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Lord Newby: My Lords, does the Minister accept that banks and building societies routinely require the procedures already mentioned because they believe, rightly or wrongly, that they are legal requirements with legal deadlines? No doubt many noble Lords other than myself who have long-standing accounts with banks and other financial institutions have, like me, been required to turn up bearing passports and a utility bill to prove who they are.
Does the noble Lord accept that such box-ticking will frankly be completely useless in dealing with sophisticated money launderers? Does he further accept that it is more important that the FSA issues guidelines about how members of staff of banks and other financial institutions follow due diligence beyond mere box-ticking, to check that people who come through the front door are not potential money launderers?
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I have considerable sympathy with the sentiments expressed by the noble Lord. The exercise is not meant to a box-ticking one, but to ensure that the identity of the person concerned with opening or transferring moneys between accounts is obtained accurately. I assure him that the Financial Services Authority is all too well aware of the fact that there are areas of some confusion. It, too, is eager to emphasise not box-ticking but efficacy. He is absolutely right to say that the rules are intended to control significant abuse, and we solve that problem not by mindless box-ticking but by an intelligent approach to establishing proper identity.
Lord Monson: My Lords, does the Minister agree that although it may be perfectly sensible to require people investing £10,000 or £20,000 to produce a certified copy of their passport and a utility bill, it is quite ridiculous to require people investing £500 or £1,000 to go to such trouble and expense? Money launderers do not deal in such small sums.
If by chance a cheque in the name of one of those noble Lords was mistakenly put in my mail box, I could happily collect it. I am sure that they would complain bitterly if I were to assume their identity.
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I hope that I detected a rather large hypothesis in the noble Lord's contribution. He is right that we need rules and regulations to guard against any form of fraud or money laundering. Noble Lords will be aware that there has been increased sensitivity in recent years because of laundering, which provides international terrorists with opportunities to get their hands on increased amounts of money, and because there have been one or two notorious cases involving substantial movements of money into this country. It was very important indeed that the regulations were in place.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, Her Majesty's Government have regular detailed discussions with European partners at ministerial and official level on issues relating to the current World Trade Organisation trade round. Our current priorities in the run-up to the ministerial meeting in Cancun are agriculture and a settlement of the issue of trade-related intellectual property rights and access to medicines. I am next due to meet my European Union colleagues in Palermo on 6th July.
Lord Dubs: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for her helpful Answer. Is she aware that the average European Union cow is subsidised to the extent of 2.4 dollars a day and that that compares with the 2 dollars a day on which more than 3 billion peoplemore than half the world's populationhave to live? In light of that statistic, is it not clear that the main
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Yes, my Lords. I am very much aware of the appalling statistic that my noble friend rehearsed. The figures vary slightly but I use those statistics myself in trying to persuade my European colleagues that it is monstrous that we do not move from the current position on agricultural subsidies.
I have just come from a meeting this lunchtime of members of the various high commissions of the Commonwealth from around London, where we discussed the WTO. The opening contribution from a developing country was precisely the point raised by my noble friend; that is, that before everything else, the issue involving agriculture is absolutely vital to developing countries.
Lord Elton: My Lords, does the Minister recognise that this is a central issue for the development of policy? A world in which there is such a gross difference between the wealth of different communities is not only immoral but also unsafe. Does she also recognise that it will take great political courage to undertake policies that must in the end involve costs for this country? That courage is greatly needed in governments of any party.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Yes, my Lords. I hope that not only I recognise that but my right honourable friends the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and my noble friend the Secretary of State at DfID recognise that as well. This is a central issue. As the noble Lord said, this is a moral issue and it also involves safety. As we have discussed in your Lordships' House, the increasing levels of poverty in some parts of the world provide fertile territory for those who wish to exploit them for purposes of terrorism and other issues. It is vital that the trade round is a success but I shall not try in any way to undercut the real difficulties that I have foreseen in the trade round. It is already an uphill struggle and there is no indication that it will get any easier in the next few weeks and months.
Lord Hannay of Chiswick: My Lords, does the noble Baroness agree that the issue that we must address as a member of the European Union is only part of the problem? It is good to hear that we are fighting our corner in that regard to get a better trade system. However, the United States must also pull its weight in this regard. Is she satisfied, from what President Bush said at the Evian Summit, that the United States will be prepared to reduce the level of subsidy that, in a different way, is just as damaging to developing countries as to ours?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, the United States must pull its weight; I absolutely agree. The farm Bill, which was passed shortly after the Doha declaration and which referred to phasing out farm subsidies, was a great disappointment to many of us. We must be careful in this regard. The fact is that the United States subsidises its agriculture to the extent of about 23 per cent of expenditure but we in the European Union do so by in the region of 35 per cent. I am afraid that we must also look very carefully at our own house. This issue involves not just the United States but also Japan. The failure to reach an agreement on this at Evian is very disappointing. The export subsidies moratorium that was suggested was not agreed at Evian. I hope that we can return to that issue at the ministerial meeting at Cancun.
Lord Razzall: My Lords, to follow the Minister's response to the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, and in view of Her Majesty's Government's support for the United States in our joint adventure in Iraq, does she accept that this is perhaps the best moment for a decade to extract a quid pro quo from the United States Government in return for our support? I refer in particular to farm subsidies, which, as has been indicated, are particularly damaging to Africa. That does not merely involve farm subsidies; there is also the matter of the steel industry. Noble Lords will be well aware that the United States is in dispute with the World Trade Organisation over potential subsidies. Is this not a moment for the Prime Minister to exercise his muscle with his new-found friend?
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