Peers debate Council of Europe and local democracy

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The Earl of Dundee led a debate on assisting local and regional democracy in Europe following the UK's recent chairmanship of the Council of Europe on 6 February 2013.

The Earl of Dundee focused on the role of the Council to encourage "wellbeing of communities and active citizenship" and argued that "improved local democracy reduces costs and protects rights".

He also impressed on peers the importance of the Council functioning efficiently and coherently.

Labour's Lord Judd spoke about alleged human rights abuse in Russia and the need for Russians to have access to the European Court of Human Rights.

Regional devolution was the theme of Lib Dem Lord Greaves' speech, as he made the case for the north of England to become independence.

Conservative Baroness Wilcox discussed how effective local government in Europe could encourage more trade between Britain and the continent, helping the UK out of recession.

Responding for the opposition, Lord Liddle said the "real value" was the ability of the Council of Europe to send advisers and rapporteurs to different countries to ensure they were abiding by the standards of the Council.

Government spokesperson Baroness Hanham concluded: "Good democratic governance is a foundation on which prosperous and stable societies can be built, where there is a respect for fundamental freedoms."

Britain chaired the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers from November 2011 to May 2012.

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