|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Hylton: My Lords, can the Minister say whether British forces are being withdrawn from Kosovo before KFOR has reached its agreed and planned strength? If that is the case, it seems unsatisfactory in view of the tensions that exist.
Lord Gilbert: My Lords, the total KFOR is currently around 39,000. There have been planning figures as high as 50,000 but it is not essential that we reach that. Our forces are being taken out of theatre as our allies' contributions come through, and I am glad to say that they are coming through smoothly.
Lord Burnham: My Lords, the noble Lord mentioned the figures given by the Secretary of State with regard to retentions. However, he admitted to the Commons Defence Committee that premature voluntary retirement was running ahead of recruitment. What positive steps are the Government taking to improve retention? It is much more important to have trained men than new recruits.
Lord Gilbert: My Lords, I thoroughly subscribe to the noble Lord's final proposition. It is much more important to have trained men than recruits. We have been wrestling with the problem of retentions which has been with the Armed Forces for many years. Some recent actions of my right honourable friend have been to introduce a fairer pay structure, to increase leave for people who have just come from active service abroad, and to increase the free travel arrangements for servicemen abroad. On a longer term basis, he has introduced an increase in learning arrangements, higher education arrangements, for members of the forces to facilitate, among other things, their acquisition of civilian qualifications, so putting them in a better position and, we hope, encouraging them to stay in the forces.
The Earl of Carlisle: My Lords, can the Minister inform the House how many Territorial Army personnel are serving alongside their regular counterparts in the three operational areas mentioned in the noble Baroness's Question? Will he consider, as a way of alleviating overstretch, calling up more Territorial Army
Lord Gilbert: My Lords, as the noble Lord and the rest of the House are well aware, it is the Government's policy to modernise the Territorial Army and convert it increasingly into a specialist body of men and women. There are only a handful of Territorials in Kosovo. I shall certainly consider the noble Lord's other suggestion.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): My Lords, the publication of the consultation paper, Managing Dangerous People with Severe Personality Disorder: Proposals for Policy Development, was announced to Parliament on Thursday 12th July in response to a parliamentary Question from Graham Stringer, MP.
Lord McNally: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply, but does he agree that there were dangers in the PR exercise mounted by the Home Office on Monday in which Ministers were available from early morning until night to announce what appeared to be a solution to a very complex problem? Will Ministers take warning from the reaction to those statements by psychiatrists and organisations concerned with mental health that the Government are in danger of misrepresenting the problem and going for flip solutions which put at risk one of the most fundamental rights; namely, the right not to be imprisoned without due process? Does the Minister accept that this is not just a matter for psychiatrists but that there should be a judicial process if the Government insist on going down this road?
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, the publication of the paper was announced in the Commons on 12th July, and Jack Straw rightly made himself available for questioning on the 19th, one week later. That is part of his duty. If people get the wrong end of the stick, they may well be advised to read the document in question. That document is extremely thoughtful and addresses civil rights issues in particular; not least, it directs the attention of the reader to the European Convention on Human Rights. I give one citation from Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of SANE:
The Earl of Listowel: My Lords, does the Minister agree with the statement in the consultation paper that most of these people have a lifelong history of profound difficulties from an early age, that many are the children of violent, abusive or inadequate parents, and that some may have been removed into care? Can he assure the House that all is being done to meet the needs of such people?
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, that is precisely the purpose of the consultation document. There are a small number of people in the general community--we believe the figure to be between 300 and 600--who suffer from severe personality disorder. Sometimes I read their case files. I find them extremely worrying. Some of those people are quite likely to kill or injure innocents among our fellow citizens. I do not believe that we are entitled to do nothing about it.
Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, to give us a flying start in considering the consultation document, can the Minister provide, as he has, not only an estimate of the number of unconvicted people who are likely to be locked up for life but also an estimate of the number of people in recent years who have been murdered or seriously injured by those who are known to have severe personality disorders?
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I need to correct the noble Lord's misapprehension. I did not say that between 300 and 600 people were likely to be locked up for life, but that that number of people suffered from this particular disorder. It is notoriously well known and documented that people with this disorder have a disproportionately larger representation among those who kill. We have to think only of the recent example of the murder of Mrs Zito's husband. He was a completely innocent man who was murdered by somebody who needed treatment but did not receive it.
Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, we may well be in danger of arguing about what constitutes a Statement to the House. We on these Benches view this as an opportunity to question the Minister and to raise issues about the consultation paper. In the light of the fact that in this House we have not had the opportunity to ask questions about the document, will the Minister, through the Government Chief Whip, make arrangements for a debate on the subject before the end of the consultation period? Will he also undertake to ensure that when the report of the review of the Mental Health Act emerges a full Statement will be made to this House which gives us the opportunity to raise issues on that Statement?
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, of course these are serious issues; but the Question did not address itself to a Statement to the House. The noble Lord, Lord McNally, asked when this matter was announced and why it was not announced in Parliament first. I repeat that it was. Debates on this consultative document, or any other matter of importance, are matters for the usual channels in the normal way.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, it is wiser to read the document which concentrates on civil rights issues, in particular in the context of Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It refers to a process of appeal and to authority to detain being subject to regular independent review. That has nothing to do with populism. If the noble Lord levels that reproach against me for having a degree of responsibility in this matter, I wonder how I am expected to answer the relatives of those who may be murdered. That is a perfectly legitimate, and serious, question.
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): My Lords, I beg to move that the Third Report from the Select Committee (HL Paper 81) be agreed to. The Third Report of the Procedure Committee makes proposals for two new Standing Orders to give effect to what we have come to know as the Weatherill amendment. The first proposed new Standing Order relates to the election of 90 hereditary Peers who are to stay on in the House. Two other hereditary Peers are also to stay on in the House; namely, the two great officeholders of state: the Earl Marshal and the Lord Great Chamberlain. But those two Peers are to be Members of the House ex officio, as it were, and are not to be elected.
The Third Report of the Procedure Committee also proposes a new Standing Order to provide for by-elections. The purpose of this Standing Order is to ensure that in the House there are never fewer than 90 elected hereditary Peers. The Government will move an amendment at Third Reading of the House of Lords Bill in this House to write into the Bill the statutory basis for the new Standing Order. The Third Report of the Procedure Committee also sets out proposals drawn up by the Clerk of the Parliaments relating to what one might call the mechanics for the election of the 90 hereditary Peers. I believe that the detailed proposed arrangements for the elections are clear. I shall do my best to answer any questions that your Lordships may have about them.
If the House this afternoon approves the Third Report of the Procedure Committee, with or without the amendments proposed by the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe, the Leader of the House will table a Motion early next week so that the House can give its express approval to the new Standing Orders. This is necessary because what we are approving this afternoon, with or without amendments--if we do so--is the Third Report of the Procedure Committee and, therefore, only indirectly the new Standing Orders.
It is the custom to approve the Standing Orders expressly in a separate and later Motion. I anticipate that any such Motion next week will be purely formal. The decision on the substance of the matter is to be taken by the House this afternoon. I invite your Lordships to raise any matters arising from the Third Report of the Procedure Committee in the debate that we are about to have. The debate need not be confined to the noble Viscount's amendments. I believe and hope that that will be for the convenience of the whole House.
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|