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Lord Kingsland: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for giving way. He drew the House's attention to the question of state aids and the crucial role that the Commission plays in policing that system. What then is the point of the code of conduct?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the code of conduct system is concerned with tax measures which are not adjudged to be state aids by the European Commission. These are complementary sets of measures. State aids are very largely financial subsidies, although, as the noble Lord, Lord Inglewood, recognised, they can on occasion be tax concessions. I repeat: the undertakings I have given about unanimity and the use of the veto for tax concessions which are not state aids still apply. I do not withdraw from that in any respect.

Lord Shore of Stepney: My Lords, will my noble friend explain why that particular aid to Northern Ireland was considered to be a state aid other than a

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regional tax allowance incentive to help that troubled Province? What criteria can he offer and lay down that would give us some sense of security that other British tax allowance measures will not be similarly judged by the Commission, not by the British Government?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I do not think that the House would appreciate it if this debate turned into a duel between myself and my noble friend. I have given assurances about the veto and about unanimity. I have explained that one of the eight measures that we have reported to the Code of Conduct Group has been adjudged by the European Commission to be state aid. I shall not set out on behalf of the Commission its reasons for that decision. However, I affirm that we are confident that the other items that are being considered by the Code of Conduct Group are not only not state aid but will be found in due course not to be harmful tax competition.

I commend the committee on its report. I am pleased that the Government can agree with so much of it. Again, I express my appreciation to all who have taken part in the preparation of the report and in this debate.

9.33 p.m.

Lord Grenfell: My Lords, the hour is late, and it is later for some than for others. I simply want to thank all noble Lords who have participated in the debate. It has been a first-class debate, with many thought-provoking contributions. I should particularly like to thank my noble friend Lord Lea of Crondall for an excellent maiden speech. That was what we expected from him, and we got it. I want also to thank all the members of Sub-Committee A who participated in the debate. It has been a privilege to work with such a high-quality group of people. I shall miss that association. I also thank the noble Lord, Lord Saatchi, for his kind remarks and for the comments directed to me by noble Lords who spoke after him.

The debate on the question of co-ordination and harmonisation will long continue. I doubt that the noble Lord, Lord Saatchi, and I will ever agree on that matter. I am more likely to find myself on common ground with Mario Monti than the noble Lord. I remember with some amusement that the noble Lord, Lord Rathcavan, thought that perhaps I would find the subject for a novel in this report. I do not believe that it would be Booker Prize material. However, I might try my hand at a play about tax evasion and give it the title "The Importance of Being Honest". Finally, I thank the Minister warmly for his, as always, thoughtful, authoritative and courteous responses to a long and often complex debate. He does us a great service with the excellence of his responses.

The time has now come to close. I remind noble Lords who are members of Sub-Committee A that it meets again tomorrow at 10.30 a.m. to put the finishing touches to yet another report. I am sure that all Members of the House, particularly members of the sub-committee, now want a short lie down before breakfast.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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Kent County Council Bill [H.L.]

Reported from the Unopposed Bill Committee with amendments.

Medway Council Bill [H.L.]

Reported from the Unopposed Bill Committee with amendments.

City of Newcastle upon Tyne Bill [H.L.]

Reported from the Unopposed Bill Committee with amendments.

City of London (Ward Elections) Bill

A message was brought from the Commons, that they have made the following orders to which they desire the concurrence of this House:

That the Promoters of the City of London (Ward Elections) Bill shall have leave to suspend proceedings thereon in order to proceed with the Bill in the next Session of Parliament, provided that the Agents for the Bill give notice to the Clerks in the Private Bill Office not later than the day before the close of the present Session of their intention to suspend further proceedings and that all Fees due on the Bill up to that date be paid;

That on the fifth day on which the House sits in the next Session the Bill shall be presented to the House;

That there shall be deposited with the Bill a declaration signed by the Agents for the Bill, stating that the Bill is the same, in every respect, as the Bill presented in the House in the present Session;

That as soon as a certificate by one of the Clerks in the Private Bill Office, that such a declaration has been so deposited, has been laid upon the Table of the House, the Bill shall be read the first and second time and committed (and shall be recorded in the Journal of this House as having been so read and committed) and shall be committed to the Chairman of Ways and Means;

That the Chairman of Ways and Means shall make such Amendments thereto as have been made by the committee in the present Session, and shall report the Bill as amended to the House forthwith, and the Bill, so amended, shall be ordered to be considered;

That no further Fees shall be charged in respect of any proceedings on the Bill in respect of which Fees have already been incurred during the present Session;That these Orders be Standing Orders of the House.

        House adjourned at twenty-three minutes before ten o'clock.


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