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Lord Fraser of Carmyllie: My Lords, if the noble Lord wishes me to quote at length I shall do so. I am pointing out that he stopped before reading the next sentence. He certainly did not go to D3.124, where he knows that my right honourable friend Mr. William Waldegrave and his ministerial colleagues were acquitted of having any duplicitous intention.
I do not need to say anything more about my right honourable friend Mr. William Waldegrave because not only have political colleagues sprung to his defence and stated what an open and honourable man he is, but also a number of political opponents similarly acknowledged that he has that clear and obvious characteristic. That was confirmed also by a number of distinguished public servants who have worked with him in recent years.
The critical feature on which we should focus is that of the Howe guidelines. Of course the guidelines contained a degree of flexibility. They were constructed in that form to allow for just that flexibility. If those who read the report carefully reflect upon it, they will appreciate that from the very beginning, when the guidelines were in their embryonic state, there was the beginning of the idea of flexibility. It is clear from Sir Richard Scott's analysis that he attacked the idea of their having any flexibility built into them at all.
I do not believe that I can usefully elaborate on the arguments that have been fully advanced by my noble and learned friend Lord Hailsham, my noble friend Lady Thatcher, my noble and learned friend Lord Howe and my noble friend Lord Trefgarne. If they will forgive me, it seemed to me that what was more interesting in some respects was the contribution offered on the matter of whether this was an issue of opinion or interpretation. The arguments advanced in that regard by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wilberforce, and the noble Lords, Lord Armstrong and Lord Wright, need to be clearly appreciated.
There was a difference of view on whether what was said was within the guidelines; within the flexibility that they allowed for, or outwith them. That is a matter of interpretation or opinion. However, it is important to grasp that, once Sir Richard Scott reached the view that they fell outwith the guidelines, he then proceeded to say that there was then a misleading of Parliament. It all flows from that. But at the same time--and I shall quote for some considerable time if necessary--time and time again he acknowledges, on behalf of those who were central to the consideration of the change following on the ceasefire, that there was no intention to mislead.
I leave this matter simply by saying this. It is only right that we emphasise again the context within which the eponymous guidelines of my noble and learned friend Lord Howe were first constructed. We were acting in a fashion that was unique in terms of providing equipment of any sort to those combatants in the foulest of wars.
I turn to the issue of PII certificates. I do not believe that I have ever made an assertion in law which secured the unequivocal support of such distinguished lawyers as the noble and learned Lords, Lord Lloyd, Lord Simon, Lord Slynn, Lord Hailsham, Lord Bingham, Master of the Rolls, Lord Ackner and implicitly Lord Wilberforce. Had that happened to me in private practice, I would be doing a lap of honour, continued indefinitely.
Against that background of opinion it is time once and for all to leave aside the argument which, frankly, has been disgracefully addressed at the Attorney-General. Furthermore, it is a mischievous misrepresentation of the matter to say that he took no interest in the prosecution. He had a conference with Mr. Moses, the prosecuting counsel. Specific reference is made to that meeting; specific reference is made to the form of certificate that was particularly fashioned for Mr. Michael Heseltine. All that was in discharge of the Attorney-General's overall responsibility for prosecution with regard to Customs and Excise. If noble Lords believe that the Attorney-General should have taken on a more interventionist role, I would have anticipated in the course of the debate that they would have welcomed what I said when I indicated that we are developing proposals on the precise nature and scope of the increased supervision of Customs and Excise that Sir Richard Scott recommended. However, I am bound to conclude, with a number of my noble friends, that the attack on the Attorney-General is nothing to do with his conduct; it is, allied with the attack on William Waldegrave, all about trying to secure the maximum political embarrassment for the two Ministers still in office who had any part to play in these affairs.
The most breathtaking contribution in your Lordships' House during these eight and a half hours was that of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Hillhead. He savaged senior Secretaries of State for appending, if I noted him correctly, what were described as automatic signatures to PII certificates. I have to tell your Lordships that the right honourable Roy Harris Jenkins, on or about 3rd June 1966, signed the most famous PII certificate in history; namely, the PII certificate which gave rise to the decision in your Lordships' House in the famous case, repeatedly referred to today, of Conway v. Rimmer. He said:
My noble friend Lord Tebbit focused on a particular feature of Sir Richard Scott's report and the broad criticism of successive Administrations. The noble Lord, Lord Peston, indicated that Sir Richard Scott understated matters. Sir Richard Scott says in C1.67:
Far from using understated language, time and time again Sir Richard uses the most vigorous and robust language, as he is perfectly entitled to do. However, what I think will most surprise noble Lords who have read the passage carefully is the deafening silence that there has been from Mr. Gordon Brown and Ms. Joyce Quin in terms of their participation in the discussions about whether or not it would be appropriate for a negative resolution to be included in any Bill to come before your Lordships' House.
I must nail one canard. It was no civil servant or Minister who dreamt up the arrangements for access prior to publication for a number of Ministers and other party leaders who wanted to see the report. Sir Richard Scott either required or agreed to all the arrangements that were made. My noble and learned friend Lord Howe of Aberavon sought to have access to the report prior and was refused it, as was my noble friend Lord Trefgarne. There has been some pleasurable fun at the term "controlled environment". That term was before Sir Richard Scott and was agreed to by him.
I readily recognise that we cannot deal with this matter in terms of soundbites or catch-phrases, but I should have thought it appropriate for the noble Lord, Lord Thomson of Monifieth, to refer to the further letter from Sir Richard Scott which was copied to his colleague, Mr. Menzies Campbell, in which he said:
Finally, I turn to the issue of the inquiry procedures, about which some forceful observations were made by my noble and learned friends Lord Howe and Lord Rawlinson and by my noble friends Lord Rippon and Lord Trefgarne. I understand that my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor has today indicated that, if anyone wants to put forward views on the proposals offered by Sir Richard Scott on how we should re-examine the way in which inquiries are conducted, he would be pleased to receive them. We are conscious of the criticisms made by my noble friends and want to ensure that the detailed arguments on the proposals are properly addressed. I hope that there will be a positive contribution to that debate.
I conclude by saying that there have been something like nine hours of debate and some very distinguished contributions. I am very grateful to noble Lords who have contributed. I wish that there had been more speeches like that made towards the end by the noble Lord, Lord Bridges, who indicated that he wished to look at the exchange control legislation. I anticipated that that would have flowed from the opening remarks that I made. Far too much of what we have been subjected to has been a phoney attempt to bring about some political embarrassment to the Government. I believe that nine hours of debate have simply revealed that that attempt has failed.
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