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Lord Dubs moved Amendment No. 228:


Page 44, line 1, after ("realm;") insert ("trading with the enemy;").

The noble Lord said: Amendments Nos. 228 and 271 clarify that trading with the enemy and other defence-related trade are excepted matters and are not included in the more general reservation of trade in Schedule 3. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Cope of Berkeley moved Amendment No. 229:


Page 44, line 1, leave out from ("Crown") to ("; the") in line 2.

The noble Lord said: In moving the above amendment I shall speak also to Amendment No. 261. Amendment No. 229 refers to paragraph 4 of Schedule 2 which deals with the Armed Forces of the Crown. The amendment suggests that any matter within paragraph 9 of Schedule 3 to the Act should come under Westminster rather than under the Northern Ireland administration. Those matters are the powers given to the Armed Forces of the Crown when involved in the "maintenance of public order". It seems to me that the Armed Forces of the Crown should always remain under the direction of the Westminster

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Government--that is, the Secretary of State for Defence and the Westminster Government--even when they are engaged in the maintenance of public order.

We all know that the Armed Forces of the Crown had, of necessity, to do a great deal in support of the civil power over the past 30 years. We also remember that direct rule, and the changes in the government of Northern Ireland nearly 30 years ago, came about as a consequence of British troops being employed on the streets and the necessity therefore--as it was seen then--for Westminster to take control of the situation rather than leaving it in the control of the then Stormont government. It seems to me that by leaving as initially a reserved matter the maintenance of public order when carried out by the Armed Forces, and the powers which the latter use in that respect, we are going against that and permitting the Armed Forces to be used by the devolved government or at least controlled in part by the devolved government.

There is another point which arises from this schedule. We have been told that we must be careful about quoting from the Scotland Bill as a model for the wording of this legislation. Nevertheless, it refers to the Armed Forces of the Crown and then specifies that that includes the reserve forces. The words "including reserve forces" do not appear in this Bill. That gives me some cause for concern in respect of the Territorial Army in particular because of what is happening to it at present both in the country as a whole and in Northern Ireland. I understand that there are considerable proposals to reduce the size of the Territorial Army and to sell off drill halls in the Province, just as there are for the United Kingdom. Indeed, alarm bells rang in my ears when I noticed that the reserve forces were not specifically being included in the excepted matters which are to be retained by Whitehall. I should be most grateful if the Minister could reassure me on that point. If the noble Lord cannot do so off the cuff--because he has received no notice of this question--perhaps he could respond in some other manner a little later. I beg to move.

Lord Holme of Cheltenham: I certainly support the noble Lord's amendment in the sense that it deals with the Armed Services. I believe that he is right and that there cannot be any argument about it. However, when it comes to the maintenance of public order in Northern Ireland, we must be careful not to pre-empt, for instance, the findings of the Patten Commission on police. It is possible to imagine a day when Northern Ireland will have a larger responsibility for the maintenance of public order than has been the case during the emergency period through which we have lived recently. I sympathise with what he said about the Armed Services. I want to be quite certain that the effect of his amendment will not prevent growing involvement by the Northern Ireland Executive and the Assembly as regards matters of public order that do not deal with the deployment of the armed services in future.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: May I at once reassure the noble Lord, Lord Holme, that it is certainly not my intention--I do not believe that it is the effect of any of

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my amendments--to rule out the transfer of responsibility in due course for the maintenance of public order and other policing functions to the Assembly when the time is right. Obviously, the Patten Commission and, for that matter, the review of criminal justice and so forth, will all have a bearing when the time is judged to be right. Part of the way in which I would judge that the time is right depends on whether the armed forces are still being employed to the extent that they have been recently, and are now. It will depend on whether they still need to be employed in the maintenance of public order. I hope that they will not be and that will enable the switch to take place in due course, if everything else is all right. So long as the armed forces are involved they should remain the responsibility of Whitehall and the Ministry of Defence and not of the local administration.

Lord Molyneaux of Killead: I support the noble Lord, Lord Cope, in his request to the Minister to clarify the position with regard to the reserve forces. To the best of my knowledge forces such as the TA have never been used in support of the civil power. It is very important that their position is clarified.

Lord Dubs: The noble Lord's amendments bear on paragraph 4 of Schedule 2 and paragraph 9 of Schedule 3 and deal with the position of members of the armed forces of the Crown in carrying out functions for the purpose of the maintenance of public order.

Under the Bill the armed forces of the Crown are an excepted matter expect as regards the conferring on them of powers, authorities, privileges and immunities with regard to the maintenance of public order. In those circumstances, these matters are reserved, in the same way as in respect of police officers. We consider that it is right that this should be the case.

In Northern Ireland, members of the armed forces work alongside, and in support of, members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, exercising powers which are conferred on both of them. The effect of the noble Lord's amendments would be to remove that distinction, so that the armed forces of the Crown would be an excepted matter in all circumstances. The maintenance of public order is itself a reserve matter. For as long as it is considered necessary for the armed forces to operate in support of the RUC in Northern Ireland in maintaining public order, we believe that it is proper to ensure that these matters are dealt with consistently. For that reason I hope that the noble Lord will not press his amendment.

Perhaps I may comment specifically on the question that the noble Lord asked about reserve forces. That question was also asked by the noble Lord, Lord Molyneaux. They are covered by paragraph 4 because the drafting of the schedule, unlike in the case of Scotland, defines general categories rather than precise details.

Government Amendments Nos. 262 and 263 also bear on paragraph 9 of Schedule 3 to the Bill. Amendment No. 262 has the effect of excepting the Ministry of Defence police from the more general reservation

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of public order powers, etc. conferred on police officers and members of the armed forces. The Committee will recognise the similarity that this bears to the noble Lord's amendment in respect of the armed forces. But I believe that the Committee will understand the distinction between the two bodies. It is our view that the Ministry of Defence police should not fall into the reserve field by virtue of this paragraph. The role of the Ministry of Defence police is to protect the property of the armed forces. They do not have a conventional policing function nor do they have the function of the armed forces. In practical terms the MoD police do not have a public order function in contrast to the role of the Army in Northern Ireland who operate alongside the RUC and exercise powers and functions which are conferred on both.

Amendment No. 263 makes the Parades Commission for Northern Ireland a reserve matter. That means that the Assembly would not be able to legislate in respect of the Parades Commission, including its membership and activities, without the consent of the Secretary of State. The Parades Commission is a statutory body set up under the Public Processions (Northern Ireland) Act 1988, which has important executive functions with a wide-ranging remit. Public order is one factor which the commission must balance against others, including relationships within the community, in reaching its decision on disputed parades. Since public order is a reserve matter, it is consistent for the Parades Commission also to be reserved.

Lord Holme of Cheltenham: I believe that Amendment No. 263 is very wise at this stage. The Parades Commission had a very rocky start in a difficult atmosphere. Were it a matter for the Assembly to deal with and were there to be a coalition, all those who objected to particular decisions of the Parades Commission might come together on a cross-community basis and sink it. In the long term this provision may not be necessary and we all sincerely hope that it will not. In the short term, I believe that it is wise to keep that matter reserved and we support the Government's amendment.

4.15 p.m.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: I, too, agree with the amendment as regards the Parades Commission. It is right for it to be in the reserved category. As regards my own amendments, if I heard the Minister aright, he seemed to be saying that as long as the armed forces are serving alongside the police in the maintenance of public order, it will remain a reserved matter and not be transferred. In that case it seems to me that the powers given to the members of the armed forces and their other responsibilities in maintaining public order, should rightly remain with Whitehall as an excepted matter. It is right that the Ministry of Defence and Whitehall should retain responsibility and that that should be clear in the Bill itself. The Minister said that the Government will retain that power because it is not proposed to transfer it until the particular provisions are no longer required. In that case, why not accept it in the first place

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and make the position very clear? I do not suppose that anything I say now will convince the Minister otherwise. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.


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