To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to enforce the rules that require students coming to the United Kingdom for study to have an intermediate, rather than elementary, level of English.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Neville-Jones): My Lords, in order to enforce the rule that students must have an intermediate level of English when applying to study in the UK, the UK Border Agency will refuse applications in cases where students who are required to have an English language test set by an approved provider cannot present the verifiable evidence of having so achieved that qualification. These rules came into effect on 12 August.
Lord Naseby: My Lords, that is a very encouraging Answer, because I have asked questions in this broad field at least four times, and this is the first time that we have heard a positive Answer about progress, compared with the shambles whereby something like 20 per cent of overseas students are still here five years after graduating. Does my noble friend recognise, like those of us who watched the television this morning, that the wonderful rescue taking place in Chile has been achieved by sheer skill, organisation, professionalism and true leadership? Will she ensure that the Foreign Office, the UK Border Agency and the home agencies involved, for once, co-ordinate their activities so that genuine students can come to genuine universities and genuine colleges?
Baroness Neville-Jones: I am sure that the whole House would endorse what the noble Lord said about the skill with which the miners in Chile are being rescued from what would otherwise have been a terrible fate. As to the skill with which government departments are to operate on overseas students, we have put in place a number of measures which indeed include co-ordination between individuals in the UK Border Agency and Foreign Office posts. The system is designed to do two things. One is to monitor the conduct of sponsoring institutions so that they do their duty by ensuring that students who are registered with them actually turn up. The other is to ensure that the students actually come; and if they do not come, they will be penalised. If the institutions fail to ensure that their students turn up and do not correct that, they will have their licences taken away.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, does the noble Baroness acknowledge, contrary to the point of view put by the questioner, that in fact the previous Government took action against unscrupulous course providers through the sponsor licensing system? Can she say how many education providers were closed as a result of those actions?
Baroness Neville-Jones: My Lords, the previous Government certainly began to put measures in place. This Government have built on those measures, very much strengthened them and are still evaluating whether we have strong enough measures in place. If we want to take further measures, we shall announce them before the end of the year. As to the numbers, 220 institutions have been suspended since the tier-4 system put in place by this Government took effect; 53 of those are permanent suspensions and 78 are still under evaluation. Real measures are being taken-with teeth.
Baroness Neville-Jones: Indeed, and no part of the Government's policy is aimed at doing anything other than enabling genuine language schools to offer genuine language teaching to genuine students-one of the points made earlier by my noble friend. The English language qualification for those courses is lower because it is designed to enable people either to do a foundation course or to learn basic English, so different rules apply. On the other hand, we intend those students to actually be in genuine institutions.
Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve: Does the Minister consider that adequate safeguards are in place to detect impersonation in oral examinations by those who present themselves at the borders with supposed qualifications? If so, what are they?
Baroness Neville-Jones: My Lords, if you are to be required to have an English language qualification before you turn up, that obviously has to have been acquired somewhere else. A register has been built up of approved institutions, which have to demonstrate that they are both able and capable of providing the necessary qualification. They have to have a trading presence in this country and a reputation established independently of their application to government. If that is done, it is hoped that the qualifications will prove genuine. However, there is also monitoring of those institutions, whereby people go along and inspect whether they are still providing courses of the right level and whether the students are attending.
Lord Tomlinson: I go back to the question asked by my noble friend Lord Hunt about the number of institutions that are no longer in business compared with when the previous Government introduced the review that led to the points-based system. Will the Minister agree with me if I suggest that 2,000 colleges did not get the necessary level of accreditation ever to be put on the register, and that the number that she gave was for institutions that were accredited but have since been knocked off the register? Therefore, the
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Baroness Neville-Jones: My Lords, I think that this Question is about English language qualifications for students arriving in this country. I found it difficult to follow the noble Lord's logic. Many of the institutions that were operating without either the necessary qualifications or a licence were clearly being allowed to do so under the previous Government. I have said that we have suspended some of the institutions that were accredited, and I shall look at whether others have fallen out of the system. However, we are certainly applying extremely rigorous standards to the 2,000 or so institutions that are accredited as things stand at the moment.
Baroness Neville-Jones: The standards that have to be met for competence in English must comply with a European framework regulation, so a student coming here to do an advanced course has to meet that European level of qualification.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): My Lords, the Government fully recognise the work of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority since 1991. However, as a result of the Department of Health's review of its arm's-length bodies, the Government believe that there is scope to streamline healthcare regulation. The HFEA will continue for the time being but we propose that its functions will transfer to other bodies by the end of this Parliament.
Baroness Deech: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that Answer. Will he assure the House that he will stand by the report of the pre-legislative scrutiny committee of three years ago and not endanger the statutory functions of the HFEA, including the all-important database and the guidance to patients, by splitting up the functions between five other committees, thereby saving no money at all and endangering the worldwide reputation of this model of regulation?
Earl Howe: My Lords, I recognise the experience of the noble Baroness and I pay tribute to her time as chair of the HFEA. The review that we have conducted has been based on a close examination of the functions of every arm's-length body. Whereas some 20 years ago it may have made sense to look at a single body for carrying out the functions undertaken by the HFEA, she will agree that the functions concerned are very different. Times have moved on and we think that there is a more logical way to parcel out those functions which does not dilute in the slightest the efficacy or the efficiency of the regulatory action.
Lord Willis of Knaresborough: My Lords, I beg to disagree with my noble friend. What remains the same, as the noble Baroness, Lady Warnock, said, is the fact that we must enshrine in legislation and through regulation the very special status of the embryo. Since 1991, the HFEA has carried out that function very effectively indeed and it has done so because it has the support of the British people. As regards bringing these regulations in house, will the Minister say why the public should have more confidence in him as the Minister than in an independent regulator?
Earl Howe: My Lords, I need to make it clear that our proposal is not to bring the regulation in house; it is to distribute the regulatory function between several different bodies. I also emphasise that there is absolutely no suggestion that we are changing the special status of the embryo. We have no plans to re-examine those parts of the legislation which recognise that status. We fully recognise the role which the HFEA has played in establishing the UK as a world leader in this area, but times change and so has the way in which we regulate the delivery of healthcare. That is the basis on which we have looked at this.
Baroness Thornton: My Lords, when I was a government Minister and the BMA, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, the Royal College of Pathologists and the Royal College of Nursing ganged up on me, I always thought it was wise to listen. All those bodies have expressed very serious concerns about the government proposal. Has the Minister had meetings with the royal colleges and the BMA about their concerns? Has he discussed in particular the real risk to loss of specialist expertise and public confidence and the risk to patient safety?
Earl Howe: My Lords, we intend to engage fully with all interested parties on this matter but it is early days. The noble Baroness quite rightly raises the specialist expertise available to the HFEA. We fully recognise that. We are very keen that the expertise is not lost but is made available to the CQC or to the new research regulator, if we set up one. I understand that, where a
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Lord Harries of Pentregarth: My Lords, given the special ethical status of the early embryo, does the Minister agree that the integrated function of the HFEA, whereby the licensing of the clinics, the licensing of research and the extensive database are held together, minimises the risk of unfortunate incidents? If the HFEA is dismembered, the likelihood of such unfortunate incidents is likely to increase.
Earl Howe: My Lords, I recognise, as will the House, the noble and right reverend Lord's experience in these matters. At this early stage, we will look very carefully at the design of systems to ensure that the expertise and the scrutiny functions, which we associate so well with the HFEA, are not diluted or lost in any moves that we make in this area.
Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe: My Lords, I declare my interest as chair of the Human Tissue Authority. Just as with the HFEA, the HTA works efficiently and effectively to ensure public and professional confidence in the regulation of human tissue, and to ensure that it is used safely and ethically and with proper consent. Does the Minister agree that it is crucial in any transfer of functions that the confidence of both the public and professionals is maintained; that consent, respect and dignity are maintained; and that any disruption to well-regarded regulation is kept to a minimum?
Earl Howe: My Lords, my noble friend will be pleased to learn that it is a sort of portmanteau term that can apply to a quango, a non-departmental public body, an advisory committee and bodies of that ilk.
Earl Attlee: My Lords, the Government support a combination of information, education, training and enforcement to ensure that cyclists abide by the Highway Code. The enforcement of cycling offences is a matter for individual chief officers of police. The hazards caused by cyclists who break road traffic laws are recognised by chief officers and action is taken where
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Lord Palmer: My Lords, I thank the noble Earl for that slightly unexciting reply, but does he not agree that it is a scandal how remarkably few prosecutions are made against cyclists who do not adhere to the Highway Code-most especially driving on pavements?
Earl Attlee: My Lords, I entirely agree with the noble Lord. I know that all noble Lords are extremely concerned about that type of offending. It adversely affects noble Lords, because they tend to be a little bit older than the average member of the population.
Earl Attlee: My Lords, the short answer is no. The reason is that most offences are dealt with by fixed penalties-the penalty is about £30-but detailed records are not kept because that would not be a good use of public funds.
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I ride a bike-in fact, I was riding one this morning-so I declare that interest, but, in balance, I also drive a car. Let us get the issue of bike problems into some kind of perspective. What percentage of the road accidents in which our fellow citizens died last year were due to lawbreaking by cyclists, and why are the Government abolishing Cycling England, which seeks to train cyclists?
Lord Greaves: My Lords, I speak as a motorist and a cyclist who seeks perfection in both areas and fails miserably a lot of the time. Does the Minister agree that there is a real difference between traffic offences committed by cyclists or anyone else and breaches of the Highway Code? Simply breaching the Highway Code may be impolite, foolish or dangerous, but it does not necessarily amount to an offence. Does he agree that cyclists are far more vulnerable than drivers of cars, lorries, et cetera?
Earl Attlee: I agree with my noble friend and, returning to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, the reason why the police concentrate more on motorists is because they cause more serious accidents than cyclists.
Lord Berkeley: My Lords, the Minister said that the Government are keen to educate people about cycling. Could he start with one of his own quangos, the
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Earl Attlee: My Lords, it is a legal requirement to have a rear light, a rear reflector and a front light. It is not a legal requirement to carry reflective clothing, but the Highway Code recommends that proper clothes-reflective clothes at night and fluorescent clothes during the day-are worn at all times when riding a bike.
Lord Kennedy of Southwark: My Lords, will the Minister speak urgently to the Mayor of London? A consequence of his cycle hire scheme is a dramatic increase in the number of cyclists on the roads in London not in the correct attire, with no helmets or reflective clothing. Such circumstances dramatically increase the risk of serious injury or even death.
Earl Attlee: My Lords, it is very easy to overestimate the risk of accidents when riding a bicycle. The health benefits of riding a bicycle are very great indeed. For every year of life we lose to a cycling accident, we gain 20 years of life. Therefore, the bike hire scheme has great health benefits.
Baroness Butler-Sloss: My Lords, may I put in a plea for the pedestrian? A lot has been said about cyclists, but is the Minister aware that the group most vulnerable to cyclists is pedestrians? The reason why there are not so many accidents is that pedestrians have to jump out of the way on pedestrian crossings and when the lights are green for pedestrians on red lights. It is a scandal.
Earl Attlee: My Lords, I fully understand where the noble and learned Baroness is coming from, but in 2009 no pedestrians were killed, 66 were seriously injured and 14,000 suffered slight injuries on our roads. This is a 21 per cent reduction on all pedestrian casualties hit by cyclists compared to the 1994-98 average.
Lord Brookman: Following on from the previous question, I recall that this House, in which there are a lot of new faces, had a solution: the noble Baronesses, Lady Sharples and Lady Trumpington. Give them the legislation, and they will sort the problem.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what they consider would constitute a "significant change" to the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill such as would, according to the oral evidence given by the Electoral Commission to the House of Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee on 14 September, affect the referendum date if made after 5 November.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord McNally): I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Attlee for warming up the House. The rules for the conduct of the referendum are very closely based on those for parliamentary general elections. We therefore consider it unlikely that significant issues will arise during the passage of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill.
Lord McAvoy: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his Answer and I promise that I will not mention Mr Mark Harper. But the Minister will be aware that the Electoral Commission has to have that legislation by 5 November, six months before polling day. Does that not mean that this House is being held to ransom by restricting our capacity to revise and amend the Bill, thereby placing limits on the constitutional role of this House?
Lord McNally: My Lords, I have no objection to the noble Lord mentioning Mr Mark Harper, whose profile seems to be increasing by the hour. In fact, he sent me a message about his triumph only last night from the other place where the Bill cleared various hurdles with very comfortable majorities. It is only a week or so since the noble Lord, Lord Grenfell, was telling me that this House would not have proper time to debate the Bill. Let us see. The Bill seems to be making good progress in the other place and when it comes here, as always, the Government will listen carefully to the views of this House.
Lord Tyler: My Lords, will my noble friend confirm that the significant change to which this Question relates can be relevant only in terms of Part 1 of the Bill, which, as my noble friend has already said, made considerable progress in the other place yesterday? In those circumstances, will he take this opportunity to assure the House that if there is an importation of Commons filibustering tactics on the Bill this would not be encouraged?
Lord McNally: My Lords, personally, I would think nothing so unworthy of the Members of this House. This Bill deals with matters mainly to do with the House of Commons. When it comes here, this House will treat it with the respect due to such a Bill, but will give it the scrutiny that will help the Government in making it a good Bill to take to Royal Assent.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, it is such good news to hear about Mr Mark Harper doing well in the House of Commons. In relation to this Bill, regulations are being passed before the Bill has even had its Second Reading in this House. In addition, the referendum will take place on a day that all the evidence to the Select Committee on the Constitution in this House said would be a day on which the referendum would get swamped by the Scottish election general, the Welsh general election and the local elections. Will the Minister explain what the hurry is? Why can the referendum not take place within 12 months from May?
Lord McNally: First, I welcome the noble, right honourable, learned and everything else Lord back to the Front Bench. It is said that they never come back, but there he is. A lot of scaremongering and false arguments are being put forward. Various bodies are suddenly elevated in their opinion. The Electoral Commission has said that it is possible to successfully deliver these different polls on 5 May. I suggest that, instead of trying to imply that the process is somehow flawed, we should watch its steady progress where we will deliver a very thorough examination at this end. I am sure that we will have an excellent Second Reading debate and a good Committee stage, and the Bill will be all the better for the deliberations of the House of Lords.
Lord Grocott: Does the Minister remember the numerous occasions when he was sitting down there on which he complained about Bills being rushed through the House of Commons without proper scrutiny and subject to draconian timetabling rules? This Bill currently going through the House of Commons was described, I should remind him, by the Leader of his own party as being part of the most significant parliamentary reform since the Reform Act 1832. It is being rushed through in four weeks. Has the transformation in the Minister's personality between when he was sitting here and now that he is sitting there reached a position whereby he thinks that four weeks in the House of Commons to consider a major constitutional Bill that has had no pre-legislative scrutiny is sufficient?
Lord McNally: We all go through transformations. Here is a Question put down by the noble Lord, Lord McAvoy, and supported by the noble Lord, Lord Grocott, two of the most-let me put this at its most polite-efficient government business managers in either House. If anyone doubts that, there are probably Members on that Bench who have the scars that show the persuasive talents of both noble Lords. The fact is that all oppositions complain that Bills are being railroaded and stampeded-
Lord McNally: Yes. Instead of all this indignation, why not wait for Second Reading, when noble Lords can make their speeches? As I have said, Mr Mark Harper is taking personal responsibility for this Bill in the other place and is making excellent progress. If I can emulate Mr Harper's success, I will be well pleased.
Lord Shutt of Greetland: My Lords, I welcome the opportunity for the House to debate this important report and I particularly look forward to the maiden speech of my noble friend Lord Macdonald of River Glaven. This debate on the report of the Bloody Sunday inquiry follows the publication of that report on 15 June this year and my right honourable friend the Prime Minister's Statement in response, which was repeated here by my noble friend the Leader of the House.
The tribunal, chaired by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville of Newdigate, was established by the previous Government to investigate the events of Bloody Sunday on 30 January 1972. Its report ran to over 5,000 pages and covered the events of that day authoritatively and in great detail. Noble Lords will be aware that my right honourable friend the Prime Minister made a full and frank Statement in response to the tribunal's unequivocal conclusions. The Government were absolutely clear that what happened on Bloody Sunday was "unjustified and unjustifiable". I reiterate that today. The conclusions of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, are shocking. As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister said, we do not honour all those who have bravely served in upholding the rule of law in Northern Ireland by hiding from the truth.
I am sure that noble Lords are familiar with many of the conclusions in the report, but I should put on record again some of the tribunal's key findings. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, found,
or indeed was doing anything else that could on any view justify their shooting. What is more, the noble and learned Lord found that some of those killed or injured were clearly fleeing or going to assist others who were wounded or dying. Patrick Doherty, for example, was shot while,
Fifteen June was a momentous and historic day. The report's conclusions and my right honourable friend the Prime Minister's Statement received global coverage and the reaction was overwhelmingly positive. The Taoiseach generously recorded how the,
Of course the events of 15 June were most significant for the families of those killed and those injured on Bloody Sunday. In reflecting on the events of 15 June 100 days on, an article in the local Derry Journal newspaper recently reported how the lives of the families had been affected. One lady, who lost her brother and whose father was shot and injured, recounted:
I am sure that the whole House will join me in acknowledging the profound effect that this report and the Government's response have had on the lives of those families and the wider community in Northern Ireland.
Let us also acknowledge the sacrifice made by those members of the security forces who lost their lives in the Troubles. Bloody Sunday is not the defining story of the British Army's service in Northern Ireland. More than 250,000 people served in Operation Banner and displayed enormous courage and determination in supporting the police and the rule of law.
It is symbolic of the significant progress that we have seen in Northern Ireland that the report of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, could receive broad acceptance across all parts of the community. The First Minister, Peter Robinson, noted his acceptance of the findings of the report, the conclusions of which were inevitably more challenging for unionists. The families themselves, even in the emotion of 15 June, looked beyond the success of their own campaign and made reference in their statement to all the victims of violence. The visit by the four leaders of the main Protestant churches in Ireland to the Bogside shortly after publication demonstrated the potential for such a symbolically important report to promote reconciliation.
Moving on from the violence of the past to build trust and confidence across the community is one of the great challenges facing Northern Ireland today. Many others who were bereaved during the Troubles looked at the events of 15 June and asked: "What about us?". There cannot of course be a Saville-type inquiry for all the thousands of Troubles cases, but much work on these sensitive past cases is ongoing. The Historical Enquiries Team is investigating all 3,261 deaths from the Troubles in Northern Ireland, including the deaths of soldiers and members of the security forces who lost their lives upholding democracy and the rule of law. The high satisfaction rate that the team is achieving demonstrates the important role that it is playing in helping to bring a measure of resolution to families. Other families are pursuing cases through the Police Ombudsman or inquests.
There also remains a demand for public inquiries into a number of specific legacy cases. The Government's overall position is clear: there will be no more open-ended and costly inquiries. The Bloody Sunday inquiry was initially forecast to last for two years and to cost £11 million; it ended up lasting 12 years and costing more than £191 million. Public inquiries do not provide any guarantee of satisfaction for victims' families. The response to the recent report of the Billy Wright inquiry was much more polarised and showed that even an inquiry lasting six years and costing £30 million can be accused of not having answered critical questions.
While the Government's general position is clear, that is not to say that we do not recognise the sensitivities in specific cases and the need to look at each case on its merits. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is meeting a number of families who have brought their cases to him and will consider their views in a detailed and measured way.
Dealing with the past in Northern Ireland is a complex and wide-ranging task. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions and there will inevitably be some people who are never able to come to terms with what happened. The Government do not pretend that there are any easy answers. Indeed, under devolution, important powers relating to victims services, policing and the courts were devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly. The Government have been clear that they will not impose solutions on the people of Northern Ireland.
The Consultative Group on the Past, co-chaired by the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, and Mr Denis Bradley, produced a series of proposals aimed at helping Northern Ireland to build a shared future that is not overshadowed by the events of the past. Its report in January 2009 was an important contribution to the ongoing debate. However, it was clear from the summary of responses to the group's work published by the Government this summer that there is little consensus about it in Northern Ireland. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is listening to the views of people from all parts of the community. He intends to set out the Government's thinking early next year.
Leadership will be required from all those involved in the events of the past 40 years-in Westminster, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland-if Northern Ireland is fully to put the past behind it. For the people of Londonderry, or Derry as others prefer to call it, recent events have shown how important it is to move forward. Those who carried out the terrible attack in the city only nine days ago have nothing to say about the future and so cling to a past that everyone else has left behind. They will not be allowed to drag Northern Ireland back. We are confident that the political stability that Northern Ireland is experiencing can endure. The report of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, is an important contribution in helping Northern Ireland to put the contentious events of the past behind it and to move forward to a genuinely shared future. I beg to move.
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, I welcome this debate and thank the noble Lord, Lord Shutt of Greetland, for providing this House with an opportunity to have a thorough discussion of the findings of such a vital report-a report that has healed many wounds. I, too, look forward to the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of River Glaven.
The Saville inquiry's findings are not only crucial in establishing the truth of what happened on that fateful day 38 years ago but also of great consequence for the future of Northern Ireland. Many noble Lords speaking today have huge personal experience in Northern Ireland and have shown a consistent interest in its progress towards peace. I must make special mention of the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, whose wonderful work with Denis Bradley in chairing the Consultative Group on the Past has been an important step in dealing with the legacy of 40 years of violence and mistrust in Northern Ireland. Like the noble Lord, Lord Shutt, I believe that we will benefit from his wise experience today.
The events of Bloody Sunday can and should never be forgotten. The findings of the Saville report were long awaited by all those affected by what happened during the course of the civil rights march in Londonderry on 30 January 1972. More important, the conclusions of the inquiry were painfully anticipated by the families of the 13 civilians who were killed by Army gunfire on that day, as they were by those who were injured. The finding of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, that some of those killed or injured were clearly fleeing the area or going to the assistance of others who were dying is truly appalling. Conclusions that one person was shot while,
Bloody Sunday occurred in the context of a reignited campaign of armed violence by paramilitary groups and internment without trial by security forces policing the streets. The British Army was in Londonderry on Bloody Sunday, as it had been since the flare-up of violence in 1969, as an aid to the police service of Northern Ireland in restoring order to the city. The men and women of the British Army are, I believe, second to none. We owe an enormous debt to the work of our Armed Forces, which have played an essential role in maintaining order and achieving peace in Northern Ireland. Their record of service is justly commendable. However, the conclusions of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, shocked us all. What happened on that day was wrong and we agreed with the Prime Minister when he said in his measured and honest Statement on 15 June that,
It was vital to get to the bottom of what happened on Bloody Sunday because of the impact that the events of that day had on the subsequent 30 years of violence and political unrest in the Province. It was vital and it warranted an independent judicial inquiry because of the distinct nature of who was involved in what occurred in Londonderry that day. As Tony Blair said when he announced the Bloody Sunday inquiry to the Commons in 1998:
"Bloody Sunday was different because, where the state's own authorities are concerned, we must be as sure as we can of the truth, precisely because we pride ourselves on our democracy and respect for the law, and on the professionalism and dedication of our security forces".-[Official Report, Commons, 29/1/98; col. 502.]
The inquiry was vital because of the shortcomings and unanswered questions left over from the Widgery inquiry. As my noble and learned friend Lord Falconer of Thoroton remarked in evidence to the Public Administration Select Committee in the other place, the Widgery inquiry was both,
The Saville inquiry has established the truth. That is what it set out to do and its value is immeasurably large. However, from these Benches, we argue that this value can be truly realised and sustained only once certain questions have been answered. In his Statement marking the publication of the Saville inquiry, the Prime Minister told the other place that there would be,
So what now of the inquiry into the death of Pat Finucane? What about the deaths of the 11 civilians at Ballymurphy in 1971, an incident where some of the soldiers on duty on the day were the same service personnel who were to be in Londonderry six months later? What about an inquiry into the Omagh bombing? To focus on the Ballymurphy case, in the context of the announcement that this is the end of the line for public inquiries, will the families find it slightly confusing that the Secretary of State recently met those who lost their loved ones at Ballymurphy? Perhaps it raised expectations of success in their call for just such an inquiry.
The noble Lord rightly spoke of the importance of reconciliation and commended the work of the Historical Enquiries Team. The purpose of the HET, a specially convened independent police team, is to try to help people bereaved by the Troubles by answering their questions and looking at each case thoroughly, with a view to bringing forward any new or remaining evidential opportunities. The HET hopes to bring a measure of closure for the families of those killed and to bring some closure on the past. The HET is looking into more than 3,000 deaths. Its budget was originally set at £34 million over seven years. The HET is half way through its case load and it has spent all its allocated money. The scale of the historical case review is unprecedented and the HET has neither the human resources nor the budget to conduct complex inquiries like the Bloody Sunday or the Billy Wright inquiries. The Government cannot rely on the underresourced HET to deal with all the remaining cases, especially any future complex inquiries. The Billy Wright inquiry cost £35 million and that was for just one incident and one death. There are cases remaining of the complexity and profile of Billy Wright and it seems clear to these Benches that the HET is not the mechanism to address them. I also remind the House that, while funding for public inquires comes from central government at Westminster, the budget of the HET is supplied by the Government at Stormont.
However, this is not a time to stand still and tell the HET how to handle its workload. The situation in Northern Ireland is peaceful, but still fragile, as recent violence has made clear. It is crucial that we build a consensus to find a process to replace inquires, if they are to be ruled out. We must find a process to deal with the complex past; we cannot shut it down.
We in this House are all agreed that Northern Ireland has made outstanding progress out of the dark days of the violence of the Troubles and we celebrate that. We can and must build on this peace, and the lessons of Saville, by addressing the needs of Northern Ireland in the round. One crucial way in which to do this is through investment in community
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"What happened on Bloody Sunday strengthened the Provisional IRA, increased nationalist resentment and hostility towards the Army and exacerbated the violent conflict of the years that followed. Bloody Sunday was a tragedy for the bereaved and the wounded, and a catastrophe for the people of Northern Ireland".
The truth has been arrived at and, with it, some closure for the Bloody Sunday families. I am glad that my party while in government made the decision to look again at the events of Bloody Sunday and I am immensely proud of the work that we did with the parties and communities of Northern Ireland to bring a successful peace settlement to the Province. Of course, we worked with many noble Lords in this House, on the Benches opposite and from the Benches around us. Tony Blair said that the aim of the Saville inquiry was,
The value of the Saville report cannot be underestimated, but remaining questions must be answered. The Government must anticipate potential situations in Northern Ireland, must be sensitive and get to know the communities and must stick to the principles that enabled us to build, prosecute and deliver peace to Northern Ireland. I am confident that that is what they will wish to do.
Lord Eames: My Lords, I begin by declaring an interest as co-chairman of the Consultative Group on the Past, set up by the British Government to inquire into ways in which we could not only bring out the truth of the past but bring about reconciliation. I also declare an interest as Bishop of Derry three years after Bloody Sunday. For those reasons, and for other obvious reasons, when the Saville report was published it was a very sombre occasion, not only for those such as myself who were deeply involved in the work of the community in that particular area, but for those who, throughout the length and breadth of the Troubles, ministered to people of all denominations and political outlooks who were the victims of the tragedy of those years. I use the word sombre because I can think of no other appropriate word which would remove triumphalism, or any other equivalent word, from that occasion.
Like many, many others, I welcome the way in which the report was received in Westminster, and particularly the response of the Prime Minister. I also welcome the way in which this debate-a welcome debate-has been introduced by the two previous speakers, who have brought before us a much wider dimension than the simple details of that report. If I might issue a plea in this debate from my personal perspective, it would be this. While there are details in that exhaustive report which obviously must be addressed, I beg that the House put it into perspective, because it is one attempt-a lengthy attempt-to put one more piece of the jigsaw of the past into perspective. I hope that we do not lose sight of that fact.
Let me tell your Lordships of a conversation that I had a few days after the Saville report was published. It was with a widow of a member of the Ulster Defence Regiment, which played such a pivotal role in the defence of the community during the Troubles. I had buried her husband, and I wondered what her reaction would be to the Saville report. I did not get the reaction that I had anticipated. She said, "Thank God he's not here to hear that, because if it's true"-and she accepted the findings-"he would have been ashamed that this had brought such shame on the British Army in the Troubles". That helps to put into perspective the vast number of brave men and women who took a part in the security forces during our Troubles and who, despite the very dangerous situation in which they worked, were not guilty of some of the things that have been alleged and proved under the Saville report.
In putting it into perspective we must also recognise that, when looking into the past of Northern Ireland, the key word is "victim". It is not just the victims that we think of immediately-those who have lost loved ones, on whatever side of the community they come from-but the way in which standards suffered. Morality was questioned, and ethical issues were raised which were swept inevitably under the carpet because of the speed and pressure of events which were a tragedy for the entire community. Whenever we come across attempts to try and find out what happened in the past, there will always be mention of the Saville reports of this world. But does a report answer all the questions, or does it by its very nature pose other questions that it cannot answer?
I think, for example, of another part of the diocese where I worked in those days-the small village of Claudy, which was devastated by an IRA bombing. Innocent people representing both communities, and children, were among those who died in that explosion. The justifiable feeling of people such as those in Claudy, and in other areas in Northern Ireland who looked at the expense, length, publicity and attention given to Bloody Sunday was to say, "We too are victims. We, too, suffered. We, too, lost loved ones. We have questions that are not being answered. We have asked society to help us find what they call justice".
Immediately you are faced with what I have described in the past as the huge ambit of interpretations of what "justice" is. For one person it will be to see a prosecution of those who caused the loss of a loved one, and they will not be satisfied until they see someone in the dock being sentenced for the crime. At
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When we debate this report, we have to recognise that it lifted both a veil and a burden from a large part of the community of Londonderry. When I went there as a bishop, I was very conscious on my first visit to the Bogside of how deeply feelings ran about the events of Bloody Sunday. At this distance, therefore, I can understand the reaction to the tribunal's report when it was published. I also recognise and pay a warm tribute to the actions of my successors, the church leaders in that city, who on the publication of the report went into the Bogside and simply listened, talked and prayed with those most affected, no matter what denomination they came from. As has already been said today in this Chamber, that is another indication of how far society has come.
There are, though, two levels to this discussion. There is the marvellous, courageous political progress made by the politicians in Northern Ireland, but there is also the question of any change of heart among ordinary people leading ordinary lives every day on the ground. One is political progress; the other is the question of human reconciliation. From what I am told, the reaction to Saville has been a huge step in that direction. People have said, "We have found justice. We have an answer to some of our questions". Even though that is true and there has been general relief, however, one has to think again of the feelings of that widow who said to me, "I feel a bit ashamed that this should cast any aspersion on the reputation of the British Army".
The Government have said that this is the end to open-ended inquiries. In the light of the expense and everything else involved, we would welcome that. I certainly would. However, I pose another question: with what do we replace that system? What do we say to society will be the alternative to Saville? If we do not come to terms with the sensitive nature of dealing with the past in a place such as Northern Ireland, there will be a constant drip-by-drip exposure and calling of attention to atrocities, to events and to suspicions-the list is endless. Coroners' courts, investigative journalism and ancillary events to court cases will go on and on not just for our generation but for the generation-the most important one-that
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The Consultative Group on the Past, of which I had the honour to be co-chair, suggested the establishment of what we called a legacy commission that would bring together the threads of detection, reconciliation and building up for the future. We were told that the cost involved in setting up such a commission would be prohibitive, but then we learned of the cost of the Saville report. I urge Her Majesty's Government to accept that the time is right, through the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, to urge the local parties in the devolved Administration to take the courage to address how they deal with the past on a cross-community basis. For obvious reasons-for political reasons-that is a very sensitive issue. No local political party grasps with open heart the issue of how to deal with the past. However, until there is that sort of agreement and the establishment of some structure to make that possible, the drip-by-drip agony will continue.
I pay tribute to the successive Secretaries of State-many of them sitting in your Lordships' Chamber-with whom I have had the privilege of working over the years. I believe that they will agree with me that the complexity of the issue is such that it will not be answered by one report, one tribunal or one decision but must be directed to where it matters most. The answer must come from the bottom up, from what society is ready to have and from what society is prepared to do.
Let me finish on this note: a sign of dealing with the past is a gauge of a society's maturity. The question is whether Northern Ireland is mature enough to find the truth of the past. Saville would indicate, encouragingly, yes. If that is a true indication, I believe that it is up to the party politic in the devolved Administration-encouraged by Westminster and Her Majesty's Government, supported by the Irish Government-to find a way in which that drip-by-drip agony can come to an end.
Reference was made to South Africa. I have studied the South African truth and reconciliation process but I have also looked at Chile, Argentina, East Timor and other efforts to look into the past. Do you know what conclusion I have reached? When all the dust settles we can forget about legislation; we can forget about laws, tribunals and debates. We end up looking into ordinary human life and the reaction of people to tragedy. Thank God I see-as, I hope, do those who, like me, live and work in that part of the United Kingdom-the seeds of real hope. We must grasp the fact that, until we deal with the past in a holistic manner, we will face other Savilles and other questions that we must answer honestly.
The Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells: My Lords, I follow the speech of the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, with some trepidation, as you can well imagine. I had the privilege of standing with him on the steps of Omagh town hall following the tragedy in Omagh, the home of my wife. I rise to speak because I have been intimately involved with Northern Ireland for the past 43 years, through marriage and family, and in aspects of the peace process. In parentheses, I say that members of my family have not been killed in the Troubles but they have experienced the effects of bombings and the loss of neighbours as a result of the events of these past years.
This afternoon I express appreciation for the work of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, in what has been a painstaking, exhaustive and, I am sure, often exhausting inquiry. My own observation, together with those of various episcopal colleagues from Ireland, is that this report has brought about significant healing. Again, I pay tribute to the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, for playing his considerable part in the Province during the inquiry period.
While there is little doubt that Archbishop Harper was right, in conversation with him and the present Bishop of Derry and Raphoe earlier this week the overall sense was that the Saville report has brought significant healing. Certainly, the publication itself was regarded as a significant milestone and achievement. Further, in support of other noble Lords, the Prime Minister's words were well received on both sides of the border.
As the noble Lord, Lord Shutt, has observed, the action of the non-Catholic church leaders with the Bogside residents after publication was also significant. This courageous act on the day after publication was co-ordinated by Bishop Ken Good and involved him, together with the moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Ireland and the president of the Methodist Conference. Following prearrangements, the three leaders walked into the Bogside and met the residents and, at the memorial to Bloody Sunday, handed over a replica of a sculpture of two people shaking hands across the river in Londonderry, which symbolised building bridges and healing wounds. The occasion was emotional, with tears, embraces and handshakes but, above all, a sense of the Protestant community reaching out a hand of reconciliation.
As others have observed, it is inevitable, however, that one person's blessing is another's impoverishment, or that a feeling arises that some get justice but others do not. Where Saville has encouraged, even liberated,
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Few of us would disagree with that. It is true that things are often worse than we imagine, but is also true that they are much better. Back in darker days in Northern Ireland, there were those committed to a simple mantra, "Pray peace; think peace; speak peace; act peace". On one of his visits before his death, the German pastor Martin Niemöller, an arch opponent of Nazism and a victim of Hitler's concentration camps, observed of the people of Northern Ireland, "Every day hundreds of acts of forgiveness are carried out in this Province, far more than anywhere else in Europe". He was speaking then, of course, before Bosnia and other Balkan conflicts, but it was then-and, I believe, is now-significant testimony to a people who seek to add a measure of grace to the world.
Lord Mawhinney: My Lords, as I do not want to spend time looking at the details of the Saville report, I start by saying that I share the view of those who think that some of the events recorded were unjustified and unjustifiable. However, I stress that they were events committed only by some. I noted the paragraph in the report that commended the appropriate and proportionate restraint of aspects of the Army activity on that dreadful day.
I start from a privileged position of having served as a Minister in Northern Ireland for more than six years-only one of two who has done so. I do not have a Peterborough accent; I am the only native-born son who has had the privilege of being a Minister during direct rule. I have seen violence and the consequences of violence and I have had to deal, on the Government's behalf, with the consequences of violence. It is against that background that I want to make two points arising from the Saville report-perhaps two lessons. The first is to remind your Lordships' House that the action of the Army in support of the RUC was a slightly unnatural action for an army to have to take; it was training the Army to behave in a somewhat different way from that in which armies normally
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As we think of the behaviour of some who should not have behaved as they did, I share the view of the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, that we must not tar the majority by the actions of what was, in the context, a very small minority. I come back to the behaviour of the Army, because, from all the Saville report, each of us will have been attracted by a particular sentence. I will tell you the sentence that attracted me. It was about the difficulty in separating out the potential rioters from the mass of ordinary marchers. That encapsulates one of the most difficult aspects of policing in Northern Ireland or in similar circumstances. The majority were doing what they were democratically permitted to do-to express their opinions, even if, on occasions, the Government did not like those opinions. Under the cover of that democratic process, a few evil people wanted to create danger and violence.
In other words, security and political development are inextricably linked. The problem which we all had-I pay tribute to my noble friends Lord King of Bridgwater and Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, under whose leadership I had the privilege of serving-was that we all understood the fine intricacy of security and political development. If, on a dark night, a 19 year-old Army officer with half a second to decide whether his life was at risk shot someone, and it turned out to be an accident, the political consequences reverberated-as they did all the more in Londonderry. I became a Minister 15 years after these events, and the political problems in Londonderry were palpable. No one could have believed that the feelings of the local people had been stirred up by some political activity. Had that been the case, I would have loved to have had ownership of the political activity, abilities and skills that created that sort of a reaction. This was gut. It may or may not be a coincidence-I do not care today to choose-that, as a Minister, it was on the streets of Londonderry that I came closest to losing my life.
I pay tribute to Bishop Edward Daly-he was that iconic priest waving a white handkerchief photographed in the middle of the troubles on Bloody Sunday-for the work which he, the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, and other churchmen did to try to handle the situation. One of the things that I would have liked to have seen effected, which I spectacularly failed to achieve, was to make it a matter of government policy that when the Army is acting in support of the civil powers, and someone gets shot, the Army person is deployed somewhere else until an inquiry establishes the facts. If that is a matter of policy, no blame can be attached to the individual for the individual circumstances. In political terms-by which I mean trying to develop the circumstances in which political progress can be made across the Province-that would have been a big
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The second lesson that I want to draw follows in parallel with the excellent speech, if he will permit me to say so, that the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, has just made. He and I have not colluded but your Lordships are going to hear some of the same messages that he so eloquently gave us. Twelve years and £190 million amount to an awful lot. We deal with numbers here. Outside, people think that the inquiry went on for ever and cost the earth, but we are supposed to have some sense of perspective. When I awoke one morning in Northern Ireland-I was the Finance Minister for the Province at the time-my officials told me that the previous night's bombing had cost the British Exchequer £25 million. It was a part of the IRA's strategy that, if it could do enough damage, eventually we would run out of patience to pay the money and go away. I pay tribute to my two noble friends for the way in which they made it clear at the height of the Troubles that, no matter what it cost, the British Government would not back off. However, now we find that there will be no more open-ended inquiries.
I remind colleagues that peace or the absence of violence are not the same as reconciliation. They are quite different. The noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, referred to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. I had some reason to be exposed to that and I do not advocate that we should go down the same road. However, I do advocate to your Lordships that we should learn the lesson that, unless we focus on doing something about reconciliation, we will continue with the danger, so adequately pointed out by the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, that the present fragility-her word-might continue. If fragility lasts too long, it becomes more fragile with the passage of time.
I remind the House that, when government or the organs of the state are in the dock, people can look to the Government to take action on their behalf. However, when it is not the organs of the state that are in the dock, to whom do the people look to get the sort of help and closure that Saville has given? People need help to heal the past. Therefore, although I do not challenge the Prime Minister's comment that this is the end to open-ended inquiries, I say to the House, as did the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, that that leaves a problem unsolved. We need to find a new way to address those issues.
Perhaps I may illustrate the point by reference to the bomb at Omagh. We are outraged, and rightly so, that 11 people died on Bloody Sunday, but three times that number died in Omagh. Does Omagh not raise serious questions about the need for resolution and reconciliation and for trying to take a step to heal the past for the benefit of the future? I believe that it does. Twelve years and £190 million are not the answer, but an answer needs to be found if Northern Ireland is to prosper. Like the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, I passionately believe that it will prosper only on the back of reconciliation and healing, and I was
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Lord Dubs: My Lords, I served as a Minister in Northern Ireland for a much shorter period than the noble Lord, Lord Mawhinney. Several years have passed but his reputation was very high when I got to Belfast in 1997. I remember the day when Mo Mowlam, the Secretary of State, said to me that there was to be a further inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday. I felt an enormous sense of relief because, although I had not been in Northern Ireland all that long, it was very clear that the situation had to be dealt with if any progress were to be made towards a peaceful resolution. I and those around me were delighted.
In the long period between then and now, there was a nervousness about what the report would bring. I believe that we were all mightily relieved when we saw the report and the very positive response to it by the Prime Minister. I never thought that a British Conservative Prime Minister would be cheered outside the Guildhall in Derry. None of us could have anticipated that, even a short time before the report came out.
I do not want to approach this in a mood of self-congratulation for this country, but I do not believe that there are many other countries in the world which could deal with an event which had blotted their past in such an open, honest and apologetic manner as we did. It was apologetic in the sense that the Prime Minister apologised for what happened. That is a sign of strength and we have to build on that strength. We all know that the events of Bloody Sunday were disastrous for Northern Ireland; and they were disastrous for the whole of Britain and Ireland as well. We all know how much support the IRA gained from the events of Bloody Sunday, as it did from a mistaken attempt to introduce internment there.
There is one respect in which Bloody Sunday was different from other tragic events in Northern Ireland's history and why there was an even greater need for an inquiry into it than into some of the other events-although I shall speak about that in a moment-and that, of course, is Widgery. The fact that Widgery said, effectively, that everything was all right and that the report was widely regarded as a whitewash made it even more important that there should be another inquiry into the events of that tragic day in Londonderry. I understand that it is the first time in British legal history that there has been a second inquiry into the same events, and probably into the same facts.
Some people say-and I understand why because a life is a life however it is taken away-that many other tragic events have taken place there and that many people have been killed by republican and by loyalist terrorists, but one important difference, which has been referred to already, is that our soldiers were the servants of the state of this country. It is right to demand higher standards of those who act in our name than of those who act as terrorists or paramilitaries outside the law. For that reason, I think that the Saville
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Nevertheless, although the British Army came out of the events badly in Londonderry on that day, I think we all have a high respect for it. I certainly do. I saw it in action in Afghanistan when I was there briefly early last year. We need to pay respect to the Army, even though on this occasion it is important that we get into balance what happened; the report is rightly critical of it.
I turn briefly to the lessons from the Saville process and the issues for the future. Of course, it was costly and took a long time. Although the noble Lord, Lord Mawhinney, made it very clear how important it was to have the inquiry and get those results, and I very much agree, the fact that it cost so much has made it harder to have similar inquiries. That is why the Prime Minister said that there would not be any more public inquiries and the noble Lord, Lord Shutt, said that there would be no more open-ended inquiries. I think that that is a pity, because the process was good. Had it been quicker and less expensive, we could have decided that other issues required an inquiry, but we have been a bit stymied. I understand that, this afternoon, the noble and learned Lord, Lord, Saville, is giving evidence to the Northern Ireland Select Committee in the House of Commons, and that the committee was going to ask these sort of questions. It is a pity that we could not have had those views to hand prior to this debate.
Other events happened in Northern Ireland, and every speaker so far has referred to them and said that we have to do something about them. I do not think that we can just ignore Ballymurphy because there was no whitewash Widgery-type inquiry about it. We cannot ignore it because that also involved soldiers. In Claudy, although no British troops were involved, I think that our Government were in some way complicit in transferring a particular person into Donegal and out of our jurisdiction.
So we have a responsibility to the people of Northern Ireland, because they, above all, are entitled to closure and to some greater inner peace in their minds about some of those events. We call this the Eames/Bradley report for short, but the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, played an important part in the report and in our debate this afternoon. For all the good work that it is doing, I do not think that the historic inquiries team is the best way to deal with some of the events to which we have referred. It is not independent in the sense that the Saville inquiry was independent, and it is burdened with a lot of work on lower level but important issues. We need to find a different way to deal with the outstanding issues.
There was criticism of the report that the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, produced, along with Denis Bradley, but we ought to revisit its conclusions because although some of them were criticised very much, others are very relevant today and we would be paying a disrespect to the work that went into that inquiry if we simply said, "We will move on; that wasn't very good". I have read it again over the past day or so and I think that there are some very important
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One outstanding issue is Finucane. There have been inquiries into Billy Wright; we have had the report. The Nelson and Hamill inquiries continue. I do not think that we can leave Finucane alone; there is too much concern about it. If we simply say that nothing needs to be done about it, we and the people of Northern Ireland will regret that day. It represents one important item of unfinished business in Northern Ireland and it has to be addressed; we cannot duck it. I do not want to go into a long debate about what happened under the previous Government, but we cannot just move away from that one. Next year, there will be crucial Assembly elections in Northern Ireland, and I would not want the Finucane issue to bedevil the discussions and debate in that election campaign.
I shall refer to just two other issues. The Northern Ireland Bill of Rights is not directly relevant to Saville, but it is indirectly relevant. It has been put into the long grass, although the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission did a lot of work on it. I hope that the Government will look again at it to see what of the report on the Bill of Rights that was put before them is worth bringing into law. That is important.
Lastly, I shall refer to an issue that my noble friend Lady Royall referred to: community policing. In the end, Saville is about establishing a long-lasting peace, and community policing is an important aspect of that at the moment. If any financial decisions were to be announced on the 20th of this month that damaged community policing in Northern Ireland, they would prove many times more costly in terms of lives than the money that would be saved. I urge the Government to think hard. Community policing is now an essential part of the peace process in Northern Ireland, and anything that takes away from that would be damaging to the future of Northern Ireland.
Having said that, I congratulate the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, on his report. It was an important day in the history of Northern Ireland when the report was produced. I echo the words of the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames: what we need is an ongoing healing process for the people of Northern Ireland. The Saville report is part of it, but we have some way to go.
Lord Smith of Clifton: I thank my noble friend Lord Shutt for introducing this important debate and I look forward to the maiden speech of my noble friend Lord Macdonald. First, like so many other noble Lords, I believe that the tone, tenor and substance of the Prime Minister's response to the Saville report were appropriate in every respect. I congratulate Mr Cameron on that. It helps to make for satisfactory closure, to use the current argot, and allows the political system in Northern Ireland to mature. The development of a more normal politics, and one that is appreciably less sectarian, is desperately overdue.
Secondly, we are all indebted to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, and his colleagues for producing such a detailed, meticulous and comprehensive analysis of the events of Bloody Sunday some 38 years ago. As so many noble Lords have said, such a report was necessary to redeem the reputation of United Kingdom justice and government more generally since the earlier and-as is now widely recognised-infamous Widgery report was published. That was a whitewash and a cover-up on an unprecedented scale. The widespread reaction against Widgery's findings was, as Saville notes, totally counterproductive and acted as the best recruiting agent for the Provisional IRA. All future public inquiries should be compelled to take a crash course on the dangers, both immediate and longer term, of hasty fixes and fudges.
It was fitting, therefore, that it was a Conservative Prime Minister who responded to Saville in the way that he did because it was a Conservative PM, Edward Health, who set up the Widgery inquiry in the first place. Widgery was a stain on the United Kingdom judiciary. It placed a further and unnecessary strain on the judges in Northern Ireland, who were carrying out their duties under the most trying circumstances. I have known the last four Chief Justices of Northern Ireland, including the noble and learned Lord, Lord Carswell, who is speaking in this debate, and have witnessed the impartiality and assiduity that they all brought to the exercise of their duties. That dedication survives and bodes well for the future constitutional development of Northern Ireland.
In welcoming the Saville report and the responses that it evoked, I believe that there remain two more general UK-wide considerations. The most worrying is the use of the British Army in peacekeeping operations, to which the noble Lord, Lord Mawhinney, referred. There are some successes, of course, of which we must be proud, but too many unacceptable outrages are still being perpetrated. The immediate reaction of the military is always to claim that lessons have been learnt-that was said after the publication of the Saville report-but the events in Derry 38 years ago were not dissimilar to what has happened more recently in Basra in Iraq and in Helmand province in Afghanistan. Basically, as the noble Lord, Lord Mawhinney, pointed out, the military are not adequately trained to carry out peacekeeping, which is essentially a police operation. I can only hope that in the defence review being undertaken much more provision for training the Army in police methods will be considered. It will be more important in the future than aircraft carriers. I ask my noble friend to reassure me on this point.
Furthermore, will my noble friend say whether there was any truth in Monday's Guardian report that official archives illustrated that Ministry of Defence policy was to fully prosecute republican paramilitaries while being lenient on loyalist paramilitaries? That would resonate with one's observations at the time and would be consistent with the woefully misleading findings of the Widgery report.
Finally, there is the question of cost, to which others have referred. Almost £200 million is as unbelievable as it is unacceptable. The problem lies in the fact that lawyers, both as barristers and as judges, have no
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Lord Bramall: My Lords, the inquiry, headed by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, aptly summarised that the events of that January afternoon 38 years ago were indeed a tragedy. They were a tragedy, of course, for the 13 civilians, who in the course of a civil rights march lost their lives when they had done nothing that could have justified their shooting, and for the widowed and bereaved. But they were also a tragedy for the British Army, in that, albeit in one small area, some soldiers from one company and one battalion failed to come up to the very highest standards of discipline and restraint for which the British Army is rightly admired. As has been said, that increased nationalist hostility towards it, thus making its very difficult job even harder. Also, the events were a tragedy for the people of Northern Ireland as a whole.
An earlier, contemporary inquiry, conducted by Lord Widgery, tended to take the view that under the circumstances and in the noisy confusion prevailing at the time, in which security forces were clashing directly with demonstrators in a highly emotive area, some error of judgment by individuals as to which targets should be engaged when intent on protecting themselves and their comrades was almost inevitable. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, however, considered quite categorically that the failure of certain soldiers in that one company, properly and beyond all reasonable doubt, to identify the targets being engaged as posing a direct threat of death or serious injury to themselves or their comrades-that is, à la yellow card-was so serious as to constitute a totally unjustified and therefore unjustifiable use of force.
This assessment was fully accepted by the right honourable gentleman the Prime Minister on behalf of the Government, the British Army and the whole country. In a masterly Statement that he made in another place, he gave a fulsome, heartfelt apology to all those who had suffered and to the bereaved. To this, all who mind about the rule of law, just as much as the high reputation of the Army, would wish to subscribe. I believe that the Prime Minister's Statement has also had a good reception in Londonderry.
The least that your Lordships' House should do is to take note of the Bloody Sunday report. However, I believe that it is important that noble Lords should be
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The inquiry did not consider that there had been any general breakdown of discipline and indeed made it clear that most soldiers throughout the area behaved with a high degree of responsibility and in accordance with the yellow card. I am glad to say that the battalion that I once had the honour to command, the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Green Jackets, as it was then, positioned at Barrier 14 to prevent the march from reaching the heart of the city, was particularly singled out for praise for the restraint and proportionality of the force that it used in dealing with intense rioting.
What did go seriously wrong, as both inquiries pointed out-and this of course is the nub of the whole business-was the spontaneous action that was taken when the vehicles and men of the Support Company of 1st Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, appeared in Rossville Street. The commanding officer of the battalion had in fact exceeded his orders in sending the Support Company into the march from the north to make arrests-as well as one ordered by his brigadier from the east through Barrier 14-and in allowing the Support Company to follow the march down the now revised route, virtually chasing both the marchers and the rioters back into the Bogside and making it difficult to separate one from the other, an action that he had been ordered by his brigadier to avoid. So it was that at that point, at 4.30 pm, the arrest operation, although six arrests had been made, took second place for that company if it was not forgotten altogether, while the soldiers, believing that they were under fire, turned their attention to engage their imagined assailants, firing, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, put it,
There had been shots from both sides in other areas, and these continued, but the first shots in this particular area were probably fired for rather obscure reasons by an officer with Support Company itself, a point made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville. This would in no way have prevented other members of the company from believing that that shot and the others that followed might be directed at them. In street fighting, as I can confirm from very personal experience, because of echoes, ricochets and the short time lag between the crack of the bullet and the thump of the gun firing, it is extremely hard to differentiate between fire that is going and that which is coming your way.
That would be particularly the case on the edge of the Bogside, where the expectation of hostile fire would have been so great. After all, in 1972 we were in
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Perhaps I may, as an old soldier with some experience of that sort of tension and stress, ask noble Lords for a moment to put themselves in the shoes of those young men of 1st Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, back in the entirely different environment of 1972. To help in that, I cannot do better than to quote the report's own description of their predicament:
"We appreciate that soldiers on internal security duties, facing a situation in which they or their colleagues may at any moment come under lethal attack, have little time to decide whether they have identified a person posing a threat of causing death or serious injury; and may have to take that decision in a state of tension or fear. It is a well-known phenomenon that, particularly when under stress or when events are moving fast, people often erroneously come to believe that they are or might be hearing or seeing what they were expecting to hear or see ... It is also possible that in the sort of circumstances outlined in the previous paragraph, a soldier might fire in fear or panic, without giving proper thought to whether his target was posing",
a direct threat. Under such circumstances, the temptation must have been very great to see any figures who might be sheltering behind suspicious areas such as barricades, as some were, or on the balconies of the Bogside flats, from one of which acid was indeed thrown down, or throwing things that could be loosely imagined to be nail bombs-one of the casualties was found to have a nail bomb on his person-or crawling purposefully holding something that could conceivably be thought to be a rifle, as posing some sort of future threat and therefore a target to be engaged before worst fears could be realised. It might even, in their opinion, have justified some sort of prophylactic fire into potential ambush areas to deter hostile and perhaps lethal resistance, which is absolutely common practice in normal street fighting. In that part of the United Kingdom particularly, of course, it is not possible to condone such judgments when close adherence to the yellow card could have prevented them. However, in this stressful, untidy situation, it should be possible for open-minded people to appreciate why this lapse of fire discipline could have occurred.
There I hope we can leave the matter. When you consider that 651 service personnel have been killed and 6,307 wounded since the start of the Troubles, not to mention the grievous police and civilian losses-many inflicted in absolutely cold blood-and the leniency in terms of early release, pardons, amnesties and so on subsequently given to the perpetrators of these crimes, it would be a great abuse of even-handedness and justice to single out these unfortunate soldiers of this one company, who should not have been in that area in the first place. Whatever their shortcomings, they
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Lord Bew: My Lords, in his recent memoirs, the former Prime Minister, Mr Tony Blair, addresses the issue of the inquiry which he asked the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, to establish into the events of Bloody Sunday. In his memoires, Mr Blair said that as time passed and as more and more money was spent, he became more and more jaded and asked himself whether he had done the right thing and thought perhaps it was not a justifiable move. However, in the end, when the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, reported and there was that remarkable response by the people of Derry, Mr Blair came to the conclusion that he had done the right thing and that the expenditure was justified. I regard Mr Blair's attitude in this respect as being entirely understandable and I think that it would find many echoes in your Lordships' House. I have more respect for Mr Blair's work as Prime Minister than is probably now fashionable in your Lordships' House, but I am unwilling to leave the matter quite there.
I must first declare an interest as one of the two historical advisers to the tribunal, appointed in the late 1990s. The other was my friend, Professor Paul Arthur of the University of Ulster. I should describe briefly, so that there can be no misunderstanding of my subsequent remarks, the role of the historical adviser. It was, first, to provide historical background papers about the situation in Derry and Northern Ireland for the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville; at a later date, to advise about a document search-where documents were likely to be found in government archives based on my own experience as a historian-and suggest places to look; and, finally, to do an analysis of those documents. All this work was completed in the last century and all of it is a matter of public knowledge. The work is posted on the inquiry's website. In fact, I had never spoken to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, until this afternoon, just before he gave evidence on his inquiry to the House of Commons Select Committee.
That was the nature of our involvement. We were extraordinarily fortunate in terms of documents and personnel. Very few documents that seemed to be relevant had disappeared. Let us contrast that with the more recent inquiry into the death of Mr Billy Wright, which cost £42 million and was considered to be much less satisfactory. That was not because of any absence of professionalism on the part of those who worked on that inquiry; it was simply because, although the
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Even for £200 million, no inquiry can give the absolute truth. In the 1880s in London we had the special commission of inquiry into Parnellism and crime. Relevant documents with regard to the conclusions of that special commission have become available only in the past 10 or 20 years. I am absolutely certain that, over time, documents will become available and memoirs written which will change parts at least of the story as given by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville. That is not a reflection on the professionalism and lucidity which he has brought to his report; it is simply a reflection on the difficulty of establishing the absolute truth of these events. I fully support the conclusions that he has reached, but since the report has been published I have heard from a nationalist, Derry and Bogside point of view criticisms of certain points which seem to be at least serious, and I have heard people with connections with the Army criticise other points in a way which seems also to have a degree of seriousness. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, has done a remarkable job, in particular in the handling of sensitive intelligence matters which I did not think could be handled so well, but even at that price, you do not get a guarantee of absolute truth. What you get is a very good job and a remarkable piece of work by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville.
I remind noble Lords of the real context of why we got the Saville inquiry in the first place. It was not because Lord Widgery said that those who died were guilty-because he did not; it was because Mr Gerry Adams and the leadership of Sinn Fein said that there was a conspiracy on the part of the British state to bring about these events. The Saville inquiry was set up because a calculation was made by the then Prime Minister, as part of the peace process that led to the successful negotiation of the Good Friday agreement some months later, that it was necessary to bring Sinn Fein along. It was an entirely defensible and correct political calculation on the part of the Prime Minister of the day. But the actual circumstances are often misrepresented.
"Each soldier was his own judge of whether he had identified a gunman. Their training made them aggressive and quick in decision and some showed more restraint in opening fire than others. At one end of the scale some soldiers showed a high degree of responsibility; at the other ... firing bordered on the reckless".
Lord Widgery's report is inadequate in many ways. It does not reach out to the people of the Bogside who suffered so much pain on that day, but he did not say
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On the other hand, Mr Adams's views, taken two months before the establishment of the inquiry on 7 December 1997 to the Independent, are very clear. He said that one question that is very much on people's minds is Bloody Sunday. He said:
"Everybody knows it was a premeditated attack as part of the military-political strategy at that time. You'd think it would be relatively easy to set up an independent inquiry to sort everything out, but to do that the Prime Minister has to challenge all that stuff. That's the test".
The immediate casus belli is a claim of conspiracy. In my view, the release of documents before the turn of the century made it clear that there was no conspiracy at the level of the British Cabinet, no conspiracy at the level of the Northern Ireland Cabinet and no conspiracy at the level of the higher reaches of the Army or the Ministry of Defence. That was for the price of £20,000 or £30,000. A large part of the tribunal's conclusions state that there was no conspiracy. I do not say that the many other tens of millions of pounds subsequently racked up in this century were irrelevant or wrong. This afternoon, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, before the Select Committee in another place, made a very serious point that the Ministry of Defence had lost contact with many of the soldiers and it was necessary to pay private inquiry firms to establish contact with many of the soldiers involved. I regard that and many other things that he gave instance of this afternoon as entirely legitimate expenses that the inquiry subsequently entered into.
There is a point here about the peculiarity of the English in these difficult situations to lawyer-up with this model of inquiry. The Belgians, confronted with the difficult question in their own past of the possible involvement of the Belgian state authorities in the murder of Patrice Lumumba, had a commission of historians. The Swedes, confronted with issues about how their security forces had operated during the Cold War, had a commission of historians. The Dutch, confronted with issues of how their army performed in the Balkans-sensitive, difficult and painful issues for the Dutch people-had a commission of historians. In England, we lawyer-up. There is a certain model of inquiry and certain expenses inevitably follow from that inquiry, which is part of the reason already given by the noble Lord, Lord Smith of Clifton, in this respect.
I shall give noble Lords another example. The eight days of the former Prime Minister, Mr Edward Heath, in the witness box, contributed absolutely nothing to
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So there is a problem with how we do this type of work, and its cost. We regard Saville as having been successful and benign, in certain important respects, regarding the impact of his report on Northern Ireland. We must also face up to the fact that we have new inquiries coming in, one of which is rumoured to cost £52 million and another £40 million. We are very fortunate indeed that the Saville inquiry, partly through luck, turned out to be so authoritative in some many crucial respects. Already, in the case of the Billy Wright inquiry, we have an example of a very expensive inquiry, costing £32 million, which is widely regarded as somewhat unsatisfactory in its impact in Northern Ireland, although through no fault of those carrying it out. That is an awful lot of hip replacements and other operations in the National Health Service. Hundreds of millions of pounds are racked up on this, again and again.
The truth now is that a Martian who came down to earth and listened to the post-Troubles debate about Northern Ireland would conclude, after listening to the BBC news on a regular basis, that the following people died during the Troubles-those who died on Bloody Sunday and those who died in the other celebrated cases in which we have inquiries, which we have mentioned this afternoon. The Martian would also conclude that we have a very serious problem with collusion. In certain cases there appears to be evidence that there has been an element of collusion between state forces and loyalist paramilitaries, but the number of republicans killed by loyalist paramilitaries is just over 30. So even if all these were cases of collusion in which state forces had helped the loyalist paramilitaries, that would be less than 1 per cent of the total of those who died during the Troubles. It is also worth bearing in mind-and it has already been referred to-that for every one
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We need now an attitude towards the past that does not privilege certain deaths. It is quite correct that we have led the way in those cases in which the state has behaved badly, but in a modern democracy we need to have more than that. Why? Because it demoralises the centre ground in Northern Ireland and those people with conventional morality who cannot figure out this way of dealing with matters. Most importantly, we rely on our Army and security services to help us in another and probably greater threat of terrorism. We need those in our Army and security services to know that while we will of course be vigilant with respect to wrong-doing, we also respect the work that they are doing and that the way in which we approach these matters, including the story of the Troubles, reflects that respect.
Lord Macdonald of River Glaven: My Lords, it is a great honour and a privilege to address your Lordships' House for the first time. I do so with a sense of trepidation, in that I am following so many powerful speeches, and with a sense of privilege to be taking part in such an important debate. I am delighted to start by thanking all the staff in this building for the great kindness and patience they have shown towards me in the past few weeks. They have certainly needed their patience; I am conscious that I have asked the same questions many times over, usually regarding the directions to some place which I have already been to. Police and doorkeepers have made these rather strange first few days a great deal easier than they would otherwise have been.
Like my fellow new Members, I have been welcomed with great warmth and generosity by noble Lords from all sides of the House, and from all parties and none. Speaking of different parties, my supporters came, perhaps slightly unusually, from two: my noble friend Lady Scott of Needham Market, the president of the Liberal Democrats, acted as introducer and supporter to a number of new Liberal Democrat Peers, and in spite of heavy burdens elsewhere she did the same for me. The noble Baroness, Lady Kennedy of The Shaws, is not a Liberal Democrat but she was my pupil-mistress. Indeed, I was her first pupil when I was called first to the Bar. The noble Baroness will not thank me for mentioning that that was over 30 years ago. She has, however, remained an inspiration to me throughout my career in the law. I thank them both for their great kindness.
The spirit of this place is deeply impressive and I am delighted to be here. When the Deputy Prime Minister, as he then was not, first spoke to me last October about the possibility of my becoming a Liberal Democrat Peer, I naturally imagined that he was proposing that I should join a small, independently minded band of committed troublemakers. Instead, and much to my surprise, I find myself sitting on the government Benches. We shall see how much difference that makes to my noble friends-or, I suppose, in the end, to me.
The events that occurred on 30 January 1972 in the Bogside were of startling import to the United Kingdom. Twenty-six unarmed, mainly British, citizens were shot by soldiers of the British Army on the streets of a British city. Thirteen of those mainly British citizens, seven of whom were teenagers, died immediately or soon after, while another man died four and a half months later. At least five British soldiers fired shots at people they knew posed no threat at all, and five members of the public were wounded with shots to the back. Each killing, each wounding, was unjustified. Each was unjustifiable. No single victim had posed any threat of death or serious injury to any soldier.
The British Government have held two investigations into these momentous events. The Widgery tribunal was established in the immediate aftermath of the event. It largely cleared the soldiers and the British authorities of any blame, going no further than to describe the behaviour of some of the military as "bordering on the reckless". That report was published in circumstances of great controversy at home and abroad, but its conclusions were accepted without hesitation by the then British Government. It seems to me that it is partly because it became so widely believed, not just throughout the United Kingdom but around the world, that Widgery had failed abjectly to uncover the truth of that day that the establishment of a second inquiry became inescapable.
No great country can knowingly allow a great injustice to lie. This is all the more so when that injustice involves the state's own responsibility for the deaths of its innocent citizens, and particularly when that responsibility has previously been obscured by a failed inquiry headed by a then serving Lord Chief Justice. The wrong had to be righted.
This is not at all to say that the Saville inquiry was capable of righting all injustices in Northern Ireland. Of course it was not, and never could be; no one believed that to be its purpose. In particular, it has left quite untouched the terrible injustices that terrorism has wreaked upon the unionist communities over too many years. In the face of great cruelty, the resilience of the people of Northern Ireland has become a matter of historical record. Likewise, the courage of the overwhelming majority of British soldiers is overwhelmingly recognised and I pay tribute to it.
I spent five years of my life as Director of Public Prosecutions for England and Wales, much of which time was spent prosecuting terrorists of all hues and bringing them to justice. I therefore understand what terrorism represents and the great evil that it creates. I understand the misery that it brings, and the importance of destroying it utterly. But it is important to recognise the difference between illegal violence perpetrated by terrorist gangs on the one hand and illegal violence perpetrated by the state on the other. The state's response to each category will necessarily differ. In the first case, the state has the duty to put it down; in the second, the state has an additional duty to put it right. This, I think, was the intention of Saville and, in so far as it ever could be, this intention has been realised. The inquiry took far too long and cost far too much
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It is said that when the Prime Minister received a first-draft response to Saville composed by his officials, he tore it up, sat down and wrote what he intended to say in his own hand. Well, good for him. Everyone wants justice; the thirst for justice is a critical marker of the human spirit, and I believe that we are all born with it. Through Saville, and through the Prime Minister's eloquence in commending its ringing conclusions to Parliament last June, the British state has at long last delivered at least a measure of justice to all the victims of Bloody Sunday. I believe that in doing so, the state has strengthened itself.
Lord Carswell: My Lords, by way of exordium, I tender congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald of River Glaven, on his maiden speech, which has been a notable contribution to this debate. He, of course, is better known to the profession and the world at large as Ken Macdonald, Director of Public Prosecutions from 2003 to 2008. That, as everyone connected with the law certainly knows, is one of the most difficult and exacting jobs in the law. If I may paraphrase the great showman Barnum, you can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot please all of the people all of the time, and that is engraved on the heart of every DPP.
The noble Lord's early training fitted him well for the duties of the post that he discharged with such distinction. After reading PPE at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, he was called to the Bar and engaged in criminal practice for 25 years, taking silk in 1998. In the process, he not only acquired the thorough knowledge of criminal law and practice that is the essential grounding for a DPP but also acquired the mature experience and honed the fine judgment that are so necessary for making some very difficult decisions on prosecutions.
It has been said-I think this goes back to Lord Kilmuir-that judges should be very careful to conduct themselves and to speak in such a way that they do not get reported in the daily papers. A good DPP may aspire to that, both by the quality of his decisions and by avoiding unnecessary controversy, but he can never hope to escape what Horace called the "civium ardor prava iubentium"-the horrid citizenry yelling at him telling him what to do or, if you like, the newspapers. The noble Lord has come through that experience with a high reputation and he is a worthy addition to this House. We look forward to hearing many more contributions from him.
Some 37 years ago, in August 1973, I appeared as counsel at the inquest into the deaths of those who died in Londonderry on 30 January 1972. My function was to present to the coroner and the jury the evidence that had been furnished to me, which was a mere fraction of the material considered by the Saville inquiry. Many years later, when I was Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, I presided over a court that considered at least one legal issue arising out of the inquiry proceedings. If those are interests, I certainly
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My purpose in speaking today is to raise the more general issue of whether it is beneficial to hold further inquiries into the many distressing events that occurred over the past 40-plus years in Northern Ireland. We must be the most inquired-into segment of the populace in the world. The litany of inquiries is long and ever lengthening: Cameron, Scarman, Widgery, Diplock, Gardiner, Baker and Saville as well as the recently concluded Billy Wright inquiry and the ongoing Hamill inquiry-and those are only the ones that I can remember. All of them have involved huge amounts of time, energy and resources.
Successive Governments have been understandably concerned about the proliferation of open-ended inquiries and the diversion of ever scarcer resources to them, and Governments have sought powers to limit them. Again, I do not want to get involved in the arguments about the usefulness of the limitations that might be imposed. I have a more fundamental point to make about whether we should call a halt to inquiries into the past and to investigation of events that took place long ago.
Two reasons are generally advanced in favour of pursuing such inquiries in future. The first is that, if those who have committed crimes can be brought to justice, they should be, and so investigation of cases long regarded as old and dead may be justified so long as those carrying it out can see a realistic possibility of resolving them. I would certainly not dispute that the process is generally in the public interest and it must always go on. The second is the more arguable question of the extent to which inquiries help victims or benefit the community. The prevailing view, which your Lordships have heard expressed many times this afternoon, is that the extended pursuit of truth gives comfort to those who have suffered bereavement or trauma through terrorist action and that such pursuit is always justified.
One cannot live in Northern Ireland, as I have done all my life, without being all too well aware that a considerable body of people have suffered badly-some have suffered dreadfully badly-from terrorist action. No one could fail to feel enormous sympathy with them over the hurt, pain and distress, bodily and mental, that so many have endured and will endure until life's end. Nothing I say is intended to minimise that. Numerous government initiatives have rightly been directed towards assisting such people and the provision of welfare for them. The work and effort of the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, and his Consultative Group on the Past are only one part of that.
One of the aims of many of the bodies concerned with this is the investigation of past deeds and the ascertainment of the truth, as far as it is possible to do so. To that end they support continuing with inquiries and investigations of all kinds. This does not factor in the indefinable issues involved in the public interest. Many, though by no means all, of the people who have suffered are extraordinarily keen to pursue the facts of
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Like so many things, this involves a balancing of interests. Should the desire of some to pursue inquiries to the very end prevail, or should the interests of the community prevail in drawing a line? I have come to the conclusion-which I must express unequivocally, though I fear I find myself in disagreement with many noble Lords who have spoken-that those who say it is in the public interest to call a halt to further inquiries are right. People have been hurt-many badly and some dreadfully. Much can and should be done to help them in various ways. However, as a society we badly need stability. One of the best ways of achieving that would be a long period with as little disturbance as possible. Furthermore, Northern Ireland is now in the process of tackling the many problems of today. It needs all the impulse and creativity that it can summon, untrammelled by the weight of old divisions and antipathies. To this end, the talents and energies, both emotional and practical, of its people must be harnessed. That can only be for the public good.
Like all societies riven by divisions and strife, Northern Ireland has to put them behind it if it is to flourish. In that, increasing prosperity can only be a useful lubricant. If people in countries with problems such as those experienced by Croatia can do it with some success-I am assured by responsible people there that many of them are trying to-we can do it. If we are to develop as a mature and peaceful society, it is better that we should do so without inquiries, which are commonly so prolonged and often controversial, and may produce too little real enlightenment in the end. To reiterate the cliché: it is time to move on.
Lord Tebbit: My Lords, I am prone to speak directly at times, so I hope the noble and learned Lord, Lord Carswell, will forgive me if I say how much I disagree with him and suggest that he might like to think about whether he would have made his speech before the Saville inquiry. If there is any logic in what he has said, it would have been better, or at least as good, to draw the line then, rather than now, would it not?
Too many who have never had the experience of making a difficult decision, taken on imperfect information and when they may have been frightened, are quick to condemn those who react wrongly under those pressures.
My right honourable friend the Prime Minister has said pretty well all that had to be said about what happened in Londonderry in the wake of the publication of the inquiry. That has been repeated today from both Front Benches. I particularly thank the noble
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My introduction to the politics of Northern Ireland predated some of the nastier experiences I have had. I was the Parliamentary Private Secretary to Robin Chichester-Clark, the last Ulster Unionist to hold office in a Westminster Government. In that role I frequently went back and forth to Londonderry in the early 1970s. It was an extraordinary experience to see how different things could be in different parts of the same kingdom.
It should not have taken 12 years to produce the report, nor cost £190 million in outdoor relief for wealthy lawyers. As the noble Lord, Lord Smith of Clifton, observed, we are all indebted to them for this report; indeed, we are highly indebted. It was right to discover what happened that day, so far as we could. I do not differ from what has been said about the tragic errors and failures that led to such a loss of life. However, there is something else about the report which seems to have largely escaped notice; it is testimony to the existence of an entirely different attitude towards public affairs, politics and public order in Northern Ireland from that which we experience and enjoy in the rest of this kingdom. That was the thought which first came to me back in the early 1970s when I was going back and forth to Londonderry. I emphasise this by quoting from paragraph 3.119 on page 46 of the principal conclusions of the Saville report, which refers to,
We can imagine what would have become of the career of my right honourable friend Mr Michael Gove had a judicial inquiry found that during an illegal demonstration in favour of free schools he was probably armed with a sub-machine gun, and that it was possible he might have fired it. It is unlikely that he would today be the Secretary of State for Education. But we have no need to imagine the fate of Mr McGuinness: he is the Minister for education in part of this kingdom, in Northern Ireland. It seems that there are different ways of ordering our affairs in those two parts of the kingdom.
"The Government have no plans to hold a public inquiry in relation to the terrorist attack on The Grand Hotel, Brighton, in October 1984. As the noble Lord will be aware, there was a police investigation following the attack and one man was subsequently convicted of offences relating to the bombing".-[Official Report, 28/6/10; col. WA216.]
One man; but we all know that that one man did not decide to do this on his own. He did not go out to buy
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I end as I began. There are different standards for Northern Ireland and the rest of this kingdom. While those different standards exist, we will never find long-lasting and true peace in Northern Ireland. The inquiry began by adopting the title of the Bloody Sunday inquiry. I fear that that adoption of the very language of those who set out to break the law and confront the forces of the law underlines my view of the difference in our standards.
It would not take long or cost much to establish who was behind the murders at Brighton-or indeed those at Claudy or Omagh, I suspect. IRA/Sinn Fein have claimed responsibility in some of those cases, and I understand that the identities of those who commanded the terrorist organisation at relevant times are well known to the authorities. Surely they could be invited to defend themselves against the suspicion that it was they who procured those bombings, not least that at Brighton. Or is it that the deaths at Brighton count for less than those at Londonderry? Or is it as the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, might imagine-that the Queen's soldiers are sitting ducks for inquiries and the members of the Army Council of Sinn Fein/IRA are, like the godfathers of the Mafia, not just too well connected and too powerful to be brought to justice but too important for the truth about them to be not merely known but to be published?
It is clearly right that today we should be holding this debate on what happened on Bloody Sunday. We owe it to those who were killed and injured. In a sense, there is nothing today that we can add to what the inquiry said in the last paragraph of its overall assessment:
Those words were repeated by the Prime Minister at the end of his Statement on 15 June. I was privileged to hear that Statement and, just as there is nothing to add factually to what is contained in the Saville report, there is little, if anything, to add by way of comment to what the Prime Minister said in that remarkable Statement. I shall never forget it: it was heard in absolute silence. My noble and right reverend friend Lord Eames, if I remember correctly, was sitting beside me. As we heard it, he described the atmosphere as sombre, as indeed it was. However, at the end of that Statement, the Prime Minister said that it was time to move on, and so it is. The great merit of the Saville report is that we can now do just that.
It is easy enough to say-as many have, although not I think today-that the inquiry took too long and cost too much. I noticed that the noble Lord, Lord Shutt of Greetland, did not say that in his opening remarks and I am very grateful to him. He drew attention to the length of time and the cost but did not say that it was too long or cost too much. I am grateful for that because the task that the tribunal set itself was truly gigantic. This was an inquest into the deaths of 13 members of the public. They were not all killed together by a bomb. In one sense, it would have been much easier if that had been so, but they were killed by 13 separate shots fired by 13 different soldiers. Therefore, this was not just one inquest; it was 13 separate inquests into 13 separate deaths. The tribunal was determined to get to the bottom of each death and surely it was right to try. It has, in fact, succeeded in doing so to an extent that I find astonishing.
One of the tribunal's difficulties was that there were a huge number of potential eye witnesses to what happened in the crowd that day. Obviously the tribunal had to listen to all those who had something to say. Therefore, I am not at all surprised that the tribunal took some five or six years out of the total length simply to hear the evidence before reconstructing, on the basis of that evidence, what happened.
There was another reason why the Saville inquiry may have thought it right to take as long as it did. There had been a previous inquiry, which has been referred to often this afternoon, by Lord Widgery, the Lord Chief Justice. The Saville inquiry referred to it in a single, rather dismissive sentence in the first paragraph of its report and never alluded to it again. The reason, of course, was that the Widgery inquiry was wholly inadequate, as we can now see, and indeed was a significant cause of subsequent unrest. The Saville inquiry was determined not to make that mistake; nor did it.
Here, I echo very much the important point made by my noble and right reverend friend Lord Eames when he said that one cannot say, as the Prime Minister did, that there should be an end to such open-ended inquiries. As my noble and right reverend friend asked-and I ask the same question-what is the alternative? If it takes 12 years to get to the bottom of what happened on Bloody Sunday, we must simply take 12 years. You cannot set up an inquiry of this kind and then cut it short by some arbitrary time limit. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Carswell, indicated that a special rule might be thought more applicable in Northern Ireland. Nevertheless, he accepted that it is time to move on there. If the Saville inquiry means that we can move on, as I believe it does, then surely, as the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Bramall, said, the money that we spent on it was worth while.
That brings me to my last point. We have spoken of the expenditure of money, but there was also a human cost to which I should refer. I pay tribute to the three members of the tribunal. They all bore a huge burden over many years. However, the main burden undoubtedly fell on the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville. I was very glad to hear what the noble Lord, Lord Bew, said about the enormous skill with which the noble and learned Lord conducted the inquiry.
What I now have to say about him may sound like an obituary, but I can assure the House that the noble and learned Lord is still alive. He was one of the youngest judges ever to be made a Law Lord. He had hardly settled in when he was asked to undertake this inquiry. Many Law Lords might have refused. No doubt the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, thought that the inquiry would be finished within two years, which was the estimate given by someone, though heaven knows on what conceivable basis that can have been formulated. I know that the noble and learned Lord was looking forward greatly to returning to his ordinary work in the House of Lords; in fact he was longing to come back. So he had no conceivable incentive, if anyone should suggest it, to prolong the inquiry-quite the opposite.
I have no doubt that, at the end, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, undertook the inquiry because he regarded it as his duty to do so. The fact that it took 12 years meant that, to his great cost, it was too late for him to return to his ordinary work in the House of Lords. At least he has the consolation of knowing that, like Othello, he has done the state some service, and for that we should all be profoundly grateful.
Lord Davies of Stamford: My Lords, it is a great pleasure to follow the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd. I have the greatest regard for him as an eminent jurist and I am sorry that he will not agree with at least one of the things that I am about to say.
I have read that part of the report that is available in print. It seems to me to be a clearly argued, thorough and convincing report and I hope, trust and pray that it brings closure to the families of the victims and to the two communities in Londonderry-or Derry-and in Northern Ireland. It is undoubtedly a remarkable achievement by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, and his colleagues.
However, it would be quite wrong not to say on the occasion of this debate in this place that there is a big problem, which has been referred to several times: this inquiry took so long and cost so much that the Government have, apparently, decided that we can never do such a thing again. I totally agree with my noble friend Lady Royall that that is a regrettable decision. It deprives the country of an enormously important check and balance in our system of governance. Of course, we hope that nothing so horrific will ever happen in our history again, but we all know that that is unlikely to be the case. I am extremely worried about the abandonment of the whole concept of an inquiry of this kind.
Before we take such a definitive decision-this is where I think that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, will not like what I have to say-I hope that we will look again at the way in which this inquiry was conducted. I am certain that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, acted with the greatest integrity and professionalism. I do not for one second suggest-to anticipate what might be in some colleagues' minds-that there was any financial motivation on the part of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, in this matter.
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Rather than just abandoning the idea of having such inquiries, however, we owe it to ourselves and the country to find a way in which, in future, such inquiries can be viable and can be conducted with a greater degree of discipline and a rather more focused, businesslike management of the whole process, which I am sure is possible. It may be that different financial incentives have a role in that. I just mention in passing, without in any way suggesting that this would be appropriate in such a judicial activity, that in the City it is now normal, before lawyers are hired for any transaction, including the most complicated and the largest, where the complexity and the time involved can least easily be predicted at the outset, for the lawyers to be asked to quote a fixed price before they are appointed. There may be alternative structures that should be considered. We should not just abandon the whole mechanism without thinking about how it might be made more viable and realistic in future.
That said, I should like to make just four points about the general context in which this horrific event took place. As the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, has just reminded us, this is a moment to try to seek historical truth. One has to start with the fact that these events took place against the background of a march organised by the Civil Rights Association. Most people taking part in that march were clearly entirely peaceable in their intentions. One has to ask: why was there a march in this country organised by the Civil Rights Association? The reason is that, at that time, and during the whole of the 50 years for which the Stormont Government existed, there had been serious abuses of civil rights. Indeed, the civil rights of the Catholic minority had been systematically suppressed for all that time. There were problems in housing and education. There was deliberate gerrymandering of constituencies. There was a terrible problem with job discrimination in the employment market. It was not just that the Government of Northern Ireland acquiesced in job discrimination; from time to time, they promoted it. Lord Brookeborough, who became the third Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, urged unionists to employ only Protestants-to use his phrase, to employ Protestant lads and lasses-and vaunted his employment of 100 per cent Protestants. That was the background. In those days, there was a culture in Northern Ireland that it was a Protestant state and that if the Catholics did not like it they could go down to the Free State or, after 1948, to the Republic.
Only two people, or groups of people, did anything about that. One was a very brave man, Terence O'Neill, who was bitterly attacked from within the unionist party-many of the attacks were co-ordinated by the Reverend Ian Paisley-and politically destroyed. Some people will recall the extraordinary furore that was created in Northern Ireland when Terence O'Neill visited a Catholic school-it was the first time in the 40 years since Stormont had started that a Prime Minister, or any Minister, had been in a Catholic school. That indicates the psychology at the time.
The only organisation to do anything about that was the Civil Rights Association. It organised a number of peaceful demonstrations, which were turned violent by extreme unionists-many of them also organised by people extremely close to the Reverend Ian Paisley. There was disgraceful violence in Armagh and at Burntollet Bridge, just outside Londonderry, in 1968-69. Against that background, it is of course not justifiable or forgivable but it is perhaps humanly understandable that a climate-a fertile field-was created in which extremists and terrorists from the IRA could present themselves as being the defenders of the Catholic community, which was under such attack and systematic discrimination. That is not a happy story.
My second point is that, although I have deliberately been harsh on them, this was not entirely the responsibility of the Northern Ireland Government of those days. The buck really stops here in Westminster because the Northern Ireland Parliament was not a sovereign Parliament like the Irish Parliament in the years before 1800; it was a subsidiary Parliament created by the Government of Ireland Act 1920. We had ultimate responsibility for the way in which it was conducting the governance of Northern Ireland and we did nothing whatever about it.
It would be easy to make a party-political point and say that on the whole that period was dominated by Tory Governments, that a ruthless alliance was formed before the First World War by Carson and Bonar Law in their attacks on the third home rule Bill and that it was all the fault of the Tories. I do not say that, however, because I am ashamed to say that Labour Governments of the time-the minority Labour Government of 1924 and the Labour Governments of 1929 and 1945-were equally negligent about this scandal taking place in Northern Ireland. I am happy to be corrected, but as far as I can recall no Liberal voice was raised in all those years against what was going on in Northern Ireland. That was a disgraceful situation.
It was the fault of Westminster, this Parliament that created Stormont. It simply acquiesced in that completely intolerable situation, which ended up in the appalling situation that we have become familiar with over the past 30 years. There are lessons in that for everybody. I cannot conceive of another devolved Parliament in the United Kingdom behaving in the fashion that the Stormont Government and the majority in the Stormont Parliament did, but if that were ever to happen I hope that in Westminster we would not fail in our responsibilities as we did last time.
My third point is that the background to this appalling event-the tragic disaster on Bloody Sunday-is internment. It is extraordinary that the mistake of
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My final point is that, after this ghastly tragedy of Bloody Sunday, we had to face conflict with the IRA for the next 25 years or so. Why did we have to do it? It was to uphold the principle of democracy, the fundamental principle of a free society. Constitutional and political decisions can be made and constitutional arrangements can be changed only by the democratically expressed will of the people, not at the point of a gun. We had to resist the IRA and we did so. I say "we did so", but the British Army and the RUC actually did so. I accept the appalling criticisms in the report before us, but 99 per cent of time the British Army behaved with incredible courage and great professional restraint. It was because of that, above all things, that we came through and successfully defended that essential principle of a free society.
I also want to say a word about the RUC, which was equally incredibly brave. Many of those men must have felt tempted to drop that profession and get away because it was so dangerous. I am not easily moved to tears, but I have with great difficulty, because grown men do not weep in public, restrained them when going into the police station in Londonderry on more than one occasion and seen the incredible number of names of RUC officers killed during the Troubles in that city. It is absolutely horrific. I make a particular point about the Catholic officers who, of course, were even more vulnerable to revenge attacks and to their families being intimidated and who stayed with the RUC throughout those terrible years. We owe an enormous debt to our security forces-to the British Army and the RUC-in those very difficult times. It is a debt that we must never forget.
Baroness O'Loan: My Lords, before I move to the subject of this debate, I should like to record my congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Macdonald, on his eloquent maiden speech. I was a law student at King's College, London, when the tragic events of Bloody Sunday occurred. I remember coming to this place in disbelief and horror to try to find out what had happened and how it was that Bernard McGuigan, Gerald Donaghy, Hugh Gilmour, John Duddy, Gerald McKinney, James
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"The firing by soldiers of 1 PARA on Bloody Sunday caused the deaths of 13 people and injury to a similar number, none of whom was posing a threat of causing death or serious injury. What happened on Bloody Sunday strengthened the Provisional IRA, increased nationalist resentment and hostility towards the Army and exacerbated the violent conflict of the years that followed. Bloody Sunday was a tragedy for the bereaved and the wounded, and a catastrophe for the people of Northern Ireland".
The families of the dead and the injured on Bloody Sunday conducted themselves with huge courage, determination, dignity and integrity in their long fight for justice. It was so good to see the scenes in the Guildhall Square in Derry when the Saville report was published. It was good, too, to hear the Prime Minister apologise unequivocally. This was an important moment for everyone affected by these terrible events.
There must be learning from Bloody Sunday. British forces serve in many places across the world. Their sacrifice must always be remembered, but learning must take place. As the Prime Minister said in another place:
In Northern Ireland, almost everyone has been affected in some way by the Troubles. I was 26 when I was caught in a bomb explosion. I was pregnant and as a consequence of my injuries my unborn child died. It is not easy in such circumstances to move on. I know that personally; yet my pain was as nothing compared to so many-compared, for example, to the pain of the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, who has spoken today.
The pain of those whose loved ones have died and who have never had the benefit of a proper investigation is an ongoing and terrible sore. Eleven people were killed in incidents involving the Parachute Regiment during three terrible days in Ballymurphy in 1971. These events have been referred to earlier today. It all started on 9 August 1971 on internment day. Over those three days 11 people were killed-Francis Quinn, Father Hugh Mullan, Joan Connolly, Daniel Teggart, Noel Phillips, Joseph Murphy, Edward Doherty, John Laverty, Joseph Corr, John McKerr and Paddy McCarthy. There have been no proper inquiries into these deaths. All that happened just five months before the Bloody Sunday shootings and both events involved officers of the same regiment.
As noble Lords have heard, there have been many atrocities in Northern Ireland-too many. Many of them received only the most perfunctory of investigations for a variety of reasons, some of which were simply the number of atrocities and the small number of police officers to investigate them. But the families of
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