§ 8.6 p.m.
§ Baroness Denton of Wakefield rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 8th May be approved [20th Report from the Joint Committee].
§ The noble Baroness said: My Lords, it is proposed that the Bill which has just received its Third Reading in your Lordships' House, and which will now pass to another place for consideration of amendments made in this House, would come into force on 25th August 1996. It was, essentially, a Bill to re-enact the existing provisions of the emergency provisions Act 1991 which expires in August. However, the principal provisions of the current Act would lapse before then, on 15th June, unless renewed by order of my right honourable and learned friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland before midnight on that date.
§ It is an annual duty falling upon your Lordships' House at this time of the year to debate the continuance of the emergency legislation. On this occasion, however, because we have been considering a Bill to re-enact the emergency provisions for a further two years, pending the outcome of the inquiry currently being led by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, into the future need for counter-terrorist legislation throughout the whole of the United Kingdom, we have had ample opportunity to debate the key issue which is the continued need to keep the provisions on the statute book.
§ I shall not describe the content of the Act, as it would amount to repeating what I said to your Lordships' on Second Reading of the successor legislation on 21st March. Suffice it to say that the House is considering the order against a climate in which the terrorist organisations remain intact, active and ready to mount further attacks both on the GB mainland, as we have seen all too clearly, and in Northern Ireland.
§ We continue to strive for a peaceful accommodation in Northern Ireland and we are hopeful that such an outcome will eventually be achieved through the democratic process and, we hope, through talks which will embrace all of the political parties.
§ The order, which I commend to your Lordships' House straightforwardly, has the effect of keeping the existing provisions in statute until they are repealed by the coming into effect of the successor legislation in August. I beg to move.628
§ Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 8th May be approved [20th Report from the Joint Committee].—(Baroness Denton of Wakefield.)
§ 8.8 p.m.
§ Lord Prys-Davies
My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for having carefully explained the reasons for the continuance order. In a sense it is in the nature of a temporary measure so that a gap should not occur between the expiry of the existing Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1991 and the coming into force of the Bill which has been given its Third Reading. That was made very clear by the Minister. We have pleasure in supporting the order.
§ Baroness Denton of Wakefield
My Lords, this House offers great support to Northern Ireland. The people of the Province are extremely grateful for that and for the friendship they are offered by noble Lords who continue to spend much time in the interests of the Province.
With that, and with an expression of gratitude for the support given to the order, which allows our citizens to be protected, I commend the order to the House.
On Question, Motion agreed to.