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Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, the Prime Minister warned at the G8 summit that the Doha round was at a critical point and there must be progress. France is, after all, part of Europe’s common negotiating position on this round, which includes very significant liberalisation of agriculture. We very much hope that the European Commissioner Peter Mandelson will press on to make

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sure that Europe is part of closing a deal on Doha because of its extraordinary implications for global food prices in the coming years.

Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: My Lords, could my noble friend enlist the support of President Sarkozy to explain to the SNP that, if Scotland became independent, it would not continue as a separate member of the European Union?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, I know that there have been long and deep connections between France and Scotland and that President Sarkozy would probably welcome such a mandate, but we should probably address this more as a domestic problem and deal with it closer to home.

Lord Ryder of Wensum: My Lords, will the Minister confirm that the Prime Minister will support Commissioner Mandelson in his excellent stand against President Sarkozy during his recent discussions.

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, I am sure that Commissioner Mandelson will be pleased at the expressions of support from, for him, unusual quarters. We all recognise that Peter Mandelson is doing his job, and we of course support him in carrying out the mandate that he has been given by Europe as a whole for a successful conclusion to the Doha round.

Local Government: Roads

11.29 am

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, responsibility for developing local major scheme proposals, including preparing robust scheme cost estimates, lies with local authorities. Ministers will consider cost increases for local road and public transport schemes at the appropriate approval stage, in line with the criteria set out in the department’s local authority major scheme guidance.

Lord Berkeley: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for that long Answer, but perhaps I could press him to be a little more specific. Surely local authorities tend to underestimate the cost of schemes to make them appear to be better value for money. Surely the only way of making them come up with proper estimates of the outturn cost is to make them carry the extra cost if they run out of budget. Is it not in the Government’s interest that local authorities should keep to budget? If they cannot, surely the Treasury has to increase the optimism bias that it uses in appraising schemes to ensure that local authorities stay within the total budget.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, very clear guidance is issued to local authorities about schemes that are brought forward through quantified risk

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assessment. Local authorities also have to produce a sort of risk register for any scheme that they want to take forward. For schemes submitted to the department for programme entry from April 2006, the department now requires local authorities to agree to contribute a minimum of 10 per cent towards the estimated total scheme cost, 50 per cent of any increase up to an approved scheme cost and 100 per cent of any increase above that figure. The incentives are there.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, can the noble Lord confirm or deny what I am sure is an unhelpful rumour that is going the rounds in Eurosceptic circles to the effect that many of the repairs being carried out to our road bridges are in some way influenced or dictated by weight limits imposed from Brussels?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I have a feeling that that fits within the general rubric of being a conspiracy theory.

Lord Bradshaw: My Lords, in answer to that, in fact it was the British Government who agreed to the heavier lorries, although they were well warned about the effects of weight increases. I return to the Question. Is it not the case that many local authorities are trying to blame central government for their lack of money, although that is due to the fact that the authorities do not estimate properly in the first place?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I am reluctant to place the blame on local authorities; there must be a shared responsibility. Of course there are occasions in which a local authority’s estimation has been less than rigorous, but we must use the guidance, press local authorities and help them to develop the capacity so that estimations are more accurate and timely. One sometimes has to accept that there are good reasons for cost overruns in what are ambitious schemes. These things cannot always be seen at the outset of a project.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, does my noble friend accept that the details of a number of road-building schemes have come to light recently as a result of Freedom of Information Act requests to the Department of Transport and that they demonstrate that the cost overruns in a number of cases are almost completely out of control? One example is that of the new crossing of the Mersey, whose cost has risen from £209 million to £390 million. Do not such schemes represent bad value for money and are they not environmentally unsound? Would not the money be better spent on, for example, railway electrification and other public transport provision?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I do not think that this is a question of either/or. Clearly, the schemes must stand on their own merit. I will not get into a debate about the new Mersey Gateway scheme, although I know that there is some concern about the figures produced for it. We must accept that there are many instances in which local major road schemes make a significant contribution to reducing congestion and have a sound environmental base; they were long

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argued for because of their contribution to local regeneration. We must look at this in the round rather than use a narrow either/or choice between rail electrification and the merits of the road scheme.

Lord Berkeley: My Lords, although my noble friend seems to be taking responsibility for the cost overruns of many of these local authority schemes—I am sure that the local authorities will be pleased about that—the fact remains that local authority schemes and many Highways Agency schemes are running well over their estimated budget costs. I should be grateful if my noble friend could explain what the Government are doing to control the costs of these road schemes, as has happened already in the railway industry.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I set out the formula that is applied and I also explained that there is very clear guidance. We are not taking responsibility for the cost overruns; it is up to local authorities to make absolutely sure that they make accurate estimations when they submit schemes as part of the bidding process.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, in his original Answer, the Minister referred to a “robust scheme”. What is a robust scheme and what is a scheme that is not robust?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, perhaps I need to take advice on that from the noble Lord. The process of building up estimations for each part of the scheme has obviously been gone through. Very clear guidance is given on that, and local authorities have to ensure that they conform to the process.


11.36 am

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, with the leave of the House, immediately after the Report stage of the Powers of Entry etc. Bill, my noble friend the Leader of the House will repeat a Statement entitled “G8”.

Business of the House: Standing Order 47

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

Moved, That Standing Order 47 (No two stages of a Bill to be taken on one day) be dispensed with on Friday 18 July to allow the Finance Bill and the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) (No. 2) Bill to be taken through their remaining stages that day.—(Baroness Royall of Blaisdon.)

Lord Higgins: My Lords, why is the wording of this Motion not similar to the wording of the Motion that follows? Is it not presumptuous of the Government to assume that the Finance Bill will receive a Second Reading?

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Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, as noble Lords know, this is standard procedure for Consolidated Fund Bills and Finance Bills. The stages of Consolidated Fund Bills are always taken formally.

Lord Higgins: My Lords, I understand that, but should it not be worded in the same way as the Motion that follows, which includes the words “in the event of” the Bill being read a second time?

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, as I understand it, the wording is used precisely because of the constitutional nature of the House of Lords in relation to Finance Bills.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon rose to move, That, in the event of the Criminal Evidence (Witness Anonymity) Bill being read a second time, Standing Order 47 (No two stages of a Bill to be taken on one day) be dispensed with on Tuesday 15 July to allow it to be taken through its remaining stages that day.

The noble Baroness said: It may be helpful if I say that the Second Reading of the Criminal Evidence (Witness Anonymity) Bill will be taken today. If this Motion is agreed to, the Committee stage will be taken on Tuesday 15 July, with Report and Third Reading following immediately after the Committee stage. The Public Bill Office is already open for amendments to be tabled for Committee. Amendments received by close of play tomorrow, Friday, will be included in the Marshalled List. I beg to move.

Moved, That, in the event of the Criminal Evidence (Witness Anonymity) Bill being read a second time, Standing Order 47 (No two stages of a Bill to be taken on one day) be dispensed with on Tuesday 15 July to allow it to be taken through its remaining stages that day.—(Baroness Royall of Blaisdon.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Investigative Powers of Prosecutors in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Code of Practice) Order 2008

Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act 1998 (Specified Organisations) Order 2008

Maternity and Parental Leave etc. and the Paternity and Adoption Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2008

11.38 am

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, I beg to move the three Motions standing on the Order Paper in the name of my noble friend the Lord President.

Moved, That the draft orders and regulations be referred to a Grand Committee.—(Baroness Royall of Blaisdon.)

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Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, perhaps I may speak to the first Motion concerning the investigative powers of prosecutors in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The code of practice was not deposited when this matter last came before the House, as I am sure the noble Baroness will be aware. Is there any explanation for that code of practice not having been properly lodged, and is it the Government’s practice to bring forward orders of this sort when the documentation that supports them has not been prepared, concluded and lodged at the Table?

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, it is certainly not the usual practice of the Government. I understand that the documents in question have now been lodged. The problem that arose when the SI was first tabled was purely administrative; it was nothing to do with procedure.

On Question, Motions agreed to.

Powers of Entry etc. Bill [HL]

Report received.

G8: 2008 Summit

11.40 am

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): 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. The Statement is as follows:

“With your permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a Statement on the G8 Summit, which took place under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Fukuda between 7 and 9 July in Toyako, Japan. It was a summit that was unique not just for the range of issues discussed in three interlocking summits—the African outreach, the G8 plus 5 and the major economies summits—but also for the large number of countries—14—whose presidents or prime ministers took part.

“Let me first draw the House's attention to the unprecedented G8 statement on Zimbabwe. In the face of the deepening tragedy in Zimbabwe—the intimidation, the violation of human rights and the detention of political prisoners—the G8 made clear that we do not accept the legitimacy of the Mugabe Government and that the UN Secretary-General should now appoint a special envoy both to report on human rights and to support regional mediation efforts to bring about change. The G8 also called for the immediate resumption of humanitarian operations essential to prevent further suffering and loss of life, and we resolved that we would take further steps to take financial and other measures against those individuals responsible for the violence.

“As the House will know, we have followed this up with a UN Security Council resolution now being discussed in New York. We propose an international arms embargo on Zimbabwe, including a ban on all supplies of any arms, weapons, ammunition and military equipment, and we list

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14 named members of the Mugabe inner cabal against whom travel and financial sanctions should be imposed by the whole international community.

“We have now set in train work to identify in Africa, Asia, America and Europe, through a forensic assessment, both physical assets and bank accounts of these 14 people. The UN resolution also establishes a committee to monitor these sanctions. With worldwide sanctions and a worldwide arms embargo, our aim is that there be no hiding place and no safe haven for the criminal cabal that surrounds Mugabe. Now that the G8 has taken its decision, we propose that the United Nations puts the full weight of the international community against the actions of an illegitimate Government.

“At the heart of the summit's other considerations and conclusions were the triple shocks hurting the world economy: the doubling of oil prices; rising food prices; and, because of the credit crunch, the rising cost of money. They are three shocks that, it is now agreed, cannot be solved by traditional monetary means alone but require direct action that will tackle the sources of oil and food inflation and make for more stable commodity, agricultural and financial markets. The summit also reflected a world that is changing fast, with a consensus about the new economic power of Asia; that oil, commodity and food price rises represent global problems that require global solutions; that there is an economic as well as an environmental imperative to break our dependence upon oil; and that we should act in Africa and on international development for moral reasons, but also because developing countries hold the key to addressing our food shortages and will be the ones most affected by climate change.

“First, while, as the summit noted, there are many explanations for the doubling of oil prices—the scale of change is now greater than the oil shock of the 1970s—the basic challenge, which cannot be resolved by one country or group of countries alone, is that now and in the future oil demand exceeds oil supply.

“So while Governments are taking action domestically—Britain with special winter payments for old people, new help for low-income families and the current freeze in fuel duty—the G8 agreed that the global conditions for ensuring a more stable international energy market are as follows. First, expanding nuclear power, with the International Energy Agency suggesting that we will need a thousand new nuclear power stations over the next four decades; secondly, accelerating the expansion of renewables; thirdly, radical measures to improve energy efficiency; and, fourthly, co-operation between oil producers and oil consumers to ensure greater understanding of the balance between supply and demand and then new investment in all sources of energy.

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