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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am grateful for the welcome given by the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, to what is proposed for VAT on churches. He will know that VAT as a European tax stems back to the Treaty of Rome, which his government signed, and that it has been consistent over both governments ever since. He will also know of the strong resistance shown by this Government and of their preparedness to use their veto against tax harmonisation when it is undesirable. In that sense, on that issue there should be no difference between the parties.
I apologise if I appear to dismiss the importance of the complication of the tax system for small businesses. I did not mean to do so. As someone who spent 30 years running a small business, I recognise how difficult it is for people to keep up with the complicated system. However, I still insist that the VAT form is the worst part of that system and that, in comparison, everything else pales into insignificance. I was responding to the noble Lord, Lord Saatchi, who made a quite different point about the number of tax rates. However, that does not affect the problems for small businesses.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, my noble friend's comments, with which I agree, underline the importance of taking a longer-term view to these problems. He has emphasised what was said in the Statement: that, while problems in relation to high oil prices exist, the relief indicated in the Statement will continue, but not for longer. When the Statement referred to the representations made to the Chancellor, he, with his usual delicacy, avoided spelling out that those representations were being made by the Official Opposition and that they had changed somewhat over a number of weeks in September and October.
Earl Russell: My Lords, the Minister will agree that the minimum income guarantee increase is welcome to those whom it will reach. However, I am sure that he understands that the problem is one of take-up. In that context, can he tell the House how much money has been budgeted as the cost of the increase in the minimum income guarantee?
Perhaps I may also welcome the passage on page 5 of the Statement which draws the Government's attention to areas of high unemployment. Will the Minister agree that, in putting a contrast between old subsidies and new enterprises, there is an undistributed middle; that is, the future of those areas depends also on services such as banks, post offices, shops and, above all, transport? Will he ask his noble friend the Minister for Transport to bear in mind the phrase of my right honourable friend Mr Ashdown about Bristol Hartcliffe, that even the act of mourning only requires four buses.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the first question which the noble Earl asked is about the cost of the minimum income guarantee. He asked me to estimate its future take-up. Clearly, two factors will affect the take-up, neither of which we can fully assess. The first is that the increased generosity of the minimum income guarantee will encourage more people to take it up; the other is that any improvements which we can make in relation to simplicity--we referred in the Statement to being able to make an application by a phone call--also may increase the take-up. But we cannot say precisely how much that increase will be, so I am not able to answer that question at the moment.
Before the debate on Clause 1 progresses any further, I wish to address an important point of misinformation. Dropping the three words "Royal", "Ulster" and "Constabulary" from the name of the police in Northern Ireland will not--I stress, will not--solve the problem of Catholic under-representation in the police service. Dropping those three words will serve only to increase unionist disaffection with the manner in which the Belfast agreement has been implemented so far.
The Government are continuing to consider the problem of Catholic under-representation in the police service, first, in ignorance of the most significant contributory factors; and, secondly, in ignorance of information that points towards those contributory factors as being the significant contributory factors.
The Government are ignoring the issue of intimidation. The under-representation of Catholics in the current police service has been largely contributed to by intimidation. We all know that republicans
That letter, simply signed "good Catholic", was published in the Irish News on 27th July of this year. Even then, the "good Catholic" was anonymous for fear of intimidation. Republican "henchmen" still offer that brand of advice to young Catholics and they still expect it to be heeded.
The Government are also ignoring the implicit discouragement by community leaders of the under-represented groups. Indeed, those community leaders are apparently in ignorance themselves of paragraph 15.2 of the Patten report. Community and other leaders of under-represented groups have continually failed to encourage young people from their communities to join the police.
That encouragement is essential. As it is, that current lack of encouragement can only be perceived as discouragement by the under-represented groups themselves. The Patten report, in paragraph 15.2, stated the need for those community leaders to encourage under-represented groups to apply to join the police. Patten did not state that that paragraph was conditional on any other aspect of Patten. Indeed, Patten stated that the removal of all discouragements should be a priority.
Those who view Patten as flawless should contemplate what has been done since the report was published to achieve the removal of discouragements at all, never mind as a priority. We all know what the answer is and "could do more" is a polite version.
The Government are also ignoring the recent increase in Catholic applicants to the police service. As has been stated in this House and in another place, during the period between the paramilitary-termed "cessation of military operations" and the suspension
The Government are also in ignorance of the fact that young Irish Catholics simply do not avoid organisations with a "Royal" prefix. On the issue of that "Royal" prefix, I made my point clear in Committee. To my understanding, there is still no lack of young Irish Catholic sailors at the Royal Cork Yacht Club.
I mentioned a list of organisations in Committee, including the Royal Dublin Society, and I will not labour that point again save to note that the Sinn Fein leadership had no problem holding its annual conference at the RDS in Dublin in 1999. The venue of the RDS, or the Royal Dublin Society, was not a cause for non-attendance at that Sinn Fein Ard Fheis.
The Government are ignoring the unanimity of the Ulster peers in expressing their view in Committee in this House on the name change. Surely they cannot and should not continue to consider the name of the police service in Northern Ireland in ignorance of the continuing existence and effect of intimidation; in ignorance of the lack of support for under-represented groups from their community leaders; in ignorance of the recent rise in Catholic applicants without any name change; in ignorance of the polls in the Belfast Telegraph; and in ignorance of the views of the Ulster peers in this House.
We have a reputation in Ulster for speaking plainly. I am speaking plainly now. Please remove the blinkers and stop reasoning by a process of selective causation. Patten recommended a new name for the police in Northern Ireland. The amendments I am putting forward this evening offer that new, double-barrelled name. Patten recommended continuity between the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the reformed police service. These amendments provide that continuity, respectfully recognising the dedication and sacrifice of officers of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
These amendments provide a means of dealing with the name issue within the parameters of Patten. They provide the best means of reversing increasing unionist disaffection with the implementation of the Belfast agreement and reversing increasing unionist disaffection with policing reform. Dispensing completely with the name of the Royal Ulster Constabulary will not significantly increase the number of Catholic applicants to the police. That fact must now be clear.
As I have already stated, Patten identified the best means of redressing under-representation in the police force in paragraph 15.2. Let me briefly remind your Lordships, and especially the leaders of under-represented groups, what it said. Patten stated,
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