HL Deb 19 May 1992 vol 537 cc585-96

5.25 p.m.

Lord Kennet rose to ask Her Majesty's Government what, in their opinion, is the place of international conventional law in the "new world order" and how the executive power of the United Nations Security Council should be related to it.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, perhaps I may add my word of welcome to all those that have already been expressed to the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker of Wallasey. In her role as Minister for Overseas Development in this House, she has a high and deserved reputation, not only in this country but around the world.

In 1988 an American airliner blew up over the United Kingdom, killing everyone on board and some people on the ground. The United States and British Governments found evidence that it was a bomb explosion and, after suggestions that the Syrian or Iranian Governments were involved, later produced prima facie, evidence against two Libyans who are now resident in Libya. The fact, if it was proven, would constitute a horrible crime and the two Libyans, if found guilty, would be horrible criminals indeed. What did the two governments do, and was it the best thing to do?

The international law governing terrorism in the air is the Montreal Convention, which came into effect in 1973. Her Majesty's Government say that the Montreal Convention was not intended to cover acts of state terrorism, but the relevance of that is unclear. However, the wording of the convention nowhere excludes "state terrorism". It gives signatories a perfectly clear route down which to proceed in all cases of air terrorism. First, they may request extradition. We do not, in fact, have an extradition treaty with Libya and nor does the United States. We have never extradited anyone to a country with which we do not have an extradition treaty and I rather think that the United States has not done so either. However, one can extradite people without a treaty.

After they have in one way or another exhausted the resources of their own domestic law, the parties to the convention may go to arbitration and, if that in its turn fails, they may go to the International Court of Justice. If the Government had taken that clearly stated, essentially sensible and obviously law-abiding course of action, they could have obtained a judgment from the court that they were in the right and that Libya was in the wrong and the United Nations Security Council could then have enforced it with a binding resolution.

However, the United States and the United Kingdom did not do that. We went straight to the United Nations Security Council. In this, many think that the two governments twisted the law and that they did so from what some euphemistically call "a position of strength". In fact, it may be that all international lawyers, except those who advise the United States and the United Kingdom Governments, think that. In any case, parties as far apart as the Singapore Times, the Economist and the Iranian Government think so.

The United States and the United Kingdom obtained a non-binding resolution from the Security Council, telling Libya to take "all reasonable steps, etc.", as the world now knows so well. The Libyans have said that they will give a full and effective reply —that is, a reply that will be in accordance with the law.

The United States and the United Kingdom took that course perhaps because they feared that if they proceeded in accordance with the Montreal Convention, they might lose their case in the International Court of Justice. After all, the Iranian Government are currently addressing the International Court of Justice about the shooting down of an Iranian airliner by a United States warship earlier the same year, with an equally great loss of innocent life. The United States has a history of defeat in the international court, and only partly recognises it. The court found against the United States when the CIA mined Nicaraguan harbours, damaging a British flag vessel, among others, and again in a case that the United States brought against the Italian Government.

So the United States and Britain judged—and judged rightly—that the balance of power in the world at that moment was such that they could get from the Security Council a resolution under Chapter 7 of the Charter, which is the chapter about threats to peace and about international security. The balance of power in the world was at that moment determined by the fact that Russia was awaiting the American decision on how much aid it could expect to cope with its economic breakdown and to stabilise its currency, and China was awaiting the American decision on whether it could once again enjoy most favoured nation status. The vote, which was 10 to five, thus went through.

Now the UN charter is the most powerful document in the world, and Chapter 7 is the most powerful chapter in it. It overrides all other conventions and contracts. The International Court of Justice always assumes that the Security Council is its own judge when it applies the charter, and the court has never questioned any of the Security Council's actions under Chapter 7. So the Security Council resolution overrode the Montreal Convention procedure, and prejudged the outcome of the Libyan case before the court. The case was that the United States and the United Kingdom should be restrained from bombing Libya in accordance with their threat to do so. The court decided, as its own precedents required, that Libya must obey the Security Council resolution, and that was that. But the Security Council by this action did perhaps abuse its own great power, by acting before the other, entirely legitimate, procedures had been completed. By effectively interfering in International Court of Justice proceedings, it muzzled the court.

The growth of law in the world has probably suffered. It so happens that the International Court of Justice may have been deprived by this resolution of the possibility of it enhancing its authority where it may matter even more than it does in terrorism cases, namely in judgments about Somalia and the Kurds, which are cases of mass suffering and death. Its authority is now undermined in the Third World, where nobody sees the Lockerbie bombing or the difficulty in obtaining the extradition of the suspects as threats to world peace, however horrible they were. But that is what the Security Council has indeed been induced to say they were.

The question the Government should answer is this: why did they not state that they would not apply to the Security Council for enforcement until proceedings under the Montreal Convention were completed, with a ruling by the International Court of Justice? So far, they have only justified the Security Council resolution by the statement that something had to be done about terrorism. Nobody dissents. The question is whether that was the right something to do.

Perhaps I may repeat what I think is obvious. I am not against the Government for taking energetic measures jointly with the US. I am not against extradition and a trial in Scotland or the US. I am not against an appeal to the Security Council to enforce the decisions of the relevant court. But I do worry about the effect of going to the Security Council instead of the relevant court, thus cutting off the other side's recourse to its judgment. The domestic analogy to this would be the Government hearing and judging criminal cases because their most powerful member did not trust the judiciary to come to the right conclusion. Governments, of course, used to do exactly that, and on the whole we are glad that they have grown out of the habit. The worry about this will continue whether or not the Libyans now agree to extradite the men.

If I were allowed a Motion at the end of this discussion it would be, "To move to resolve that HMG do not do it again". Let us let it all simmer down, and think more objectively next time. Internationally as well as nationally the executive and the courts must keep to their own functions. Might must never come to think it is right; that is obvious. But there is another truth too. Others must never, when they see might, think: well, that must be right.

5.34 p.m.

Lord Bonham-Carter

My Lords, I am not an international lawyer and the argument which we have heard is closely connected with one's interpretation of the Montreal Convention, the status of the International Court of Justice and its relations with the Security Council. As I understand the argument of the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, he is saying that under the Montreal Convention the International Court of Justice could have been used to handle this case and that the route via the Security Council has been taken by the United States, the United Kingdom and France because in the Security Council political muscle can be used. This has given rise to the idea that Libya is being bullied by the great powers, and in some quarters (which the noble Lord did not mention), is even being used to enhance President Bush's electoral prospects.

I shall return later on to the political consequences of the route which the United States, the United Kingdom and France have taken. The advice I have received—in these cases, if one is not an international lawyer, one can only go on advice—is that the Hague, Tokyo and Montreal Conventions sought to plug a gap in international law in respect of air terrorists. The Montreal Convention says that if an air terrorist turns up on the territory of a signatory country, that country has an obligation either to try the terrorist or to extradite him or her. It presents those two obligations. It does not say that the country in question has an exclusive right to try the terrorist. In this case, Libya claimed it had the right to try and that it would try the terrorists in question. But I am also advised—this is where my advice differs from that which the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, has received—that the Montreal Convention does not deal with the case of a member of the security service of a signatory country who commits an act of air terrorism and then returns to the country by which he is employed, as a safe haven. That is not covered by the Montreal Convention.

Lord Kennet

My Lords, will the noble Lord be so kind as to make clear whether he is arguing that the Montreal Convention specifically protects such suspects; and if not, why he thinks that is relevant?

Lord Bonham-Carter

My Lords, it is relevant because if the terrorist in question is employed by the country to which he returns, the likelihood of the trial being fair is diminished. That is the argument.

The International Court of Justice is not a criminal court and there is no question—and nor has the noble Lord suggested it—of the international court being able to try individuals. What it was asked to do was to issue an injunction against the actions put in train by the Security Council at the request of the United States, the United Kingdom and France. They had demanded of Libya a demonstration making it absolutely and categorically clear that Libya had abandoned terrorism. In addition, as an indication of this clear demonstration, they required Libya to hand over the terrorists for trial in the United States, the United Kingdom or France.

It should be clear that the Montreal Convention confers no rights on states; it confers only obligations. That is an important distinction. But in the light of the Security Council's demand and Libya's refusal to comply with that request, the council decided that Libya's conduct constituted a threat to peace. That may indeed be a large claim to make on the basis of the evidence, but that is the basis upon which it took that step and imposed limited sanctions. The international court then refused to order the injunctive relief which was requested from it.

I shall now return to the political consequences of those events to which I referred earlier. There have certainly been those who felt that the use of the Security Council route would be interpreted as bullying; that it would engender sympathy for Libya; and that Arab states would want to get Colonel Gaddafi off the hook on which he appeared to be impaled. I understand those anxieties, and from time to time as the saga developed I have shared them. But in the event it does not appear that such fears have been justified. The embargo has in fact been backed by the Arab states, including Syria. Moreover, according to a report in today's edition of the Independent, Egypt is putting pressure on Colonel Gaddafi to comply. In the meantime, in an interview published yesterday in the Financial Times, Colonel Gaddafi is portrayed in a contrite mood. Therefore, it looks as though the anxieties that were felt—and, as I said, not unreasonably felt—do not in the event seem to have proved justified.

5.41 p.m.

Lord Richard

My Lords, I think that my noble friend Lord Kennet has indeed done the House a service by tabling this Question tonight. I am bound to say that I find myself in the same position as the noble Lord, Lord Bonham-Carter, in that I am not an international lawyer. Not only that, but I have the great disadvantage of being the only person to be speaking in the debate who has not received, in advance, a brief from an international lawyer. Therefore, to a certain extent, what I have to say comes from a position of not quite invincible ignorance.

It strikes me that my noble friend Lord Kennet has raised two issues. First, there is the role of the Security Council either as a legislator or indeed as a court, and the relationship between what the Security Council does and what the International Court of Justice may or may not do in relation to the same set of facts coming before either the council or the court. Secondly, if the Security Council had the legal right to do what it did in this case, was it wise that the United States and the United Kingdom should in fact go down that particular route of using the Security Council rather than the international court?

If I may, I should like to take both those issues in that order. As regards the Security Council versus the International Court of Justice as almost a court of first instance, I do not think that the two are necessarily mutually exclusive. Indeed, I think that my noble friend accepted that point. It is quite open to a state —is it not?—to go to the Security Council and ask it to make a decision as to whether the set of facts that is being considered falls within Chapter 7 of the charter. As I understand it, there is no obligation on the part of any state to pursue the Montreal Convention route before the issue goes to the Security Council. I suppose that it is a matter of judgment by the state that considers itself to be affected as to whether or not it wishes to go along the Security Council or the Montreal Convention route.

We had the situation in which the British and American Governments were taking the view that the terrorism which was emanating from Libya was state-sponsored and not merely the isolated acts of one or two people who might in such circumstances be employed by the Libyan Government; in other words, it was a complaint about Libya's actions as a state. In those circumstances, the fact that the Security Council route was chosen rather than the Montreal Convention route does not seem to me to be a matter of particular censure. Indeed, it was clearly in the minds of the British and American Governments that, if they pursued that route, the chances of getting the two men extradited from Libya were likely to be greater than if they had pursued the Montreal Convention route. At least, I assume that that was what was in the Government's mind—otherwise, I do not understand why they acted in that way.

Having got their determination under Chapter 7 and having imposed the sanctions, we then move into a realm not so much of international law but one of international politics. I do not think that anyone is arguing—not even my noble friend Lord Kennet— that the sanctions resolution is invalid. My noble friend indicates that he is not by shaking his head. I refer to the decision of the Security Council that it was a breach of the peace under Chapter 7 and that therefore it could attract—and did attract—a sanctions resolution. If the sanctions resolution is not invalid, then, in that case, the political judgment was made that that was the appropriate route that should be followed. Not only was that the political judgment that was made; it was also a political judgment which was accepted by the rest of the Security Council; otherwise, the resolution would not have been passed. No veto was cast against it and, indeed, a sufficient number of countries voted in favour of the resolution —at least, the requisite nine clearly did, but I do not know what the actual vote was. Certainly, no veto was cast against it and the resolution was passed.

Was it wise for the Government to pursue that route as opposed to pursuing another one? I am bound to tell my noble friend that I do not think it was necessarily unwise for the Government to act in the way that they did. Whatever else it is, the Security Council mechanism is infinitely quicker than the mechanism of using the Montreal Convention. One has to set up the arbitration and, if the arbitration is unsatisfactory, one has to go to the International Court of Justice. Then, if that court proves unsatisfactory, one has to come back, so to speak, full circle and return to the Security Council. If the object of the exercise is to get those two men out of Libya to be tried—as I assume it is—it seems to me that to use the Security Council route in the way exercised by the Government cannot be condemned as unwise. Indeed, I would find it difficult personally to condemn it as such. I hope that it works and that the two men involved are extradited and stand trial.

In conclusion, I should like to make one general point. We have had a very brief debate about an extremely complex issue but one which is, in a sense, very simple. My noble friend put it concisely in his opening remarks. The state of world politics now means that the procedures of the United Nations and of the international community will have to change. When I read the title of my noble friend's Question for tonight, I assumed that he would deal with such issues as whether or not, in the history of the Gulf war, the Security Council Military Staff Committee should have been used, and whether in fact it was legal for the Security Council in effect to mandate the United States to carry out enforcement action under Chapter 7. I thought such issues would be raised. Although my noble friend did not say what I thought he would say, I hope that he will forgive me if I say what I had intended to say to him.

We are now in a state of international politics where the existing procedures of the Security Council will have to be changed. At present, such changes are taking place ad hoc as the exigencies of a particular situation arise and as the exigencies of that situation seem to demand. I shall give your Lordships one example: the Military Staff Committee. It is a body mentioned in the charter which consists of the chiefs of staff and the military representatives of the five permanent members to whom direction of United Nations enforcement policy action under Chapter 7 is specifically delegated under the charter. I have said at this Dispatch Box before—and I say it again tonight —it seems to me that the sheer speed and technology of modern warfare makes that type of overriding institution very difficult to fit into a modern war.

Where I differ from the Government is that I feel that they do not have perhaps a coherent and sensible approach to the kind of amendments to the procedures of the United Nations Charter—indeed perhaps even to the constitution of the Security Council—that the times in which we are now moving and which we are increasingly going to have to meet in the future, are going to demand. I wish I could see a more coherent attempt on the Government's part to analyse the way in which the United Nations can be used more effectively in the future. As yet, I have not seen it.

However, perhaps I may say to the Government that I am delighted to see that they seem to be more enthusiastic about the United Nations now than they have been for many years past. Long may it continue! I hope that they will continue to give that extraordinary international institution more power and more support.

On the narrow point raised by my noble friend tonight, I have to say that I cannot go along with him in saying that the Government were necessarily unwise in pursuing the Security Council route. I think that it made for a swifter decision; and in terms of applying political pressure on Libya, it may indeed have proved to be more effective.

5.51 p.m.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, for the opportunity this evening to address these important matters. I am grateful too to the noble Lords, Lord Bonham-Carter and Lord Richard, and particularly to Lord Richard for what he said in the last part of his remarks.

This is an important matter. Like all previous speakers I believe in this debate, I am not an international lawyer. Indeed, I am not even a lawyer. Therefore I hope I tackle this from a common-sense point of view with the backing of those experienced in international law.

In the wording of Lord Kennet's Question, he invited us to consider the place of international convention law in the "new world order". The "new world order" is not a term we normally use. But it is clear, not least from the contributions tonight, that the international order has undergone rapid change in recent years. It will probably, as the noble Lord, Lord Richard, said just now, continue to do so. One of the most encouraging features of this evolution is the growing realisation that respect for international law at all levels is essential for maintaining international peace and security.

The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, referred this evening —as did the noble Lord, Lord Bonham-Carter—to the International Court of Justice. I hope there will be no doubt in your Lordships' House about the United Kingdom's support for the ICJ, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations. We brought the ICJ its first ever case, concerning the Corfu Channel incident in 1946. I am sure that noble Lords will be interested to note how, in that case, the United Nations Security Council and the ICJ were able to reinforce one another's efforts towards dealing with that incident. I am happy to report to your Lordships that only 10 days ago the dispute was finally set to rest by an Anglo-Albanian Memorandum of Understanding. That has taken a long while, but it was a successful outcome.

Alone among the permanent members of the Security Council, the United Kingdom has always accepted the court's compulsory jurisdiction. Fifty-four other states have now done so; and we are encouraged that more developing countries and countries from Eastern Europe, too, are among them. It is an encouraging sign that more disputes than ever before are being brought before the court for settlement, and that the court, under its British president, now has more cases pending before it than at any time in its history.

The ICJ has lately had to address the question which is at the centre of Lord Kennet's debate tonight. That is the relationship between international conventions and the executive power of the Security Council. As a number of noble Lords have recalled, Libya submitted two applications to the ICJ on 3rd March this year invoking the 1971 Montreal Convention on the suppression of unlawful acts against the safety of civil aviation.

I should like to respond now to a point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Bonham-Carter. He said that the Montreal Convention imposes obligations on states rather than rights. He is absolutely correct. The Montreal Convention does not confer an exclusive right to try the accused. Libya itself has been in breach of one of the main provisions of the Montreal Convention—Article 10—if the evidence alleged against her agents is proved to be true, by supporting offences against the safety of aircraft.

I shall now return to the separate cases brought against the UK and the US. Libya asked the court to declare that the Montreal Convention gave Libya a right to insist on prosecuting the two Libyan nationals accused of bombing Pan Am flight 103, and that the convention obliged the UK and US to assist a prosecution in Libya.

Secondly, as a preliminary issue, Libya requested the court to grant interim measures which would prevent the UK and US from taking action to require Libya to surrender the accused to any jurisdiction outside Libya, and from taking steps which would prejudice a Libyan prosecution. As the House will be aware, the court decided the preliminary issue in the UK's favour on 14th April. It has not yet considered the main issue.

I do not intend to discuss the case in detail. It is for Libya to decide whether it wants to pursue it. I shall, however, say two things. First, any state has a perfect right in law to invoke provisions of treaties which confer jurisdiction on the ICJ. But this is not to say that its motives in doing so are immune from scrutiny.

It would be wrong if that were so. I have to say that the Libyan attempt to seek interim measures had all the appearance of yet another manoeuvre to avoid facing up to its responsibilities. This was the first time in the history of the United Nations that a Government sought to use the ICJ to frustrate the operations of the Security Council. That this was indeed the objective emerged clearly in the oral hearings before the court. During all the weeks (about six in total) that had elapsed since the unanimous adoption by the Security Council of Resolution 731, Libya had engaged in nothing but evasion and prevarication. It did not turn over the persons accused of the bombings of the US and French airliners. Libya did not disclose what it knew of the crimes. Libya did not take concrete action to end its support for terrorism. Since then, I am sorry to say, it has been more of the same.

Secondly, we find it extraordinary that Libya should invoke the Montreal Convention. The Montreal Convention requires states to do everything possible to prevent terrorist offences of precisely the kind which caused the Pan Am and UTA disasters. Here there is evidence that the two accused were acting as agents of the Libyan state—the comment that the noble Lord, Lord Bonham-Carter, made. Trial in Libya would make the Libyan authorities judge and jury and accused in the case. To argue that the convention should be read as giving Libya the right to conduct the prosecution would give those accused of these awful crimes refuge in their home state, which was one of the main objects of the international community to prevent.

The ICJ reached its decision on Libya's application for interim measures on 14th April. It rejected the Libyan request by a majority of 11 to 5. In handing down its judgment, it made it clear that Libya was obliged, under Article 25 of the charter, to accept and carry out the decisions of the Security Council; and that, under Article 103 of the charter, that obligation prevailed over obligations under any other international agreement, including the Montreal Convention. There is therefore no legal obstacle to Libyan compliance with the Security Council's resolutions.

Clearly, that first ruling by the court is of central importance to the theme of the debate initiated by the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, in drawing attention to the provisions of the UN Charter and to the relationship between two of the principal organs of the UN system. Article 103 is unequivocal: obligations under the charter must prevail over those under other treaties, where the two are alleged to be in conflict.

The ICJ's verdict on interim measures was preceded by the adoption of Security Council Resolution 748. As the House is aware, that resolution sought to bring about Libyan compliance with the earlier resolution by imposing selective sanctions on Libya. The resolution was adopted on 31st March. The sanctions were deliberately postponed until 15th April to allow Libya a further opportunity to comply. Once again, Libya allowed the time to slip by without evincing any serious intention of complying. We find that regrettable. But it would be quite wrong for us to regret that the Security Council moved to take that second decision when it did. We cannot accept the argument that the Security Council should have awaited the ICJ's verdict on the application for interim measures, let alone its decision on Libya's principal case, which could take years. The ICJ and the Security Council are separate organs of the UN, each with its own responsibilities. There is no reason in our view why the Security Council should refrain from exercising its powers pending consideration of an application to the ICJ. It would clearly be wrong if any country, seeking to forestall the Security Council from carrying out its responsibilities under the UN Charter, could do so by the simple expedient of putting in an application to the ICJ. The council was entirely right not to be deflected from its course by Libya's applications.

A separate question is thrown up by tonight's debate. It is whether the matter addressed in Security Council Resolutions 731 and 748 is the proper business of the council. On that point, we are in no doubt, either. Article 24 of the charter confers on the Security Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. That cannot exclude international terrorism and the measures needed to combat it. International terrorism represents one of the most significant threats to peace around the world. If international terrorists are allowed to wield their scourge unchecked, the threat to international peace and security and to the rule of law is clear. How much more serious the threat to international order when terrorist attacks, whether in the skies above Lockerbie, in St. James's Square or in Northern Ireland, are supported actively by a foreign state. That is a challenge that the Security Council cannot afford to ignore. That is why in their declaration adopted after their high-level meeting on 31st January this year, under the Presidency of my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, the members of the council expressed their deep anxiety over acts of international terrorism, and emphasised the need for the international community to deal effectively with all such acts. In adopting its Resolutions 731 and 748, the council was doing exactly that.

I wish to assure your Lordships that the Government have no hidden agenda in this matter. Our demands are set out quite clearly in the relevant resolutions. They are perfectly reasonable demands, given the nature of the crimes that have been committed, to which the noble Lord, Lord Richard, referred. There were 441 people killed in the bombing of Pan Am 103 and UTA 772. Our objective is to bring those responsible to justice and to ensure that such atrocities do not happen again. We are not trying to change the Government of Libya. That is for the Libyan people.

We are not abusing the Security Council. We are not seeking to undermine the rule of law or the provisions of international conventions. On the contrary. Our aim is to bring to justice those accused of these appalling crimes, using the instruments at our disposal, and to see to it that Libya finally and convincingly renounces the use of terrorism. If we are to be serious about combating terrorism, we can do no less.

I hope that it will be clear from these remarks that Her Majesty's Government are deeply concerned here about the rule of law. International treaties and conventions of course have an important part to play in upholding this. But they are not always complied with. Under the Montreal Convention of 1971 no state party may support terrorist attacks on aircraft. The convention alone cannot solve the problems raised by the bombings of Pan Am 103 and UTA 772. And the convention does not address, nor was it designed to address, the wider issues of Libyan involvement in international terrorism over many years. Given the nature of the matter, and Libya's persistent refusal to mend its ways, the Security Council had to act. International conventions have a central place in the international order; but there may be occasions when the power of the Security Council as well must be brought to bear. I believe that it was wise to do so. The delays, the failure to stop international terrorism, and all that runs from that, would otherwise be laid at the door of those who did not take the right action at the right time. Going to the Security Council was undoubtedly that, and in that action, we have been widely backed throughout for trying to bring to justice those responsible for these atrocities.

Lord Kennet

My Lords, before the noble Baroness sits down perhaps I may ask her one question. She was reading from a prepared text. The first part of her speech consisted of a defence of the legality of the Government's action. Does she recognise that I was not alleging that the Government had behaved in any way illegally, but was questioning whether it was politically wise to use the law in the way that it has been used?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey

My Lords, although I prepared a text, because I considered this matter to be of supreme importance and believed it right to do so on this occasion, I was using notes at the same time and interweaving them.

The word "abuse" was used in the noble Lord's remarks, I believe, and it was certainly used in the debate. While he may not be accusing the Government of acting illegally but politically unwisely, I am afraid that the subtlety that is well accepted in your Lordships' House may not be interpreted like that outside.

I thought it was important to put on the record without any doubt that I believed it was both politically sensible and, for the security of people flying in aircraft in the skies, very wise indeed that we should have taken that action. It is being widely supported by Arab states, non-Arab states and all countries who are determined to bring this kind of terrorism and indeed terrorism of any type to an end as soon as possible.

House adjourned at ten minutes past six o'clock.