HL Deb 24 May 1999 vol 601 cc639-64

3.10 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Dubs)

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

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

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.


Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 [The Commission]:

Viscount Cranborne moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 2, line 30, after ("effect") insert ("either—

  1. (a) at the end of 30th June 1999 unless, before that day, relevant information has been provided to the Commission which has led to the location of remains to which the information relates, or
  2. (b) if the information mentioned in paragraph (a) has been provided,")

The noble Viscount said: At Second Reading I made clear how much I disliked what the Bill does and the reasons for it. Therefore, I shall not repeat those arguments. As the noble Baroness the Leader of the House is wont to remind us on such occasions, we are in Committee and should therefore make Committee stage speeches.

Suffice it to say that I feel strongly that the Bill before us is one in which the Government are enabling the Provisional IRA to take advantage of the compassion we all feel for the families of the disappeared. As we know, those families have suffered the tragedy of knowing that their loved ones have been murdered under the most distressing circumstances possible. The failure of the murderers even to tell the families where the bodies are buried has ensured that an open wound has remained open—in some cases, for many years. No one, on either side of the debate today, would yield to the Government for a second in the compassion and feeling that all of us have for those families.

My amendment puts a deadline on the effect of the Bill—I have suggested 30th June this year. I am sure that Members of the Committee will be aware that it is no coincidence that I have chosen that date. It is one which the right honourable gentleman the Prime Minister suggested is the deadline by which the Good Friday agreement should become operative. At Second Reading, the Minister made it clear, in his as ever courteous speech, that as far as the Government are concerned, this is very much a confidence-building measure. If the Bill is to become law, now is a good time for confidence to be built on both sides. If we have that deadline of 30th June, it seems appropriate that it should also be a deadline for other matters.

We should remind ourselves that it is the Provisional IRA which asks for the immunities the Bill grants. In exchange for the immunities which the Government of the Republic of Ireland and now our Government are in the process of granting, the Provisional IRA has given no guarantees that it will provide information which will close the open wounds in the hearts of the families concerned. If it fails to do that, I suggest that it is doing no more than acting in character.

In another context, the peace process raised hopes and aspirations among all of us. I refer not only to those in the Province where people have suffered far more than we on this side of the water as a result of the activities of terrorists from both traditions, but to those over here. Such hopes were based on the unequivocal—a word much used in the context of the negotiations—cessation of violence. Those of us who have taken an interest in Northern Irish matters for many years have been looking for such an unequivocal cessation, above all from the terrorist organisations on both sides which have been responsible for the tragedy of the past 30 years. What do we get? Weasel words which try to imply that the terrorist organisations, notably Sinn Fein/IRA but also terrorist organisations on the other side, are in favour of peace. They want to deliver peace. Nevertheless, they never go quite as far as saying that they have given up the armalite wholly in favour of the ballot box.

That is the cruellest deception of all. Many of us believe that the real pre-requisite for a return to parliamentary government in the Province is that people should give up the weapons which they hold like a sword of Damocles over the rest of us. That has been proven in other contexts and conflicts to be the pre-requisite for a return to parliamentary government. Nevertheless, the organisations concerned still refuse to give the unequivocal undertaking for which we have asked and which seems to be the minimum they should give before being able to take part in what seems to us to be everyday political activity.

In the context of the surrender of weapons, we are treated to phrases by terrorists given to their own supporters such as, "We haven't gone away, you know". That is just to remind us that unless the governments do what they are asked, they will go back to bombing. Exactly the same case applies in the Bill. I fear, beyond anything else, that the families of the disappeared, who have suffered so much in the past few decades, will find, just like the rest of us in a broader context, that their hopes have been raised and nothing has been done to provide the information under the immunities granted by the Bill. The terrorist organisations will be stringing us along and stringing governments along, asking yet again for more concessions; for us to take yet another step for peace in a way with which we have all become so tragically familiar. We have become hooked on making concessions so that we should not be accused by the very perpetrators of violence of being against peace. That is the ultimate obscenity. I fear that the Government are laying themselves open in this most sensitive and difficult of areas—particularly so for the families concerned—to finding themselves in a similar position.

It has been made plain during the past few weeks that the information to which the Bill refers is available. The Provisional IRA, in particular, has made plain that it has spent a large part of the past few years gathering information so that it is in a position to deliver it. Whether or not that is true, I do not know. I cannot help feeling that if it is as compassionate as it says it is, it would not have waited for immunity before giving the information.

However, let us just go along with it for a moment and allow that terrorist organisations need that protection. In that case, if they have the information and the Bill gives the protection that they say they need, they will need very little in the way of time to submit it and for the families to be able to know that they can bury their disappeared in graves they can visit and honour.

This amendment in no way contains an extreme request. In fact, it is a request which astonishes me in its moderation. The very least that we can ask is that we have some kind of assurance that if once again we are let down by the Provisional IRA for sticking our necks out when they have refused yet again to stick out theirs, we will know that they will not have the ability to string us along beyond 30th June, asking for more and more concessions in exchange for keeping alive the hope of the victims' families that they will be able to bury their loved ones.

I am sorry that the Government did not feel, during the course of their negotiations, that they should impose a time limit; I am sorry that another place did not feel during the course of its consideration of this Bill that it ought to impose a time limit, for the reasons that I have attempted to give the Committee this afternoon. It is fortunate that at least Members of this Committee will have the opportunity to consider the question of a time limit. I hope that, if the Minister is not able to meet me on this modest request, the Committee will at least allow me to take the opinion of the Chamber on a matter which, above anything else, is one of common decency. I beg to move.

Lord Molyneaux of Killead

As the noble Viscount so ably explained to the Committee, his amendment specifies a period of approximately one month before the Bill ceases to have effect. My amendment proposes a slightly longer period of three months. However, in the light of representations that I received over the weekend, and in view of the case made by the noble Viscount, I have come to the decision not to press my amendment.

Emerging information indicates that, as a result of secret, detailed negotiations between the IRA on the one hand and the MI6 successor to the agent formerly known as "the mountain climber" on the other, agreed arrangements are already in place. They were in place before this Chamber and the other place began deliberations on this Bill. Just as in the case of earlier legislation—for example, the prisoners' release Bill—the bargains have been struck with the terrorists in great detail. That explains why your Lordships were not permitted to carry even modest amendments to any of the long chain of Northern Ireland Bills which have come before this House over the past 18 months. Each and every Bill was set in stone.

We were told by the Minister—I never envied him his role—that it was not possible to substitute, for example, the word "may" for "shall" because it would do violence to the much-heralded Belfast agreement and the confidence-building measures in Northern Ireland. As the noble Viscount said, they are confidence-building measures designed to assist terrorists and disadvantage the law-abiding people of Northern Ireland, whatever their political views or their outlooks.

Given that the bargain has been struck with the terrorists, the sole function of your Lordships is now to seal the deal. There is therefore no need to delay the conclusion of the deal. It can begin immediately Royal Assent is given and in the unfortunate event of t hi s Committee approving the situation as it stands in the Bill, accepting the time limit of four weeks will be more than sufficient. It will have the all-important effect of shortening the period of agonising being suffered by the unfortunate families.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham)

As Amendment No. 2 is also being spoken to, I must point out to the Committee that if Amendment No. 2 is agreed to, I cannot call Amendment No. 3.

Lord Vivian

I apologise to the Committee for not attending the Second Reading of this Bill; it was impossible for me to do so. However, I have read the report of the debate carefully and, though I have sympathy with the bereaved families, I agree completely with many noble Lords that this is a repugnant Bill of appeasement giving amnesty to Sinn Fein/IRA murderers.

I support this amendment because it applies pressure to the IRA and should force the murderers to show that by 30th June they genuinely wish to reveal the locations of the victims that they have executed. I do not agree with the Minister and his reasons for not imposing a time limit for the disclosure of information. This amendment overcomes his arguments. If this amendment is put to a Division, I shall vote for it.

Lord Chalfont

As the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, said in his typically moderate and thoughtful speech in moving this amendment, we must avoid making Second Reading speeches at this stage. I find it difficult to do so because, at Second Reading, one thing struck me very forcibly, and it was this. On nine separate occasions in the Second Reading debate this Bill was referred to with revulsion and contempt. The kind of words that were used were "shoddy", "odious", "offensive", "cynical", "sordid", "disgusting", "obscene" and, finally, "an insult to Parliament". Legislation which attracts that type of language is not run-of-the-mill legislation. It is something at which we must look much more closely.

However, we gave the Bill its Second Reading and must go on from there. Perhaps I might mention my reasons for intervening in this debate at this stage. My main reason is that for the greater part of my active life since the war I have been, in one guise or another, engaged in counter-terrorist operations. I fought terrorism in the Middle East, Africa, Malaya and in Cyprus as well as in Northern Ireland. I learnt many lessons in those operations, but the most important lesson I learnt, and I learnt it on almost every occasion, was that it is almost always a mistake to bargain with or make concessions to terrorists. All we will get in response are demands for more concessions, time wasted and a cynical and almost contemptuous attitude coming from the other side.

It is no good asking terrorists who set about this kind of operation for political ends to compromise. As the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, said in the Second Reading debate, the object of terrorism is to terrorise, not to compromise. I am sure nobody in this Chamber accepts that puerile, school-debating society line of thought which says that one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. That is rubbish and we should all recognise it as such. Freedom fighters do not murder, mutilate, maim and torture. Terrorists do, and then they have the insolence to speak of execution and interrogation instead of murder and torture.

That is the reason I support this amendment. As the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, said at Second Reading: six months is more than long enough for them to deliver what we must take as their promises. It is much more than long enough. The information which they need to supply to fulfil their side of the bargain is already available, and there is no reason why there should be any great delay.

As the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, stated, whether one describes the Bill as odious, shoddy, cynical or whatever else one might like to call it, there should be a deadline to force these people to deliver on their promises; otherwise, as they might say, "The deal is off'. There are no guarantees yet. The hopes of the families have been raised, in a cynical and cruel way, and unless we are prepared to set a deadline the Provisional IRA will have every reason to prolong matters. It has no sympathy with the families. This is not a gesture of humanity or compassion; it is something which it thinks is in its own interests. We must ensure that it is not in its interests.

I support the amendment very strongly. If the occasion arises and the noble Viscount goes in to the Division Lobby, I shall certainly be with him.

3.30 p.m.

Lord Fitt

Over the past few months noble Lords will have been aware of protest meetings that have taken place in relation to the General Pinochet case. One of the banners that I saw every time I left this House read, "Justice for the Disappeared". Whatever the arguments that relate to the situation in Chile, I had no idea then that we would be standing in this House, talking about the "disappeared" much nearer to home.

People who have voted for me at successive elections have been taken out of their homes and been brutally and viciously murdered and then buried by their murderers. The Bill contains no justice for the disappeared of Northern Ireland.

The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, quoted what was said at Second Reading in the other place and in this House. I stated on that occasion that it was very difficult to find words in the English language adequately to convey my detestation of this legislation. This is not democratic legislation. We are flouting every concept of law and democracy in these islands by making this further appeasing concession to the most brutal murderers that I have seen in my lifetime in Northern Ireland.

The noble Lord, Lord Hylton, has made repeated eccentric forays into Northern Ireland. He continually writes letters to all and sundry in Northern Ireland; in fact, he has written more letters than St. Paul. I did not hear the conclusion of his remarks because whenever he starts to make eccentric speeches in relation to Northern Ireland I switch off because I have heard them all over many years. The next day I saw in Hansard that the noble Lord, Lord Hylton had said in his concluding remarks: There is perhaps a certain degree of self-indulgence among those speakers who have denounced the outrages and violence of the IRA and other terrorist bodies from the safety of this House".—[Official Report, 18/5/99; col. 181.] To whom was he referring? Was he referring to me? I have been harassed by the IRA. My home was burned. I had to have police protection over many, many years, because I denounced violence, not from this House but from where I was living on the Antrim Road in Belfast.

The majority of noble Lords from Northern Ireland who have spoken from this side of the House go home at the weekends. They live in Northern Ireland. They too denounced violence at Second Reading. I do not think they were doing so through any form of self-indulgence. They were speaking with the authority of their former constituents and of their experiences in Northern Ireland.

I go to Northern Ireland at weekends. I do not rest when I go there: I talk to people and go to their homes. They come to my home, and I talk to people on the telephone. The only people who are opposed to the Bill, and the only people who are opposed to the amendment, are those who are in association with terrorists. They are the people who have continuously terrorised people over the past 30 years. They will continue to do so with the help of the Government through the Bill.

In the other place, Dr. Norman Godman, in an intervention during a speech made by Douglas Hogg, said: The right hon. and learned Gentleman claims that the clause offers an amnesty for killers. A friend in Northern Ireland suggested to me that that was an unintentional consequence of the clause".—[Official Report, Commons, 12/5/99; col. 349.] How can there be an "unintentional consequence" of a clause which grants amnesty to murderers in Northern Ireland?

I know that the Government are embarrassed by the Bill. I have carefully read the speeches made in the other place, and I can see that their hearts are not in the Bill. If that is so, why did they engage in some back-street dealing with people from the IRA? It was said that they had to act through intermediaries before they thought of drafting the Bill in conjunction with the Government of the Republic of Ireland and bringing it before this House.

Who were the intermediaries? Who made the first contact? Who discussed with the intermediaries what the intermediaries had said to the Provisional IRA? Did the Government consider the dreadful consequences of the Bill before bringing it before this democratic Parliament?

The Government can give only one answer. I resent it bitterly when any member of the Government, either in the other place or here, asks me what I would do. That is throwing down the gauntlet; it is saying to me that I do not want these bodies returned; that I am taking steps which will prevent the IRA identifying where the bodies are buried. In Belfast there are rumours that part of the M.1 is being dug up by contractors, supported by the police, because a body may be found there.

What is to prevent the IRA saying, "There is Loch Neagh and there are bodies down there"? There is no guarantee that the IRA will at any time tell us where those bodies are. There is no guarantee that if the location of a body is given it will be the body the relatives are looking for. Why is there a restriction on autopsies and the post mortem examinations of those bodies? The whole thing is absolutely sickening and flies in the face of every decent concept that has ever been debated by noble Lords in relation to Northern Ireland.

I am certain that there are many noble Lords on both sides of the Committee who agree with the amendment moved by the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne—not because it has been spoken to by the noble Viscount or myself or others, but because they have read the reports and studied the Bill; they have analysed what it means and its consequences. They then have to make up their minds whether or not to support the amendment.

The noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, is a member of the Conservative Party. Both he and his ancestors have not been very helpful in matters concerning Northern Ireland or the island of Ireland. But I find no difficulty in associating myself with this amendment. Someone telephoned me this morning from Belfast. I said that the reason why the 30th June has been put into the amendment is due to the Prime Minister in another place. He is lecturing the elected representatives, for whom people went to the polling stations to vote, and telling them that they must find agreement by 30th June; otherwise, a threat of some description is there. If he can say that to the elected representatives, why cannot he and the Taoiseach in the Republic go to the intermediaries, or the IRA, and say, "We have set a date for 30th June. We think that those bodies should be returned by that date"?

The IRA has already stated in its own words that it knows where these bodies are buried and that it is prepared to say where they are buried provided—and this is the sickening thing—that we do not prosecute the people who murdered them and provided that we do not even look for their murderers. In other words, the IRA will give these bodies back but, in return, we are about to make one of the most disastrous concessions to this terrorist organisation that has ever been made in the history of this Parliament.

Lord Redesdale

During his speech the noble Lord, Lord Fitt, made an assertion that those who are opposed to this amendment and for the Bill are in some way appeasing terrorism or acting on behalf of a terrorist organisation. I am sure that that was not the noble Lord's intention, but that is the way that his words could be read in Hansard.

Lord Fitt

What I said then—and I repeat it now—is that those who are opposed to this Bill, not the amendment, have been accused of preventing the return of the bodies.

Lord Redesdale

I support the Bill. It would not be my intention to support terrorism in any shape or form. I realise that many noble Lords in this Chamber will have considerable difficulties with the Bill. The legislation makes challenging statements about real justice. However, the Bill is also about stopping some of the agony that has been suffered by the victims' families.

Many of us agree with the Government and support them. We actually believe the Government when they say that they are putting this forward as a humanitarian Bill. Indeed, the victims' bodies will not be found without it. However, I should like to challenge the idea of appeasement. Last Wednesday there was a meeting in the Committee corridor of Friends of Ireland, which Mr. Gerry Adams and Mr. Martin McGuinness attended. After the meeting I went and asked Mr. McGuinness when he thought that the IRA would actually give back the bodies. I did this not in any great expectation that he would come forward with any definite details, but to prove a point; namely, that questions will be asked of these organisations. People have accused the Government of falling into a naïve trap and have warned that games will be played—

Viscount Cranborne

I am most grateful to the noble Lord. As he was kind enough to favour Members of the Committee with an account of the question that he asked of Mr. McGuinness, it would be extremely interesting to many of us to know how it was answered.

Lord Redesdale

Of course, the answer Mr. McGuinness gave was that Sinn Fein is putting all its pressure on the IRA to come up with this information as quickly as possible

Noble Lords


Lord Redesdale

Laughter may greet that reply, but, if games are played, it will be very difficult for Sinn Fein to answer the question that will be asked by its own communities. If a brown envelope is not given to the commission containing the names and the details of where the bodies are buried, what will be the reaction of noble Lords? Moreover, what will the communities in Northern Ireland think? It is a very dangerous game. It will be a public relations disaster for the terrorists if they do not come forward with this information.

The first amendment, which, I believe, the noble Viscount said he would vote on, stipulates the date of 30th June. I find that an unsettling date because there will be so much pressure on all the parties in Northern Ireland on that day that, if the amendment were to be carried, it would add just one more difficulty to those which already exist. On Second Reading, the Minister gave some of the reasons why a time limit is inappropriate for this Bill; indeed, such reasons were also given in another place. We on these Benches do not like the detail of the Bill, but we will support this Bill because the victims' families need to get these bodies back.

3.45 p.m.

Lord Blease

We have just heard what Members of this Chamber think about what is happening in Northern Ireland and what has happened over the years. I can tell Members of the Committee that there are many in Northern Ireland with bleeding hearts, suffering minds and suffering bodies. Noble Lords must believe me when I say that that does not reside only in this House.

The Bill has been welcomed in many areas of Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland Memorial Fund made a full statement in this respect. Professor George Bain of Queens University, lawyers and representatives of the various clerical groups—and, indeed, a host of others—have said that the Northern Ireland victims' Act meets the situation. A grant of £4,000 out of the memorial fund has already been given to some of the persons involved. So it meets the approval of the vast majority of people who undertake community work and who know all about the suffering that is going on. In no way do those people help to support terrorism either by voice or by way of written material.

There is one other point that I should like to make. I should like to know how many noble Lords from this Chamber took part in the march yesterday in which something like 100,000 people marched to cemeteries to reiterate the need for a memorial for the dead in this respect. Indeed, one report in the Irish News this morning states that around 30,000 people turned out to attend a church service on a cold and wintry day at Miltown cemetery. Those people support this legislation, and the report says that the spokesmen of several of those organisations have said so. The people of Northern Ireland are those who have suffered. Many of them support this particular aspect of the Bill.

Perhaps I may explain where I support the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, in this respect. I think that a time limit should be stipulated. We should know in some way when this commission will be established. The machinery is already there. The Bill is about a commission and how it should operate. I feel that we ought to have some information about when the commission will be established. Under the terms, it is supposed to be set up within 12 months, but I think that an interim report should be made within six months as regards what has happened in that time.

This Bill is not intended to solve the terrorism and the problems of Northern Ireland; indeed, as far as I am aware it will take about 50 years to do so. I am someone of 85 years of age and I know all about the suffering that has gone on in this community. In no way will it be over in three or six months. It will take the people of Northern Ireland, and those who have been elected to represent them, a long time to get down to the business of looking after those who have suffered. I have in mind such matters as unemployment, medical and mental healthcare, and so on. The issue is certainly about the concern that justice should be done and that mercy should be shown to those who want to mourn their dead, just as people did yesterday. Let us look at the Bill in a sensible way and let it pass through its various stages, even if we do stipulate a timescale.

Baroness Strange

I should like briefly to express my support for my noble kinsman Lord Cranborne. I should also like to apologise to Members of the Committee for the fact that I did not speak on Second Reading, but I had not at that time consulted with my ladies of the War Widows Association in Northern Ireland to discover what they thought. I have now done so, and we all feel that the terrorists have been given enough, with no sign of anything back, neither bodies, nor information, nor weapons.

Some years ago an associate member told me, "I would give anything to know where the IRA has buried my son." Last week I asked, "Would you pay the terrorists to reveal your son's grave and return the remains to you?" She said, "Do you not think it is bad enough I have to run the risk of meeting the four released terrorists walking this small town every day of my life? I do not wish to have them paid bounty money for giving information about the whereabouts of the last resting place of sons and husbands."

it takes two to make a quarrel; it takes two to make a peace also. I should perhaps add that everyone I asked said that they would go along with anything the noble Lord, Lord Fitt, said. Well, so would I, and so I do.

Lord Mayhew of Twysden

It is worth reminding ourselves what this amendment—which I for my part support—will achieve. The noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, described it as very moderate. I believe that we must all agree with that because it says in effect that the Bill shall cease to have effect unless before 30th June, relevant information has been provided … which has led to the location of remains". The term "relevant information" is defined in Clause I of the Bill as, information as to the whereabouts of the remains of a victim". Therefore this amendment asks only for information as to the remains of a single victim which will lead to its discovery to be made available to the commission. That is a moderate imposition upon the IRA and upon any other terrorist organisation to whom it may apply.

Further, we need to remind ourselves of the genesis of this Bill. As I understand it, some months ago the IRA declared that it knew the whereabouts of a number of the "disappeared." It indicated—if not expressly, by implication—that it needed some protection from prosecution if it was to make that information available. I do not think that it is unduly cynical to suppose that its motivation in this initiative was to rid itself of an embarrassment. Time and time again one has heard condemnation of the IRA on the grounds that it will not even afford the relatives of those whom it has murdered the basic satisfaction—if that is the word, but I do not think it is—of being able to give them a burial. I believe that that was an embarrassment and was seen to be a severe embarrassment to the IRA. It may well have played a major part in leading the IRA to take this initiative.

I speak as someone who listened to all but the closing stages of the Second Reading debate. I did not feel it proper to intervene in that debate because I was not able to be present for the reply to the debate. But had I done so, I would have supported the Government on the principle of this Bill. I would have done so with as heavy a heart as those of many who spoke from the other side of the Chamber. I would have supported them because I hold to the view, which I held during the time I carried responsibility for Northern Ireland and in particular for people's lives, that it was necessary to go several extra miles not in order to achieve a realistic possibility that all violence would thereafter be banished from Northern Ireland for political purposes—I do not believe, at any rate in the short or medium term, that that is a realistic possibility—but because the few who nonetheless resorted to violence would be condemned throughout the world and see their position considerably undermined. It might even have been a practical possibility—had our ability to impose internment not been removed in the course of this Parliament—to have internment on both sides of the Border. I would therefore have supported the Government. I believe that the humanitarian purpose they espouse is a worthy one. Although there would have been some gain to the IRA in the removal of that embarrassment, l thought that the balance justified, perhaps by a small margin, the principle of the Bill. Had I spoken to that effect, I believe I would have been alone—certainly on the Back Benches—among your Lordships who spoke.

As to the amendment, what is being asked to be provided? The organisations concerned are being asked to come forward with information in respect only of one victim. We know that the IRA has acknowledged that it knows the whereabouts of nine victims, possibly more. What is the practical difficulty? On the other hand, if the amendment takes effect and is not complied with, what will be the consequence? The consequence must be that reasonable and right thinking people everywhere throughout the world will say, "They are not genuine and they made this offer only for cynical, self-seeking reasons." Therefore notwithstanding that I continue to support the principle of the Bill, I believe that confidence-building measures may properly he called for from each side and that they should operate in each direction. It is therefore entirely consistent with support for the principle of the Bill that I also support the amendment.

Viscount Brookeborough

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew, touched on a subject that I wish Ito mention. The matter that galls so many of us in Northern Ireland—and, I suspect, here—is that the Bill as drafted is not so much a government Bill but has come about perhaps at the instigation of the IRA. That is why it contains conditions and that is why the IRA. was after appeasement. It is difficult for us to accept the terms and conditions of the appeasement, as it appears to us.

I support Amendments Nos. 1 and 2. As far as I am concerned, this is a matter of principle. Why should vie conform to an IRA timetable? We have conformed to an IRA timetable for the past 30 years. The IRA has dictated everything. The incidents that we are discussing have been committed by terrorists. I cannot think of a good reason for us to continue to conform to their timetable. If this Bill is to succeed—I may be one of the doubters in this respect—it must be implemented for the sake of the families concerned. The speedy resolution of the issue of the "disappeared" is all important. If, as we are told, PIRA now feels humanitarian responsibility for the families involved in this matter, it should have no objection to the imposition of a timetable. However, I question whether the IRA feels such humanitarian responsibility. I do not believe that is the case but let us see. Let us give the IRA a timetable. The IRA has provided nine names and perhaps the location of just one body. I am not fully aware of those details. Where are the rest of the names? We are not talking about dropping a notebook or throwing something over a hedge when getting away from a murder. We are talking about the practical problem of picking up a body, removing it, driving it to another place, digging a hole, covering it over so that nobody will find it, and the terrorists burning their own clothes so that they can provide no forensic evidence. All that does not happen in two minutes flat.

People are pretending that perhaps PIRA cannot remember where it put the bodies. That is inconceivable and ridiculous. What about the other bodies without the time-scale in the Bill? Will they drip-feed names and locations, each time gaining more appeasement? If the Bill goes through, we can give real protection to the families by inserting a time limit, so that we achieve that which the Government aim to achieve. I am sure that relatives in Northern Ireland will be eternally grateful to us for doing that.

If the terrorists' memories are failing, what will waiting longer and having an open-ended, year-on-year arrangement without a time limit achieve? I suggest that their memories will not improve.

An indication of what might happen appeared in an article in a Northern Ireland paper last Wednesday, headlined, "French dig fails to find remains". It was INLA who said where the remains of a body were to be found in France, yet it was not found. So the quicker that we get on with this, the better. If it is to be, let us have a time limit now.

4 p.m.

Lord Shepherd

I rise to sound a warning note. It is many years since I was involved in Northern Ireland affairs, but like all noble Lords I have watched with great anxiety and horror the events of the many years since a Labour government—remember that, a Labour government—put soldiers into Northern Ireland. Ironically, if my memory is correct, that was done to protect the Catholics from the Protestants. The British forces have paid a very heavy price there.

Like many noble Lords, I have been heartened by the great progress that has been made in Northern Ireland in recent months. Like affairs in many other parts of the world, there is no easy or quick solution, but one has a feeling that, slowly but progressively, advances are being made. Perhaps the most significant among them has been the general welcome throughout the Northern Ireland community for what has been achieved by the British Government, British Parliament, Irish Government and Irish Parliament.

Like the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew, I support the Government with this Bill. I do not like it, but this is not the first time that I have been confronted with something in a Bill that I do not like. However, if the motive has been accepted and that is the judgment of the Government, I will go along with it.

I have no criticism of noble Lords who moved the amendment and support it, but I wonder how it will be seen in Northern Ireland if the Committee has its way, as I suspect it might, if inevitably we are led into a Division. That could only send one message—that we are divided on what is seen as an important gesture. Nobody would suggest that the Government have acted other than in the best interests of the women and families who have lost their loved ones. However. suppose that the Committee passes the amendment. Do your Lordships really believe that the Government would accept it in another place? Do your Lordships believe that the Government, with their majority, would allow such an amendment to remain in the Bill? If that happens, what are your Lordships going to do? I suspect that you would use the wise judgment of this House over many years—that if the other place makes a judgment on anything that we may have done, we accept it. Therefore, the Bill will be as it has come to the Committee now, without the amendment. I hope that your Lordships will take my view that, as a result, damage will have been done in Northern Ireland.

I ask the Committee whether it is worth the candle. Is it really worth the risk? This House has expressed its views sufficiently to know that most of us acknowledge that the Government are acting to the best of their abilities for a small group of people. We do not wish to do damage—certainly not to a Bill that is connected with Northern Ireland. I hope that the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, will give close thought to the potential damage that would be done if his amendment secured a majority in the Committee this evening. I ask him whether it would be worth it.

Lord Glentoran

With the greatest respect to the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, the decision to bring the British Army into Northern Ireland in support of the police and the Roman Catholics on that dreadful day was one of the worst that they made. It led to Bloody Sunday, when the soldiers did not know which way to face. Those same soldiers will be paying the price again because of another bad decision by the present Labour Party.

Back to today's Bill. I spoke my mind clearly on Second Reading. I did not like the Bill for all the reasons that many noble Lords have stated. I said that our role in this House is to do our best to improve government legislation, and today's debate is in the process of doing that. Having been cynical about the Government's motive for introducing the Bill in the first place, and having accepted the Minister's word that it is nothing but sincere and helpful, I sincerely believe that the Bill will become really useful to the families of those victims only if it has a time limit.

My Amendment No. 3 will probably fall, so I am speaking now. I felt that six months was a practical time to set up the commission, run the show for a while and see whether our cynicism was justified and the IRA were going to play true to form. The noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, has introduced an amendment supported by others that calls for a determination date of 30th June. I have no problem with that. I believe that can still be achieved and that the IRA., if really pressed, can deliver what is required to meet that deadline.

I am saying now to the Government, "You've said that you are sincere. You've said that this Bill is directed at the welfare of the families. You've intimated by that that the Bill is not politically motivated." I say to them, "Be on your mettle; do not again give way to the IRA; have the courage of your convictions; set the deadline and let us see what is delivered".

Lord Tebbit

I, too, should express my regrets that I was not here last week for the Second Reading of the Bill. I was abroad and unable to get back. Had I been here, the list of pejorative adjectives from the speech today of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, would have been rather longer and perhaps somewhat more harsh.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the amendment should be approved. The idea that your Lordships should not enact an amendment to a Brill merely because it is possible or likely that the other place might vote it down is one of the more extraordinary constitutional theories. After all, we know that this assembly will be made into a poodle before very long, but we are not yet a poodle which has not even got the guts to bark. That was a most extraordinary argument.

If the Bill goes through, it is right that the IRA should be given a window of opportunity—and it should know when that window will close; otherwise it will string it out: there will be another concession or two, something more that it will want, and something more that it will get. In the meantime, the families of the victims—we all understand their feelings and have the greatest sympathy for them—will, like this place, like Her Majesty's Government, be strung along once again by the IRA. If the IRA was not interested in stringing us along, we would have seen a surrender of arms by now. We have seen no evidence of any willingness. Indeed, we are told constantly by the IRA and its representatives that it has no intention of giving up any arms, only the intention of stringing us along.

The worst thing about the Bill is, of course, that it is a demonstration of the power of the IRA to extract concessions from the Government. That demonstration of power will be heeded in Northern Ireland. People will be once again reminded of who is in charge of the so-called "peace process"—not Her Majesty's Ministers, but the friends of Mr. Adams and Mr. McGuinness.

The noble Lord, Lord Fitt, implied—I am not sure whether he meant to say it—that he believed that perhaps it was even more important that murderers were convicted of their crimes than that the bodies of their victims should be recovered. That is a perfectly plausible proposition. It would not be thought extraordinary by anyone—unless it was made in the context of Northern Ireland. It is only in that context that it is believed it is more important in the interests of justice and peace that the remains of a murder victim should be recovered than that his murderer should be brought to justice.

Like the noble Lord, Lord Fitt, when I read the report of the Second Reading debate, I noticed how often the critics of the Bill were asked "Well, what would you do?" It is perfectly simple. The matter could have arisen during the talks which became the Belfast agreement. It could perfectly well have been signalled to the IRA that, as it has owned up to knowing where the remains are, there would be a slow-down in the release from gaol of criminal terrorists unless it revealed where the remains were. But, of course, at every stage the Government have thrown away or given to the IRA every bargaining lever they possessed.

The amendment would give back to those who believe in justice, as opposed to those who believe in murder, the smallest degree of power, influence and bargaining strength.

4.15 p.m.

Viscount Slim

Having reflected since our previous debate on the matter—the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, has said what I was about to say—I believe that the Bill will be only the start of concessions. I do not go along with a number of noble Lords who have said that if the terrorists do not deliver they will lose face and be embarrassed. In my experience, terrorists never get embarrassed; terrorists use failure with great cunning and great viciousness and throw it back at democracy. I often wonder how much more punishment democracy has to take. A terrorist displays great cheek and viciousness when he has been slightly or completely wrong-footed. We can expect no niceties or anything like that if terrorists do not deliver one body, all the bodies, or even information about the bodies.

There are many great lawyers in your Lordships' House. I am not a lawyer, but I do not see that the Government have the power to break our hard rules on criminal and terrorist investigation—such as forensic examination and DNA profiling—and suddenly to exempt terrorists from such investigation. Will the Government exempt other criminals next?

I find that the Bill is unsuitable. I am only slightly heartened by the speech of the noble Viscount. I consider his amendment to be a wise, sensible and moderate one, as many noble Lords have said, and I support it. However, I find it difficult still to support the Bill.

Lord Monson

As my name is to Amendment No. 3, perhaps I may say a brief word about it and the other two amendments in the group. In order to forestall any claims to the contrary, I should say, first, that none of the amendments in any way contravenes the Good Friday agreement. Secondly, if the terrorist organisations are sincere in their resolve to reveal the location of their victims' bodies, it is not necessary that the Act should remain operative for more than six months at the most. If, on the other hand, the terrorist organisations are insincere, it is not justifiable that the Act should remain operative for more than six months. Surely the noble Lords, Lord Redesdale and Lord Shepherd, would concede that point.

In theory, Amendment No. 1 is perhaps preferable to Amendment No. 3. Whether it is preferable in practice, I am not quite so sure; possibly the time-scale is fractionally tight. However, if the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, decides to press his amendment to a Division, I shall certainly follow him into the Division Lobby.

Baroness Park of Monmouth

I expressed my abhorrence of the Bill at Second Reading and I do not propose to do so again, especially as I have three amendments down for debate later. However, I strongly support Amendment No. 1 because I believe that the IRA has the information. It started thinking about this in 1997. It said in September 1998 that it already had a great deal of information and was setting up a unit to get more. So there is little doubt that it has the information. Therefore, I see no reason why we should not set a time limit and force it to come to the point. I shall support the amendment if there is a Division.

Lord Cooke of Islandreagh

It is very difficult for those of us born and brought up in Northern Ireland to express or to explain to others just how strongly we feel about the Bill, although the noble Lord, Lord Fitt, made a very good attempt. I am not sufficiently articulate to improve on what he said. The noble Viscount, Lord Brookeborough, has suddenly eased my mind. I now understand why I feel so strongly about it. This is an IRA Bill. This is not a government Bill. I have no doubt that it was the IRA's demand on the Government to have these concessions, a most dreadful thing to consider, as so well expressed by the noble Viscount, Lord Slim.

No matter how hard we try, I doubt that we shall reject the Bill. It will go through. However, if it is to go through, this period should be over in the shortest possible time. What are we talking about? The IRA says that it knows the location of the remains of nine people. How long would it take to hand over that information? One day. If it knows, why cannot this be done in one day? If we allow until 30th June, that is more than enough time. I strongly support the amendment.

Lord Craig of Radley

I support the amendment in the name of the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne. When I originally saw Amendments Nos. 1, 2 and 3 I wondered whether 30th June was pushing too hard on a door. I was not able to take part at Second Reading but I share the distaste and discomfort which many noble Lords feel about the Bill. When it came to thinking about the date I was very much persuaded by what the noble Lord, Lord Fitt, said in relation to the use of 30th June by the Prime Minister with regard to putting a deadline to discussions that are now going on. If the Government are prepared to put a deadline of that nature to elected Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly, there is every good reason why the Government should not balk at putting a deadline on the Bill. The Bill lacks that more than anything else. It lacks a good many other things, but not to have a deadline leaves the people who could string along the victims' relatives at every opportunity to continue to do so. If I had been writing a last will and testament—there are a number in this House and in another place who could well have been victims—I would certainly have been concerned about my family. However, I would have been very concerned not to give those who had murdered, abused and tortured any chance of getting off without having a very tight deadline. I support the amendment.

Earl Attlee

I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Cranborne for introducing the amendment so ably supported by the noble Lords, Lord Molyneaux and Lord Fitt, and others. I listened with interest to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd. However, as many noble Lords will agree, we in this House are quite entitled to give our considered view on any Bill except a money Bill. Huge majorities do not necessarily equate to great wisdom or even to considered decisions.

As the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig, said, 30th June is a rather steep test. I wish I could speak to relatives tomorrow and say, "We have passed an amendment that will let you know where you stand by 30th June." But perhaps 12 weeks might be more appropriate. The point is that we want to see the legislation working. We want to see results. The critical point is that terrorists either have the information that they are ready to give to the commission or they do not. That information could be handed over almost on the day the commission is up and running. If we obtain information on the nine, it would be appropriate to let the Bill run on to cover the possibility that more victims may be located.

Amendment No. 1 meets the Minister's likely criticism of Amendment No. 2. Amendment No. 2 would preclude the location of future remains. All the amendments meet the need of avoiding relatives and families being strung along. If the Minister is minded to accept an amendment in this group, I would suggest that Amendment No. 1 is the best one. Amendment No. 2 has the advantage that no action will be required. Clause 2 and the commission will be extinguished automatically without the need to involve Parliament again. There would be no difficult decision for the Minister to make or for Parliament to make.

My noble friend Lord Glentoran and the noble Lord, Lord Monson, spoke to Amendment No. 3. It has the advantage that the Government cannot be strung along and be forced into extending Clause 2 by order when it is said at that time that information is just about to be released to the commission. We have only to consider how often we have to extend the Northern Ireland decommissioning order to know that that is the case. Unfortunately, I have to work from the position that I assume the Minister has information or intelligence that leads him to believe that the Bill will work as drafted. I believe that to be unlikely. However, if the amendment is taken to a vote, I shall abstain because interference with the Bill may make it unworkable and could be a self-fulfilling prophesy.

I echo the question put by the noble Lord, Lord Blease, regarding timescales. When does the Minister expect the commission to be up and running? Does he see any merit in early reports from the commission—say, at three and six months—in addition to the 12 months provided for in the agreement?

Lord Dubs

In the course of this debate a number of your Lordships made points about the general principles underlying the Bill. Although I do not want to trespass for more than a minute or two on the time of the Committee in dealing with those points, I feel it would be discourteous if I were to ignore them altogether. It might also seem that the Government did not wish to rebut some of the points that were made.

The Government have one single motive for bringing forward the Bill—and that is to lessen the pain and agony of those families whose loved ones have been murdered and whose bodies have never been found. That is our sole and single motive on the Bill. The origins of the Bill lie not in any demands or threats from the IRA or any other paramilitary organisation. The origins of the Bill lie in the pain and agony of the families and their constant requests over many years that the bodies of their loved ones should be identified and revealed. Indeed, I remember it was nearly two years ago that my noble friend Lord Fitt made an impassioned speech to this House, stressing how important it was for something to be done to help the families concerned find the remains of their loved ones. I am sure it was not the first time that my noble—

4.30 p.m.

Viscount Brookeborough

I thank the Minister for giving way. He said that the only reason for the Bill was a humanitarian one for the families. I accept what he says. However, he may remember that at Second Reading I pointed out that there had been a newspaper article to the effect that the revelation came after the IRA leadership announced that it would not reveal the location of the secret graves unless it received an amnesty. I am not arguing about the word "amnesty", but it was clear that it wanted immunity in return for the information about the graves. That was the only reason for the Bill. If it solely wished to come forward with the information, and if it was not after immunity, it could do so without a Bill. Why is the Bill here? The Bill is all about what it gets out of it. If I may refer to col. 189—

Noble Lords


Lord Shepherd

The noble Viscount has intervened, and I think it is the custom that when a noble Lord is making a point he makes it briefly. Noble Lords should not seek to argue with the Minister or with anybody else.

Lord Dubs

I am most grateful. I was simply trying to make clear why the Government had brought the Bill forward, and the motive is to lessen the pain and agony of the families. It is perfectly clear that the IRA indicated—it was not done directly to the Government—that it would be prepared to reveal information about the nine bodies if through that process the individuals bringing that information forward would not be incriminated in terms of any evidence that would be there on the bodies or associated with the bodies.

There is no question of the perpetrators of these crimes being granted immunity from prosecution. It is simply in relation to one piece of evidence—evidence that will be found as a result of information indicating where the bodies were. That evidence, and only that evidence, could not be used as a basis for prosecution. Any other evidence that might be forthcoming would result in charges being brought and therefore prosecutions following. That is the origin of the Bill and it was the pressure, and the very vocal pressure, from the families which made everybody realise just how much those families were suffering, and that is why the Bill was brought forward—

Viscount Cranborne

I am extremely grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. I ask him this: what is it that is so different about the victims of IRA terrorism whose bodies have not been recovered and the victims of other criminal acts, as was mentioned by the noble Viscount, Lord Brookeborough, at Second Reading? There was the murder of Suzy Lamplugh. What is so different about Irish "disappeared" from English "disappeared"?

Lord Dubs

What is different is that. tragically there happen to be a rather large number of people in Northern Ireland who are grieving for their loved ones whose bodies have disappeared and have never been found. It is the scale of what has happened in Northern Ireland and the expressed wishes of the families that they should be helped in finding the bodies. That is what is different about Northern Ireland. That is not to say for one moment that I wish to suggest that the families of other people whose loved ones have disappeared are not also suffering. But the noble Viscount asked me a particular question, and that is the answer.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew., put it clearly when he said that the IRA wished to rid itself of an embarrassment—an embarrassment which was manifest throughout Northern Ireland. One has only to read the newspapers, as I am sure your Lordships will have done, and listen to what was going on to see how much concern there was on the part of those families. And of course there are many more than nine. Nine was the number which the IRA came forward with in a statement, and two of those had not previously been recognised as being among the "disappeared". There may still be others.

One of your Lordships juxtaposed the importance of finding murderers and the importance of finding the bodies of those they had murdered. This was put to the House as an alternative. I do not believe it ought to be an alternative. However, if any prosecutions follow and if the evidence is there, we want to find and prosecute the people who have committed these murders, but not on the evidence that may be forthcoming as a result of this Bill. We are not in any way saying one is instead of the other: we are saying that both are important, and I have indicated how that might happen—

Lord Tebbit

I thank the Minister for giving way. But what he has said is quite extraordinary. Indeed. he said one or two extraordinary things. One is that if you murder enough people and conceal their remains you can bargain with the Government. I venture to suggest that in the past 30 years a good many people have been murdered in Great Britain and their remains have not been found—and now the Minister suggests once again that he is holding a balance between conviction and recovery of the bodies. Indeed, he says that if the bodies can be recovered he is willing to forgo forensic information which might lead to conviction. The noble Lord nods his head: the argument is complete.

Lord Dubs

The noble Lord simply quotes what is in the Bill. We shall be coming on to forensic evidence later, but in terms of the principle, yes: because if we did not do that it would be most unlikely that the bodies would ever be found. That is the thinking behind the Bill. The motive is a humanitarian one.

I shall now continue with specific points on the amendment. I have made these remarks because of the general arguments that were put forward earlier. Clause 2 makes provision for the commission to remain in being until the Secretary of State, after consulting the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform of the Government of Ireland, makes an order appointing the day on which it should cease to have effect. The amendments seek to put some limits on the life of the commission: one month, four months, six months or a period to be determined by Parliament. That would mean that in one, four or six months' time, or at a date chosen by Parliament, the commission would no longer have a basis in domestic law. It would, however, continue to exist as an international body by virtue of the British/Irish agreement signed on 27th April and would still be underpinned by legislation in the Republic. However, it would be deprived of the provisions of the United Kingdom legislation relating to its status as a body corporate, the immunities which it would require and the financial provision for the Secretary of State.

This would create an anomaly and it is for this reason that the provision in Clause 2(1)(6) has been made: to enable action on winding up the commission to be taken in conjunction with the Irish Government, ensuring an agreed and co-ordinated approach to ending the existence of the commission in both jurisdictions. I can appreciate the desire for the commission to have a limited lifespan. I would clearly hope that information about the "disappeared" will come forward quickly, but I do not believe it would be helpful to set deadlines.

I very much hope that the commission will receive information before 30th June but, if it does not, I do not want to slam the door by closing down the commission. That would be seen by the families as the end of their last piece of hope to get information about their loved ones. I believe that we owe it to them to keep open the prospect of news for rather longer. Further, as drafted, the amendment would require the commission to be disbanded on 30th June, even if it had received information but no remains had been discovered by that date because the search was still under way. Clearly, that would be unreasonable. I suggest that the effective deadline would be several days before 30th June if this amendment were passed by the Committee.

A further point in considering deadlines is that we need to have regard to the range of cases with which we may be dealing. There is another issue. So far the debate has centred on bodies the whereabouts of which may be known to the IRA. But there are other paramilitary organisations: the INLA and others on the Republican side and a number on the Loyalist side. We are not dealing simply with bodies that have been buried or hidden by one organisation; there may be others. That is another reason why I believe that a tight deadline may make it unduly difficult for the whereabouts of the bodies to be made clear.

The commission is being set up to deal with information about any victim of violence within the meaning of the Bill who disappeared before the date of the Belfast agreement. The IRA list contains nine names. The names of other known "disappeared" have not been included. There could also be further "disappeared" whose names are not known to us. As I said earlier, the names of two people on the IRA list had not previously been known to the police as missing persons. We do not want to agree now to a closure date for the commission which could prove premature.

We recognise that Amendment No. 3 seeks to give Parliament the ability to vary the life of the commission if it considers that, in the light of experience, the suggested life of six months is not appropriate. This also runs the risk of action being taken unilaterally, leaving the commission in the anomalous position that I have already described. Given the international status of the body, it is necessary that its lifespan be agreed between the sovereign governments.

Article 3(2)(c) of the joint agreement between the governments requires the commission to report on its activities to both governments no later than one year after its establishment and annually thereafter. I believe that that is reasonable. However, in reply to the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, it is quite possible for the commission to report earlier if it so wishes. We expect the commission in its report to comment on its operation and workload, and it is that report which would trigger a decision by the two governments on the future of the commission.

I believe that it would be most unfortunate and wrong in principle if the House decided to pass one of these three amendments. It would not even do what many noble Lords are concerned about. I do not believe that it would lessen the pressure on the IRA or any other terrorist organisation; or maybe your Lordships think that it would increase the pressure. I do not believe that it will make that kind of difference but I do believe that the only ones to suffer will be the families who desperately await news of the victims.

4.45 p.m.

Viscount Cranborne

I am most grateful to the Minister for his usual courtesy and reasonable tone in responding to the debate. I am sorry that I must disagree with him yet again. I have known the noble Lord on and off for 20 years and have always found our exchanges agreeable, if not agreeable in the fullest sense. I am grateful to all those who have taken part in the debate particularly (if I may be invidious for a moment) to those noble Lords who have participated with the benefit of many years' experience of terrorism. The record of the noble Lord, Lord Fitt, is known to all of us, but we have also had the benefit of the views of the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig, the noble Viscount, Lord Slim—who cannot be described as "gallant" in this Chamber because he did not rise sufficiently high in the hierarchy of the Army, which is an omission for which I entirely blame his superiors—the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, and my noble friend Lord Tebbit, who has suffered more than any of us in this Chamber.

It is significant that the victims of, and experts on terrorism have been on this side of the argument. I would have said to the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, if he had been here, that the very act of standing up in public in either House of Parliament had been proven to be a provocation to terrorism, because terrorists do not like people drawing attention to their methods. All of us have friends—I think particularly of Mr. Ian Gow—who have suffered as a result of attacking terrorism from the safety of a House of Parliament.

As the speech of the noble Lord the Minister progressed and interventions were made I concluded from what he said—I say it with the greatest respect to him—that under this Government a terrorist is given immunity if he murders nine or more people, but if someone is not a terrorist and murders nine or fewer, immunity is not given. One has only to say it to see that under this Government, sadly, it pays to be a terrorist.

Lord Redesdale

Does the noble Viscount agree that his remarks could be viewed by many in this Chamber as offensive?

Viscount Cranborne

I tried to make clear during the course of the Second Reading debate, which I believe the noble Lord attended, and in my remarks here, that there is nothing in the least personal in what I say. What I have said is unacceptable to the noble Lord because the truth of the matter is that terrorism is intended to attack the very roots of parliamentary government. Terrorists assume as part of their attack that it is likely to provoke a reaction and that unless we engage with terrorism we are being unreasonable. It is that taking advantage of our good nature which is so scandalous about the methods adopted by terrorists all over the world, but in particular in Northern Ireland.

I did not intend to be offensive to the noble Lord the Minister, and I am sure that he knows that. I have the greatest respect and liking for him and have made that clear. In spite of listening carefully to what the noble Lord has said, I find it very difficult, for the reasons that I have tried to explain, to accept the arguments put forward by the Government and am driven to ask the opinion of the Committee.

4.47 p.m.

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

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 121; Not-Contents, 129.

Division No. 1
Ackner, L. Lang of Monkton, L,
Ailesbury, M. Lauderdale, E,
Ailsa, M. Leathers, V.
Allenby of Megiddo, V. Long, V.
Alton of Liverpool, L. Lucas, L.
Ampthill, L. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Archer of Weston-Super-Mare, L. Lyell, L.
Ashbourne, L. McConnell, L.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Marsh, L.
Biddulph, L. Masham of Ilton, B.
Biffen, L. Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Birdwood, L. Mersey, V.
Boardman, L. Middleton, L.
Brentford, V. Milverton, L.
Brookeborough, V. Molyneaux of Killead, L.
Cadman, L. Monro of Langholm, L.
Calverley, L. Monson, L.
Campbell of Alloway, L. Montrose, D.
Campbell of Croy, L. Moran, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B. Morris, L.
Carrington, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L
Chalfont, L. [Teller.] Moyne, L.
Charteris of Amisfield, L. Munster, E.
Chesham, L. Newall, L.
Clark of Kempston, L. Noel-Buxton, L.
Cockfield, L. Northesk, E.
Coleridge, L. Nunburnholme, L.
Cooke of Islandreagh, L. O'Cathain, B.
Cox, B. Oxfuird, V.
Craig of Radley, L. Palmer, L.
Cranborne, V.
Crickhowell, L. Park of Monmouth, B
Croham, L. Pearson of Rannoch, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Davidson, V. Pilkington of Oxenford, L.
Denham, L. Porter of Luddenham, L.
Drogheda, E. Rathcavan, L.
Dunleath, L. Rees, L.
Ellenborough, L. Renton, L.
Elles, B. Ridley, V.
Enniskillen, E. Rotherwick, L.
Exmouth, V. Rowallan, L.
Fitt,L. Ryder of Warsaw, B.
Gardner of Parkes,B. St. Davids, V.
Glentoran, L. Sharples, B.
Gray of Contin, L. Shaw of Northstead, L.
Halsbury, E. Skelmersdale, L.
Hanningfield, L. Slim, V.
Harding of Petherton, L. Strange, B.
Holderness, L. Strathcarron, L.
Hooper, B. Swinfen, L.
Howell of Guildford,L. Tebbit, L.
Howie of Troon, L. Tenby, V.
Hylton-Foster, B. Teviot, L.
Ilchester, E. Thomas of Swynnerton, L.
Jenkin of Roding, L. Trumpington, B. [Teller.]
Jopling, L. Vivian, L.
Kinloss, Ly. Weatherill, L.
Kintore, E. Westbury, L.
Laming. L. Wharton, B.
Lane of Horsell, L. Young, B.
Acton, L. Islwyn, L.
Addington, L. Jay of Paddington, B. [Lord Privy Seal.]
Ahmed, L.
Alli, L. Jenkins of Putney, L.
Amos, B. Judd, L.
Annan, L. Kennedy of The Shaws, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L. Lockwood,B.
Ashley of Stoke, L. Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Avebury, L. Longford, E.
Bach, L. Lovell-Davis, L.
Barnett. L. Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L. McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller.]
Berkeley, L.
Blease.L. Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Borrie, L. McNair, L.
Bragg, L. McNally, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L. Maddock, B.
Brookman, L. Mallalieu, B.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L. Merlyn-Rees, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Mishcon, L.
Burlison, L. Molloy, L.
Carlisle, E. Monkswell, L.
Carter, L [Teller.] Montague of Oxford, L.
Castle of Blackburn, B. Morris of Castle Morris, L.
Christopher, L. Morris of Manchester, L.
Clinton-Davis, L. Murray of Epping Forest, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L. Newby, L.
Crawley, B. Nicol, B.
Dahrendorf, L. Paul, L.
David, B. Peston, L.
Davies of Coity, L. Pitkeathley, B.
Desai, L. Plant of Highfield,L.
Dholakia. L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Diamond, L. Prys-Davies, L.
Dixon, L. Puttnam, L.
Donoughue, L. Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Dormand of Easington, L. Rea,L.
Dubs, L. Redesdale, L.
Evans of Parkside, L. Rendell of Babergh, B.
Richard, L.
Evans of Watford, L. Rogers of Riverside, L.
Ewing of Kirkford, L. Roll of Ipsden, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L. Russell, E.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B. Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Gilbert, L. Sawyer, L.
Glanusk, L. Sefton of Garston, L.
Glenamara, L. Serota, B.
Goodhart, L. Sewel, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L. Shepherd, L.
Goudie, B. Simon, V.
Gould of Potternewton, B. Simon of Highbury, L.
Graham of Edmonton, L. Smith of Clifton, L.
Grenfell. L. Strabolgi, L.
Hanworth, V. Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Hardy of Wath,L. Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Harris of Greenwich, L. Thornton, B.
Harris of Haringey, L. Tordoff, L.
Haskel, L. Uddin, B.
Hayman, B. Walker of Doncaster, L.
Hilton of Eggardon, B. Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L. Warner, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B. Wedderburn of Charlton, L.
Hoyle, L. Whitty, L.
Hughes, L. Williams of Elvel,L.
Hughes of Woodside, L. Williams of Mostyn, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L. Young of Old Scone, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

4.47 p.m.

[Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 not moved.]

Lord Williams of Mostyn

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.