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The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, the previous supplementary question notwithstanding, do not the Government agree that the heart of the problem for this country over the Iraq war is that there has been a regrettable elision in public discussion of what is, at least for some of us, a debatable reason for going to war in the first place and the supposed beneficial consequences of having done so?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, we made absolutely clear the basis on which we were going to war, which was the failure of Iraq to comply with Security Council resolutions. I have reread the Prime Minister's Statement to Parliament in March last year; I have
Baroness Crawley: My Lords, the acquisition cost of the four Upholder submarines was some £900 million at 199293 prices. The value of the lease-to-buy arrangement with Canada, which includes the four submarines, training and initial spares, is some 610 million Canadian dollars.
Maintenance and refurbishment costs of the submarines are commercially sensitive, and I am withholding details in accordance with Exemption 13 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.
Lord Garden: My Lords, I thank the Minister for her partial Answer to my Question. I am sure all your Lordships would like to join me in expressing sympathy to the family of the Canadian sailor who so tragically died in that fire and wish a speedy recovery to the other officers who are injured.
The Answer misses the key point about the maintenance. There were some 10 years between the purchase of brand-new submarines and their being sold on to the Canadians. Will the Minister ensure that the Ministry of Defence conducts a full review into whether the maintenance was adequate during that period?
On the issue of maintenance, the submarine met all appropriate Royal Navy standards for acceptance and was ready for the handover on 2 October. She was ready to be brought into operational service. Canada
Lord Berkeley: My Lords, it is a bit like buying a second-hand car"one careful owner, very good nick, passed the MoT". I feel very sorry for the people who have been killed or injured. Is there not a case for some independent MoT test on dodgy MoD equipment that gets sold off to other people?
Baroness Crawley: My Lords, it is not at all the situation, as my noble friend puts it, that the submarines were dodgy. Canada decided to purchase the submarines after extensive surveys of the vessels and after negotiations with UK MoD. My noble friend will know that, in defence procurement, vessels are purchased and sold on all the time. For instance, we have recently sold frigates to Chile and Romania.
Baroness Crawley: My Lords, a board of inquiry has been convened. I hope that the noble Lord will be interested to know that there is a UK MoD representative on that board, which is now in session. It will investigate the incident thoroughly. It would be inappropriate to speculate on the outcome.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, have the Government made any provision for litigation or compensation to the Canadian Government? If they have no estimates, could they at least say from which budget that litigation or compensation would be paid?
Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I am afraid that it is not possible for me to speculate on these matters as a board of inquiry has been set up. That board will investigate the incident and we cannot pre-empt the outcome of that inquiry. However, as for the costs of rescue, Canada will not be charged for any efforts to prevent loss of life. But it is far too early to say what additional recovery costs there will be and where those costs will fall.
Earl Ferrers: My Lords, in her original Answer, the noble Baroness gave the purchase price in pounds and the sale price in Canadian dollars. Would she be good enough to keep to one currency and let us know what the price was in pounds?
The Lord Chancellor (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): My Lords, may I take the opportunity to inform the House that I will be undertaking a ministerial visit to Liverpool and Newcastle on Monday 18 October? Accordingly, I trust that the House will grant me leave of absence.
Lord Hanningfield: My Lords, I beg leave of the House to protest at the amendments that we have received today at Report stage10 pages of detailed amendments. I know that some of them are in response to issues that we raised earlier, but for us to receive them only this morning in order to discuss them this afternoon is quite unacceptable. We have been trying to do what we can about them today, but it is impossible for us to deal with them this afternoon. I hope that the Minister will reconsider his attitude to these amendments at this stage.
Baroness Maddock: My Lords, I associate myself with the comments of the noble Lord. I recognise that the Government tabled these amendments in response to discussions in Committee and to amendments we have tabled. But given that, and given the discussions that have gone on in betweenbetween outside bodies, ourselves and the Governmentit was very discourteous not to tell us yesterday that these were being tabled. I hope that the Minister can think again about whether we should discuss them today.
Lord Rooker: My Lords, can I in the most friendly and comradely spirit possible tell the House a story? The amendments have nothing to do with discussions in Committeealthough in some ways they could be connected.
I set a deadline for government amendments being tabled for Report stage of 4 October. I said that nothing else would be tabled after 4 October because the Opposition are not getting enough time to consider amendments. The only amendments that were tabled after that date were minor and technical, for which I set a deadline of 6 October.
Last week I resisted blandishments from around Whitehallfrom No. 10, the Cabinet Office, the Home Office and ODPMand I flatly refused to have my name used to table any government amendments of any kind on this issue. That was it, I saidthe deadline has gone; we set it in order to have a decent discussion.
The only reason that this group of government amendments was tabled on Monday evening and published on Tuesday evening was in response to the opposition amendments tabled on the "no rent payable" issuea shorthand term for this part of the Bill. It was in response to the fact that the Opposition had tabled amendments. If the Opposition had not tabled any amendments, I can assure the House that there would have been no government amendments, because I flatly refused to introduce new business. The only reason that the government amendments were tabled was that, following discussions between my officials and officials representing the two Opposition Front Benches, we had sight of their amendments before the Public Bill Office did. I am just telling the House a story. I am telling it as a story because I understand the annoyance, but we have to get the facts right.
It was only because we knew what was being tabled by the Opposition that I was prepared to say that the Government could table amendments only to opposition amendments. If there are no opposition amendments, I said, then we do not do anything. So it was as a result of the Opposition tabling amendments on the "no rent payable" issue and discussions between the advisers to the opposition parties and my own officials that the Government tabled these amendments. Otherwise we would not have tabled them: I can assure the House of that. That would have been the end of the matter. The Government would have had to settle for the Bill as it was. I do not know what might happen at Third Reading as that is too far ahead.
I regret that the amendments have appeared. They are starred. If we were in another place, where we have proper orders of businesssorry, they have proper orders of business: a slip of the tonguestarred amendments would not be called by the Speaker. If everybody wants to take all the "no rent payable" stuff away todayfine. But it would not make sense to debate the opposition "no rent payable" amendments, because my response to them is the government package. I am not going to debate that. It does not make sense to have that debate.
If we can achieve agreement between now and Third Reading, we are prepared to make amendments to achieve agreement. There is no difference between the Government, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives on this. The package is almost agreed, and that was the point of exercise. I am very grateful for that. As I said, if the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives had not tabled their amendments, the Government would not have had the chance to table their package of amendments in lieu. I had said that there was a deadline and we were going to keep to that. I felt that too much new material had gone into the Bill at the last minute in Committee and that it was not fair on the Opposition. That is the story and where we are.
I hope we can make good progress on the Bill today. I would be quite happy if all of this was taken away as a package, but I cannot say what might happen on Third Reading. I cannot guarantee that this issue will be settled on Third Reading because I do not deal with the
I am happy to leave it there. As I said, the government amendments would not have been tabled were it not for the opposition amendments. They were tabled after discussions between officials on both sides.
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