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Lord Peston: I thank the Minister for his full and cogent reply. Last week I received material from the Chemical Industries Association. To my great regret, partly for personal reasons and partly because I had to give priority to preparing for yesterday's great debate, I have had no time to talk to its representatives. However, I shall make it my business to talk to them in the next few days. I am aware of their concerns and I believe that there is more to be argued about. I stand second to none in my view that we must protect commercial confidentiality and national security.

A great deal of my thinking as regards the national security aspect arose from my reading of the Scott Report. Perhaps I may refer to paragraph (k) of my Amendment No. 5. If a bona fide company received a demand for chemicals which it had no idea were on the list where would the information lie that would protect it from doing something not too dissimilar from what we were debating yesterday? I am intrigued to know that. Is it the Minister's view that that would somehow come via export licences or that the Government would ask why a peculiar company was now demanding chemicals which no one had previously thought of demanding?

I accept entirely the point about proliferators. We do not want to alert them to the fact that there is a new chemical entity they can use to blow up the world. Equally, it is clear that the firms, perhaps small firms, which could produce the chemicals might get themselves into trouble. It is for that reason I raised the point. I can see both sides of the argument.

The Minister used an expression which I had written in my notes but which I forgot to use. It was that we must look at the costs of all this and at the benefits. This is worthwhile, particularly in terms of burdens on industry, only if there is a net benefit. I was hoping to persuade the Minister that following from this there are net benefits to the industry and, as I continue to insist, to the research community. While I accept the fact that we are treading on new ground, we must be sure that we do nothing that is calamitous for one of the great sectors of our academic community; namely, our various departments of chemistry.

Obviously, I shall not press the amendment today but I should find it helpful if I could discuss the matter with either the Minister or his officials in order to feel that I have fully clarified my mind and done my duty. Will the Minister agree that before Report stage we can have a further interchange so that I can rest assured and therefore can assure others that we have done all that we can in this area?

Lord Kennet: I wish to raise one point that my noble friend did not mention. One of the Minister's principal objections to the statutory committee, perhaps the

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principal objection, was that it might preclude the President of the Board of Trade or the national authority getting advice from anywhere except the advisory committee. There is nothing in the amendment which would preclude that. The existence of a permanent advisory committee cannot preclude any arm of government from seeking advice beyond it if it feels that that would be the best way forward.

I hope that the Minister is under no misapprehension--and, conversely, I hope that I am under no misapprehension--that neither the Bill nor the amendment will, in the event of the creation of a statutory advisory authority, tend to limit the Minister's advice to that source.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: The noble Lord raises the interesting question of what happens once a committee is established and the terms on which it is established are declared by Parliament, namely that:

    "The duties of the National Advisory Committee shall include the provision of advice to the Secretary of State about all aspects of the Act and the Convention".
There are some interesting questions about how widely he might seek advice from other sources, in particular if he had received clear advice from the committee which was in conflict with the advice he received from elsewhere.

My anxiety relates to confidentiality. Perhaps I may say with respect to the noble Lord, Lord Peston, that I do not believe the issue will have as much effect on academic departments. However, when commercial research is taking place and a representative of a rival company is on the advisory committee it would act against our collective interests if those who thought that they ought to be discussing the protection of their research with the national authority refrained from doing so because they were anxious that their information might fall into the hands of commercial rivals. That is a real issue that needs to be addressed.

As the noble Lord has said repeatedly, this is not a controversial Bill. As I concluded on Second Reading, I cannot believe that any right-thinking being would wish to object to its speedy passage. In view of that, I would be more than willing to engage with the noble Lord in further discussion. Indeed, I shall be glad to participate with other noble Lords who may wish to join the discussion. Perhaps a more constructive suggestion would be that the noble Lord should discuss the matter with officials in the DTI who may be better placed to explain to him some of the complicated scientific issues which lie at the heart of the Bill. Of course, I am willing to provide that for him.

Lord Kennet: The Minister, in defending the possibility that the existence of an advisory committee would preclude the Government obtaining advice elsewhere, read out the words:

    "The duties of the National Advisory Committee shall include the provision of advice to the Secretary of State about all aspects".

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If the amendment had intended to provide that it should preclude the Secretary of State from obtaining advice from any other source, it would no doubt have stated that.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: If the noble Lord reads my words in Hansard he will see that I did not seek to overstate that argument. The matter is not entirely without difficulty. My greater point is that we do not wish to cut off any routes of advice or information which come to the national authority or to the Secretary of State if the provision of a single advisory committee would in any way make people reluctant or hesitant about coming forward.

Lord Peston: I thank the Minister for his comments. I am entirely sensitive to his point about commercial confidentiality. I would be greatly worried if I were involved in anything that could be seriously damaging to the interests of bona fide firms.

Given the fact that the Minister is busy, I shall be delighted to talk to officials so long as he guarantees that they will explain the matter simply and I can understand it. In any event, we can talk about it tomorrow morning or later in the week. Given all those assurances, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clauses 2 to 19 agreed to.

Clause 20 [Licences]:

7 p.m.

Lord Peston moved Amendment No. 2:

Page 14, leave out lines 30 and 31 and insert--
("and no such order shall be made unless a draft of it has been laid before and approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.").

The noble Lord said: I have tabled several such amendments, which will not take up a great deal of time. Essentially this amendment is tabled partly for its own sake but partly because Clause 20(4) refers to:

    "Appealing against a refusal to grant, renew or vary a licence or against a variation or revocation of a licence".
I asked the noble and learned Lord whether he had anything to tell me about the appeal procedure. Since he did not say anything, I take it that he has not anything to tell me about that. Therefore, I take this second opportunity to ask him to tell me about the appeals procedure. I will then take a view on whether whatever is to happen requires the positive or negative resolution procedure. It is as simple as that. I beg to move.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: As I understand the situation, the noble Lord is not so much concerned with the issue of the resolution before each House of Parliament but he is concerned to learn more about the proposals that we have in relation to appeals.

The intention is that the President of the Board of Trade will use the order-making power in the clause to adopt the model appeals provisions which are soon to be prescribed by order under the Deregulation and Contracting-out Act 1994. That Act requires model appeal procedures to be prescribed by order so that they

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can be incorporated into legislation. We intend to adopt those model appeal procedures. Our intention is that the good practice which the model provisions will contain will be reflected in the procedure for appealing against a decision made under this clause. We wish to standardise appeals procedures to ensure consistency. It is particularly important where appeals are infrequent, as in this case.

An appeals committee will need to be established. Its members would be drawn from research, academic, medical and other disciplines so that it has the breadth of knowledge to judge the types and quantities of chemicals to be licensed against the intended use.

I had hoped that before we reached this stage of the Bill the draft model rules would have been out for consultation. I regret that that is not the case, but I certainly hope that before we reach the next stage of the Bill they will be available. Even if that is not the case, I have no doubt that, given the relative infrequency of appeals which are likely to result under this clause, the adoption of the model rules is the appropriate way forward.

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