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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, of course this short debate provokes similar passions to those it evoked in Committee, and indeed many of the points made then have been made again this evening. I shall

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try not to go over everything I said in Committee. I am sure noble Lords will have the benefit of reading it if they so choose.

Let me say straight away to the noble Lord, Lord Tebbit, that judicial and police matters are fully devolved in the Basque country; it is one of the ways they sought to resolve some of their difficulties. I regret to tell the noble Lord, therefore, that in terms of lighting upon that as an example of similarity, it was perhaps an unhappy choice. In the Basque country they have done exactly what we are seeking to do in relation to Northern Ireland.

Lord Tebbit: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. Perhaps she can tell us whether it solved the problems of the Basque country.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, if I may respectfully say so, that is not a terribly helpful approach to take and I know that that was not the noble Lord's intent. But that must be his difficulty and not mine.

The issue here must be taken extremely seriously. We are trying to chart a new way. Many noble Lords are anxious to keep to the old way, but we hope that the new way will be a little better. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew, is right in saying that we are not changing the Privy Council oath. That perhaps underlines the difference we were speaking of earlier—the difference between those who become Privy Counsellors and those who do not.

But one must examine the oath carefully. The oath in Clause 19 replicates exactly the wording recommended by the review. In recommending this oath the review group recognised the need to take account of the independence of the judiciary as well as Northern Ireland's wider constitutional status. Noble Lords will be aware that the review body examined the implications of this recommendation in considerable detail, and the Government fully support its findings.

I hear what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew, says in relation to the section which deals specifically with this recommendation. But one must look at it in the round. I took a little trouble, after the comments made by the noble and learned Lord, to look again at the report. The noble and learned Lord may find it helpful to cast an eye on the introduction to the report which deals with the modus operandi adopted by the review, particularly in relation to the matters taken into account. If the noble and learned Lord looks at paragraphs 1.5 through to 1.31, it will be seen that, in coming to its recommendations, the review body took a holistic approach to the information it culled from various sources. Its investigation into this area was extensive. Its firm recommendation—and we see no reason to gainsay it—was that the oath that has been devised and put into the clause would be the most appropriate.

In Committee, we dwelt for some considerable time on the importance of the word "realm", which I believe noble Lords accepted encapsulates the reality of this

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kingdom; namely, a United Kingdom of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The word "realm" can only be given that definition.

So the oath is a more modern oath. It does not specifically mention Her Majesty, but it still encapsulates by the way it is phrased the reality that this is a kingdom. The clause brings it much more into the modern day age.

I turn to Amendments Nos. 53 and 54. I agree with the comment made by a number of noble Lords that "according to law" is the more accurate phrase. Indeed, "according to law" is the phrase adopted in the current oath of allegiance and the judicial oath. We see no reason to change it. Therefore, for all those reasons, but more particularly for the reasons I gave at great length in Committee, I invite the noble Lord to withdraw the amendment.

Lord Glentoran: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for that reply and I thank all noble Lords who have supported the amendment. I believe that once again the intellectual argument in relation to the oath has been won by this side of the House. I was not in any way debating whether the oath in the Bill was any better than any other oath. What I wished to debate, and the purpose of my amendment, was to maintain the status quo. I have said a number of times throughout the passage of the Bill that it has gone overboard politically when it is a technical judicial Bill. It seeks to change the environment in the judicial affairs of Northern Ireland. That is wrong.

I have said again and again that my colleagues on this side of the House and I are doing our best to advise the Government on the best way to maintain the peace agreement which they set up so successfully, but which, perhaps in hindsight, was set up in rather too short a space of time and with insufficient small print clearly defined. However, they set it up. It was a great achievement. It was welcomed and it was supported. It is no longer welcomed or supported by a large majority of the population. The Government must take that on board. Not only must they take it on board, but they must realise, and I wish they would understand, that day-by-day they are destroying the peace agreement which they set up in my province. This is yet another way of doing it. It is yet another little nail into the coffin of that peace agreement.

I just wish I could get through to someone in Government and get them to believe that what we are saying from this side of the House is in relation to sensitivities, not in relation to great dramatic changes in what the Government wish to do. We are totally behind the Bill in what it seeks to do. What we are upset about are the political nuances which are getting under the skin, upsetting and continuing to destroy the confidence of people who need the reverse done to them.

Those noble Lords who know me, know that I speak sincerely. I believe totally in what I am saying. I cannot accept the Government's rejection and I wish to test the opinion of the House.

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9.39 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 52) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 34; Not-Contents, 98.

Division No. 3


Attlee, E.
Blatch, B.
Brooke of Sutton Mandeville, L.
Burnham, L.
Byford, B.
Cope of Berkeley, L. [Teller]
Dixon-Smith, L.
Ferrers, E.
Glentoran, L.
Greenway, L.
Henley, L.
Kilclooney, L.
Kingsland, L.
Laird, L.
Lyell, L.
MacGregor of Pulham Market, L.
Maginnis of Drumglass, L.
Marlesford, L.
Mayhew of Twysden, L.
Miller of Hendon, B.
Molyneaux of Killead, L.
Monson, L.
Northbrook, L.
O'Cathain, B.
Park of Monmouth, B.
Patten, L.
Renton, L.
Rogan, L.
Seccombe, B. [Teller]
Shrewsbury, E.
Stewartby, L.
Tebbit, L.
Vivian, L.
Wilcox, B.


Acton, L.
Addington, L.
Alton of Liverpool, L.
Amos, B.
Andrews, B.
Archer of Sandwell, L.
Bach, L.
Barker, B.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Berkeley, L.
Blackstone, B.
Borrie, L.
Brennan, L.
Brett, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Burlison, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Chandos, V.
Clark of Windermere, L.
Crawley, B.
David, B.
Davies of Coity, L.
Davies of Oldham, L.
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Donoughue, L.
Dormand of Easington, L.
Dubs, L.
Elder, L.
Evans of Parkside, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Gale, B.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Gilbert, L.
Golding, B.
Goldsmith, L.
Goodhart, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Goudie, B.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Grenfell, L.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Hamwee, B.
Hardy of Wath, L.
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Hollis of Heigham, B.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Chesterton, L.
Hylton, L.
Jones, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Lipsey, L.
Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L.
McIntosh of Haringey, L. [Teller]
McIntosh of Hudnall, B.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Maddock, B.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Mitchell, L.
Morgan, L.
Pendry, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Rennard, L.
Rogers of Riverside, L.
Rooker, L.
Roper, L.
Russell, E.
Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Simon, V.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Smith of Leigh, L.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Symons of Vernham Dean, B.
Taylor of Blackburn, L.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Wakefield, Bp.
Whitty, L.
Wilkins, B.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Williams of Mostyn, L. (Lord Privy Seal)
Williamson of Horton, L.
Woolmer of Leeds, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

1 Jul 2002 : Column 103

9.50 p.m.

[Amendments Nos. 53 and 54 not moved.]

Schedule 7 [Functions of Advocate General]:

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