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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I am delighted to accept my noble and learned friend's congratulations. I shall ensure that those to whom they are properly due read the appropriate passages in Hansard. My noble and learned friend then went on to say some pretty trenchant things about the US. I hope that I have explained the concerns of the US with regard to the treaty. They are genuinely felt. We do not believe that they are necessary. We believe that the treaty covers the genuine concerns felt by the US. The more constructive way to go forward on this is by persuasion rather than confrontation. We shall speak to the US as a good friend of justice throughout the world. We hope that the US will gain confidence by seeing how many countries can ratify the treaty, and that in due course it will be persuaded to take the same view as the UK Government.

Lord Renton: My Lords, I, too, wish to pay tribute to the Government and those who have helped them in this great matter. It did not surprise me that the Minister mentioned the noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer of Sandwell. He is an old friend and has played a valuable part. I wish to endorse a question that he put about the United States. Is it not strange that the United States, which played such a vital part in establishing the United Nations and in attempting to uphold international law, should not be willing on this occasion to take a positive step towards upholding it?

Perhaps I may ask two questions about enforcement. First, I am glad that the prosecutor is to be an independent person. But he will need to have an enforcement agency, just as the Crown Prosecution Service in this country relies upon the police as an enforcement agency. I give that as an example. What enforcement agency will be at the disposal of the prosecutor bringing cases to this court?

My second question is on enforcement by the court of its own decisions. That may be too complicated a question for the noble Baroness to answer, but it is important that we know how the decisions of this criminal court are to be enforced, otherwise its jurisdiction will be not be effective.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord again for his kind remarks.

I recognise the concern in your Lordships' House about the United States not being willing to sign up at present to the provisions of the treaty. Having talked through these matters, the negotiators believe that the remaining differences with the United States are relatively few and that the gaps in the negotiating positions are already narrower than they were; and we must hope that they continue to close even further.

Of course we hope that the United States will see that the safeguards in the statute are comprehensive and sufficient and that it will be willing to work hard towards the goal that we believe is so important. Even

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if that proves impossible, we confidently expect that the court will persuade doubters by the way in which it works in practice; and that international support for the court will grow progressively when countries which have not found it possible to sign up at this stage see the way in which it works.

The noble Lord asked a number of questions about enforcement. The court will be backed up. Three of the five Permanent Members of the Security Council support the treaty. I make that point because in the end these issues may well come back to the General Assembly of States Parties to consider enforcement if enforcement is for any reason flouted by any of the states parties to the treaty. There will of course be recourse to the states parties through the General Assembly.

However, perhaps I may say this to the noble Lord. I shall arrange for the document on the treaty, which is very detailed, not only to be available on the Internet, as the noble Lord, Lord Lester, said it was--and these days the Foreign Office is looking much more modern than it used to--but also ensure that a hard copy goes into the Library of the House. I hope that the noble Lord will then be able to look at a number of detailed provisions in the hard copy that I shall make available in the Library of the House.

Lord Kennet: My Lords, I join with others in congratulating the Minister on what she has said. It is remarkable, and a matter for general rejoicing, that on two successive sitting days my noble friend has been able to introduce measures of one kind or another which distinctly and successfully take mankind further from the routine horrors of war. While there is still some way to go, it is an achievement.

I know that the issues of landmines and this court have been close to the heart of the Foreign Secretary and his team since the election and before. I have two questions. First, can the noble Baroness cross the t's and dot the i's about the arrest of suspected alleged war criminals who happen to be nationals of non-signatory countries? Is that absolute? If all the signatories and the full court agree that a person should be tried, and would be tried were he not American, Indian or Israeli, for instance, is there nothing more to be done about it? As a subsidiary question, let us suppose that a crime has been committed by a Trobriand Islander on the soil of the United States, Israel or India. Is there nothing to be done about it?

Secondly, when does the moratorium, the seven-year amnesty, the advance pardon--whatever we like to call it--begin? Has it begun already? Can it by any chance be interpreted to have begun a year or two ago, because that would be convenient and shorten an absurd interregnum? Alternatively, must we await some further decision before it begins?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I thank my noble friend. It has been a great pleasure to introduce legislation last Friday and to make the Statement today. The Statement is consistent with what the Government said in their pre-election manifesto. I hope that Members of your Lordships' House will be

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as pleased on the coming Friday about what we have done on landmines as the noble Lord indicates he already is.

The noble Lord asked from when the opt-out runs. It runs from the date of the ratification of the agreement. A country that is ratifying the agreement may at that point declare its opt-out for seven years.

The noble Lord also asked what would happen to those individuals who were nationals of countries which had not signed up. It is important to be clear on this point: that the court is able to act if either the state when the alleged crime was committed, or the state of the nationality of the accused, is party to the court. It might not be that the individual was a national of a country which had signed up to the agreement. It might be that he had committed the alleged crime in a country that is a party to the agreement.

However, I must make one further point to the noble Lord. The Security Council acting under the UN charter may refer situations to the court regardless of where they occur. That is an important point for your Lordships to remember in this respect.

National Minimum Wage Bill

6.27 p.m.

Consideration of amendments on Report resumed.

The Deputy Speaker (Lord Elton): My Lords, before I call Amendment No. 6, I should advise your Lordships that if it is accepted, I shall be unable to call Amendment No. 7.

Baroness Miller of Hendon moved Amendment No. 6:

Page 2, line 34, leave out subsection (7).

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 7 not moved.]

Clause 3 [Exclusion of, and modifications for, certain classes of person]:

Baroness Miller of Hendon moved Amendment No. 8:

Page 3, line 4, leave out subsection (3).

The Deputy Speaker: My Lords, before continuing, I should tell your Lordships that if this amendment is accepted, I shall be unable to call Amendment No. 9.

Baroness Miller of Hendon: My Lords, I have spoken to this amendment with Amendment No. 1, which was agreed to.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendment No. 9 not moved.]

Clause 4 [Power to add to the persons to whom Section 3 applies]:

The Deputy Speaker: My Lords, before calling Amendment No. 10 I should tell your Lordships that if it is agreed, I shall be unable to call Amendment No. 11.

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Baroness Miller of Hendon moved Amendment No. 10:

Page 3, line 18, leave out subsection (2).

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I have already spoken to this amendment with Amendment No. 1.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

[Amendments Nos. 11 and 12 not moved.]

6.30 p.m.

Clause 8 [The Low Pay Commission]:

Lord Razzall moved Amendment No. 13:

Page 7, line 3, leave out ("may at any time appoint a") and insert ("shall, not more than 12 months after this Act comes into force, appoint a permanent, statutory").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, as I indicated earlier, the Liberal Democrats support the Government's major objective in the Bill. We have only two reservations. The first was enshrined in the vote on Amendment No. 1. We believe that the Government should leave themselves the flexibility to vary the national minimum wage, in particular to introduce regional variations if changing circumstances prove that to be necessary.

I listened carefully to what the Minister said in Committee. However, as regards our second and more fundamental difference with the Government, we believe that they should go further and establish permanent status for the Low Pay Commission. In doing so, the somewhat unseemly ping-pong between the press, the Government and their spin doctors over the establishment of the minimum wage, and whether the Treasury or the DTI had won, would be taken out of politics. We believe that the minimum wage is an essential reform and we support the Government. However, we believe that during the next round of discussions on uprating the minimum wage the Government should have in the Bill the serious and significant status of the commission. As regards Amendment No. 14, we believe that, the Low Pay Commission having been established, the Government should require it to produce a regular report updating its data and informing debate and opinion.

The experience of other countries--the United States is a good example of the point I make--is that, where steps have not been taken to establish a permanent structure for upgrading and examining the rate, there is an unseemly political row about what the revised figure should be. The experience of the first round has not been happy for the Government. I urge your Lordships to accept the amendments in order to ensure that in future that unseemly row does not occur. I beg to move.

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