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Lord Grenfell: My Lords, do Her Majesty's Government have a view on how long the current arrangement of G7 plus one--that is, G8--should be maintained, or whether it would be much better to look for an early conversion from G7 to G8? I raise the issue because I am not at all clear about the substantive reasons for maintaining the current situation. President Clinton is purported--I stress, purported--to have said that it is simply a question of finance; that is, that it is necessary to discuss the finances of a debtor country among its creditors in private, without the debtor being there. I find that rather strange. Does not the noble Baroness agree that it would be much better if, at the earliest possible occasion, the Russian Federation should become part of the G8?

Does not the Minister further agree that perhaps the Federation's behaviour in Chechnya might have been rather more acceptable if it had become a proper member of the club and had been bound into the G8, rather than being held somewhat on the outside of it?

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Grenfell makes a rather hypothetical and retrospective point about Russia in relation to its activities in Chechnya. We could discuss that matter in a theoretical way, but it would not throw much useful light on the future so far as concerns Russia's membership of the G8. As I said in reply to an earlier question from my noble friend Lord Judd, as a country and as a member of the G8, we are concerned to see that Russia plays its full part, and we are fully committed to supporting its integration into the global economic family of democratic states.

My noble friend raised the question of whether Russia's exclusion rests solely on financial matters; I referred to its lack of membership of the WTO and its continual indebtedness. I know that my right honourable friend and other participants in the G8 forum were very impressed by the contribution made by President Putin, but there are other elements to Russia's record--for example, its respect for international norms of human rights--which must be taken into account before the G7 becomes fully the G8.

The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, I, too, warmly applaud the Government's emphasis in the Statement on poverty reduction, and the length of time that the

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Leader of the House took to consider those problems. I also associate myself with the concerns of the noble Lord, Lord Judd.

However, my question concerns the issue of the trade round. Is the noble Baroness aware that in our recent debate on the World Trade Organisation, a number of very experienced Members of the House voiced their concerns about going ahead so quickly with a new trade round, bearing in mind the failures of the multilateral agreement on investment and the Seattle summit? Why do the Government wish to take the European Union line of proceeding so quickly with a new trade round?

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl for his overall support of the underlying point of the Statement. I fully take on board the concerns he expressed about the speed of the indebtedness programme, which I reinforced in my response to my noble friend Lord Judd. As to the WTO, we need to keep the existing structures in place. Obviously those were enormously threatened last year by the failure of the Seattle meeting. But the international community, as represented in Okinawa, is concerned to see that there is not a dissipation of the structure, however skeletal and inappropriate it may have been demonstrated to be last year. Therefore, although it may seem like a rush to something which may or may not need further work and support to achieve a successful outcome, it would appear that if one relinquished the ambition to achieve the new round before the end of this year, that would be a counsel of despair.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: My Lords, can the Leader of the House tell us what percentage of the funds to reduce the debt of third-world countries, which were committed with much fanfare by the Chancellor of the Exchequer following the Jubilee 2000 campaign, have now been delivered?

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, if the noble Lord is referring to the UK's position on this matter, I can repeat--I am sure that he can do the arithmetic--the figures I gave previously. The heavily indebted poorer countries owe the UK £1.7 billion. As I said in repeating the Statement, nine countries have reached their decision point, eight of which owe money to the United Kingdom. We are therefore writing off the £241 million owed by the nine that have reached their decision point.

If the 11 countries reach their decision point by the end of this year, the total the UK will be writing off is £659 million from the 20 countries. That leaves, as I am sure the noble Lord has already worked out, £1.6 billion of outstanding HIPC debt. Sixty-five per cent of that is owed by Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo, countries for which the effect of conflict undermined progress on the commitments to poverty reduction and hence to debt relief. We have already discussed those points in a way

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which will have made clear to your Lordships' House the kind of barriers that still exist to debt relief on a universal scale.

Local Government Bill

5.30 p.m.

Consideration of Commons amendments resumed.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

11Clause 10, page 5, line 32, leave out ("which determines to adopt executive arrangements")

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 11.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 11.--(Lord Whitty.)

[Amendment No. 11A, as an amendment to Commons Amendment No. 11, not moved.]

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

12Clause 11, page 5, line 40, leave out ("An") and insert ("The")

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I beg to move that this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 12.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 12.--(Lord Whitty.)

[Amendment No. 12A, as an amendment to Commons Amendment No. 12, not moved.]

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

13Page 5, line 40, leave out ("may") and insert ("must")

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 13.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 13.--(Lord Whitty.)

[Amendment No. 13A, as an amendment to Commons Amendment No. 13, not moved.]

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENT

14Page 6, line 22, leave out subsection (5)

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 14.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 14.--(Lord Whitty.)

[Amendment No. 14A, as an amendment to Commons Amendment No. 14, not moved.]

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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COMMONS AMENDMENTS

15Page 6, line 32, leave out ("each member of which is") and insert ("some or all of the members of which are")
16Page 6, line 33, leave out ("of") and insert ("for")

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 15 and 16. With the leave of the House, I shall speak also to the other amendments grouped with them. This large group of government amendments is made up of minor technical, consequential and drafting amendments to the provisions in Part II of the Bill and the related issues dealt with in Clause 90 which relate to the social services functions.

These are largely drafting amendments but also respond to certain issues raised in your Lordships' House and in another place. I should particularly like to draw attention to Amendments Nos. 428 to 436 which together with Amendments Nos. 46 to 49 and 51 strengthen the overview and scrutiny arrangements. The Government believe that robust overview and scrutiny committees are central to all executive-based constitutions and equally central to the additional arrangements made available by the noble Baroness's amendments which we agreed earlier.

The amendments include ensuring the position of diocesan representatives in the overview and scrutiny arrangements in education authorities, the importance of which was highlighted in our earlier debates by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Blackburn, who I gather is on rather happier business today. With these amendments we have met the right reverend prelate's outstanding concerns, as we undertook to do. I hope that noble Lords will support the other amendments in the group.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment Nos. 15 and 16.--(Lord Whitty.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

COMMONS AMENDMENTS

17After Clause 11, insert the following new clause--
ADDITIONAL FORMS OF EXECUTIVE

(" .--(1) In deciding whether to make regulations under section 11(6) prescribing a particular form of executive, or which provision to make under section 16 in relation to that form of executive, the Secretary of State must have regard to--
(a) any proposals made to him under subsection (2),
(b) the extent to which he considers that the operation by a local authority of executive arrangements involving that form of executive would be likely to ensure that decisions of the authority are taken in an efficient, transparent and accountable way,
(c) the extent to which that form of executive differs from the forms of executive for the time being permitted by or under section 11,
(d) the number and description of authorities for which he considers that that form of executive, if prescribed in regulations made under section 11(6), would be an appropriate form of executive to consider.
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), a local authority may propose to the Secretary of State a form of executive in relation to which the authority consider that the conditions mentioned in subsection (3) are satisfied.

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(3) Those conditions are--
(a) that the operation by the authority of executive arrangements involving that form of executive would be an improvement on the arrangements which the authority have in place for the discharge of their functions at the time that the proposal is made to the Secretary of State,
(b) that the operation by the authority of executive arrangements involving that form of executive would be likely to ensure that decisions of the authority are taken in an efficient, transparent and accountable way, and
(c) that that form of executive, if prescribed in regulations made under section 11(6), would be an appropriate form of executive for all local authorities, or for any particular description of local authority, to consider.
(4) A proposal under subsection (2)--
(a) must describe the form of executive to which it relates,
(b) must describe the provision which the authority consider should be made under section 16 in relation to that form of executive, and
(c) must explain why the authority consider that the conditions mentioned in subsection (3) are satisfied in relation to that form of executive.")
18Clause 12, page 7, line 10, at end insert--
("( ) Subject to any provision made by this Act or by any enactment which is passed or made after the day on which this Act is passed, any function of a local authority which is not specified in regulations under subsection (2) is to be the responsibility of an executive of the authority under executive arrangements.")
19Page 7, line 22, leave out subsection (3)
20Page 7, line 25, leave out ("may") and insert ("must")
21Page 7, line 28, after ("authority") insert--
("( ) to be a function which is not to be the responsibility of such an executive,")
22Page 8, line 14, leave out paragraph (b) and insert--
("(b) may be discharged only in accordance with any provisions made by or under this Part which apply to the discharge of any such function by that form of executive.")
23Page 8, line 16, at beginning insert ("Accordingly")
24Page 8, line 31, at end insert--
("( ) Any reference in this section to a function specified in regulations includes a reference to a function of a description specified in regulations.")
25Clause 14, page 10, line 21, after ("makes") insert ("or has made")
26Page 10, line 22, leave out ("at that or any subsequent time")
27Page 10, line 27, leave out second ("executive")
28Clause 15, page 10, line 39, leave out ("executive") and insert ("council manager")
29Page 10, line 42, leave out ("council manager") and insert ("executive")
30Page 10, line 43, at end insert--
("(2A) In deciding--
(a) whether or how to discharge any functions, or
(b) whether to arrange for any functions to be discharged by the executive or an officer of the authority,
the council manager must have regard to any advice given by the elected mayor.")
31Page 10, line 45, leave out first ("council manager") and insert ("executive")
32Page 10, line 45, leave out second ("council manager") and insert ("executive")
33Page 11, line 1, leave out ("an executive or council manager") and insert ("a council manager or executive")

24 Jul 2000 : Column 58

34Page 11, line 2, leave out ("a council manager") and insert ("an executive")
35Page 11, line 3, leave out ("executive or council manager") and insert ("council manager or executive")
36Clause 17, page 11, line 26, after second ("committee") insert ("or sub-committee")
37Page 11, line 27, leave out from ("authority") to end of line 29 and insert ("which satisfies the conditions in subsection (4),")
38Page 11, line 30, at end insert--
("(4) A committee or sub-committee of a local authority satisfies the conditions in this subsection if--
(a) the committee or sub-committee is established to discharge functions in respect of part of the area of the authority,
(b) the members of the committee or sub-committee who are members of the authority are elected for electoral divisions or wards which fall wholly or partly within that part, and
(c) either or both of the conditions in subsection (5) are satisfied in relation to that part.
(5) Those conditions are--
(a) that the area of that part does not exceed two-fifths of the total area of the authority,
(b) that the population of that part, as estimated by the authority, does not exceed two-fifths of the total population of the area of the authority as so estimated.")
39Clause 18, page 12, line 2, leave out first ("is") and insert ("are")
40Page 12, line 20, leave out (" 15(3) and (4)") and insert (" 15(2A) to (4)")
41Clause 19, page 12, line 41, after ("section") insert ("101(2) or")
42Page 12, line 46, after ("section") insert ("101(2) or")
43Page 13, line 6, at end insert ("committee or")
44Clause 20, page 13, line 30, leave out ("and") and insert ("or")
45Page 13, line 31, leave out ("their inhabitants") and insert ("the inhabitants of that area")
46Page 13, line 40, at beginning insert ("Subject to subsection (4A)")
47Page 13, line 41, at end insert--
("(4A) If or to the extent that a local authority's function of conducting best value reviews under section 5 of the Local Government Act 1999 is not the responsibility of an executive of the authority, the authority may arrange for their overview and scrutiny committee (or any of their overview and scrutiny committees) to conduct such a review.")
48Page 13, line 45, at end insert--
("( ) A sub-committee of an overview and scrutiny committee may not discharge any functions other than those conferred on it under subsection (5)(b).")
49Page 14, line 27, at end insert--
("( ) Subsections (2) and (5) of section 102 of the Local Government Act 1972 are to apply to an overview and scrutiny committee of a local authority, or a sub-committee of such a committee, as they apply to a committee appointed under that section.")
50Page 14, line 28, at end insert ("or a sub-committee of such a committee")

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51Page 14, line 33, at end insert--
("( ) A person is not obliged by subsection (11) to answer any question which he would be entitled to refuse to answer in or for the purposes of proceedings in a court in England and Wales.")

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 17 to 51. I have already spoken to these amendments.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 17 to 51.--(Lord Whitty.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.


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