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Lord Avebury: My Lords, did the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, make it clear to her interlocutors that, when we say that we must reserve our position in the event that a second resolution proves unattainable, in plain English that means that Britain intends to go to war irrespective of what happens in the Security Council? What sort of an example do the Government think that that sets to those countries in terms of the collective maintenance of world order?

Secondly, the noble Baroness said unprompted yesterday that she did not believe that her noble friend Lady Amos would try to induce support for a new resolution through unwarranted pressure. What kind of pressure or inducement does she think we ought to exert? Have any assurances been given to those countries that we would soft-pedal on their performance in relation to transparency, corruption and good governance? In particular, have we said anything to Angola about getting her back into the good books of the IMF without signing up to a full transparency programme?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, on the first part of the noble Lord's question, no, she did

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not. The premise of that part of the question is incorrect. The noble Lord, because he has taken part in our discussions on the matter, will know that the Government are pursuing a case for a second resolution in the United Nations. As I explained to noble Lords only yesterday, those negotiations continue.

In response to the second part of the question, my noble friend would never suggest soft-pedalling on parts of human rights issues in return for anything. Nor, if I may say so before I am asked the question, would she dream of saying anything about the withholding or increasing of aid or such inducement. The fact is that my noble friend is pursuing the issue on the force of argument that the Government believe to be wholly correct.

Lord Rea: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that the Security Council is equivalent to a jury in the settlement of international disputes? Am I not right in thinking that it is a punishable offence to attempt to influence a jury member?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, again, I do not agree with the premise of the question. The Security Council is not equivalent to a jury. If it were a jury, the situation might well be as the noble Lord says. But we are dealing with partners. We are co-sponsors of a United Nations Security Council resolution. It is entirely right that we argue our case as clearly and coherently as we can without any unwarranted pressures brought to bear, as I said yesterday, but relying on the strength of our argument, which is very strong.

The Earl of Listowel: My Lords, did the Minister's noble friend find time to raise with President dos Santos of Angola the need for a coherent public health strategy to prevent HIV/AIDS becoming rampant in Angola as it has done in the rest of southern Africa? Does she not agree that it would be a tragedy if effective interventions now were overlooked because of other immediate priorities such as Iraq or demobilisation and demining?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I cannot say whether my noble friend raised that issue. There are a number of humanitarian issues with all the countries concerned. The United Kingdom has aid projects, some directly with Angola and Cameroon, and with Guinea through the UNHCR. All those matters are important. In her work through NePAD, my noble friend engages on the question of HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, further to the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, if, despite the undoubted persuasive powers and assiduity of the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, which all noble Lords admire, a second resolution proves unattainable, can the Minister confirm—this is very important—that any action that unfortunately necessitated force would be within international law,

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that it would be authorised under UN Resolution 1441, and that that is the advice that Law Officers have given the Government?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, as the noble Lord will know, I shall not comment on what Law Officers may or may not say. I shall confirm what I said yesterday: any military action undertaken by Her Majesty's Government will be legal.

Lord Judd: My Lords, in her discussions with those governments and others has the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, raised the issue of the interpretation given yesterday by the Secretary-General of the United Nations that to take military action without the authority of the Security Council would raise profound issues about the legitimacy of that action?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I am sure that the matters that my noble friend is discussing will touch upon the legality of any action in the event of there not being a second Security Council resolution. I am also sure that my noble friend will discuss the shortcomings of Iraq, a point that some noble Lords have overlooked in putting questions to me. The main point of my noble friend's visit is to pursue the purpose of the second Security Council resolution. We are talking to our partners on the Security Council. I am bound to say to noble Lords that I think that it would be entirely irresponsible were my noble friend not out there pursuing the case at this difficult time.

Licensing Bill [HL]

3.16 p.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Licensing Bill, has consented to place her prerogative and interests, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.

Bill read a third time.

Clause 3 [Licensing authorities]:

Lord Peyton of Yeovil moved Amendment No. 1:

    Page 2, line 34, leave out paragraphs (a) to (d) and insert—

"(a) the licensing justices, as defined in section 2 of the Licensing Act 1964 (c. 26),"

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this Motion is rather like taking the plug out of a bath—one is left hoping that the water will disappear fairly quickly without too many obscene gurgles.

This is not a wrecking amendment. The noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, seemed to think it was. It is an opportunity for the Government to do a little tailoring in another place. They could easily join up—that is one of their favourite activities—the licensing justices with the other parts of the Bill to which I have limited or no objections.

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It is also an opportunity for your Lordships' House to express an opinion for the first time on an important proposal—the change from licensing justices to local authorities. There is considerable opposition to the proposal, which, as I have seen it, the Government have largely ignored or skated over. That a reliable survey showed that over 90 per cent of licensees did not like the proposals has commanded hardly a flicker of concern on the bland expressions of the Government. I hope that it will do so before we are finished today.

I say with respect that my noble friend Lady Buscombe carried out the difficult task of opposition with great skill, endurance and patience. I am sorry that, today, she feels herself to be under such constraints that she may not be able to support the amendment. I am sorry about that, but I hasten to say that such constraints will not weigh with me.

The Government have not yet said in what respect the licensing justices have failed or even disappointed. Nor have they said what prospect there is of the local authorities performing better. Many people believe, with a good deal of evidence on their side, that proceedings under the new arrangements—I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lords on the Government Front Bench who are talking to each other—will be slower and more costly and will generate more appeals because of the lower quality of decision making. Moreover, there will be a transition period that is likely to be a nightmare. At Second Reading, the noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, said that the transition period would last for about a year or so. It will involve the recruitment and training of new staff; it will involve the preparation of long and complex policy statements, a novel exercise; and it will involve the processing of all applications by existing licensees and for existing premises. The new and the old will work side by side in what I can only believe will be an uneasy and unsteady partnership.

The reward for all that is the prospect of more local accountability and, of course, the right to drink all round the clock. In the event, that increased local responsibility will be seen to be an illusory benefit. No one should suppose that the increased local responsibility will be a free benefit for local authorities. The Secretary of State has already produced, after pressure, more than 100 pages of guidance with which, as the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, said in Committee, the local authorities will be obliged to comply. The noble Lord's exact words were:

    "local authorities will know the parameters within which they must work".—[Official Report, 12/12/02; col. 436.]

I doubt that local authorities have yet appreciated the nature of the treadmill process in which the Government invite them to take part.

Just now, I uttered words of respect and admiration for the way in which my noble friend had conducted the passage of the Bill. However, I am bound to say that one could hardly fail to notice the calm, patience and determination with which the noble Baroness opposite pushed her lugubrious load uphill towards the statute book. She did so with great good temper,

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and one must respect that. Having said that, I hope that the noble Baroness will allow me to remind her of one or two things that she said at Second Reading.

First, she said that there had been consultation. I believe that thousands of representations were made and that one of those representations achieved favour with the Government. One can only say, "Thank you" for that. As for the rest, there was nothing. The word "consultation" is a current buzz-word. It is nothing to do with this Bill, but, recently, there was a great project in Trafalgar Square. Taxi drivers, who know what they are talking about, were asked whether it was a good idea. They were told that their opinions would not matter, because the work would be done anyhow—and done it was, to the regret of anybody who tries to go north out of Whitehall.

The noble Baroness went on a flight of fancy to the extent of referring to "modern, light-touch controls". I wonder whether any of your Lordships, going through the heaps of secondary legislation, could detect anything that would deserve the description "modern" or "light-touch". Ninety per cent of it is antiquated and heavy. It is like inviting a hippopotamus to do petit point needlework. The idea of the Government doing lightly anything to do with control is far-fetched and unreal.

I have another quotation from the noble Baroness:

    "It will be a major project, and a period of transition will be required".—[Official Report, 26/11/02; col. 646.]

I shall be happy to be persuaded otherwise, but I do not believe for a moment that the Government have even begun to envisage the difficulties that that transition will involve. Some people will have a great amount of learning to do, while we have the galling experience of seeing those who know how to do the job withdraw.

There is one last quotation from the noble Baroness that I cannot forbear to remind your Lordships of. In cheering the measure on and boasting of its doubtful merits, she said:

    "It will also remove perverse influences on drinking culture".—[Official Report, 26/11/02; col. 640.]

I am tempted to ask the noble Baroness—to whom I would be willing to listen for a long time—to explain with some clarity what those "perverse influences" are and from whom they come. If she went on to define our "drinking culture", I would be more than grateful.

As things are, I see little prospect of the noble Baroness persuading me at the end of the debate not to seek the opinion of your Lordships' House. I beg to move.

3.30 p.m.

Lord Redesdale: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Peyton of Yeovil, said that he intends to test the opinion of the House. It will not surprise the Government to learn that we would not support Amendment No. 1. That is not because, as the noble Lord, Lord Peyton, said, the issue has been swept under the carpet and has not been discussed. In fact, it was discussed at Second Reading when the noble

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Baroness, Lady Buscombe, made some interesting points about the role of the magistracy. It is unfortunate that the matter was not raised in Committee. I understand the noble Lord, Lord Peyton, missed his amendment in Committee and we missed the opportunity—

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