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Lord Molyneaux of Killead: My Lords, I, too, support the amendment. We have been told that the phrase "the Government of Ireland" resulted from horse trading during the negotiations on Good Friday, especially the last stages. In those circumstances, I suppose it was inevitable that precision was not really one of the main considerations; indeed, haste was everything. The Irish delegation was probably asked by the American chairman, "What would you like to call yourselves?". In that rather chummy atmosphere, where people had been starved of sleep for quite a long time, it was perhaps quite natural that none of the Governments nor the 14-odd parties--some of them distinctly odd--was greatly bothered by what was going on.
But what happens when it comes to drafting what are strictly speaking legal documents; for example, an extradition application for an alleged drugs baron? Will the self-selected title "Ireland" run the risk of the extradition document being rejected on grounds of its being defective? Some of your Lordships will recall an occasion two or three years ago when a Dublin court rejected a British warrant which had a pinhole in the top left-hand corner and was technically defective. That was a good dodge in that the warrant was never granted. In the light of this lack of clarity and precision I suggest that we should support the amendment.
Lord Skelmersdale: My Lords, I have absolutely no doubt that the Minister's brief is headed "Resist". If I am correct in that assumption, will the noble Lord respond to a point made by the noble Lord, Lord Monson, when he introduced this amendment because that is an important point? If I may say so, the noble Lord, Lord Monson, slightly glossed over the point but it is clear. Paragraph 3(a) of Schedule 2 on page 53 refers specifically to,
Lord Cooke of Islandreagh: My Lords, I wish to support this amendment for all the reasons that have been stated so clearly. However, there is a further reason. As has already been mentioned, there is no such thing as the government of Ireland. To use an expression
Lord Kilbracken: My Lords, I, too, strongly support this amendment. It seems to me to be beyond any doubt that the term "Ireland" embraces all 32 counties of that island. Northern Ireland by its own name suggests that it is a part of Ireland. There is, therefore, no such thing--as the noble Lord said--as the government of Ireland; but one day, if there is a united Ireland, there will be.
Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, it seems to me legally dubious as well as offensive in some respects for the words "the Government of Ireland" to appear in this context in this legislation. I do not wish to add to what has already been said in the debate except to say that as regards page 53 the insertion of the words "the Republic of Ireland" was proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Monson, but was accepted by the Government in the course of the Committee stage. That is why the words "the Republic of Ireland" are used there. As the Government have accepted those words on page 53, there is at least some logic in following the same precedent in the case of the earlier clause.
Lord Dubs: My Lords, Amendment No. 2 is identical to one moved by the noble Lord, Lord Monson, in Committee. I explained on that occasion that the language of Clause 1 formed part of the agreement. On that ground alone I urged that it should be adhered to. I also explained that the use of this term was part of an alignment of practice between ourselves and the Irish Government, the other side of which was a welcome change by them to the use of the term, "Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland".
Other noble Lords drew attention to the fact that in the past international agreements between ourselves and the Irish Government had been prepared in two versions; one of them using the terminology favoured by the Irish, the other reflecting our own preferences. Now that we have agreement on the consent question, the Irish feel
These usages are also reflected in the text of Clause 1, which appears in the Bill precisely as it was set out in the Good Friday agreement. If we depart from it the consequence is stark and simple. The whole agreement structure is blocked. It is a requirement for the entry into force of the international agreement--that is, article 4, paragraph (a)--that British legislation has been enacted to implement these provisions. Unless we wish to see the agreement blocked, that is what we must do. We want the Irish to implement the constitutional changes they have signed up to without any variation, and we should do the same.
The noble Lord, Lord Monson, said in Committee that he did not believe that what was agreed on Good Friday could have any bearing on an Act of Parliament. I fear that is not so. Unless the Bill reflects the agreement, the requirements for the entry into force of the international agreement that underpins the coming into effect of all the arrangements agreed between the parties are not met.
The noble Lord, Lord Skelmersdale, asked me to reply to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Monson. However, the noble Lord, Lord Cope, has already done that when he referred to the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Monson, that I accepted, which substituted "Republic of Ireland" for "Ireland" in paragraph 3 of Schedule 2. But that, I suggest, is an entirely different matter. It does not concern the text of the agreement and it does not concern the new understanding on practice in referring to our respective governments that we have reached with the Irish. The text of Clauses 1 and 2 was accepted by the participants in the talks. I do not believe that we should depart from that here. I ask the noble Lord to withdraw his amendment.
Lord Dubs: My Lords, my understanding is that we have now moved into a new era determined by the Good Friday agreement. As I said earlier, our Government and the Government in Dublin agreed on the terminology along with the other parties to the Good Friday agreement. All I am asking is that we stick by what has been agreed because if we believe in the Good Friday agreement I suggest that we do not have any other choice.
Lord Monson: My Lords, I am most grateful to noble Lords in all quarters of the House for their powerful and convincing support. My noble friend Lord Molyneaux surmised that the Americans may have had something to do with the wording. I suspect he is right. There is nothing the Irish-American lobby are working at harder than brainwashing their fellow Americans into believing that the Republic rightly owns the whole island of Ireland and the British are in illegal occupation of the north.
The noble Lord, Lord Cope, said that the wording as it stands is legally dubious and offensive. He is absolutely right. The Minister said that the wording forms part of the Good Friday agreement. There may have been some verbal understanding, but there is nothing in this document which requires an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament to use the phrase "Ireland" rather than the phrase "Republic of Ireland". I am not convinced by the Minister's reply.
There was considerable unease on the Conservative Benches in another place when the Bill was being considered there. Of course, the House of Commons was given practically no time to discuss it. The other place should be given a chance to look at it at greater leisure and therefore I intend to ask the opinion of the House.