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Lord Taylor of Gryfe: My Lords, does the Minister believe that, in addition to the impact of this excellent report on business and education, he could encourage politicians to give a lead in making such learning more widely known and accepted? Is he aware that for Members of this House the German Embassy sponsors a language class Thursday lunchtimes and that the average attendance is two? Could he encourage some of the new Members of this House to take advantage of the generosity of the German Embassy?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, perhaps I may congratulate the two Members who attend. I am happy to place my full weight behind encouraging more people to do so.

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Baroness Sharp of Guildford: My Lords, does the research to which the Minister has referred shed light on why Britain seems to be so bad at teaching foreign languages and why other countries are more effective, and what lessons we can learn from their experience?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, it is not clear that the lack of language competence is due to failures of teaching; it may be due to failures of motivation. What is worrying is the number of people in this country who are happy not to know foreign languages. It is as much an issue of motivation and the ease of travelling around the world with English as it is of failures of teaching.

Lord Crickhowell: My Lords, is the Minister aware that the experience in Wales, where children are taught Welsh at primary level, indicates that they gain a head start not only in their ability to speak Welsh but all other languages which they then attempt to learn?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, that is an admirable example and one upon which we should all reflect.

Earl Baldwin of Bewdley: My Lords, will the noble Lord bear in mind the difficulties which arise at secondary level when some primary schools have taught French and some have not? That is where schemes have previously fallen down.

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, that is not a subject with which I am familiar. I shall write to the noble Earl about the matter.

Lord Haskel: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that a large part of the Nuffield report deals with languages in business? Does my noble friend agree that skill in languages is a key to success in overseas markets?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, the answer to that is emphatically "yes". The present situation is that, even today, exports to countries where the main language is not English amount, I believe, to approximately 60 per cent of the UK's total exports. It is quite clear that some of our major markets for the future lie outside the non-English speaking markets, such as east Asia and Latin America. Therefore, we believe strongly that it is necessary to have a mastery of language in order to exploit those markets.

Lord Quirk: My Lords, further to the question of the noble Lord, Lord Haskel, does the Minister recall the words of the Prime Minister in August 1998 in a published letter saying:

    "There has never been a time when the ability to communicate with other cultures and in their own languages was more important to our nation's well-being and prosperity"?

Are the Government making this a point of national policy?

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Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, of course, I well remember the Prime Minister's remarks. As I hope I made clear, our response to the report is cross-departmental and we want to carry this out on a cross-departmental basis because we believe that it is of major importance.

Baroness Seccombe: My Lords, the previous government introduced a foreign language into the national curriculum. Can the Minister tell the House whether pupils leaving school are gaining an increasing number of passes at GSCE and A-levels?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, I believe that from 1992 to 1999 there was a decline in the number of pupils taking A-levels. However, I believe that the pass rate increased significantly.


Lord Carter: My Lords, at a convenient time after 3.30 p.m. my noble friend Lady Scotland of Asthal will, with the leave of the House, repeat a Statement which is being made in another place on Sierra Leone. The Statement is likely to be taken immediately before the debate on Clause 108 stand part.

Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That it be an instruction to the Committee of the Whole House to whom the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill has been committed that they consider the Bill in the following order:

Clauses 1 to 46, Schedule 1, Clauses 47 to 57, Schedule 2, Clauses 58 to 73, Schedules 3 and 4, Clause 74.--(Lord Bassam of Brighton.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Terrorism Bill

2.52 p.m.

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

Moved, That the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.--(Lord Bassam of Brighton.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

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Clause 65 agreed to.

Schedule 9 agreed to.

Clauses 66 to 79 agreed to.

Clause 80 [Conviction during remission]:

Lord Bach moved Amendment No. 160:

    Page 39, line 21, at end insert ("and").

The noble Lord said: Amendments Nos. 160, 162, 163, 192, 197A, 197B, 198, 202A, 203, 204, 205, 205A and 205B are all government amendments. In moving Amendment No. 160, I shall speak to the other amendments in this group. I can do so briefly.

Amendments Nos. 160 to 168 and 205A and 205B are drafting amendments. They include those recommended by parliamentary counsel and make drafting improvements to the Bill. The other amendments in the group are all technical amendments to Schedule 15, which deals with consequential amendments. They do not reflect any change of policy. I should be happy to explain the purpose of each of the amendments, if necessary. However, if the Committee does not require further explanation, I beg to move Amendment No. 160.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 80, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 81 to 84 agreed to.

Schedule 10 agreed to.

Clauses 85 to 88 agreed to.

Clause 89 [Power to stop and question]:

[Amendment No. 161 not moved.]

Clause 89 agreed to.

Clauses 90 to 94 agreed to.

Clause 95 [Sections 81 to 94: supplementary]:

Lord Bach moved Amendments Nos. 162 and 163:

    Page 46, line 22, after ("(3)") insert (", 8").

    Page 46, line 25, leave out ("7") and insert ("8").

On Question, amendments agreed to.

Clause 95, as amended, agreed to.

Lord Glentoran moved Amendment No. 164:

    After Clause 95, insert the following new clause--

Detention of terrorists

(" . Schedule (Detention of terrorists) shall have effect with respect to the detention of terrorists and persons suspected of being terrorists.").

The noble Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 164, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 165. These amendments concern internment. Under the Conservative government internment remained part of the terrorism legislation for Northern Ireland. In, I believe, 1998, the present Government chose to remove it. At the time, we said that we believed that to be a mistake. We still believe it to be a mistake, although I believe it is fair to say that for a period it appeared not to be useful.

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However, I believe that a number of factors, some of which have arisen recently, are very important. First and most importantly, the people with whom the Government are dealing on the friendly side are in the Irish Republic. So far as concerns terrorism, the Irish Government are very much our partners in managing the problems of Northern Ireland. They still have internment on the statute books. They are probably wiser than most of us in these matters. They have had experience of Sinn Fein/IRA, the IRA and various other forms of Irish terrorist organisations for longer than the life of Northern Ireland. Some of them may still remember the days when it all started.

On a more positive note, it appears that there may be a road of peace ahead of us. Those who were considered our enemies are now sitting down in government. They are sitting down in a British government, which they feel very uncomfortable about. They are sitting down with colleagues of Unionist persuasions who feel even more uncomfortable that they are sitting with Sinn Fein.

However, history tells us (and we do not have to look back many years) that the pattern of Irish terrorism evolves frequently in the same way. Some sort of peace is made and then there are dissident groups. Once again, we see the dissident groups of republicanism flexing their muscles and currently making a serious nuisance of themselves. I do not think I am giving away any secrets; most of it is in the press. The intelligence reports state that the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA are two organisations which work pretty closely together with many youngsters but one or two, or three or four, well-qualified terrorists.

I was not in the country at the time of the Hammersmith Bridge bomb but heard about it within hours of it happening, as I am sure did most of Europe. We know the gentleman who made that bomb. We know where he lives. When I say "we" I use the term loosely. The Irish Government and the Garda Siochana know. His signature was very clear.

Changing tack a little, in the 1970s, internment was a failure. There is no doubt that it was badly used by British governments and that it fell into serious disrepute. We had little intelligence and no moles, spies or intelligence agents within the IRA. We interned foot soldiers but rarely officers and never generals. Now, life has moved on. I can speak only from when my noble and learned friend Lord Mayhew left power. At that stage we had an extremely sophisticated, competent, reliable intelligence force or forces operating within Ireland both within and outwith the IRA, feeding those who needed to know extremely hard, good, reliable information.

On the assumption that the present Government have not reduced that level of intelligence in any way--I have no reason to believe they have--we should still have a significant level of intelligence. I hope I demonstrated that a few moments ago by telling noble Lords that it did not take very long for the intelligence service to inform those in authority and in need of knowledge who made the Hammersmith bomb, where he lived, and so forth.

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That might be a one-off. Noble Lords have often heard me play devil's advocate and cynical advocate on Northern Ireland from this Box. They will not be surprised to hear me say that I do not have great faith in the political future as it stands. I wish I had, but I do not. I am pretty confident that the strength, knowledge and technology of what are now called the dissident groups will rapidly increase. I believe that both governments, Westminster and Dublin, will wish to work closely together, decisively and swiftly, to stop a major increase in and spread of terrorism by new dissident groups. I suggest that one way to do that is to have the power of internment on the statute book. Whether or when it would ever be used, one never knows.

The Bill is not a high-profile, Irish anti-terrorist Bill but one which the Government are rightly introducing to help tidy up our terrorist legislation and help protect the United Kingdom from international terrorism. If internment was put onto the face of the Bill, there could be an occasion when, working together with Dublin and possibly all the political parties in Northern Ireland, including Sinn Fein/IRA and the republican movement, a decision is taken secretly and decisively that certain people should be quickly picked up, taken out of Ireland and interned for as long as it takes to deal with a situation. If internment was on the statute book, I believe it would be possible to save many lives and to save a significant increase in destruction.

Furthermore, for those concerned with human rights, as indeed I am, as one is duty bound to be, there is an inordinate amount of protection in the old Act for those arrested under internment legislation. It would not be dealt with lightly. The powers are already available to lift/arrest people for a short period of time. I cannot remember the number of days. However, I believe there are up to 40 weeks before the internment procedure would have to be turned on and decisions made as to whether such people were arrested and interned for a considerable time.

In summary, I believe that this would be in the interests of the safety of this country, Northern Ireland, and perhaps even Ireland. The Irish Government could not use internment if we did not also do so. I believe that is the present political situation. If tucked away in this Bill, the amendment could become a powerful weapon in the fight against future Irish terrorism. I believe that we now have the intelligence services and technology to use it intelligently and selectively. I beg to move.

3 p.m.

Lord Goodhart : To those on these Benches, the amendments are completely unacceptable, both on practical and legal grounds. Detention or internment, as the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran called it, was, as we all know, tried at an early stage of the troubles in Northern Ireland. It caused immense ill-will, not only among the republicans but among the whole of the nationalist population in Northern Ireland. It was an immensely powerful recruiting sergeant for the IRA. I believe that if detention was re-introduced in the

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context of Northern Ireland, it would have exactly that effect again. It also caused immense ill will among the people of the Republic of Ireland.

I believe that detention in Northern Ireland, even if introduced at the same time as detention in the Republic of Ireland, would seriously risk creating the same level of ill-will once again. It is a blunt instrument which does a great deal of damage, not only to the people it is intended to damage but to the whole community in Northern Ireland.

It was abandoned after a relatively few years. Even if it remained on the statute book, it was never brought back during the 18 years of Conservative government starting in 1979. I believe that it would be disastrous on practical grounds.

Legally, there is a plain conflict between the amendments and Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Under that article, detention is permitted only after conviction or pending trial. The amendments would allow the Secretary of State to order detention for an indefinite period without trial on the basis of a report by an adviser. If a detainee does not ask for his or her representations to be submitted to the adviser, there will not even be a report.

The post of adviser is not a judicial office and proceedings before an adviser are not judicial proceedings. It is true that judicial review of a decision of the Secretary of State under these amendments would not be excluded. But judicial review, with its difficult test of irrationality, would not be enough to satisfy Article 5 of the European convention.

It is true that a crisis could arise which was so acute that detention was a reasonable cause of action. The detention of Sir Oswald Mosley and other Nazi supporters in 1939 was plainly justified by the level of crisis prevailing at the time. Both the European convention and the Human Rights Act recognise that special circumstances of that kind may arise by allowing derogation in time of war or other public emergency threatening the life of the nation. But that derogation must be only to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation. Those powers can be found in Article 15 of the European convention and in Sections 14 to 18 of the Human Rights Act.

A derogation from Article 5 to authorise the detention of suspected terrorists for a period up to seven days without access to the court has been upheld by the European Court of Human Rights in the Brannigan case. So the European court recognises that special circumstances may occur. If the power of detention under these amendments could be exercised only after the Secretary of State made a derogation order under the European convention and under the Human Rights Act, and if that power was also subject to an affirmative resolution of both Houses to confirm it within 40 days of its coming into effect, then I accept that our objections would be a good deal less strong. But it is arguable that, even so, the breach of a right to liberty is so fundamental that the insertion of a power of detention should require primary legislation.

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In a real crisis, as it has shown on many occasions before and several times in relation to Northern Ireland, Parliament can act very quickly. And I find it difficult to understand why the Conservatives have not linked their proposal to insert a power of detention into the Bill to the making of a derogation order. As the amendment now stands, we have no hesitation in opposing it. We believe that it is both contrary to the law and, in practical terms, presents no advantage whatever.

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