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The Lord Bishop of Portsmouth: My Lords, in view of our experience in the Gulf Warnamely, that the longer a conflict lasts, the more difficult it becomes for the different partners to stick togetherdoes the Minister agree that this conflict has reached the stage where both cluster and "daisy cutter" bombs are so inaccurate and dangerous that such weaponry no longer provides a viable option for the future?
Lord Bach: My Lords, with the greatest respect to the right reverend Prelate, I am afraid that I cannot agree with him. Without the use of such bombs, along with other weapons, does any noble Lord in the House believe that Mazar-i Sharif or Kabul would have fallen by now? The falling of those cities means that those who live in them are no longer controlled by the Taliban, with the risks that that control posed to their lives and also with the total lack of freedom. I must tell the right reverend Prelate that we shall use whatever weaponry is necessary to ensure that we meet the objectives of this war, not the least of which is to protect, in the future, any British troops who may be in Afghanistan.
Lord Vivian: My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that a study made in February last year of the use of cluster bombs concluded that an immediate ban would be inappropriate due to their proven utility and limited scale of use when compared with the use of landmines? Is he also aware that our own troops would be put into great danger if we did not use cluster bombs to defeat the enemy?
Lord Bach: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord. I was not aware of the study to which he referred, but I shall ensure that I take note of it. So far as concerns his second point, of course it is right that
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, if British personnel are to be used on the ground in Afghanistan, will the Minister consider implementing further training to deal with cluster bombs? British personnel have already been killed by unexploded cluster munitions in Kosovo.
Lord Chalfont: My Lords, does the Minister agree that it is rather untidy to refer to cluster bombs as one kind of munition? Does he agree that the two main weapons currently being used in Afghanistan are the CBU 87, which casts out bomblets that look like cans of cola and thus might attract children to them, and the CBU 89, which scatters mines over a large area? Can the Minister confirm that the latter bombs contain a self-destruct device which can be used to destroy them before a civilian on the ground is injured?
Lord Bach: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his question and for his expertise in this area. I can tell him that the following cluster munitions have been used in Afghanistan: the air-guided munition, 154 joint stand-off weapon; the cluster bomb unit CBU 87, to which the noble Lord referred; and the CBU 103. Neither the CBU 89 nor the CBU 104 GATOR bomb has been dropped over Afghanistan. The latter two can be considered to be anti-personnel landmines.
Viscount Waverley: My Lords, one of my abiding memories of a past visit to Afghanistan is the scourge of landmines. It is estimated that some 10 million unexploded landmines are buried in the country. Will Ministers take the opportunity to factor that problem into their development programmes, as time permits?
Lord Bach: My Lords, we certainly shall do so. As the noble Lord has illustrated, many dangers exist in Afghanistan, not least from the thousands, if not millions, of anti-personnel mines that have been planted by warring parties over 20 years. We are committed to a long-term process of reconstruction in Afghanistan and we are considering ways of demining and then disposing of unexploded ordnance, which would form part of that process. Thus, the answer to the noble Viscount's question is yes.
Lord Swinfen: My Lords, does the Minister agree that a failure rate of 5 per cent for any British munition is far too high for the safety of our troops and the effectiveness of our operations? What is being done to improve the rate of burst to a satisfactory level?
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Rooker): My Lords, the answer to the noble Lord's Question is none. Investigations under the Terrorism Act 2000 are a matter entirely for the police. It is for the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether to pursue a prosecution. Since 11th September, 41 people have been arrested under the Act. Six are presently remanded in police custody. However, the Immigration Act 1971 allows the Home Secretary to take deportation action against any individual, if their presence in the United Kingdom is deemed not be conducive to the public good.
Lord Rotherwick: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his helpful Answer. Will he join me in applauding Syria on its recent action? It has extradited to Egypt Refaie Ahmed Taha, the terrorist behind the shooting of 28 British and foreign tourists in Luxor in 1997? Are the Government considering whether they should follow the example set by Syria in extraditing terrorists even if they may face the death penalty in the country to which they are extradited?
Lord Rooker: My Lords, the answer to the final part of the noble Lord's question is no. In response to the first part, I must be honest and say that I am not briefed to comment in detail on it. The noble Lord is entitled to ask me about such questions, but it simply would not be possible to give a brief response.
However, under the terms of our extradition procedure, of the six people currently remanded in police custodyI emphasise thattwo are among a total of 10 who are subject to extradition warrants. Of the 41 people I mentioned, 13 more were released into the custody of the Immigration Service. Thus they are being detained, but they are not in police custody. The subject of extradition is complex and we shall bring forward an extradition Bill in the early part of next year. However, we shall not seek powers to extradite people to countries where they would face torture or the death penalty. We shall seek other means of extradition, some details of which were included in the Bill published yesterday.
Lord Rooker: My Lords, I do not believe that we have any plans to change that system. We seek to introduce changes to aspects of judicial review, the details of which were included in the Bill published yesterday. We have made it clear why we intend to make those changes. No one has been denied the right to review the terms of their detention sentence. The detainee can appeal on a point of law to the Court of Appeal and, if necessary, to the House of Lords, so in that sense we are removing judicial review. We are taking steps to make the process faster, while making it fairer, in order that it should not be abused by the legal trade.
Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the reluctance of the Government to resort to deportation to some countries in which there is the possibility of the use of the death penalty could lead to this country becoming, in certain circumstances, a haven for international terrorists? In turn, that could be interpreted as an incitement to violence in this country.
Lord Rooker: My Lords, the noble Lord is asking me to derogate not only from the European Convention on Human Rights, but in fact to get out of something to which this country has been a signatory under both governments for over 50 years. That is the implication if knowingly we return people to countries where they will face the death penalty. No one has suggested that we should pull away completely from the European Convention on Human Rights. If we are holding people who, we believe, are in that situation and we cannot take forward a criminal prosecution simply because the evidence is based on Security Service or surveillance sources and thus cannot be put before a court, but we believe that those people pose a threat to public safety, we are limited in our choices. We can allow them to roam free in this country; we can deport them to a safe third country, if one can be found; or we detain them. Those are three choices. We have put forward the last alternative in the Bill. It will be for others to choose between the three options. However, I should stress that we have only those three from which to choose.
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