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Lord Higgins: My Lords, is it true that the facilities for the shooting sports will be very considerable and
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Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, the noble Lord has identified an area that raises very challenging issues as regards the legacy. Although shooting is pursued properly and safely as a sport, we are at the same time concerned to ensure that we pursue our broader objectives of reducing the availability of guns and gun culture. That is why we have legislation on the ownership of guns; there is also the question of the facilities for the Games. We want the Games to feature shooting, but the noble Lord will realise that we are bound to be concerned about the nature of the facilities that obtain thereafter.
Lord Rix: My Lords, is the Minister aware that people with a learning disability are unable to take part in the Paralympics? I believe they cannot even take part in the Beijing Games. Can the Minister do anything to ensure that they are able to take part in the 2012 Games?
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, the noble Lord is rightpeople with learning disabilities have not participated in previous Games. The intention is that the London Games will be the first in which they will be able to participate and we are making plans accordingly.
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, does the Minister accept that the real and lasting benefit of the Games will be not just in leaving glittering stadia but in enhancing the lives of the people of east London in particular, which contains some of the youngest, poorest and most multicultural communities in this country, if not in Europe?
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I am grateful to the right reverend Prelate. I could list a whole range of ways in which that community will benefit. Let me make the obvious point. If, in the 18th century, it had been thought likely that very close to the centre of London something as absurd as an open space as large as Hyde Park or Regents Park would be created, people would have been surprised at that ambition. But once it was realised, they would have recognised the huge benefits that it would bring for centuries thereafter. What is being created as the Olympic legacy is the largest urban park that London has seen and we should celebrate that fact.
What action is being taken by the United Nations Security Council, in light of the Government of Sudans decision to prevent the deployment of a new peacekeeping force in Darfur, to ensure the creation of effective peacekeeping arrangements in the region.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): My Lords, the refusal of President Bashir of Sudan to agree to a UN enhancement of African Union peacekeepers in Darfur is part of a wider pattern of non-co-operation with the international community. The United Kingdom is pushing for tougher measures in the Security Council against Sudan, including a countrywide arms embargo and sanctions against individuals responsible for atrocities in Darfur. The United Nations Secretary-General has also, with our support, spoken to President Bashir to make clear his concern.
Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, when the British ambassador to the United Nations last week rebuked Sudan for its failure to allow the hybrid UN/AU force into Darfur, he said that there had to be a firm response to the continued provocation. I wonder what specific sanctions the Minister had in mind from the list that he has just given to the House. Do the Government now favour disinvestment, the freezing of assets, travel bans, the extension of an arms embargo and a no-fly zone over Darfur? Four years after the killing began in Darfur, with 400,000 dead, some 2 million people displaced and 90 per cent of the villages razed to the ground, surely now is the time for decisive international action to end this tidal wave of killing.
Lord Triesman: My Lords, in some respects the position is slightly worse than even the noble Lord has put it. There is no agreement on the hybrid force. There is no agreement on the second phasethe heavy UN support forcewhich I regard as an even more urgent problem. The intention is to secure an arms embargo across the whole of Sudan so that not just the Government of Sudan but the rebel groups are deprived of their weapons as fast as they can be. The United States, ourselves and other allies are now discussing lists of thoseI am afraid that I cannot share the names todayto be subject to a wide variety of sanctions. I can also confirm that we have not ruled out the possible option of a no-fly zone.
Lord Anderson of Swansea: My Lords, is it not a matter of shame that the international community has passed by on the other side while genocide is occurring in Darfur? Is it not disgraceful that the United Nations Human Rights Counciland probably the United Nations Security Council, because of Chinas positionis
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Lord Triesman: My Lords, a couple of very important operational resolutions have been carried by the UN Security Council. Resolution 1706 was the most recent and gives the basis for many of the steps that are now being taken. For the reasons that I gave in my Answer, there is the prospect of another Security Council resolution, and I am hopeful that we will get wide international support for it. Although China has not always performed in a way that we would wish, I draw to the attention of the House the fact that, when President Hu visited Sudan, he made it clear that China, too, is coming to the end of its patience.
Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, what discussions do Her Majestys Government plan to have in the light of the UN report that what little humanitarian access there is to Darfur is shrinking rapidly as relief workers are attacked and intimidated?
Lord Triesman: My Lords, this is a serious problem. The humanitarian efforts of NGOs have probably never been under such acute pressure as they are now. This is an issue that we have been raising persistently, along with those organisations. One of the other setbacks of recent days has been the unwillingness of the Government of Sudan to take any of the steps that they had agreed to take to get more humanitarian access and food relief to Darfur and, incidentally, to Chad, where many of the refugees have gone. This issue is in front of the United Nations. We are clear that the situation has to be reversed, and the United Nations has the basis in current resolutions to do that without further discussion.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, has the Minister seen that some participants have withdrawn from the international donor consortium meeting now taking place in consequence of Khartoums refusal to allow humanitarian access to Darfur to be placed on the agenda? What was the decision of Britain and the European Union concerning participation in that meeting? Does he now consider that the situation in Darfur is an overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe at least equivalent to what obtained in Kosovo and that therefore the international community is entitled under international law to intervene, with force if necessary, against the wishes of the Sudanese Government?
Lord Triesman: My Lords, Resolution 1706 and the Addis agreement make it plain that the international community has undertakingsnot least from the Government of Sudan and some of the rebel groupsthat there needs to be a firm peacekeeping operation in which the United Nations plays a key role. A fundamental part of that role is the protection of people. There is no question in my mind but that such power now exists. There is a desire to try to make
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Lord Hannay of Chiswick: My Lords, does the Minister agree that given the frustrations that have occurred in trying to get any action out of the United Nationslike other Members of the House, I deplore that lack of actionit is high time for the European Union to set an example and take certain unilateral actions? For example, it is perfectly at liberty to introduce wider sanctions on investment than the ones that the UN is now considering. We often forget that Sudan is one of the African, Caribbean and Pacific associates of the European Union, but is it not time that that relationship was put in question?
Lord Triesman: My Lords, that is certainly within the power of the EU and the United States. It is clear to me that, if there is not decisive action on the part of the UN, that is exactly what will happen: bilateral sanctions will be introduced. I noted the point about disinvestment, which has always been one of the serious options. It would be desirable if that could be done without disrupting the north-south peace process and making it impossible for the people of the south of Sudan to live a decent economic life after some generations of war and attack.
Moved, That the draft orders laid before the House on 1 and 8 February be approved. Eighth and 10th Reports from the Statutory Instruments Committee and 10th Report from the Merits Committee, Considered in Grand Committee on 15 March.(Lord Evans of Temple Guiting.)
Moved, That the draft orders and regulations laid before the House on 19 and 26 February be approved. 10th and 11th Reports from the Statutory Instruments Committee, Considered in Grand Committee on 15 March.(Lord McKenzie of Luton.)
In this Bill we return to the implementation of Section 43 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, as I said we would when we debated the Fraud Bill. Section 43 created the possibility of trials without juries, in the interests of justice, in a limited category of serious and complex fraud cases. The proposals are about justice. Lord Justice Auld said in his independent review of the criminal courts on this issue:
If I had to pick two of the most compelling factors in favour of reform, I would settle on the burdensome length and increasing speciality and complexity of these cases, with which jurors largely or wholly strangers to the subject matter, are expected to cope. Both put justice at risk.
Section 43 would allow a handful of the most serious and complex fraud cases to be tried by a judge sitting without a jury. Before the debate becomes monopolised by a discussion about jury trial, as generally seems to happen with debates on this subject, I want to spend a little time on the ends rather than the means: the problem that we are seeking to solve rather than the device by which we are hoping to solve it.
Fraud inflicts significant and increasing damage on the United Kingdom economy. It is a crime that the Government take extremely seriously. Our strategy for tackling this problem has several elements. One is law reform. The Fraud Act 2006, which came into force this January, creates a new general offence of fraud and new offences relating to deception. Another element is the cross-departmental review of fraud that has examined the prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution and punishment of fraud. Its report was published in July 2006 and was put out for consultation, and last week I issued the Governments response to that consultation. New procedures have been introduced to improve the management of large criminal cases, notably the protocol issued in March 2005 by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Woolf, the then Lord Chief Justice, on the control and management of heavy fraud and other complex criminal cases. The other key element of the Governments strategy is aimed at the very small group of cases that involve frauds that are so serious and complex that the criminal justice system finds it difficult to prosecute them effectually.
The present situation is far from satisfactory, for a number of reasons. The complexity and resulting length of some serious and complex fraud trials lead judges to sever indictments in order to make them manageable for and comprehensible to a jury. Despite this, it is often necessary to restrict the material presented to the jury. Evidence is pared down and the charges are
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I have attended meetings with the Serious Fraud Office and prosecution counsel where they have stated that the most logical way of prosecuting a case is to try defendants together but that this simply would not be possible under the current system of jury trial. Secondary defendants, who ought properly to be prosecuted, are not proceeded against for fear of complicating the trial further. Occasionally, trials collapse with the highly unsatisfactory outcome that the taxpayer has incurred substantial cost and no one has been brought to justice.
Let me make this clear: we do not found our case for this measure on the proposition that juries are incapable of understanding the evidence in fraud trials, although there are mixed views about that. Our argument is that the measures that need to be taken to enable the jury to cope with the evidence are a problem in themselves. As a very senior judge put it:
I believe that it will normally be possible for a competent judge, with the co-operation of competent and conscientious counsel for both prosecution and defence, by a process of severing counts and ring-fencing evidence, to reduce the case to a dimension that the jury can comprehend ... But this process only renders the trial manageable by removing from the jury a large (sometimes even the major) part of the evidence that is relevant to the central issuethe honesty of the defendant. Often the evidence that is ring-fenced from the jury is cogent. I believe that a trial process that requires one to remove from the tribunal a large part of the relevant evidence, because it would otherwise overwhelm the tribunal, is seriously flawed and, so far as I am concerned, this is the primary reason why I consider that complex fraud cases should not be tried by juries.
The judge who said that is now the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales. I need to explain that those comments were not made absolutely in the context of the present debate about this Bill but in a public lecture made some years ago on the basis of his experience of trying such cases.
Despite attempts such as the 2005 protocol of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Woolf, to keep trials within reasonable bounds, which the Government welcomed, complex fraud trials often last for months. In the four years from 2002 to 2005, 27 fraud trials lasted more than six months and six of them lasted for over a year. The burden that this places on jury members is excessive; few, surely, would disagree that it is unreasonable to expect citizens to tolerate such an intrusion into their personal lives. As only a limited number of people are able to give up other commitments to sit on a jury for so long, it also means that the juries that hear these cases cannot be properly representative of the community. How many Members of this House would be willing or able to give up many months or even a year or all their current commitmentsand in many court cases, I am glad to say, substantial incomesin order to sit on a fraud trial jury?
So we are left with enormously long trials that impose an intolerable burden on jurors and do not result in a jury which is representative of the communityone of the arguments in favour of the jury systemyet which fail to expose the full criminality of the alleged fraud. The public see an unhappy contrast between everyday frauds, such as benefit fraud, which
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Changes to the system need to be made and, indeed, have been proposed for the past 20 years. The first call for change was in 1986, when the Roskill report, under the chairmanship of the most distinguished judge Lord Roskill recommended that, instead of being tried by a jury, such cases should be tried by a special fraud trials tribunal consisting of a judge and two lay members drawn from a panel of persons with general expertise in business and experience of complex transactions.
In 1998, the Government published a consultation paper, Juries in Serious Fraud Trials. The majority of respondents to it favoured replacing the jury in such trials, as did Sir Robin Auldnow Lord Justice Auldfrom whose review of the criminal courts of England and Wales I quoted earlier. Although the Auld report, like Roskill, recommended using a panel of experts to hear such cases, it highlighted numerous difficulties, including uncertainty about the role of the expert members, the risk that they would contribute evidence that could not easily be challenged by the parties, the question of how readily suitable members could be found and the cost of paying them.
Taking account of the comments received following consultation on the Auld report, the Government decided that the option of a judge-alone trial was, on balance, the best solution, and that was adopted in what became Section 43 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003. That provides for the judge in a serious or complex fraud case to order, on application by the prosecution, that the trial should be conducted without a jury where he is satisfied that its length or complexity is likely to make it so burdensome on the jury that the interests of justice so requireI underline those words, as I did in opening, because that is the test. Not only must the judge be satisfied that those onerous conditions are met, even if he is persuaded, an order can be made only with the approval of the Lord Chief Justice or another senior judge nominated by him. As a final safeguard, there is a right of appeal to the Court of Appeal.
Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, before my noble and learned friend proceeds, am I right in supposing that if the Opposition were to prevail, there would be no chance of amending the Bill, including the arguments that he has just addressed concerning assessors?
Lord Goldsmith: My Lords, I shall come back to that point but my noble friend is absolutely right that if the Motion by way of amendment, which is to be moved by the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, were to succeed, there would be no opportunity for this House to amend the Bill. I shall come back to the consequences of that.
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