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Lord St. John of Fawsley: My Lords, does the Minister agree that whether these installations are offshore or onshore design is crucial so that they become worthy additions to the landscape or seascape and not eyesores? Will the noble Lord undertake to consult the Royal Fine Art Commission, which has considerable experience in these matters?
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, the department has issued good practice guidance for wind energy developers to cover these issues. I shall look at that. If we believe that it is productive to consult the Royal Fine Art Commission we shall certainly do so.
Lord St. John of Bletso: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that encouraging Answer. Is he aware that the negotiations between the South African Government and the European Commission have taken more than four years, raising concerns of EU protectionism in the agricultural sector? At a time of high and growing unemployment in South Africa, with a labour intensive agricultural sector, can the Government put pressure on the European Commission in more onerous terms to stop putting further obstacles in the way before such an agreement can be reached?
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, can the Minister say what bilateral discussions are taking place? If not, will he take better action with some of our southern partners who seem to have taken the most ridiculous nitpicking attitude towards a free trade agreement, which is absolutely essential if the United Kingdom and the European Union are to retain their credibility as a free trading area?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the amount of lobbying that has taken place, even during the Austrian presidency, is amazing. The lobbying by this country has involved the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and junior Ministers. They have lobbied the President of the European Commission, the Austrian presidency and the individual member states which are concerned. In addition to those political contacts, there have been incessant official contacts.
Lord Hughes of Woodside: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the package put by Mr. Pinheiro in October was acceptable to the South African Government, who were prepared to sign on the dotted line, since when different elements within the Commission have tried to unpick that agreement? Does he recall the ringing tones of support for South Africa following its establishment of a democratic government? There were ringing cries of friendship. Will the Minister accept that the Commission's behaviour reminds one of an old Scottish saying, "Touch my pocket and friendship's out"?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, all of us are disappointed that since South Africa has escaped from apartheid we have not been able to achieve a free trade agreement. My noble friend is right, as I indicated in my Answer, that the outline agreement which was on the table between Commissioner Pinheiro and South Africa would have been acceptable to South Africa. However, the Commission is still operating on a mandate from the General Affairs Council and member states still have to be involved.
Lord Gisborough: My Lords, does the Minister agree that it would be utterly anomalous for all those countries of Europe which pressed so hard for a new South Africa not now to put their money where their mouths are?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, yes. We have always said that we want to see these negotiations successfully concluded and we want the objections of individual member states to particular parts of the agreement to be overcome. However, the difficulty is that if a free trade agreement is to be acceptable to the
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the terms which have been set out in the free trade agreement could be likely to lead to high-scale unemployment in the agricultural sector, which is the one area still open to unskilled labour in South Africa?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, no, I do not agree. The terms set out will cover agriculture, in particular fruit, which is the most important South African export. I accept that the noble Lord is right in linking agriculture in South Africa with employment.
Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: My Lords, on this last day of the Session, perhaps I may say to the Minister that I am sure the Government are genuine in their desire to see agreement reached with South Africa. However, does he not appreciate that unless the Government go to Brussels and confront the Commission head on with the problem that is at the centre of the issue, there is still a residual agricultural protectionism? Unless that is resolved, frankly, it does not matter how keen the Government are to settle the matter and achieve an agreement; that will not be the case.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the Government are doing exactly what the noble and learned Lord described. We are at this very moment in Brussels engaged in negotiations with the European Commission in order to try to overcome the difficulties he describes. We are totally on the same side on this matter.
Lord Grenfell: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that it is particularly important to put pressure on Portugal and Spain to stop holding these negotiations hostage with their ridiculous vendetta against South Africa for calling its fortified wines "sherry" and "port"? That has been happening for more than 200 years. As a matter of fact, all the wines and spirits from South Africa account for only 0.5 per cent. of the European Union's imports from South Africa.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, sherry and port represent a widespread problem which my noble friend will recognise. For example, champagne producers have succeeded in stopping anyone else anywhere in the world calling anything produced by the methode champenoise champagne. The difficulty extends to sherry and port, too. Australia has agreed to stop producing "sherry" and "port", but with a long derogation period. That may be the solution for sherry and port from South Africa.
The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): My Lords, it not being convenient for Her Majesty to be personally present here this day, she has been pleased to cause a Commission under the Great Seal to be prepared for proroguing this present Parliament.
Then, the Lords Commissioners (being the Lord Chancellor, the Viscount Cranborne, the Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, the Baroness Jay of Paddington, and the Lord Chalfont) being present and the Commons being at the Bar, the Lord Chancellor said: My Lords and Members of the House of Commons, Her Majesty, not thinking fit to be personally present here at this time, has been pleased to a cause a Commission to be issued under the Great Seal, and thereby given Her Royal Assent to divers Acts which have been agreed upon by both Houses of Parliament, the Titles whereof are particularly mentioned, and by the said Commission has commanded us to declare and notify Her Royal Assent to the said several Acts, in the presence of you the Lords and Commons assembled for that purpose; and has also assigned to us and other Lords directed full power and authority in Her Majesty's name to prorogue this present Parliament. Which Commission you will now hear read.