HL Deb 15 March 1973 vol 340 cc475-93

5.42 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be read a third time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(Lord Drumalbyn.)

On Question, Bill read 3a.

Clause 9 [Power to impose restrictions in relation to aircraft]:

LORD DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 9, line 14, at end insert— ("( ) In giving any direction under subsection (2) of this section the Secretary of State shall allow, and shall specify in the direction, such period as appears to him to be reasonably required for carrying out the modifications or alterations or installing the additional appara- tus or equipment in question; and the direction shall not take effect before the end of the period so specified.")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, at the Report stage I indicated that the Government accepted the idea contained in an Amendment, moved by my noble friend Lord Trefgarne, to allow a period, which he suggested might be 90 days, for compliance with any direction relating to the modification of aircraft. The Amendment which I am now moving seeks to give effect to my noble friend's point. It does not stipulate a set period for compliance, in order to permit a degree of flexibility which we believe to be necessary, not least in the interest of the airline operators. As noble Lords will recognise, a fixed period for compliance might be too long in some cases and not long enough in others. We believe that the period should be determined in the light of the circumstances of a particular case. I hope that this Amendment, together with the existing provisions for consultation, provide a sound basis on which to deal with any modification to aircraft, and I beg to move.


My Lords, I am greatly obliged to the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, for moving this Amendment which substantially meets the point I made, and I hope that it will receive your Lordships' approval.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

LORD DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 2: After Clause 13, insert the following new clause:

Special provisions as to certain directions under s. 11 .—(1) This section applies to any direction given under section 11 of this Act which—

  1. (a) requires a person to take measures consisting of or including the construction, execution, alteration, demolition or removal of a building or other works, and
  2. (b) does not contain a statement that the measures are urgently required and that accordingly the direction is to take effect immediately.
(2) At any time before the end of the period of thirty days beginning with the date on which a direction to which this section applies is given, the person to whom the direction is given may serve on the Secretary of State a notice in writing objecting to the direction, on the grounds that the measures specified in the direction, in so far as they relate to the construction, execution, alteration, demolition or removal of a building or other works,—
  1. (a) are unnecessary and should be dispensed with, or
  2. (b) are excessively onerous or inconvenient and should be modified in a manner specified in the notice.
(3) Where the person to whom such a direction is given serves a notice under subsection (2) of this section objecting to the direction, the Secretary of State shall consider the grounds of the objection and shall serve on him a notice in writing either—
  1. (a) confirming the direction as originally given, or
  2. (b) confirming it subject to one or more modifications specified in the notice under this subsection, or
  3. (c) withdrawing the direction; and the direction shall not take effect until it has been confirmed (with or without modifications) by a notice served under this subsection."

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the purpose of this Amendment is to provide that unless the Secretary of State specifies that a direction concerning the construction, execution, alteration, demolition or removal of a building or other works should take effect immediately, 30 days will be allowed for representations. Until the Secretary of State has reached his decision on the representations no action will be taken on the direction in question. The Amendment gives effect to an Amendment, again proposed by my noble friend Lord Trefgarne, and on Report I said I would be prepared to consider it. This Amendment is in the form of a new clause and I think it reflects the views expressed on this point by my noble friend. In effect, subsection (1) confines the new clause to directions which relate to buildings and works which are not expressly stated to be urgent. In the case of such directions, under subsection (2) 30 days are allowed for representations to be made to the Secretary of State about the need for the direction or the form it takes. Subsection (3) lays down the way the Secretary of State is to respond to any representations and ensures that the direction shall not take effect until it has been confirmed. I hope that this meets the point made by my noble friend. We have tried to meet it, and I beg to move the Amendment.


My Lords, I seem to recall that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill, had something to say about these matters when we dis- cussed them at the last stage of the Bill. So far as my point is concerned, the Government Amendment more than meets the requirements, and I hope that it will meet with your Lordships' approval.


My Lords, I think we ought to say that although it meets the requirements of the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, it does not go so far as my noble and learned friend Lord Stow Hill and I wished to go. An appeal to the Secretary of State against a direction by the Secretary of State is scarcely going to an independent authority. But I realise that the noble Lord has gone apparently as far as he can to meet the point that was raised, and a quarter of a loaf is probably better than no bread.


My Lords, I do not wish to add anything, except to thank the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, for his consideration of the arguments which I ventured to advance. I am grateful to him.


My Lords, I considered carefully what was said by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Stow Hill, who was good enough to put his points to me after the last debate we had. We have gone as far as we can, because we feel that the Secretary of State has to keep control of these directions.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 21 [Reimbursement of expenses incurred for purposes to which Part II applies]:

LORD TREFGARNE moved Amendment No. 3:

Page 19, line 33, at end insert— ("(3) The Secretary of State may with the approval of the Treasury and out of monies provided by Parliament reimburse costs incurred in repairing or replacing cargo damaged or destroyed by persons carrying out a search in accordance with a directive under this Act: Provided that no costs so incurred shall be reimbursed where the search reveals an article or substance prohibited under this Act.")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is in the nature of a probing Amendment and arises out of some remarks which I made at the last stage of the Bill relating to the position of third parties who might not be either operators or airfield owners and who suffer damage when a search of their property is ordered; in particular, a cargo that might be on board an aircraft or about to be loaded on to it. I had in mind, for example, such a case as once occurred to me when some tanks of liquid nitrogen formed the cargo. Had they been searched it would have released all the liquid nitrogen and thus destroyed the cargo completely. There is also the possibility, and this frequently happens, that the cargo may consist of medical supplies, in particular sterile wound dressings that have to be flown at short notice in large quantities to a disaster area. If these dressings are opened and exposed to the atmosphere, they become useless. I wonder whether my noble friend can give me any assurance on this point or even—dare I mention it!—accept my Amendment.


My Lords, I mentioned this matter in general terms during the discussions on the previous stage of the Bill. I think that the compensation is low, and if the noble Lord could extend it, even to the extent referred to in the Amendment, it would be an improvement; but I would go even further.


My Lords, I undertook on Report stage to consider the question of compensation to third parties affected by directions to the extent that compensation is not already available under Clause 20. As I acknowledged at the time, and I think the House recognised, there are a number of instances where some form of compensation might seem to be appropriate, to the extent that they are not insurable risks or covered by existing insurance; but equally there are others where it would not seem reasonable to compensate a loss. In the time available, I have endeavoured to have inquiries made concerning how far this kind of thing would be covered by insurance, and I am informed, in what might be called an off-the-cuff answer—because, naturally, it is not possible for insurers to consider a proposal unless they have all the details of the proposal—that in most circumstances claims for damage would be met. An exception would occur if the policy contained an exclusion clause due to war activities, and it would then be necessary to consider whether the security situation arose in pursuance of such activities.

I recognise `that my noble friend has sought to reflect this problem in his Amendment by confining it to the damage and destruction of cargo in the course of a search, and only where a firearm, explosive or some other dangerous article has not been discovered. I am afraid, however, that even though his provision is not mandatory, it involves a substantial extension of the obligation as to compensation. I agree with my noble friend Lord Selkirk that, even so, my noble friend Lord Trefgarne has confined his Amendment to cargo, and it may well be that cases might arise in other areas where similar arguments would apply.

It is the deserving cases, whether related to cargo or not, with which I believe we are all concerned, and while I cannot accept the Amendment I can give my noble friend an assurance that the Government have noted the feelings on this point. We shall be prepared to receive on an ad hoc basis and without formal commitment, any claims the noble Lord mentioned in the Report stage and to consider some form of ex gratia payment in appropriate cases. I should add that one would expect normal prudence to play its part in this kind of case and for people to insure in the normal way. I hope that with this assurance my noble friend will be prepared to withdraw his Amendment.


My Lords, I wonder whether the noble Lord would see to it that the matter is considered a little further before the Bill goes to another place. It seems a little invidious to say that there shall be compensation in the case of fixed assets—and there is provision there—and then draw the line so far as goods, cargo and assets which happen to be in the aircraft are concerned. From time to time when we have put forward suggestions for improvement of the Bill the noble Lord has rested his case on the fact that he hopes these powers will not be used very often: and certainly I cannot imagine that there will be many cases where tanks of liquid nitrogen will be exposed to the atmosphere. Nevertheless, there may be cases. There may be cases where luggage of one kind or another is ripped open by order of the authorities in order to see whether there are any unauthorised weapons or other articles there. In such cases, I should have thought that one ought not to have to rely upon private insurance; in such cases there ought to be special provision for compensation. In that case, therefore, I wonder whether the noble Lord would undertake—although he has gone some way, and I am sure the spirit in which he has spoken will be appreciated—to see whether something more could be done.


My Lords, I think the difficulty here is to distinguish in a Bill between the deserving cases—and the noble Lord used a similar word —and those cases where, with greater prudence, the risk could have been covered. This is difficult, and I think it is not unreasonable for the Government to reserve to themselves the right to have a look at cases to see whether a payment should be made ex gratia in particular circumstances or not. If we tried to devise particular provisions here we might well find that the Government were not able to go so far as they could if their hands were left free to make an ex gratia payment. I do not say that this will be so in every case but it is a consideration. But, as I say, we have not really had time between the last stage and this one to look fully into this point. I quite accept what the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, says, that this is something which should be looked into further. However, that will not be before the Bill parts from this House—we cannot do that except in the course of the passage of the Bill in another place.


My Lords, when I moved the Amendment I said that it was in the nature of a probing Amendment, and for that reason it would not be appropriate for me to press it. I am obliged to my noble friend for the assurance he has given. When he or his right honourable friends consider this matter further, would they please bear in mind that insurance cover for this sort of damage is difficult to obtain and very expensive? It would not be imprudent of carriers not to have such insurance. It is not part of the normal cover provided: indeed, in most of the operations with which I have been concerned it certainly was not there other than in exceptional cases. Having said that, I beg leave to with the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 24 [Application to Channel Islands, Isle of Man and other countries]:

LORD DRUMALBYN moved Amendment No. 4: Page 22, line 29, after ("extending") insert ("any of").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is in the nature of a drafting Amendment. to remove a possible ambiguity in subsection (2) of Clause 24 in connection with the extension of the Act to the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and other countries. What we want to be able to do is to extend all or part of the Act. As drafted, the clause might be interpreted as providing only for the extension of all the provisions or none, and thus not providing the flexibility, for example, to confine the extension to Part I, with or without any other provisions in the Bill. The Amendment is intended to remove any doubt about this. I beg to move.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 25 [Short title and commencement]:

5.58 p.m.

LORD TREFGARNE moved Amendment No. 5:

Page 22, line 41, at end insert: ("(3) The following sections of this Act shall cease to have effect three years after the date of commencement—

  1. (a) Sections 7 to 18,
  2. (b) Sections 19 to 21, and
  3. (c) The Schedule.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I am in some difficulty with this Amendment. because unfortunately it has been wrongly printed. I think it was probably my fault. As a result of the somewhat disjointed printing arrangements at present in force, I did not get my copy of the Amendment as soon as I should; the post is disrupted because of the trains, and that does not help either. The Amendment that I should prefer to be moving would be to include Clause 19 of the Bill, and to exclude Clauses 7 to 18, Clauses 20 and 21 and the Schedule. I am advised that I am unable to move a manuscript Amendment to my Amendment, so I will have merely to move the Amendment, listen to my noble friend's objections—which I am sure there will be —and then perhaps withdraw it.

However, the purpose of this Amendment would have been to restrict the duration of this Bill when it becomes an Act, or certainly what is essentially Part II of the Bill, to a period of three years. Your Lordships will know that Part II was not originally part of the legislation that came before us. When we gave this Bill a Second Reading, it was really only Part I and significant parts of Part III. Part II was introduced only at the Committee stage. It gives to the Secretary of State very wide and substantial powers which, I am told, are unprecedented in our legislative history. I am of the opinion that, despite the best endeavours of all Members of your Lordships' House (and not least those of the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn), there are still a number of defects in this Bill and it would be wrong to put it on the Statute Book for ever and a day. I have the feeling that honourable and right honourable gentlemen in another place will take the same view, and it may well be that they will impose the same sort of restriction as I am now seeking to impose. For the moment, I will simply move this Amendment and then, having listened to what my noble friend and other noble Lords have to say, I shall probably ask leave to withdraw it.


My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for pointing out what the Amendment was intended to say. I am bound to tell him that even if it were amended it would still not be quite right in form—I am sure he will not mind my saying this to him. For example, parts of Clause 23 are relevant only to Part II and part of Clause 17 was included, as my noble friend will remember, as Clause 6 of the original Bill. I am afraid I cannot recommend the House to accept this Amendment because of the reason for which the Government are seeking these powers; in other words, because of the escalation in the form and intensity of violence against civil aviation in recent times, and particularly within the last 12 months. Powers are being sought solely in the interests of airlines, airport authorities, passengers and air crews and for the limited purposes set out in Clause 7 of the Bill.

It surely is impossible to place a time limit, whether of three years or any other period, on the incidence of violence. The extent of the threat of hijacking and other acts of violence against civil aviation will no doubt vary from time to time in the future but there is, much to our regret, no sign of a diminution in the threat, nor is there any sound reason to expect, while there is as much political unrest in the world as there is at the present time, that such violence will be eradicated in three years. My noble friend Lord Balfour at an earlier stage sought to make the Act renewable after three years for a year at a time. There was an objection to that, and my noble friend has sought to overcome it by trying to bring to an end only Part H and related clauses—I think this is the purpose—after three years.


My Lords, if my noble friend will allow me, he will recollect that at a previous stage one of the objections was that we could not put a definite period to our obligations under the Montreal Convention.


Yes, my Lords; I was being explanatory and not attempting to criticise my noble friend. I was saying that at a previous stage my noble friend Lord Balfour had sought to make the whole Bill expire after three years unless it was renewed, and then to make it renewable from year to year. My noble friend has taken the point that it would not really be appropriate to treat Part I, at any rate, in this way. What he is proposing is to bring the whole of Part II and the related clauses to an end without any power of renewal after three years. But against that background it surely would be inappropriate to set any limit on the duration of the Bill, whether related to Part II or to Part I. We are anxious to maintain a voluntary system so far as possible. As I have said on other occasions, the powers will be used sparingly and there will be appropriate consultation, as there is now. We have introduced further checks today, and I hope later to refer to another one which I hope will be introduced in another place.

The degree to which the powers are used over the years will depend upon the form and extent of the threat. If the threat diminishes, as we all hope it will, the powers of course will not be used. But it would be unrealistic to legislate for the end of terrorism, which is really what this Amendment seeks to do. We cannot possibly be sure that this kind of threat which we are trying to counter in Part II by making it as difficult as possible for people to gain access to aircraft would come to an end in three years. It would be entirely unrealistic to suggest that. It is for that reason only that we cannot accept the noble Lord's Amendment.


My Lords, I should like to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, on his ingenuity in drafting this Amendment as it would have been if it had not been misprinted! It is quite true, as he says, that a convincing argument was advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, when we discussed earlier the time and the application of the Bill. The explanation was that it would enable us to ratify the Montreal Convention and that it would be wrong to give the Government of the day only a limited time in which to ratify this desirable Convention. However, as the Amendment cannot be pressed in any case, I have no doubt that if in another place it is thought desirable to put some sort of limitation on the Bill, the way suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Trefgarne, might commend itself to Members.


My Lords, my noble friend said that we could put no limit on terrorism and that it would be wrong to legislate for an end to terrorism three years hence. The noble Lord suggested that that would be the effect of a correct version of my Amendment. I should like to say that nothing was further from my mind. I was concerned not with the terrorists but with the Ministers who might be wielding powers with a little more vigour than Parliament had either intended or thought desirable. The disabilities of my Amendment are such that I obviously cannot press it; but I hope that perhaps the noble Lord and his right honourable friends might consider this further before the Bill goes through another place and it might then be found possible to introduce some appropriate Amendment. The fact that the Bill is to be considered by another place is a saving grace, and for that reason I beg leave to withdraw my Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


My Lords, I beg to move the Privilege Amendment.

Privilege Amendment moved—

Clause 25, page 22 line 41, at end insert— ("( ) Nothing in this Act shall impose any charge on the people or on the public funds, or vary the amount or incidence of or otherwise alter any such charge in any manner, or affect the assessment, levying, administration or application of any money raised by any such charge").—(Lord Drumalbyn.)

On Question, Privilege Amendment agreed to.

6.9 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill do now pass. I should like, if I may, to say a few words. I should like to thank noble Lords for their help and not least their patience, in the course of the exceptionally long time that this Bill has been before your Lordships' House.

In the first place, your Lordships all recognised the desirability of common action on the part of as many of the nations of the world as possible for the suppression of acts endangering the safety of civil aircraft in flight. The original Bill was designed to enact the provisions of the Montreal Convention creating and defining offences, establishing penalties for them and extending powers of extradition, so that we could ratify the Convention, which has now been ratified by the requisite number of nations who had originally signed the Convention. It is therefore now in operation. But before we reached the final stages of the Bill, the Government decided to ask Parliament for exceptional powers to prevent would-be offenders from gaining access to aircraft and to improve the security arrangements in an emergency or in anticipation of an emergency. We had come to think that, excellent as has been the voluntary co-operation we have been receiving from all concerned with aviation, the threat of terrorism against aviation was so grave that the public interest required us to have exceptional powers to deal with it.

My Lords, the Government fully recognise that these powers are exceptional and should be confined solely to the purpose of protecting against acts of violence, aerodromes, aircraft and persons and property thereon. We have sought powers that are adequate but no more than are needed for that purpose. I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill, that, following our discussions, we have looked again at the Bill, but we are still of that opinion. We have willingly conceded such safeguards for the public and for operators of aircraft and managers of aerodromes as we felt were right, and would not impair the exercise of the special powers if and when they are required.

I would just say—and this relates to the Amendment we have recently been dealing with—that nobody can predict how long the present wave of terrorist activities will continue. There may be a lull and they may start again. We want to be ready at any time to deal with them within the restricted but peculiarly vulnerable field of flying. It is for this reason that we have not felt able to accept suggestions that the powers in Part II should be conferred for a limited time only, or should be subject to renewal from time to time. It is of the utmost importance for the safety of passengers and crew and, indeed, for the future of aviation, that there should be as much protection as possible against such acts of violence against aviation.

There is one Amendment, or rather series of Amendments, which it has not been possible to draft before the Bill leaves this House. I refer to the Amendment proposed by my noble friend Lord Trefgarne to extend the Bill to cover air navigation installations outside the confines of aerodromes. I said at the time that we should need to make certain that my noble friend's Amendment was in due form, and that the Government would put down an Amendment at the next stage. I rather feared that implementation of this proposal required a large number of consequential Amendments to other clauses beyond the relatively straightforward Amendment of Clause 7. It was not possible to complete the work involved in time to submit the necessary Amendments for your Lordships' consideration to-day. However, the House will wish to be assured that the Amendments in question will be introduced when the Bill reaches another place. I can give that assurance.

I should like to thank my noble friend for proposing his Amendment, which received wide support throughout the House, and which we were pleased to accept. I do not think that I need to add anything further to what I have said, unless any noble Lord would wish me to try to answer any questions that may be put, and I beg to move that this Bill do now pass.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.— (Lord Drumalbyn.)


My Lords, it is not just an ordinary courtesy when I say that I should like to thank the noble Lord for his patience and tolerance in piloting this Bill through this House. His patience and courtesy were only equalled by his stamina. It would be wrong to think that by passing this Bill we have solved the problem of air piracy; we have done nothing of the kind. Much more important than this Bill would be an agreement between nations which would ensure that no air pirate when he lands—as ultimately he must—would be given asylum by any State on this earth. If we can make some progress on that line we shall be tackling the problem and I hope that the legal committee and legal sub-committee of ICAO are still attempting to get some agreement on this point. Meanwhile, we have done what we can. The noble Lord has helped to arm his Government with very formidable powers indeed, and I hope that we shall benefit from them.


My Lords, it would be ungracious of me, having achieved a certain amount of agreement from my noble friend Lord Drumalbyn to amend the Bill, not to acknowledge the assistance that he has given to me and others to make these improvements. However, I am bound to say that I am concerned that we have granted too great a power to the Minister. I hope this will be the principal matter which will seize the other place when they come to consider the Bill. Having said that, let us get this Bill to the other place as soon as possible so that they can begin their deliberations.

6.15 p.m.


My Lords, I should first like to congratulate the Government on the step which has been taken in respect of this Bill, although all of us appreciate that that cannot possibly solve the problem which faces the world as a whole at the present time in dealing with the situation that has arisen. This Bill, as a Bill, cannot be regarded as being in the nature of anything other than an extremely important Bill because it deals with an extremely important subject, a subject which is facing the rest of the world as well as ourselves. Unless additional forces are sought to cope with this situation I do not think that we shall find anything like a solution to the problem which confronts us.

Terrorism, which this Bill is intended in some way to cope with, seems to be gripping the unlawful forces of the world to such an extent that they are practically blackmailing the civilised world by their actions. I hope that instead of the Bill having to be utilised for any particular length of time, the Minister will seek to do what he can regarding the other aspects of the situation that require to be attended to at present.

We do not fully realise what lies behind the Bill being discussed, and which we are asking to be passed into law. Enormous sums of money would be involved in order to cope with a scourge that has come upon the earth. Previously I called it a cancer. I think that is the right word to use. Of course it is important that we should keep all the steps that are available to us in order to deal with it. I appreciate that the Minister cannot deal with the problem in his own Department, and that other Departments have to deal with it.

But what are we faced with? We are faced with the training of people who indulge in this terrible, horrifying practice of endangering the lives of civilians, irrespective of their nationality, or where they stand in the whole scene. They are being trained in dens which, unimaginably are allowed to exist in countries which harbour them, and in countries which pay them and, as was shown recently in the Khartoum event, not only help the criminals themselves to come to the scene of the crime, but even make arrangements so that the Al Fatah leader from Libya should escape, leaving the others to carry out the nefarious work.

What we are trying to do here is to deal with the situation in our own airports and our own air navigation, but if the training is committed, as it is being committed, and we know where it is being committed and we know who is paying for it, I think that the civilized world—and it is the civilised world I am speaking about now—should come together and try to see whether this kind of Bill (which will now become an Act) cannot be strengthened by other action which is essential. The position as it stands at present, and which is indicated by this Bill, shows that precautions have to be taken of a very exceptional nature to deal with a situation that should never be allowed to arise.

I know there are comments at times—I have spoken about them before in your Lordships' House—about people (and I speak quite plainly), for example, Israelis, going to the nests themselves and trying to flush out these people. We are told that it is a terrible thing to do. Well, is it? Is it not essential from the point of view of the whole world that where-ever these criminals are being trained and however they are being trained they should be flushed out by the nations who are at present protecting them? If that were done then indeed the world as a whole would be in a position to avoid the necessity for a Bill of this nature.

It is late in the evening and one could speak for longer, but I think everyone present knows that it is essential that this Bill should become an Act as speedily as possible. Whatever views we may have about any details of the Bill, its main object and purpose is sufficiently important for us to see that it passes on to the Statute Book speedily. I hope that the Minister will have his hand strengthened in respect of the steps which have to be taken when this Bill passes through, by getting international agreement, by seeing to it that as what affects us so clearly affects other nations they themselves should come together to stop this shocking state of affairs, which includes piracy of the vilest nature. Perhaps we ought to look at it in that light when we come to the closing stages of the Bill in your Lordships' House. It is not a simple matter. It is not a matter which deals with one particular section of people in our country alone; it is a matter which is of worldwide importance, and unless and until we can get the civilised nations to take steps together the problem will not be solved. I conclude by thanking the Minister for the manner in which he has conducted the debates and congratulating him and his colleagues on having at least taken this step. I hope lie will see that in the international field we shall take a prominent part in urging other nations, as well as ourselves, to deal effectively with the terrible situation that faces us.

6.24 p.m.


My Lords, I only rise to thank the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, most sincerely. He always has the most heavy burdens thrust on his shoulders and his approach to his task is so assiduous and thorough that we are perhaps apt to take it for granted. He has been most courteous and I am personally grateful to him for the obvious trouble he has taken to consider points of view that some of us here to-night—and I in particular—have put to him in relation to this Bill. It is obviously an exceptional Bill and I am sure we are grateful to him for the trouble that he has taken in regard to it.


My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Stow Hill, has said, it is always a great advantage when the noble Lord, Lord Drumalbyn, takes a Bill, because he presents it with great clarity. He has dealt with the utmost attention and care with the points which have been raised. There were moments, perhaps, when his high abilities were a little stretched, but we have been well satisfied with the trouble he has taken in handling the matters that have been raised from time to time. We have had the advantage of starting the Bill in this House and I believe we can fairly claim to have given it a close examination. I shall be interested to see how it progresses afterwards. I should like to ask one rhetorical question: if these powers are really necessary for aerodromes, are they not perhaps necessary elsewhere, particularly in reference to the use of what are called "explosives", whether in the form of bombs or hand grenades? That is a matter which we might consider later on.

6.28 p.m.


My Lords, if, by leave of the House, I may just answer the points that have been raised, I should like to say that I am most grateful to noble Lords for what they have said. Certainly I must confess that they have stretched me occasionally in the course of this Bill, and I shall undertake to see that the question raised by my noble friend, Lord Selkirk, is considered. I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, particularly for what he said. He is not in his place at the moment and I understand the reason.

I would just say to the noble Lord, Lord Janner, that we recognise very well that this is just one more stage in the attempt to prevent the effects of terrorism. To get rid of terrorism as a whole is a very difficult matter, but in this Bill we are doing all we can to ensure that no aircraft which leaves this country carries a terrorist or any destructive device on it, and for that matter also that no United Kingdom registered aircraft anywhere in the world will carry such a device or such a person. But the problem of nations getting together in order to see that no country flouts the will of the nations taken as a whole, is another matter which the noble Lord knows is going to be further considered in August of this year, when we hope it will be possible to take another long step towards the general objective of ridding the world of what he calls the "scourge" or the "cancer" of terrorism. As he will recall, we have ourselves put forward a recommendation for the amendment of the Chicago Convention, and we shall just have to see how the two other proposals which have been put forward are dealt with at the next stage. I am most grateful to noble Lords for enabling us to take this further step now, which should go a long way at any rate towards helping to provide safety for those who travel by air and those who frequent aerodromes.


My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, may I ask him a further question? Will he be good enough to see that people who belong to the various movements that are set up for the purpose of training and helping the terrorists who are engaged in hijacking as well as in other acts of terrorism—movements like Al Fatah, the "Black September" Group and the Palestine Liberation Movement, even if they have not got offices in this country—if they come to this country, or attempt to come here, will not be allowed to land and add to the big burden we have already?


My Lords, as the noble Lord is well aware, he has put this point in Questions in the House and he has received the best Answers that we can give. He knows that this is rather outside the sphere with which I normally deal. But I have heard those Answers and I think he ought to be satisfied with them.

On Question, Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.