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Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, I do not dissent from the proposition advanced by my noble friend. We have sought to maximise the possibilities of transparency; for example, in relation to the current negotiations on the multilateral agreement on investment. We have pressed for that and shall continue to do so. However, it is for Parliament rather than for the Government to assert its right to consider what goes on in these institutions. If Parliament wants to step up its activities in that respect, so be it.
Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Judd, has raised an important issue. What representations have been made with regard to some of the serious consequences of political unrest, in particular in Indonesia where the IMF's proposals have led to a 71 per cent. increase in the cost of fuel, a more than doubling of the cost of train fares, creating large increases in the cost of basic food elements, and consequently to the use of live bullets in demonstrations? In view of that, will the Government
Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, as I said before, I believe that this Government have certainly progressed the whole question of transparency through those international institutions in a fairly unprecedented way. But it does not fall for me to make a determination about that. I shall certainly pass on to the Treasury what the noble Baroness said and, in particular, her very strong observations about greater transparency affecting especially the IMF.
Lord Bridges: My Lords, surely the noble Lord, Lord Judd, is quite right to draw attention to the significant decisions recently taken by the World Trade Organisation, two of which seem to me extremely serious. The first is the decision taken to unravel the painfully reached European agreement on the import of bananas which threatens the economies of the British colonies in the Caribbean. The second is the decision to oppose or undo the decision taken by the European Union to ban the import of beef with hormones from the United States. It may be that national parliaments are not very effective in controlling the activities of those organisations and that a better course would be for Her Majesty's Government to raise their voice in the annual meetings of the WTO council, or to arrange for suitable debates to take place in the economic and social council of the United Nations or, indeed, in the General Assembly. We really cannot have the accepted rules of international trade on general preferences overturned by such unilateral decisions.
Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, the difficulty about that proposition is that it seeks to undermine the process of the disputes resolution procedures which are so crucial to the WTO. I disagree violently with the view that has been expressed occasionally in Congress in relation to using the baseball method of three strikes and you are out. The fact is that we shall win some disputes and lose some. But we must respect the rule of law. I have a good deal of sympathy for the producers of bananas, particularly in the Windward Islands and elsewhere, but we must now create a different regime which is WTO-proofed.
Lord Kennet: My Lords, what would be the Government's reaction to the suggestion that, given the globalisation of everything and the greatly increasing power of the global international organisations, there should begin to be a system for international parliamentary and, indeed, governmental scrutiny of
Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, when agreements are made through the WTO--and the European Commission acts as agent of the member states in that respect under Article 113--the Government, as a matter of course, submit to the scrutiny committee their views about whatever may be in issue. The question of scrutiny is a matter for parliaments. We cannot dictate to the French Parliament how it should go about its considerations. But we have a duty to ensure that we carry out adequate and systematic scrutiny. I am sure that there is room for improvement.
Lord Naseby: My Lords, bearing in mind the Private Notice Question which was asked in the other place earlier this week in relation to the United Nations and certain of its policies, is it not rather rich of Her Majesty's Government to suggest that further work should be done on scrutiny when it does not seem clear to any of us that there is a sufficiently clear line between the responsibility of Ministers and their officials on existing policies?
Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, that is rather far from the Question which we are considering; but as I like the noble Lord and have played golf with him, I shall answer his question directly. As the noble Lord well knows, this matter is under investigation. It would be quite inappropriate for me to comment on it and, with respect, I believe that he knows that.
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): My Lords, first, I have to declare a personal interest as I was a member of the council of management of the London Lighthouse for four years at the beginning of the 1990s. My honourable friend the Minister for Public Health recently twice met representatives of the London Lighthouse to discuss its present position. She has agreed in principle to repeat the Department of Health grant of £150,000 for the year 1998-99. The Government are obviously aware that the London Lighthouse has decided to restructure its services which involves closure of its residential unit, sale of the main building and resiting other services from September. However, as that immediate
The Earl of Carlisle: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. I am sure that the whole House will wish to join me in congratulating the noble Baroness on all that she has done for London Lighthouse over the past four-and-a-half years. Does the Minister not agree that it is premature to dismantle residential services such as those provided by London Lighthouse while the long-term effect of combination drug therapies is uncertain? Will the Minister continue to look at ways in which £2 million can be found from her department's budget so that London Lighthouse does not have to sell its site in September with very far-reaching consequences for all concerned?
Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I thank the noble Earl for his kind comments. As I understand it, the local health authorities, which are the purchasers of services from the London Lighthouse, believe that even if there were to be, unfortunately, a rather sad conclusion to the experimental work in relation to the combination therapies, which, as the noble Earl suggests, have reduced the need for residential services, the health authorities themselves would be in a position to provide the beds which might be necessary. Of course, we all hope that that will not be the case.
Baroness Masham of Ilton: My Lords, I too must declare an interest as I served on the council of the London Lighthouse with the Minister. Will she agree with me that much money, both voluntary and public, has gone into that building to make it an excellent site for healthcare? Does she agree with me that it would be very sad if that building and its gardens did not continue to provide healthcare as regards some aspects of respite care of the dying?
Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I agree with the noble Baroness that it is a very substantial and attractive facility. As she will have understood from my original Answer, transitional funding has now been provided which should enable the current managers of the London Lighthouse to decide how best and appropriately that can be used when it is sold.
Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, is the Minister aware of a suggestion from the London Lighthouse, which I visited recently, to turn it into a centre for healthy living? Is there any future in that, either by London Lighthouse or another body using the same premises?
Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I too have heard that suggestion raised informally. Theoretically, the London Lighthouse might indeed be an appropriate place for a healthy living centre, sited as it is in an area
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