HL Deb 13 December 1994 vol 559 cc1271-3

7.5 p.m.

Barones Chalker of Wallasey rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 1st December be approved [2nd Report from the Joint Committee].

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, it is proposed that this draft order should be made under Section 1(3) of the European Communities Act 1972. This provides that a treaty entered into by the United Kingdom after 22nd January 1972 shall not be regarded as a Community treaty unless it is specified as such by order in council. The draft order specifies the WTO agreement as a Community treaty from the time the agreement is in force for the United Kingdom. The principal effect of declaring the agreement to be a Community treaty is to bring into play the provisions of Section 2 of the Act which provides for the implementation of treaties specified as Community treaties.

There is nothing strange about this at all. It is very much a legal matter of just making sure that we are completely in tune with the Community treaties. I understand that the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments considered this draft instrument and had no comments. I commend the order to the House.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 1st December be approved [2nd Report from the Joint Committee]. —(Baroness Chalker of Wallasey.)

Lord Graham of Edmonton

My Lords, the House is indebted to the Minister for being clear, precise and speaking very briefly. We on these Benches endorse what she has said.

Lord Rea

My Lords, perhaps the noble Baroness will correct me if I am wrong, but I do not believe that either House has had an opportunity to debate the actual setting up and accountability of this new organisation which will oversee GATT. Can the noble Baroness say whether an opportunity to do that will arise or is it too late? Has it all been done? Whether that is so or not, can she say how Parliament can or will be informed of the deliberations of the World Trade Organisation and how accountable our representative in that organisation will be to Parliament? Will that be through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or through the DTI? I shall be grateful for a few words from the noble Baroness on that topic.

Barones Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, I understand that the other place debated the Uruguay Round Agreement on 14th June of this year. I can tell the noble Lord that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, together with the DTI, obviously has responsibility for representing our interests at the World Trade Organisation in Geneva. I can further tell the noble Lord that this order before us tonight does not do anything other than what I have explained. There is no inwardness and no secretiveness. I sincerely hope that, after a long and difficult debate, we have secured the completion of the Uruguay Round and opened trading which will do so much to help all nations of the world and that that will now be very much the order of the day. I hope that the World Trade Organisation will not have to chase up too many people who fail to be open traders.

Lord Kennet

My Lords, the noble Baroness did not actually answer my noble friend's question about whether there will be a reporting arrangement to Parliament through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office from our representative in the new organisation. It will be interesting to know that. Do the Government intend or hope to do anything, even if it is only a hope?

Barones Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, there is no reason why there could not be a regular report if that was judged to be right. There is an annual reporting system by all representatives of international bodies. That is not a secret matter. We have not been required or asked before to have regular debates on these matters, but I shall bring the noble Lord's remarks to the attention of the Lord Privy Seal and the business managers. I do not think that noble Lords will find a great need to debate this although there may be occasional questions on it, which I shall be only too glad to answer.

Lord Kennet

My Lords, I am much obliged.

On Question, Motion agreed to.