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Baroness Amos: My Lords, a range of organisations, NGOs included, are working with the UNHCR in trying to deal with the variety of issues which have arisen in Kosovo. One of the ways in which we in international development have assisted the UNHCR is by flying in key personnel. It is no surprise that there is a shortage of qualified doctors and so on, given the scale of the humanitarian crisis within the region. The UNHCR is the organisation taking lead responsibility for co-ordinating the refugee effort. In addition, a number of NGOs and other international organisations are operating in the region.
Lord Taylor of Gryfe: My Lords, has the Minister any idea of the amount of aid that will be required to relieve distress in this case? Has any progress been made with the allies who fought in the war with regard to their responsibility for the necessary reconstruction? Is there any agreement between the European Union, the United States and the other countries involved in the war with regard to their contributions to the relief of the suffering in that country?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, there are ongoing discussions about the scale of the reconstruction effort that will be required in the region. It is far too early to tell how much will be required or how that effort is to be allocated among the different countries and financial institutions which will participate in the reconstruction.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, bearing in mind the severe criticisms by the Select Committee in another place of the UNHCR in the lead-up to these operations in Kosovo, is there any specific action that we can take;
Baroness Amos: My Lords, I do not want to take up the time of the House by going into some of the specific proposals we have made. I mentioned earlier that we have published an institutional strategy paper which will be the framework for our work with UN organisations, including the UNHCR. I shall be happy to send the noble Lord a copy of that report. We have been giving the UNHCR as much support as possible, not only in terms of airlifts and convoys, but also in terms of access to the expertise and knowledge that exists within DfID, which has had to manage some of these crises in the past. It has been a relationship that has worked well in terms of ensuring that the efforts put into trying to resolve some of the difficulties are taken on board by the UNHCR.
Lord Glenamara: My Lords, in this conflict we have gone to enormous trouble and colossal expense to protect a Moslem minority from a so-called "Christian" majority. As far as I am aware, the voice of Islam has been completely silent; we have heard nothing from Moslem countries. Would it not be reasonable to expect countries such as Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states to make a major contribution to the refugee problem?
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman): My Lords, administrative bodies exercising power over the individual may do so only under a specific statute. In most cases that statute also sets out the arrangements for accountability to Parliament, the roles and responsibilities of the body itself and of Ministers, and the requirement for the body to report on its actions. There is provision under administrative law to seek judicial review of such decisions.
The Countess of Mar: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for that reply. Is she aware that an increasing amount of legislation, particularly for the self-financing regulatory agencies, is allowing inspectors and other individuals to take away people's livelihoods? For example, Section 13 of the Food Safety Act 1990 allows for a person's goods to be taken away. In the case I have
Baroness Hayman: My Lords, in each of the cases to which the noble Countess referred, the bodies concerned operate within a statutory framework set by Parliament. The relevant statute also sets out the body's powers in relation to individual citizens and, in some cases, specific legal remedies are available, not simply the general one of judicial review. While one can sympathise with the individual in such cases, one also has to recognise the responsibilities of the Government, particularly in areas of protecting public health. A decision to make an emergency control order under Section 13 of the Food Safety Act may be needed to protect public health as soon as possible. That procedure is used only after an appropriate risk assessment and where there are no other effective means of protecting public health from serious threat. In those circumstances, if the Government did not use those powers, they would be rightly criticised.
Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, has the Minister's department carried out an audit of the legislation for which it is responsible under the Human Rights Act? If so, will the results of that audit be published?
Baroness Hayman: My Lords, the noble Lord knows that the Human Rights Act was passed in order to make it easier for individuals to enforce the rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights and its protocols. Those include the right to property and the right to a fair hearing. The Government cannot confer powers on administrative bodies that detract from those rights. Perhaps I may write to the noble Lord on the specific issue of the audit.
Lord Ackner: My Lords, does the Minister agree that judicial review is the exercise by the court of its supervisory jurisdiction in order to ensure that the body that made the decision had the power to make that decision? It is not a process of appeal; it is not concerned with the merits of the decision; therefore the protection which it gives is very limited.
Lord Bruce of Donington: My Lords, will the Minister give the House an undertaking that, after having examined the report of your Lordships' Select Committee on Comitology that was debated in this House last Friday--the day on which Ascot was proceeding on its orderly course--she will take action regarding the activities of the various committees set up without this nation's authority by the European Commission? I refer to the various regulatory, advisory and management committees, and to the fact that they issue regulations which in many cases are not subject to the scrutiny of this Parliament and which go directly into British law for enforcement under British law. Will the Minister give the House an undertaking that that practice will cease? Will she ensure that all legislation, before it is enacted, receives proper scrutiny by Parliament?
Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I fear that my comitology is even worse than my legal expertise. The Government always take seriously the reports of Select Committees of this House and examine with equal seriousness the debates and comments on them. I am sure that that will apply in this case.
Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that one of the complaints of the noble Countess is that, apparently, in some cases bodies that are allowed by statutory instrument to charge fees for their services have also been making supplementary requests? Is that legal?
Baroness Hayman: Yes, my Lords, I am aware that that has been the concern. I do not believe that it applies in administrative bodies relating to the Department of Health. I shall certainly make inquiries as to the legal basis of that practice if it takes place within administrative bodies that are answerable to other departments and Ministers, and thereby to Parliament.
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