HL Deb 19 December 1961 vol 236 cc661-79

2.51 p.m.

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Denham.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The LORD MERTHYR in the Chair.]

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 [Status and privileges of Eurocontrol]:

LORD OGMORE moved, in the proviso to subsection (3), to leave out paragraph (a) and to insert instead: () by any person acting through legal process or under an order of the court; () by a constable acting in the execution of a warrant.

The noble Lord said: I want to say that, generally speaking, I very much support this Bill. I believe that it is a timely Bill in every possible way. As your Lordships know, it provides for European co-operation in matters of air navigation, and also provides for the common organisation of the air traffic services in the upper air space. It is quite obvious that national boundaries in these matters are no longer sufficient, and therefore we must have Continental boundaries; and no doubt in due course we shall have hemispheric, or even world, authorities to deal with these matters.

An essential requirement, of course, in air traffic, particularly in civil air traffic, is the question of safety. The safety margins, I am sorry to say, are becoming imperilled to some extent by the ever-increasing speed of aircraft. The time for crews' reactions is becoming ever smaller, because a man's reactions do not increase or alter with the mechanical needs imposed by aircraft; and landing speeds are getting faster. This is clearly recognised because there is no doubt that since the jets have come in insurance risks have gone up. Let us take the last few years. In 1957 Lloyd's Underwriters had an excess of claims over premiums of £848,000. The year 1958 was a better year; the premiums were £17,300,000, and exceeded the claims by about £1 million. The next year, 1959, was a good year; by that time the premiums had gone up to £25 million. The years 1960 and 1961, on the other hand, have been expensive years for the air insurers at Lloyd's. The winter of 1960 alone cost Lloyd's over £10 million in claims.

One reason for this is not so much that there are many more accidents, but that the aircraft themselves are so very expensive. Indeed, for jets it is possible to have claims of up to £2 million for the hull alone. This situation is one which obviously needs to be watched, and anything we can do to encourage or develop safety in the air is all to the good. This question particularly concerns the United Kingdom, because a great deal of insurance business is placed here. Therefore, we are more concerned in the question of possible claims than are many other countries, and certainly many other countries in the Eurocontrol area.

So far as this Bill is concerned, the only objection I have to it is that, as it stands at present, it may result in people who are travellers by air and who are injured in the course of an accident, or the personal representatives of unfortunate people who are killed in the course of an accident, not being able to establish their claims, either against the company which runs the aircraft or against the Organisation itself, by reason of the fact that they may not be able to get the necessary evidence to substantiate those claims. This is really the crux of this Amendment, which I will explain a little more fully, so that your Lordships can understand what I have in mind.

If your Lordships will look at subsection (3) of the Clause with which we are concerned, Clause 2, you will see that it confers the protection of inviolability normally given to archives and premises of a diplomatic representative of a foreign sovereign Power to the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation in relation to the official archives of the Organisation. In other words, the Organisation's archives are put on the same basis as is usually applied to diplomatic representatives in this country. The subsection gives effect to Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 26 of the Convention relating to co-operation for the safety of air navigation. These Paragraphs provide:

  1. "1. The installations and archives of the Organisation shall be inviolable.…
  2. "2. The property and assets of the Organisation may not be seized nor may execution be levied upon them, except by a judicial decision".

The effect of the proviso to Subsection (3) of Clause 2 of this Bill is to preclude the inspection of any record or document except by a constable or other person acting in the execution of a warrant or other legal process". This may seem to some of your Lordships (if there be any not learned in the law) as being a fairly wide provision, but unfortunately there is a legal rule which considerably limits the scope of this proviso. The expressions "a constable or other person", and "a warrant or other legal process", might result in this provision being interpreted as stipulating that the only person to whom there is given right of inspection of a document in the possession of the Organisation is a constable, or a person acting on his behalf, in pursuance of a warrant or other legal process in connection with criminal proceedings.

In another place the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Aviation confirmed that the interpretation which I am putting on this aspect of the matter is correct, and that there would not automatically be conferred on anybody other than the competent authorities the right of access to documents within the control of the Organisation. In the result, the Organisation will be granted immunity, not only from the service of a subpæna, but also from an order for discovery. Your Lordships can well imagine what might be the result. If a person in this country had a claim, either against Lloyd's or underwriters of Lloyd's, or a private individual, or the executors of a private individual, had a claim, it might be very difficult for him or them, in an action against the air carrier or the Organisation, or both jointly, to prove the contents of signals which passed between the aircraft pilot and the air traffic control operator. It often happens, as your Lordships know, that the crew are, unfortunately, killed when an accident occurs. Therefore, the record of the signals which are made immediately before the moment of impact is of first importance in establishing the cause of the accident, and whether or not there was any negligence. Under the provisions as they stand at the moment it would be very difficult for a person to obtain the record from the Organisation.

It was similarly confirmed, during the Committee stage of the Bill in the House of Commons, that the proviso in subsection (3) is intended to give effect to paragraph 3 of Article 26 of the Convention, which provides that the proviso of this Article shall not prejudice access to installations or archives of the Organisation by competent authorities of the State in which the Organisation has its seat and in all other countries in which these installations and archives may be situated, in order to enable judicial inquiries to be carried out and to ensure the execution of judicial decisions in their respective territories. It may well be that the interpretation by the courts of this provision will ensure that any right of access to the archives of the Organisation is limited to the competent authorities of the State. If that is so, it is all right for the State, but it does not help the individual.

Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 25 make the Organisation fully liable, both in contract and in tort, and this purpose is carried out in subsection (1) of Clause 2, subject to the exemptions conferred in subsection (2), which do not include the exemption of a legal process or suit contained in paragraph 1 of the Schedule of the International Organisations Act, 1950. Furthermore, Clause 7 (3) (b) grants jurisdiction to the Courts of the United Kingdom to hear claims against the Organisation in respect of wrongful acts committeed outside the jurisdiction of the court. It is envisaged that the position of a litigant who seeks redress for a wrong committed by the Organisation, which is expressly confirmed in the Bill, might be difficult where any evidence that exists is contained in the archives of the Organisation.

During the Committee stage in the House of Commons, Mr. Graham Page tabled an Amendment to delete paragraph (a) of the proviso to Clause 2 (3) and to insert in substitution there for the first two parts of my Amendment—that is to say:

  1. "(a) by any person acting through legal process or under an order of the court;
  2. (b)by a constable acting in the execution of a warrant."
This Amendment, which received the support of the Opposition, was withdrawn (I think this is an important point for the Government) on an assurance given by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Aviation that careful note would be taken of this. Does the noble Lord disagree?


My honourable friend gave no such assurance in another place.


Well, we can look it up.


If the noble Lord will allow me to say so, I can also confirm that no assurance had been given.


I was going to raise this point when I spoke in answer to the noble Lord's Amendment. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, raised this point. What happened was that my honourable friend who sits for Crosby in another place said when he withdrew his Amendment that he did so in the hope that further consideration would be given to this point in your Lordships' House. The honourable Member who spoke for the Opposition echoed this hope, but no undertaking was given, and I can see nothing in what either honourable Member said which leads me to think that they were under the impression that an undertaking had been given.


I accept that, of course: it was not an assurance, but a hope on the part of Mr. Page and others. We shall see whether or not that hope is going to be realised. It was stated on behalf of the Government that since the Organisation is to be responsible for movement in the upper air, not only of civil aircraft but also of military aircraft, all member States would be involved and the granting of a right of access to the Organisation's archives would mean that that might affect questions of security, which might be prejudicial to national safety and to other member States in dealing with possible claims under Crown privilege, if any there may be. This was a point which I think was fully realised.

I understand that in these days one must accept that there are certain areas in which the rights of the private individual, if they conflict with the rights of the State and the security of the State. must go by the board. One is not always quite happy about the exact limitations of the rights of the State and the needs of security being as carefully drawn as they should be. One has a suspicion, which I hope is not justified, that, at times at all events, the security of the State is a sort of umbrella over merely administrative convenience, not only in this country but in many other countries as well.

Therefore, I have put down the second part of my Amendment to cover this position. If this Amendment were carried and if there was a case in which the Government believed that it would be injurious to the public interest to give a right of disclosure in any particular matter, then no right of disclosure would be had and the records would be inviolable. The form of words closely follows the provisions of Section 28 (1) of the Crown Proceedings Act, 1947, and that would seem to be a very respectable precedent to follow. In short, the purpose of my Amendment is to enable people, whether underwriters at Lloyd's, firms or private individuals, to obtain the necessary evidence to substantiate any claims they may have either against the carriers or the Organisation and at the same time to ensure that, if there is a question of public safety or the safety of the Realm, then this provision would not apply.

I should like to ask one other question, which might helpfully be put in here rather than in another stage. It is a question about the diplomatic immunity of officers. Would the noble Lord be good enough to inform the Committee whether diplomatic immunity of officers is conferred in any way at all by this Bill or is proposed in any order under the Bill, as distinct from the immunity of the Organisation itself. I beg to move.

Amendment moved—

Page 2, line 22, leave out paragraph (a) and insert the said new paragraphs.—(Lord Ogmore.)


I should like briefly to support this Amendment, because I submit to your Lordships that this is a question about which we have to be very careful, We are being asked to approve the setting up of machinery for the introduction into this country of an international organisation which, very rightly, shall be given special privileges and powers. I say "very rightly" because I think we all support the principle involved and it is one which can be carried out only in this way. On the other hand, in setting up a privileged international Organisation in this country, I think we should be exceedingly careful to see that we do not prejudice the rights and responsibilities of our own people who may at some time or other require to have dealings with this Organisation.

I do not believe there is anything whatsoever between the intentions of those of us who support this Amendment and the Government. Reference has been made to the debate in another place, and my impression, which I derive from what was said by the Minister who replied for the Government, was that in effect the Government agreed that the protection being asked by the Amendments there moved was reasonable, and that of course the Organisation would never, in a proper case, or in normal circumstances, decline to produce the evidence for which they were asked. That may well be. But why should they not be obligated to produce this material by the provisions of the Bill? Why should they be protected and given the opportunity to say: "No; we do not want to provide this material, and we are not obligated to do so because under the Bill we are protected from the liability and the responsibility of producing these documents"? If circumstances were to arise in which such an attitude were to be adopted, it might be exceedingly prejudicial to citizens in this country who required the evidence in order to submit a comprehensive case to the courts, without which they might not be able to recover that which was their right and was due to them. It might not necessarily be a claim against the Organisation, but against some third party, but only the Organisation would have the available evidence.

From what I understood of the debate in another place, there was by no means any intention on the part of the Government to withhold or to authorise the withholding of such information, but they did not consider it necessary to make it obligatory upon the Organisation to produce it. I really fail to see the purport of that argument. If it is the intention to produce this evidence, upon due authority and the requirement of the courts of this country, why should not the provisions in the Bill require the Organisation to do it, instead of enabling them not to do so? I feel that we are being asked to set a dangerous precedent and one which, incidentally, seems to be most extraordinary, because, while it does not protect the Organisation from submitting to a police constable who has a search warrant, yet it does protect them from submitting to the order of one of Her Majesty's Judges which would achieve the same purpose if, in the Judge's discretion, he made an order for discovery against the Organisation.

For these reasons, I submit that there is great merit both in the objective of the Amendment, which I do not think is denied by the Government, and also in the Amendment itself. As the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, said, a full appreciation has been accepted of the necessity for ensuring that the Organisation are able to take proper provisions for security in relation to matters concerned both in this country and in other Western European countries. That having been recognised, the second part of the Amendment is specifically designed to ensure that security shall not be breached, but that the Organisation shall continue to enjoy all proper and reasonable security. But it is the first part of the Amendment which makes the slight enlargement for which we ask to the powers which are already contained in the Bill, and which we submit should properly be enlarged, both for the protection of the citizens of this country and, incidentally, for the citizens of other countries, and also because it is quite illogical to prefer an action by a constable to an authority given by a High Court Judge.

3.16 p.m.


While discussion of these Amendments has enabled the Committee to consider a question of importance—and we are much indebted to the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, for occasioning this and to my noble friend Lord Brentford forgiving us his judgment on it—I am afraid that I must ask your Lordships not to accept the Amendments. The purpose of subsection (3) of Clause 2 as it stands is to ensure the inviolability of the official archives of the organisation and of premises which are used for housing their installations. Under the proviso to the subsection, however, the existing rights of access to constables, courts of inquiry and inspectors of accidents are preserved.

The subsection gives effect to Article 26 of the Convention, which is the Article concerned with the inviolability of the installations and archives of the organisation. Its third paragraph provides that it shall not prejudice access …by the competent authorities … in order to enable judicial inquiries to be carried out and to ensure the execution of judicial decisions. My right honourable friend the Minister is advised that Clause 2, and particularly subsection (3), is in accordance with the Convention. The noble Lord's Amendments would produce a situation inconsistent with Her Majesty's Government's obligations under the Convention. The Amendments are designed, as the noble Lord has said, to permit the procedures of an order for discovery and subpœna duces tecum to apply to the Commission's archives, subject to safeguards in the public interest: that is to say, to take the subpoena first, whether or not the Organisation were party to the case, a litigant would be able to obtain an order of the court requiring the production in court of the official archives. Turning to the order for discovery, the opponent of the Organisation in litigation in which it was involved would be able to obtain an order requiring the Organisation to list those of the documents in their possession which were relevant to the case and not otherwise privileged—for example, by solicitor and client privilege.

By the second Amendment the noble Lord has sought to introduce safeguards for the public interest. My noble friend Lord Brentford asked me why, if under the Bill as it stands a constable can get access to the documents, the same should not apply to one of Her Majesty's Judges? The point is not that anyone would wish one of Her Majesty's Judges not to get access, but that under the Amendment as it stands anyone would be able to obtain an order and, therefore, access to the documents. As your Lordships will be aware, an order for discovery or subpoena is, in effect, issued by the solicitor for the litigant and obtains access to documents for him. For a private litigant to have a right of access goes beyond access (in the words of Article 26 (3) of the Convention): … by the competent authorities … in order to enable judicial inquiries to be carried out and to ensure the execution of judicial decisions … As the noble Lord explained, his second Amendment is designed to permit the Minister to have discretion to prevent the production of the Organisation's archives in the public interest—a consideration applicable if, for example, military security were involved. In effect, if I may summarise, it seeks to apply a kind of Crown privilege procedure. After careful consideration of the implications, however, my right honourable friend is advised that the giving of discretion to the Minister as to the inviolability of the archives of the Organisation would be inconsistent with Article 26 of the Convention, and its use against the wishes of the Organisation (which the Minister would have had great influence in forming) would be a breach of the Convention.

If an Amendment on these lines were carried, the Minister would have either to claim privilege in every case in which the Organisation wished that privilege should be claimed, on the ground that it was contrary to the public interest of all the contracting parties that any document belonging to the Organisation should be disclosed, or to claim privilege only in those cases in which the particular information contained in the document appeared to him, no doubt after consulting other contracting parties concerned, to be in the nature of a State secret. If the former, the total result of the Amendments would be nothing at all. If the latter, we should not be giving effect to the terms of Article 26 of the Convention.

Your Lordships will appreciate the considerations of security and national defence that are involved in this. Indeed, noble Lords who have already spoken have mentioned this point. The Eurocontrol Organisation are called upon by the Convention and Statute to work in close collaboration with the military authorities and to use existing national installations (which are likely to include military installations) as much as possible in the interests of economy. This is stated in the Convention Preamble Article 6 (2, a) and Article 28. The Organisation's close co-operation with military air traffic control and defence authorities is bound to mean that, one way and another, the information in the hands of Eurocontrol would concern not only the movements of military aircraft but information of even greater importance, such as the performance of military aircraft and also the capacity of military ground and airborne equipment. Observance of this feature of the Convention by the members of the Organisation will be of importance to the safeguarding of security information in all the member countries. It is of importance to the United Kingdom that military information in which we have a stake, perhaps concerning our own aircraft equipments and so on, should be protected from disclosure in the other member States. That interest is secured by adhering scrupulously to the Convention.

There are some further general considerations that I should like to represent to your Lordships. The first is that, in contrast to other international organisations, Eurocontrol will have only a few of the immunities and privileges normally given. The second is that nothing in the Bill or the Convention will prevent the Eurocontrol Organisation from waiving their immunity when they think fit; and, indeed, they are obliged by Article 27 (1) to collaborate in facilitating the good administration of justice and to prevent any abuse of privileges. There is no reason to think that the Organisation will not waive their immunity in any appropriate case. All the member Governments and the Organisation collectively will have reason to avoid behaviour which would affront opinion or might be criticised as standing in the way of justice in the member countries. Thirdly, Her Majesty's Government, having a considerable and often decisive voice in the affairs of Eurocontrol, will be able to bring their influence to bear in securing a sound and reasonable practice in these matters, and will not fail to do so whenever the situation so requires. As noble Lords will know, it will, of course, be possible for questions to be asked and Motions to be put down in Parliament concerning the actions of the responsible Minister's representatives in the Organisation.

I should like to answer one point put by the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, about diplomatic privileges. No immunity is given to the officers of the Organisation as individuals, as distinct from the Organisation itself. Indeed, if at any time it should be wished to give diplomatic immunity—which is not the intention—the only way to do it would be either by separate legislation or by an Order under the International Organisations (Immunities and Privileges) Act, 1950; and such an Order would be subject to Affirmative Resolution of both Houses of Parliament.

I have sought to satisfy your Lordships, first, that it is necessary for the Bill to be drafted as it is to satisfy the Convention; secondly, that it was right for the Convention to be so drafted, and, thirdly, that the rights of the citizen are properly safeguarded having regard to the first two points. I am afraid that I must ask your Lordships not to support this Amendment.

3.27 p.m.


I should first like to confirm what the noble Lord has said, that no undertaking was given in another place. I should have thought the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, was too experienced a Parliamentarian to be taken in by the words of the Parliamentary Secretary when he assured the Committee that he would take careful note of everything that has been said. This was the sum total of the Government's assurance. I am no lawyer, but it is apparent to me that this Amendment must fail. However, I think the Government arc none the less open to criticism, partly because one of the main reasons given for rejecting the Amendment moved in another place was the question of security, and, as I understand it, the Amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, takes care of that particular issue. Certainly that was the main reason which was given in another place.

Secondly, it appears as if the Government themselves would have allowed such a power to exist. There were statements made in another place by the Parliamentary Secretary [OFFICIAL REPORT, Commons, Vol. 650 (No. 25), col. 1052] where they said that it should be waived. Another example was given at col. 1048, where it was suggested that they hoped it would be waived. The difficulty is Article 26. This Article is in the Convention by agreement and by decision of the Government. They were the negotiating bodies. We are not latecomers. This is not the Treaty of Rome with which we are concerned, something we are applying to join later. It rather suggests that, in the negotiation of these international Agreements by which, in effect, we set up within our own country supra-national bodies having certain powers, rights and immunities, and not susceptible to the type of judicial, legal or Parliamentary control to which we are accustomed, more regard should be paid to what, in fact, is British practice in this matter.

Here again, we are in the difficulty I mentioned before; that this Bill is merely an enabling Bill to carry out something already provided for by the Convention to set up the Agency. There is power to do a number of things, including to own property and to act in the same sort of way as any other inhabitant of this country; and it appears in this important respect under Article 26. I do not doubt for one moment the interpretation of Article 26, that they are having a protection which we do not, so far as I know, extend to anybody else in this country in this sort of situation; but I may be wrong. And it really is a matter that ought not to pass without protest, even for consideration. It is perhaps late in the day to consider whether or not some protocol or amendment to the Convention might not be considered to provide for matters of this kind.

As I understand the noble Lord to say, it is possible to ask Ministers questions on this subject. It may be, in this House, where we get away with a great deal more; but I shall be very surprised if effective answers on such detailed day-to-day matters could be given by a Minister of the Crown in another place, if, in fact, the immunity in regard to the desire of a British citizen was not waived. I wonder how far the noble Lord can give us an assurance that, in the procedures which are laid down for the operation of this Agency, it will be clearly written in, or instructions will be given, that the immunity will be waived on every occasion when security is not involved. It is so easy to hide behind these matters, and it will be the natural reaction of the international civil servant to avoid trouble. That is a trait which is common to us all, and here is their permission written into Article 26. While I do not think there is any chance of this Amendment succeeding, I should like to ask the Government whether they cannot give some further assurance that they will exercise their authority, not in the general term that they hope to see these things are done, but by specific instructions to the Agency.


May I detain the Committee for just one moment? I should not have wished to intervene on the merits of this particular Amendment, because I think the noble Lord has made his case. I want, if I may, with great respect, to disagree slightly with my noble friend on one thing he said, and that is when he rebuked the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, for being so simple as to imagine that when a Parliamentary Secretary says that he will take careful note of what has been said it means anything at all. My noble friend suggests that the Government are under no obligation to take a careful note of what has been said; that it is, in fact, leading the person who is moving the Amendment to believe that his argument will be considered; and that if he withdraws the Amendment on the strength of that statement he is doing it without any undertaking of any kind.

In this House nobody knows better than the noble and learned Viscount himself that over and over again we withdraw an Amendment that has been moved on the strength of his statement that he will carefully note or consider—I do not attach much significance to the difference in emphasis—what has been said on the Amendment. Of course we realise that the result of this consideration or noting will not necessarily be favourable. We never assume it is going to be a favourable result, but certainly in my experience in this House we assume that when a Minister says that, he means it and that the matter will be considered. Therefore, while I agree that no undertaking was given that the Amendment would be accepted or even that it would be considered favourably, I do believe that an undertaking was given that the argument put forward in support of it would be carefully considered. If the noble Lord has now given us the result of that consideration, well and good; but I should not like it to go out that those words mean nothing at all.

3.36 p.m.


In view of the two more general points, I venture to intervene, and I think I can do it very shortly. The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, raised the general question of international agreements and their reaction on legislation. It is the object of every Government, irrespective of Party label, to get the terms of an international agreement as much in keeping with the spirit of the laws of this country as they can. There are, of course, limits, because, as the noble Lord knows, one is dealing not only with a different country but with different systems of law and different legal traditions. I want to make only the general point as regards this Convention that it necessitates a much lower degree of immunity than many which we have discussed in your Lordships' House. It gives, for example, as has been common ground in all our discussions, the right to sue the body that is going to be erected. There is always—and I hope the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, will not think I am putting this in any debating way; I am trying to respond to his appeal to deal with the general problem—bound to be a quid pro quo. Of course here—as the noble Lord, Lord Denham, pointed out,if I may say so, most pertinently—there is a question of a Convention which will assist not only with civil aircraft but with military aircraft, and in these circumstances there will undoubtedly be security as part of the matter.

I think the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, appreciates—I am not sure whether he said it, but I am sure he had it in mind—that the archives could hardly all be considered inviolable if any litigant, which could include airlines belonging to foreign Governments, Governments that are not party to the Convention, could obtain discovery of the archives. I hope he will take it from me (I want to put it quite shortly) that I agree that as my honourable friend said in the House of Commons, it is not possible to make the sharp limitation on the time of security which was suggested by some of those who spoke in another place. I think there may be occasions when the time continues. I have included what the Minister who is negotiating the agreement seeks to do. As I said, he tries to get it as much in accordance with the spirit of our law as he can, but there comes a time when he cannot get any further. The agreement is made on these terms, and then, in accordance with our constitutional practice, it is brought before Parliament so that our law is brought into accord with the agreement. That is the system.

I can only say to the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, that it is a difficulty that faces every Government, and it is up to the Minister to do his best in that regard. If he does not, if he fails to get it within a reasonable field, then, of course, he will be criticised; and if the example is flagrant the House would not accept the legislation which is necessary for implementation of the agreement.


Could the noble and learned Viscount tell us whether in fact this point was pressed in the negotiations?


No, I cannot. I am sorry; I just have not the information on that. I have spoken to my right honourable friend and his general approach was what I have been describing. The fault is no doubt mine; I did not ask him about the exact point.

On the waiver, which was the other point the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, raised, of course, as he appreciates, nothing in the Bill will prevent the Eurocontrol Organisation from waiving its immunity whenever it thinks fit, and we have no reason to think that it will not do so in any appropriate case. I repeat what my noble friend Lord Denham emphasised: that Her Majesty's Government, having a considerable and often decisive voice in the affairs of Eurocontrol, will be able to bring their influence to bear in that direction and that they will not fail to do so whenever the situation so requires.

In answer to the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, I can only make this personal reply. If he knew how much work I have had to do, not to speak of my noble friend Lord Denham, in order to carry out the statement—I cannot remember whether the term was "consideration" or "full note"—that full note will be taken, he would take it that full note has been taken.

May I end with a happy and entirely personal aspect of this matter? The Minister who replied to the debate in another place was the son of our old friend, Lord Terrington, who was regarded with such deep affection by so many of us here, and I am sure that all my noble friends who have had occasion to read the debate in another place will have been struck with the care and ability with which Mr. Woodhouse repliedto what is a difficult point. I thought your Lordships might not be averse to hearing that point in connection with this matter.


I do not want to prolong this discussion unduly. I echo everything the noble and learned Viscount said about Mr. Woodhouse; all of us who read the speech could see how ably he handled the matter and how he followed in the tradition of his father who was so good at these things. I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, for coming to my defence. Having myself been a Parliamentary Under-Secretary in two Government Departments—and an Under-Secretary is a sort of first-cousin to a Parliamentary Secretary—I thought the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, was a little scathing about an assurance in a statement of this kind. I need only quote what Mr. Woodhouse himself said: I assure the Committee I will take careful note of everything that has been said". As the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor has just told us, he has done so and the noble Lord, Lord Denham, has taken careful note. Obviously they have, because they have answered the points in great detail.


I do not want to continue this private struggle in defence of the Government, but the noble Lord rather implied that there was some sort of breach of undertaking. Now that he has read the full report he will note that this undertaking was made at the beginning and it was abundantly clear from the Minister's speech that no concession was possible.


It certainly was not given at the beginning of the discussion but at the beginning of Mr. Wood-house's speech after he heard the case presented by Mr. Graham Page. I also do not want to prolong this discussion. I think this matter is important. We are going to come across it not only with this Bill but with many others. I am referring to the case dealt with by the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor to-day: to what extent Parliament now has any say at all in these matters where there is some international agreement of this kind which affects the right of the individual or great interests in this country such as Lloyd's.

Parliament's hands are completely tied because of an Agreement made. This may be due to the effect of the times and the fact that we are going into a different sort of world from the world of the past. But I think we must recognise that more and more it is the case that Parliament has very little say at all in these matters and that the people who are in fact limiting the rights of the individual are the negotiators, possibly in some foreign capital. I make no complaint; I merely state that obviously that is the fact in this case and it may be in many other cases too. I would have thought that the rights of citizens are not properly safeguarded, as was claimed by the noble Lord, Lord Denham, because Article 25 of the Covention states this with regard to the non-contractual liability of the Organisation: With regard to non-contractual liability, the Organisation shall make reparation for damage caused by the negligence of its organs or of its servants in the scope of their employment in so far as that damage can be attributed to them. The foregoing provision shall not preclude the right to other compensation under the nationallaw of the Contracting Parties". In view of that, all that this Amendment was designed to do was to carry out, as it were, the purpose of Article 25 of the Convention and to put it into practical form. However, I can see that the Government are adamant on this point, and in those circumstances I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 2 agreed to.


I think, from what I have heard, that this might be a convenient moment for my noble friend, Lord Mills, to answer the Question standing in the name of my noble friend Lord Fraser of Lonsdale, and for that purpose I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved, That the House do now resume.—(Viscount Hailsham.)

On Question, Motion agreed to, and House resumed accordingly.