HL Deb 30 April 2001 vol 625 cc440-75

3.6 p.m.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Tordoff)

My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

This report follows from a resolution that was moved by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, on 5th March after debate. It stated: whilst recognising that the final decision will be a decision for the whole House, it is desirable that the Liaison Committee should consider the appointment of a Select Committee to consider all the circumstances surrounding the crash of Chinook helicopter ZD 576 on the Mull of Kintyre on 2nd June 1994".—[Official Report, 5/3/01; col. 91.] I am aware that many noble Lords will he disappointed by the fact that the report from the Liaison Committee recommends that the House should not appoint a Select Committee. I shall try to explain how the committee came to that conclusion.

First, the matter was not in any way treated lightly by the Liaison Committee. There were three meetings, which were called at very short notice. After the first meeting it was decided to ask the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, to give evidence. We were very grateful to her for giving a clear explanation of the Government's and the MoD's position and for her assessment of the likely attitude of the two Air Marshals to appearing before the Select Committee. Her evidence is of course published as part of the report. The noble Baroness's position can best be described as that of agnosticism to the idea of a House of Lords Select Committee on this subject. We understand that.

Secondly, as a result of that meeting, we asked the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, to appear before us, which he did. We are extremely grateful to him because he enabled us to assess his interpretation of the phrase in his original Motion, to consider all the circumstances surrounding the crash". At first sight, that appears to be very wide indeed. However, if noble Lords examine the evidence that he gave in answer to question 39 on page 18 of the report, it is clear that he believed that the inquiry could be quite tightly drawn and that it would not be necessary to go into the "technical details" and background.

After considerable discussion, certain opinions emerged in the Liaison Committee. I trust that members of that committee will join in this afternoon's debate and set out their views in more detail than I can. It is important to say that a large majority of the committee—this was not a unanimous opinion—felt a degree of unease about the board of inquiry's findings. They also felt—this appears in paragraph 7 on page 6 of the report—that: It may well be that the conclusions of the Board of Inquiry could usefully be reviewed by a suitable body". Why could that not be done by a Select Committee of the House of Lords? Careful reading of the questioning by members of the committee reveals the answer to that question. First, some members were worried that however much we attempted to limit the scope of a committee of inquiry, it would be necessary to consider a substantial amount of existing evidence in order to decide whether or not the Air Marshals were justified in coming to the conclusions that they did.

With the best will in the world, an injustice to the board of inquiry may arise in those circumstances. First, there may not be sufficient technical expertise available to test the evidence. Secondly, there may not be sufficient time to give attention to the weight of the evidence and the committee may have considerably to extend its timespan in order to cope.

Some members felt that that was not a suitable matter for a House of Lords Select Committee because of its quasi-judicial character and that to embark upon such an enterprise might set unfortunate precedents for similar attempts to query legitimately constituted boards of inquiry in other fields. One thinks perhaps of a noble Lord having doubts about the Paddington inquiry, the "Marchioness" inquiry or the Kings Cross fire inquiry, and seeking to set up a Select Committee to look into those.

Also, some members of the Liaison Committee believed that it would be possible to have a small, focused, tightly timetabled Select Committee. To that end a Motion was tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, which, in the event, was defeated by four votes to two.

I repeat that this is a matter for the whole House, as was said in the original resolution. I look forward to hearing your Lordships' views from all sides of the House this afternoon, bearing in mind that this report is not an inquiry into the findings of the board of inquiry, but simply looks at the appropriateness of your Lordships setting up a Select Committee.

Finally, I can do no better than summarise by quoting paragraph 7 of the report, which states: It may well be that the conclusions of the Board of Inquiry could usefully be reviewed by a suitable body. But we do not believe that a select committee [of this House] is such a body". I commend the report to the House.

Moved, That the Second Report from the Select Committee (HL Paper 67) be agreed to.—(Lord Tordoff.)

3.15 p.m.

Lord Chalfont rose to move, as an amendment to the above Motion, to leave out all the words after "That" and insert "this House rejects the recommendations of the Liaison Committee and appoints a Select Committee of five members to consider the justification for the finding of those reviewing the conclusions of the RAF board of inquiry that both pilots of the Chinook helicopter ZD576 which crashed on the Mull of Kintyre on 2nd June 1994 were negligent".

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I realise that it is no small matter to ask this House to reject a recommendation by one of its Select Committees. However, on this occasion I feel obliged to do so and should like to take a few moments of your Lordships' time to explain why.

I begin by saying that there is nothing confrontational about this amendment. It is not in conflict with the Government. This is a story in which Ministers, both of this administration and their predecessors, followed almost exactly the same line on the advice of their officials. Nor is it in conflict with the Liaison Committee, which is quite entitled, and indeed required, to make its recommendation to the House. However, I confess to being somewhat surprised that the recommendation should have gone so clearly against the clearly expressed will of your Lordships' House and especially that the committee should have rejected the Motion put to it by the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, which proposed a Select Committee based upon the concept of narrowing the terms of reference to address only a review of the conclusions of the Royal Air Force board of inquiry.

I make a point here which has been the subject of confusion not only in your Lordships' House but also between the board of inquiry and the reviewing officers; that is, that the technical position is that the reviewing officers are part of the board of inquiry, so they should not be separated from it. What is at question here is the verdict of the board of inquiry, including its senior reviewing officers.

My amendment is designed to take account of the concept advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, in the Liaison Committee. There is no need—perhaps I worded my original Motion badly in this respect—for the Select Committee to examine hundreds of witnesses, to go through thousands of pages of evidence, or assess arcane technical matters of great complexity. But a Select Committee of some kind, perhaps with narrower terms of reference, is the only way now in which this matter can be resolved; the only way in which we can have a fair hearing about the verdict of the RAF board of inquiry.

In the course of the evidence given to the Liaison Committee your Lordships will notice that the Minister, the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, made it abundantly clear that any other course which had been suggested was unacceptable to the Government; in other words, there was no point in suggesting to the Government that they should set up an independent board of inquiry. I tried to suggest that on many occasions. It was rejected and the noble Baroness made it clear in the Liaison Committee that it would be rejected again. The Government will not set up an inquiry which they believe may cast doubt on the verdict of their Air Marshals.

So the inquiry has to come from somewhere else. I hope therefore that the House will now agree—and perhaps the Chairman of Committees will accept—that a Select Committee should be set up (in spite of the findings of the second report) possibly of a slightly different kind and perhaps under the chairmanship of a senior legal figure. Its remit would confine its deliberations to the sole question of the review of the findings of the Royal Air Force board, based—this is perhaps the most important sentence I shall utter in the course of m y few remarks—firmly on the Royal Air Force regulations at the time of the accident; namely, that a deceased air crew should not be found guilty of negligence unless there is no doubt whatsoever about the causes of the accident.

If the committee were to examine that aspect and come to a conclusion on it, it could well be expected to report back to this House before the end of this year. Indeed, if the Chairman of Committees would undertake to refer back the second report, which has been a matter of careful consideration, to the Liaison Committee and to the Committee of Selection and ask them to appoint a Select Committee in those terms, preferably before the dissolution of Parliament, there would be no need for my amendment and I would ask the leave of the House to withdraw it.

When I tabled my original Motion on 5th March, it was at first framed to ask the House to agree to the establishment of a Select Committee without any further formalities. However, I was persuaded, understandably, to change the wording of the Motion to refer the matter to a Liaison Committee for procedural reasons relating to the proper requirements of your Lordships' House. However, I hoped I had made it clear to the House on that occasion that I regarded this as a matter for the whole House. Your Lordships may recall that the Minister intervened to say that the Government would not oppose my Motion and, that they would co-operate with any Select Committee set up. The House then agreed to my Motion with out a Division.

It seemed clear to me that it was the will of the House that a Select Committee should be set up. I assumed therefore—being nave in all these matters—that the reference to the Liaison Committee was a purely procedural formality and that the Select Committee would be set up. I was wrong.

As noble Lords will see from the report of the Liaison Committee—this was mentioned to some extent by the Chairman of Committees—three separate pieces of evidence were laid before them. The first, which was not mentioned by the noble Lord, was an extremely strongly worded memorandum from the chairman of the Select Committee on Public Accounts in another place which examined the process for the convening and conducting of Royal Air Force boards of inquiry. I shall not go into that now other than to say that it specifically called into question the sustainability of the findings of the Royal Air Force board of inquiry in this case.

The second piece of evidence—not in chronological order but I place it next—was my own. I suggested that there was no need for any long, drawn-out examination of all the technical aspects of the controversy, but that it would be reasonable to proceed on terms of reference which focus entirely upon the conclusions of the Royal Air Force board of inquiry, including the verdict of the reviewing Air Marshals.

Finally, there was an extremely clear, unequivocal proposition from the Minister that the Government would find it difficult, if not impossible, to put a question mark against the judgment of the two Air Marshals by setting up a government inquiry. However, in her evidence she went on to state: I think, frankly, your Lordships' House is one of the more sensible fora in which that could happen".

One could not have a clearer endorsement from the Minister for the idea of appointing a Select Committee.

The view of the Liaison Committee was that it would be undesirable to substitute the decision of a Select Committee for that of the Air Marshals. That seems somewhat surprising, at the very least. It seems to imply that once a Royal Air Force board of inquiry has arrived at a verdict, that is the end of the matter and there can be no question of an appeal of any kind against that verdict. I need hardly remind a body such as your Lordships' House that in a democratic society military law is always subordinate to the civil authority.

Also in a democratic society Parliament is, or should be, sovereign. It seems extraordinary that we should now suggest that the House of Lords is neither competent nor properly equipped to examine an alleged miscarriage of justice of this seriousness. What has happened to the doctrine of the sovereignty of Parliament? The suggestion that this would set a precedent is no argument. To mention the "Marchioness" and other possibilities is a non-argument. All these cases can well be decided upon their merits, as I think this case should be.

The other reasons given by the Liaison Committee for recommending that the House should not appoint a Select Committee also seem to be somewhat lacking in substance. Whatever might be said, this is not a matter of professional judgment by Air Marshals or technical expertise. This is largely a matter of common sense and partly a matter of law and natural justice. It calls for an examination of the evidence which was available to the original Royal Air Force board of inquiry and ultimately a decision by a committee of this House as to whether that evidence could justifiably lead to the conclusion that there has been gross negligence beyond any possible doubt.

The sanctity of the chain of command in the Armed Forces does not take precedence over natural justice. I served long enough in the Armed Forces to recognise the importance of the chain of command in normal circumstances. However, these are not normal circumstances. For years, the Ministry of Defence declined to review this verdict on the grounds that it would do so only if there was new evidence. That is totally misleading and disingenuous. There is no new evidence and there never will be. The Ministry of Defence officials know that perfectly well. The aircraft was totally destroyed when it landed. There were no survivors. There will never be any new evidence. However, much is known now which was not known then. That may not be exactly new evidence, but at least it casts doubt upon the cause of the accident, or increases already existing doubts.

Everything which has emerged since the verdict (which may not be new evidence but is an accumulation of considerations, some of which were known to the Ministry of Defence but to no one else) confirms that there is much doubt about the causes of the accident (that can be seen from the findings and evidence of the original board of inquiry) and that the verdict of gross negligence is unsafe and unsustainable. In the debate on 5th March the Minister stated that the Government would co-operate with any Select Committee of your Lordships' House which is set up. As I have said, she also stated that any other form of inquiry would be unacceptable.

I apologise for detaining your Lordships. However, as noble Lords will have gathered over the years, I am passionately involved in this case. Perhaps I may conclude by reminding your Lordships of the sombre, unadorned facts of the case, leaving aside legal, technical and other arguments. First, someone authorised the transportation to Scotland in one helicopter of 25 senior members of the Northern Ireland intelligence community. Secondly, the helicopter was of a type with which test pilots had expressed dissatisfaction up to the day before the accident. That aircraft carried no accident data recorder and no cockpit voice recorder. Thirdly—the most sombre fact of all—the helicopter crashed on the Mull of Kintyre killing all passengers and crew.

Fourthly, the initial finding of the subsequent Royal Air Force board of inquiry, before it went to the reviewing officers, was that there was no evidence which led them to attribute human failings to the air crew. Fifthly, as I have said before, at that time Royal Air Force regulations stipulated that deceased air crew should not be found guilty of negligence unless there was no doubt whatever about the causes of the accident. Sixthly, and finally, as they were entitled to do, the reviewing officers reversed that finding and concluded that the two pilots had been grossly negligent. Two young officers were therefore found guilty of what was the equivalent of manslaughter, without legal representation and without any right of appeal. Perhaps it is relevant to remind your Lordships that since 1998 boards of inquiry have not been allowed to allocate blame. That was one of the lessons of the Chinook disaster on the Mull of Kintyre. That came a little late for Flight Lieutenants Tapper and Cook.

Before the Select Committee which I hope will be established gets down to discussion and the arguments, those are the basic facts of the case. If your Lordships decide not to support my amendment today, you will be closing finally the only remaining door which could lead to a review of the verdict, which would then remain as a permanent stain on the memory and reputation of these two young men. As I said earlier, if at the end of our discussion the conclusion of any Select Committee which is set up upholds the findings of the Royal Air Force board of inquiry and its reviewing officers, that would be an end of the matter as far as I am concerned. I would pursue it no further. However, equally, if a Select Committee is established and finds that the verdict is unsustainable, I suggest that that too should be an end of the matter and the verdict of gross negligence should be set aside. I beg to move.

Moved, as an amendment to the above Motion, to leave out all the words after "That" and insert "this House rejects the recommendation of the Liaison Committee and appoints a Select Committee of five members to consider the justification for the finding of those reviewing the conclusions of the RAF board of inquiry that both pilots of the Chinook helicopter ZD576 which crashed on the Mull of Kintyre on 2nd June 1994 were negligent".—(Lord Chalfont.)

3.30 p.m.

Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank

My Lords, I speak from these Benches but I do not speak on behalf of these Benches. My noble friends are free to speak and vote as they choose on the Motion in the name of the Chairman of Committees, the amendment of the noble Lord. Lord Chalfont, and, indeed, on the Motion standing in my name.

I take the view that this is a House of Lords matter. We must make up our own minds on these matters across party in the light of the issues which have been presented to the House by the Liaison Committee and which no doubt will be referred to in our discussions today.

Perhaps I make the matter plain to the House. In doing so, I shall use an expression used in a different context by the Chairman of Committees. As regards the issue which provoked the debate, the finding of gross negligence against the two pilots of Chinook helicopter ZD576—the matters which were raised by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont—towards the end of his speech, I am an agnostic. I have taken no view whatever of the merits of the issue.

I wholly understand, as must the whole House, the feelings of the families of the young officers who died on that occasion. I respect the tenacity and passion of the noble Lord and of members of all parties and of none who have campaigned so that justice will be seen to be done. But that is not the issue before the House. The issue before the House is a simple but extremely important one both for the role of this House and for the future. Is a Select Committee an appropriate way to seek to carry forward and to resolve this dispute? I believe that it is not. Whatever the merits of the issue, however convenient it may be for the Ministry of Defence, a Select Committee does not fit this case.

It follows that I shall vote for the report of the Liaison Committee and vote against the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. As for my own Motion, I tabled it as an alternative to the noble Lord's proposal in recognition of the strength of feeling expressed in this House on 5th March, of strong views held in another place and of public disquiet, which I fully acknowledge, especially in Scotland. I have no wish to close down further campaigning on the issue if that is what others want.

It will be said—it was said by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, today and no doubt it will be said by the Minister in reply—that the Ministry of Defence is not prepared to set up an independent inquiry of the kind referred to in my Motion and that the Prime Minister has endorsed that position. It was the view expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, in her evidence before the Liaison Committee.

That must be the position of the Government until the Government change their mind. Governments always say no until circumstances persuade them that they should be saying yes. It is no surprise to me that the Ministry of Defence wants to put the matter to rest and that it believes that one way of doing so is to push it on to your Lordships' House. I make no complaint at all.

However, governments change their minds. They change their minds on the eve of general elections. They change their minds in new Parliaments. Prime Ministers change their minds and the Prime Minister could certainly set up an inquiry if he so wished, either now or later—or for that matter, as referred to in discussions with the Liaison Committee, invite the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor to do so. There is no constitutional impropriety in the Prime Minister saying no now and saying yes later. For those who are doubtful, to put it at its least, about the procedure for setting up a Select Committee, that option exists and I have placed my Motion on the Order Paper so that that will be plain.

The report of the Liaison Committee sets out the powerful reasons why the committee, by a majority, felt that it was not right to proceed with a Select Committee. The Chairman of Committees referred to those issues today. First, a Select Committee is not equipped to second guess the professional judgment and technical expertise of the RAF board of inquiry. That is probably true, but it is not the heart of the matter. Secondly, a Select Committee is unlikely to end the controversy. Again, that is true, but it is not the heart of the matter either. The heart of the matter, and the issue for the House today, is that this House should not adopt a quasi-judicial role for which it is unfit and which could be regarded as an encroachment on the separation of power.

We now have a Constitutional Committee of this House and perhaps it might have deliberated and reported on that matter. Be that as it may, it would be very unwise for your Lordships' House, in its lay capacity, to go down the road to becoming a court of appeal for those with a grievance, however legitimate, against the finding of some other body. Would we see other Select Committees when disciplinary decisions in the Armed Forces are similarly found to be unacceptable and legitimate grievances remain? Would we find appeals to your Lordships' House from decisions of the Police Complaints Authority? Would decisions of planning inspectors, when they cause offence, be brought to this House for a Select Committee? And what about the decisions of regulatory bodies?

It may be said that it is very unlikely that that will occur. It may be said that it will be within the good sense of individual Members of the House not to go down that path. I respectfully ask the House to consider that whatever the virtues of this case, and I can see that many noble Lords believe them to be strong, this could be a slippery slope damaging in the long run to the integrity, role and standing of your Lordships' House.

The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, in a spirit of compromise, which I am sure the House will greatly welcome, has in his amendment suggested perhaps a narrow definition of the Select Committee name. It is not for me to say—and I do not know the answer—whether it is effectively possible to withdraw such an amendment and substitute for it an oral commitment of a kind which I understand the noble Lord has made. But I have to say to your Lordships' House that the noble Lord's proposal is still for a Select Committee. The phrase he used was a Select Committee "of some kind". Unless the Chairman of Committees advises the House, I know of no other way under the Standing Orders of this House that a committee should be established. So whatever the terms of reference, it will be a Select Committee of this House sitting in judgment.

On the other hand, in addition the noble Lord has helpfully suggested that there might be narrower terms of reference to review the findings. But I cannot see how, nor do I think the noble Lord suggested, that a review of the findings could be conducted without second guessing the verdict passed on the two pilots. Therefore, although I believe that the noble Lord has tried to be extremely helpful to the House and those who have disagreed with him, my instincts tell me that however well intended he has been, his proposal is not radically different to set aside the objections which I believe exist in following the course recommended in his amendment.

I repeat that the issue for the House is not whether two pilots were grossly negligent—they may not have been. It is not whether we sympathise with their families—I believe that all of us do. It is not whether the procedures of the Ministry of Defence were fair—I understand that they have been changed. It is not whether the campaigners will stop campaigning—they will no doubt go on. The issue is whether a Select Committee of this House is the proper way to resolve these matters. I am not persuaded that it is, and that is why my Motion offers an alternative if that is a course that the House would prefer.

3.40 p.m.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, I find it extremely puzzling that we seem to be back where we were when we had a debate on the evening of 5th March. My impression was that the House was persuaded—there were exceptions—by the case put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, and his Motion was passed without a Division. I believed it to be the will of the House that the Liaison Committee should not only consider but recommend the appointment of a Select Committee. On that evening, for the Liberal Democrats, the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, said that, the argument that this House does not have the resources for a further Select Committee is the weakest argument against one. If there is an argument for another Select Committee, then the resources need to be provided".—[Official Report, 5/3/01; col. 101] The noble Lord was right then, and he still is.

If this House decided to set up a Select Committee it could appoint a committee of outstanding distinction and should staff it and equip it as well. I do not accept that a Select Committee of this House would not be suitable to conduct an inquiry. I do not agree that an inquiry led by a High Court judge—we should remember that the Government have said firmly that they would not favour such a process—would have more authority than your Lordships' House. Instead, I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, who told the Liaison Committee that, frankly, your Lordships' House is one of the most sensible fora", to take a fresh look at this matter.

The first objection of the Liaison Committee was that a Select Committee would not be equipped to review technical and professional issues. But the noble Baroness again disposed of that when she said in evidence: I think it would be a mistake to say … it is all too difficult for everyone else to understand … There is nothing so mysterious that sensible, intelligent people who have looked carefully at the facts could not understand it". When asked if she thought whether, a committee composed of lay Members of the House of Lords, possibly chaired by a Law Lord, could actually do justice to this subject", the noble Baroness, speaking with all the authority of the Ministry of Defence, said: My honest opinion is yes". That is, surely, the answer to the second objection of the Liaison Committee; namely, that the Ministry of Defence might ignore a report. I am ready to rely on the noble Baroness's words on this matter. Frankly, if we here decided not to do something because a government might ignore us, we would be abandoning one central purpose of this House, which is to ask the Government to think again if we consider it right.

I hope that we can conclude the matter this afternoon without much further delay. All of us on 5th March received the clear impression that the Government accepted that a fresh view could usefully be taken by a Select Committee of your Lordships' House. At col. 107 the noble Baroness told the House, as the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, reminded us, that the Government, will, of course, co-operate fully with any committee that your Lordships may decide to establish". I thought that that was clear enough. Nothing that I heard in the Liaison Committee has changed my view that a Select Committee would be a practical and authoritative vehicle for further consideration of this matter. Certainly, I would not be deterred by a suggestion that a committee of this House might find itself acting in a quasi-judicial capacity. I am not sure that it would be, but even if it were there is precedent enough for it.

I was very surprised that the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, opposed an inquiry in this House and subsequently tabled his own Motion. I hope that the noble Lord will not press his Motion because it is not binding on the Government and does not ensure that there will be an inquiry led by someone of the standing of a senior Law Lord, or retired Law Lord. When the Government respond to the debate perhaps they can tell the House what assurances they have given that if the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, were to be passed, they would set up such an inquiry. After all, that Motion does not ask the Government to do anything that they cannot already do now.

I was even more surprised when the Government, having given the House the impression that they had accepted the inquiry, failed to vote to set up a Select Committee when the Liaison Committee divided. That was at odds with the spirit of the clear undertakings given with absolute integrity by the noble Baroness. I make no charge against her.

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. The only person at the Liaison Committee at that stage was the noble Lord, Lord Carter, who was not a member of that committee and was standing in. I make no further point other than that, technically, the noble Lord was unable to vote.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, I had not intended to raise that rather delicate issue. The government member of the Liaison Committee, the noble Baroness the Leader of the House, was unable to attend any of the three meetings. Neither the Attorney-General nor the Government Chief Whip who stood in for the Leader of the House on those occasions could take part in the vote. Perhaps a fairer way to put it is that the Government abstained by not being there.

We on this side of the House will have a free vote on this matter. I am sure that noble Lords opposite will also have a free vote. Following the Liaison Committee, I assume that if the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, takes this matter to a vote the Government will abstain. That would be the correct thing for the Government to do. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, made a strong case on 5th March. He has made an equally strong case today. He has kindly referred to the Motion that I advanced in the committee. What he suggests would add to the standing and authority of the House. I shall support him and I hope that many noble Lords on all sides will do so too.

I conclude with a final thought on the causes of the crash. There is now a perception of doubt out there and so long as it lasts it blights unfairly both judged and judges alike. This House can help to dispose of that doubt, and we should not shirk our duty to seek to do so.

3.48 p.m.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean)

My Lords, when we last discussed this issue in your Lordships' House on 5th March, I made it clear that the Government would not ask your Lordships to oppose the Motion then on the Order Paper in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. In the course of my remarks at the conclusion of the debate, I told your Lordships that I believed that successive Ministers, Conservative and Labour, had been fully and honestly briefed about this tragic accident and that Ministers of both parties had been honest in their dealings in this House and in another place. Nothing has been, or is being, hidden because there really is nothing to hide.

Since then the Liaison Committee has reported its view and recommended against the appointment of a Select Committee and given its reasons for coming to that conclusion. The noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, has explained it further this afternoon. Subsequently, the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, expressed his wish that the House should call on the Government to set up an independent review of the conclusion of the board of inquiry.

Perhaps if may deal first with the proposition of the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers. It is clear that those who feel that an injustice has been done to the dead pilots are challenging the determination and judgment of two Air Marshals who were the reviewing officers of the RAF board of inquiry. I remind noble Lords that this was a lengthy board of inquiry which took over one year and produced four volumes of a report and numerous annexes. It considered the issues in detail. It was a properly constituted board of inquiry which was presided over by servicemen of impeccable integrity and very great expertise—indeed, the best possible professional expertise. They were entitled to make the judgment that they made within the rules prevailing at the time, and since then no new evidence has come to light.

In my evidence to the Liaison Committee, I reaffirmed that if the Government had felt there was a reason to reopen this matter they would have done so themselves. We did not and we do not. In making their final determination, the Air Marshals, both of whom were very experienced aviators, exercised their professional judgment as the reviewing officers. They were well aware of the import and impact of their judgment which was taken only after the fullest consideration of all the evidence. I repeat that they were required to look at this tragic case in the most objective and impartial manner. That is what they did. The fact that others may disagree with their judgment does not make it wrong.

The noble Lord, Lord Rogers, asks the Government to agree to set up an independent review of the conclusions of the board of inquiry into the crash. The noble Lord says, "Well, the Government changed their mind". But, in order to change the Government's mind, they need to believe that the original board of inquiry process was incomplete or flawed or that the judgment of the reviewing officers was incorrect. As I made clear in my evidence to the Liaison Committee on 28th March, there are no grounds on which the Government could accept those premises. I am well aware that my response will not salve the natural and absolutely understandable hurt feelings of those most closely involved in this tragic case; in particular, the families of the deceased pilots, with whom I am sure your Lordships have the utmost sympathy. However, it would not be right or proper for the Government to call into question those findings unless we believe we have a reason to do so; and we do not so believe.

I turn to today's contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. Throughout our discussions on this very difficult issue the Government's position has been entirely consistent. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, suggested some helpful modifications—what one might describe as a "compromise"—to the remit of the Select Committee. The noble Lord, Lord Tordoff may believe that his committee would be prepared to consider that recommendation. If the noble Lord does so consider, the Government are content to leave the issue to your Lordships' judgment. If the Liaison Committee is content to recommend that a committee along the lines proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, should be set up, the Government will not ask your Lordships to oppose that. Indeed, we would co-operate fully. As the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, was kind enough to remind your Lordships, that was my position when I answered the similar debate on 5th March.

Therefore, given the terms in which the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, has made what I might describe as his "compromise proposal", I do not wish to oppose his suggestion. But I must, for the reasons which I have stated, ask your Lordships to oppose the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, which I believe takes us backwards rather than forwards in this debate.

3.53 p.m.

Lord Craig of Radley

My Lords, as a member of the Liaison Committee, perhaps I may explain why I support the report which is before the House. At that Liaison Committee meeting with the noble Lady, Baroness Symons, the noble Baroness talked about achieving a closure. After seven years there is an understandable feeling that a line should be drawn under the matter. But, from what the noble Baroness said in the course of her meeting with the Liaison Committee, it seems clear that there is no guarantee of closure. The noble Baroness was quite explicit. The MoD is not prepared to give any prior undertaking about its response to a Select Committee were it to be critical of the Air Marshals' judgments. I entirely accept that position.

Noble Lords will appreciate that as an RAF officer I have been required to deal with a considerable number of boards of inquiry into aircraft accidents. I have first-hand experience of what is involved. We were told that the quantity of material for the board of inquiry into the Chinook accident is massive and in many places highly technical. I am sure that it is. All of that information and evidence would probably have to be studied to consider the issues of negligence, of a breach of duty to take care, and because the Air Marshals' findings must rely on most, if not all, of what the original board members established in the course of their work. I have no doubt that that could be done. But I do not think that the purpose for which it was being done, in effect to use a Select Committee of your Lordships' House to sit as a court of appeal, as envisaged by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, is acceptable.

The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, and others who have spoken on the matter, have always been at pains to stress that they were not impugning the integrity of the Air Marshals and that they had every right to find as they did. But it has to be said that sensational media treatment and less considered comments from some other quarters, far from upholding the Air Marshals' probity, have set out to denigrate it.

The noble Baroness, Lady Symons, said that she did not want to see the Air Marshals put in the dock. In the course of her evidence, the noble Baroness made it very clear that one of the reasons that Ministers, in the absence of new evidence, have not sought to set up a further inquiry was because it would be, an unprecedented dreadful blow to professional servicemen if we were to say there is no new evidence but we are going to start a new Board of Inquiry or we are going to get an independent judge in because we think your judgment was a bit 'iffy". That is a most important point. The relationship between commanders and those under their command is of paramount importance to the operational effectiveness of the Armed Forces. Commanders must be respected and trusted by their subordinates, whether in matters of professional conduct or in discipline. It can only serve to undermine that sense of respect and trust if the actions of commanders are questioned on grounds which are not based on doubts about their own professional competence or integrity. With his immensely admired first-hand experience in military affairs, I feel sure that the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, would agree with me on that point.

This is a tough call: to meet the interests of the deceased pilots and their families, or to meet the interests of the service. I feel duty bound to support the interest of the service. It is inappropriate to set up an inquiry into the professional judgment of the Air Marshals. At the end of the day, it is their professional judgment on which we must rely, not only in this sad case but on so much else that they do in their capacity as senior officers of the Armed Forces. So I also do not support the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank.

The interest of the House, thanks to the valiant efforts of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, has been concentrated most importantly on the doubts and worries of the families of the deceased pilots. All of us can understand and sympathise with their intense feelings of loss and distress. But I think that it is also right that the House should remember the families of the other two air crew and the 25 passengers on that ill-fated flight. Seven years on they are still being reminded each time that this topic gets further news coverage of their own tragic loss and the harrowing events of the time. Another inquiry will not bring them much comfort or hope. We must not overlook their sufferings and agony as we consider the way forward this afternoon.

It has frequently been argued that it is wrong that there is no right of appeal against the Air Marshals' findings, but each stage of the consideration of whether human failings contributed to an accident is separately arrived at: initially by the board itself; by the station commanders; by the convening officer, the first of the two Air Marshals; and then by the reviewing officer, the second Air Marshal. I can recall other cases affecting deceased air crew where the views expressed on human failings and negligence have been changed, sometimes more than once, as the stages of the board were completed.

In other words, procedures are built into the board of inquiry which explicitly must, consider whether some human failing caused or contributed to the accident", a process of separate independent reviews of commanders with the help of their own staff. In this sad case, that process has been carried out at the MoD as well, as reported by 10 Ministers at the Dispatch Box. Surely there must be a limit to the number of times that findings are revisited and separately considered.

Finally, the House may wish to note that, in spite of the wealth of interest and publicity that this tragic accident has generated, it is sadly far from being the only one in recent years which has led to findings of negligence on the part of deceased air crew, and not only those who were in the RAF.

In reply to Written Questions from Mr Frank Field MP, who asked about the number of accidents in which deceased air crew were found guilty of gross negligence in aircraft that were not fitted with cockpit voice and flight data recorders, Mr John Spellar, Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence, said that, further research has confirmed that the Mull accident was … far from unique in its findings of gross negligence". I quote from a letter dated 10th July 2000 to Mr Field and placed in the Commons Library.

Each accident, some of which occurred after the Chinook one, will have unique aspects to it and the findings. But would the House feel that it was reasonable for any of them to become the subject for ad hoc Select Committees to consider? The House will recall that the policy change that boards of inquiry were not required to consider findings of negligence for deceased air crew in accidents was made only in July 1997, over three years after the Mull accident.

For all of these reasons, I agree with the Liaison Committee recommendation not to appoint a Select Committee to consider this matter.

4.1 p.m.

Lord Wigoder

My Lords, as the senior member of the Liaison Committee—I reach that position by equating seniority with long service—perhaps I may say, first, how much I and all the members of the committee admired the care and enthusiasm with which the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, presented his case. Perhaps I may say, secondly, that I was one of the members of the committee who felt a deep sympathy for much of what the noble Lord was arguing.

As far as I am concerned, the matter can be put into one sentence. If there were to be any further inquiry into the matter, the issue would be whether the finding was justified by the evidence, applying the relevant standard of proof. I do not see how it is possible to cut short the nature of an inquiry if that is the issue to be inquired into. But that must surely be what the committee or tribunal would have to decide.

The important words are "the relevant standard of proof". Air Force regulations state that only in cases in which there is absolutely no doubt whatever should deceased air crew be found negligent. That is a most extraordinary standard of proof to apply. It is, if I may strike a slightly flippant note for a moment, adopted verbatim from "The Gondoliers": No probable, possible shadow of doubt— No possible doubt whatever". I ask your Lordships to consider the following point. As we go about our daily business of taking decisions of one kind or another, how many decisions could we take in a day if we had to apply that standard of proof to our own individual actions? It therefore seems to me—here I have disagree with the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig—that, bearing in mind that standard of proof, in a complex and technical matter such as this any reviewing body would start out by approaching the finding with substantial anxiety. I take that point no further at this stage except to say that. I am one of those who much sympathises with what the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, and his colleagues are trying to achieve in this debate. Where I part company with the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, is on the wisdom of the remedy that he proposes. I much prefer, not for party political reasons in any way, the remedy suggested by my noble friend Lord Rodgers.

Much has been said about the fact that if the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, were to be carried and the Government were invited to set up an inquiry, the Government might take no notice of it. I understand that. Indeed, the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, indicated that that might very well be so; they would not take any notice of it and they would not set up a further inquiry. Is it not equally true that if that is the attitude of the Government at the moment and we set up a committee of inquiry that reports in a way that is adverse to the Government's present views, there is no guarantee that the Government will take the blindest notice? They clearly have their mind absolutely set on supporting the present conclusion and taking no further action. It is therefore no argument in favour of the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, to say that it may be that the setting up of a committee would be acceptable to the Government. We have not heard a word to suggest that its findings might be acceptable.

I suggest to your Lordships that it is not appropriate for the House to appoint a Select Committee to reach a conclusion of the guilt, innocence or civil liability of named individuals in respect of a specific incident on which a court or tribunal has already ruled. That would be for a House of Parliament to intervene improperly in the due processes of law. As far as I know—I shall be corrected if I am wrong—there is no precedent for the action proposed. If there had been a precedent, those who are in favour of the proposed course of action would have hastened to bring it to the attention of the Liaison Committee. As the Houses of Parliament ceased many years ago to be a court of law in their own right, it would be quite wrong for them to take action of this nature.

I know that there is an argument about the complexity of the matter—that is bound to exist if there is a further inquiry—and whether that is suitable for a Select Committee. I know that there is an argument about the strain on our resources, which is a point to be borne in mind. However, the really crucial argument is that if we adopt the course suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, we shall be setting a precedent that may have unfortunate future consequences for the House. Perhaps I may give a simple example. We all know of cases in which there are alleged miscarriages of justice. It happens frequently. In some of those cases the allegations turn out to be justified. In some of those cases the allegations are espoused by distinguished authors who write books about the innocence of the defendant, set up protest committees and walk about saying, "Free the Westminster One", or whatever it might be. Some of those causes will always be able to find a champion in this House.

The present position is that if a defendant is convicted in a criminal case and appeals to the Court of Criminal Appeal, that court determines the conviction. There was a time, some years ago, when for all practical purposes that was the end of the matter. That is no longer so. The position now is that in any such case, if there is the slightest suggestion that, for example, new evidence has been discovered, the Criminal Cases Review Commission will listen to representations made to it about further proceedings and will then decide whether to go back to the Home Secretary or refer the matter again to the Court of Appeal. If we adopt this precedent, is it really beyond the bounds of possibility that in future years cases will arise with some frequency of criminal convictions being called into issue and sent on their way to the Criminal Cases Review Commission and then some noble Lord with very proper motives deciding that he will raise in this House the question of whether we should have a Select Committee to review the guilt or innocence of the defendant?

It may not be an exact precedent—very few precedents are exact—but the case we are now considering would be a good enough precedent to set that argument on its feet. If we adopt the line suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, we shall be setting a precedent that may have sad consequences for the House in the future. In a word, I believe that it is not the role of this House to interfere in our system of justice in the way suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont.

Although I believe in the cause being promoted by the noble Lord, I feel that the best course for the future of the House, as well as the one that accords with the traditions of the House, is to pass the Motion proposed by my noble friend Lord Rodgers and thus invite and press the Government to take the necessary action.

4.10 p.m.

Lord Ackner

My Lords, noble Lords are faced here with a very heavy responsibility. Two highly respected and experienced pilots, now deceased, have been found guilty of gross negligence by two senior officers. That gross negligence accounted for the deaths of at least 26 people. The verdict is one that was taken in a situation where the deceased were not entitled to any representation. Furthermore, they were not entitled to any right of appeal.

It was my submission on 5th March before noble Lords and it is my submission today that the verdict reached by the Air Marshals was quite simply unlawful. It was unlawful because it was made beyond their powers. In forensic language it was ultra vires. For that reason it must be set aside ex debito justiciae— because justice so demands. It is not a question of discretion. The decision is a nullity.

Perhaps I may explain the short point of law which forms my justification for that rather emphatic submission. During the debate on 5th March, my noble and gallant friend Lord Craig of Radley said that the board of inquiry was not a court of justice. Its overriding concern was to discover what happened. The current position in regard to boards of inquiry of this kind is that they are not entitled to make any apportionment of blame.

Perhaps I may ask noble Lords to assume for a moment that if, today, two senior Air Marshals overlooked this relatively new change in procedure and did in fact apportion blame, that decision would be set aside for the simple reason that the Air Marshals have no power to reach such a verdict. It was an unlawful decision that was ultra vires. Some seven years ago, the position was that the power to apportion blame existed, but only in very heavily circumscribed circumstances.

In the words of the regulation, it was possible only in cases in which there is—I stress the words—absolutely no doubt whatsoever that a deceased air crew can be found to have committed negligence. The words have obviously been carefully thought out. The word "absolute" is placed in front of "doubt". What does "absolute" add to the formula? The word presumes and emphasises that the doubt is unqualified and is unrestricted. Doubt is not limited to cases of "reasonable doubt".

What of the words "absolutely no doubt whatsoever"? The word "whatsoever" means that there can be no doubt of any kind. It may be said that the onus here requires certainty. I am saying that that is the case. That does not rule out everything. It may require a fertile imagination, but it would be possible to have a situation of certainty. Let us take the situation where a daredevil pilot said to his mess, "I am going to fly upside-down through that narrow clearing in the jungle". He then does so unsuccessfully. That would be such a case; in that situation, there would be absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the pilot had been negligent.

It is an obligation on the Air Marshals, if they are going to interfere with a decision reached by those below them, for them to explain how they have reached their decision.

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble and learned Lord for allowing me to intervene. I am sure that what he is saying is relevant to the issue that might be placed before a Select Committee if one were to be formed. However, that is not the Motion before the House today. We are considering here the question of whether we should set up a Select Committee, not whether the Air Marshals were correct in what they did or whether this is a matter of law. With all due respect to the noble and learned Lord, I suggest that perhaps we should stick to that point and come to a conclusion.

Lord Ackner

My Lords, I think the answer to that, which of course I was just coming to, is that for the verdict to be considered valid, there are two requirements which must be met—each of them vital. First, the Air Marshals must have concluded that this was a case where there was absolutely no doubt whatsoever; secondly, that there was an adequate amount of material available to support such a decision. In my view—although I may be wrong and therefore the second question will fall to be decided—the Air Marshals fell at the first fence. They did not purport to say that, "This is one of those rare cases where there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever". The nearest they got to that—I quoted Air Vice-Marshal Day on 5th March—was to say, The Board and Officer Commanding RAF Odiham postulate various factors and scenarios, including possible distraction or disorientation, in attempting to explain why the crew might have failed to make a safe transition to Instrument Flight Rules". I stress the following words: In my judgment, none of the possible factors and scenarios is so strong that they would have been likely to prevent such an experienced crew from maintaining safe flight". What is being said, quite simply, is that none of the factors or scenarios is of sufficient strength to provide a likely explanation.

That does two things: first, it puts the onus upon the deceased, which is wrong; and, secondly, it deals with probabilities. It does not deal with even reasonable doubt, let alone certainties. That is the only material in which that Air Marshal vouchsafes his reason for exercising this power. His senior officer, Sir William Rattan, adds nothing at all.

Perhaps Air Marshal Day gives the game away to some extent when he states: Therefore, while aware of the difficulty of attributing negligence to deceased aircrew, I am nevertheless forced to conclude that Flight Lieutenant Tapper was negligent to a gross degree". "Difficulty" is a gross understatement of the task that faced him. What faced him was near impossibility, and that is something that he did not address.

The only other part of the judgment which I think is worthy of quoting is, It is incomprehensible why two trusted, experienced and skilled pilots should, as indicated by all the available evidence, have flown a serviceable aircraft into cloud covered high ground". I entirely agree with him—it is incomprehensible—but that merely shows that it cannot be a situation in which there is absolutely no doubt whatever.

Your Lordships are being asked to pass by on the other side. I respectfully submit that that is an unworthy attempt to induce your Lordships to take the easy way out. I hope that your Lordships will reject it.

4.22 p.m.

Baroness Young

My Lords, having listened to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner—who has clearly made a case in support of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont—I feel that I must return to the original issues which were raised and to which the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, referred.

I support the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. The House should recognise that he has moved since 5th March: he has narrowed the terms of reference and made it perfectly clear that he will stand by the findings of any Select Committee and will not himself raise the matter again.

I speak as someone who has never taken part in any of the debates about this helicopter. As a member of the Liaison Committee, of course, I read with great care the debate on 5th March, the earlier debates and some of the papers that were put to us. When I arrived at the Liaison Committee I thought—clearly incorrectly—that it was a foregone conclusion that the Liaison Committee would set up a Select Committee. At the end of the debate on 5th March, it seemed to me perfectly clear that the House had determined that there would be a Select Committee.

I particularly felt this because I had read very carefully what the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, said on that occasion and, indeed, when she quite fairly told the Liaison Committee that the Government would not oppose a Select Committee. I have been a government Minister; I know what it is to stand up at the Dispatch Box and to make statements on behalf of a government. I know full well that no Minister would make a statement like that unless it had the full support of her department. No doubt, it had been to some Cabinet committee and had the support of the Government. It is a very serious and important statement to make.

I therefore assumed—quite incorrectly, as it turned out—that the Government would support a Select Committee in the Liaison Committee and would have to deal simply with the formalities of setting one up. As it turned out, the situation was quite different. I find it an extremely painful experience to have to say to the House that I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, was misled on 5th March as to what was intended. He must be now very surprised by the result of the Liaison Committee.

The arguments subsequently put in the Liaison Committee simply do not stand up. The idea that a House of Lords Select Committee could not consider an issue like this—that it would not have the expertise—suggests at once that many Select Committees of the House on the most complex, technical and difficult issues are really not suitable for them at all. That argument simply does not stand up. The more practical arguments about staffing and money, again, simply do not stand up.

It seems to me that, at the end of the day, this is a constitutional matter. It is a duty of the House of Lords, as the legislature, to hold the executive to account. That is what it is expected to do. As to the argument put forward by the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, when he said that if we agreed to this a lot of other issues would be raised, many of the issues he quoted are civil issues which would go before the civil courts. They are completely different issues from this one, which is a matter for a government department. We are not, therefore, talking about the same thing at all.

I listened very carefully to the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, when she said, once again, that the Government would not oppose a Select Committee. Are we to understand—I hope that someone will make this absolutely clear—that this means that the Government will support a Select Committee? Or does it mean that they simply will not be there on the day and, therefore, it will be, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner said, a case of passing by on the other side of the road?

I wrote down what the noble Baroness, Lady Symons said. I hope that she will forgive me if I have not quoted her quite correctly. But are the Government saying that they will leave the issue to your Lordships' judgment today; that they will not oppose the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, in putting this matter to the Liaison Committee; and that they will, in the Liaison Committee, argue in favour of a Select Committee? Unless we have that assurance we shall find ourselves in exactly the same position as we were on 5th March.

I feel unqualified to speak about this whole issue—I know only what I have read—but it seems to me, having listened to the debate, that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, made some extremely important legal points which, if nothing else, deserve full consideration. Having looked at the matter, I feel that we all owe a duty to the young pilots who died in this dreadful crash and who are unable to defend themselves. They have had very few people to speak for them and we owe it to their families to do what we can.

I entirely agree with the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. The end of the Select Committee will be the conclusion of the matter as far as he is concerned. It would be appropriate if that were to be the end of the matter, but to leave it today in a state of suspense would amount, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, said, to passing by on the other side of the road. Passing by does not matter to any of us sitting here, but it does matter to the families and it does matter to the cause of justice. I should have thought that your Lordships would think that it matters also to the House of Lords. It is one of our responsibilities. We are a legislature; we should hold the executive to account. I very much support the proposal of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, and I hope that the House will agree to it.

4.30 p.m.

Lord Lloyd of Berwick

My Lords, I support the amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. I can do so briefly because I shall be following very much in the footsteps of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner. I should make it clear that I have no detailed knowledge of the facts of the case, but it seems to me that at this stage detailed knowledge of the facts is not required.

To sustain its conclusion, the board of inquiry had to be left with absolutely no doubt that the crash was the result of pilot error or of negligence on the part of the pilot. That test is an objective one. It means that the board of inquiry must have excluded with certainty—that is the critical expression—every other possible cause; otherwise, it could not be driven to the conclusion of pilot error.

What were the other possible causes? Taking the matter purely hypothetically and knowing nothing about the facts, one possible cause could be engine failure. It does not follow that engine failure did not occur merely because there was no evidence to support such a finding. That is a great mistake and one that is often made. Absence of evidence means what it says: that there is no evidence one way or the other. It is not the equivalent of what is referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Craig, in paragraph 26 on page 14 of the report, as negative evidence.

Let us suppose that there was negative evidence in the hypothetical case of engine failure; for example, that the warning lights were shown not to have come on. Many years ago, I took part in an inquiry into a crash involving a Trident aircraft which happened shortly after take-off at Heathrow airport. The inquiry was presided over by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lane, who I am glad to see is in his place. I have forgotten the details and even the conclusions of the inquiry. What I do remember is that warning lights do not always do what they should do. Should my hypothetical case be correct, it leaves open the question that the board of inquiry, in reaching its conclusion, applied the wrong test—the test of excluding with certainty every other cause.

In the end, that raises a legal question rather than a factual one. It seems to me, for the reasons given by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Ackner, that it is a relatively short question and that it is well within the capacity of a Select Committee of this House. For those reasons, I support the amendment.

4.33 p.m.

Viscount Colville of Culross

My Lords, perhaps I may add a few words as the last remaining member of the Liaison Committee to speak. I disagreed with the noble Baroness, Lady Young, in terms of the solution arrived at by the Liaison Committee. However, the noble Baroness has put her finger on an important matter on which there must be clarity before the end of this debate.

I came to the conclusion reached by the majority of members of the Liaison Committee—not after a thoughtless moment of impulse, nor indeed under the influence of my noble and gallant friend, but after, I hope, a proper anxiety about the matters under discussion.

A number of aspects of this case are truly regrettable. The first is the stain that hangs over the reputation of Flight Lieutenants Tapper and Cook. My noble friend Lord Chalfont has been pursuing that matter relentlessly for years, and I admire him for it.

The second, most regrettable aspect—which has since been put right—is that any board of inquiry should have the terms of reference to which both noble and learned Lords have referred. The board of inquiry then reaches a conclusion on dead air crew which has the effect of finding a responsibility certainly of a civil law nature and possibly, as was argued previously, of a criminal law nature.

The third disadvantage of this procedure is that there is no form of appeal. It is all very well saying that a review of the board of inquiry by senior officers forms a kind of appeal; but in the minds of most of us I do not believe that it does. This is the fundamental point. The trouble with such boards of inquiry—and this one is no exception—is that no one is allowed to see what happened.

My noble and learned friend Lord Lloyd has given an example of what might have happened. If your Lordships had the findings of the board of inquiry and the detailed remarks and conclusions of the two reviewing officers, it would be very much easier to discuss the case. What worries me at this stage is this. It is only too clear from the remarks of the two noble and learned Lords that, for the board of inquiry to reach the conclusion that it did reach, the two Air Marshals had to be certain to a very high degree indeed.

My noble friend Lord Chalfont says let their Lordships do it again. He says, rightly, I am sure, let them do it again in accordance with the same rules as applied. Therefore, the same degree of certainty would have to be leached according to the same burden of proof.

The evidence from the Liaison Committee indicated that the board of inquiry sat at least once a week for seven months. The review exercise took five months, during which time the committee also sat at least once a week—and I do not believe that in these matters there are any recesses. The pile of papers is colossal. What are the narrow terms of reference that your Lordships are being invited to adopt? There cannot be any narrow terms of reference. The only way in which a Select Committee of this House could reach a conclusion to the degree of certainty to which everyone has so far subscribed is to go through the entire exercise again. A Select Committee would require such explanations from expert witnesses or expert advisers as would enable it to deal with the technical matters concerned. I have no doubt that this could be done by a Select Committee. But is it the right way to proceed? Is it a useful contribution to our parliamentary proceedings? Is it the way in which our resources should be exercised and spent—and to what effect?

Lord Lloyd of Berwick

My Lords, will the noble Viscount give way? Is it not a possible result that we shall be left in the position of the cause simply not being known? That would be a perfectly respectable conclusion. What is objected to is a conclusion that points the finger, possibly unjustly, at the two pilots because the Air Marshals applied the wrong test.

Viscount Colville of Culross

My Lords, I accept that a Select Committee might conclude that it did not know the cause. That does not overturn the findings of the board of inquiry. It does nothing to solve the problem of the two pilots and their families. The Ministry of Defence would have to adopt the Select Committee's report; and there is no indication that it would be prepared to do so on the basis of a rehearing simply of the same material all over again.

Lord Chalfont

My Lords, will the noble Viscount give way? If the Select Committee came to the conclusion that it could not establish the cause of the accident, that would immediately set aside the verdict of the Air Marshals. If the Ministry of Defence did not accept that, then the mind boggles. I have nothing more to say. If a Select Committee of this House decides that it cannot determine the cause of the accident on the basis of the available evidence, 'As the noble Viscount saying that the Ministry of Defence might not accept that? If it did not, it would be seriously in error.

Viscount Colville of Culross

My Lords, I have heard my noble friend say that there should be narrow terms of reference. I have attempted to explore how narrow, or how broad, those terms of reference might be. I have suggested to your Lordships that this is a massive exercise. The Select Committee may come to any of the conclusions that noble Lords care to imagine. However, at present, we have a clear statement from the Minister—she has maintained this—that the Ministry of Defence does not want to reopen the matter; and it will not do so on its own account. I do not know what would happen if the sort of solution was reached by the Select Committee that has just been predicated.

That is why I am asking for a little more clarity on the matter before we make up our minds. I emphasise that it cannot be a narrow exercise; it must be a full and complete rehearsal of the entire material that was before that board of inquiry. There is no escaping that. But what happens when a conclusion is reached? I cannot subscribe to something that will entail all that time and trouble—and, indeed, renew the expectations of the Cook and Tapper families, and their supporters—only to find that nothing happens. Before we finish this debate, can we know the answers to the following questions? First, we should know whether my noble friend Lord Chalfont accepts that it is a formidable task that he proposes. Secondly, can we have clarity from the Government Front Bench of what they would do if the Select Committee came to the conclusion that it did not know, or concluded on similar terms? I do not believe that we ought to appoint a Select Committee unless those two matters are clarified.

4.42 p.m.

Lord Mackie of Benshie

My Lords, it is many years since I served in the RAF, but I have kept up with the thinking of the service. I should like to support what was said by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig, in this matter. One thing that ran through every court of inquiry in which I took part long ago—and that also applies to the ones that I hear about now—was the utmost reluctance of the examining officers to adopt the easy notion of pilot error. One theme that runs through every court of inquiry in the RAF is that all the possibilities must be exhausted.

The noble and gallant Lord has given the record of the enormous trouble that has been taken to go through all the evidence. I have no doubt that it was with extreme reluctance that both Air Marshals came to this conclusion. However, I am absolutely sure that they were certain that there was no other cause they could find. I believe that this reluctance on the part of the service adds weight to the opinion of the RAF courts of inquiry. It would save a great deal of distress if this House were to accept that the utmost care had been taken in arriving at this verdict.

4.43 p.m.

Baroness Park of Monmouth

My Lords, before I begin my remarks, I should like to draw your Lordships attention to an extract from page 18 of the committee's report in which the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, says that, the Wing Commander in charge of the original Board of Inquiry, before it went for review to the Air Marshals, said there was no way in which they could attribute human failing to the pilots". That is what is at issue. However, to my mind, the real issue today is the credit of this House. When we discussed this issue in March, we decided that the ad hoc committee should consider the appointment of a Select Committee to examine the issue. A commitment was made by the will of this House and, at that time, the Government said that they would co-operate; indeed, the Minister said so today.

I do not believe it was expected that the Liaison Committee would, in effect, reverse our decision—a decision for which there was both wide support, as well as a commitment from the Ministry of Defence to co-operate. I believe that a commitment was made in principle by the House, and that it must be honoured.

4.44 p.m.

Lord Jacobs

My Lords, I recognise that the debate is drawing to a close. I sense that the feeling of the House is that we should make a decision on the matter. However, perhaps noble Lords will excuse my intervention. I should explain that I travelled back from the United States last night in order to attend this debate. I have been working on this subject with the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, for more than two years. Nevertheless, I shall shorten my remarks in deference to your Lordships.

The question is: why does the pressure continue unabated for a new inquiry to be instituted? The issue is in fact quite straightforward; it is not one that the Ministry of Defence is willing to entertain. The standard of proof required is "absolutely no doubt whatsoever". It is a higher standard of proof than that which applies in a criminal court. While most of us who have studied the evidence accept that the pilots could have been guilty of gross negligence, we are wholly unable to comprehend how four reviewing officers could come to the conclusion that there was absolutely no doubt whatever as to the pilots' guilt. I shall not enumerate on this occasion the dozens of examples of doubt, except to refer to one notable issue; namely, the fact that the random engine failure warning signs were being illuminated from time to time on that particular Chinook, and the cause of those signals was not properly understood at that time.

From the evidence, the reviewing officers were unable to find any mechanical or electronic cause of the accident. They reasoned that the accident must have been caused by pilot error. By no standard of justice whatever can that be considered proof. Why, therefore, are we now seeking a Select Committee when surely a fresh inquiry would be more appropriate? On that, none of us disagrees—I believe that I speak for the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, in that respect—but as governments have refused for seven years to agree to establish a new inquiry on the basis that no new evidence has been produced, it seems unlikely that they will now agree to do so. Indeed, as we heard today, they probably will not.

The issue that really troubles the Ministry of Defence is that the opening of such an inquiry would be to re-examine whether the judgment of the reviewing officers was mistaken. Perhaps I may refer to part of the statement made by the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, at a meeting with the Liaison Select Committee in which she stated that by having a new inquiry the Government would imply that they had no confidence in the judgment of the Air Marshals. The Minister went to say that she did not think that the Government could instigate anything that would cast doubt on the judgment of highly professional men of absolute integrity, who we know reached a judgment based on all the evidence that was available to them in accordance with a properly constituted board of inquiry.

To my way of thinking, that is no different from a court finding a defendant guilty and saying that the case cannot go to appeal because that would cast doubt on the judgment and on the integrity of the court. That would be an absurd situation. Yet we are faced with such a situation here. Under the British system of justice there is always a court of appeal, except in this case. Therefore, not only were the deceased pilots not provided with legal representation, they were also denied a court of appeal. I am sure that your Lordships will agree that that is the key to the whole matter. Surely there should be some court of appeal; indeed, if the Government are unwilling to open the inquiry, the appointment of a Select Committee would at least be appropriate.

Perhaps I may mention that I consulted my noble friend and kinsman Lord Wigoder, who is a successful QC. He expressed the view, with which I agree, that we cannot have a Select Committee acting as a court of appeal for every defendant who is unhappy with a court's decision. However, as I respectfully pointed out to him, there is a court of appeal in all normal legal cases; but in this particular case there was none. That is why something must be done. I urge noble Lords to support the Motion for the appointment of a Select Committee. I should have been equally willing to support the Motion tabled by my noble friend Lord Rodgers, if the Government had given an undertaking that they would set up some form of new formal inquiry if his Motion were carried. Sadly, they have not agreed to do so.

4.49 p.m.

Earl Attlee

My Lords, I remind the House that I have a somewhat peripheral interest in this matter. I spoke from the Opposition Dispatch Box to a very similar Motion tabled on 5th March. I stand by every word that I said on that occasion, and shall not repeat now all the points that l made then. I am thankful that we shall have a free vote tonight. I have no difficulty with the House acting in a quasi-judicial role, if that is what we are doing.

Noble Lords have talked about creating a precedent. I disagree. This case is different from a criminal case. The deceased were not able to defend themselves. I also believe that the relatives of the deceased did not realise what the outcome of the case would be.

The Select Committee will not be a court of appeal. However, I caution your Lordships that it may turn out to be a. committee of confirmation. The Select Committee may well find that the pilots were guilty of gross negligence. It may well find that everything is in order. I believe that this House is an ideal place in which to conduct the onerous duty of reviewing matters of service discipline and the inquiry. I believe that we need narrow terms of reference. The advantage of the Select Committee procedure in your Lordships' House is that it avoids the risk of a legal bonanza outside.

The noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, said that we need to consider all the matters. The major points that concern us are uncommanded flying movements; the FADEC and related accidents; possibly the flight plan and the rules under which the Air Marshals had to operate. The committee needs to be told why there is not a problem and to be told by the experts that we are worrying about nothing.

It has been implied that the Select Committee will be unable to assimilate all the information. If a Select Committee of your Lordships' House is not able to assimilate all the information, how on earth were the Air Marshals able to do so?

I believe that the Select Committee should also consider whether it ought to be able to question the integrity of the Air Marshals. Perhaps it ought to be an instruction to the committee that it cannot question the integrity of the Air Marshals.

It is possible that there was gross negligence on the part of one of the pilots. But suppose the subordinate pilot strongly opposed the breaking of the visual flying rules? Suppose he went to the absolute limit of safety and military discipline in suggesting to the superior pilot that he should not break the visual flying rules and fly into the clouds? Why should he be held to be grossly negligent in those circumstances? The committee should consider that point in detail.

Some noble Lords are convinced that the pilots were guilty of gross negligence. Indeed, some of my noble friends are of that view. But this issue will not go away. The actions of the Air Staff will continue to be questioned. Ministers will continue to be put under pressure on this issue. The Air Marshals are able to defend themselves only by having letters published in the broadsheet newspapers. I believe that it would be advantageous for them to appear before a Select Committee of your Lordships' House to explain why they reached the decision that they did. I believe that a Select Committee is ideally suited to consider that matter. I strongly support the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. I believe that if we follow that route, the matter can be put to bed once and for all.

4.53 p.m.

Lord Mayhew of Twysden

My Lords, I ask for indulgence in adding further reflection at the end of this debate. The noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, stated that if we were to accept the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, we would be trenching upon the separation of powers. I thought that that was wrong, for the following reasons.

It is, of course, to trench upon the constitutional understandings and conventions of either House of Parliament to engage in a review of a judicial decision. However, we are not considering the judiciary in this case. We are considering the conduct of extremely senior and experienced officers of one of the Armed Forces for whom Ministers answer in Parliament. We all appreciate that they have done their level best. However, as has been said, there are doubts outside about the conclusion they have reached—doubts that have been mightily reinforced by contributions from all sides of the House, most notably from noble and learned Lords on the Cross Benches. This House is entitled to review the decision of the Royal Air Force, just as it is entitled, in my submission, to review anything else that is done by any of the departments of state for which Ministers answer in Parliament. That is the fundamental distinction. We all observe a self-denying ordinance of not tangling with the judiciary. However, as I say, we are not talking about the judiciary here.

If there is a doubt that will not go away, should we pick up the challenge here? I confess to something of an emotional involvement with the matter in that I knew most of those who perished in the Chinook crash. I met their families and I attended a religious service for one of the pilots. I stood at the airport for a long time while the bodies of those who perished were brought back to Northern Ireland. I have always felt that something more should be done than has yet occurred to explore the conclusion that was reached by the board of inquiry.

On any view of the matter, a grievous wrong was done to the passengers, whatever the reason. On one view of the matter a grievous wrong may have been done to the pilots. I agree that the terms of reference probably have to be wide. It is difficult to review the justification for the decision without going into quite a lot of what that justification purported to be founded upon. The Select Committee would consider whether the essential foundation for the finding existed; namely, that there was absolutely no doubt whatever. It would not produce a finding as to what actually happened. As has been said from the Cross Benches far more authoritatively than I could express it, ii would consider whether that essential foundation existed. If it was discovered not to exist, the members of the Select Committee would have done their duty and their job in so finding. I support the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont.

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, perhaps it would be appropriate if I were to begin to wind up this long debate which has gone on for two hours and has been—

4.57 p.m.

Lord Cooke of Islandreagh

My Lords, I hope that I may speak for a few minutes. First, I am sorry that the consequences of this tragic and horrific accident are still rolling on after seven years for reasons mentioned by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig of Radley. The loss suffered by the widows and families in those terrible circumstances must be hard enough to bear, but each reference to the incident in the press brings back the agony that they have suffered and which they have done their best to put behind them. I do not think that that can be ignored.

Some practical aspects bear a little consideration. I know the Mull of Kintyre well, having sailed past it and around it many times, often with the upper portion hidden in cloud. The lighthouse, which is low down because of frequent cloud, can usually be seen. I can visualise the events from the report from the yacht which was sailing through the North Channel at the time. The crew saw the helicopter coming from the direction of Rathlin Island towards the Mull. It was flying below cloud level and therefore could see the lower part of the Mull and perhaps the lighthouse, which the yachtsmen could see. The yacht's crew watched it pass overhead and then disappear into the cloud on top of the Mull not far from the lighthouse. I forget whether they heard the crash.

My knowledge of helicopters is limited but I believe is relevant. Some years ago, over several years, I was a passenger flying in helicopters, with two or three other Commissioners of Irish Lights, in order to visit and inspect the lighthouses around the coasts of Ireland from Tory Island in the north to Fastnet in the south. Frequently there were headlands in our path, some cloud covered like the Mull of Kintyre. The first time I saw one of these ahead—

4.59 p.m.

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord will forgive me. He clearly has expertise in this matter and a knowledge of the situation. However, I wonder whether that is the issue before your Lordships' House today. If noble Lords will forgive me, perhaps we may take the opportunity of bringing the debate to a conclusion.

It has been a most intriguing debate. I can perhaps tidy up two issues. First, as regards the absence of the Leader of the House at the Liaison Committee meeting, the noble Baroness was at the Constitutional Committee at the time of the first meeting. She felt, therefore, that others should carry on for subsequent meetings. The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, will remember that we held these meetings in a great hurry; many other things were taking place at the same time. I simply put the facts before the House. Secondly, it has been suggested by a couple of noble Lords that the question of staffing and costs was involved in the decision of the Liaison Committee. I assure the House that that was never a consideration at any time during the course of our deliberations.

I find myself in considerable difficulty in replying to the debate. Indeed, I do not intend to reply to the debate; it is not my job. Members of the Liaison Committee have set out their position in much the same way as I indicated that they did during the Liaison Committee meetings. We are asked by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, to accept perhaps a smaller committee, and to put the issue again before the Liaison Committee. Having listened to the debate today, I think that the chances of getting a different decision from the Liaison Committee at another meeting are zero. It seems to me, therefore, that, as is proper, it is a matter for the House to decide what it wants to do. I leave the matter in your Lordships' hands.

I say just this. The Liaison Committee discussed the whole matter very seriously. Sensible, intelligent people took part in that debate. To overturn a recommendation of a committee of this House is a serious matter. In coming to a decision, I hope that noble Lords will bear in mind all the remarks which have been made today.

Baroness Young

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. He said that if the matter went back to the Liaison Committee he had no doubt that it would come to the same conclusion. Do I understand from that remark that the Government would not support the setting up of a Select Committee on the lines that the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, proposes? It is an important point that the House should know.

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, I do not speak for the Government. The quickest way to deal with the matter would be for the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, to be decided today.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, as a matter of constitutional interest, is it normal for the chairman of a Select Committee not to vote?

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, I believe that it is. Certainly in these circumstances there was no question of my voting. I did not feel that I had a duty to vote on the matter, particularly since it was such an unusual constitutional matter so far as concerns the House. I thought it better to abstain and to come to the House and give noble Lords a straightforward report of what the Liaison Committee decided.

Lord Marsh

My Lords, one understands that it is not for the noble Lord to answer on behalf of the Government. Presumably it would be within the rules of the House for him to allow a member of the Government to interrupt him.

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, it is entirely within the rules of the House if he or she so wishes. However, if everyone has a free vote here, and a free vote in the Liaison Committee, I am not sure that the Government can bind the other members of the Liaison Committee to vote in a particular way.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

My Lords, it may be of some help if I repeat what I said earlier. Given the proposals he put forward for a more limited remit, and in what I described as a compromise, the Government do not oppose the noble Lord's proposal.

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, that being the case, the result of any Division on the issue should be clear.

Lord Chalfont

My Lords, that places me in a somewhat difficult position. The noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, accepted my suggestion about a reference back in the spirit in which it was made. I am also old enough to know that when the noble Lord says that there is little likelihood that the Liaison Committee would come to a different conclusion this time from its previous decision he knows what he is talking about. The noble Lord has links with everyone in the House: the usual channels and the leaders of the parties. If he says that that is what will happen, I am forced to the conclusion that that is what might happen. While I might have been prepared to refer the matter back if there had been an undertaking, I see no point in doing so if I shall receive the same answer as previously.

It is not right for me to ask the noble Lord to give any assurances. However, in the light of what the Minister has just said, it seems to me that the Government are not in a position to give any. Despite all that has been said, before deciding whether to withdraw my Motion or press it to a Division, I thank all noble Lords for their contributions and thank those who have not made a contribution for listening so patiently.

Many important points have been raised. I was particularly impressed by the important remarks of the two noble and learned Lords sitting with me on these Benches. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, raised an extremely important point relating to the two pilots which may not have had sufficient currency in the debate. As there was no voice recorder on this aircraft, no accident data recorder and no survivors, we are being asked by the verdict reached to assume that both pilots came to the decision in concert. There is no currency given to the suggestion that one of them might have said, "Look, mate, I'm going to fly straight into that cloud and to hell with it all", with the other saying, "No, you cannot do that". Who knows? No Air Marshal knows. No one knows. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, rightly draws attention to that aspect. It underlines the point I have made about the requirement for absolutely no doubt whatsoever.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, while the noble Lord makes up his mind what he will do, perhaps I may pose another question to the Government. They abstained in the Liaison Committee. If the noble Lord decides to press his Motion, am I right in thinking that they will be consistent with the decision they took and that while they may well support the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, no member of the Government will seek to vote against him?

Lord Carter

My Lords, I was present for the vote and did not vote. As the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, knows, I made it clear that the Government neither supported nor opposed the proposal for a Select Committee. Equally, I was not a member of the committee so I was not able to vote.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, what happened in the Liaison Committee is now history. If the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, decides to press his amendment, what will be the advice of the noble Baroness, Lady Symons, to her Front Bench? Given that she has just said that the Government are not opposed to the setting up of a Select Committee, I assume that she will tell the Chief Whip that it is her view that Ministers should abstain. I merely wanted confirmation of that. If that is not the case, I should like to know why.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

My Lords, I hope that I have already made the position clear, but if I was not clear enough, perhaps I can be this time. We shall not oppose the terms that the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, proposed—not the terms on the Order Paper, but the more restricted terms that he spoke to, which I referred to in my opening remarks as his compromise and his amended version of his proposals. I hope that that makes it clear that I am addressing the opening remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. In that sense, we shall not oppose him.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, I think that the noble Baroness has been helpful. If the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, moves his current amendment, the Government will vote against it, but if he puts forward his compromise—I am not sure that the whole House understands what that compromise is or how the House could agree it—the noble Baroness will support it. I think that that is the position. Perhaps the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, can now decide what he is going to do.

Lord Chalfont

My Lords, if I was confused before, I am even more confused now. Perhaps confused is not the right word. I am in a dilemma. I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Tordoff, for saying that in certain circumstances he would refer the matter and the report back to the Liaison Committee and consider the appointment of a different kind of Select Committee. However, he also said that he saw no reason why the Liaison Committee should present me with a different solution. I assume that the noble Lord knows what he is talking about. He is the chairman of the Liaison Committee and is in contact with everybody connected with the committee.

In the course of the debate I have felt that, whatever my own feelings about the issue, the House wants the matter resolved now.

Noble Lords

Hear, hear.

Lord Chalfont

My Lords, I do not think that I could have a clearer endorsement than that.

The Chairman of Committees

My Lords, I should like to add one slight caveat. I hope that the noble Lord is talking about restricted terms of reference in such an inquiry. If that is clear, the matter will move much more swiftly.

Lord Chalfont

My Lords, my amendment makes that clear. I now have a feeling of what the House wants. Although I know that whatever decision I take will be unpopular in some quarters, I feel that I must test the opinion of the House.

5.13 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 132; Not-Contents, 106.

Division No. 1
Ackner, L. Dixon-Smith, L.
Acton, L. Eccles of Moulton, B.
Allenby of Megiddo, V. Eden of Winton, L.
Anelay of St Johns, B. Elis-Thomas, L.
Ashcroft, L. Elliott of Morpeth, L.
Astor, V. Evans of Parkside, L.
Attlee, E. Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Barber of Tewkesbury, L. Falkland, V.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Berkeley, L. Fitt, L.
Biffen, L. Fookes, B.
Blackburn, Bp. Freyberg, L.
Blaker, L. Gardner of Parkes, B.
Blatch, B. Garel-Jones, L.
Bledisloe, V. Geddes, L.
Boardman, L. Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Bowness, L. Gilmour of Craigmillar, L.
Brett, L. Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Brightman, L. Goschen, V.
Brookeborough, V. Gray of Contin, L.
Brookman, L. Hardy of Wath, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Henley, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, L.
Buscombe, B. Holderness, L.
Byford, B. Hooson, L.
Caithness, E. Howe of Aberavon, L.
Carlisle of Bucklow, L. Howell of Guildford, L.
Carnegy of Lour, B. Howie of Troon, L.
Chalfont, L.[Teller] Hughes of Woodside, L.
Clark of Kempston, L. Jacobs, L.
Cope of Berkeley, L. Jenkins of Putney, L.
Courtown, E. Jopling, L.
Cranborne, V. Judd, L.
Crickhowell, L. Laird, L.
Cuckney, L. Lane, L.
Darcy de Knayth, B. Lane of Horsell, L.
Davies of Coity, L. Lincoln, Bp.
Lloyd of Berwick, L. Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L. Seccombe, B.
Mar, C. Selborne, E.
Mar and Kellie, E. Sharples, B.
Marlesford, L. Shore of Stepney, L.
Marsh, L. Shutt of Greetland, L.
Mayhew of Twysden, L. Simon, V.
Miller of Hendon, B. Skelmersdale, L.
Monson, L. Slim, V.
Morris of Manchester, L. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Mowbray and Stourton, L. Stone of Blackheath, L.
Murton of Lindisfarne, L. Strange, B.
Noakes, B. Strathclyde, L.
Northesk, E. Thatcher, B.
O'Cathain, B. Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Oppenheim-Barnes, B. Trefgarne, L.
Orme, L. Trumpington, B.
Park of Monmouth, B. Turnberg, L.
Pearson of Rannoch, L. Turner of Camden, B.
Peterborough, Bp. Vivian, L.
Peyton of Yeovil, L. Waddington, L.
Plumb, L. Warnock, B.
Prior, L. Weatherill, L.
Puttnam, L. Wilberforce, L.
Rawlings, B. Wilcox, B.
Renton, L. Williams of Elvel, L.
Rix, L. Wilson of Tillyorn, L.
Roll of Ipsden, L. Wright of Richmond, L.
Ryder of Wensum, L. Young, B. [Teller]
Addington, L. Hayman, B.
Ahmed, L. Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Alli, L. Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Amos, B. Hollisof Heigham, B.
Archer of Sand well, L. Howells of St. Davids, B.
Avebury, L. Hunt of Chesterton, L.
Bach, L. Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Barnett, L. Irvine of Lairg, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Blackstone, B. Islwyn, L.
Blease, L. Jay of Paddington, B. (Lord Privy Seal)
Bradshaw, L.
Brennan, L. King of West Bromwich, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L. Lea of Crondall, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L. Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Burlison, L. Lipsey, L.
Carter, L. Lockwood, B.
Clarke of Hampstead, L. Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Clinton-Davis, L. Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
Cohen of Pimlico, B. Mclntosh of Haringey, L.
Colville of Culross, V. [Teller] Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Cooke of Islandreagh, L. Mackie of Benshie, L.
Craig of Radley, L. McNally, L.
Crawley, B. Mallalieu, B.
David, B. Mason of Barnsley, L.
Davies of Oldham, L. Massey of Darwen, B.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B. Merlyn-Rees, L.
Desai, L. Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Dholakia, L. Milner of Leeds, L.
Dubs, L. Mitchell, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L. Molloy, L.
Fyfe of Fairfield, L. Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.
Gale, B. Patel of Blackburn, L.
Gilbert, L. Paul, L.
Goodhart, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Goudie, B. Peston, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B. Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L. Razzall, L.
Gregson, L. Redesdale, L.
Grenfell, L. Rendell of Babergh, B.
Harris of Haringey, L. Richard, L.
Harris of Richmond, B. Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L.
Harrison, L. Rogers of Riverside, L.
Haskel, L. Roper, L.
Sainsbury of Turville, L. Uddin, B.
Scotland of Asthal, B. Walmsley, B.
Scott of Needham Market, B. Warwick of Undercliffe, B
Serota, B. Whitaker, B.
Strabolgi, L. Whitty, L.
Taylor of Blackburn, L. Wigoder, L. [Teller]
Tenby, V. Wilkins, B.
Thomas of Gresford, L. Williams of Crosby, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L. Williams of Mostyn, L.
Tomlinson, L. Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Resolved in the affirmative, and amendment agreed to accordingly.

Motion, as amended, agreed to.

The Deputy Speaker (Lord Murton of Lindisfarne)

My Lords, does the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, wish to move his Motion.

Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank

No, my Lords.

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