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Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, as I made it clear in my original Answer, the extent to which a judgment is made public is a matter for the individual court. Normally a judgment is not made public, but
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Lord Soley: My Lords, my noble and learned friend will know that I chaired a committee on the matter to which the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, gave evidence. It is a difficult area. Will he in his consultations and discussions involve the Press Complaints Commission, because if we had better guarantees that the coverage of such cases would be carried out with extra sensitivity, it might be possible to move in the direction of more openness, which most people would like to see?
Baroness Howarth of Breckland: My Lords, does the Minister agree that if we could achieve greater transparency with all the safeguards that he has so clearly and carefully put before us the nation might better understand the complexity of the work that has been undertaken? Might it not also understand the need for greater resources to ensure that families are helped as much as possible and therefore we avoid later on the breakdown of children who have had difficulties going through the court?
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I completely agree. I also agree with the importance of transparency in relation to it. The main reason is that if people knew how the family courts operated they would see that they do a first-class job.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): My Lords, Irans longest range in-service missile is believed to be the Shahab 3, which entered into service in 2003. It has
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Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that Answer. He will be aware of two press reports in the last week, in one of which a Pentagon spokesman explained bilaterally to the Soviet Union that the proposed missile defences in Europe were intended not against Russia but against the enemy in Iran. Does Britain share that assessment? There are also various press reports about Britain still bidding for a share in the American-led missile defence, which is clearly intended against Iran. Has Britain assessed that Iran is the main target of the US missile defence system, of which we are very much a part? An American facility essential to it is on British soil, at RAF Fylingdales. Do we think that this should be an American assessment, a British assessment or, much more coherently and constructively, a NATO assessment?
Lord Triesman: My Lords, the assessment of who poses a threat with missiles has extended in a number of ways with the development of North Korean missiles. There is also plainly a degree of development of Iranian missiles. All preparations of defence systems have to try to take some account of where we are liable to go in the future. It is not clear when Iran might achieve a longer-range capacity. It has certainly desired a 6,000-kilometre capacity but, because of the practical and technical problems, it is difficult to predict when it might get there. Notwithstanding that, I am quite sure that our defensive systems must take account of anybody who might have malign intent and potentially has the capacity.
Lord Corbett of Castle Vale: My Lords, can the Minister confirm that there are parallel concerns over Irans development of long-range missiles? That, of course, refers to its illicit and deceitful development of nuclear weapons. Can he tell the House, in broad terms if necessary, what was agreed at the meeting of the Ministers yesterday in trying to frame a new resolution for the Security Council to signal to the Iranian regime that the international community and the region of which it is a part will not tolerate it developing nuclear weapons?
Lord Triesman: My Lords, the United Nations is very clear, since the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1737, that we cannot accept or tolerate the development of nuclear weapons. We entirely remain supporters of peoples right to have peaceful nuclear energy programmes. The United Nations resolution also includes sanctions against any potential delivery systems, including missile technology control provisions. All those remain at the centre of discussions that have been taking place this week. Those discussions have not yet reached a conclusion.
Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, if I may shift the focus slightly, we read in the papers that it is now proposed to have a grand conference in Baghdad of Iraqs neighbouring countries, which would presumably include Iran and Syria. What part have the British Government played in working up this project, which has been announced by Secretary Rice? Will the issues of missile armaments and other aggressive measures that Iran appears to have been taking, encouraging or permitting inside Iraq be part of that conference? What will our aim be at this conference? Could the Minister describe British thinking on this very interesting new initiative?
Lord Triesman: My Lords, the advocacy of a conference of Iraqs neighbours has been in the air for some time and is now moving towards fruition. I am very pleased to see that. If the neighbours, including Syria and Iran, take a sensible attitude, they can make a significant contribution to greater security and to ending some of the sectarian and other forms of violence inside Iraq. I do not believe that initially there will be a major discussion of, for example, missile technology, although I do not think that the agenda is so fixed that anything is ruled out. The first task will be to try to secure the kind of peace process to which the neighbours can contribute inside Iraq.
Lord Dykes: My Lords, in the context of international efforts to make Iran behave responsibly in these matters, does the Minister agree with the view of the former Foreign Secretary, now Leader of the House of Commons, that any military attacks by the United States and Israel on Iran are inconceivable?
Lord Triesman: My Lords, we are not aware that a huge amount of progress of that kind has been made. I mentioned the longest-range missiles that Iran has. As best we can tell, there are 34 of those. It does not, for obvious reasonsnamely, smallness of numbertest them by firing them very frequently, otherwise it would have minuscule numbers. However, it is consequently far from clear that the technologies are well advanced. Let me caution the House that advances in these technologies can be very rapid, particularly if rogue individuals begin to supply those technologies on a well constructed, handed-down basis.
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, we all recognise the concerns that we must have over developments in Iran. On the other hand, we also recognise that Iran has made some positive contributions to the anti-Taliban campaign in Afghanistan and that we need a regional approach to provide much greater stability in the region as a whole, which has to include discussions on
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Lord Triesman: My Lords, we are encouraging diplomatic approaches. We have done so on the nuclear portfolio, which after all is one of the more serious elements at the heart of this, and we are attempting to do so on every other front as well. It is not proving easy. Let us be clear: the whole of the Security Council still recognises a very serious problem with which the international community must deal. But that does not alter our primary focus and it does not alter the fact that we advocate that focus to our allies as well.
The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos) rose to move, That notwithstanding the practice of the House that matters already decided may not be brought forward again during the same Session, the House may vote on all Motions relating to House of Lords reform on Wednesday 14 March; and that Standing Order 41 (Arrangement of the Order Paper) be dispensed with on that day so that the Motions may be taken before other public business.
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, the House will debate the White Paper on House of Lords reform on Monday 12 March and Tuesday 13 March. A set of options for reforma series of Motionshas been tabled for Wednesday 14 March. The purpose of todays paving Motion is to suspend the rule against pre-emption. In other words, it is to ensure that whatever the outcome of Divisions on earlier Motions, all Motions can be called and, if the House wishes, divided on. Todays Motion also ensures that the options can be considered at the start of business on 14 March, not the end. In both respects, this Motion follows the precedent set in the series of votes held on Lords reform in 2003. I beg to move.
Moved, That notwithstanding the practice of the House that matters already decided may not be brought forward again during the same Session, the House may vote on all Motions relating to House of Lords reform on Wednesday 14 March; and that Standing Order 41 (Arrangement of the Order Paper) be dispensed with on that day so that the Motions may be taken before other public business.(Baroness Amos.)
Lord Tyler: My Lords, can the Lord President confirm that your Lordships House does not have to replicate the voting procedure in the other place? Given the sad discussion that has taken place there
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Baroness Amos: My Lords, I can confirm that this House does not have to adopt the voting procedure in another place. If the noble Lord looks back at the White Paper he will see that it was always made clear that this House would make its own decisions on which voting procedure to choose. My sense is that there is no appetite in this House for an alternative voting procedure.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Bill, has consented to place her Prerogative and Interest, so far as they are affected by this Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.
I do not intend to delay proceedings for any great time. This is not only a tidying-up amendment; it also strengthens the Bill, which would not only say, play significant roles, as my amendment would insert,
This is a very reasonable amendment, which I hope my noble friend will accept. It would ensure the responsibility of senior management. I cannot see any reason why we should not strengthen this and ensure that those who are responsible accept responsibility for their actions under the Bill. I beg to move.
Baroness Turner of Camden: My Lords, I support my noble friend Lord Hoyle in his amendment. As we know, at Third Reading we try to concentrate on only tidying-up amendments and that is clearly what this intends to do. It is intended to provide clarity. It is not in any way a hostile amendment. We have made it clear throughout our discussion of the Bill that we are in favour of it, although we have one or two points to raise. I hope that my noble friend will feel able to accept the amendment in those terms.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I say to both my noble friends how much I appreciate the succinct way in which they have spoken to the amendment. It therefore causes me considerable chagrin to disappoint them, not least because they have been stalwart in their support for the Bill and resolute in trying to make it as fine an instrument as possible to deal with what has been the most terrible gap in our law in relation to corporate liability. I want to make it clear therefore that we have looked with the greatest care, first, at the anxiety that they have and, secondly, at the drafting of the Bill to see whether there is an ambiguity which would remain, with the mischief that they seek to address having not been dealt with.
I assure them that we have looked very carefully at this issue. We believe that the current drafting means that their concern is not merited. I am happy therefore to give the fullest possible endorsement to the reassurance given by my noble friend Lord Bassam when he ably dealt with the earlier part of the Bills passage in relation to this issue. He said:
Inappropriate delegation of health and safety responsibilities will not be a legitimate defence to a charge of gross negligence. The courts will be able to consider how the activity was managed at senior level, and if the answer is that those at senior level failed to manage health and safety appropriately in respect of the activity, that will be potent evidence of failures at that level.[Official Report, 11/1/07; col. GC 135.]
I am happy therefore to set out that we do not believe that either of my noble friends need be concerned. I do not wish to speak at length, but simply to say that neither by acts of omission or commission will senior management be able to avoid their responsibility. I know that that is exercising my noble friends. Although I will have disappointed them, I hope that I have given them an assurance that we believe that the drafting of the Bill meets the mischief that they fear.
Lord Hoyle: My Lords, I wish I could accept the Ministers assurances; I understand why she makes them. Nevertheless, I am extremely disappointed by the reply, because the amendment would only have strengthened the Bill. In view of what she said, to which I listened very carefully, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
( ) Notwithstanding subsections (1) and (2), a member of senior management who is found to have connived, conspired or colluded in the commission of an offence of corporate manslaughter or corporate homicide shall be liable to imprisonment for a period not exceeding seven years.
The noble Baroness said: My Lords, I declare an interest as a former trade union official. During earlier discussions, my colleagues and I attempted to persuade the Government that, despite the wording of the Billwhich is not designed to deal with individual responsibility,
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This amendment is about secondary liability. We said that we would consider bringing it back at Third Reading because noble Lords supported it in Committee and on Report. The wording of this amendment is quite different from anything tried earlier. We have in mind a situation in which a management team may be aware that a system of working is not safe and putting workers lives at risk; however, an individual decides, in conjunction with others, not to take the appropriate remedial action because the cost involved might interfere with profits. Individuals may connive, conspire or collude in the commission of an offence in that situation. Workers at risk may well be immigrant workers who are ignorant of their rights. The management may, therefore, believe that it can get away with an unsafe system of working.
This amendment is a last attempt to persuade the Government that something should be done. In earlier discussions, we referred to this as secondary liability. Can we persuade the Government that there is still time to amend the Bill, since it has to go back to the House of Commons anyway? If our wording is unacceptable, I hope we can persuade the Government to look again at the principles involved.
Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, I support this amendment, provided that my noble friend asserts that the wording is incorrect but the spirit is fine. I want to help my noble friend to arrive at the correct result because responsibility in law for corporate manslaughter and homicide is overdue. It behoves the noble Baroness to spell out where individual responsibility lies. As far as I knowand I may be wrongindividuals would be held liable in the circumstances spelled out in this amendment. A member of senior managementwhich is definedwho has,
should be liable if he has so behaved. I cannot see any reason why, when there has been such an open breach of the law, a person should not be held liable. I invite my noble friend to define whether it is possible to prosecute such people under the present law.
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