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Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, we are in contact with the data protection registrar on those matters. In response to the noble Viscount's second point, we take the view that journalists could rely on the current code in any event, simply and primarily because there is no major difference between the two codes on privacy matters, which are obviously the issues of primacy concern. We are safe on those terms. As I said earlier, we intend to bring forward an amended order shortly after Easter so that we may deal with those matters. I believe that that will put the matter to rest.

Football: Proposed Regulator

2.47 p.m.

Lord Davies of Coity asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the majority report of the football task force's report, Football: Commercial Issues, proposed an independent regulator for football--the football audit commission. The Government are considering their response to that proposal and to the football authorities' alternative proposal for an independent scrutiny panel. Ministers have had a number of useful discussions with the football authorities and other interested parties over recent weeks and the Government will respond to the report shortly.

Lord Davies of Coity: My Lords, I am extremely encouraged by my noble friend's response. However, I should like to draw to his attention and to ask for his views about the current negotiations taking place with the television companies, which are likely to produce over £1 billion in funding over the next five years--a 20 per cent increase. Is he aware that on the last occasion that a deal was struck with the television companies, all the increased income went into the pockets of players? There are now over 100 players earning £1 million per year from football. At the same time, the cost to fans for admission to the grounds is soaring. The lower clubs are finding it extremely difficult in such outrageous circumstances. Does the Minister believe that the appointment of a regulator would go some way to correct those disastrous circumstances?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey : My Lords, it is important to consider those parts of the report of the football task force upon which there is agreement rather than the single issue of the nature of the regulator, upon which there is disagreement. All members of the football task force recognise the seriousness of the points raised by my noble friend concerning the needs of the less rich clubs and the need for affordable access to football. That is linked to the television agreements, which are still to be concluded.

Lord Lyell: My Lords, can the Minister advise me to whom he believes the regulator should report? Will it be the noble Lord, the Government, the football authorities or the fans, like myself, who paid £7 to stand in freezing conditions on Saturday with little in the way of facilities?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, it sounds as though the regulator should report to the noble Lord, Lord Lyell! That would do the trick. If there is to be a single regulator, rather than an independent scrutiny panel, it is important that that position is set up by the Government rather than the football authorities. The exact terms of reference would still be a matter for discussion.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, I declare an interest as vice-chairman of the football task force and as a signatory to the majority report to which my noble friend referred. Is he aware that a number of us who were majority signatories, including supporters'

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representatives, met his colleagues, the Secretary of State and the Minister for Sport, last Thursday? We were gratified to learn that the football authorities have made considerable progress on their own plans on matters such as consumer representation, financial compliance and the independence of the regulatory body. We believe there is now some prospect of an agreed solution being presented to my noble friend and his ministerial colleagues which will satisfy the expectations of supporters and substantially take the game forward.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am glad to be able to confirm the meeting at which my noble friend was present. I confirm too that a meeting took place with the authorities on 16th March which was also constructive and had the benefit of a detailed presentation from the football authorities. All that underlines the importance of making progress on those parts of the report of the football task force which are agreed without waiting for a final decision on the nature of the regulatory person or body.

Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, can the noble Lord confirm that the ordinary fans will have a say in the matter; that the football regulator will formally or informally consult the ordinary fans?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, one of the proposals contained in the report of the football task force was for a supporters' direct unit. That unit is already in place in shadow form, providing advice to fans who are interested, in particular, in taking part in the management of football by setting up trusts. That confirms the importance we attach to ensuring that fans have a voice in football.

Lord McNally: My Lords, did not the Minister read in yesterday's paper that the right honourable Jack Cunningham, MP is already lined up to be appointed as football regulator? What is the veracity of that story? Is it a "star signing" or an "own goal"?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the noble Lord knows perfectly well that I am no good at sporting metaphors. However, I can inform him that there is no truth in the report to which he has referred.

Lord Brookman: My Lords, if there is to be an appointed regulator, I believe, from these Benches, that the appointment of Jack Cunningham would be a good choice. Does the Minister not agree that it is about time we, the British people, had more Davieses, Clarkes, Evanses and Joneses playing in the premier league?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I thought that those with Welsh grandfathers tended to come from New Zealand.

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GM Technologies and the Developing World

2.55 p.m.

Lord Taverne asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in the light of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development conference in Edinburgh on genetically modified foods and health, they will promote the use of genetically modified crops in the developing world.

Baroness Amos: My Lords, we support demand-led research directed at the needs of poor farmers in developing countries using whatever technology is most appropriate, cost-effective and safe. Genetic modification (GM) technologies could produce considerable benefits if applied safely and responsibly to the crops on which the poor rely. We shall continue to support the development and dissemination of beneficial technologies which poor farmers can afford and use to create sustainable livelihoods. We shall also consider how we might help developing countries to develop the capacity they need to handle and assess GM technologies.

Lord Taverne: My Lords, are the Government aware that at the Edinburgh conference, which it was my pleasure to attend, two matters became absolutely clear? First, there was not a shred of evidence that GM foods are harmful to health. Indeed, hundreds of millions of people have now consumed them for over a decade without any apparent ill effects. Secondly, there was enormous enthusiasm among representatives from the developing world for the new technology, which they regard as essential to the fight against hunger and disease and, indeed, which was already shown to be having beneficial effects in countries such as China and South Africa. In the circumstances, is there not a moral imperative on the Government to do everything they can to encourage and promote the spread of such technology?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, the Government aim to protect public health and the environment by taking a science-based approach to GM crops and food. We are pro-safety, pro-environment and pro-choice. As regards the question raised by the noble Lord on the developing world and the new technology, we are aware that in developing countries there is a concern that the focus has been on the developed world rather than on the way in which GM technologies can be used in the developing world. We are supporting developing countries to develop their capacity in that area. We are also supporting research on rice, for example. Bearing in mind that we are pro-safety, pro-environment and pro-choice, the Government are doing all they can with regard to the issue in developing countries.

The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, there are important scientific questions to be answered about GM crops. Such questions will not all be answered negatively; they could be of great benefit to the third

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world. Does the Minister not agree that there are no less important social, economic and political questions to be answered? It would be possible for small farmers to switch to monocrops using the so-called "terminator" seeds and to find themselves totally in the hands of the large trans-national corporations.

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