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Lord Burnham: My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt the noble Lord and thank him for giving way. Perhaps I may remind him of the position of my noble and learned friend Lord Mackay of Clashfern, the former Lord Chancellor--a man of deep religious principles and not a member of the Church of England about whom, in the early stages of his appointment, there was a great deal of discussion--and, I believe, in his own mind--as regards his fitness to act as Lord Chancellor. However, he ultimately decided that it was perfectly proper for him so to do.
Lord Alderdice: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his intervention because, of course, he makes my point for me. The noble Lord indicated that it was a matter of great discussion and, indeed, one perhaps of great personal wrestling as to whether or not the appointment was appropriate--and this in someone who is a member of a Church which is in communion with the Church of England. However, that is not the case in respect of the Catholic Church and would not be the case in respect of someone who did not hold religious convictions or who held convictions which were opposed to the notion of the Christian faith.
As the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, said, one of the difficulties at times is that, in this part of the world, the notion of those of religious convictions of various kinds coming together is a powerful one. But I have to tell
This is an interesting matter. It is interesting to note the strength of feeling that emerges when we begin to scratch at it. I believe that this matter needs to be addressed. I confess myself a little surprised and disappointed that the Government do not feel that this matter should be addressed in this way, despite the debate that has occurred. I trust that subsequent to this debate the Government will consider the matter and will consider some of the points that have been made. I hope that the Government will then be more agreeably disposed to the matter and, if necessary, will bring forward some amendments to this small Bill in order that the problems which they believe it contains may be resolved. I hope the message will go out that those who take the Woolsack do not have to perform religious functions for which they do not have conviction, and that someone's religious conviction is a purely personal matter which should not be tied up with the matter we are discussing.
The purpose of the second component of the Bill, to which the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, and the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor have referred, is to enable someone to be appointed--this is not obligatory--to fulfil necessary ecclesiastical and other functions, but that that requirement should not be imposed by others but could come from within the conscience of the Lord Chancellor. I commend the Bill to the House.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman) rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 21st January be approved [20th Report from the Joint Committee].
The two orders before the House both relate to the wind up of the remaining eight urban development corporations in England. Twelve statutory orders in total are required to achieve this, but only these two are subject to an affirmative procedure.
One of these two orders revokes earlier ones which set up the UDCs, and which designated the areas in which they operate. The other transfers certain powers from the London Docklands Development Corporation to suitable successor bodies. These are primarily powers to make by-laws and to control navigation within Docklands. Other orders have been laid before the
One order provides for the UDCs' planning functions to return to the relevant local authorities. Another order transfers any assets and liabilities remaining with the UDCs on 1st April to the Commission for the New Towns. The UDCs have now disposed of most of their assets and liabilities, mainly to the private sector, to local authorities and to English Partnerships. But it is necessary to have a residuary body for what remains. The Commission for the New Towns has been designated as this residuary body.
Wind up of the UDCs has been taking place in piecemeal fashion since 1995. Not only did the previous government create the UDCs, but they also began the programme for dissolving them. When this Government took office, four UDCs had gone; and preparations for winding up the remaining eight in England by April 1998 were well-advanced. To remove any uncertainty, the Government confirmed early on that this process would continue. These orders represent the conclusion of the process.
The UDCs were always intended to be time-limited bodies. They were established in run-down areas in and around some of our major cities--areas where the private sector was no longer willing to invest. Armed with wide powers, their task was to remove the decay and dereliction, and revive the economic fortunes of their areas. The idea was that, once these areas had been given a much-needed "shot in the arm", and the regeneration process was well under way, the corporations could then be wound up.
Many such areas have been transformed as a result of the UDCs being there. New commercial and industrial development has taken place on neglected sites, creating nearly a quarter of a million jobs. Forty thousand new homes have been built. New roads and airports have been developed. Much has been done to create a better environment. All this has led to an uplift in investor confidence. For every £1 of public money that has been invested in the UDCs, nearly £4 of private money has been attracted to these areas.
These are impressive achievements, although we should not overlook the fact that nearly £4 billion of public funds have gone into the UDCs over the past 17 years. Whether good value has been achieved for this huge sum of money is open to question. A key test will be how sustainable these improvements prove to be over time.
The Government believe that the way forward for tackling regeneration lies in an approach based more directly on partnership, community involvement and local accountability, an approach which ensures that physical and social regeneration are carried out hand-in-hand. We shall be looking to the new regional development agencies to bring this about.
Therefore, while we should acknowledge the achievements of the UDCs, and give them credit for overcoming the initial hostility, we believe the time has come to bring this programme to a close and move on.
Lord Brabazon of Tara: My Lords, I support the orders that the noble Baroness has explained so carefully to the House. I am glad that she acknowledges that the urban development corporations have on the whole been a success. As she said, they were, of course, time limited and their time is now up.
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, this proposed Statutory Instrument is an application of provisions order amending the unit of currency defining the limits of liability applicable to air carriers under the terms of the Warsaw Convention. It has been prepared as a consequence of the recent coming into force of a protocol to the convention which the UK and other countries have ratified.
Noble Lords will be aware that the Warsaw Convention is a long-standing international agreement setting out certain rules relating to air carriage including the liability of air carriers in respect of passengers, baggage and cargo. It has been amended on a number of occasions since its inception in 1929, notably at the Hague in 1955 and at Guadalajara in 1961. These amendments have been ratified and have come into force. In an amendment concluded in Montreal in 1975, references to French gold francs for the various limits of liability were changed to an equivalent amount in an internationally recognised unit of account known as the special drawing right (SDR). Although the UK signed and in 1984 ratified this amendment, it could not come into force until at least 30 states had ratified it. During the course of 1997 officials in my department were
This order amends the Carriage by Air Acts (Application of Provisions) Order 1967. The latter applies the provisions of the Carriage by Air Act 1961 and the Carriage by Air (Supplementary Provisions) Act 1962, with modifications set out in that order, to carriage to which those Acts would otherwise not apply. The principal amendment provides for the introduction of an additional schedule (Schedule 3) to have effect in respect of certain international carriage between states who are parties to Additional Protocol No. 1 of Montreal 1975, introducing the new unit of account--the SDR.
The structure of the legislation and the reason affirmative resolution is necessary is that it follows the pattern of Schedule 2 of the 1967 order by detailing in Part A the changes required to the amended convention (as set out in the 1961 Act) and then, for ease of reference, presenting the complete text in Part B.
The proposal is a technical one providing merely for an SDR equivalent for French gold franc liability limits in the case of certain international air carriage between the UK and some other countries; namely, those who also have ratified Montreal Protocol No. 1. It does not alter limits. It is made so as to provide for implementation into UK domestic law of international obligations which we in fact accepted in 1984. I commend it to your Lordships.
Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 26th January be approved [21st Report from the Joint Committee].--(Baroness Hayman.)
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