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Lord Dholakia: My Lords, I once again thank the Minister for the explanation she has offered. We appreciate that the purpose of the order is to specify organisations which do not maintain a complete and unequivocal ceasefire. Therefore, this is a good opportunity to condemn the recent spate of paramilitary violence both from republicans and loyalists. Although the Minister has our support, will she confirm that there will be no change in the status of the Continuity IRA, the Real IRA, the Red Hand Defenders and the Orange Volunteers, which have previously been specified?
Lord Molyneaux of Killead: My Lords, the order should be seen as preparation for the overdue offensive against terrorist and paramilitary bodies generally. That offensive must be launched without delay if the people of Northern Ireland are to be rescued from the hideous imposition of intimidation, racketeering, drug trafficking and protection rackets. I am at one with the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, on that.
The New York atrocity has, to a great extent, made old-style terrorism unfashionable and unprofitable, but all the terrorists groups derive great comfort from having at hand the activities that I have just listed. The order is a mere sideshow. It will do nothing to increase pressure on those organisations already switching to new-style terrorism.
If the Real IRA were to announce that it was prepared to consider putting beyond use some of its weapons, which were transferred from the Provisional IRA not so long ago, would the Real IRA be removed from the list that we are considering today? Secondly, at a time when terrorism is being unanimously condemned world-wide, is it prudent to ignore the activities of any terrorist body whose command and control structures remain intact? Finally, in relation to decisions that will be required of the Secretary of State in future, why do medium-ranked police officers seem required, or maybe compelled, to decide and announce that a given murder was not terrorist-related within a few hours of the crime? It seems passing strange that such hasty conclusions apparently have to be broadcast and announced in advance of any real investigation. If that practice could be discontinued, there might be wider public support for this and similar legislation.
Baroness Park of Monmouth: My Lords, does the Minister agree that, as she has said, there continues to be a considerable amount of violence on the streets of Northern Ireland which is being conducted by paramilitaries who claim--or who have claimed in the past--to be protecting their community, but who are now, as we have discussed recently in the House, exiling them, brutally beating them and treating them
Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: My Lords, I can reassure the noble Baroness, Lady Park of Monmouth, that the Secretary of State has looked at all terrorist organisations and will continue to keep them under review. The Chief Constable is currently reviewing the position of those involved with the UDA, UFF and LVF. In answer to the specific question from the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, 10 specified prisoners are currently being reviewed by the Secretary of State.
The Secretary of State has taken into account the actions of the UDA, UFF and LVF over many weeks, not just the past few days. He has concluded that the scale and level of the pattern are distinctly different from other organisations. However, I always agree with the noble Baroness that all violence is to be deplored.
In response to the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, I reiterate that the status of all ceasefires is kept under continuous review. The judgment is that the PIRA ceasefire has not broken down--quite the reverse. As confirmed by the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning, the IRA has started the process of putting arms beyond use. I assure noble Lords that we shall act if we have firm enough grounds for doing so. The decision not to specify is evidence of our determination to bear down on terrorism, not the reverse.
Also in response to the noble Lord, Lord Glentoran, the Secretary of State is obliged under the terms of the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act 1998 to keep the status of all paramilitary organisations under review. He needs to reach a judgment, taking account of the specific terms of the legislation and other relevant factors as to the status of any organisation's ceasefire. Whatever the public belief about the status of ceasefires, he needs to be assured that any decision that he takes meets the criteria that the courts would apply. The UDA and UFF were warned two weeks ago that the Secretary of State would specify them without further warning in the event of further violence.
I thank the noble Lord, Lord Molyneaux, for his courtesy in giving me notice of the issues about which he was going to raise concerns. For any organisation to be despecified, it would need to demonstrate clearly by word and deed that it was maintaining a complete and unequivocal ceasefire. That is the judgment for my right honourable friend the Secretary of State to make, on advice from the Chief Constable. I cannot second-guess that process. Suffice to say that an act of putting arms beyond use would not of itself be sufficient.
It would be imprudent to ignore any terrorist organisation, whether or not it was observing a ceasefire. All terrorist organisations in Northern Ireland are proscribed under the Terrorism Act and remain amenable to the court. Clearly, we want to work towards the full implementation of the Good Friday agreement and develop an inclusive society for all, but the safety and security of the ordinary citizen will not be placed in jeopardy in that process.
The final question from the noble Lord, Lord Molyneaux, related to the response of police officers to any given murder. As the noble Lord will appreciate, that is essentially an operational matter for the police. When a death is obviously not terrorist-related--such as a domestic incident--it is reasonable for the police to say so. Often, however, the police are responding to media questioning and they answer as they believe appropriate.
I hope that I have answered all the points that have been raised. If any noble Lord feels that I have not done so, I shall seek to reply in writing should they wish me to do so.
On Question, Motion agreed to.
Lord Carter rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 15th October be approved [5th Report from the Joint Committee].
The noble Lord said: My Lords, it may be for the convenience of your Lordships if I speak also to the three related orders: the European Communities (Immunities and Privileges of the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization) Order 2001, the European Communities (Definition of Treaties) (European School) Order 2001 and the European Communities (Privileges of the European School) Order 2001.
The four draft orders relate entirely to privileges and immunities which we are obliged internationally to give to the European School and to NASCO. They do not concern the conservation of salmon, the workings of the European Union or the operation of the European School. They deal only with the refund of small amounts of taxation.
The four orders were laid before the House on 15th October. As I said, they are all extremely similar. Therefore, I propose to take them together. They provide for refunds of insurance premium tax (IPT) and air passenger duty (APD) to the European School at Culham in Oxfordshire and the North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO), which is based in Edinburgh.
Under legislation already passed, 34 international organisations have relief from IPT and APD. The European School and NASCO will bring the total to 36. Unlike the other 34 international organisations, in their case there were legal complexities which had first to be resolved.
As noble Lords will note, two of the draft orders are entitled "Definition of Treaties". Exchanges of Notes have been concluded by the Government and by the governors of the European School and NASCO in order to amend their existing agreements, the wording of which did not allow for refunds of IPT and APD. In accordance with the European Communities Act 1972, the Exchanges of Notes must be declared to be Community treaties, as defined in Section 1(2) of the European Communities Act 1972, so that they provide for Community obligations. That means that implementing Orders in Council can be issued.
Refunds of IPT and APD are given to meet our international obligations. It is established international practice that a state should not tax other states through the intermediary of an international organisation and that the host state should not derive undue fiscal advantage from the presence on its soil of an international organisation.
I am satisfied that the orders are compatible with the rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights. In conclusion, these orders confer only the privileges and immunities which we are obliged to confer internationally. They will allow us to treat the European School and NASCO on the same basis as 34 similar organisations. I very much hope that your Lordships will approve them. I commend the order to the House.
Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 15th October be approved [5th Report from the Joint Committee].--(Lord Carter.)
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