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26 Oct 2000 : Column WA53

Written Answers

Thursday, 26th October 2000.

Sanctions Regimes

Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list all changes to sanctions regimes implemented by the United Kingdom since 28 July.[HL4361]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): There have been changes to the following sanctions regimes.

Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

Following the election of Vojislav Kostunica as President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), European Union Foreign Ministers agreed at the General Affairs Council on 9 October to revise EU sanctions against the FRY.

The EU oil embargo and flight ban were lifted with effect from 9 October. Legislation implementing these measures in the overseas territories by means of a licensing requirement is being repealed.

EU financial sanctions and the visa ban will be revised. Restrictive measures against Milosevic and his associates will be maintained.

The EU arms embarg and embargo on the supply to the FRY of equipment which might be used for internal repression or terrorism are unaffected. The UN arms embargo against the FRY and prohibition on the arming and training for terrorist activities there remain in force.

Ethiopia and Eritrea

UN Security Council Resolution 1298 (2000), which was adopted on 17 May, imposed an arms embargo and a ban on the provision of related technical assistance and training in relation to Ethiopia and Eritrea. Since then, two further Security Council resolutions have been adopted which set out exemptions for demining and peacekeeping purposes.

UNSCR 1312 (2000) was adopted on 1 August and exempts the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) from the prohibitions imposed by UNSCR 1298. UNSCR 1320 (2000) was adopted on 15 September and allows equipment and other material, including technical assistance and training, to be provided for demining within Ethiopia and Eritrea under the auspices of UNMAS. It also allows the sale and supply of arms and related material for the sole use of the United Nations in Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Sierra Leone

UNSCR 1306 (2000), which was adopted on 5 July, imposed a ban on the import of all rough diamonds from Sierra Leone. The resolution provided for an exemption from the ban for diamonds controlled by the Government of Sierra Leone through a certificate

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of origin regime when the UN Sanctions Committee on Sierra Leone had reported to the Security Council that an effective regime was fully in operation.

The committee chairman reported to the President of the Security Council on 6 October that the committee had no objection to the procedures to be implemented by the Government of Sierra Leone. Therefore, diamonds controlled through the government's certificate of origin regime are now exempt from the prohibition on the import of all rough diamonds from Sierra Leone imposed by UNSCR 1306.

Licensing: New Year's Eve

Baroness Gale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether permitted hours of opening for licensed premises and registered members' clubs in England and Wales will be extended on 31 December.[HL4393]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): New Year's Eve is regarded as a special occasion and licensing justices and the magistrates' courts may, on receipt of application, grant special orders of exemption under the Licensing Act 1964, allowing licensed premises and registered members' clubs to remain open beyond the normal permitted hours. There is no limit on the extension which may be granted. This has been the practice on every New Year's Eve in the years before the millennium. All licensees and registered members' clubs wishing to apply for extensions should do so as soon as possible.

This year 31 December falls on a Sunday. Permitted hours for pubs, nightclubs, restaurants and registered members' clubs in England and Wales on a Sunday normally end at 10.30 p.m. The Magistrates' Association and the Justices' Clerks' Society have jointly issued guidance to the licensing justices and magistrates' courts suggesting that an extension to 12.30 a.m. on New Year's Day morning would normally be appropriate. Magistrates will be able to determine what is appropriate for their local area and may determine a later time. Where extensions are granted, this will help people to enjoy a festive New Year as they have done in the past under similar procedures.

Because of the unique nature of last year's millennium celebrations, permitted hours were extended nationally by amending the Licensing Act 1964 using a deregulation order, approved by Parliament, which came into force in July 1999. The Government had originally proposed applying this arrangement to all future New Year's Eves but limited it to Millennium Eve after concerns expressed by the House of Lords Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee. The millennium arrangements worked well; and the Government wanted to make a further deregulation order for this New Year's Eve to provide a more typical test of the national extension. But in

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March the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee said in its ninth report (1999-2000 Parliamentary Session, 15 March 2000) that it would be highly unlikely to support any further licensing deregulation ahead of general licensing reform. To bring an appropriate deregulation order into force before next New Year's Eve, under the timescales dictated by the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994 for mandatory public consultation and parliamentary scrutiny, would have required the Government to initiate the process by the end of March.

In July the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee agreed to give consideration to a further proposal in respect of New Year's Eve. By then it was too late, consistent with the requirements of the 1994 Act, to bring forward a similar order which could come into effect for this New Year's Eve. As my right honourable friend the Home Secretary made clear in reply to a question in another place on 20 July 2000 (Official Report, House of Commons, col. 329W), the timescales for statutory public consultation and the subsequent parliamentary process were dictated by the 1994 Act and it was now unlikely that the process could be completed in time for next New Year. We examined whether, with the co-operation of the Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee and colleagues in both Houses, it was possible to obtain an order in a shorter time than that initially envisaged. We concluded that if we had done so it would have been open to legal challenge with an uncertain outcome. We have therefore decided against taking that course. We intend, however, to prepare such an order to apply to New Year's Eve next year, which will then provide a further test of the success of a standard national exemption.

We remain wholly committed to the general reform of licensing law as described in the White Paper Time for Reform, published in April this year, which would include provision for the Secretary of State to set appropriate opening times nationally for licensed premises for any special national celebrations.

Anti-Terrorism Legislation: Review

Baroness Gale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Secretary of State for the Home Department received the report from John Rowe QC on the operation of those provisions of the Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Act 1998 which are not already included in the existing review of anti-terrorism legislation.[HL4394]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Mr Rowe has completed his investigations into the operation of the relevant provisions of the Act and communicated his findings to my right honourable friend the Home Secretary on 29 August. He has found that Sections 5, 6 and 7 of the Act have not yet been used.

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Race Equality Employment Targets: Home Office

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to publish the first annual report on progress on the race equality employment targets for minority ethnic staff in the Home Office and its service areas.[HL4395]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The document Race Equality--The Home Secretary's Employment Targets--The First Annual Report on Progress will be published tomorrow. This report covers progress on recruitment, retention and career progression targets for minority ethnic staff in the Home Office, the prison, the police, the fire and probation services. A copy of the report will also be placed in the Library.

Fuel Duties

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How a 5p cut in fuel duties would benefit people of different income groups expressed in deciles both in absolute terms and as a proportion of their income.[HL4111]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Any changes to taxation will be decided in the context of the normal Budget process.

Financial Services Regulation

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there have been any recent developments in the regulation of financial services.[HL4391]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, which received Royal Assent on 14 June, provides a framework for the completion of the modernisation of financial services regulation announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in May 1997.

Parliament will be asked to approve secondary legislation under the Act. The Treasury has today issued two consultation documents: on the scope of FSA regulation and on the framework for the promotion of financial services. In the document on scope there are draft Orders on regulated activities; when regulated activities are and are not being carried on by way of business; persons who will be exempt from the requirement for FSA authorisation; the exemption of appointed representatives of an authorised person; and activities which will not be exempt regulated activities under Part XX of the Act. In the document on the framework for promotion of financial services there are draft orders on financial promotion and on the promotion of collective investment schemes.

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The Government have previously announced a number of areas which they propose should be subject to FSA regulation in order to strike a better balance between the interests of providers and consumers of financial services. The principal change is the regulation of mortgage lending, on which the Treasury has today issued a further consultation document. Other areas which the Government propose be brought into the scope of FSA regulation are pre-paid funeral plans, deposit taking by credit unions and Lloyd's insurance.

Copies of all three consultation documents have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. Further copies are available from the Treasury and can also be accessed via the Treasury's website (www.hm-treasury.gov.uk).


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