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Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, we have consistently impressed on the United States that we have commitments to the Caribbean islands and that if the issue is not resolved the impact on them will be devastating. We shall continue to stress that.

Lord Shore of Stepney: My Lords, no doubt most of us sympathise with the Caribbean banana-producing countries. However--my noble friend will correct me if I have got this wrong--has not the dispute been to the highest levels of the World Trade Organisation's appeal machinery and has it not twice been ruled that the European Union is legally in the wrong? If so, on what basis can we continue the argument with the United States? Is it simply that we do not trust the appeal machinery and impartiality of the World Trade Organisation? I hope that that is not the case.

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, the noble Lord is right: the World Trade Organisation has twice ruled in favour of the United States on the issue. That is why we continue to look for a solution in line with the WTO regulations that also takes account of the fact that we are dealing with very vulnerable

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Caribbean countries. If they are not able to produce bananas, the effects on their economies will be dire. The social consequences of that would not be in the interests of those islands or, ultimately, of the United States of America.

Lord Redesdale: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the sanctions that were threatened by the United States put in jeopardy the existence of the Scottish cashmere industry? The Americans do not grow any bananas themselves, but it appears that American lobby organisations pushed their government to fight on the issue.

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, clearly one of the retaliatory actions taken by the United States was against the cashmere industry. The Government helped that industry at a time when the action was unauthorised by the WTO. The action is, of course, now authorised by the WTO. Although one may not agree with the actions of the Americans, it is perfectly legitimate that they support American companies which grow bananas and which believe that they are being unjustly treated by this regime.

Lord Palmer: My Lords, does the Minister agree that a worrying issue in relation to the ACP producers is that, if they were to diversify, it would be into illegal substances? Surely that is the worst thing that any country in the world would want to see happen. In asking this question, I declare an interest as a residual beneficiary of a Caribbean banana plantation.

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, I believe that the noble Lord is quite right. As I said, the social consequences would be devastating. Although it was not spelt out, clearly one worrying result would be that the areas into which they diversified would not be socially desirable.

Baroness Trumpington: My Lords, is the Minister aware that, when I replied on behalf of agriculture on this subject, it was without doubt the most difficult part of my portfolio? Can he tell me whether the European Union is speaking with one voice? In the past, Germany ate only dollar bananas and was not at all helpful towards us. Also, what is the state of the Lome Convention?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, as always with regard to these complicated negotiations, there is a range of views as to what is the best way forward. As a government, we voted against the previous proposal on this matter because we considered that it would neither resolve the situation nor deal with the vulnerabilities of the Caribbean islands. There is a range of views as to what is the best way forward. I believe that that is natural if a range of countries is engaged in the negotiations. So far as concerns the Lome Convention, that has now been taken over by the Cotonou agreement. We have responsibilities under that agreement.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, although the support for Caribbean banana growers, which is

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evident in all parts of the House, is very welcome, is my noble friend aware that not only is the proposed legislation put forward by the EU Commission in December for a tariff quota system on a first-come, first-served basis in defiance of the Cotonou agreement, but that it would have the effect of wiping out almost entirely the Caribbean banana growers because undoubtedly it would favour the larger dollar importers? In his dealings with the Commission, will he do his utmost to put forward proposals for a tariff system based on past trade? That would at least give the Caribbean growers some chance of retaining a foothold in Europe.

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, as I said, we voted against the proposal described as the "first-come, first-served" system because we felt that it would neither resolve the issue nor protect the Caribbean exporting countries. We felt that we had to vote against it because it would not achieve the desired ends. There are, of course, other ways forward, one of which is an historical licensing basis. Negotiations have taken place in relation to that. Therefore, other alternatives exist.

Lord Renton: My Lords, is not the attitude of the European Commission flexible enough to help in this matter? However, does not the final solution depend upon the co-operation of the new government of the United States, who seem to be most anxious to co-operate with us when possible?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, clearly the co-operation of the United States is absolutely essential if we are to obtain a resolution of this matter which, as I say, meets our twin objectives of protecting the islands and doing so within the regulations of the World Trade Organisation.

Lord Elton: My Lords, do we still have a special relationship and, if we do, is this not the time to make use of it?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, we have consistently discussed this matter at the highest level with the United States. We shall continue to urge the US to be flexible in resolving the issue.

Business

Lord Carter: My Lords, immediately after the conclusion of the Report stage of the Private Security Industry Bill, my noble friend Lord Sainsbury of Turville will, with the leave of the House, repeat a Statement on the national minimum wage.

Parliamentary Referendum Bill [H.L.]

Read a third time; an amendment (privilege) made; Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.

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Private Security Industry Bill [H.L.]

3.6 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be now further considered on Report.

Moved, That the Bill be further considered on Report.--(Lord Bassam of Brighton.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Clause 3 [Conduct prohibited without a licence]:

Lord Bassam of Brighton moved Amendment No. 4:


    Page 3, line 42, leave out from beginning to ("any") in line 43 and insert--


("(j) in circumstances in which it is proposed to impose a charge for the release of immobilised vehicles, he carries out on his own behalf or on behalf of another person").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 4, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 9. Amendment No. 4 will make it necessary for a licence to be required not only for wheel clamping on one's own behalf but also on behalf of another where it is done with a view to charging a release fee, whoever demands or collects the fee. Under this amendment, an unlicensed wheel clamper would be committing an offence, whether he was acting for the landowner or on his own behalf.

Amendment No. 4 paves the way for Amendment No. 9, which will prevent occupiers of land allowing the unlicensed clamping of cars parked on their property in circumstances where a licence is required. The amendment creates a new offence which will be committed by an occupier of land--whether he occupies the land in whole or in part--who uses the services of unlicensed wheel clampers under a contract for services or who permits unlicensed wheel clamping on his land with a view to charging a release fee.

These amendments are designed to strengthen further the provisions which we presented to Parliament to protect members of the public from rogue wheel clampers. The need for the amendments became apparent in the light of the debate that we had in Committee on Amendments Nos. 17 and 18. The focus of that debate rested on activities such as those of a temporary door supervisor at a jumble sale or other one-off events.

In my reply, I made it clear that it was not the Government's intention to require a licence of those who carry out the activities prescribed by Schedule 2 without financial or other reward where they and those whom they help perform such activities on a non-commercial basis. However, we consider it important to make it clear that such assurances do not extend to people who supposedly volunteer to immobilise vehicles where that involves the motorist being charged a release fee. If we are not to create a loophole which will leave the public exposed to cowboy wheel clampers, such an activity requires regulation.

As your Lordships know, the effect of Clause 3(2)(j), as currently drafted, is to require someone who carries out wheel clamping on his own behalf, with a view to

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charging for release, to have a licence. We consider that landowners might subvert that provision by letting others clamp cars for a release fee on their behalf. Provided that the clamper was not his employee, the landowner would not be liable for a penalty for having no licence. Similarly, the person who attaches the immobilising device could argue that he did not need a licence under paragraphs (a) to (f) of Clause 3(2) as he was not under a contract for services. The clamper could also argue that he did not need a licence under paragraph (j) as he was not acting on his own behalf.

Of course, in a case of that type, it is likely that there would be a contractual arrangement of some kind for the clamper to provide a service to the landowner. However, we recognise that proving that and the fact that a licence was therefore required by the clamper might be difficult. Accordingly, the first amendment in relation to Clause 3(2)(j) seeks to require a licence not only for wheel clamping on one's own behalf but also on behalf of another where it is done with a view to charging a release fee, whoever demands or collects the fee. Therefore, an unlicensed wheel clamper would be committing an offence, whether or not he was acting for the landowner or on his own behalf.

The amendment paves the way for our second amendment, Amendment No. 9, which will prevent occupiers of land from allowing the unlicensed clamping of cars that are parked on their property in circumstances in which a licence is required. Amendment No. 9 creates a new offence that will be committed by occupiers of land, whether they occupy the land in whole or in part, who use the services of unlicensed wheelclampers under a contract or who permit unlicensed wheelclamping on land when that is done with a view to charging a release fee.

The offence would largely correspond to the offence of using an unlicensed security operative, which is covered by the existing Clause 5. It is not intended that an occupier of land should be guilty of an offence where he has taken reasonable efforts to ensure that he used licensed operatives or where he tried to ensure that clamping carried out for him on a voluntary basis was not performed for a release fee. We propose therefore that the provision containing the new offence should include the same defences as are provided by Clause 5(2). By the same token, the offence is potentially as serious as the offence that will be created by Clause 5 and should therefore attract the same maximum penalties as are set out in Clause 5(4). I beg to move.


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