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Lord Henley: My Lords, I am grateful to the Deputy Chief Whip for his explanation of the order. I have discussed this matter with my noble friends. We find nothing controversial in this order and, therefore, on behalf of Her Majesty's Opposition I happily accept it. Perhaps I may say to the Government Chief Whip that when we deal with the next four orders my response will be fairly similar. On this occasion short speeches are probably desirable.

Lord Goodhart: My Lords, I too am happy to accept the order which is plainly desirable in the interests of modernisation and keeping up with the development of e-commerce. We believe that we can approve this order without reservation.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) (Amendment) (England and Wales) Regulations 2000

4.23 p.m.

Lord Whitty rose to move, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 20th November be approved [32nd Report from the Joint Committee, Session 1999-2000].

The noble Lord said: My Lords, these regulations relate to changes that the Government propose to make to the packaging regulations. Revised recovery and recycling targets for the years 1999 and 2000 were announced in January 1999, but the Government have kept under review the targets for 2001 so that they can assess what they should be in the light of further work on the packaging data and the returns for 1999. That work has now been done. The proposed targets for 2001 are: 56 per cent recovery and 18 per cent material-specific recycling of packaging waste. The regulations are intended to enable the UK to meet the mandatory targets in the EU directive on packaging and packaging waste; that is, 50 per cent recovery, 25 per centrecycling and 15 per cent recycling for each type of packaging material. Those European targets must be met next year.

The other part of these changes in regulations relates to the scheme fee mechanism. The Government propose to change the mechanism according to which the registration fee paid each year by members of compliant schemes is determined. We propose that from January 2001 there should be an annual flat registration fee of #460 for each compliant scheme member regardless of the size of the scheme. That replaces the sliding scale mechanism according to which the higher the number of members in the scheme the lower the fee paid by the scheme members. We believe that that will be generally welcomed particularly by smaller businesses. I beg to move.

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Moved, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 20th November be approved [32nd Report from the Joint Committee, Session 1999-2000].--(Lord Whitty.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Mink Keeping (England) Order 2000

4.25 p.m.

Lord Carter rose to move, That the order laid before the House on 23rd November be approved [33rd Report from the Joint Committee, Session 1999-2000].

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I move this order on behalf of my noble friend Lady Hayman. The Mink Keeping (England) Order 2000 has already been made and will come into force when it has obtained the approval of both Houses. The order is made under the Destructive Imported Animals Act 1932 and will ensure that mink are kept securely to prevent their escape into the wild. It replaces the existing order, which expires on 1st January 2001.

Last month the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Act 2000 received Royal Assent and fulfilled the Government's pre-election pledge to ban fur farming. The order we are debating today will have no effect on the banning of fur farming under that Act and the ban will go ahead after a winding-down period of at least until the end of 2002. During that winding-down period, we need to ensure mink continue to be kept securely. If the order is not renewed mink farming will be deregulated. The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food would then not have the powers to enforce the stringent security conditions that are required to prevent farmed mink from escaping into the wild. That situation would be unacceptable to the Government and to anyone who is concerned about the environment.

I must stress that neither the order nor the regulations cover welfare issues. Those are dealt with under separate legislation. We shall, of course, continue to ensure that fur farmers comply with the welfare requirements which will remain in force while the industry is winding down.

Previous mink keeping orders covered Great Britain as a whole, but, following devolution, the Mink Keeping (England) Order 2000 will cover England only. Separate orders are being made in Scotland and Wales to renew their powers to enforce security conditions. The keeping of mink will be prohibited absolutely in those areas where there is currently neither a feral mink population nor any mink farms; that is, all off-shore islands, excluding the Isle of Wight, which already has a mink farm. That is the reason for the exclusion. The purpose of the absolute prohibition in these areas is to prevent the establishment of feral mink populations. Mink keeping can continue in all other areas of England under licence until the end of the winding-down period under the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Act 2000, when fur farming will be banned absolutely in England, and, in fact, in Wales, as the Act also applies there.

Under the Fur Farming (Prohibition) Act 2000, the

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earliest that a ban can be brought into force is 1st January 2003. While this might suggest renewal of the order for two years only, I propose a three-year order as that will allow some flexibility as to when the ban is brought into force without the need to renew the order. A modified form of mink keeping order will still be needed when fur farming is banned to permit the licensed keeping of mink and coypu for special purposes such as exhibition and research.

The order is essential in order to maintain the powers needed to enforce the stringent security conditions required to prevent farmed mink from escaping into the wild. Until fur farming is prohibited, applications for licences will be considered in the usual way and licences will be issued where the required standards have been met.

My noble and learned friend Lord Williams of Mostyn gave an undertaking to this House that, when moving regulations which are subject to affirmative procedure, Ministers will always inform the House whether they are satisfied that the instrument is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. In accordance with this undertaking, I can confirm that it is the Government's view that the provisions of the Mink Keeping (England) Order 2000 are compatible with convention rights. I commend the order to the House.

Moved, That the order laid before the House on 23rd November be approved [33rd Report from the Joint Committee, Session 1999-2000].--(Lord Carter.)

Lord Henley: My Lords, I have two brief points. First, I am grateful to the noble Lord the Chief Whip for mentioning the Isle of Wight. That caused me some problems because I could not understand why the Isle of Wight was mentioned and not other islands. He has now dealt with that point.

Secondly, I have a point about compensation. Compensation will be offered in due course following the passage of the Act this year in relation to mink-keeping. Mink farmers are very concerned as to when they will get compensation, particularly as the breeding season will arrive in about March. Can the noble Lord say when they will get compensation because it is of concern to them in terms of their farming operations?

Lord Carter: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord the Opposition Chief Whip. I am dealing with only the one order today; I think that he is dealing with four or five. I am sure his fellow Whips and his shadow Ministers are grateful to him.

With regard to compensation, the advertisement has been placed for the independent consultant who is required. It is hoped that he will be appointed by the end of January. All farms will be visited by 21st February.

The noble Lord mentioned the breeding cycle. It is intended that there will be three months of consultation on the draft order from around June onwards. It is hoped that the statutory instrument to deal with compensation will be laid in October.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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EUTELSAT (Immunities and Privileges) (Amendment) Order 2000

4.30 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal) rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 30th October be approved [30th Report from the Joint Committee, Session 1999-2000].

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, the European Telecommunications Satellite Organisation--EUTELSAT--is based in Paris. It was established in 1977 and ranks as one of the world's leading satellite operators, with reach across Europe, Africa, large parts of Asia and connectivity with America. EUTELSAT provides TV and radio broadcasts and pioneered the delivery of Internet services. It also provides capacity for corporate networks, satellite news gathering, telephony and mobile voice, data and positioning services. Forty-eight countries are shareholders in EUTELSAT, the largest being Italy, with 20.3 per cent, followed by France, with 20 per cent, and the UK, with 19 per cent.

The draft order will enable the Government to notify their acceptance of the amendments to the convention and the operating agreement relating to the European Telecommunications Satellite Organisation--EUTELSAT. These amendments were presented to Parliament, in Cm. 4572, in February 2000, under negative procedure, by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. The present draft order is made under the International Organisations Act 1968 and will give effect in UK law to those additional privileges and immunities, which we are obliged to confer under the convention and operating agreement, as amended.

As an intergovernmental organisation, EUTELSAT already enjoys the usual privileges and immunities, including tax free status, under the EUTELSAT (Immunities and Privileges) Order 1988. Agreement was reached in 1999 for EUTELSAT to be split into a privatised French company and a residual, three to four person, intergovernmental organisation to oversee its obligation to provide public service telephony. The former will be called EUTELSAT SA (Societe Anonyme), to distinguish it from the latter which will retain the title EUTELSAT.

The draft order will exempt the residual intergovernmental organisation, after EUTELSAT is put on a commercial footing, from all customs duties on goods and publications of the organisation imported by the organisation into the UK in the course of its official activities. It does not apply to or affect employees of EUTELSAT or any other individual connected with EUTELSAT. The newly formed commercial company, EUTELSAT SA, will not enjoy any privileges and immunities.

In accordance with Section 1(6)(a) of the International Organisations Act 1968, the privileges and immunities conferred by the draft order are no greater in extent than those required by the convention and operating agreement, as amended, or those authorised by the Act.

21 Dec 2000 : Column 908

I very much hope that your Lordships will approve this modest, non-controversial order. I commend the order to the House.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 30th October be approved [30th Report from the Joint Committee, Session 1999-2000].--(Baroness Scotland of Asthal.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.


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