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Lord Monson moved Amendment No. 3.

Page 2, line 16, leave out ("connected with the affairs of Northern Ireland").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment is identical to one moved in Committee by the noble Lord, Lord Cope, from the Conservative Front Bench. He decided not to press it at that stage. I thought then that it was an excellent amendment and it remains so today. The Government's reasons for resisting it were unconvincing. One suspects that the full implications have not been thought through.

Some terrorists worldwide are motivated by warped idealism; some by mercenary considerations and others by a combination of the two. Above all, it is the latter two categories that one should worry about. If the Bill remains unamended the commissioners would be obliged to release a prisoner who qualified for release on every other count (for example, he is no longer a formal supporter of a terrorist organisation) even if the intelligence services discovered that this particular prisoner--let us say, a skilled bomb maker or an extremely proficient and accurate sniper--had been recruited by ETA (the Basque terrorist organisation) or by violent Corsican separatists or a terrorist organisation in the Balkans, North Africa, the Near East or Middle East, the Indian Sub-Continent, Sri Lanka or Japan.

It is true that subsection (6) provides that a prisoner should not be released if he is likely to be a danger to the public, but the definition of "public" in that context must surely mean in law the public within the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom. It cannot embrace the Spanish public, the Bosnian or Israeli public, nor the Sri Lankan or Japanese public. It is rather tough on the latter to permit known terrorist experts to be released into their midst. It may not be contrary to international

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legal conventions, but it is certainly contrary to international moral conventions. In other words, it is not exactly neighbourly.

There is another factor to be considered. The Notes on Clauses issued by the Northern Ireland Office on 24th June state that prisoners will be released on licence and will be recalled--and those three words are underlined--if they engage in terrorist activity after release.

How can they be recalled from Libya, Syria or Iran? If the Minister can convince us that acceptance of this amendment would, for some strange and obscure reason, be contrary to the terms of the Good Friday agreement, regrettably that has to be the end of the story. But if the Minister cannot do so then this matter needs to be pursued. I beg to move.

Lord Molyneaux of Killead: My Lords, I, too, share the disappointment that Clause 3(5) is worded as it is. In view of a much earlier extension of the Prevention of Terrorism Act over a decade ago to take in international terrorism, it seems wise that we should think carefully, given the perception that terrorists are being let out of prison. That perception will remain no matter what we in your Lordships' House may say by way of explanation. That perception will not be lost on international terrorists. There will be a very real risk of their regarding the United Kingdom as a safe haven and the rest of us as a soft touch. Therefore, I agree that connecting terrorism with Northern Ireland alone is a regrettable step.

4.15 p.m.

Lord Holme of Cheltenham: My Lords, at Committee stage I supported the noble Lord's amendment, and I still do. The noble Lord, Lord Williams of Mostyn, responded from the Government Front Bench. He resisted the amendment on the ground that a review of international terrorism was under way at the Home Office. When the Minister responds, will he be kind enough to tell us about the timing of that review? If it is not to be completed early and deals with the point raised here today, there is a dangerous gap left in our armoury against terrorists.

Baroness Park of Monmouth: My Lords, I, too, support this amendment. The IRA and the so-called splinter groups of Continuity IRA and the 32 Counties Group--if we are to judge by the latest attempts at terrorism in London--are using what are called "lily-whites" who are young people who have never been involved with terrorism before. Therefore, the IRA will be tempted to develop its long-standing relationships with such organisations as ETA and possibly use them as surrogates. One cannot exclude the possibility that there will be combinations of that kind operating. That would be very tempting for the IRA. We should not allow ourselves to be powerless to use the Act against them.

Baroness Denton of Wakefield: My Lords, I also support the noble Lord, Lord Monson, by saying simply that it is not a question of going as far as Spain, Libya

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or Greece to get people back and involved in terrorism again. The record in respect of bringing people back from Dublin is one in ten. That should be borne in mind.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, this amendment has merit. One of the problems with this Bill is that all too often people look on terrorists, particularly Irish terrorists, as starry-eyed freedom fighters. That is not the case. They are not starry-eyed freedom fighters at all, but thugs and murderers.

This Bill gives the impression that they are anything but thugs and murderers and that does no good at all. I believe that the commission has to be completely satisfied that it is not releasing people who like murder, violence and acts of terrorism and who can be bought, not only in the Middle East and in other parts of the world, but perhaps in relation to some other groups in this country. Therefore, the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Monson, has merit. We should be extremely concerned and very careful that we do not release into the community people who are not starry-eyed freedom fighters but simply thugs and murderers who enjoy what they do.

Lord Tebbit: My Lords, perhaps I may briefly intervene. I hope that the Minister will reflect on what his right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary would say to the government of a friendly nation if one of these individuals arrives in their country and is found to have been involved in something like the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York or a bombing in Israel, or anywhere else. It would be rather difficult for the Foreign Secretary to say, as he presumably would have to--"Well, we did not think he was going to do it in our kingdom, so we did not think it mattered where he took his expertise or to whom he sold it elsewhere in the world".

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Monson, for moving this amendment once again. We discussed it, at my suggestion, at Committee stage. I still support the idea behind it, as I did then. It is very important. My noble friend Lady Park of Monmouth has pointed out the links that already exist between some of the terrorist organisations in Ireland and in other parts of the world. The Government would be placed in a difficult position if a friendly government said that in their view x prisoner whom HMG proposed to let out under this legislation would, if released, assist terrorists against that friendly government. As my noble friend Lord Tebbit has said, in those circumstances all that the Home Secretary could say would be that all that mattered at the time the legislation came on to the statute book was Northern Irish terrorism; that if x was released early and caused difficulty for that friendly government there was nothing under the law that the UK Government could do about it. Parliament had not suggested that.

Reference has been made to ETA and terrorist groups in Israel and other places. It may not be as far away as that. At times Irish terrorism has been directed against the Irish state. If the Government of the Republic of

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Ireland said that they thought a particular prisoner who was likely to be released might pose a danger to them, I do not know how that could be regarded as terrorism connected with Northern Ireland. It would be terrorism connected with the Republic of Ireland. I believe that this restriction is too narrowly drawn.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, this amendment is similar to that which was discussed by noble Lords at Committee stage. At that time it was explained why the term,

    "connected with the affairs of Northern Ireland",

had been included. This Bill deals with matters related to Northern Ireland. It is concerned with persons imprisoned in Northern Ireland who in most cases have been convicted of offences related to terrorism.

The form of words used in this clause and elsewhere in the Bill does not require that the activity covered must take place in Northern Ireland. There are many circumstances in which terrorist acts connected with the affairs of Northern Ireland may take place outside Northern Ireland; for instance, the purchase of weapons or training with other illegal organisations. Noble Lords will be aware that acts of terrorism connected with the affairs of Northern Ireland have taken place in England and outside the United Kingdom. What is not covered by the Bill are acts of terrorism that have no connection with the affairs of Northern Ireland. I understand that that is the main reason for this amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Monson. That the Bill is confined to acts of terrorism connected with Northern Ireland is an appropriate limitation in relation to a Bill about Northern Ireland.

The wider question of legislation in relation to terrorism is under review and noble Lords will have an opportunity to contribute to it in due course. I am not yet in a position to tell the noble Lord, Lord Holme, when that review will be made available, but I believe that the House will shortly have the opportunity to consider it. That wider approach to terrorist legislation covering all parts of the United Kingdom, not just Northern Ireland, is an important matter. This matter has been referred to in the past as representing the Government's approach to the wider issues.

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