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Lord Whitty: My Lords, I accept the view that those who were parties to this difficult peace accord deserve all our congratulations and support. Some subsequent developments have already proved beneficial. As regards financial assistance, we shall need to go through the process of identifying specific projects which are agreed by the government of Bangladesh and the local people. That will take some time to achieve. It is also true that the security situation in the area has not been completely resolved, and that may have an effect on the way that the assistance is delivered.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, will the Minister ask the Bangladesh authorities whether they will permit access to the territory by journalists, human rights observers and the UNHCR so that the circumstances in which the refugees mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Shore, are repatriated can be monitored properly? Is he aware that the total number of refugees in the Indian state of Tripura was at one time 68,000, and that it is a major task not just to resettle those people in a manner that will enable them to resume their lives and work, but to ensure that they get back the homes and lands that they once occupied? Is it not necessary that the international community should have an observer or observers on the spot to see that those agreements are honoured?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the accords themselves provide for some access. As regards detailed access by specific officials from UN authorities, I should be grateful if the noble Lord would allow me to write to him on that matter. The UN aid organisations will be in there. When the normalisation of the situation has been achieved, there is no real reason why human rights observers should not be there. Owing to the difficult land-owning and other human rights circumstances, it will be useful to have such input. It must be borne in mind that some of the recent settlers, who may be seen as being put there by the Bangladesh Government, also have their rights in this situation.

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, will my noble friend assure me that, given the fact that some of our poorest fellow citizens send as much as 10 per cent. of their income back to their home country of Bangladesh to help that desperately poor part of the world, the Government, too, will be generous in their support of the Bangladesh Government who are under considerable financial and economic pressures?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, we recognise that Bangladesh is one of the poorest countries in the world. A number of its citizens and people of that origin live in this country and keep alive our interest in Bangladesh. We have always regarded Bangladesh as a priority for aid and in terms of our new poverty strategy it will continue to be prioritised in any allocation of aid by this Government.

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Lord Swinfen: My Lords, the Minister will recognise that there is a large number of hill tribesmen still to return to Bangladesh from across the border and that they have little ability to generate income. Will he ensure that in the aid which is given to Bangladesh, training for such people in some form of income generation is made a priority?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I have no doubt that projects of that nature will be among those needed in the total package which we will be considering.

Lord Paul: My Lords, as this is a great achievement on the part of the Bangladesh Prime Minister, will the Minister convey to her the congratulations of the House? What further help can the Minister provide to encourage the process?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I am certainly willing to pass on those congratulations from my noble friend and the whole House. As regards additional assistance, I have outlined the form of package which will be required. Her Majesty's Government stand by to respond to requests to support the beneficial process which we hope will put an end to the long running conflict in the area.

Lord McNally: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the weakness in his reply is that everything seems post facto; the plans for aid come only after the agreement is in place? The Minister mentioned the Biharis, which pose a problem. Should not the Minister be making contingency plans to the effect that if an agreement between Bangladesh and Pakistan were reached, the British Government, the European Union, and the UN will immediately put into place these aid packages in order to facilitate the agreement? That would be a carrot and would show forward thinking, rather than waiting for the political accord and then considering how we underpin that with aid.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the Biharis have always been able to integrate into Bangladesh society. However, in many senses they have felt that the politics and the existing situation make it sensible for them to seek access to what was West Pakistan. In such circumstances, one must have an agreement between Pakistan and Bangladesh before making serious and detailed plans about how to support the resettlement. While the Bihari population remains in Bangladesh we should be happy to consider assistance programmes which help them in particular.

Crime and Disorder Bill [H.L.]

3.13 p.m.

Report received.

Clause 1 [Anti-social behaviour orders]:

Lord Henley moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 1, line 13, leave out ("in an anti-social manner, that is to say,").

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The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 1 I shall speak also to Amendment No. 3. The House will remember that we devoted a major part of the first day in Committee to antisocial behaviour orders and Clause 1. I trust that we can be considerably briefer in dealing with Clause 1 on this occasion. However, I wish to return to one or two of the amendments which I tabled on that occasion. As regards Amendment No. 2, I am pleased to see the name of the noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, added to the other distinguished names which follow my undistinguished name. I am grateful for his support and for his acceptance of the amendment. I shall deal with that briefly in due course.

It was right to devote a considerable amount of time to the antisocial behaviour orders because they are a new concept and are important. We believed it important that the Government should explain the thinking behind their clauses and the way in which they would work. I am grateful for the Government's responses and for the responses which we have received in correspondence with the noble Lord, Lord Williams.

We generally support the intention behind Clause 1 and the antisocial behaviour orders. It is important that the wording of such a clause should be as clear as possible. That is why I have tabled Amendments Nos. 1 and 3. They seek, first, to delete from page 1, line 13, the words,

    "in an anti-social manner, that is to say",

and, secondly, at page 2, line 3, to leave out "anti-social acts by him" and insert "harassment, alarm or distress". That would leave Clause 1(1)(a) and (b) using the words "harassment, alarm or distress". Following the lengthy debate in Committee, I maintain that those words would be clearer and therefore they would be easier for the courts to understand and interpret. They appear in other Acts of Parliament and the courts have dealt with them for some time. I believe that to add words to "harassment, alarm and distress"--for example,

    "in an anti-social manner, that is to say"--

further complicates matters and detracts from the precision which is important in a Bill.

We generally support the intentions behind the antisocial behaviour order but believe that there is a need for improving the wording. That is why I have tabled the amendments today. I beg to move.

Lord Renton: My Lords, I hope that the Government will be able to give favourable consideration to these amendments. The trouble is that antisocial behaviour is of many kinds and here we are dealing with only one particular kind. The Bill should make that clear. We see in subsection (1)(a) that the essence of the matter is causing harassment, alarm or distress. To introduce in addition the concept of antisocial behaviour confuses the issue. Let us stick to the point. I am sure that my noble friend Lord Henley has made a good case. It is a drafting matter, but an important one.

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, yes, it is a drafting matter and a very important one. I agree with everything that has been said, but how will the proposal

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marry with subsections (5) to (10)? We are dealing with a new form of disposition called an antisocial behaviour order. Therefore, one must have some substance in the creation of the offence which relates to antisocial behaviour. I am not trying to be technical, but I see more than a difficulty in the drafting.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, the noble Lord is quite right. We spent quite a lot of time discussing these matters. We said that we would think carefully and we have. The noble Lord, Lord Renton, said that this was a drafting matter. We believe that it is more fundamental than that. It is perfectly plain in Clause 1(1)(a) that an antisocial order or behaving in an antisocial manner is to behave in a manner,

    "that caused or was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress".

That is a new concept. It is entitled to be new because we believe that this is a significant social evil which at present is unaddressed.

We want to tackle antisocial behaviour. For quite a large number of people who live in this country, their lives are made a misery by it. It is not headline-catching behaviour but it is continuous, persistent misbehaviour which makes people unable to live happily and calmly in their own homes. We believe that it is the Government's duty to address that.

We have addressed it by defining what we believe the mischief is; in other words, behaving in an antisocial manner which is likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress. Nothing could be plainer. We do not dissent from the noble Lord's definition because in the Bill, "harassment, alarm or distress" is included as the definition of antisocial behaviour. We are setting out that that is an offence which we intend to tackle with due seriousness. It is a clear indication that that type of behaviour, which is an affront to the community, will be dealt with. Therefore, the label is there for a purpose; the purpose is important; and I regret to say that on this occasion, although not on other occasions, I am not able to feel persuaded by the argument that has been put.

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