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Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, where are bull bars made? Are they made in those countries which are opposing the extension to the directive?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I am afraid that I am not able to give an immediate response as to where those accoutrements are manufactured but I shall undertake to

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write to the noble Lord about that. Different countries take different attitudes towards bull bars on broader grounds than where they are manufactured.

Lord Hayhoe: My Lords, the Minister indicated that the Government are prepared to give a fair wind to action at a European level. For how long will that fair wind be allowed to blow before national action is contemplated and put into effect?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, it would be sensible to give a reasonable but not extended period of time. As has been pointed out, this issue has been under consideration for two years and I do not believe that it should go on for that long.

Operation Granby: Organophosphate Exposure

3 p.m.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What measures are being taken to ensure that members of the public and members of Her Majesty's Armed Forces are not exposed to clothing and equipment which may have been contaminated with organophosphates during Operation Granby.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): My Lords, I must begin by apologising for the length of the Answer that I find it necessary to give on this important matter.

What is now known about the use of organophosphate pesticides during the Gulf War was described in the Organophosphate Pesticides Investigation Team report which was published last December. Some of the tents used by British troops were sprayed while in theatre with organophosphate-based residual insecticide which was applied to the outside surfaces. The investigation found no evidence that any clothing was treated with orgnanophosphate-based products, although there exists the possibility that some clothing was contaminated while being worn by those using such products for other purposes.

Many of the tents used by British troops during the Gulf War were subsequently burned or buried in theatre because it was generally thought not to be cost-effective to ship such material back to the UK or Germany. It is not now possible to identify those tents which were brought back from the Gulf; some of them are likely to have been retained by units or at depots, while some others will probably have since been sold as surplus stock.

The amount of OP pesticide remaining on a treated surface reduces over time, which is why regular re-application is normally necessary to maintain its effectiveness. Beyond this initial period of effectiveness, those traces of OP pesticide that remain break down naturally through exposure to air and water and normally disappear completely over a period of years. This break down process may be delayed if the

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compounds are used on material that has been treated with a wax finish, as was the case for tents which were used in the Gulf. However, any traces of OP pesticide that remain on a surface after the initial period of effectiveness would be in small and ever decreasing quantities, which would be unlikely to cause a risk to human health.

The Countess of Mar: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that full Answer. He has seen the correspondence which prompted me to ask the Question. Is he aware that after a site visit to Aston Down in Gloucester reports relating to the risk to public safety were generated to the directorates of defence, health and safety? Those reports related in particular to materials, including tents and sleeping bags, where all traceability of goods back to the ministry had been lost. First, what is being done to ensure that such goods can always be traced back to the MoD if they are sold by the MoD? Secondly, in view of the fact that the tents have been bought by scout masters for use by scouts--and there is evidence that organophosphates are far more potent in young people than in adults--what will the Minister do about problems which may arise among scouts if the tents cannot be legally traced back to the MoD?

Lord Gilbert: My Lords, the noble Countess has put her finger on one of the problems: that at this time, six years after the Gulf War, it would be extremely difficult if not impossible to identify any tents which are now in the hands of the general public and which at one time were in the hands of troops in the Gulf. However, if anyone feels unwell and believes that that might be connected to being in one of the tents he should consult his medical practitioner as soon as possible.

Earl Howe: My Lords, in view of the obvious concern which will arise from the noble Countess's Question, is not the proper course for those who are ill to be diagnosed straight away? If it is found that there is a risk of a link between the symptoms they are suffering and equipment used in the Gulf, should not the MoD issue a public warning for the benefit of those who might have bought such equipment?

Lord Gilbert: My Lords, I understand the thrust of the noble Earl's question. However, I must say to him--and I know that he is aware of it--that so far there is no evidence whatever that low level exposure to these pesticides can cause adverse health effects.

The Countess of Mar: My Lords, there is ample evidence to show that organophosphates at low levels cause adverse health effects. If no one looks at the evidence they will not find it. Can the Minister comment on the fact that each month more than 100 papers are published on the effect of low level exposure to organophosphates, but for some reason Her Majesty's Government are refusing to look at them?

Lord Gilbert: My Lords, I am afraid that I must take issue with the noble Countess in that respect. Already research is under way which is being funded jointly by

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the Department of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Health and Safety Executive, which is addressing precisely those issues, particularly in the context of the health concerns of farm workers.

Baroness Park of Monmouth: My Lords, can the Minister assure us that when the report that is being prepared on the Gulf War illness comes before the Defence Committee the issue will be covered and a full statement will be made on what was known inside the Ministry about the points raised by the noble Countess?

Lord Gilbert: My Lords, as the noble Baroness will know, my honourable friend Dr. Reid, Minister for the Armed Forces, is conducting an accelerated investigation into these matters. There is no wish whatever to keep them private. We recognise public concern and I can assure the noble Baroness that the matters will be made public.

Special Immigration Appeals Commission Bill [H.L.]

3.5 p.m.

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

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.--(Lord Williams of Mostyn.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.


Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.

Lord Williams of Mostyn moved Amendment No. 1:

After Clause 3, insert the following new clause--

("Determination of appeals
Determination of appeals

.--(1) The Special Immigration Appeals Commission on an appeal to it under this Act--
(a) shall allow the appeal if it considers--
(i) that the decision or action against which the appeal is brought was not in accordance with the law or with any immigration rules applicable to the case, or
(ii) where the decision or action involved the exercise of a discretion by the Secretary of State or an officer, that the discretion should have been exercised differently, and
(b) in any other case, shall dismiss the appeal.
(2) Where an appeal is allowed, the Commission shall give such directions for giving effect to the determination as it thinks requisite, and may also make recommendations with respect to any other action which it considers should be taken in the case under the Immigration Act 1971; and it shall be the duty of the Secretary of State and of any officer to whom directions are given under this subsection to comply with them.
(3) In this section, "immigration rules" has the same meaning as in the Immigration Act 1971.").

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The noble Lord said: In speaking to Amendment No. 1, it may be convenient if I speak at the same time to Amendment No. 7. I expect that these amendments will be welcome to the House as they follow from our helpful debate during Second Reading.

During the debate the noble Baroness, Lady Blatch, the noble Lord, Lord Lester of Herne Hill, and others suggested that it was not clear on the face of the Bill whether or not the commission would be in a position to make decisions which would be binding on the Home Secretary. I am grateful for the great care which the noble Lord, Lord Lester of Herne Hill, took and in particular the fact that he wrote to me to thank officials in the Home Office for the great care that was taken. It is not often that officials receive their true reward--at least, not in this world--and it was received with gratitude.

As I explained in winding up our debate on that occasion, it has always been the Government's intention that the decisions of the commission should be binding on the Home Secretary. Indeed, this is a necessary part of complying with the judgment in Chahal. I promised then that I would consider whether a clarifying amendment would be appropriate. On reflection, I came to the conclusion that it was right that I should table such an amendment given the importance of the point.

Amendment No. 1 therefore introduces a new clause into the Bill which reproduces, with necessary amendments, the main provisions contained in Section 19 of the Immigration Act 1971. Those provisions set out a proper basis for the determination of appeals by the commission and ensure that its determinations will be binding.

At the same time, I have also brought forward an amendment to Schedule 2 which incorporates another practical aspect of the 1971 Act framework into the appeals to be heard by the commission. Amendment No. 7 simply provides that Section 18 of the Immigration Act 1971 will apply in respect of appeals brought under Clause 2. That section provides for the giving of notice of rights of appeal. While there is no question but that notice would have been given to those who will have rights of appeal under this Bill, this is another matter about which I accept that there should be no doubt.

As there will be no clause-stand-part debates today, it might be helpful to comment on a particular concern of the noble Lord, Lord Lester of Herne Hill. Of course, I cannot pre-empt final decisions about the form which incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights will take. However, I can say that those who believe that their rights under Article 3 have been or would be violated will be able to rely on Article 3 in domestic proceedings once incorporation has been achieved. That will be the case in respect of any alleged violation and I hope that that is of reassurance to the noble Lord, Lord Lester of Herne Hill. I beg to move.

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