|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Hughes of Woodside: My Lords, as an innocent in these matters, and in a spirit of honest inquiry, how do we know the numbers of infected badgers? Are badgers collected and tested for the disease every three months, every six months or what? If, as suggested by the noble Lord, the disease is to be eradicated, is he suggesting that the only way to get rid of it is to eliminate every badger in the country?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, although badgers are one means of transmitting the disease, cattle movements and, to some extent, human movements may also contribute to its spread. Indeed, the spread from the south-west up the country tended to coincide with restocking following foot and mouth. So badgers are by no means the only method of transmission and there are biosecurity measures which can limit the access of badgers to herds. As far as concerns testing, the noble Baroness has already referred to one type, which is on carcasses found at the roadside and elsewhere. Within the areas where the scientific cull is taking place, the culled badgers are being continuously tested. The effects on the herds in those areas are part of the so-called Krebs trials assessment in which we are engaged. We hope that it will inform how we will deal with this process once we have the full results from the trials.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): My Lords, the Government congratulate Mr Zapatero on his success in the Spanish elections and welcome his commitment to taking forward work on the constitutional treaty for the EU. The European Council agreed last week that negotiations on the new treaty should resume with a view to concluding no later than the next European Council in June. The noble Baroness, Lady Amos, will make a full Statement on this to the House later today.
On the other point mentioned by the noble Lord, we look forward to a swift conclusion to the negotiations. The treaty is an important step forward. It spells out that the EU is a union of nation states. We believe that it reinforces the role of your Lordships' House and another place in ensuring that the EU legislates only where it can provide added value.
Lord Tomlinson: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that conferred competences are the basis of the draft treaty? It is very clear from the draft constitutional treaty that competences not explicitly transferred to the European Union remain with member states. Therefore, there is no transfer of sovereignty to be feared in this draft treaty that is comparable to the Single European Act passed by the previous administration.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I emphatically agree. My noble friend Lord Tomlinson has spoken with his usual admirable common sense and I remind noble Lords that my noble friend is not alone in taking that view. I do not know many noble Lords are avid listeners to the "Today" programme. I listened to it on Saturday and was very pleased to hear the noble Lord, Lord Heseltine, say:
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, we saw the eurosceptic press winding itself up to its usual hysteria at the weekend, as soon as it seemed likely that there will be an agreement by June. We have not yet heard any positive speeches by Ministers arguing the advantage to Britain of this further change in the treaty. May we anticipate that Ministers will be making the case loudly and clearly in weeks to come?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I do not know many times I have stood at this Dispatch Box arguing the case over the draft treaty. We have said on a number of occasions that nothing in this draft treaty is agreed until everything is agreed. Noble Lords know that there is still a great deal of work to do. I shall not mislead noble Lords for a single instant about the importance and difficulty of the work that still faces the European Union on this point. The Irish Presidency's report to last week's European Council identified a number of issues that are unresolved. As noble Lords know, there are a number of issues that are enormously important to the United Kingdom Government.
Lord Willoughby de Broke: My Lords, what powers of scrutiny of the treaty will Parliament have? Will Parliament be able to change a single word of it, or will it have to be accepted or rejected whole?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, the noble Lord has been in this House long enough to know the answer to that question. Once the treaty is presented to your Lordships' House and to another place, that is the treaty on which your Lordships will decide. We cannot tinker with a treaty that has been agreed elsewhere. I think that the noble Lord really knew that when he rose to ask his question.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, taken with my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary's proposals on scrutiny, which I had the honour of repeating to your Lordships' House recently, there will be considerably enhanced powers of scrutiny by this House and by another place. I am sure that all noble Lords will take full advantage of that. At least, I hope that they will because in recent
Lord Grocott: My Lords, I am sorry to spoil the fun but we are back to Business. With permission, two Statements will be repeated this afternoon. The first will be on the European Council and update us on Libyan relations and will be repeated by my noble friend the Leader of the House. The second will be on serious and organised crime and will be repeated by my noble friend Lady Scotland.
Clauses 1 to 10 Schedule 1, Clauses 11 to 13, Schedule 2, Clauses 14 to 16, Schedule 3, Clause 17 Schedule 4, Clauses 18 to 29, Schedule 5, Clauses 30 to 38, Schedule 6, Clauses 39 to 42.(Lord Grocott.)