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Lord Archer of Weston-Super-Mare: My Lords, the Minister will realise that under the UN Resolution the Kurds are not receiving the food and equipment needed and promised. She told us that with the diplomatic situation, which I thoroughly understand, that will be done as soon as possible. One will have to report back to the Kurds what that actually means. They feel that Saddam Hussein has absolutely no interest at all in resolutions from the United Nations and the Kurds will go on starving until some action is taken.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, if the Kurds are right in believing that Saddam Hussein has no interest in Security Council resolutions, that

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reinforces the view that Her Majesty's Government have taken that such resolutions need to be backed up by the threat of military action.

Lord Craig of Radley: My Lords, can the Minister enlighten us as to whether, in the event of the military option having to be used, that will be a joint decision by the American and British Governments or will it be for the British Government at the time to decide independently whether to take part in any operations which the Americans might wish to mount?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I can tell your Lordships that any decisions taken will be reached in the light of the circumstances prevailing at the time.

Lord Moyne: My Lords, is the Minister aware that General Norman Schwartzkopf, who commanded the allied forces in the Gulf War, has strongly expressed his opposition to any such action and feels that it would be counter-productive?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, a number of individuals have expressed strong feelings on this question. Sometimes when people move away from the centre and are unaware of the threat posed, it may be that they do not have all the knowledge which they might have on important points or which is available to those who have determined that Saddam Hussein is a threat not only in the region but also to the rest of the world.

It may help if I illustrate the point in relation to UNSCOM. On 2nd February I was able to give your Lordships a detailed list of what UNSCOM had found. What I did not give your Lordships was the list of weapons that are unaccounted for. We believe that Iraq may have operational Scud-type missiles with chemical and biological warheads. We do not have any knowledge where 17 tonnes of growth media for BW agents has gone. UNSCOM strongly suspects that the admitted Iraqi figures for the production of BW agents are still far too low.

Iraq's CW programme was on an enormous scale. We know that 4,000 tonnes of CW precursors are simply not accounted for. These could have produced several hundred tonnes of CW agents, which would be enough to fill several thousand munitions. Over 31,000 CW munitions are not accounted for. Over 600 tonnes of VX precursors are also not accounted for. These are not just figures for us to throw about, but real weapons of mass destruction. We do not know where they are. They are in the hands of a man who may well be prepared to use them. So my answer to General Schwartzkopf and others who have doubts is to ask them what they would do in relation to this appalling litany of unfound weapons. I believe that the determination shown by Her Majesty's Government on this matter is entirely right.

The Lord Bishop of Leicester: My Lords, I have been reflecting on what the Minister said earlier about opposition to Saddam Hussein in Iraq. The noble Lord, Lord Steel, and I visited Iraq some three years ago on a

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humanitarian visit to investigate the effect of sanctions. We were both shocked by their effect, particularly on children in hospitals and clinics. But I was equally shocked by the hostility of ordinary people in Iraq to the British and American Governments whom they blamed for sanctions and also for the great suffering incurred during the Gulf War. Lest it be thought that we were being misled by that impression, the noble Lord and I were quite skilful at slipping away from our official engagements and using our charitable links to meet ordinary Church people. I have no doubt that the use of force would push the ordinary people of Iraq, who are hostages in their own country, further into the grip of Saddam Hussein. I view the use of force with deep foreboding. I plead for a more patient approach until we are absolutely clear that the use of force will have the desired outcome.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, the right reverend Prelate has spoken about the effect of sanctions on children and other defenceless people and the hostility of ordinary Iraqi people to the British and those of other nationalities whom they believe are responsible. I do not find that surprising. Of course there will be that kind of a hostility because the people do not know that there is a £2 billion oil-for-food programme; they do not know that Saddam Hussein has built palace after palace rather than feed hungry people and give medicine to children; they do not know that he has spent money from the programme on weapons of mass destruction. But we know that is what he is doing. I say to the right reverend Prelate that much as he fears what may happen to people in Iraq in the appalling eventuality of military action, and much as we all fear that, the alternative is that many more innocent people will suffer eventually and be in Saddam Hussein's appalling grasp if we do not take determined action.

Crime and Disorder Bill [H.L.]

4.30 p.m.

House again in Committee on Clause 18.

Lord Mackay of Drumadoon moved Amendment No. 44:

Page 14, line 33, after ("was") insert ("reasonably").

The noble and learned Lord said: In moving Amendment No. 44, I should like to speak also to Amendment No. 45 which stands in my name and those of my noble friends and to refer also to Amendment No. 53 which stands in the name of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate.

The issues raised in this group of amendments are similar to those debated in relation to Amendment No. 13 on our first Committee day when we considered Clause 1. As I read it, the difference between my amendments and that now tabled by the Lord Advocate boils down ultimately to where the onus should lie in dealing with the reasonableness of the behaviour complained about. As I am sure that the Lord Advocate

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will appreciate, when I tabled my amendments I had no knowledge of his amendment and no doubt he was in exactly the same position with regard to my amendment. Given that the issue has been raised by both sides, the question that arises is whether some further consideration should be given to the best way forward.

The structure of Clause 18(1) is clearly based on the definition of the common law offence of breach of the peace in Scotland. If such an offence was prosecuted, clearly no question of onus on the accused would arise. Therefore, the problem that troubles me is this: if the onus in this civil order is transferred to the person against whom the order is sought, with that person having to seek to prove the reasonableness of his action in all the circumstances, curiously it may end up with it being more difficult to avoid the order being pronounced than to avoid a conviction for breach of the peace. That seems a conundrum.

I should be interested to hear what the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate has to say on the matter and, indeed, to hear what any noble Lords may wish to contribute to this brief discussion. In the light of these competing amendments, it might be sensible for some further consideration to be given to the matter. We all seek a common purpose. The question is the best way to reach it, having regard to the fact that, once pronounced, an antisocial behaviour order could have serious consequences for the person against whom it is pronounced. I beg to move.

Lord Hardie: As the noble and learned Lord said, this amendment raises the same issue as was raised with regard to the English provision which was dealt with by my noble friend Lord Williams.

Amendment No. 44 would require the sheriff to be satisfied that actions were reasonably likely to cause alarm or distress. It would be unnecessary to require this expressly in the clause. The sheriff will, in determining whether an action was likely to cause alarm and distress, make a reasonable assessment of the facts.

Amendment No. 45 would introduce a test that antisocial conduct caused or was likely to cause alarm or distress to a reasonable person. The proposal is inconsistent with the intention that it is for the sheriff to determine whether conduct caused or was likely to cause alarm or distress to particular persons in the relevant area. It would seem appropriate to leave it to the sheriff to decide this on the particular facts, rather than having to consider the view of the hypothetical reasonable person.

The question of onus was dealt with in the first group of amendments which the noble and learned Lord tabled when we were last in Committee. As was said then, we are dealing here with a civil order, not a criminal order. The test is the same as that set out in the Protection from Harassment Act, which dealt with a civil order.

I turn now to Amendment No. 53, which stands in my name and which has been grouped with Amendments Nos. 44 and 45. This amendment mirrors an amendment to the equivalent English provisions, which we discussed earlier. It is intended to make it

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absolutely clear that an order should not be made if the behaviour complained of can be shown to have been reasonable in the circumstances.

As your Lordships know, this amendment has been laid in response to concerns expressed during the Second Reading of the Bill in this House. We would, of course, expect the local authority to consider carefully whether the behaviour in question could be thought of as reasonable before making an application for an order. I invite the noble and learned Lord to withdraw his amendments and I shall move Amendment No. 53.

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