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Baroness Ludford: My Lords, the Question refers to government policy. The Minister replied that it was up

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to local authorities. It is precisely the absence of a national policy after 10 months in office which so concerns many of us. We are anxious to hear the results of the review. We believe that it should be a national responsibility to welcome and support asylum seekers. Is the noble Baroness aware that the Refugee Council is worried that one result of the current situation is an adverse impact on race relations? That is of great concern to many inner London authorities where the excess costs to local authorities are between £0.5 million and £1 million a year. When budgets are being cut across the board the situation is not helpful to race relations. The Government are undermining the position.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, as I said in answer to previous questions, the Government are at least as concerned as any Member of your Lordships' House about difficulties which many local authorities face on this issue. That is why at central government level, led by my noble and right honourable friends from the Home Office, the Government are addressing the matter as a central policy issue. With her roots and background in local government, I am sure that the noble Baroness would not wish central government to override the autonomous decisions of local authorities on this matter.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, is the Minister aware that she gave no effective reply to the question of the right reverend Prelate? It is a most interesting and constructive suggestion that I have not heard before. Would the noble Baroness care to reply to it?

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I apologise to the noble Lord if he feels that I did not reply specifically. The reason that I did not do so was precisely because the issue of the children's grant, the levels of which have not been fixed for next year, is subject to the general consideration on the national strategy which the noble Baroness and other noble Lords have rightly demanded should be forthcoming.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, is the Minister aware that Westminster is not the only London borough which has had to decant asylum seekers to other parts of the country? Lambeth has had to do the same for reasons of cost effectiveness. Even so, in 1997-98 the council taxpayers of Lambeth are having to foot a bill of no less than £1 million for looking after asylum seekers. Does the noble Baroness not consider that it is grossly unfair that the residents in a borough which is home to many deprived people should have to bear those additional costs?

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, yes, and that is precisely why we have said that the National Assistance Act, induced by court action in previous years, is not a suitable way of dealing with the problem. That is precisely why we are addressing the issue. One interesting result of moving asylum seekers from the London boroughs is that I understand they tend to

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disappear. That may be a way--I do not mean this frivolously--by which local authorities seek to avoid some of their responsibilities. For example, I understand that when Westminster tried to move a large number of asylum seekers to Great Yarmouth where there was a certain amount of reasonable accommodation, it being a seaside resort with only seasonal pressures, 74 per cent. of the asylum seekers simply disappeared. I am sure that the noble Lord would not wish that to be adopted as a policy.

Scottish Agricultural Industry

3.4 p.m.

Lord Selkirk of Douglas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking to reverse the decline in farm income in Scotland.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): My Lords, the Government have made it clear that they are committed to supporting a viable agricultural industry and have taken a number of important steps to help alleviate the current problems.

The Government paid £480 million in direct subsidies to Scottish farmers in 1997, an all-time record. We recently announced a further package of aid for the beef and sheep sectors which are the hardest hit. They are set to receive in Scotland a further £24 million.

In addition, the Government recently announced that charges for implementing specified risk material controls from 1st April 1998 will not be recovered from the industry. Also start-up costs for the new computerised cattle traceability system and running costs during its first full year of operation will be paid for by the Government. These two measures will save the UK livestock industry some £70 million in total.

The ban on British beef exports represents a serious handicap to our producers and we are taking all possible steps to have this ban lifted as early as possible.

Looking to the longer term, the Government's objective is for farmers to gain a larger proportion of their income from the marketplace, with a consequential reduction in centrally-funded support.

Lord Selkirk of Douglas: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply. I wish to declare a family interest in farming. Is the noble Lord aware that there is on average a 34 per cent. drop in farm incomes in Scotland? Will the noble Lord do his best to ensure that systems of regulation and support are as supportive to farmers in Britain as comparable systems elsewhere in Europe?

Lord Sewel: My Lords, the answer to the second part of the noble Lord's question is, yes. The noble Lord mentions the figure of 34 per cent. I do not dispute that figure but perhaps I may put it in context. Incomes today are higher than they were in the late 1980s and early

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1990s. Perhaps I may give the noble Lord one specific figure. Between 1990 and 1995 aggregate farm incomes in Scotland increased in real terms by 308 per cent.

Lord Mackie of Benshie: My Lords, is the Minister aware that the paradise he describes does not exist and that the figures for Scotland will be worse than the 34 per cent. drop this year? If the noble Lord wishes to help the industry, surely the Government should have taken up the £940 million in January, as they could have done. The figure from the European Union has now dropped to £642 million. Why has that money not been taken up as it has been by other countries in Europe?

Lord Sewel: My Lords, in addressing the problem of the beef and sheep sectors, we put forward support for £85 million on a UK level which virtually reaches the ceiling available under the agri-monetary compensation system. So we have compensated the most hard hit sector for the adverse effects of currency appreciation.

I should point out to the noble Lord that the £940 million that is often referred to is not free money in any sense of the word. Fifty per cent. of that would have to be funded entirely from the UK taxpayer and, as a result of the Fontainebleau Agreement, of the remaining 50 per cent. 71 per cent. would have to be funded by the UK taxpayer.

The Countess of Mar: My Lords, as with all statistics, does it not depend how far back one goes? Does the Minister agree that between the 1970s and 1980s farm incomes fell by half, and by half again during the 1980s? They were restored to some extent after the reform of the CAP in 1992 and have now begun to fall again because of the problems with the exchange rate and the green pound.

A noble Lord: The question is too long.

The Countess of Mar: My Lords, does the Minister agree that it is only by increasing their efficiency and output, and by reducing labour, that farmers have survived this far? They are now down to the bone. Does the noble Lord appreciate how important it is that some help is given?

Lord Sewel: My Lords, perhaps I may point out that, taking a longer term perspective, aggregate income last year was still higher than aggregate income in 14 out of the past 25 years. I would also point out that the support given to agriculture in Scotland, at £480 million, is equivalent to the total budget of Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and represents support running at £14 per week for the average family in Scotland.

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Richard): My Lords, perhaps the House will allow me a few words. It seems to me--and I grant that it is only an impression--that the length of supplementary questions is somewhat on the increase. If it is indeed on the increase, I am sure your Lordships realise that it tempts Ministers into

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giving somewhat lengthy replies. I wonder whether I might draw the position to the attention of the House and hope that, next week, I will be able to rise and say how short the replies are.

National Lottery Bill [H.L.]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the amendments for the Report stage be marshalled and considered in the following order:

Clause 1, Schedule 1, Clauses 2 to 7, Schedule 2, Clauses 8 to 10, Schedule 3, Clauses 11 to 23, Schedule 4, Clause 24, Schedule 5, Clause 25.--(Lord McIntosh of Haringey.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Crime and Disorder Bill [H.L.]

3.10 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.--(Lord Williams of Mostyn.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES in the Chair.]

Clause 60 [Detention and training orders]:


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