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Lord Cope of Berkeley: I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. Does he therefore think that the Prime Minister went beyond the agreement in the Balmoral speech when he used the word "and"?

Lord Dubs: The Prime Minister was not speaking in legislative terms.

Noble Lords: No!

Lord Dubs: The Prime Minister was speaking in general terms. Those noble Lords opposite who say "no" have been Ministers. They know exactly what I am talking about. They may feel that they have changed sides and can talk differently now but they will know better than I do, because they have had more experience in government than I have had, that there is a difference between a colloquial form of expression and converting the intent of that into a legislative form. That is the purpose when we have the Bill and that may be the reason why, grammatically, there are some differences

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between what the Prime Minister said and what is in the Bill. It is only in that sense that there is a distinction between the two.

Lord Molyneaux of Killead: I am grateful to the noble Lord for permitting me to intervene briefly. I am even more grateful to him for closing the gap between us because he and I now think alike. He is standing by the principle of putting into legislation something which was said in outline. I was saying exactly the same thing. There was a rather vague document which had been approved verbally but not with signatures. The Bill has the same status now. In my eyes it is putting into effect in detail what the delegates thought they were agreeing to on Good Friday. I am genuinely grateful to the noble Lord.

Lord Dubs: I believe that the noble Lord is taking the argument further than is reasonable. He knows that he is trying it on. It was a good effort.

I would like to ask the noble Lord, Lord Cope, a question. I am no lawyer. He used the term "condition precedent". Can he tell the Committee what is the difference between that and what I would call a "precondition"?

Lord Cope of Berkeley: None, as far as I am aware.

Lord Dubs: That is fine. I am grateful to the noble Lord. At least we are talking about preconditions, which is one of the underlying difficulties. We were unhappy that there should be attempted changes to the Bill which would alter the agreement by inserting preconditions, as opposed to all the elements of the agreement being taken together.

I turn to Amendment No. 12 which concerns the use of the words "in particular". These words are important because they show that the factors in subsection (9) are not exhaustive. They are matters which the Secretary of State must take into account. She can take into account other relevant factors as well. The words do not preclude her from considering other matters. If they were removed it would suggest that the list was exhaustive, and that is not the intention.

I now turn to Amendment No. 14 which was spoken to by the noble Lord, Lord Holme. The amendment is helpful as it quite rightly identifies that the Secretary of State must make her decision under Clause 3(8) on the basis of the information available to her, which is the case. As was indicated in another place, that information would include information provided by the Chief Constable and the GOC. I can assure the noble Lord that it will be on that basis that any judgment is made under this subsection.

I hope that what I have said goes some way to meeting the noble Lord's wishes. I am sensitive and sympathetic towards the general thrust of his argument. I believe that the way in which the Secretary of State will give effect to that meets the point without requiring

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the change in terminology suggested by the noble Lord. For those reasons I am unable to support these amendments.

Lord Mayhew of Twysden: I am most grateful to the noble Lord. Perhaps I may ask a question which is tangential to this discussion if not exactly connected. We shall shortly be leaving the accelerated release Clause 3 and I hope that that is sufficient excuse. Will the noble Lord accept that in the context created by the Good Friday Agreement, and also by this resulting Bill, that there is now a strong and widely held perception that in fairness the cases of Guardsmen Wright and Fisher ought to be revisited now, if not by an accelerated sitting of the Life Sentence Review Board then by some other but immediate procedure?

Lord Dubs: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State is currently reviewing this case in the light of correspondence from the guardsmen's solicitors. She has received papers today and will be considering them as soon as may be during the next few weeks. The noble and learned Lord will be aware that papers on such cases are extensive but that they must be given full and detailed consideration. The Secretary of State will consider the court papers, the previous advice from the Life Sentence Review Board, her own previous decisions and the various judicial review judgments. She will also take account of the many representations she has received regarding the case, many of which come from noble Lords who are present today. As the noble and learned Lord will know, the Secretary of State cannot prejudge any decision she may make as a consequence of this further review, but when a decision has been made, she will make it known.

9.30 p.m.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: We have had an interesting further debate on the linkage between decommissioning and the release of these prisoners. At the moment, we are not making much ground, but I am still in the business of trying to persuade the Committee and the Government that that linkage should be stiffened. I am reinforced in that view by some of the speeches that have been made.

The noble Lord, Lord Desai, referred to the fact that the agreement went much wider than just the Government and included, among others, the Government of the Republic of Ireland. However, we have not yet seen the equivalent Republic of Ireland legislation on the same matter which is expected under the same agreement. The Government of the Republic of Ireland are also in the process of putting into legislative effect in their jurisdiction the same processes as we are putting into effect in our jurisdiction on the basis of the same words in the same agreement. The same factors arise in both. We have been promised sight of the Republic of Ireland legislation before Report stage. That is extremely important because it will allow us to have another view of how the agreement might be put into legislative form. Given what the noble Lord, Lord Molyneaux, said about the way in which the

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agreement was arrived at, it may be that their interpretation is sightly different from ours. We should certainly have the opportunity to see it.

I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, that we should certainly be able to speak about and debate these matters. I said at Second Reading that we are heading for an Act of Parliament, not an act of government. It is therefore Parliament's duty and the duty of each of us as Members of this House of Parliament to satisfy ourselves and to discuss all the provisions of the proposed Act of Parliament before it passes into law.

The Minister said that, on the face of it, there is little difference between us, so I have not yet entirely given up the aim of persuading the Government to move in our direction a little with regard to these amendments. Nevertheless, at this stage, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendments Nos. 13 to 15 not moved.]

Lord Cope of Berkeley moved Amendment No. 16:

Page 2, line 40, after ("directing") insert (", assisting").

The noble Lord said: Amendments Nos. 16 and 17 bring us to one of the subsections which implement one of the conditions laid down in the Bill and in the Balmoral speech. In that speech, the Prime Minister said that one of the matters to be taken into account was that no other organisation should deliberately be being used as a proxy for violence. That is translated into legislative form by Clause 3(9)(c)--but not quite fully enough, in my view. The agreement is not much help in deciding on the precise wording, but paragraph (c) states that the organisation in question should not be,

    "directing or promoting acts of violence committed by other organisations".
Amendments Nos. 16 and 17 seek to add the words "assisting" and "or planned", so that paragraph (c), as amended by these amendments, would read that the organisation should not be "directing, assisting or promoting acts of violence committed or planned by other organisations".

With regard to "assisting", given that regroupings of terrorist organisations are now taking place, it may be that parts of one organisation help another organisation to form itself into an effective terrorist force. If that is so, it should be provided for in this condition. It is a familiar phenomenon in Northern Irish affairs that from time to time terrorist organisations split and re-form. It comes as no surprise that that is taking place at this stage. Assistance given by one group to another can be of the greatest importance in allowing the latter to get off the ground.

The second amendment seeks to add the words "or planned". We believe that the present wording restricts the Secretary of State to looking at acts of violence that have already been committed. But a good deal of the directing or promoting may relate to acts of violence that have not yet been committed. That is of equal significance in deciding whether or not an organisation falls foul of these provisions. Putting it in practical terms, if someone is intercepted on the way to planting

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a bomb, that is not an act of violence that has been committed; it is an act of violence that has been planned and would have taken place but has been prevented by the alertness of the police or by other means. If that particular act has been promoted by an organisation thought otherwise to be "clean" I believe that that fact should not be ignored by the Secretary of State in reaching a judgment under subsection (8)(b). I believe that these two extra words are necessary in subsection (9)(c). I beg to move.

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