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Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that Answer. Does he recallI am sure he doesnot just Bloody Sunday but bloody Friday all those years ago? Does he recall, as many of us do, the massacres at Warren Point or the murder of 20 civilians in 1974 on the M62? Looking back over the history of Northern Ireland does the Minister not agree that it has been filled with appalling atrocities, of which Bloody Sunday was one? It seems disproportionate that the huge sum mentioned by the noble and learned Lord should be
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, it is a second inquiry but over many years serious questions have been raised about the adequacy of the first inquiry, and those questions remain unanswered. We are at a stage where a vast amount of evidence has been taken. I understand that the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, has given evidence and that Sir Edward Heath is shortly to give evidence. Now is not the moment to draw a close to this inquiry.
Lord Peyton of Yeovil: My Lords, would the noble and learned Lord be good enough to say whether or not the figure he quoted includes the expenses of the Ministry of Defence? If not, can he say what such figure amounts to? Is not the noble and learned Lord beginning to share the view that perhaps the only beneficiaries of this long drawn out and miserable inquiry will be those who seek every opportunity to deride and sneer at the Armed Forces of the Crown? Does he not think that they deserve better of us all than that?
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, the figure I gave is the total figure as at the end of November of last year. The costs of the Ministry of Defence are included in that figure. They are £21 million. Those costs are rightly discharged if allegations are made against those who serve in Her Majesty's services. I know the noble Lord will agree that if allegations are made against those in the Armed Forces and others in public services they must be protected and have their interests looked after. That is the £21 million.
The noble Lord described the inquiry as slow and miserable. It is slow. In the nature of things it is bound to be. But these allegationsas I said when I replied to the noble Lord's question on similar linesare most serious. They are allegations of state crime. If they are right, they should be exposed. If they are wrong, it should be demonstrated that they are wrong.
Lord Rogan: My Lords, is the Lord Privy Seal aware that following the recent allegations and revelations about the IRA bombing of Claudy in 1972the same year as Bloody Sundaythere are growing demands across the community in Northern Ireland for a full inquiry into the Claudy atrocity? Are the Government likely to accede to that request? If not, why not?
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Rogan, is quite right, there are serious allegations about the IRA and the alleged involvement of a Roman Catholic priest. The noble Lord will know, as I do, that the Police Service of Northern Ireland is being absolutely fearless in carrying out its own
Lord Glentoran: My Lords, this inquiry is now entering its sixth year. I confess to having spoken against its being set-up. Does the noble and learned Lord agree that if, after five years of diligent plodding and questioning, the truth has not been arrived at, it never will be? Does he further agree that we should have a short inquiry as to why so much money has been spent to achieve so little?
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, as I saidobviously it is necessary to repeat myselfin answer to the question asked a short time ago by the noble Lord, Lord Peyton, there are lessons to be learned about the structures of inquiries. I referred to the concern of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor. There is a case for making inquiries much more inquisitorial. But the timetable of this inquiry, the nature of the evidence and the structures and procedures are essentially governed by statute and by the discretion of the chair of the inquiry, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Saville. Is it seriously being suggested that we should bring this inquiry to a halt at this moment? If it is, I would have to say that I profoundly disagree.
Baroness Park of Monmouth: My Lords, does the Minister agree that there is some disparity between the sum that has been spent on the inquiry and the fact that the people of Omagh are still unable to secure a civil inquiry into what happened to them, which they have to pay for? Is it not possible that the Government might, whatever they decide to do about Bloody Sunday recognise that against that enormous figure it is extremely difficult to defend a position where nothing is done to find out the truth and bring to justice the people who committed the murders in Omagh?
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I may be mistaken, but my understanding is that the relatives of those who were murdered in Omagh are taking civil action against the alleged perpetrators. That is a very effective way of getting at the truth because automatic discovery is available. I understand that that action is continuing. If I am mistaken, I shall give way to any of your Lordships who have better knowledge.
Lord Chan: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his soothing reply. Is he aware that the unhelpful advice given by the head of the appointments commissionthat non-executive directors should reduce their involvement in primary care trustshas been totally contradicted by the findings of the NHS Confederation? Only two out of 70 primary care trust chairmen felt their colleagues were spending too much time and interfering with the work of full-time staff. Does not that serious lack of perception by the appointments commission indicate the need for a review of its services to PCTs, many of which are still without their full complement of non-executive directors?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I think that the noble Lord is being a little unfair to the appointments commission and Sir William Wells. When he appeared before the Public Administration Select Committee in June last year, he made clear the commission's view that perhaps the level of time commitment was too great by some non-executive directors and chairs. He thought that that level of time commitment might discourage people from a wide range of backgrounds applying to be non-executive directors. The response from existing non-executive directors does not share Sir William's view and the commission is giving the matter further consideration. I think that it is right for Sir William to draw attention to the dangers of non-executives taking on an executive role. Executive directors are employed to do that job. I also believe that in handling a large number of appointments the commission is doing an effective job.
Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, following the Minister's reply to the noble Lord, Lord Chan, is it not the case that many people are reluctant to come forward for these non-executive jobs because of the very poor remuneration, as many of them have to spend up to 60 hours a month on those jobs?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I disagree. First, the remuneration for non-executive directors is £5,294 per annum. The chairs receive a range of honorarium from just over £16,000 to just over £20,000, depending on the size of the organisation they chair.
These appointees do immensely valuable work. But they are not executive appointees. They are there to bring the public's view to these bodies. I believe, as someone who has worked with these people for many years, that there is a great danger in their undertaking too many duties and not giving enough space for executive directors to do what they are paid for.
Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, the Minister said that the time commitment was supposedly an issue. I agree with that. I declare an interest in that one of my family works on the commission and my husband serves as an interviewer of possible applicants.
The Minister said that he had asked people about the time commitment. Does he agree that one of the problems is the age of non-executive directors serving on primary care trusts? There are few under the age of 45. That is because the hours and times of the meetings are such that if someone is in employment they cannot give up the number of hours to which the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, referred. When does the Minister think that the Secretary of State will be able to look at the question not just of the actual time commitment, which is not clear enough often for young people in employment, but also at the possibility of changing hours and having meetings at different times, which would enable young people to have jobs and to take on this commitment?
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