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Lord Redesdale: As I have already spoken to the amendment, albeit in a somewhat mistaken manner when discussing Amendment No. 5, I should like to echo the sentiments of the noble Lord, Lord Peston. The point that he raised is something that cannot be underestimated--that many people do not realise how much the legislation will affect their lives. It will involve a good deal of work for members of the academic profession, who are already overworked. I do not believe that many of them realise what is to take

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place. Having a forum for discussion would, therefore, be helpful, though I realise that such a provision will probably not reach the face of the Bill.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: The Secretary of State must be clearly accountable to Parliament. We have some concern that a provision of this sort might undermine that clarity. The seminar would have no clear constitution and no clear accountability of its own. However, perhaps I may tell the noble Lord, who has expressed concerns that what is being legislated upon here may not be as widely known as we would wish, that we are more than happy to inform citizens of the work of the national authority; and, indeed, we will reply to any questions that are put. I also wish to indicate that the staff of the national authority would consider participating in any event that particular interest groups might wish to arrange. However, I am bound to say that I see no need for an annual seminar to be provided for in the statute.

What I believe in this context may not be all that important to the noble Lords opposite. But again perhaps I may refer back to the briefing provided by the Chemical Industries Association where an observation is made on the proposal. The association says:


    "We shall expect to liaise closely with Government and with the National Authority"--
I compliment the association on that very responsible approach on such an important matter--


    "concerning the effect of implementation of the Convention. However, the most appropriate consultation will, presumably, include a range of activities. This might not be best facilitated by a simple statutory requirement for an annual seminar".
It is on that basis--and they are perfectly reasonable observations that possibly a wider range of activities is required than a single seminar--that I resist the amendment.

Lord Peston: The Minister clearly did not wish me to have a heart attack. I am delighted that he resisted the amendment as I am not sure how I would have coped had he accepted it. The main point concerns transparency and dissemination. Again, I hope to talk to the industry a little about the matter because I believe it has responsibilities in that respect. It would be very much in its own interest to do so. For example, if such a seminar took place at the University of Sussex in its great science policy research unit, that would be an ideal centre for a regular getting together, especially in the early stages of making the Bill work.

Were funding to come from outside and were industry funding available for such a seminar, I would hope that the department would give it a fair wind and feel able to be present at such discussions, albeit perhaps on Chatham House terms. Having said that and placed my views on the record, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clauses 34 and 35 agreed to.

Clause 36 [Power to amend this Act]:

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Lord Peston moved Amendment No. 7:


Page 22, leave out lines 29 and 30 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: With this amendment I seek clarification. I confess that I did not notice the significance of Clause 36 when we were dealing with the matter at Second Reading. Having read this part of the Bill more carefully subsequently, I am somewhat intrigued by it. I have tabled the amendment to seek clarification, particularly as regards what provisions the Secretary of State has in mind under Clause 36(1) which states,


    "he considers necessary or desirable to give effect to any amendment of the Convention made in pursuance of its provisions".
I notice the subsection refers to amendment of the convention rather than amendment of the Bill. Am I to understand that the purpose of this clause is to enable the convention to be changed on an international level, which would require international agreement? We would then need to incorporate those international changes--I can well imagine that changes might occur, as this area evolves--in our legislation. We would do that, essentially, by delegated legislation. If that is what the noble and learned Lord has in mind, I am pretty sure that the so-called positive procedure ought to apply in such a case, because what we are discussing is the equivalent of primary legislation. I may have misunderstood the whole of that subsection of Clause 36, but if I have not, this is the case where I am most convinced that the positive procedure would be appropriate. I beg to move.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: I accept entirely that the clause requires some explanation. It is a particularly important one and therefore I shall take a moment to explain the position. I have given careful thought to the powers proposed in the clause. I have concluded that they are proportionate to the limited ways in which amendments to this Act may be required. The power to amend this Act provided for in the clause is limited to implementing amendments to the convention and may not be used to make other changes. Without a provision to amend this Act, the United Kingdom would be disadvantaged; for example, in pressing for worthwhile amendments to the convention internationally for fear of being unable to implement them domestically in a timely way.

The intention is that this Act should keep in step with agreed changes to the convention. Article XV of the convention sets out the procedures whereby amendments may be made to the convention. A simple procedure is provided for administrative and technical amendments to the Annex on Chemicals and parts of the other annexes to the convention. Such changes will enter into force 180 days after notification of the proposed amendment by the international organisation. The schedule to this Act reproduces Schedule 1 to the Annex on Chemicals to the convention and amendments to the schedule to this Act would be subject to the negative resolution procedure. As I understand the matter, and as I think the noble Lord anticipated, different chemicals

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may from time to time come to the attention of those who are expert in these matters which should be subjected to a degree of restriction as this Act would allow. Clearly one wants to ensure that a control is exercised over those as soon as possible. It is for that reason--as the noble Lord will have heard--that there is a limited period of 180 days.

The matter becomes even more complicated. As I understand it, the changes will come into effect after 180 days but, first of all, there are 90 days during which there may be consultation. Therefore, the effective period would be 90 days for implementation by the United Kingdom. The noble Lord, with his long experience of legislative procedure, will appreciate that that is an extremely small window for making change. I would reassure the noble Lord by informing him that other amendments to the convention--other than the class to which I have just referred--must be considered by a specially convened amendment conference of state parties. Such changes enter into force 30 days after those voting in favour have ratified the changes. Any amendments to this Act, other than to its schedule, would be subject to the positive resolution procedure. That is a somewhat complicated explanation of the convention but I hope that it is clear enough. It is certainly an important provision.

Lord Peston: That is certainly extremely clear. I believe that the noble and learned Lord has met my concerns. Essentially he is saying that within the measures we have already basically agreed for dealing with specific chemical developments the negative procedure would apply. However, if a more fundamental matter were to arise which involved changing the convention--which would be in the nature of a new version of an international treaty--we would use the positive procedure. I believe that that is what the noble and learned Lord said, and that is what I wanted him to say. It is important to get that on the record because if it was not clear to me it might not be clear to one or two other relevant people. The explanation has been immensely helpful. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 36 agreed to.

Clause 37 agreed to.

Clause 38 [Finance]:

Lord Redesdale moved Amendment No. 8:


Page 23, line 10, after ("Act") insert ("and Convention").

The noble Lord said: I realise that this is a rather clumsy vehicle in which to raise a couple of questions. If I mention those questions now the Minister may not have to address the rest of the amendment. The purpose of the amendment is twofold. First, how did the Government arrive at the figure mentioned in the explanatory memorandum of seven additional departmental staff as the number who will be needed to implement the provisions of the Bill? I may be ignorant to a great extent of the workings of the DTI. Will the provisions of the Bill necessitate an extra seven

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departmental staff on top of the existing staff, or is it expected that seven members of staff will enact the requirements of this piece of legislation? If that is the case, I believe that it is a particularly optimistic assessment of the situation. The word "efficiency" is often referred to; it may be that that concept has been taken to extremes with this legislation. I hope that the Minister can clarify that point. Secondly, the annual cost to business of giving information under the terms of the Bill and receiving inspections will be £8.1 million. Many academic institutions will be caught by the regulations of the Bill. Does the figure of £8.1 million include the costs incurred by those institutions, or is that the cost of monitoring the chemicals and ensuring that the convention is being properly upheld? I beg to move.


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