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Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, I hope the noble Lord will forgive me for intervening. I want to ask him one direct question before he moves on from the banana dispute. What is the Government's position on the proposed carousel sanctions, given that some firms have suffered hugely from being targeted?
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, carousel sanctions are particularly damaging because they can destroy an industry, such as the Border's fine woollens industry, and then move on to another industry, such as some forms of packaging, without giving the original target a chance to recover. Therefore, carousel sanctions are particularly damaging. They have been damaging in relation to the banana dispute. The only way in which we can alleviate the burdens on all the companies facing possible US sanctions is to find a solution to the banana dispute satisfactory to all parties. We have been among the strongest voices in Brussels pushing for a solution. As such, we would not have expected the United States to target sectors that will hit UK industry. We have been able to lobby the US hard to get this message across. The Secretary of State for Trade and Industry spoke to the US Ambassador on this matter as recently as last month.
The other sector which attracted as much attention as agriculture was, quite properly, services. We are the second largest exporter of services, next only to the US. We have a major offensive interest in securing an ambitious, liberalising negotiation in the WTO. We have been one of the strongest advocates in the EU for early progress on market access negotiations.
We need to maintain a comprehensive approach to the "GATS 2000" services negotiations, from which no service sector or mode of supply is excluded a priori. We have many interests in many service sectors and we would not want to give other countries which are also sensitive to these matters any excuse to remove these sectors from possible negotiation. But the benefits from service liberalisation apply to all WTO members, including developing countries. It promotes more efficient, competitive and varied services and helps to attract inward investment. I fully agree with the noble
We are still making progress on service negotiations under the built-in agenda. The negotiations formally started on 25th February. The WTO Council for Trade in Services formally agreed on a work programme for the first phase of the negotiations covering the period until March 2001. Therefore, I can say to the noble Lord, Lord Freeman, that those negotiations are not stalled, as he seemed to think they were. We are starting to get proposals for negotiations, for example, in the area of tourism, energy and environmental services.
The Government believe that it is very important that investment should be included in any WTO new Round. The Select Committee's recommendations on investment largely reflect our thinking. The EU objectives are long term. Our immediate priority is to begin negotiations. We are doing so within the WTO Working Party on Trade and Investment. It follows from investment--the noble Lord, Lord Sharman, made this valuable point--that we should be adding competition to the agenda. That is being properly and effectively led by the European Commission.
We agree basically with what the report says about intellectual property issues. One of the major issues is the time that is necessary for developing countries to implement the standards of the TRIPS agreement. The deadline was January this year but it is only being felt at the present time. So we do not think that this is the right time to seek revisions of the standards set in the agreement. The least developed countries still have five years to introduce the existing standards. However, we recognise the value of what was said by my noble friend Lord Tomlinson, about the humanitarian concessions made by United States pharmaceutical companies, among others.
Many speakers discussed trade and labour issues, as well as social standards and whether a social clause should be included in the WTO. We think that there are real dangers here. This could mean the WTO acting in areas where other international institutions have primacy, in particular the International Labour Organisation. I can confirm our view to the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, that it is important that we do not try to make the WTO solely responsible for dealing with environmental and social issues. We need to ensure co-operation between the WTO and the ILO, the Bretton Woods institutions and the United Nations bodies. Here I agree with my noble friend Lord Lea, not least because he agrees with what I said on 19th April; namely, that the EU position is that there should be a joint WTO/ILO standing forum which would be outside the WTO structure.
I do not have anything specific to add to the issue of dispute settlements. I have referred to the issue of public hearings. Of course I understand the point made by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, about the need for greater funding of the legal advisory centre.
In closing, I should like to refer to the only area where we may be in contention with the committee; namely, the issue of the timing of the next comprehensive round of trade negotiations. We believe that, given the benefits which a new round could give, we should continue to press ahead to launch a new round as soon as possible. We do not differ on the importance of learning lessons from the Seattle conference. We support Mike Moore and Ambassador Bryn's consultation with the WTO members in Geneva, which includes issues such as reforms surrounding internal transparency and the effective transparency of WTO members. The next step in that process will be a general council meeting next Monday, 17th July.
Given the importance of allowing sufficient time for preparation, parallel work on reform of the WTO should enable us to do this. We continue to believe that we should make efforts to launch a round as soon as possible. I simply cannot agree with my noble friend Lord Desai that we should wait for a new US president to settle himself or herself in. I do not believe that any such excuse for delay, which could occur in any country in the world and could be based on political or economic events, should be allowed to delay a round which could result in huge benefits for the world in terms of economic and trade liberalisation.
In conclusion, we agree with a very great part of the report, in particular on the benefits of the rule-based system for free trade. We believe that significant worldwide benefits will flow from further trade liberalisation, from which all major regions of the world would gain and significant worldwide income gains would flow. The Government are grateful to all those who took part in the preparation of the report and to all who have taken part in this debate.
Lord Tomlinson: My Lords, I shall be very brief. This has been an excellent debate. I should like, first, to thank all noble Lords who have made their valuable and much valued contributions. Normally it would be invidious to refer to individual contributions, but I am sure that the whole House would want me to pay tribute to my noble friend, Professor Lord Parekh, who has sent his apologies. He had to leave the House just before the closing speeches. My noble friend made a quite remarkable maiden speech and I am sure that it added greatly to our deliberations.
Equally, I am sure that the members of the committee will support me next week, when in both Sub-Committee A and in the Select Committee, I take up the points made by the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, as regards the necessity to look at the dissemination of the conclusions of Select Committee reports in this House. It is a necessity of which we are all conscious.
First, on the question of a ministerial review of the mandate, there will have to be a substantially better explanation of the role of the Article 133 Committee for us to accept that as being the equivalent of ministerial review. Members of the committee are unanimous in their belief that there should have been a ministerial review of the mandate, even if it was only to say that, having reviewed it, the Government reconfirmed it.
The second point that I should like to make to my noble friend, again in the spirit in which he replied to the debate, concerns the timing of the next ministerial conference. I believe that I speak with the authority of all members of Sub-Committee A in asking the Minister to convey this message to the Government: quite simply, we think that you are wrong, and we urge you to take that view more fully into account when you examine the evidence of the report. That said, I sincerely thank my noble friend for his contribution to the debate.
At Second Reading, I, and in Committee the noble Lord, Lord Bach, indicated the Government's support in principle for the Bill. As I said at that time, we have received advice from counsel that the Bill is not compatible with Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights in that it discriminates on grounds of religion. For that reason, the Government have tabled these amendments to ensure that the Bill is compatible with the convention.
The effect of the first amendment is to confine the provisions of the Bill to the Jewish faith in the first instance. The second amendment would allow the Lord Chancellor to add other faith groups as and when appropriate. The Government seek to take this action as, at present, only the Jewish community has approached the Government for this remedy. In the circumstances, it would be inappropriate to confer rights on all faith groups without evidence that the provision would be welcome to them. The second
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