Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Page 61, line 1, leave out ("60") and insert (" 67").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Schedule 3 [Reserved matters]:

Lord Dubs moved Amendment No. 30:

Page 61, line 37, after ("and") insert ("the Republic of").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, Amendments Nos. 30, 37 and 38 are government drafting amendments to the schedules. The amendment to Schedule 3 is consequential on the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Monson, that we accepted at an earlier stage, inserting a reference to "the Republic of Ireland" in Schedule 2 rather than "Ireland". The passage in Schedule 2 is one that takes out of the excepted category the surrender of fugitive offenders between the two parts of Ireland. Paragraph 9(f) of Schedule 3 makes the same matter reserved, and our amendment brings the drafting there into line.

17 Nov 1998 : Column 1224

The amendments to Schedule 14 merely ensure that, for any determination by the First Minister and Deputy First Ministers-designate in relation to junior Minister to carry over from the shadow period, it must have been approved by the Assembly, just as it would have to be approved after the appointed day under Clause 19(4). I beg to move.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill: My Lords, I gave the Minister very short notice that I wanted to raise the following points. My concern is that nothing in the amendment makes it harder rather than easier to achieve the extradition of fugitive offenders across the Border, both north and south. My concern arises because of the controversial decision of the Supreme Court of Ireland in 1989 in the case of Ellis v. O'Dea. The Supreme Court made it clear that any UK warrant for the arrest of a fugitive wanted in Ireland for extradition to the United Kingdom would be invalid if it referred to the name of the state as "the Republic of Ireland".

The reason given by the highest court in Dublin was that the name used in the UK warrant was incorrect because it was contrary to Article 4 of the Irish Constitution, which states that the name of the state is either Eire or, in the English language, Ireland. That case is reported in [1989] Irish Reports at page 530 and it is the judgment of the late Justice Brian Walsh which is particularly relevant. Unless the authorities in the UK and in Northern Ireland use the politically correct nomenclature in seeking the extradition of fugitive offenders in what I shall refer to as Ireland, my concern is that it will become harder rather than easier to achieve the extradition of such offenders.

It goes without saying that nothing that I have said expresses a view one way or the other as to whether the politically correct designation from a UK or other point of view should be the Republic of Ireland or Ireland. Indeed, I am only concerned with ensuring that fugitive offenders can in fact be extradited from what I shall now call the Republic of Ireland.

Lord Molyneaux of Killead: My Lords, I wish to congratulate and commend my noble friend Lord Monson on his tenacity in fighting this battle. It is not just one of pride or prejudice or, indeed, of anything else. During an earlier stage of our proceedings some weeks ago I pointed out that when the name of what is a republic was changed in 1948 to Eire or Ireland, the then Prime Minister Clem Attlee said, on being asked to respond, "Call yourselves what you like; you remain as you are." That was not an insulting remark and I am not insulting our neighbours in the south. I am simply saying that I imagine in British constitutional law that the correct title would be the Republic of Ireland. It was for that reason that my noble friend Lord Monson sought to make such a change.

Lord Monson: My Lords, I am most grateful to my noble friend for his kind words. However, although I spotted the offending phrase in both Clause 1 and Schedule 2, I can only express some embarrassment at

17 Nov 1998 : Column 1225

having failed to spot it in Schedule 3. Nevertheless, I am most grateful to the Minister for having tidied up the provisions.

Lord Holme of Cheltenham: My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Monson, and associate myself with the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Molyneaux. Indeed, I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Monson, has been consistent and the Government have now tried to respond to that. However, there is a problem; namely, whether they have responded to it in this particular context of the fugitive offenders in terms which will make it impossible for us to extradite people from Ireland or the Republic of Ireland who ought to be charged in the United Kingdom. To judge from the precedent of Ellis v. O'Dea, it is now a potential problem.

Baroness Park of Monmouth: My Lords, in supporting the noble Lord, Lord Monson, I also took the view--I think I said it at the time--that I considered there would be legal problems in our not calling it the Republic of Ireland. I did not know then what we have now been told. Although I still feel strongly that it should be the Republic of Ireland, I would be the last to wish to see a situation in which we were not able to carry out extradition in important criminal cases. Therefore I am in a difficulty. I must apologise for having confused the issue. My intention was to make sure that the legal situation was in our favour in terms of extradition and also to establish the fact that we are not talking about Ireland as a united country, which is what the political implication must be, but that we are talking about the Republic.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, I am also grateful for the alertness of the noble Lord, Lord Monson, in having drawn attention to these matters and in having been persuasive in his advocacy of the point at issue. I shall deal specifically with the extradition point, which I think is the only one about which there are some doubts. Paragraph 9(f) of Schedule 3, to which the amendment relates, simply defines the nature of a reserved matter and so regulates the Assembly's power to legislate. The amendment does not bear on the terminology used in extradition documents which I understand has at times caused difficulty in extradition cases. The provision simply concerns the Assembly's power to legislate.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill: My Lords, before the noble Lord sits down, I must say that I am most grateful for the clarification. In order that we all know what is happening, does that mean that we are preserving the correct position under the British constitution of referring to the Republic of Ireland, just as the Republic of Ireland uses its terminology and refers to itself as Ireland? However, where necessary, warrants for extradition will defer to Irish parlance in order to secure the extradition of fugitive offenders so that nothing that we are now doing will in any way impair our ability to obtain the extradition of fugitive offenders from south of the Border and west of the Irish Sea.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, the answer is yes.

17 Nov 1998 : Column 1226

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Lord Cope of Berkeley moved Amendment No. 31:

Page 61, line 39, after ("(c)") insert ("include matters relating to the prevention and detection of serious crime in the Interception of Communications Act 1985 and matters relating to any information, document or other article protected against disclosure by section 4(2) of the Official Secrets Act 1989, but").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment refers to a new matter which we have not yet debated. The question is whether the Interception of Communications Act and the Official Secrets Act are to be transferred matters; that is to say, transferred now to the responsibility of the Assembly, or whether they are to remain excepted matters, or whether they are to be reserved matters. Schedule 2 which concerns excepted matters states that the Interception of Communications Act is to be an excepted matter and will always remain under the jurisdiction of Westminster except in the case of serious crime.

Schedule 3 states that the subject matter of paragraph 17 to Schedule 2, which I have just summarised, is not to be regarded as a reserved matter because it is an excepted matter. However, that leaves out serious crime which, by default as it were, then becomes a transferred matter according to my reading of the Bill. This is a slightly complicated matter but what concerns me is that in respect of serious crime the Official Secrets Act, the Interception of Communications Act and so on should not be transferred now, by mistake as it were, having fallen through the holes between Schedule 2 and Schedule 3 of this Bill. I beg to move.

Baroness Park of Monmouth: My Lords, I strongly support this amendment because of its relevance for the future. The present agenda of Sinn Fein/IRA appears to include the abolition of the RUC and its replacement by a people's police. The Patten Commission has already been told publicly by Sinn Fein/IRA activists that the RUC must be abolished and that not one single RUC officer would be eligible to join a new police force. The only decommissioning it will discuss with the decommissioning commission is the withdrawal of the British Army from Northern Ireland and the abolition of the RUC. Since Mr. McGuinness has already recently said bluntly that there will be no decommissioning by the IRA because "the IRA says so", and has pointed out that the IRA was never a party to the Belfast agreement, it seems clear that its emerging agenda will be to devote its energies to its own kind of decommissioning.

In those circumstances it is essential in my view that the Government should not lose their absolute control of every aspect of intelligence. Without intelligence they would be blind to the IRA's training, recruiting and targeting programme, let alone its profitable criminal activities. If the RUC is, at the same time, being steadily undermined and weakened, the situation must become dangerous. The RUC needs to be seen to be valued and supported in the interests of law and order. That includes retaining an effective capacity in every aspect of intelligence.

I hope that we can be assured that the community restorative justice units being set up by the paramilitaries in nationalist areas and indeed loyalist

17 Nov 1998 : Column 1227

equivalents--the Shankill Alternative, for instance--will not be allowed to set themselves up as a people's police and will not be allowed to usurp the functions of the RUC by dealing with petty criminals themselves and meting out their own punishments in a quasi-legal way. That could be the first move to the people's police and could create a situation which would be extraordinarily difficult for Her Majesty's Government. How could the Government share intelligence obtained from all kinds of sources with an organisation having that kind of background? I believe that it is very important that we retain full control of every aspect of intelligence.

9.15 p.m.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, I understand the point that the noble Lord seeks to address in Amendments Nos. 31 and 32. I do not think that there is any difference between us in the intention of the provisions. However, I am advised that the amendments are unnecessary; indeed, they are harmful to the coherence of the drafting.

Perhaps I may explain. Under paragraph 17 of Schedule 2, the subject matter of the Interception of Communications Act 1985 and of the Official Secrets Act 1989 are essentially excepted, with certain matters carved out from those exceptions relating to the prevention and detection of serious crime. The reason behind that is that the criminal law and the prevention and detection of crime are reserved matters under paragraph 9 of Schedule 3. Therefore, to the extent that the Interception of Communications Act 1985 and the Official Secrets Act 1989 relate to criminal matters, they too should be reserved matters.

However, the noble Lord is concerned that those matters will effectively become transferred matters because of the provision in paragraph 9 which excludes from the reservation of criminal matters those matters within paragraph 17 of Schedule 2. If that were the case, I too would be concerned. But I am advised that the carving out of certain matters from paragraph 17 means that they are not therefore "included within paragraph 17." Since they are not, they are caught by the general terms of paragraph 9 of Schedule 3 and become reserved. To make the suggested amendments would cast doubt on the same drafting elsewhere.

With that explanation, I hope that the noble Lord is reassured, and will feel able to withdraw the amendment.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page