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Lord Dubs: I thank my noble friend for that information and the answer is, yes; he is absolutely right. I should like, if I may, to add one or two further comments because I believe there are questions which I have not answered as fully as perhaps I might have done. The noble Baroness, Lady Park of Monmouth, asked whether the Government should not have taken the necessary steps to bring about a judicial review of the procedures. Only the Paras really have the necessary standing to bring about a judicial review. The Government have no standing in respect of that decision at the inquiry.
Perhaps I may also make it clear that if Parliament decided--Parliament being sovereign--that it wanted to change the law, it could put any specific duty on an inquiry that it wished. These amendments do not do that: that is my point. However, the Government believe that it is better for the inquiry to be independent and to be free to decide for itself how it operates. That is the Government's position. Of course, it is perfectly possible for Parliament to think otherwise and to put forward specific legislation for this or any other inquiry. I hope that Parliament would not be so minded. I give way to the noble Viscount.
Viscount Cranborne: I am grateful to the noble Lord. I understand that the Committee wants to get on. However, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, has already said in answer to inquiries that he is not minded to do what the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, suggested. That of course adds to our anxieties.
Lord Dubs: So far that is what he has said, but there is of course the judicial review process and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, might change his mind if he felt so inclined. That is why I said that, of course, he would take note of the debate which has taken place in the Committee this afternoon. The Government's position is clear, and I would urge the Committee to reject both amendments.
Lord Tebbit: I should like, first, to express my gratitude to all those who have taken part in the debate on these amendments and, most particularly, if I may say so, to the noble Lords, Lord Merlyn-Rees and Lord Mishcon, for making plain their feelings about this matter although they feel they cannot follow me into the Lobby this evening--for I will undoubtedly seek to divide the Committee on this matter.
Let me emphasise that it is not just the soldiers who will be put at risk. Soldiers are used to being put at risk and they do not complain too much about it. It is when their wives and their children are put at risk that they complain. We know that those given protection under this Bill as it stands are murderers to a man, or to a man and a woman perhaps.
We also know that, even if the soldiers in this inquiry under the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, are shown to be lily-white and innocent as new-born babes, once their names are known to the IRA they will be on a hit list.
The noble Lord, Lord Dubs, for whom I have every sympathy--he finds himself in a very exposed and difficult position this evening--told the Committee that it would not have been possible to give instructions on these matters. I find that pretty incredible. As a former Secretary of State, before I appointed anyone to conduct an inquiry, I would discuss with that person the manner in which he would conduct it. If I was not satisfied that that inquiry would be carried out in an appropriate manner in my judgment, I would not accept it.
The argument that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, cannot be told is pretty thin. The noble Lord the Minister has just said that, if Parliament enacted a provision that these witnesses should be given protection, they would be. If this amendment were to be carried, that would be an option for the Government. The noble Lord shakes his head but that would be so, and I have every reason to believe that the Opposition would not obstruct a measure to that effect.
I believe that it was the noble Lord, Lord Shepherd, who suggested it was inevitable that, if the amendment in the name of my noble friend Lord Cranborne was accepted, it would be reversed in the other place, so there was no point in carrying it. I am fairly sure that, if my amendment is accepted this evening, it will be reversed in another place. But the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, also advanced the argument that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, would hear what had been said in the Committee this evening and would undoubtedly take it into account. Quite so. I believe that he would especially take it into account if he could see from the Division list that those who had voted for this amendment vastly outnumbered those who had voted against it. The noble Lord shakes his head, but even the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville, might be more impressed by people going through the Lobby than people on the Benches nodding their heads sagely. That is the only way that we can give him the flavour of the views of the Committee. Therefore, I seek the opinion of the Committee.
Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.