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Lord Goldsmith: My Lords, before the Minister sits down, both the noble Earl and I raised the question of remission or mitigation in the case of particular hardship. Do I understand from what my noble friend said about the Witham judgment that that is not something which is even to be considered? It did not seem to me that the regulations at present permit that, although it may be that there is some way of achieving it. It may be that my noble friend would prefer to answer that at some other time, and if so I am happy for him to do so, but I wanted to raise that matter.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I can give an answer to your Lordships this evening. The noble Lord's understanding of the regulations and the legislation is accurate. The provision does not permit remission of the fees in those circumstances. I gave a commitment that we shall be reviewing the fee levels within the next year. Perhaps that is an issue that we should also take into account as part of that review.

Lord Judd: My Lords, first, I repeat how much I appreciate the fact that the Minister, with all the pressures that are on his time, has come here tonight and has listened in his characteristically patient way. I thank him also for the very full way--he always does this--in which he has tried to respond to the points made.

I am extremely grateful to all those who have participated in the debate. My noble friend was right to say that there have been speeches of distinction and significance. I am sure that he will have noticed that not a single speech was in support of the present situation. Every single speech from all parts of the House questioned the present situation.

Anger has been referred to, and it is important to notice that it has been anger not only on the part of the communities who were told that they were to have this right of appeal and then found this financial barrier to what they believed was their right but on the part of the people working with them in this country. It is significant that more than 1,000 of the people working

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in the citizens advice bureaux attended their annual general meeting and voted unanimously against the policy because of what they are encountering in the work that they are doing in the front line.

It is terribly important that the Government should listen to what been said in this debate and what we have been trying to represent as the feeling outside this House. I hope that my noble friend will draw this debate to the attention of my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor, because it is important that he should focus on what has been said this evening and what is felt by many of those for whom we have been trying to speak tonight.

I shall withdraw the Motion. I have heard what my noble friend--and he is a friend--has said about reviewing the situation. He talked about flexibility. I hope that the Government might be more flexible and say that they can conduct the review before the end of

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the one-year period. I do not see why they must stick rigorously to that. I should hope that the situation could be reviewed much more rapidly than that.

The point with which I wish to conclude is that I do not doubt my noble friend's deep personal commitment to good race relations. I do not question my noble friend's commitment to his vision of what society should be. And I do not question the Government's commitment either. But we must recognise that if there is rhetorical aspiration and the practical experience of people is not in tune with that rhetorical aspiration, the situation becomes more bitter, not less. Therefore, to make a success of race relations in this country and to make a success of the aspirations which are expressed by the Government it is essential to have effective policies which demonstrate at all levels that when we wish the ends, we also wish the means and are determined to provide them. I beg leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

        House adjourned at twenty five minutes before ten o'clock.


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