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Lord Peyton of Yeovil: My Lords, I wish briefly to welcome the amendments brought forward by the Government. I am not sure whether they go far enough. But I am certain of this. They have already altered the climate in which we discuss important issues, and that makes a major difference. I echo the points made by my noble friend Lady Park of Monmouth. What is the standing and worth of decisions which will now be made under these powers and before the sun sets on them? I have been concerned throughout the debates by the apparent tendencyI accept what the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, said at Second Readingto ignore the powerful opinions and advice offered by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee. The opinions of that committee do not seem to have been fully digested by Ministers in another place. That committee commands huge respect. I am sure that I speak for the whole House when I say how grateful I feel to my noble friend Lord Alexander of Weedon for what he has
I find puzzling and disappointing some of the remarks the Home Secretary is reported to have made during the passage of the Bill. I have great respect for the Home Secretary. He seems to be one of those people, rather rare in our time, who says what he thinks and means without bothering about a disagreeable, odious veneer of political respectability. However, there seem to be times when he goes dangerously far. I wonder whether some his colleagues who are Ministers in your Lordships' House might play a small part in persuading the Home Secretary that the large and massive votes of last Thursday were not brought about by energetic powerful whipping. That is a somewhat self-defeating exercise in your Lordships' House and it certainly did not have any effect on the results of the Divisions last Thursday. Nor was it the result of any forgetfulness of the horror of the events of September 11th. No one in your Lordships' House does not have those events fresh in his or her memory; nor would he or she be influenced into forgetting the appalling shock which those events gave to the whole civilised world.
I add only one comment and do so with some caution. The Home Secretary should not attribute those massive majorities on Thursday to any sudden uprush of love and admiration between the various Opposition parties in your Lordships' House.
Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Howell has been accused of not being perhaps 100 per cent enthusiastic about all the government amendments to this part of the Bill. My experience is that governments are at their trickiest when they have just discovered that they are wrong. On this part of the Bill, I believe that they were most wrong of all.
We welcome very much what the Government have done. Watching a television programme yesterday lunchtime I was lost in admiration for the endurance and enthusiasm of the noble Lord, Lord Rooker. He did extremely well, busily convincing the public that the Government were doing the most wonderful thing. They have done a lot, but we shall have to wait for six months to decide how third pillar business will be implemented in this country. My noble friend Lord Alexander of Weedonhe is chairman of the Select Committee and I am a memberidentified again the issues for your Lordships. However, in six months' time we shall have to decide in Parliament the difference between matters coming under the third pillar which are extremely urgent because of counter-terrorism activity and what the noble Lord, Lord Brennan, described, in a most remarkable speech, as serious law.
I wonder whether it would be possible on each occasion for Parliament to decide on a Motion whether or not business could be treated in secondary legislation. It may be that the kind of schedule the Minister foresaw will do the trick, but it will be very
My noble friend Lord Peyton is a little unkind when he says that the Minister took a long time to say that he would do something. He did say it right at the beginning in this House and, to be fair to the Government, because of the timing the House of Commons did not have a chance to look at the committee's report when they discussed the matter. They have responded as best they can. Had they not been in such a rush, they could have done it all now and not in six months. Nevertheless, I welcome what they have said.
Lord Elton: My Lords, the reputation of this House will not in the end depend on what people, however distinguished, say about it from outside, nor indeed what we say about ourselves today. It will depend on the work we do today and the result which it produces.
Unlike my noble friend Lady Park, I believe that the purpose of the amendment is to allow the Minister to make regulations which will be permanent for six months. They will remain permanent, and the temporary nature relates merely to the window of time in which he can make changes. The statutory instruments that come before us in the next six months will therefore be of critical importance. I am relieved to see that they are at least under the affirmative procedure, so that we shall have to consider each as it comes through. They may come rather thick and fast, because the Government have only a little time in which to act. It is reassuring, however, because it means that afterthoughts cannot be dragged in after the six months are up.
The second limb of the amendment limits not the time but the scope to the three things listed in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c). My eye has fallen with some alarm, as it did with my noble friends Lord Howell and Lord Waddington, on the very last words of the very last paragraph, Xor on combating terrorism". It strikes me as a very extensive catch-all phrase, particularly as the Government have said countless times that one cannot distinguish between terrorist crime and other crime. Given the definition used for this subject, those words embrace almost any form of criminal activity, provided it is within the third pillar.
There is some odd terminology before us. There is something called a road map, which I understand is a list of the things being considered under the third pillar at present and which may be brought forward. I shall listen with very great care to what the noble Baroness says in reply to my both of my noble friends, to her explanation of what is caught by this phrase, and what the Government will therefore be enabled to enact by secondary legislation.
Secondary legislation cannot be amended. To throw it out would be a very drastic move, and we will not be able to temper what the Government propose by secondary legislation if we think it goes too far. We will only be able to refuse it or accept it. This definition is therefore of considerable importance.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, I would prefer that Clauses 111 and 112 were not in the Bill at all. Having said that, however, I appreciate that the Government have come a long way in meeting the concerns which were rightly expressed in Committee in this House.
What concerns me most is that, had this House not had the time and the ability to scrutinise it, the legislation would have gone through. It is a matter of concern that a Bill containing 126 clauses should be sent to this House without most of them having been properly considered. It is no good the Home Secretary or any other Cabinet Minister complaining about this House, when it has done its joba job which should have been done by the House of Commons in the first place, it having been elected to do so. It is entirely reprehensible that an elected House of Commons should have less concern than this House for the freedoms and the rights of the people of this country.
I believe that Mr Blunkett is doing a good job, is speaking his mind, guiding people along a road of less political correctness. However, he has to understand that, unless the House of Commons does its job, this House has to spend a great deal more time on the Billmore than three times as muchand has to do the job for it.
I think that I speak for most members when I say that we would prefer to be at home in our beds than sitting here at one or two o'clock in the morning, doing a job for which the other people along the corridor are properly paid.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, perhaps I may press the Minister to confirm beyond doubt that any provisions arising from the exercise of Article 31 will require unanimity in Brussels. I say that because Article 31, as it stands in Title VI of the Treaty and on its own, contains no reference to whether the provisions under it will be reached by unanimity or qualified majority voting.
The article is controlled by Article 24 of the TEU, which the Government now wisely wish to leave out of the Bill, but Article 24 is itself amended by the Treaty of Nice from unanimity to qualified majority voting, if that treaty is to be ratified.
Article 34 is clearer and does appear to come under unanimity. Article 31, standing on its own as it now does, is silent on the matter and it would be very helpful to have confirmation from the noble Baroness that these new provisions will require unanimity in Brussels before they are brought here by regulations.
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