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Lord Berkeley: My Lords, will the Government give the House an assurance that, alongside the new structure for the Underground, there will be a new management, so that never again will there be a disaster such as we have seen with the Jubilee Line? A signalling system has been chosen for that line that has never been used on a heavy railway system anywhere in the world, except between Hong Kong and Guangzhou, the result being a delay of over three years before the Jubilee Line is finally up and running effectively--I believe not until after the millennium.

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I know of my noble friend's concerns over signalling. The signalling for the Underground will be an important element in the specifications which contractors, in relation to the concessions that we are offering, will be required to deliver. We need to learn the lessons that the Jubilee Line in particular provides regarding the future of signalling.

On management arrangements, the creation of a Greater London Authority with a subsidiary body, Transport for London, announced in the Statement made in both Houses yesterday, will be a great improvement on the current situation. The mayor and the assembly will have a mandate from Londoners to get to grips with all the capital's transport problems.

Earl Russell: My Lords, will the Minister say whether the total cost of the proposed arrangements will be greater or less than the cost of continuing public funding? Will it be easier or harder for London Transport to co-ordinate and control the arrangements?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, we believe that London Transport will be able to co-ordinate the arrangements. We are not suggesting the sort of major fragmentation of services that occurred with the privatisation of British Rail. All the operating services will be provided by the public service operator. There will be a maximum of three concessions for the infrastructure. There may be, if it is best value for money, only one concession for the infrastructure. We believe that with the integrated approach of the stewardship of the Greater London Authority, which can also integrate with other forms of transport within the capital, we shall be able to ensure the right sort of co-ordination.

So far as expense is concerned, we are absolutely convinced that the stable funding regime that we propose will allow the most cost-effective way of ensuring the investment that is needed. There are very substantial savings to be made from having that stability of investment as against the year-on-year constraints of public expenditure. The advisers on this particular project suggest that savings in the order of 15 per cent. should be achievable.

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Lord Carter: My Lords, at a convenient moment after 3.30 p.m. my noble friend Lady Hollis of Heigham will, with the leave of the House, repeat a Statement that is to be made in another place on the welfare reform Green Paper, A New Contract for Welfare.

School Standards and Framework Bill

Brought from the Commons; read a first time, and to be printed.

Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Bill

3.39 p.m.

Report received.

Clause 3 [Detention orders]:

Lord Cope of Berkeley moved Amendment No. 1:

Leave out Clause 3.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, my amendment is to leave out Clause 3 and preserve on the statute book the power of internment. We have discussed the matter on a number of occasions, most recently at the Committee stage of the Bill. Although the debate was late at night, I do not think I need repeat too many of the arguments that were made. I can therefore be brief.

It is not our proposition that the powers of internment should be used now while talks are in progress. The problem is that unless the powers are on the statute book, they can never be implemented and achieve the element of surprise that is essential to success if internment is to take place. No terrorist will wait quietly at home while the necessary legislation is passed through Parliament so that he or, in a few cases, she can be picked up when it suits the authorities. So without this power on the statute book, the option to use internment at some stage is ruled out. We believe that the Government should keep that option open.

At an earlier stage, the spokesman for the Liberal Democrats--the noble Lord, Lord Holme of Cheltenham--said that he supported the removal of internment from the statute book on a number of grounds. He also said, however, that if it was needed in the future, it could be put back on the statute book. I do not believe that that argument is sound. The terrorist would simply not wait while Parliament re-introduced the legislation if that course was then required. If we take the power off the statute book, we are ruling out the option.

We all recognise that the last time internment was tried in the 1970s, the intelligence on which the action was based proved faulty. The policy not only did not succeed; it exacerbated the situation. I believe there is general agreement about that. I see that the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees, agrees with me. But there are earlier examples of internment in the Republic of Ireland where internment was an important factor in keeping the peace.

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The fact that it did not work last time should not necessarily mean that we should never envisage using it again in other circumstances. It emerged in Committee, as it has done elsewhere, that other people apart from myself do not find it at all difficult to envisage a situation in which internment might prove to be a necessary policy again.

The noble Lord, Lord Mason of Barnsley, explained to me that he could not be here. But he put his view clearly in an article in The House magazine a couple of weeks ago. He said:

    "I hope that some form of selective detention is kept in our armoury against the terrorists in Northern Ireland. Whatever the outcome from the Mitchell talks, the INLA, the Loyalist Volunteer Force and the Continuity IRA--the Provos by proxy--will not succumb to any peace overtures and they are still fully armed not having surrendered one gun, bullet or pound of semtex. This method of selective detention may well be needed".

That is the core of our case, expressed by one former Secretary of State, the noble Lord, Lord Mason of Barnsley.

But other arguments were put forward in Committee. I believe that the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, is taking part in the talks process today--and playing a distinguished part. He argued that internment had been on the statute book for 25 years without terrorists being deterred. I accept, as would everyone, that it has not solved the problems. Nothing has, although obviously we all hope that the talks will take a big step forward.

The noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, said--and I entirely accept--that the problem cannot be solved by security measures alone. It is a matter of hearts and minds, supported by security measures. I believe that that is the right way of putting it. I also believe that the existence of internment on the statute book could not be expected to solve the problem alone. Certainly no one is arguing that it does. But the removal of the internment power potentially weakens the chance of getting a peace deal to stick. In any case, I remain sure that the existence of the power, even though it has not been used in recent years, has at times inhibited and made more difficult terrorist operations for fear that it might be used.

As a number of noble Lords made clear in previous debates, there is also the very real issue of human rights. I fully accept that it is a valid argument, but it is not a "knock-down" simple argument which can prevail on the question merely by being stated. The human rights of everyone in Northern Ireland and, for that matter, elsewhere in the United Kingdom are battered by terrorism. The peace-loving public have human rights too. The use of many security measures, including internment but not internment alone, damages some people's human rights in order to secure the human rights of a vast majority of peace-loving citizens.

There is another practical argument which suggests that if we put aside internment now in the course of the Bill it will help to deliver agreement in the talks process. Frankly, I doubt that that is the case. But if it were to be the case, then the power should not be put aside until a settlement is agreed. By all means put it on the table as one thing that will happen as part of the settlement, but to give it away now is giving away one more card

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in exchange for nothing. Quite a number of cards have been given away in the course of the talks process already--for nothing so far.

Those are the underlying arguments for retaining the power. We are all familiar with the difficulty of obtaining the conviction of ruthless terrorists who can and do intimidate witnesses, sometimes without lifting a finger. Their reputation is enough to achieve that. The latest ghastly murder in the Maze prison apparently demonstrates, if we are to believe what we read about it, the lengths to which the terrorists and their organisations will go to silence or punish those who would stand witness against them or give information. That murder will no doubt have the effect of silencing others as well as the man who was murdered in the course of it. That is what I mean by being able to intimidate people without lifting a finger. Again, all kinds of people will have doubts about giving evidence or giving information reinforced by the murder.

The difficulties of conviction of any terrorist in those circumstances are compounded in the case of the godfathers who mastermind the terror without themselves risking handling bombs or guns. I believe that if the present talks succeed--and we all fervently hope they will--it is nevertheless unlikely in the extreme, as the quotation I gave from the noble Lord, Lord Mason, makes clear, that all terrorists will accept the settlement. Irish history tells us that that will not happen. In any case, this time there is the added factor of the financial rackets. There are far too many individuals whose standard of living depends on the continuation of terrorism and the rackets that terrorism supports. That will make it all the more difficult to bring total peace to the Province.

In Committee and earlier, and on other occasions, various noble Lords have outlined possible scenarios in which internment of the real hardliners might be beneficial. I do not wish to go over the ground again too much; I wish merely to say that peace may need a breathing space. I do not suggest it will definitely be required, only that it may be required. We should retain the power on the statute book just as the Republic of Ireland has done. The Republic knows from history that internment can be helpful and it would be rash of us to assume that it will never be helpful again in the future. I beg to move.

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