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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): It is important that local authorities take their enforcement duties seriously and devote sufficient resources to do that. I recognise that if you were to ring-fence the money to be given for this purpose, that is one route but it could only be done at the expense of a serious loss of independence of local government. The great majority of central government funding for local authorities is not hypothecated, which is consistent with the independence of local authorities and, indeed, consistent with the importance that the Government attach to local accountability for local spending and taxation decisions.

I say to the noble Viscount that we have no plans to ring-fence food law enforcement resources. We strongly feel that it is a matter for local government to set their own priorities. I am sad that the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, is engaged in moving other amendments in the main Chamber because yesterday he suggested that, if we were looking for consistency in

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amendments, we should not look to him. I often read the Liberal Democrats' election manifesto of two years ago where it says of local authorities:

    “We will ... give them greater discretion over spending".

It seems rather inconsistent then to say that we want to ring-fence. I believe that local authorities are best placed to decide what their priorities should be and how they should spend their money, taking account of local circumstances. By and large, local authorities have done that effectively. However, the noble Viscount would be right to say that some local authorities have not done as well as others, and this is where the importance of monitoring on the part of the agency comes in, as we discussed at some length yesterday. I would expect the agency, in its function of monitoring, to have the ability to promote a much more consistent approach across all local authorities. It would also have the ability, of course, to make public the results of its monitoring work. That could be a very effective tool for bringing to the attention of both the people who lead local government in a particular area and also the public, as to whether there are any particular problems.

While it is important that we discuss this matter, it is best left to individual local authorities to make these decisions. We have a very important safeguard in the monitoring role of the agency.

Viscount Thurso: I am very grateful to the Minister for explaining the Government's position. The possibility is that if I kept speaking long enough and my noble friend Lord Clement-Jones, in another chamber, spoke reasonably briefly, he would come to respond himself. I shall be very brief.

The noble Lord mentioned the manifesto, of which he has obviously read more than I have. I fought that election without bothering to read the manifesto, but I was not a candidate!

On these Benches we have always been quite keen on hypothecation in certain areas. We certainly see a place for hypothecation but now is not the moment to argue about that. Suffice to say that, much as we admire many things about Gladstone, the Consolidated Fund is perhaps one of his negatives that might now bear a small amount of revision. We are delighted to see that the Government have taken on hypothecation, at least in principle, and that the Deputy Prime Minister has seen such value in its use. So there is a place for hypothecation.

Broadly I agree with the Minister that local government should be given freedom and discretion, but that does not mean that, in particular areas, some linkage should not be necessary--particularly where one is asking the local authority to enforce legislation, where there is a very distinct requirement, as opposed to the discretion; for example in leisure and tourism. It is perfectly right for a local authority to decide to spend a little less on tourism and leisure and a little more on looking after people in their area, whatever they want to do. This is a particular case, however, of seeing that enforcement takes place.

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I have listened carefully to what the noble Lord said: I should like to read it in Hansard and see what my noble friend has to say. I therefore beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Baroness Hayman moved Amendment No. 98:

Page 21, line 44, leave out (“the Northern Ireland Act 1998") and insert (“any Act")

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 39, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 40 [Minor and consequential amendments and repeals]:

Baroness Hayman moved Amendment No. 99:

Page 22, line 4, at end insert--
(“(2A) The National Assembly for Wales (Transfer of Functions) Order 1999 shall have effect, in relation to any Act mentioned in Schedule 1 to the Order, as if any provision of this Act amending that Act was in force immediately before the Order came into force.")

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 40, as amended, agreed to.

[The Sitting was suspended for a Division in the House from 5.13 to 5.23 p.m.]

Clause 41 [Transfer of property, rights and liabilities to the Agency]:

Baroness Hayman moved Amendment No. 100:

Page 22, line 15, leave out (“Food Safety (Northern Ireland) Order 1991") and insert (“1991 Order").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 41, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 42 [Power to make transitional provision etc.]:

Baroness Hayman moved Amendment No. 101:

Page 23, line 11, leave out paragraph (b) and insert--
(“(b) by the First Minister and deputy First Minister acting jointly, in relation to provision dealing with transferred matters (within the meaning of section 4(1) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998).").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 42, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 43 [Short title, commencement and extent]:

Baroness Hayman moved Amendment No. 102:

Page 23, line 14, after (“section") insert (“and paragraph 4(2) of Schedule 5)").

The noble Baroness said: In moving this amendment I will speak, with the permission of the Committee, to Amendments Nos. 116, 117, 119, 125, 126 and 128. This is a further group of technical amendments to Clause 43, Schedule 3 and Schedule 5 to the Bill, to take account of the changes made to the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 following devolution. Under the Scotland Act 1998, functions under the Food and Environment Protection Act which are exercisable in or as regards Scotland have been transferred to Scottish Ministers. To facilitate this it was necessary to make some technical amendments to the Act, and that was done in June this year by an order made under the Scotland Act 1998.

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These amendments are essential to avoid any inconsistencies in the statute book, and I would urge their acceptance by the Committee. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Hayman moved Amendment No. 103:

Page 23, line 19, at end insert--
(“(3A) Until the day appointed under section 3(1) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, this Act has effect with the substitution--
(a) for references to the First Minister and deputy First Minister acting jointly, of references to a Northern Ireland Department;
(b) for references to an Act of the Northern Ireland Assembly, of references to a Measure of the Northern Ireland Assembly; and
(c) for references to transferred matters within the meaning of section 4(1) of the Northern Ireland Act 1998, of references to transferred matters within the meaning of section 43(2) of the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973;
(d) for references to paragraph 1(a) of Schedule 2 to the Northern Ireland Act 1998, of references to paragraph 1(a) of Schedule 2 to the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973.")

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 43, as amended, agreed to.

Schedule 1 [Constitution etc. of the Agency]:

Viscount Thurso moved Amendment No. 103A:

Page 25, line 33, at end insert--

(“Declaration of interests, etc.

13. Proposed members of the Agency shall complete a declaration detailing their business interests, whether they have been made bankrupt, been a party to voluntary arrangements, whether there are any judgements against them, whether they have been convicted of any offence involving fraud or dishonesty or an offence under legislation (whether or not of the United Kingdom) relating to companies (including insider dealing), building societies, banking or other financial services, or if they have been disqualified as a director or of any other material information, and this declaration should be publicly available for inspection one month before appointment.")

The noble Viscount said: This again is by way of a probing amendment. I had rather hoped that my noble friend Lord Clement-Jones would be here to do the probing, but in his absence I shall do my best. Essentially this is about trying to see what the Government's thinking is in relation to the probity of those who are going to be members of the agency. I am sure noble Lords are aware that when one becomes a director and one's company is listed on the Stock Exchange, one has a very complicated form to fill out which goes into an immense amount of detail. The Stock Exchange--as a number of other bodies--takes a tremendous amount of care that people who are to be directors of public companies are the right sort of people, do not have criminal records, have not been bankrupt, and declare in all ways possible their interest and their probity.

We should like to know whether people who are appointed to government bodies or government agencies have to go through a similar process. It may well be that there is an existing process, about which I do not know, and that may be the simple answer the Minister will give me. If that is the case, I should very

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much like to have it on the record. If that is not the case, I should like to explore why that is so and whether we should, in fact, have some mechanism. We have a duty of care to ensure that people who are to sit on bodies such as this agency--from whom we are going to expect a good deal and in whom the public are going to put a great deal of trust--are the right people. I beg to move.

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