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Lord Avebury: My Lords, is the Minister aware that the live showing the other day of the Poland versus England match was extremely popular? Do the criteria to which the ITC must pay regard include an attempt to break the monopoly of certain broadcasting entities on the live showing of important sporting fixtures?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, if the Government had any doubts about the competence of the ITC I should hardly be likely to express them at the Dispatch Box today. If it is any reassurance to the noble Lord, the ITC, when it announces its decision, will be required to give the rationale for it as well as the decision itself. Any wish on the part of the Opposition Front Bench to seek a parliamentary occasion on which to debate these matters can be referred to the usual channels.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Not in the time available, my Lords. There are six multiplexes available for digital terrestrial broadcasting; each can carry approximately four to six channels. That should at least give the noble Lord an idea of the extension of variety of choice that is possible from the introduction of digital terrestrial broadcasting.
Lord Whitty: My Lords, it is already the case that the European Community has legal personality. However, the Government see no case for extending legal personality to the intergovernmental areas of common foreign and security policy, or to justice and home affairs.
The significance is that it will mark the moment that the European Union assumes the power to act as a single entity on behalf of all countries that are members. This, more than anything else, will mark the subsuming of Great Britain Limited into a European superstate. What evidence do the Government have that that is the desire of the British people? If there is any evidence, will the Minister tell the House in the clearest possible terms what that evidence is?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I listened carefully to the noble Lord but I do not think he listened carefully to me. I said that it is not the Government's view that we should extend legal personality to areas that are essentially intergovernmental. They must remain under the sovereignty of national member states. We therefore oppose what is currently proposed in that area and what was referred to in the newspaper article.
Lord Moynihan: My Lords, I welcome the Minister's Answer. To what extent will the Government oppose any possible recommendation that there should be such an extension? Does he agree that all the evidence shows that a lack of legal personality has never hampered the European Union's ability to act effectively on the international scene and would, if accepted by other nations at Amsterdam, represent an unacceptable transfer of competence that he will resolutely oppose?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, there have been minor difficulties in that the European Union has on occasion to negotiate agreements which cover areas where there is a legal personality in the Community area on trade agreements, while at the same time reaching agreements on areas where there is not a legal personality. That is the technical reason that the proposal was advanced. However, it has massively greater political implications and we therefore oppose the move. We are not alone among member states in doing so, and we will continue to do so. All these points are matters for negotiation. The noble Lord will forgive me if we do not disclose our final hand. However, we are strongly opposed to the concept in the current draft or anything like it.
Lord Whitty: My Lords, it is true that there has been considerable progress on police co-operation on an intergovernmental basis. We wish to build on that. There has been some concern, as the noble Lord indicates, about the degree of democratic accountability in relation to that. We shall examine ways in which that can be achieved without prejudicing the essentially intergovernmental nature of these agreements.
Lord McNally: My Lords, is the Minister aware that this is the first time since I came to this House that the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, has not used a Question on Europe to attack the European Community? Can we be assured that this is not the influence of Peter Mandelson at work in this place?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I wish the noble Lord had waited another two minutes before asking that question! The Government are quite prepared to take questions from any side of this House on their European policy. We have a clear, positive and constructive European policy which we are prepared to defend here or anywhere else.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that I was just about to ask a supplementary question but in my usual courteous way I gave way to the noble Lord, Lord McNally? I simply ask my noble friend to confirm that the decision on a legal personality is one that must be taken by unanimity and therefore if the British Government oppose it, it will not come into operation.
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I am very happy to confirm that position. That matter, as with every other treaty change that will be negotiated in Amsterdam, will be subject to unanimity and therefore will not happen unless the British Government agree it. I am very happy to be in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, on this European issue.
Moved, That a Select Committee be appointed to report whether the provisions of any Bill inappropriately delegate legislative power; to report on documents laid before Parliament under Section 3(3) of the Deregulation and Contracting Out Act 1994 and on draft orders laid under Section 1(4) of that Act; and to perform, in respect of such documents and orders, the functions performed in respect of other instruments by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments; and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following Lords be named of the committee:
The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, I beg to move the second Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. In moving it, I must point out that because of a printer's error, the name of the noble Lord, Lord Hayhoe, has been left off the list of proposed Members of the Committee. I apologise to noble Lords and to the noble Lord, Lord Hayhoe, for that. I therefore propose that the name of the noble Lord, Lord Hayhoe, be added. I beg to move the Motion with that amendment.
Moved, That a Select Committee be appointed to consider the present condition and future development of the public service in Great Britain with particular regard to the effectiveness of recent and continuing changes and their impact on standards of conduct and service in the public interest;
That, for the purposes of the Select Committee, the public service shall be deemed to exclude local government, the National Health Service, schools and institutions of higher and further education, but to include all government departments, executive agencies, non-departmental public bodies and other organisations created by or working for the public service;
L. Brabazon of Tara, L. Croham, L. Cuckney, L. Gillmore of Thamesfield, L. Hayhoe, L. Lane of Horsell, L. McNally, L. Merlyn-Rees, E. Russell, B. Serota, L. Slynn of Hadley (Chairman), B. Turner of Camden;