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Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I apologise for interrupting the Minister when she is being so helpful. I think that the way in which I phrased my last question was not as clear as it might have been.

The circumstance that I am thinking of is disjunctive, rather than conjunctive. A French police officer may have detained somebody for questioning in connection with an immigration offence and, quite separately, be aware that that person is subject to an existing European arrest warrant because, in the period that the Minister mentioned—24 hours—the French authorities may have made that fact known to the French police officer. It is a matter of the powers of the French police officer at that moment.

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In raising the issue, I must say that I would be happy for the Minister to write to me on it. It is a complex matter. At that moment, while the French police officer is carrying out his duties in respect of immigration matters, does he have the right to exercise a European arrest warrant, if one is already extant? I do not expect him to ask for one, but, if one is extant, can he apply it? I am happy for the noble Baroness to write to me, if that is more helpful.

8.45 p.m.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I shall certainly write to the noble Baroness. My initial reaction is that any officer in that situation, if he were dealing with an arrestable offence, would be entitled to take the person back on that basis and would not have to exercise the European arrest warrant. However, I am thinking on my feet. I shall write to the noble Baroness to make sure that my initial gut reaction—if I can put it colloquially—is correct.

The noble Baroness asked what we would do if a French officer acted unlawfully in the exercise of his duty. Article 8 of the order gives effect to Article 14, sub-paragraph (2), of the treaty. It is in line with the position on the Channel Tunnel juxtaposition controls under Article 30 of the Sangatte protocol to the Treaty of Canterbury. In the same way, United Kingdom courts have jurisdiction over the actions of a UK officer acting in the course of his duties in a control zone in France. It is natural for UK officers to be subject to the scrutiny of UK courts in the exercise of their duties, and the same applies to French officers and French courts. We have parity of treatment, which was the basis on which the treaty was agreed. It appears to have worked well and without difficulty, and we do not anticipate that it will cause us any anxiety or difficulty.

The noble Baroness said that, if someone suffered damage in any circumstances, they would have to go to France. That is not quite the position. People need to go through the French system only if the alleged abuse is committed by the PAF officer in the course of his duties. That is in Article 8(1) of the order.

I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, will feel that I have answered all his questions. I tried to answer them globally. If the noble Lord would feel easier if I answered them specifically in greater detail, I would be happy to do that. I see the noble Lord nodding, so I undertake to do that.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Keep going. You have two minutes.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I am being pulled in two directions. Either I can launch into an exposition of every matter raised by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, which would take me some time, or I can retire gracefully. With the greatest respect to my noble friend, I will do the latter.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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Communications Bill

8.49 p.m.

Consideration of amendments on Report resumed on Clause 3.

Lord Ashley of Stoke moved Amendment No. 12.


    Page 4, line 12, at end insert—


"( ) the need for reasonable access to new and emerging forms of telecommunications by persons with disabilities."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I should like to speak to Amendment No. 12 and to refer also to Amendment No. 22. The purpose of Amendment No. 12 is to raise the importance to disabled people of equal access to the many developments in the telecommunications industry. Over the past 10 years developments in technology have been remarkable. A striking illustration is that mobile phone ownership has increased from one million in 1990 to 30 million in 2002.

Regrettably, the provision for disabled people has only limped along. When they were first established, the relay services for fixed line telephone calls were splendid. I and many others were grateful to British Telecom and to the RNID. Years have passed and the relay services have not developed to the same extent as other services, largely through the inadequacy of funding. I am very glad that Clause 68 of the Bill gives Ofcom the option of setting up a universal service fund so that costs such as relay services can be shared and not borne solely by British Telecom. I commend that very warmly.

However, I understand that Oftel currently does not favour that approach. Its view should be respected, but I believe it is important that funding is adequate. Services for disabled people should not be provided at the minimum level possible. The telecoms market is becoming very competitive. Improvements would surely flow more freely if all telecommunications operators were to contribute to a fund aimed specifically at ensuring better provision for disabled and disadvantaged people.

I do not intend to press this amendment, but I would appreciate any assurances that the Government could give. Disabled people should be able to have a reasonable share in the exciting developments that lie ahead. I hope that the Government will give a commitment that disabled people can do so and will recognise that adequate funding is required.

I wish to say a word about Amendment No. 22 to be moved by my noble friend Lord McIntosh of Haringey. When I moved my amendment on universal design in Committee, my noble friend said he was somewhat dismissive about earlier amendments on disability. This is his great sense of humour on display. All those amendments were brilliant. He could not possibly be dismissive about them. But he said he was certainly not dismissive about the one on universal design and said he would look again at the issue. He has kept his word, as he always does. I warmly welcome the result. It is not quite as strong as my original amendment insofar as the

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Government amendment gives Ofcom a duty of encouraging others—I emphasise "others". My amendment put more emphasis on Ofcom itself encouraging awareness, promotion and access to inclusively designed developments. Amendment No. 22 uses different words—it cannot be as eloquent as mine—and is considerably briefer. However, it carries a very similar message. Although it is more reserved, it does add that Ofcom shall have a duty,


    "from time to time to review"

whether further steps are needed. That could be very important and certainly very helpful.

I should like to raise one important caveat. This amendment focuses on domestic consumer equipment. It excludes equipment used solely for business purposes. The design of office equipment is clearly vital to the employment of disabled people. I do hope the Government will be able to help on this. The amendment tabled by my noble friend Lord McIntosh is a considerable step forward. I thank the Government, especially my noble friend, for accepting the principle that the interests of disabled people should be a central feature of new developments in this exciting industry. I beg to move.

Baroness Wilcox: My Lords, we are very keen to rise and support the Government on this amendment. Amendment No. 22 gives Ofcom a duty to encourage inclusive design. I am delighted that the Government have taken on board the arguments in Committee on an amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Ashley of Stoke, and which we wholeheartedly supported. The new amendment will make a real difference to the lives not only of disabled consumers but also to all people who wish to make use of the latest technological developments but are prevented from doing so by design features that exclude a huge percentage of the population by virtue of their complexity and user unfriendliness.

As the communications regulator, it is only right that Ofcom takes on this responsibility which will enhance its ability to carry out its general duties by ensuring that a full range of communication technologies are usable by as many consumers as possible. Inclusive design is good news for everyone—consumers and, in particular, disadvantaged consumers, but also manufacturers—by opening up whole sections of the market which had previously been barred, and doing so at little additional cost. On these Benches, we are pleased that the Government have understood the potential of inclusive design set forward in Committee and have made provisions for it in the Bill.

Lord Addington: My Lords, I shall speak briefly. I have added my name to the amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Ashley, but I missed the first few seconds of his speech. The indignity of undue haste was given to me as punishment as I belted up the corridor. This is an amendment which the Government should consider. As regards Amendment No. 22, as I said before in a moment of hyperbole

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brought on by excessive waiting, we do not care who carries the flag in these little battles as long as we win. If it happens to the Government, good for them.

Amendment No. 53, with which these are grouped, is not so much a probing as a drawing-out amendment. Will the Government give assurances that universal service conditions would relate to affordable rental services for disabled people to obtain cheap equipment—for example, Braille phones? Would that still apply in relation to this amendment? If the answer is "yes", the amendment will be withdrawn.


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