HL Deb 19 June 1986 vol 476 cc1036-47

3.30 p.m.

Lord Denham

My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Armed Forces Bill, has consented to place her prerogative and interests, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.

Bill read a third time.

Lord Graham of Edmonton moved Amendment No. 1:

After Clause 4, insert the following new clause


.—After section 69 of the 1955 Acts and section 39 of the 1957 Act, there shall be inserted the following section—

"Discrimination It shall be an offence for any person subject to this Act to discriminate against, harass, hold in contempt or ridicule any person or persons on the grounds of race." ").

The noble Lord said: My Lords. I beg to move the first amendment standing in my name on the Marshalled List. Those Members of your Lordships' House who take an interest in these matters and who attended a previous stage will recall that at the Committee stage I moved an amendment that dealt with discrimination on the grounds of sectarianism. We had a useful debate, and I did not press the amendment. I was certainly satisfied with what the Minister had to say on that occasion.

At the Report stage I moved an amendment dealing with discrimination on the grounds of race. We had a debate during which the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, indicated that he had some sympathy with the general possibility of discrimination on the grounds of race. However, there were other aspects of the amendment on which we could not agree. Therefore, I have brought an amendment forward at this stage.

The House will recall that substantially, if not wholly, the case which I made during a previous stage as regards discrimination rested on a fairly lengthy article that appeared in a Sunday newspaper. Members of the House who are not in government or (quite properly) privy to a great deal of information in, for instance, the Ministry of Defence have to rely upon what is said by reputable people in a number of places. The record will show that I made out the case for the amendment. I am bound to say that neither I nor the noble Lord, Lord Mayhew, was fully satisfied with what the Minister had to say.

Perhaps I may read to your Lordships from the Official Report of 10th June where, at col. 202, the Minister said: At that time I stressed that all forms of discrimination by members of the armed forces whether on racial, religious, sex or other grounds would not be tolerated regardless of whether the victims of such discrimination were members of the public or other servicemen".

Later in that column he said: I am fully satisfied that these provisions are more than adequate to make it quite clear that racial or other discrimination within the armed forces will not be tolerated and will be most firmly dealt with if any instances of such behaviour were to be discovered".

I accept completely, without any caveat, what the Minister had to say. However, we must reconcile that with the experience of other people.

Therefore, first, what steps has the Minister taken since previous debates to establish the bona fides, the honesty and the integrity of the evidence which has appeared in a number of newspapers and, as I shall quote, from reputable sources? The Minister cannot simply say, "We have no evidence" if other people are saying that we do have it. I can appreciate the Minister's not having it, but I cannot accept that the Minister is simply prepared to take the line of least resistance.

In the annual report of the Commission for Racial Equality, the chairman, Mr. Peter Newsam, said: As a country we are running out of excuses for failing to deal effectively with racial discrimination and disadvantage. Their extent and causes are known. So, too, are most of the remedies. What is still lacking is the will to apply these remedies within a timescale that makes sense to those who suffer from the lack of them".

The basic charge which I put to the Minister is the lack of positive action. In other words, he really ought to do what his ministerial colleague the Home Secretary intends to do in his domain. In an article written in a newspaper last week Mr. Douglas Hurd, the Home Secretary, when clearly referring to the police, said: I am disappointed and dissatisfied by the low level of representation of black and Asian Britons in our Police Service. It is a weakness in our society and one which I am anxious to tackle. It is fair criticism to say that the police should have been quicker in extending a welcoming hand to recruits from the ethnic communities". He goes on to quote precise figures. A person of ethnic minority—a black person—can be very easily discernible. Individuals may have other characteristics that may not be easily discernible—for example, which school they attended, where they were born and their parents' jobs. Those are all part of the profile.

I am absolutely certain that in many of the regiments that have been the subject of comment in the past few weeks, there will be seen to be an even spread. There are people who come from all over the country. There are people who come from schools all over the country and from all kinds of schools. There are people who come from all kinds of backgrounds. What literally is missing is a very important element in our life—our social life and our multi-racial society—and that is the presence of people of ethnic minority serving in our armed services; indeed, not only serving but making advancement.

The Minister may say, "That has nothing to do with me or with us. We are not stopping them". I want the Minister to tell the House today what steps he and his colleagues are taking not merely not to stop those people applying but positively to encourage them to do so. If the Minister says that it is entirely up to them whether they are induced to serve, I simply say that the army or the armed services will be deficient. Of all aspects of life, the armed services should reflect at least something like the proportion of ethnic minorities in our society.

I was very disappointed with the Minister's response. No doubt he took note, as I did, of the alleged comments of the Prince of Wales after the Trooping the Colour last week. I say "alleged" because I understand that there may be some dispute. However, perhaps the Minister will allow me to quote from the Sunday Telegraph of last weekend, in which there appeared the headline: "Prince upset at Guards `colour bar' ". It went on to say: The Prince of Wales has expressed serious concern about discrimination against blacks in the Brigade of Guards and the Household Cavalry".

I understand from a ministerial Answer in another place that a categorical denial has been made and that there is no colour bar. However, what I am saying to the Minister is that in that article there is a further reference on which the Minister ought to comment.

It says: But a former senior officer in the Household Division said that while there was no ban on blacks entering elite units, they were 'passively discouraged' and few reached the Guards training school at Pirbright. He added: 'Prince Charles has felt strongly for some years that there should be more blacks in the Household Division. He has made his feelings known on a number of occasions, especially at Senior Colonels' Meetings. He feels it would be an excellent idea if there were more black faces in regiments which perform ceremonial duties such as Trooping the Colour'".

Does not the Minister share my curiosity, if not the disappointment of the Prince, that the situation is as it is? The purpose of the amendment is to elicit from the Minister a much more satisfactory answer and not merely that there is no discrimination. I am prepared to accept that prima facie. However, the Minister will know that the illustrations which appeared in what I call the prime newspaper document of two weeks ago give names, chapter and verse. If one wanted more evidence it could be found in the annual report of the Commission for Racial Equality and in other newspaper comments where the commission is quoted and on record.

What inquiries have been made of responsible people such as the Commission for Racial Equality and of the newspapers, who are certainly entitled to be held to account for anything misleading that they may have said? Against that you have the puzzlement that even if what they are saying is not exactly true, the facts are that when I look at the evidence, it does not appear to me that we are doing sufficient to encourage our armed forces to have serving in them something like the proportion of the ethnic minorities who live in this country.

There may be a good reason. We know the problems with the police, and the problems of oppression by the black community, and the stigma in some black communities if members of that community serve in the police. I know of nothing comparable which would inhibit a black person from seeking to serve in the armed forces. Whether it is a question of other criteria, such as the question of height, of education or other things, I do not know. I hope that the Minister will be able to better satisfy me now than he did on a previous occasion. I beg to move.

Lord Donaldson of Kingsbridge

My Lords, I should like to support the noble Lord in his questions, and add one question to which perhaps the Minister will reply in his answer. The reason that there appear to be no recruits accepted in the élite regiments may be—and I think possibly is to a large extent—that they do not apply to join. This is probably because they do not think that they have any chance of getting in. This means that if one wants to alter this, somebody must do something about it, and that person is the Minister.

The Earl of Onslow

My Lords, I am an ex-Household Cavalry officer. I, admittedly 30 years ago, never saw a black face in the Life Guards; I never saw one in the Royal Horse Guards; and I never saw one in any of the five regiments of Foot Guards. I suppose it is slightly difficult to have a Sikh wearing a turban when he should be wearing a German silver helmet on parade. That presents uniform problems which cannot be overcome.

It is something that has happened, and it is something that we ought actively to discourage. I am pretty certain it has happened by accident. I see no evidence that it has changed in those 30 years. But I remember seeing a picture in the newspapers of a black rifleman and a white rifleman being totally ad idem in their view, because they were both thumping an Irishman who had done something naughty in Belfast. It is perfectly possible for the armed forces, because of their esprit de corps, because of their spirit, to be a useful weapon in abolishing racial discrimination. But it is unarguable that there is passive discrimination in Household Brigade regiments—and I probably will not be asked to visit any other officers' mess again after having said this, but I am pretty certain that this is what happens.

Lord Alport

My Lords, perhaps I may give such evidence as I have from a different point of view. First from the point of view of the garrison town where I live, and which at one time I represented, Colchester. We have a succession of distinguished regiments passing through and my impression over these past years is of the number of black or coloured soldiers that I see about the town coming from the most distinguished regiments—what were the Rifle Brigade and are now the Green Jackets, and from other regiments too.

I know perfectly well, as many of your Lordships in this House who have served with, and have perhaps commanded, African troops know, what excellent troops they can be. I do not say that anybody should be given a special position simply because he becomes a statutory black man, or whatever it may be, but I am certain that there are many among the Asian, African, and West Indian communities who would carry out the duties of a member of the Household Brigade with all the distinction and responsibility with which they are carried out by anybody with a white face.

3.45 p.m.

The Minister of State for Defence Procurement (Lord Trefgarne)

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Graham, has returned to this subject despite the assurances that I gave at an earlier stage. I can really do no more than repeat the assurances that I gave to your Lordships on 10th June at the Report stage of this Bill, and indeed that my right honourable friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces gave in another place on 10th April. Our policy on race relations has also recently been set out for the Select Committee on Employment in another place.

Let me say again that no form of discrimination is tolerated in the armed forces whether on racial, religious or other grounds. Recruitment and promotion are entirely on merit. I have also explained on earlier occasions the range of statutory safeguards that apply to the services: the Race Relations Act, the Service Discipline Acts and the code of practice on the treatment and questioning of persons by the service police. I remain fully satisfied that these provisions are more than adequate to make it quite clear that racial or other discrimination will not be tolerated and will be firmly dealt with should it come to light.

Against the background of the recent media coverage of this topic, which I dare say has rekindled the interest of noble Lords, it might be helpful for your Lordships to know that the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality—and the noble Lord, Lord Graham, referred to their views—has written to certain editors of national newspapers commenting on their recent reports on racial discrimination in the armed forces to the effect that CRE has never said that it has any evidence of discrimination against nonwhite soldiers; that no CRE report criticising the Army's record of fair dealing with immigrants exists or is in draft; and that the commission's annual report for 1985 and the press release accompanying it contained no mention of discriminatory practices by the armed forces.

The true position is that the commission has been in touch with my department about our race relations policies; that we are reviewing these policies and considering the introduction of ethnic monitoring to the armed forces; and that no final decision has yet been taken on this matter. Any decision will be announced as soon as we are in a position to do so.

Perhaps I may touch on the Observer article to which the noble Lord, Lord Graham, referred. The article in question was, in my view, an unbalanced account which in no way reflected the successful careers pursued by many members of the ethnic community in the armed forces. What I can say—and I stress this—is that any petitions for redress of grievance submitted on grounds of allegations of racial discrimination will be most thoroughly investigated. However, I should also add that it is our experience that servicemen from a wide variety of creeds, colours and nationalities work together in harmony, often under very stressful conditions. I hope that this will continue to be the case in the future, and I can assure your Lordships that we shall make every effort to ensure it.

May I again express the hope that your Lordships can accept the clear and repeated assurances that I have given on the policies of both the Government and the armed forces on race relations, rather than the inaccurate and anecdotal reports that have appeared in the press. I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Graham, will not wish to press his amendment.

Lord Mayhew

My Lords, the noble Lord opened by saying that he was surprised that the noble Lord, Lord Graham, and I should have put down this amendment again in view of the assurances that he gave at Report stage. But I think I speak for the noble Lord, Lord Graham, when I say that it was precisely because he gave no assurances in the statement on Report that we have put down this amendment again.

Today he in fact went a small way further than he did at Report. He now states that the Ministry is considering introducing ethnic monitoring. That is a small advance on his previous statement, and a great credit to the silver tongues of the noble Lord, Lord Graham, and myself. However, we have had for over 25 years the problem of race relations in its acute phase. For 25 years, report after report has spoken about the ugly phenomenon of job discrimination. One authority after another has urged the public services to take the lead. One Minister after another has been agreeing and saying that the public services must take the lead.

Now in 1986 the Ministry of Defence is considering introducing ethnic monitoring. It is not good enough. It is profoundly unsatisfactory. Almost above anyone else, the armed services are in a position to help with our race relations problem. They can offer a fine career to young black men and women; a career which will undoubtedly enable them to take a leading part in their communities, both when they are serving and when they have retired. Yet for 25 years nothing has been done and now we are promised a consideration of ethnic monitoring.

What will this monitoring be? There must have been monitoring before, because in the late 1960s there was actually a quota. The Minister will correct me if I am wrong. In the 1960s there was a 3 per cent. quota on black people in the armed services. That was abolished by the then Secretary of State for Defence, Mr. Healey. We could not have had that without some kind of monitoring. I should like to ask the Minister about that as it is relevant to our present consideration.

How many black people were there in the armed services in the late 1960s? The figure must be known. What was the system of monitoring then? Were there any difficulties in the system of monitoring? If there were no difficulties in the system of monitoring, why all this delay about again introducing a system of monitoring? What do we want to know? What will this monitoring tell us? The Minister did not say. Will it simply tell us the proportion of black men and women in the armed forces? Will it tell us how the proportions vary between one regiment and another? We should like to know that. Will it tell us the number of applications to enlist from black people? We should like to know all those things.

Will this survey that we are told is being considered by the Ministry deal with discrimination after recruitment? We all know that the ethnic make-up of the American population and of the British population is different—very different indeed—but I should have liked to hear the Minister comment on the claim quoted by the noble Lord, Lord Graham, at Report stage. I should like him to say whether he can test the claim that a few years ago there were 76 active or retired black generals and admirals in the United States of America. It would be interesting to know whether that claim is justified.

The Minister could tell us how many black generals or admirals there are in the British armed forces today. I think those are relevant questions to ask because the fact is that in the United States the armed forces have made a fine contribution to good race relations. Here in Britain the armed forces have been and are part of the race relations problem and the contrast is to me intolerable. The facts are shameful. I think we on this side will be coming back to this problem again and again until the necessary reforms are made.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I believe I need your Lordships' permission to speak again because I have already spoken once. If the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, wants to speak in due course I am afraid he will have to do so without the benefit of any reply I may be able to give, because to speak three times would be unduly trespassing on your Lordships.

Lord Mishcon

I should be very short, my Lords.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, briefly to reply to the noble Lord, I am afraid I do not know the answers to most of the questions he put. Indeed, I do not know the answers to any of them without taking advice. But for the majority of the questions, answers do not exist because we do not monitor the ethnic make-up of the armed forces at the present time. I do not know how many coloured admirals, generals or air-marshals there are. I have never counted them.

Lord Mishcon

My Lords, I am so sorry that the noble Lord the Minister did not allow me to make an observation before he replied, only because I believe the House might have welcomed that observation. What I shall say will be very short.

There was a time some years ago when very proudly I held the position of the chairmanship of London Fire Brigade. My anxiety at that time was to introduce, so far as I was able, recruits into the London fire service from the coloured community. My reason was twofold: first, because I wanted them in the London Fire Brigade, and, secondly, in trying to deal with the whole issue of racial discrimination I felt that the public of this country and certainly of London would learn to respect a community which was, in some respects with some of its members, clothed in the honourable uniform of the London Fire Brigade.

How much more important is the uniform of Her Majesty's armed services. It would go a long way towards reducing prejudice and encouraging respect if commissioned officers of Her Majesty's armed forces were seen in their uniform proudly walking through the streets of London or whichever city it may be in the United Kingdom. It is for that reason among others that this amendment is moved. It is to see not only that the constructive effort is made but that the destructive effort is defeated. I see no reason why the offence which is set out in this amendment should not be an offence under the Armed Forces Act.

Lord Shepherd

My Lords, I intended to intervene only to make a plea to my noble friend in regard to this amendment. I hope that he will not seek to press it, because this is a matter which I think ought to be pursued at a later stage when the Government have given further consideration to the issues before them.

For six years I was chairman of the National Bus Company. I had some 60,000-odd employees. I have to admit that I had some difficulty with the Commission for Racial Equality because I could not show that I had a balance of employees within my group on a regional or local basis that reflected the ethnic minority community in the area which those companies were serving. I gave to the Commission for Racial Equality the very assurances which the Minister himself has given; but the more I looked into it the more I came to the conclusion that if I were to meet what was perceived to be the right balance, taking into account the ethnic community in which my companies were serving, I should have to indulge in a deliberate act of discrimination in their favour. That would have meant making a very special effort in recruiting my employees within the minority ethnic community. That is a very difficult decision to take.

I am not in any way suggesting that the Government should have a definite policy of discriminating for the ethnic minorities in terms of service within the armed forces. On the other hand, it could well be that we could get more recruits within our forces from the ethnic minorities if we were to make a more conscious effort in terms of dissemination of information and the presence of recruiting teams in those particular areas.

My Lords, I think this is a subject which is so easy to talk about in public but so difficult to resolve. I think progress could be made if we were to raise this at a later stage. May I suggest that we have in this House a particularly useful committee which takes an interest in matter of defence? This is something which that committee might like to take on board, to see which are problems of the Government and which are the problems of the military, and the ways and means by which we could achieve the proper solutions for the ethnic minorities and their position in the armed forces.

I would hope that my noble friend would not press this amendment to a Division. I think he has a good case but I genuinely feel that more work needs to be done on it. Perhaps if your Lordships' House wishes to pursue it, I suggest you already have a committee which could look into it and make proposals to the Government. I hope this could be resolved not on a party issue or a conflict across the Floor of the House.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

My Lords, with the leave of the House, the first thing I have to say is that, while I appreciate all that my noble friend has said, it has nothing to do with the words of the amendment. If my noble friend wishes to join with others in suggesting how to improve recruitment, then we can go a long way. But this amendment deals not with how we can improve recruitment but with how we can apply the law to the armed forces with a little more bite than the evidence I have produced shows it has been applied, since, despite the Race Relations Act and other measures, it is still possible to find the evidence.

The noble Lord the Minister told the House that there had been some further statements made by the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality on misinterpretations, misunderstandings, journalistic licence and whatever it is. I am bound to say that the House would need to hear what appeared just a few days ago, again in the Daily Telegraph: 'From all the evidence available, we are quite convinced that blacks and Asians, the ethnic minority, are getting a very bad deal in the services', said a spokesman for Commission last night. The facts are incredibly difficult to come by because existing black and Asian servicemen are unwilling to talk on or off the record, but details are leaking out from men who have served their time or who have achieved premature voluntary release". I deeply respect the observations which the House has heard from noble Lords on the other side. They speak from two different levels of experience in this matter. They have led me, not to believe exactly, but I certainly formed the view from what they have said that what they want to see, whatever has happened in the past, is that there is no shadow of a question that this House, the British Government, the British people, will tolerate the kind of practices which it is alleged have been taking place.

Let me remind the House of the words I am asking it to agree to, because the Minister would not dispute them: It shall be an offence for any person subject to this Act to discriminate against, harass, hold in contempt or ridicule any person or persons on the grounds of race". There is no one in the House who would disagree with those words. What we are disagreeing with is whether it is proper and appropriate to put them into and on the face of the Bill. In my view, it will strengthen enormously the conviction, not merely in this country and among our own people, but over a far wider field, that so far as possible we intend to make sure that anyone in the armed forces who stoops so low as to practise harassment and discrimination on the grounds of race will be dealt with severely. I beg to move.

4.5 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 1) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 70; Not-Contents, 107.

Airedale, L. Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L.
Alport, L. Elwyn-Jones, L.
Amherst, E. Ennals, L.
Ardwick, L. Ewart-Biggs, B.
Aylestone, L. Foot, L.
Barnett, L. Gallacher, L.
Blease, L. Graham of Edmonton, L.
Boston of Faversham, L. Grey, E.
Bottomley, L. Grimond, L.
Brockway, L. Hampton, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Irving of Dartford, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Jacques, L.
David, B. [Teller.] Jeger, B.
Dean of Beswick, L. Jenkins of Putney, L.
Diamond, L. John-Mackie, L.
Kagan, L. Ritchie of Dundee, L.
Kennet, L. Rochester, L.
Kilbracken, L. Ross of Marnock, L.
Kilmarnock, L. Seear, B.
Listowel, E. Sefton of Garston, L.
Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B. Serota, B.
Lloyd of Hampstead, L. Shackleton, L.
Lockwood, B. Stedman, B.
McNair, L. Stewart of Fulham, L.
Mayhew, L. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Melchett, L. Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Mishcon, L. Taylor of Mansfield, L.
Molloy, L. Underhill, L.
Murray of Epping Forest, L. Vernon, L.
Nicol, B. Walston, L.
Oram, L. Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Parry, L. Wells-Pestell, L.
Phillips, B. White, B.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. [Teller.] Wilson of Langside, L.
Wilson of Rievaulx, L.
Rathcreedan, L.
Ampthill, L. Marley, L.
Annandale and Hartfell, E. Maude of Stratford-upon-Avon, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L.
Belstead, L. Merrivale, L.
Birdwood, L. Mersey, V.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Monk Bretton, L.
Brookeborough, V. Moyne, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Broxbourne, L. Norfolk, D.
Butterworth, L. Northesk, E.
Caithness, E. Nugent of Guildford, L.
Cameron of Lochbroom, L. Onslow, E.
Campbell of Alloway, L. Porritt, L.
Campbell of Croy, L. Portland, D.
Cawley, L. Radnor, E.
Coleraine, L. Rankeillour, L.
Cork and Orrery, E. Reigate, L.
Cottesloe, L. Rodney, L.
Cowley, E. Romney, E.
Cox, B. Saint Brides, L.
Cromartie, E. St. Davids, V.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Dacre of Glanton, L. Sandford, L.
Davidson, V. Sandys, L.
Denham, L. [Teller.] Savile, L.
Derwent, L. Selborne, E.
Drumalbyn, L. Selkirk, E.
Dundee, E. Skelmersdale, L.
Eccles, V. Somers, L.
Elton, L. Stamp, L.
Faithfull, B. Stanley of Alderley, L.
Fortescue, E. Swansea, L.
Gardner of Parkes, B. Swinton, E. [Teller.]
Glanusk, L. Terrington, L.
Glenarthur, L. Teviot, L.
Gray of Contin, L. Thomas of Swynnerton, L.
Gridley, L. Thurlow, L.
Hardinge of Penshurst, L. Trefgarne, L.
Hemphill, L. Trenchard, V.
Hives, L. Trumpington, B.
Holderness, L. Truro, Bp.
Home of the Hirsel, L. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Hood, V. Vickers, B.
Hooper, B. Vivian, L.
Hunter of Newington, L. Ward of Witley, V.
Hylton-Foster, B. Westbury, L.
Kimball, L. Whitelaw, V.
Kinnaird, L. Windlesham, L.
Lane-Fox, B. Wise, L.
Lauderdale, E. Wynford, L.
Layton, L. Yarborough, E.
Long, V. Young, B.
Lovat, L. Young of Graffham, L.
Macleod of Borve, B. Ypres, E.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

4.12 p.m.

Clause 11 [Extension of power to make custodial orders in relation to civilians]:

Lord Graham of Edmonton moved Amendment No. 2:

Leave out Clause 11.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move that Clause 11 shall not stand part of the Bill. The rubric of Clause 11 reads: Extension of power to make custodial orders in relation to civilians". The clause gives a court-martial or a Standing Civilian Court dealing with the children of service families abroad the power for the very first time to pass custodial sentences of up to 12 months on boys of 15 and 16, though not on girls.

I submit that this provision is both undesirable and unnecessary. It is undesirable because these custodial sentences will have all the disadvantages which attach to all custodial sentences for juveniles, plus a series of extra disadvantages arising from the fact that the young person will be sent to serve his sentence in a detention centre or youth custody centre in this country, thereby being sentenced to a form of transportation.

In my view, the clause is also unnecessary because for really serious offences—for example, homicide, grievous bodily harm, robbery, rape, or other serious sexual crimes—young offenders can be sent hack to this country and tried and sentenced by a Crown court here. No new powers therefore are needed for these offences. The new custodial sentences provided by Clause 11 would therefore be used for less serious offences. I submit on both of those grounds that the clause is neither desirable nor necessary.

At an earlier stage there was interest taken on all sides at an attempt to get the Minister to amend the clause to take account of genuine grievances. I am satisfied that the only way to remedy what I believe is a bad clause is to have it removed. I beg to move.

Lord Mayhew

My Lords, this was very fully discussed at the Report stage, and there was very widespread support for dropping this clause altogether. I see no reason to add to the arguments made then, and I warmly support the statement of the noble Lord, Lord Graham.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, as the noble Lords, Lord Graham and Lord Mayhew, indicated, we discussed this matter at an earlier stage and I can do little more than repeat what I said on that occasion. The main point that I wish to stress is that Clause 11 goes no further than the equivalent provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 1982 and it follows our general policy of bringing service law into line with the civilian criminal practice wherever possible. I could repeat at length the arguments that I offered at an earlier stage. I believe at this moment that would not be welcome to your Lordships; but I hope that in the light of the very full debate that we had earlier, the noble Lord will not wish to press the amendment.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

My Lords, I am disappointed at the response of the Minister. I think he will appreciate that on many of these matters Members on this side of the Chamber are substantially guided not only by our own feel for the issue but also by advice that we receive from bodies outside. The very eminent and respected organisation, NACRO (the body devoted to the care of offenders and the prevention of crime), have drawn my attention since the last stages to their very firm conviction on this matter that the clause is not only unnecessary but is also undesirable. The Minister continues to rest his case on the fact that all he is doing is to make the people who are subject to the Armed Forces Bill on a par with those outside. I am very disappointed but in view of the response that the Minister has given, and the reality of parliamentary arithmetic, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Trefgarne

My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass.

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

On Question, Bill passed.