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("(3) The Secretary of State may not make an order under this section until--
(a) the Government has made a declaration of its reservations about the observance of Article 8(b)(i), (ii), (iv), (xvii), (xviii), (xix) and (xxv) on War Crimes when the United Kingdom is exercising its right of self-defence and when its armed forces are being deployed to resist aggression committed against a fellow Member State of the United Nations, and
(b) that declaration has been submitted to, and approved by resolution of, both Houses of Parliament.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in view of the debate that we have already held on Amendment No. 2, upon which we voted, and the close proximity of the terms of that amendment to my own, I do not intend to move my amendment.

[Amendment No. 7 not moved.]

An amendment (privilege) made.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, with the leave of the House, I want to say a word of appreciation for the valuable undertaking that has been given in relation to prisoners of war. That is due to the good offices of the noble and learned Lords, Lord Williams of Mostyn and Lord Archer of Sandwell, the officials at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office--

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, perhaps I may point out to the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, that we are dealing with the privilege amendment. If he intends to say something, I believe that he should do so on Bill do now pass, which has not yet been moved.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill do now pass.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.--(Baroness Scotland of Asthal.)

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, I apologise for having spoken at the wrong moment. I wanted to say a word of appreciation for the valuable concession that was made. It was entirely due to the good offices of three Members of this House: first, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, who set up a meeting with officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Home Office so that the matter could be considered in depth; secondly, the noble Baroness, Lady Scotland of Asthal, who evinced a personal sympathy towards this matter; and, thirdly, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Archer of Sandwell, who used his influence to ensure that a satisfactory arrangement was made in amity.

In fact, it comes to this: the Government have given an undertaking that, if there is any concern as to whether the regime affords adequate protection, oral

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representations from any quarter shall be taken into account, the inadequacies shall be highlighted and addressed, and the proposals to amend the regime shall be raised in all appropriate fora, including any review conference, and that they will closely watch the developing jurisprudence of the ICC. On behalf of all those of whom I have spoken, I should like to express my gratitude.

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, it would be wrong not to reinforce very briefly the words of appreciation expressed by my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway about the way in which this Bill has progressed. I should also like to thank all noble Lords who have participated in the debate, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, and the noble Baroness, Lady Scotland, as well as her ministerial advisers, for their support.

I observe that this is a global Bill, in the sense that parliaments and legislative experts all round the world have followed its progress and offered their own comments and views on it--a reminder that through this Bill we shall be participating in a global institution, with all the benefits and problems that that may involve.

I end by saying that I hope the Bill, because of its vast significance, will be debated fully in the other place. With those comments, I am happy to support the Motion that the Bill do now pass.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill: My Lords, it has been a great pleasure to take part in these memorable debates. I should like to pay tribute to the Minister and to the noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General not only for their learning, tact and commitment to the international rule of law but, above all, for their patience in listening to many speeches, from all sides of the House, scrutinising this Bill almost line by line. We on these Benches wish the Bill well. We hope that it will be speedily enacted in the other place in order that the Government, on behalf of the people of this country and those elsewhere in the world, may see us in the vanguard in bringing this important measure into full effect.

Lord Archer of Sandwell: My Lords, lest some of us from the Government Back Benches be misconstrued, I rise to say that we congratulate the Government on having throughout been in the vanguard of international opinion and greatly enhancing the reputation of this country. We are grateful to both my noble friends on the Front Bench. We hope to see an early ratification of the Bill, and we wish it well.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I should like to reciprocate those expressions of gratitude. Many noble Lords have worked very hard on this Bill. I thank and congratulate all those who participated in the meetings held prior to the proceedings in the House. We give this Bill our very best wishes. It should significantly change the course of history.

On Question, Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.

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Consolidated Fund (No. 2) Bill

Brought from the Commons endorsed with the certificate of the Speaker that the Bill is a Money Bill, and read a first time.

Foot and Mouth Outbreak: The Rural Economy

6.16 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): My Lords, with the leave of the House, I should like to repeat the Statement made by my right honourable friend Mr Michael Meacher in another place earlier today. The Statement reads as follows:

    "Mr Speaker, I wish to report on the work of the Rural Task Force, which held its second meeting this morning. We all agree that our first priority remains to eradicate foot and mouth disease as soon as possible. The situation remains an extremely serious one. Its effects are very serious for both farmers and the wider rural community, especially in tourism. The Rural Task Force, which has representatives from a range of rural interests and government departments, is working urgently to develop measures to alleviate these impacts.

    "I must commend the response of the public who have been very anxious to avoid spreading the disease. But large parts of the country are not affected and people wrongly believe that the whole countryside is out of bounds. This has had a devastating and unnecessary impact on many of the businesses which depend on visitors to rural areas. The best way to help rural business is to encourage its customers to return as quickly as possible to the many places where it is safe to do so.

    "So the task force has agreed on a number of actions to achieve this.

    "First, last Friday we issued new guidance to the public on what they can do safely in the countryside - and what they must not do. The basic message is that the public should stay away from livestock and their pastures, but that there are still plenty of things to do and places to visit in the country without risking spreading the disease.

    "Secondly, an increasing number of rural properties will be opening to the public again very shortly. English Heritage are announcing today that over 200 properties will be open from 1 April. The National Trust will announce shortly that they will be opening around 150 properties between now and 1 April. British Waterways will be reopening many of their canals, starting next week. In all cases this follows a very careful in-depth review agreed with MAFF.

    "Thirdly, local authorities and National Park Authorities will be considering where footpaths can be safely opened, and I hope that there will shortly be a much wider availability of footpaths for the public outside the infected areas.

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    "Fourthly, we are mounting a public information campaign to ensure the message gets through to the public about what they can and cannot do, and the benefits that they can bring to rural businesses by their visits to the countryside, and, in particular, to rural and seaside towns and villages, hotels, guest houses and tourist attractions in rural areas. The Government, in conjunction with the tourism industry, are setting up a public information phone. This will steer callers to more detailed help on what attractions are open. Extra funding will be made available to the tourist boards to promote rural attractions.

    "We are also developing a preliminary package of measures to alleviate the immediate financial hardship of small businesses in rural areas which have been badly hit by the sudden drop in visitors and other knock-on effects of the foot and mouth disease. In preparing this package we have met with, and listened to, a wide range of rural interests. The first stage measures are as follows.

    "First, we can offer help through the rates system.

    "We will consider help through the rates system by increasing the central government contribution to rate relief from 75 per cent to 95 per cent for small businesses in rural authorities in areas of greatest need that are suffering greatest hardship as a result of foot and mouth disease. We will be announcing our proposals shortly.

    "Affected businesses can also apply to the Valuation Office Agency for a temporary reduction in their rateable value.

    "Yesterday we presented a Bill which will extend mandatory 50 per cent rate relief to all food shops in small rural settlements. We will also lay regulations to extend mandatory 50 per cent rate relief to sole village pubs and garages with a rateable value of less than £9,000. Local authorities will also consider using their existing powers to allow deferred payment of rates. We are also announcing a three-month extension to the deadline for business rate appeals.

    "Secondly, we shall take steps through the tax system. As a first step, Ministers have asked Inland Revenue and Customs officials to take a very sympathetic approach to businesses experiencing financial problems as a result of the outbreak. The revenue departments already have power in specific circumstances to defer payment of taxes and national insurance contributions and agree extended arrangements for time to pay. They will make maximum use of this flexibility for agricultural, transport, tourism and related retail businesses in the countryside which cannot pay debts because of cash-flow problems, where cash-flow assistance through rescheduling tax or NIC liabilities would help.

    "Thirdly, we are considering with the Small Business Service and the banks how we can ensure continuing credit for small businesses badly affected by the impact of foot and mouth disease, including the use of the small firms loan guarantee fund. The

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    Small Business Service, through a national helpline, will provide more information on the package of support available and access to the network of local business links.

    "Fourthly, we are taking action through the benefits system. Jobseekers' allowance may be available to both employees and self-employed people out of work as a result of foot and mouth; and the Department of Social Security will be making its procedures as fast and flexible as possible.

    "I have also had constructive discussions with the major banks. It is clear that they fully understand the problems being faced by businesses from all sectors affected and they are being pro-active in contacting their customers likely to be in trouble. They made it clear that they are keen to support their customers wherever possible. They will look, on a case-by-case basis, at mechanisms such as extended lines of credit, capital repayment holidays and other measures. I would encourage all bank customers in difficulty or expecting problems to contact their local bank manager as soon as possible to discuss what options may be available.

    "Finally, I should like to pay tribute to the important role the voluntary sector is playing in relieving rural distress. I can announce today that the Government will match the public donations which have been made to them for this purpose.

    "I should stress that this is a preliminary package. The task force will continue in being as long as it is needed, and I look forward to making further announcements in due course".

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

6.22 p.m.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, in view of the extended nature of the previous debate, I may not be able to stay throughout the debate on the Statement and I apologise to the House for that. I am going to Brussels with Sub-Committee D and have already booked a seat on the train. Therefore, I ask for the understanding of the House. I also thank the noble Baroness, Lady Byford, for allowing me to speak before her on the Statement.

We welcome this package of measures and the fact that the Government have moved quickly to introduce some certainty into the situation regarding rate relief and associated matters. However, I say immediately to the Minister--I repeat what I said last week--that on these Benches, we are disappointed by the Government's blanket approach to this issue. Clearly, some areas are in extreme crisis--for example, Devon, Cumbria and Powys--while much of the nation is barely affected by it. The Statement does not recognise sufficiently the very regional nature of the problem. I hope that when this package of measures is applied, authorities in the worst affected areas will be able to take much more extreme measures, in particular in deciding which businesses should be eligible for rate

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relief. The Minister listed a number of businesses but clearly in some areas, such as Devon, all businesses are now affected.

There is also the question of what message the Government wish to give those coming from abroad to use our tourist facilities. On their televisions and in their newspapers, people from abroad are still seeing piles of animals burning. That makes it very difficult for the Government to succeed in putting across the message that the countryside is open. The Government must achieve a very difficult balance in that respect. On these Benches, we want to see the revival of tourism but the issue of which regions are worst affected needs to be dealt with extremely frankly.

However, if that is done, it will be clearly understood that the North West and South West are difficult areas in which to walk and, after all, that is why most people visit, for example, the Lake District and Dartmoor. Again, I ask the Government to consider using the contingency fund in a major way, particularly in those areas where tourism, small businesses and agriculture are most affected. That could perhaps be done through the regional development agencies. There really is a case of extreme need in those areas and I believe that consequential compensation is the only route there.

I must declare an interest as my husband is chairman of the Exmoor National Park Authority. But there is much concern in Exmoor about the existence of a confirmed case at South Molton. The authority has no power to close minor roads through open land where stock graze and it feels that that is necessary. Access needs to be restricted in infected areas with diversions via minor roads into uninfected areas. It believes also that it is a necessary to disinfect essential vehicles entering an uninfected area, with support from army services personnel. I make a special plea for Exmoor because of the large deer herd there. That is a problem which is particular to that area.

These are the short-term measures. In the medium or long term, again, I urge that the steps which the Government have taken to encourage British supermarkets to buy British produce should come into effect rapidly. Those steps would include the provisions the code of conduct and the recommendations of Food from Britain which, in their response to the rural White Paper, the Government said would encourage supermarkets to stock regional produce. When farmers can no longer export, that is absolutely crucial.

6.27 p.m.

Baroness Byford: My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement made in another place earlier today. I pay tribute to the members of the task force who have come forward with these first proposals. We welcome the Government's commitment to match the donations given by individuals and charities in response to this disaster. I add my thanks to all those in the voluntary sector who have given money or who are supporting those families which have been devastated by these recent events.

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While some of the measures outlined today bring hope to some businesses, by far the biggest help that the Government could give would be to bring this foot and mouth outbreak under control. The Statement does not announce any new measures on that front. It refers to the rate relief and possible deferred payment of taxes and national insurance contributions, and other help to rural businesses. Those concessions are indeed welcome. But will the Minister assure the House that those reliefs will be speedily available, with the minimum of red tape, particularly bearing in mind that the rate billing season is now upon us?

Does not the Minister accept that there is total confusion throughout the country as to whether or not the countryside is open to visitors? Does he accept also that farmers and those involved with the outbreak are furious that members of the public wander across country lanes and footpaths, many of which have restricted notices displayed? How can members of the public make and have a considered judgment when MAFF is going in one direction, the DETR in another and the DCMS going in yet another direction as to what is or is not possible?

Mr Meacher said earlier today in the debate in the other place that he accepted that decisions on whether to close or keep open footpaths will be made locally. Does the Minister accept that that will only add to the difficulty and confusion? That will make practically impossible the running of any national hotline which is set up.

What is or is not open to visitors? Mr Meacher even suggested that people could visit areas that were livestock-free, but how will the general public know what animals have been or are likely to be in certain fields without greater direction? What about wildlife? The noble Baroness, Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer, referred to wildlife and in particular to deer. If the disease spreads on the wind, as currently believed, in addition to direct contact, how can the Minister balance the words in the Statement? How are walkers to know which fields have livestock and which have not, and how will overseas visitors be briefed?

Why have the Government shied away from persuading the Environment Agency to relax its administrative procedures and to permit more and speedier burials? That matter, which was the subject of a strong recommendation in the report on the 1967 disaster, has not been addressed properly by MAFF or DETR.

The mounting of a public information campaign is vital. Visitors from abroad assume that our whole country is affected. I suspect that they will not change their views until a clear announcement is made that the disease has been eradicated. Many visitors are fearful of the implications that the disease may have upon them when they return to their own country. Can the Minister comment on that and tell the House what proposals there are?

We welcome the extra funding that is being made available to the tourist boards. The Statement refers to the sole pub, shop or garage in villages, but some small villages of fewer than 3,000 people have more than one

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pub. The Statement suggests that such places will not be helped. Is that correct? The Statement also referred to the job seeker's allowance, saying it "may" be available. Surely, it should say "shall" be available. Who has the discretion?

Already 118 people have been made redundant in Dumfries and Galloway as a direct result of the foot and mouth disease. Can the Minister give the House the figures for England and Wales? What help is to be given to employers who have to bear the costs of redundancy? What happens to businesses that technically still have staff and want to keep them but are currently financially unable to pay them?

While the measures set out in the Statement are welcome, does the Minister accept that the biggest help that the Government can provide is to bring this outbreak under control? The Statement is helpful in parts. It provides help for rural businesses. But do the Government accept that it produces no specified new money to help to fight the disease? We have had contact with farmers in affected areas who tell us that they have no or, at best, little confidence that the Government are in control of events. Their personal experience shows us that inadequate resources have been supplied. They are also frustrated by the many delays that they are experiencing. That is in stark contrast to the approach taken in France and in Northern Ireland.

6.33 p.m.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I appreciate the seriously qualified welcome given to the Statement from the two Front Benches opposite. Clearly, there are anxieties, but I do not believe that it is useful to say that there is total confusion or--

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