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Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: My Lords, my noble friend makes an extremely valid point. That is why I believe that our approach of taking this matter on a case-by-case basis is the only correct one. I am not aware that there is any proposal to dispose of anything similar to Brent Spar. As my noble friend said, some of the structures are steel and others are concrete. We need to look at each individual case. What is clearly important is that because of what happened over Brent Spar the option of deep-sea disposal should not be rejected. All the sound reasoning that led us to the conclusion that it was the right one remains. I believe that my noble friend will be aware that the Research Council's advice to us has been that, even if Shell UK

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Limited miscalculated as regards the extent of the contamination by 10 times, the effect on the sea would nevertheless have been negligible.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, can the noble and learned Lord assure the House that under no circumstances will the Government allow the Brent Spar platform to be brought to British shores if there is any danger either to those who will dismantle it or to those in the area where that is to happen, including the environment of the area? I hope that the noble and learned Lord will confirm that it is still the Government's view that the platform is disposed of in deep water in the North Atlantic, because I believe that that is the best solution and always was.

Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: My Lords, I am very glad to agree with the noble Lord. If there were to be disposal on land there would be risks to the workforce dismantling the structure. That appears to be the present advice. One of the most significant risks will be mildly radioactive scale deposits on the insides of the tanks. If they were to dry out and be released into the atmosphere as dust, I am sure that the noble Lord appreciates that the risk would be not only to the workforce but to other people as well.

War Crimes Act 1991

3.17 p.m.

Lord Campbell of Alloway asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many applications for consent to the institution of proceedings under the War Crimes Act 1991 are now under consideration by the Attorney-General; and whether any such consents have been granted and, if so, when.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern): My Lords, on 12th July, 1995, the Attorney-General granted his consent to the prosecution of one case under the War Crimes Act 1991. There are no outstanding applications for consent.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, I thank my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor for that reply. Do the Government accept, in these belated trials on assumed extra-territorial jurisdiction already having retrospective effect for the best part of 60 years, that the judicial recommendation, which takes into account all relevant circumstances as to the time to be served before release from the mandatory life sentence, should be made in open court and should not be extended by the Home Secretary, there being no prospect of reoffending? Will the Government take an initiative to introduce pre-trial measures of safeguard to seek to ensure that under the inherent jurisdiction only fair trials may ensue, as approved by this House in Clause 3 of the War Crimes (Supplementary Provisions) Act?

The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, perhaps I may take the second question first. The Government's belief is that the powers of the court to secure a fair trial in any case are available as regards cases under this Act. As

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my noble and learned friend will remember, my noble and learned friend Lord Bridge of Harwich invited the House to take a course which made that clear as regards the Second Reading of the War Crimes Bill, on the second occasion, but the House declined to follow his advice. On the first question, the case to which I refer is at a very early stage, and the matters to which my noble friend's Question relates are very much later on the scene. I think that it would be premature to attempt to deal with them today.

Lord Jenkins of Hillhead: My Lords, can the noble and learned Lord remind us of the approximate costs of administering the Act leading to that one prosecution?

The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, as at the end of September 1995—so, strictly speaking, I am not reminding your Lordships of figures you have already had—the Metropolitan Police costs were £5,368,646 and the costs of the Crown Prosecution Service were £1,463,800. Those figures relate to England and Wales. Costs in Scotland are in addition. As your Lordships know, the Lord Advocate indicated that, on the basis of the investigations made, there would be no prosecutions in Scotland.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter: My Lords, if the solitary octogenarian who is now to be tried survives the trial and is convicted, what is to happen to him? Can he be sent anywhere other than to a prison hospital? Are not the figures which have been given a rather expensive indication of what that would cost?

The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, there were investigations other than that relating to this particular trial. My noble friend indicated that there would be a trial. I think that there may be issues to determine before a trial actually begins. They were referred to by my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway. In any event it would be unwise for me to prophesy what might be the proper outcome in certain circumstances at the conclusion of the trial. The costs to which I have referred are the costs of the investigation and proceedings so far.

Lord Mayhew: My Lords, are we to understand from the original Answer that we are unlikely to have further applications for prosecutions? If so, is the whole achievement of the Government in this area a single trial which may or may not take place?

The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, I am not certain that I regard as a measure of achievement in relation to the preservation of law and order the number of cases that are brought to prosecution. I had the privilege once of being in the United States and was told that New York City had given much extra money to the police but no extra money to the courts in respect of criminal prosecutions. The judge was very annoyed that there was to be no more money for the courts, but the police answer was that the money would be used to prevent cases ever reaching the courts because law and order would be so well preserved. Therefore, I do not think that that is a measure to apply to this matter. On the policy, the legislation was passed by Parliament in accordance with the provisions of the Parliament Acts.

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Viscount Tonypandy: My Lords, would it not give a better sense of proportion to this matter if your Lordships were to bear in mind as regards the investigations concerning the mass murder of over 6 million Jewish people that the sense of another place was completely outraged by the thought that in this land we might be sheltering some of those criminals? If we bear those facts in mind, we might have a more tolerant attitude on the question.

The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, the matters to which the noble Viscount refers were debated in the course of the passing of the Act. The sense of my perhaps somewhat long answer to the previous question was that the policy underlying this is one which Parliament, particularly the House of Commons, regarded as important.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, may I ask my noble and learned friend whether he would be prepared to answer the question as to whether the Government now accept that the judicial recommendation applicable on conviction in such trials would be made now in open court?

The Lord Chancellor: My Lords, I have indicated that, in my view, that matter would arise, if it arises at all, at a much later date. The present law applying to such matters allows the judge the option of doing so if he thinks it appropriate. That matter would be for the judge to determine if and when the question arose.

Benefit Disentitlement: Monitoring

3.25 p.m.

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they do not monitor the effects of policies which disentitle people to means-tested benefits.

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): My Lords, information from a variety of sources is used to monitor the effects of policy.

Earl Russell: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that Answer, but I cannot say that I found it informative. The Minister will know—for he has often told me so—that the Government do not monitor the behavioural effects of disentitling people to benefit. The Minister will also know—for he has often told me so—that it is important to cost measures accurately. How can we cost the effects of disentitling people to benefit if we do not know what the behavioural effects of such disentitlements may be?

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, as I have explained to the noble Earl on a number of occasions, research into the behavioural aspects of benefit changes or the way in which benefits impinge on people is extremely difficult to conduct for a number of reasons, including one's ability or inability to obtain a proper control group. However, the Department of Social Security has an outpouring of statistical information on which it can base some of its judgments at least in these matters. We collect numerous statistics on, for example, the participation rates in YT of 16 and 17 year-olds, the

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attainment of trainees, the number of people waiting for places and the length of time that they wait, the number who claim severe hardship payments and the rate of success in claiming severe hardship payments.

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