes and the independent courts are satisfied that it is entirely safe to do so.

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Lord Alli: My Lords, three specific issues relate to this case. First, homosexuality is illegal in Iran and punishable by death. Secondly, this young man’s partner was hanged at an early age simply for being gay. Thirdly, the Home Office’s position is that gay people can return to Iran safely, provided that they are “discreet”. Heaven knows what that means. Does the Minister agree with his department’s advice that it is safe to send gay men to Iran if they are discreet? What action will the Minister take if that advice proves wrong and this young man is executed for being gay? If I or any Member of this House was in that position, I hope that the Minister would have a good answer to that question.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the noble Lord raises this issue with absolute seriousness, and rightly so. The answer is that I cannot speak hypothetically. Yes, we make returns when we feel that it is safe to do so. We do not believe, however, that it would be right to make returns where it is unsafe to do so. I would argue that we are extremely cautious in how we operate returns and that that approach has proven to be very effective in the past.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, do the Government think that it is safe to return to Iran anyone who is a known gay, including not only the individual whom we are talking about but Miss Pegah Emambakhsh, whose case was also reported in the Independent the other day? Does not the noble Lord think that it would be a good example to generalise the policy followed by the Netherlands and Germany and put a moratorium on the return of all gay people throughout the whole of the European Union?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I repeat what I said earlier. We are extremely cautious about the way in which we treat these cases. The noble Lord makes an important point about human rights in so far as gay men and women are concerned and clearly we follow that very carefully when we give detailed consideration to these cases. They go through a rigorous appeals and court process. Obviously we have to follow and respect the integrity of that process.

Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall: My Lords, did my noble friend see the report in today’s newspapers of an increased incidence of homophobic insults in our schools and colleges? Does he agree that the stance that the Government take as a matter of principle on how we treat people such as this young man and take account of their human rights gives a very important message and in the long term will help to decrease the incidence of this kind of abuse?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the noble Baroness makes a very good point. It is obviously right that we should take measures to tackle homophobia in schools and I think that this Government have an extremely good track record in that regard. We have done a great deal over the past 10 years. We could not have had this debate 10 years ago, talking about

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protecting gay men and women and ensuring that their human rights are properly upheld.

Lord Tebbit: My Lords, while the Government are spending time looking after the human rights of foreign citizens in countries overseas, will they also find time to protect the human rights of young British-born Asian girls who disappear without explanation from school rolls and in whom no one seems to take any interest, when it is clear to almost everyone except the Government that they are being exported to overseas countries for forced marriage?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, we have been very active on issues such as forced marriage. I am grateful that the noble Lord now supports the Government’s more aggressive approach in these policy areas. I do not recall the Conservatives being so assiduous during their time in government.

Climate Change Bill [HL]

3.06 pm

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be now further considered on Report.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

Clause 19 [Targeted greenhouse gases]:

Lord Redesdale moved Amendment No. 96:

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 98, which stands in my name and that of my noble friend Lord Teverson. We find this issue puzzling. I am not sure whether at the previous stage of the Bill we fully took on board the Minister’s argument as to why we should discuss just carbon dioxide and any other gas specified by the Secretary of State rather than talk about greenhouse gases as a whole. We have talked about international agreements, especially in relation to aviation and shipping, it seems unusual to take a separate line here, just targeting carbon dioxide and setting out other greenhouse gases, rather than taking the IPCC’s line and talking about all greenhouse gases.

By volume, carbon dioxide is one of the most important greenhouse cases, although methane has 32 times more effect on the atmosphere. As a greenhouse gas, methane lasts in the atmosphere for a far shorter time than carbon dioxide. There has been lobbying in the agricultural industry for certain gases; certain HFCs used for agricultural purposes have much greater effects on the atmosphere, while others are used in the power-generating sector. However, we have not been able to eliminate those and replace them with less damaging gases. I believe that it should still be the role of the committee to look closely at all greenhouse gases. One of the major greenhouse gases is methane escaping from the thawing of the tundra in

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Siberia. That will have a major effect in this country because very large amounts of carbon and methane are locked up in the uphill bogs of this country. Therefore, we think it is unacceptable not to take those into account in a primary situation. I beg to move.

Earl Cathcart: My Lords, these amendments focus on a crucial area of the Bill: namely, exactly what gases we will count and when. Amendment No. 96 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, seeks to define all greenhouse gases listed in Clause 73. The government’s amendments go some way to solving the problem.

We welcome the fact that the scientific nature of this problem has been recognised by the Government and we appreciate that the committee has been taken into a more central role in this process. However, going about the issue in this way seems slightly wrong. The process, as per the government amendment, must begin with the Secretary of State wanting to make an order and then seeking out the advice of the committee. We really had hoped that there would be more of a positive duty on the committee to research and determine what gases should be targeted and that it would recommend to the Secretary of State that an order was needed. Perhaps I have misread the government amendment, but could the Minister assure us that the committee will be able to consider this and make recommendations to the Government? The scientists should determine what is to be targeted in the first instance and not be used as a sort of approval process for the Secretary of State’s statutory instrument.

Lord Rooker: My Lords, I hope I can dispel doubts about this. First, I shall comment on Amendments Nos. 96 and 98 and then speak to the government amendments in the group. Amendments Nos. 96 and 98 would include the basket of Kyoto greenhouse gases in the Bill’s targets and budgets from the start. We discussed these same proposals in Committee and touched on the issues they raise when discussing the Committee on Climate Change’s review of the long-term target, which will also consider including greenhouse gases.

Although we consider that there are strong arguments, which we set out in Committee, about why a CO2-only focus is the right approach initially, we understand that there are good arguments for moving away from that. It is for that reason that we are asking the Committee on Climate Change to consider the impact of including all greenhouse gases in its review of the long-term target.

Our key concern with these amendments is that they would pre-empt the outcome of the review. As with the proposals to move the 2050 target to 80 per cent now, these amendments propose making a decision now and getting the evidence later, or rather, making a decision now that is not based on any evidence. We consider a much more appropriate method is to address the issue the other way round, asking the independent, expert Committee on Climate Change to consider the evidence and provide us with a robust basis on which

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to make these important decisions. The government amendments are predicated on that view.

Amendment No. 101 would mean that an order including other greenhouse gases could only make amendments to the Act that were completely necessary to the Act’s operation rather than ones that are merely convenient. For instance, if other greenhouse gases were included in our budgets a future Government might want to rename them “greenhouse gas budgets” for clarity, rather than “carbon budgets”. This kind of simple change would be prevented by Amendment No. 101, which we feel is far too restrictive.

3.15 pm

Government Amendments Nos. 97 and 104, which go with government Amendment No. 102, which we have already discussed, do two things. First, they allow us to include other greenhouse gases in a budget period which has already started. This could include the very first budget period, for 2008-12. Secondly, they increase the robustness and transparency of the process for taking decisions on whether and how to include other greenhouse gases. As I have said, the Committee on Climate Change will be required to consider the implications of including other greenhouse gases—the six gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol, set out in Clause 73, and in the targets and budgets when conducting its review of the 2050 target. The committee’s review will report, and the Government will set the level of the first three budgets after the first budget period has begun. However, Clauses 19(2) and 20(3) would prevent us including other greenhouse gases in a budget period which has already begun. Government Amendments Nos. 97 and 104 remove these constraints by deleting those two subsections. Taken together, their effect would make it possible to include further greenhouse gases, using an appropriate baseline year in the very first budget period under the Bill of 2008-12.

Today I can go further; I want to put on the record our commitment to include other greenhouse gases in our targets and budgets if the Committee on Climate Change advises in favour of this in its review of the 2050 target. If the committee advises that we should include these emissions in our targets, we will do so. Government Amendments Nos. 97 and 104 will allow us to do so right from the very first budget period. This is a new step forward, which I hope will reassure noble Lords of the Government’s commitment to taking action on greenhouse gases, once we have the right evidence base on which to do so—that is, advice from the experts.

The amendments would also improve the robustness and transparency of decisions on including other greenhouse gases. In Committee I agreed to look again at whether the scrutiny arrangements in Clause 20 could be strengthened to ensure that this power is exercised appropriately. Government Amendment No. 104addresses this point by requiring the Government to consult both the Committee on Climate Change and the devolved Administrations before using the power in Clause 20 to amend the base year of a greenhouse gas. As before, this power will be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. As elsewhere,

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the Government are committed to ensuring that the Bill’s framework is transparent. Amendment No. 104 would achieve this, together with Amendment No. 102, which has already been discussed but not yet agreed. Together, the government amendments significantly strengthen the Bill. At the appropriate time I will seek leave to move them.

Lord Redesdale: My Lords, may I say how welcome the government amendments are? We welcome the way in which the Minister has tried extremely hard to meet some of the concerns. On this issue the government amendments have proved far superior to our own, and on that basis, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Rooker moved Amendment No. 97:

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 98 to 101 not moved.]

Lord Rooker moved Amendment No. 102:

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 103 not moved.]

Clause 20 [Base years for targeted greenhouse gases other than CO2]:

Lord Rooker moved Amendment No. 104:

(a) consult the other national authorities, and(b) obtain, and take into account, the advice of the Committee on Climate Change.
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