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Lord Molyneaux of Killead: I support the amendment. Thinking back a few decades, we owe it to my late colleague, Enoch Powell, for his service on the Committee on the Prevention of Terrorism Bill at that time to ensure that the Act, which was first purely a Northern Ireland Act and later became a UK Act, was transformed into dealing with international terrorism. Noble Lords who have spoken expressed sound common sense. I hope that the amendment will be accepted.

However, I am wondering if tomorrow by any chance an international terrorist were to read the account of this debate in Hansard, he might have some difficulty in deciphering the signal that we are sending.

Lord Holme of Cheltenham: I have put my name to this amendment for this reason. Although hard cases make bad law, I can imagine the possibility to which the noble Lord, Lord Monson, referred of somebody who is, say, involved subsequent to his release on licence in another terrorist offence--let us say, planting a bomb on behalf of a Middle Eastern group. He may be consumed with bitterness about Britain. He may be a mercenary. He may for mercenary reasons have adopted that as his permanent way of life. In that situation, a convicted paramilitary who was originally caught planting a bomb, given a life sentence and subsequently released under this legislation, yet who some time later was caught planting another bomb in London,--for example, in collaboration with Middle Eastern terrorists--could appeal against the re-imposition of his initial sentence on the grounds that his most recent offence was connected with Middle Eastern, not Northern Irish, issues.

As the Bill is currently drafted, it would allow such a character--and we cannot exclude the possibility that such people exist--seriously to embarrass the

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Government and avoid many years in prison. The Government would do well to consider that. I take the point that emergency legislation of one sort or another deals with other matters such as drug dealing offences. However, we are talking here about somebody who moves on from Northern Irish terrorism to becoming part of international terrorism and about what would then happen to him.

Lord Tebbit: It does not have to be international terrorism. It does not have to be the possibility of the bomb maker going to Spain to help ETA. Up to now, and we all pray that it will continue, the Scottish nationalist movement has been overwhelmingly peaceful. There have been only one or two occasions on which there has been any element of violence. The same is true of the Welsh nationalist movement. The SNP and its equivalent party in Wales, Plaid Cymru, are absolutely and adamantly opposed to any form of violence. But how absurd it would be if one of the people who had been let out was able to continue his trade, if that is the right word, still within the borders of the United Kingdom for a nationalist cause and would not therefore be pulled back in from release. Of course, he would have to be prosecuted first for the crime that he had most recently committed for it to be established that he had broken the terms of his release. But how strange the wording of the Bill is.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: In moving Amendment No. 7, I should have added that I was speaking to Amendments Nos. 11 and 25, which make exactly the same point at subsequent points in the Bill.

7 p.m.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: I am grateful to the noble Lord. I had intended to respond to the three amendments, which are grouped together.

The purpose of the amendment is perfectly simple and straightforward; that is, to remove the qualification in three places. The fundamental point is that the Bill deals with, and is intended to deal with, terrorism connected to the affairs of Northern Ireland, to use the phrase in the Bill. That is what the agreement deals with as well. It is not intended to apply to terrorism that has no connection with the affairs of Northern Ireland. There is a good case to be made for a review of international terrorist legislation. That is presently under way in the Home Office. The terms of the Bill include acts of terrorism committed outside Northern Ireland which are connected to the affairs of Northern Ireland. For instance, if an act of terrorism related to the affairs of Northern Ireland were committed in London, Wales or Scotland, that would be caught by the present terms of the Bill. What the Bill does not do, and what it is not intended to do, is to require the commissioners to take account of possible acts of terrorism which have no relation at all to the affairs of Northern Ireland. The example is given of Middle Eastern terrorism.

Amendment No. 7 would require the commissioners to consider whether prisoners would be likely to become concerned in Middle Eastern terrorism, which has no connection at all with Northern Ireland affairs.

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Amendment No. 11 would give the Secretary of State the power to identify a terrorist organisation that was engaged in terrorist activity entirely unrelated to Northern Ireland and unconnected with the affairs of Northern Ireland. We do not believe that it is necessary or appropriate to extend the remit of the commissioners in this way.

It was mentioned that arms had in the past been acquired by members of the Provisional IRA from other countries, perhaps the Middle East. It was asserted that training was given outside the United Kingdom and that links were continuing. I dissent from none of those propositions. But all those activities would be caught by the Bill in its present form, because the acquisition of arms, the training, the links and possible donation of funds would all be quintessentially and plainly connected with the affairs of Northern Ireland.

I recognise the concerns that have been expressed by Members of the Committee about international terrorism, but this is not intended to be a Bill or an agreement about anything other than the affairs of Northern Ireland.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: The reason for mentioning the training and acquisition of arms was that, just as other terrorists elsewhere in the world have given assistance to the PIRA, and, no doubt, to other organisations, so the flow can be in the other direction. It would be most unfortunate if we found that, through this Bill, we were releasing terrorists who then went off to fight in other battles, whether against the United Kingdom or against other people. We have made the point. At this stage, I seek leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 8 not moved.]

Lord Monson moved Amendment No. 9:

Page 2, line 18, at end insert--
("( ) The fifth condition is that the prisoner expresses remorse for the suffering caused by his crime.").

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 3 sets out four conditions that must be satisfied, subject to certain qualifications, before a terrorist prisoner can be prematurely released. This amendment would add a fifth condition, or a sixth one, if Amendment No. 8 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, were to be accepted at a later stage of the Bill. I believe that acceptance of this amendment would make the Bill rather less unjust, and certainly less unpalatable to the victims of terrorist crime and their families, even though it will not and cannot wholly reconcile them to it.

Some Members of the Committee may have read the autobiography, or the condensed version of the autobiography serialised in the Daily Telegraph, of a former IRA terrorist, Sean O'Callaghan, whom I have met. A diminutive, soft-spoken and sensitive-seeming man, he does not look as if he would or could kill a fly. Yet, as an idealistic teenager growing up in a strongly republican milieu in the south west of Ireland, he joined

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the IRA, became proficient in weaponry and carried out two murders on behalf of the IRA, one of the victims being a woman.

He felt distinctly uneasy after each of these murders, and this persisting unease, combined with a growing distaste for the callous attitude of many of his comrades, caused him to decide to leave the organisation. After a lapse of time, and as a form of atonement, it would appear, he rejoined the IRA but this time under false colours, as a police informer. In this capacity, and at enormous personal risk, he managed, without arousing suspicion, to foil a number of projected IRA murders and ambushes, including, if his claim is correct--and I see no reason to doubt it--the proposed assassination of the Prince and Princess of Wales at the Dominion Theatre in Tottenham Court Road in the early 1980s. Finally, the danger and strain of leading a double life became too much and he quit the Provisional IRA altogether.

Still feeling guilty about the two murders he had committed many years previously, it would seem, he went of his own accord to the police, confessed, was arrested, was put on trial, was convicted and was duly sentenced to life imprisonment. He served eight years. I am fairly certain that, if he had kept a low profile, he would have escaped prosecution, given the enormously valuable work he had done for the security forces on both sides of the Irish border; but his conscience dictated otherwise and he felt that he deserved to go to prison for a time.

The point of all this is that, by his acts of repentance, he wiped the slate clean, certainly as far as most objective onlookers, like most of us, are concerned, and, one would like to think, as far as the families of his victims are concerned as well. It would be nice to think that such acts of contrition could be widely replicated through legislation, but that is clearly totally unrealistic. The contrition that Amendment No. 9 seeks to have expressed as a quid pro quo for early release is vastly less far reaching, less comprehensive and less demanding. Indeed, there could be no guarantee that the remorse to be expressed would be sincere, although the mere fact of having to express remorse in one's own words will to some extent force prisoners to face the enormity of their crimes, which must be a step in the right direction. But, if this small and admittedly inadequate gesture makes the victims' families feel even 10 per cent. less unhappy about the Bill than they are at present, it would be worthwhile writing the obligation into the Bill. It would also help reconciliation in the more general sense, a highly desirable and necessary objective, as the noble Lord, Lord Sheppard, reminded us. I hope that the Committee and the Government will accept at least the principle of the amendment. I beg to move.

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