Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they wish the Department of Trade and Industry to pursue an interventionalist role in the British economy.[HL1783]
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The role of the Department of Trade and Industry is not to intervene before breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is to establish an environment in which business can prosper. It is putting in place a number of programmes to achieve this: a new enterprise fund to help small firms invest in success, the Phoenix Fund to promote enterprise in deprived areas and a fund to invest in business clusters; launch of the Small Business Service to give smaller businesses a strong voice within government, simplify and improve business support and tackle red tape; the Electronics Commuinications Bill, which will facilitate the use of e-mail and other electronic means of communication in commercial transactions; the joint DTI/DfEE/HEFCE Reach Out Fund to provide new incentives for collaboration between business and universities; additional funding to help business use new technology, through TCS, SMART and the Faraday partnership initiative, the Information Society Initiative and the Environmental Best Practice Programme; the Postal Services Bill, which will modernise and reform postal services and create a world-class postal network in the UK; a leading role in pushing forward the single market in Europe and in preparing for the Lisbon Summit on economic and social reform; a reference to the Competition Commission of the supply of banking services to small and medium-sized enterprises, following the Cruickshank review.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether the proposed Takeover Directive could subject the findings of the United Kingdom's
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Takeover Panel to the British courts or the European Court of Justice.[HL1824]
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: As set out in my previous answer on 13 January (WA 132-33), in principle it is already possible for decisions of the Takeover Panel to be referred to the UK courts in an application for judicial review and for other matters connected with a bid to come before the UK courts in the usual way. However, at present the scope for judicial review of the panel's decisions is extremely limited, and the Court of Appeal has indicated in particular that it is only in exceptional circumstances that it would intervene so as to affect the outcome of a bid. Similarly, at present it is very unlikely (although not impossible) that any point of EC law could arise in connection with a panel decision which was the subject of UK court proceedings so as to make it necessary for the UK court to refer a question to the European Court of Justice. The concern has been raised that the adoption of the directive could make it more likely that points of both domestic and EC law would arise which required adjudication by the UK courts or by the European Court of Justice.
Her Majesty's Government have therefore negotiated the inclusion of a clause in the draft directive which is intended to allow the courts in the United Kingdom to continue their practice of not intervening in takeover bids and, by implication, of not referring questions to the European Court of Justice. This clause, Article 4.5, includes a provision stating that the directive does not affect the power which courts may have in a member state to decline to hear legal proceedings and to decide whether or not such proceedings affect the outcome of the bid. The Government have said that they would intend to make maximum use of the flexibility provided by Article 4.5 in order to maintain so far as possible the present legal position established by the courts with respect to takeover bids, and that they will consult widely on draft implementing legislation to ensure that they achieve this result in practice.
E-commerce Accreditation Scheme: Consultation
Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:
What consultations they held before deciding on the accreditation scheme for the e-commerce certification programme; and whether the criteria for accreditation were agreed by those consulted as offering adequate protection for consumers and thus to encourage e-commerce in the United Kingdom.[HL1924]
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The Government invited views on their proposals on industry codes of practice in their consumer White Paper of July 1999. The White Paper included outline core principles for all codes and additional principles for e-commerce codes. TrustUK developed its criteria based on these principles in consultation with business, consumer and regulatory
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organisations. As a result, a considerable number of changes were made. Some consultees would have preferred more detailed criteria in some areas, while others felt certain criteria too prescriptive. The final draft of the criteria was presented to the TrustUK Working Group and a consensus of agreement formed. Codes of practice should be flexible instruments and TrustUK is developing a transparent procedure for keeping its criteria under review.
All applications for TrustUK approval will be considered by an approval committee chaired by the noble Lord, Lord Borrie. To ensure no conflicts of interest arise, no one who is a member of an organisation that operates an on-line code will sit on the committee.
Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they intend to legislate to control "spam" e-mail under Article 10 of the European Union's Distance Selling Directive by the opt-in or opt-out method.[HL1926]
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: Article 10.2 of Distance Selling Directive 97/7/EC states that member states shall ensure that means of distance communication, including unsolicited commercial e-mail, which allow individual communications shall be used only where there is no clear objection from the consumer. My department issued a consultation document and draft implementing regulations in November 1999 and officials are currently analysing the responses on this issue from business and consumer groups.
Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:
Further to the statement by Lord Sainsbury of Turville on 14th March (CWH 25-26), why they consider that a small business is more capable of dealing with "spam" e-mail than the average private user of e-mail.[HL1927]
Lord Sainsbury of Turville: In my statement of 14 March 1 referred to Directive 97/7 EC on the protection of consumers in respect of distance contracts which provides that means of distance communication, including unsolicited commercial e-mail, which allow individual communications shall be used only where there is no clear objection from the consumer. The directive does not apply to business transactions.
Poor Behaviour and Truancy in Schools: Cost of Remedial Measures
Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:
What is the total sum allocated for preventing and remedying the effects of the suspension and exclusion of pupils from schools; how this sum is divided between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and in which financial years; and
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whether the portion available to Northern Ireland is ring-fenced, in view of the current suspension of devolved government.[HL1922]
The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): In 2000-01 the School Inclusion: Pupil Support Standards Fund Grant will make available over £140 million to schools and local education authorities in England to help combat poor behaviour and truancy. The target is to reduce exclusions and truancy by one-third and provide a full timetable for excluded pupils by 2002.
In 2000-01 some £6.1 million will be spent in Northern Ireland on a range of measures to promote positive behaviour and improved attendance at schools. The funding provided is not ring-fenced but has been allocated out of the Northern Ireland block.
Education expenditure in relation to Scotland and Wales is a matter for the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly respectively.
Spoliation Advisory Panel
Lord Haskel asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they are now able to announce the membership and terms of reference of the Spoliation Advisory Panel.[HL2052]
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Following consultation on our proposals on both the membership and the terms of reference, I am now able to do so. In establishing the Spoliation Advisory Panel the Government's aim, by providing an alternative to litigation, is to facilitate a just resolution of claims made for cultural objects that may have been looted in the Nazi era between 1933 and 1945.
The membership of the panel will be:
Chair: The Rt Hon Sir David Hirst
The constitution and terms of reference proposed for the panel are as set out. These have been revised as a result of consultation and the Government believe they offer a fair way forward. The panel will be able to advise not only claimants and those who hold the items in question in their collections, but also the Government themselves. The Government intend that the panel should begin work as soon as possible.
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Spoliation Advisory Panel
Constitution and Terms of Reference
Members of the Panel
1. The members of the Spoliation Advisory Panel ("the Panel") will be appointed by the Secretary of State on such terms and conditions as he thinks fit. The Secretary of State shall appoint one member as Chairman of the Panel.
Resources for the Panel
2. The Secretary of State will make available such resources as he considers necessary to enable the Panel to carry out its functions, including administrative support provided by a Secretariat ("the Secretariat")
Functions of the Panel
3. The task of the Panel is to consider claims from anyone (or from anyone or more of their heirs) who lost possession of a cultural object ("the object") during the Nazi era (1933-1945) where such object is now in the possession of a UK national collection or in the possession of another UK museum or gallery established for the public benefit ("the institution"). The Panel shall advise the claimant and the institution on what would be appropriate action to take in response to such a claim. The Panel shall also be available to advise about any claim for an item in a private collection at the joint request of the claimant and the owner.
4. In any case where the Panel considers it appropriate, it may also advise the Secretary of State
(a) on what action should be taken in relation to general issues raised by the claim, and/or
(b) where it considers that the circumstances of the particular claim warrant it, on what action should be taken in relation to that claim.
5. (a) In exercising its functions, while the Panel will consider legal issues relating to title to the object (see paragraph 7(d) and (f)), it will not be the function of the Panel to determine legal rights, for example as to title;
(b) The Panel's proceedings are an alternative to litigation, not a process of litigation. The Panel will therefore take into account non-legal obligations, such as the moral strength of the claimant's case (paragraph 7(e)) and whether any moral obligation rests on the institution (paragraph 7(g));
(c) Any recommendation made by the Panel is not intended to be legally binding on the claimant, the institution or the Secretary of State;
(d) If the claimant accepts the recommendation of the Panel and that recommendation is implemented, the claimant is expected to accept the implementation in full and final settlement of his claim.
Performance of the Panel's functions
6. In performing the functions set out in paragraphs 3 and 4, the Panel's paramount purpose shall be to achieve a solution which is fair and just both to the claimant and to the institution.
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7. For this purpose the Panel shall:--
(a) make such factual and legal inquiries (including the seeking of advice about legal matters, about cultural objects and about valuation of such objects) as the Panel considers appropriate to assess each claim as comprehensively as possible;
(b) assess all information and material submitted by or on behalf of the claimant and the institution or any other person, or otherwise provided or known to the Panel;
(c) examine and determine the circumstances in which the claimant was deprived of the object, whether by theft, forced sale, sale at an undervalue, or otherwise;
(d) evaluation, on the balance of probability, the validity of the claimant's original title to the object, recognising the difficulties of proving such title after the destruction of the Second World War and the Holocaust and the duration of the period which has elapsed since the claimant lost possession of the object;
(e) give due weight to the moral strength of the claimant's case;
(f) evaluate, on the balance of probability, the validity of the institution's title to the object;
(g) consider whether any moral obligation rests on the institution taking into account in particular the circumstances of its acquisition of the object, and its knowledge at that juncture of the object's provenance;
(h) take account of any relevant statutory provisions, including stipulations as to the institution's objectives, and any restrictions on its power of disposal;
(i) take account of the terms of any trust instrument regulating the powers and duties of the trustees of the institution, and give appropriate weight to their fiduciary duties;
(j) where appropriate assess the current market value of the object;
(k) formulate and submit to the claimant and to the institution its advice in a written report, giving reasons, and supply a copy of the report to the Secretary of State, and
(l) formulate and submit to the Secretary of State any advice pursuant to paragraph 4 in a written report, giving reasons, and supply a copy of the report to the claimant and the institution.
Scope of Advice
8. If the Panel upholds the claim in principle, it may recommend either:
(a) the return of the object to the claimant, or
(b) the payment of compensation to the claimant, the amount being in the discretion of the Panel having regard to all relevant circumstances including the current market value, but not tied to that current market value, or
(c) an ex gratia payment to the claimant, or
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(d) the display alongside the object of an account of its history and provenance during and since the Nazi era, with special reference to the claimant's interest therein; and
(e) that negotiations should be conducted with the successful claimant in order to implement such a recommendation as expeditiously as possible.
9. When advising the Secretary of State under paragraph 4(a) and/or (b), the Panel shall be free to recommend any action which it considers appropriate, and in particular may, under paragraph 4(a), direct attention of the Secretary of State to the need for legislation to alter the powers and duties of any institution.