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Lord Lester of Herne Hill: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for allowing me to ask a question on that point before he moves on to the next subject. So that I can understand the way in which a judicial review would work, can we assume, so as not to offend any existing member state, that a state called Ruritania becomes a member state of the Union and considers that there are serious grounds for thinking that someone from outside is a threat to Ruritania's public policy on national security? The person is told that it is Ruritania
Lord Rodger of Earlsferry: My Lords, if Ruritania had the same kind of judicial review as we do, presumably the person would have the same access to remedy in Ruritania as in this country. I am thinking, for example, of a case where the decision to include a person's name on the list was unreasonable, based on a mistake or made on the basis of insufficient evidence. The noble Lord is familiar with such categories. The person concerned would have that kind of remedy. He would not have the remedy of an appeal, as I have made clear.
The matter of carriers' liability has occupied your Lordships on previous occasions also, and some of the points that have been made today can be made in respect of carriers' liability in any context. In this context, we have made it clear that we have invoked the provisions of Annex 9 of the Chicago Convention which allows governments to register a difference between their legislation and that provided for by the convention. We see no conflict with the convention. Indeed, I do not think that such a conflict was suggested.
The carriers' liability legislation is a form of legislation which has been introduced by many countries to meet what is perceived as being a problem with forged and other unsatisfactory documents. The Government have done a great deal to train people at home and abroad in all aspects of the legislation and in detecting forgeries. As I understand it, over 320 training visits have been made to locations in 79 different countries. The programme is continuing. In addition, the Immigration Service is available to give advice on a 24-hour basis. In that way, we hope that the staff involved will have a full understanding of the legislation which they have to implement.
As the noble and learned Lord Lord Slynn recognised, the role of the European Court of Justice is a matter upon which views may be divided. Most noble Lords who spoke were in favour of the ECJ having a role. Despite that recommendation, the Government are opposed to the court having jurisdiction over the interpretation and implementation of this convention. As your Lordships know, Title VI of the treaty does not confer jurisdiction unless the member states agree. In this case the Government consider that jurisdiction should be a matter for national courts.
Much evidence on that matter was laid before the committee. While the Government take the view that it is inappropriate, as this is a third pillar subject, it is fair to say that even some of the witnesses who were broadly in favour of the ECJ could see practical difficulties which, to some extent, are reflected in the committee's recommendations regarding the ECJ's role in taking references on this matter.
Finally, the common visa list raises an issue which, again, is of importance to many noble Lords who have noted the extent of the positive list. It is a strange positive list, because it has a negative effect. None the less, your Lordships have noticed that it seems to be extremely long. The Government's position is that it is too long, and that it contains many countries from whose nationals we do not require visas. The system works well without them. We hope that the list can be cut down during the course of negotiations. Of course we are in favour of having a common visa list, because it seems to be a way of minimising variations in national practice and is therefore something which, in general terms, the Community feels is desirable. While, as I say, we are in favour of the idea, we are not happy with the extent of the list at present and hope that when it is finalised it will be shorter.
I have been able to touch on only some of the issues. The debate has raised issues of great importance. It has been a worthwhile debate. I have no doubt that it will be the precursor of many future similar debates.
Lord Slynn of Hadley: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his comprehensive consideration of the most important topics which arise in the report. I thank also other noble Lords who have taken part in the debate. I thank, in particular, the noble Lord, Lord Lester, for his kind personal words. I hope that he remembers more of the history of assumpsit than I do.
This has been an important debate. Your Lordships have made clear how much importance should be attached to the review not just of Community measures but of proposals being discussed by member states under the second and third pillars. Your Lordships made clear too how important it is to protect those who seek asylum and those who may find their names wrongly on a list. I hope that the Government will continue to consider whether there should not be some unified appeal system throughout the Community, if, with experience, they find that persons are being put on the list and are not obtaining an adequate remedy. It is plain that there should be some form of sufficient protection for people who find their names on the list.
I attach great importance to the points made by the noble Baroness, Lady Park of Monmouth, about the difficulty of ensuring that there are to be controls at the external frontiers, even though the committee, as the Minister said, considers that internal border controls do not have to be abolished as a result of the Single European Act.
I have to sayyour Lordships will not be surprised about thisthat I am disappointed by the Minister's answer as to the role of the ECJ. He will not be offended if I say that I hope that that will not be the Government's standard reaction to proposals under the second and third pillars. We had a witness from a government department on another inquiry last week. We asked, "Should there not here be a role for the European
The noble Earl said: My Lords, perhaps I may say at the outset how grateful was the sub-committee to be able to benefit from the co-option of two noble Lords with considerable knowledge of the Defence Research Agencymy noble friend Lord Trefgarne, who was in the Ministry of Defence at the time of its inception and the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig of Radley, from whose expertise we benefited enormously. We were helped greatly by our two specialist advisers, Professor Frank Hartley and Professor Philip Gummett. I must pay tribute also to our Clerk, David Batt, for his crucial contribution.
It was true in my case (and it was possibly true in the case of some other members of the committee) that we were not all familiar with the DRA and its role. Let me say immediately that we were all impressed by the quality of its science and its management. The DRA, as at present constituted, is one of the largest employers of science in the country with 5,000 scientists and a turnover of £795 million. All but 9 per cent. of its work is conducted by the Ministry of Defence. It is a wholly owned agency of the Ministry.
Our report was published in July before the Government produced Front Line First, a report on the outcome of the defence cost studies; and as the Government's response to our report states, the report has major implications for the future structure of the agency.
As an outcome of those proposals, it is likely that the DRA will be brought together into a single executive agency with all the other MoD non-nuclear science and technology organisations. That has happened since the publication of our report and I shall deal with it no more.
The DRA was formed in 1991 by amalgamating four research establishments which had formidable reputations. The agency acquired trading fund status in 1993. Our report draws attention to the record of achievement of those defence research establishments and how important it has been for the agency to maintain the reputation and momentum in order to retain battle-winning technological advantage. That has been against the background of reducing cost and changing unpredictable risks.
This advantage gained in the past by the provision of technological excellence must now be achieved on greatly reduced funds. The DRA is undergoing a programmed fall in work from the Ministry of Defence of 15 per cent. between 1993 and 1996. That involves the closing of sites, the restructuring of support activities and other cost-cutting measures. At the same time, in common with much other publicly funded work, a market testing programme is being implemented in phases whereby all the work which the DRA carries out for the Defence Procurement Executive of the Ministry will be market tested by 1997. That puts the management of the agency under considerable pressure.
Against these constraints, the DRA has initiated a number of what we describe as positive thrusts into the commercial world by developing closer links with industry through its Pathfinder programme, strategic alignment and dual use technology centres. We recognise that, in spite of its name, research is only one of the agency's two main functions. Sir Ronald Oxburgh pointed out that perhaps its more important role is to be able to offer technical advice to the Ministry. To that end, it engages in strategic and applied research and project support. Its raison d'etreits justificationis that it must acquire and retain an expertise to be able to offer expert advice to the Ministry.
The opportunity to contribute to wealth creation by supporting industry or by expanding its own intellectual property base must not be allowed to detract from its central role by providing a core of technical advice, however important this role might appear to be to industry or, indeed, to other parts of Government. That draws attention to a second serious constraint if the first constraint is funding. Much as the DRA might like to maximise its income, and under its trading fund status it is expected to act commercially, this must always be done in a way that is compatible with the Ministry's requirements. After all, the Ministry is the owner of the agency.
As a wholly owned subsidiary with no mandate to spend money on areas which do not benefit the defence of the country, there are real difficulties in fulfilling the more commercial role that is expected of the agency. To make a difficult situation worse, funding from the DTI is declining. Our report draws attention to the near elimination of DTI grants to Malvern, for example. This puts the DRA into a difficult situation. It is required to meet some very precise targets, yet does not benefit from an equally strong obligation on its shareholder and regulator, the Ministry of Defence.
However, we greatly welcome the increased funding that is to be channelled through the deputy chief scientific adviser. We believe that that will lead to a greater element of stability. If we were critical of the efforts made by the Ministry of Defence to develop its relationship with the DRA it was because we were anxious about the short-term nature of some of the appointments that fulfil the role of customer. That leads to a lack of continuity. That is not true of the deputy chief scientific adviser and his group, who provide a
We also drew attention to the concept of the Fraser figure, which we explain in the report, and we believe that the concept needs further development within the Ministry. The DRA needs guidance on the Ministry's long-term requirements. In so far as the Ministry, for reasons which I have acknowledged, is unable to assist adequately in the promotion of wealth creation projects, it must consider closer collaboration with the Office of Science and Technology so that the opportunities to support our industry and to contribute to wealth creation are more effectively exploited. We acknowledge the role of the Office of Science and Technology in the area of defence research in the Technology Foresight programme, which it supervises, and in Forward Look.
In a report published last year on priorities for the science base, we made a recommendation that the chief scientific adviser be empowered to expose any inconsistencies in the science plans of departments. We believe that is an obvious example. For reasons of accountability, it is understandable that the Ministry of Defence cannot put as much into wealth creation as perhaps last year's White Paper suggested. We believe that the Office of Science and Technology has a greater input to make in the agency and we recognise that the Ministry of Defence is bound to be protective of its territory.
We looked with interest at the examples of the United States, France and elsewhere where interdepartmental difficulties do not inhibit the development of wealth creating enterprises in defence research establishmentsat least not to the same extent. I am sure that the level of parliamentary accountability is different and that it is no good expecting systems that work in one country to be transplanted to another. The concept of economic security is one that the Americans have been able to use to justify the greater flexibility of funding within Ministry of Defence research establishments.
I have dealt at some length with the difficulties and point out that an opportunity to review this delicate relationship within government will occur when the framework document for the DRA is reviewed in 1998. Of course, the Office of Science and Technology will be involved in that review. However, that seems rather a long time to wait.
Having dealt with some of the difficulties encountered by the DRA in fostering industrial links, we were nevertheless impressed by the Pathfinder programme and the concept of dual use technology centres. Since the publication of our report two more such centres have been funded and we greatly welcome that. Both dual use technology centres and Pathfinder programmes will, no doubt, evolve as a track record is established. In particular, we should like to see the Pathfinder programme made more accessible to small manufacturing enterprises.
I have been able to refer only in outline to a few of the recommendations in our report. I wish to emphasise that we believe that before yet more scientists are made redundant and, above all, before unique facilities are
We believe that the quality of science within the DRA is too high to put at risk and requires some equally high quality solutions from government in order to ensure that we make the best possible use of this expertise. I beg to move.
Moved, That this House takes note of the Report of the Science and Technology Committee on the Defence Research Agency (3rd Report, HL Paper 24).(The Earl of Selborne.)
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