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While the order cannot under any measure be described as hugely important, it is nevertheless required, although I notice in the final regulatory impact assessment that the order will have little practical effect. Trading Standards has already been issued with guidance to permit the placing on the market of imports from other member states in any pack size. I also note in passing that it appears to have taken five years from the date of the relevant European Court of Justice decision in 2000 to get to this point, which might imply that it has not until now been considered necessary or even important. Nevertheless, it is important and perhaps encouraging to find the European Court of Justice using its powers to overrule EU law in favour of free markets.
As the Explanatory Memorandum sets out, there are perhaps a couple of issues of concern. We would be grateful for the Government's explanation about how they propose to deal with them. The first is that, as the Explanatory Memorandum says, the purpose of legislation on package sizes is generally to make it easier for the consumer to make price comparisons. Without standard package sizes, therefore, and acknowledging the imperative to comply with the ECJ decision, do the Government consider that consumers are adequately protected in that regard? Will the Minister give us his assessment of the types of food the Government expect to be most affected by these changes? Can he indicate the likely impact on the sale of those products in this country?
Secondly, the Explanatory Memorandum explains that fixed package sizes may also offset disproportionate buyer pressure from large purchasers, such as supermarkets, on small and medium-sized enterprises involved in packaging. They might incur excessive costs if package sizes are not restricted and have, of course in certain cases, already spent substantial time and money
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tooling up for the standard package sizes. Again it would be helpful to know whether the Government been able to think of ways other than standard package sizes to protect some of our smaller suppliers who, as we know, are already under considerable trading disadvantage when dealing with the bigger purchasers. I think your Lordships will want assurances that there will be no adverse impact on UK food producers and their status within the marketplace. I should be grateful for any reassurance the Minister can give your Lordships in that respect.
It would also be helpful if the Minister could indicate the likely impact the order will have on British food exports to other EU member states. I am sure the Government have carefully considered these points, among others, and I look forward to finding out. Failure to make these regulatory changes would risk the UK being in breach of our European obligations. So on those grounds we cannot and do not dispute the order.
Lord Addington: My Lords, this is one of those odd ones. I would not say that it was gold-platingalthough it might be tattily gildingan order from Europe. That is what it comes down to. It is of no great moment when all is said and done. The fact that we can buy chocolate in non-regulation sizes may cause a minor flurry at Christmas, but I cannot see it affecting anybody else. It might be slightly more interesting if we discovered that it was something to do with anti-obesity legislation. But I do not think that it has anything to do with that; it is merely a legal catch-up.
It leaves an apparent short-term anomaly that you can import stuff in non-standard sizes from the rest of Europe, although we can only sell it ourselves. Really, I think that this is an interesting example of how we can get ourselves into small knots over European legislation. I look forward to the Government clarifying the whole thing at the first available opportunity. I think the noble Lord said that in a year we can expect to see greater clarification on removing the standardisation of sizes. I hope that that will occur and that good labelling will take the place of the prescription of the standard size you can buy things in. With today's market, surely that would be more logical.
Lord McKenzie of Luton: My Lords, I thank noble Lords for their contributions and their support for the order and for not asking too many exacting questions to make me croak for too long. To respond first to the noble Lord, Lord Addington, this is very much not gold-plating; it is simply carrying through requirements of EU law as decided. It is something that we must do; it is certainly not going further than we need to. As I tried to explain, it is in advance of a much wider deregulation under way both domestically and in Europe and is a step along the way to that.
The noble Lord, Lord De Mauley, asked whether consumers will be protected. Other consumer protection measures are in placefor example, requirements for unit pricing, which applies more
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widely than specified quantities. The impact on imports and exports is not expected to be large. Most manufacturers throughout the EU keep to the common sizes permitted in any case. Therefore, we do not believe that the order will have an adverse effect on consumers; we think that it will be broadly welcomed.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, the order declares the World Intellectual Property Organisation Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, both signed by the UK on 13 February 1997, to be regarded as Community treaties as defined in Section 1(2) of the European Communities Act. The effect of declaring those treaties as Community treaties is that the provision of the European Communities Act will apply to them. That will enable the Government to exercise powers under Section 2(2) of the Act to make subordinate legislation to give effect to the treaties. Having done so, the UK and, ultimately, our European partners will be able to ratify the treaties.
These important treaties update and strengthen international standards of protection for literary and artistic works, for sound recordings and, in relation to the rights of certain performing artists, especially to take account of digital technology. Consequently, they have become known as the Internet treaties. The treaties confirm that the traditional right of reproduction continues to apply in a digital environment and that owners of rights can control whether and how their creations are made available online. They also allow countries reasonable flexibility in establishing exceptions or limitations to rights in the digital environment. Where the treaties break new ground is by requiring countries to provide protection against the circumvention of technological protection measures for rights, such as encryption on the Internet, and to provide remedies against the removal or alteration of electronic rights management informationthat is, information that identifies the work, its creator, performer or owner and the terms and conditions for its use.
Other matters dealt with by the treaties include rights of distribution and rental; the right to receive payment for certain forms of broadcasting all communication to the public; and an obligation on
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countries to provide adequate and effective measures allowing rights holders to enforce their rights against infringements.
The treaties were published as Command Papers Nos. 3728 and 3736 in 1997. Most of their requirements were already established in UK law when the UK signed the treaties in 1997. Further requirements were met when the UK implemented Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and the Council on 22 May 2001 on the Harmonisation of Certain Aspects of Copyright and Related Rights in the Information Society. That implementation came with the Copyright and Related Rights Regulations 2003, which came into force on 31 October 2003.
That left just one substantive aspect of the treaties requiring implementation in the UK; namely, moral rights for performers. Unlike copyright, or most related rights, moral rights protect reputation and are not economic rights to be sold or traded. The treaties introduce two rights for performers: the right to claim identification in relation to a performance and the right to object to modification or distortion of a performance that would be prejudicial to the performer's reputation. Authors have enjoyed similar rights for quite some time.
Noble Lords should note that this statutory instrument does not introduce those moral rights but rather it paves the way for their introduction. As I have mentioned, by designating these Internet treaties as Community treaties, the Government may use European Communities Act powers to make subordinate legislation to give effect to the treaties. In that way the moral rights will be introduced for performers. A draft of a further statutory instrument was made available to the House at the same time as this instrument was laid. That further instrument will be subject to a negative resolution procedure.
In Council Decision 2000/278/EC the treaties have been approved on behalf of the European Community, which will in due course ratify them. That will require ratification by all European Community member states. It is intended that all member states ratify the treaties together, although some of the new accession states had already ratified them before accession.
Declaring the Internet treaties as Community treaties would allow the UK to complete the latest step in bringing our laws into line with widely recognised international norms for the protection of copyright and related rights. I am pleased to commend the draft order to the House. I beg to move.
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