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Lord Molyneaux of Killead: My Lords, perhaps I can assist the noble Lord. I was simply making the point that if Mr. Andrews succeeded in getting some of his placemen, who were not included in the present list, injected into the new list, then they would ensure that the commission did the will of those who nominated them in the Irish Government.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, the position is that we receive nominations from the Government of the Republic for a whole range of bodies. But it is up to this Government, or the appropriate Minister, to decide whether any of those nominations are acceptable and whether those persons should be appointed. All we are saying is that we are willing for names to be put before us, but we shall then decide who is to be appointed.

As regards the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Molyneaux, I am sure that he is not suggesting that two of the recent appointees--Mr. Tommy Cheevers and Mr. Glen Barr--are likely to toe a Dublin line. I should have thought that the criticism of any recent appointment has been that those two individuals would take an altogether different view.

Viscount Brookeborough: My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord will give way. Am I right in assuming that the composition of the commission is not settled? The Minister said that the Government are open to suggestions. I understood that the commission had produced the codes and therefore that that was the work of the commission at that given point. The point in relation to the Foreign Minister of the Republic is that at this moment the credibility of the commission is vitally important for the parades. If the Foreign Minister can object publicly to its composition, as he appears to have done, and then inject his own members publicly--he obviously feels that by doing it publicly there is a better chance of getting them injected than by doing so privately, otherwise he surely would have done so--then it would appear to all and sundry that the commission is being swayed in favour of the Republic and therefore the nationalists.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, membership of the commission has been announced. There is no intention to change that membership in the foreseeable future. I am not clear what the argument is about pressure coming from outside. The fact is that the commission consists of a number of people with good reputations covering different communities in Northern Ireland;

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people who will bring their minds to bear on the difficult problems facing the commission. They will do that independently of outside pressure.

Lord Molyneaux of Killead: My Lords, I am reluctant to intervene again, but the misunderstanding may have arisen because the Minister said that the Government would be prepared to consider other nominees. That gave the impression that this was a kind of movable feast and people could be co-opted or added at any time.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, if I gave that impression, it is not the impression that I intended to convey. As a generality, in terms of government appointments, of course we receive names for a whole range of bodies to which we appoint people. But in the case of the commission, the membership is now settled for the foreseeable future. There is no question of any other names coming forward. We have a commission which will do its job with great skill and independence. The formal position is that the Irish Government make their suggestions and the names of any persons nominated by the government are confidential, and we keep it that way. That is the position of this Government.

The noble Lord, Lord Molyneaux, asked also about the role of the chief constable in giving the commission details of proposals for parades. The answer is that he will do so; otherwise the commission could not do its job as required under the Act. However, the commission will treat all such information as confidential. That is an assurance that I am able to give.

The noble Lord, Lord Cope, made a number of comments and I thank him for his helpful and supportive approach. Any of the documents can be reviewed in the light of the Parades Commission's experience, and that is why we spent some time discussing the method by which Parliament could endorse new documents. We see the commission as learning from the experience of the present set of documents and it will make changes if that should prove necessary.

I appreciate the comments made by the noble Lord, Lord Cope, about the skill of the members of the commission, the importance of the guidelines and the code of conduct and his endorsement of the need for marches to be peaceful. Until he spoke, I did not see the noble Lord, Lord Cope, as a marcher and demonstrator. But he has cast himself in a new light today and no doubt, when he writes his memoirs, I shall read with interest about the various marches and demonstrations in which he has taken part.

I appreciate the helpful comments that have been made. These documents are important. They will make a significant contribution to the way in which the marching season this year is approached in Northern Ireland. Of course, we cannot assume that they will work. We believe that we have given the Parades Commission every possible chance and these documents will make it clear to the people of Northern Ireland that the commission will have an even-handed approach. Those that wish to march and those who wish to protest

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against marches will see how they should sensibly behave in order to have a peaceful marching season this year. I commend the orders to your Lordships.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Valuation and Rating (Exempted Classes) (Scotland) Order 1998

8.20 p.m.

Lord Sewel rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 15th January be approved [20th Report from the Joint Committee].

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the draft order before the House tonight is a straightforward provision which is necessary to maintain cross-border harmonisation of valuation practice. A discrepancy exists in respect of seaward jusrisdiction. In England and Wales and in Northern Ireland the extent of local authorities' seaward boundaries for valuation and other purposes is defined in statute. Pipelines extending out to sea there are non-rateable. In Scotland, however, the seaward boundaries of local authorities for valuation and other purposes are substantially undefined except for some subjects such as coal-mines, piers and bridges which have been held by courts to be properly entered in the valuation roll. Legislation exists to exempt certain offshore installations from entry in the valuation roll. However, the assessor for Dumfries and Galloway has concluded, after taking legal opinion, that the Premier Transco and Bord Gais Eireann (the Irish gas board) undersea gas pipelines are not covered by the existing provisions and has entered valuations in the roll for them. We accept that the current regulations are not clear and this draft order, made under provisions of the Valuation and Rating (Exempted Classes)(Scotland) Act 1976, clarifies the position. It excludes those parts of the pipelines lying seaward of the low water mark of ordinary spring tides from the valuation roll. This order will ensure that cross-border harmonisation of the valuation practice is maintained. I commend the draft order to the House. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 15th January be approved [20th Report from the Joint Committee].--(Lord Sewel.)

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his explanation of the order to me and other noble Lords. We support the order but there are one or two small points which I hope the noble Lord will be able to clarify for me. Can he tell me whether any other pipelines under the sea are rateable? How will new pipelines, when laid, be treated? If the legislation going through another place at the moment concerning devolution becomes law, how will pipelines supplying gas or oil from Scotland to England or Wales be treated; and, if rateable, how will the rateable value be calculated?

The noble Lord said that each new pipeline will be considered on its own merits. What guidance will be given by the Government as to how they are to be rated?

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I know that I have asked one or two questions more than perhaps the Minister was expecting. I would be only too happy to have answers by letter.

Lord Sewel: My Lords, I thank the noble Earl for his helpful observations on this particularly abstruse matter. He asked a number of questions, all of which I had failed to anticipate, so I will rely to a large extent on writing to him. However, I can give him some words of assurance and comfort in that I think that, as a result of the order, we are tidying up one of the last remaining anomalies in terms of achieving cross-border harmonisation. So I doubt whether there are any other examples of pipelines being treated differently north and south of the Border. But if there are, I will ensure that the noble Earl is informed about them.

The noble Earl has obviously been in cahoots with some of his noble colleagues and has raised yet again the prospect of devolution. We look forward to devolution. I have to tell the noble Earl that, following devolution, valuation will be a devolved matter, but we are working to achieve cross-border harmonisation. Work that one out!

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until 8.35 p.m.

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

[The Sitting was suspended from 8.24 to 8.35 p.m.]

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