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Lord Mayhew of Twysden: My Lords, is it not dismaying that we read so much to suggest that British advice is not being given its proper weight by our American partners in the coalition? Are Her Majesty's Government entirely satisfied that those reports are without foundation? Is it not extremely important that nothing should be done to exacerbate such an impression, right or wrong?

I appreciate that the Minister probably cannot go further than she has today about this business of Mr Bremer being consulted by the Americans alone,

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without the Foreign Secretary being present. Would she accept that, in those circumstances, the absence of the Foreign Secretary gives a very unfortunate impression?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, I cannot accept that, because there have been a number of occasions when Paul Bremer has gone back to the United States for consultation with the US Administration, and there have been occasions when Paul Bremer has had consultations with our Prime Minister. There has never been a problem about that.

As I said, my right honourable friend Jack Straw is on his way to Washington now. That has been planned for some time and, of course, Iraq will be one of the subjects discussed, but there will be others. There is ongoing discussion between ourselves and the US Government at a number of different levels on the issue. I can think of no other way in which to reassure noble Lords on that point.

Lord Clark of Windermere: My Lords, can I thank the Minister for placing on record the vast amount of reconstruction that is taking place in Iraq? Will she also take the opportunity to dispel the notion that the security that underpins the reconstruction is really only a two-horse exercise? Will she confirm that 11 of our NATO partners and that six of the seven candidate members have troops in Iraq?

Does the Minister also agree that it is quite remarkable that almost all the 240 hospitals and more than 1,200 clinics are now working, and that with the help of UNICEF we have managed to produce 22 million doses of vaccines, allowing us to vaccinate 4.2 million children? Is that not absolutely crucial?

Finally, is the Minister aware that, late last night, at a meeting of NATO parliamentarians in the United States, with only one member out of several hundred voting against, parliamentarians from all the NATO parliaments endorsed the reconstruction plans, and emphasised that it is not a question of if we succeed but when we succeed?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, my noble friend is absolutely right. There are already forces from more than 30 nations on the ground in Iraq. That is certainly a multinational stabilisation force. Again, my noble friend is right with respect to the progress that we have made in relation to reconstruction. Not only are the hospitals and clinics back up and running, but we have had great success with the immunisation programme.

Much remains to be done and we shall continue to work on the reconstruction effort, but it is very important that we acknowledge the progress that has already been made.

Lord Sandberg: My Lords, the Minister has had too many questions to answer, but one question that she has not touched on relates to the possible problems in Syria. It worries me when one reads statements saying, "Let's have a crack at Syria next, or Iran". I do not believe that I need to remind the Minister that the

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relatively new President of Syria was educated in this country, as was his wife. I hope that Washington, when it considers that country, looks to us first, as I am sure that we would be more able to do more good in that respect than Washington would by going on its own.

Baroness Amos: My Lords, the noble Lord will know that we have worked very hard at establishing relations with Syria. In fact, last year, I think, or earlier this year, we received a visit from the President of Syria, and that remains the position.

The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, does the noble Baroness agree that it is part of the job of the UN special representative to facilitate political dialogue and that there is still a vacuum in that respect? Who is actually carrying out the job which requires very special skills of fostering political dialogue and, presumably, dealing with the coalition?

Baroness Amos: My Lords, the noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, is quite right. The UN had a particularly important role in facilitating political dialogue in Iraq. The current situation with the UN and the fact that the majority of the UN's international staff are no longer based in Iraq makes the day-to-day relationship in this respect more difficult. However, there is ongoing work on facilitating political dialogue in Iraq.

Lord Chan: My Lords, with this encouraging report of the reconstruction of Iraq irrespective of the security situation, will the noble Baroness tell us what is being done to encourage local Iraqis and Iraqis abroad to return to Iraq to assist in the reconstruction? As she said, some 80 per cent of the population of the country is in a state of relative peace and the locals are the best people to maintain the reconstruction.

Baroness Amos: My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Chan. It is important that it is the Iraqis themselves who are doing a great deal of the work in the reconstruction effort. Certainly it is the local staff who are carrying out the work that UNICEF, other UN agencies and the Red Cross are continuing to do in Iraq. There has been an ongoing discussion about a phased programme of returnees to Iraq, and that is being looked at. Obviously there is some nervousness among those outside the country about the security situation inside the country. However, I can assure the noble Lord that that is being looked at.

Courts Bill [HL]

4.2 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Lord Filkin): My Lords, I beg to move on behalf of my noble and learned friend Lord Falconer that the Commons amendments be now considered.

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Moved, That the Commons amendments be now considered.—(Lord Filkin.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.


[The page and line references are to Bill 112 as first printed for the Commons.]

1Clause 3, page 2, line 40, leave out "shall" and insert "may"
2Clause 4, page 3, line 17, leave out "Subject to subsection (7),"
3Clause 4, page 3, line 29, leave out from "Chancellor" to second "the" in line 34 and insert "must have regard to the desirability of specifying areas which are the same as—
(a) the police areas listed in Schedule 1 to the Police Act 1996 (c. 16) (division of England and Wales, except London, into police areas), and
(b) the area consisting of"

Lord Filkin: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 1 to 3 en bloc.

Amendment No. 1 is necessary to clarify the position following an amendment tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay of St Johns, and adopted by the House on Report. It was concerned with ensuring that the Lord Chancellor should not have a discretion to choose to make no provision for accommodation and therefore changed the wording from "may provide" to "shall provide". Although I am chancing my arm, I am hopeful that the noble Baroness is now satisfied that the Government's explanation is adequate in this respect. I shall therefore not speak at great length.

In essence, the Bill makes it clear that the Lord Chancellor is already under the necessary duty which the noble Baroness sought to ensure. The general duty under Clause 1(1) provides that the Lord Chancellor must provide an efficient and effective court system. I am happy to confirm that that must include matters such as accommodation. Clause 3 deals with the Lord Chancellor's powers which derive from this general duty.

Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 make minor drafting changes to the amendments that were previously tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay of St Johns, at Third Reading and accepted by this House and by the Government.

Amendment No. 21 makes a drafting change to an amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, and accepted by this House. The Government do not intend, nor have we sought, to overturn that amendment.

I hope that these amendments will set the tone of our debate on our further consideration of the Bill. The Government have genuinely considered and respected the views of the House. I beg to move.

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Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 1 to 3.—(Lord Filkin.)

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I can indeed confirm that that has set the tone for our consideration of the Amendments to the Lords Amendments to the Bill. On Amendment No. 1, I signal that on this occasion I accept the Government's rejection of my amendment. I accept the Minister's reassurances that the principle which I tried to achieve by the amendment is already satisfactorily incorporated in the Bill's drafting. I also thank him for his courtesy in writing to me when the amendment was introduced in another place, to ensure that I was fully informed of the Government's position. I felt that the further explanation in another place was enough to satisfy me that I would not need to object to the overturning on Amendment No. 1.

On Amendments Nos. 2 and 3, I agree with the Minister that these drafting changes make better clarification of a matter that was won on Division with regard to the coterminosity—a ghastly word, but we all knew at the time what it meant—of the courts boards with the 42 criminal justice areas. I agree that the government drafting today gives a better flexibility, so that they may properly meet all the requirements that the boards will need to meet when those boundaries are so fixed.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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