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Lord Cope of Berkeley moved Amendment No. 10:

Page 2, line 35, after ("account") insert ("all of the following conditions, namely").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I can be brief in moving this amendment because noble Lords who have followed debates on this Bill will know that I have repeatedly tried to convince the Government of the necessity to see the agreement as a whole and not to look solely at page 25 which deals with the issue of prisoners. We have frequently been told by the Prime Minister and others that the agreement should be seen as a whole. We know that nobody likes all of the agreement. The different parties, including ourselves, dislike different parts of it. That is why the agreement has to be taken as a whole. This is my last attempt to get the Minister to acknowledge that in this specific way in the Bill.

I have steadily modified my proposals on how that should be done in the direction that the Minister wished. This amendment is weaker than any of my previous amendments on this matter. It seeks to ensure that the Secretary of State takes account specifically of decommissioning--not as one of a number of factors, but as a specific factor. It is not a pre-condition. I am leaving in the words "take into account" which, at an earlier stage, I tried to stiffen up. The amendment does not establish a new linkage, but every part of the agreement is linked. That is what we mean when we say, "the whole agreement".

The two matters of the prisoners and decommissioning are additionally linked by the fact that they are the two matters which most concern the terrorist organisations. If those organisations become ex-terrorist organisations, they will get their prisoners out; but if they are ex-terrorists, they will not need their arms and should give them up.

I am not suggesting that arms should be given up by saying, "So many prisoners released for so many guns given up". I am suggesting that the two processes should flow in parallel during the two years which both are set to run. As I have pointed out previously, the process of decommissioning is due to be completed in May 2000--two years after the referendum. The process of releasing the prisoners comes to its height in July 2000, depending on when the Bill receives Royal Assent and comes into effect--at any rate, a couple of months after decommissioning is supposed to be completed. It will then be clear whether or not the two processes have moved in parallel; as they should. Nobody--neither the terrorist organisations nor ourselves--should be able to pick out those parts of the process which they may like or dislike. All parts of the agreement should move forward together. I beg to move.

Lord Molyneaux of Killead: My Lords, I shall be brief because the noble Lord, Lord Cope of Berkeley, has amply explained the attitude that he and I have taken throughout our debates on this Bill. As it is presently drafted, we get the impression--the general public would get this impression if they took the trouble to read the Bill--that a sort of selection box is being offered. However, we need something more specific. We need a degree of linkage and unification between the various

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conditions. Most of all, at this late stage in the passage of the Bill, it would be helpful to have from the Minister a clearly defined explanation of the Government's attitude to the decommissioning of command-and-control structures, and not so much of the actual armaments.

Lord Monson: My Lords, I, too, am happy to support this amendment which, as the noble Lord, Lord Cope, explained is a heavily watered-down compromise. It would ensure that although there would be no obligation to give equal weight to each of the four conditions, all four conditions would nevertheless have to be taken into account and there would be no question of any one of them being disregarded altogether.

5.30 p.m.

Lord Hylton: My Lords, I respectfully suggest that this amendment goes too far, is too strong and ties the hands of the Secretary of State too tightly. As I understand it, the original linkage was between the release of prisoners and the maintenance of the ceasefires, not between the release of prisoners and decommissioning.

Lord Tebbit: My Lords, I support this amendment. I believe that it is a great pity and a lost opportunity that there is no linkage between the release of prisoners and the surrender of arms other than the Good Friday agreement itself. It seems pretty clear that that may not necessarily be fully observed by all the parties. I believe that this is a missed opportunity.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, in discussing the previous amendment the noble Lord, Lord Cope, suggested that I had repented, the implication being that I had sinned during Committee and Report stages. I hotly deny that. If on occasions the Government, having listened, feel able to change their mind that is not a reason for accusing them of sinning; rather, the weight of the arguments has had some effect.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, I accept the rebuke of the Minister. I certainly do not suggest that he has sinned. The Government's change of mind on this occasion, and I hope in relation to the amendment to which the Minister is about to speak, is extremely wise and much appreciated.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, while I am grateful for the noble Lord's comment he may presume too much as regards this particular amendment. The noble Lord, Lord Cope, has spoken eloquently to this amendment, just as he spoke to similar amendments at Committee and Report stages. The noble Lord will be aware that I understand the sentiment but I cannot support the amendment, which would depart from the terms of the Good Friday agreement, as the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, said a moment ago.

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State made clear during consideration of this Bill in another place that all elements of the Good Friday agreement must be implemented by all parties in good faith. There

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can be no picking and choosing. If the whole agreement is not implemented then it will simply not work. At Second Reading in your Lordships' House I described the agreement as a package which contained a number of different elements, but which was a package nevertheless. The Government will implement those parts of the agreement that fall to it to implement and will hold the other parties to their commitments. All parts of the agreement must be taken forward together or the whole enterprise will fail and that cannot be allowed to happen. I have set out the Government's commitment to the terms of the agreement, which is shared by many on both sides of your Lordships' House.

I turn to the specific terms of the amendment. Subsections (8) and (9) of Clause 3 are drafted to remain faithful to the Good Friday agreement while setting out clearly how the Secretary of State will identify which organisations have not established or are not maintaining complete and unequivocal ceasefires. The four factors in subsection (9) are those identified by the Prime Minister in his speech at Balmoral on 14th May. But they are four factors, not four conditions as the amendment would have it. The Prime Minister was clear that the intention was to explain what was meant by a complete and unequivocal ceasefire that was not a sham or a tactical ceasefire and that he was not establishing new conditions to be satisfied. He was not re-writing the agreement and, with respect to noble Lords, nor should we.

At the same time, the Prime Minister was clear that these factors would be applied more rigorously over time, and that remains the intention. This reflects the fact that there are things that can only happen over a period of time such as the dismantling of terrorist organisations. That was a factor referred to by the Prime Minister which is subsumed within the requirements that organisations should be committed to the use now and in the future of only democratic and peaceful means and that they have ceased to be involved in any acts of violence or preparation for violence. Action such as this should happen in parallel with the release of prisoners as part of the parallel implementation of all parts of the agreement. As I have explained, this amendment would fundamentally change the nature of the test to be applied and would depart from the terms of the Good Friday agreement. I ask the noble Lord to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, as I expected I have not succeeded in persuading the noble Lord. We have already argued about the precise wording of the Balmoral speech and the use of the word "and" which does not appear in the Bill as drafted and would be replaced by this amendment. We have to rely on the Minister's repeated statement this afternoon that there can be no picking and choosing, that the Government will hold the other parties to their commitments, including by inference the commitment to decommission, and that they expect the different processes including decommissioning to proceed in parallel. We shall hold the Government to that pledge and look forward to seeing decommissioning as well as

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the release of prisoners take place as outlined in the Bill. In view of the response of the Minister, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 9 [Licences: Conditions]:

Lord Dubs moved Amendment No. 11:

Page 5, line 11, leave out ("terrorist") and insert ("specified").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 15 [Information for victims]:

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