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Baroness Ludford: My Lords, perhaps I may press the Minister a little more to act as the champion of the British consumer. The fact is that more and more people will take euro travellers cheques on holiday. They will be widely advertised. The noble Lord said that there is competition among banks. I hear what he says but I understand from a report in the Financial Times that there are charges of up to 4 per cent. This is a grey area. Perhaps the noble

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Lord should be a little more pro-active because we want to win those hearts and minds in a referendum. It would be unfortunate if people were to be put off the euro.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, with due respect, I have read the article in the Financial Times as well. I think that the noble Baroness has misunderstood it. The reference to commission of 3 or 4 per cent. is to Germany and Italy in particular and it refers to conversion between one country within euroland and another country. The noble Baroness's proper concern about the British consumer is largely about conversion between sterling and European countries. Very few British travellers spend a great deal of time or money converting from one euro 11 currency to another. For those who are not doing that, there is no significant difference in transaction costs. We have never said that a reduction in transaction costs is one of the principal benefits of European monetary union. It is a significant benefit. However, we are much more concerned with the longer-term benefits of macro-economic stability, to which we shall refer in more detail in Wednesday's debate.

Lord Bruce of Donington: My Lords, I accept the reassurance of Her Majesty's Government that they are doing their uttermost to inform the public as to the presumed workings of the new single currency system, but at the same time will the Minister give the House an assurance that they will be very careful in the interests of honest transparency to point out the dangers of such a course?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I do not understand my noble friend's reference to the "presumed" change. The change has already taken place; the currency is already successfully in operation. Euros are used as the medium of exchange between 11 countries. As a country that has 50 per cent. of its trade with those 11 countries, it is proper that we should help consumers and business in this country to operate effectively with the new currency. The dangers would be to stay out and ignore the currency rather than the reverse.

Lord Swinfen: My Lords, will the noble Lord confirm that if it is the Government's intention to take this country into the euro, a referendum will be held to allow the voting public to have their say in the matter?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the question of whether it is the intention of this Government to take this country into the euro is one that the Government will decide, based on the principles that we have set out. We have said that we are in principle in favour of British membership and that we see no overriding constitutional objection but that, subject to sustained convergence and

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stability, we will put a proposition to Parliament and the British people. Therefore I can confirm that before that step is taken there will indeed be a referendum.

Lord Beloff: My Lords, will the advent of the single currency affect the degree of corruption which is manifest in the workings of the European Commission and which the European Parliament has signally failed to challenge?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the noble Lord legitimately finds an opportunity to depart from the original Question. I do not know what proportion of the fraud that undoubtedly exists in European Community budgets arises from exchange transactions between the 11 different countries. If I knew the answer, that would be the answer to the noble Lord's question. But from what we know, I suspect that it is a relatively minor part of the abuses to which he properly draws attention.

Baroness Denton of Wakefield: My Lords, does the Minister agree that it would save time and energy if he arranged for the Treasury to send Members of this House a copy of the material that it sends to the public?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, that is a useful suggestion. If that view were shared by other noble Lords, I am sure that could be done. Meanwhile, any material that we send out is available to your Lordships either from the Printed Paper Office or in the Library. I shall report the noble Baroness's suggestion.

Business

Lord Carter: My Lords, at a convenient moment after 3.30 p.m., my noble friend Lady Ramsay of Cartvale will, with the leave of the House, repeat a Statement that is to be made in another place on Kosovo. It may be for the convenience of the House if I say that the Statement is not likely to be taken before 4.30 p.m.

Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Bill [H.L.]

3.4 p.m.

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

Moved, That the House do now 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 [Referral of young offenders to youth offender panels]:

Viscount Colville of Culross moved Amendment No. 1:


Page 1, line 8, after ("section") insert ("(subject to subsection (4A))").

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The noble Viscount said: At Second Reading everyone welcomed the creation of the remedy of the new disposal of courts for young offenders in the form of a referral to the youth offender panel. This is a necessary paving amendment to Amendment No. 6, in which I seek to remedy what I believe to be a small missed opportunity.

In the Crime and Disorder Act a number of new disposals for young offenders--particularly, under Sections 67 and 69, reparation orders and action plan orders--are available to the Crown Court. They will probably not be used by the Crown Court very often because people of that age do not often come before the Crown Court. Nevertheless, as a matter of principle the Government decided to make those disposals available. I am wondering why in this case the referral to a youth offender panel is confined to magistrates' courts.

I suggest that it is a mistake so to do, and for this reason. Young offenders can come before the Crown Court in two circumstances. First, they can come if they are on the same indictment with an adult and have been involved in the same offence. In those circumstances they would be joined in the indictment and tried and dealt with by the Crown Court as such. But perhaps more appositely in this case they could come before the Crown Court, consisting of a judge sitting with two justices, by way of an appeal from the youth court. They could come there in their own right, without being associated with any adult offender.

When one is dealing, particularly in the Crown Court, with young people of the sort of age that this part of the Bill has in mind, it is extraordinarily difficult to decide what to do with them. Those Members of the Committee who are magistrates will have struggled for years with that very problem. I see the noble Baroness, Lady Macleod, nodding her head. But it is no easier for the Crown Court.

I understand the idea that referrals to the youth panel should be able to be done extremely quickly. When the provision becomes available in a sessional area, there will be a very short time between the arrest and bringing the offender before the court and this form of disposal. That must be all to the good, because the more quickly justice operates in relation to people of that age, the better.

The problem is, however, that in the limited number of cases for which the Bill provides a referral to a youth offender panel by way of a disposal, there is still the possibility of an appeal. If there is an appeal, the disposal will be postponed until after the appeal is heard. In the case of such an appeal, the Crown Court judge will sit with two magistrates who, one assumes, will be familiar with and trained in the sort of cases that are suitable for a referral to the youth offender panel. Therefore, it is not a matter of the judge alone charting unknown territory. He or she would have the assistance of, and, if necessary, could be overruled by, the two sitting magistrates.

I therefore suggest to the Committee and to the noble Lord, Lord Williams, that the small extension provided for in my Amendment No. 6 is warranted because occasions do arise, albeit rarely, when the Crown Court

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does not know what to do. I was recently involved in a case of this kind and we still have not decided what to do about it. One of the difficulties about the disposals that are available at the moment is that the children concerned are still at school and are preparing for their A-levels. In those circumstances it beggars belief what one can do, even though one of the offences concerned was a very serious one.

I suggest that there should be a minor extension of the ability to use these orders, which are a very good idea, and that in the circumstances where the Crown Court consists also of two skilled and trained magistrates this disposal should be available to them. I beg to move.


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