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Criminal Justice Bill

3.25 p.m.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That it be an instruction to the Committee of the Whole House to whom the Criminal Justice Bill has been committed that they consider the Bill in the following order:

Clauses 1 to 10, Schedule 1, Clauses 11 to 27, Schedule 2, Clauses 28 to 39, Schedule 3, Clauses 40 to 69, Schedule 4, Clauses 70 to 106, Schedule 5, Clauses 107 to 128, Schedule 6, Clauses 129 to 172, Schedule 7, Clause 173, Schedule 8, Clauses 174 to 180, Schedule 9, Clauses 181 to 185, Schedule 10, Clauses 186 to 210, Schedule 11, Clauses 211 to 215, Schedule 12, Clauses 216 to 220, Schedules 13 and 14, Clause 221, Schedule 15, Clauses 222 to 230,

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Schedule 16, Clauses 231 to 254, Schedule 17, Clauses 255 to 261, Schedule 18, Clauses 262 and 263, Schedule 19, Clause 264, Schedule 20, Clause 265, Schedules 21 and 22, Clauses 266 to 268, Schedule 23, Clause 269, Schedule 24, Clauses 270 to 278, Schedule 25, Clauses 279 to 282, Schedule 26, Clauses 283 to 291, Schedule 27, Clauses 292 to 294, Schedule 28, Clauses 295 to 298, Schedule 29, Clauses 299 and 300, Schedule 30, Clause 301, Schedule 31, Clause 302, Schedule 32, Clauses 303 to 307.—(Baroness Scotland of Asthal.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Royal Security: Windsor Castle

3.26 p.m.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat a Statement made in another place. The Statement was as follows:

    "With permission, Mr Speaker, I wish to make a Statement on the serious breach of security at Windsor Castle last Saturday evening, 21st June.

    "The Metropolitan Commissioner has already apologised personally to the Royal Family and, on behalf of the Government and this House, I too offer my deep regret to Her Majesty and the Royal Family for the events of Saturday evening.

    "Yesterday afternoon I received a six-page report from the commissioner. This is a preliminary report which I have discussed with the commissioner this morning. A further detailed review has already been set in train. However, it may help the House if I summarise the chronology of events in the report.

    "At 8 p.m., Aaron Barschak appeared at the main entrance of Windsor Castle. He was refused entry by the police and, following an impromptu public comic turn, was asked to move on.

    "At about 10 p.m., Mr Barschak entered the castle grounds at Chapter Mews. He climbed a steep bank, scaled a tree and leapt across on to a castle wall. From here he climbed to the North Terrace.

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    "As he advanced along the North Terrace he was challenged by a contractor. By this time he had changed into fancy dress. He presented as being slightly drunk and said that he was a party guest who was lost. The contractor escorted him to one of the side entrances to the castle where a police officer was on duty. The police officer, who had to remain at his post, asked the contractor to take Mr Barschak to the main entrance to the party.

    "There was no further challenge from either the police or other staff controlling access to the party. Mr Barschak was able to get unacceptably close to Prince William.

    "Having appeared at the Prince's side, he then made his way to the bar, where a member of the castle staff challenged him. He was handed over to the police. Following interview and investigation by the police, which is still continuing, Mr Barschak was released on bail.

    "I am sure that the House will appreciate that I have to ensure that my comments on this incident do not prejudice any possible police action against him. Nevertheless, Mr Barschak's actions have exposed an appalling failure in the security at Windsor Castle which simply should not have happened. I know that the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police agrees with this.

    "I am determined that lessons should be learned from this incident. A detailed police inquiry is being conducted by a senior officer, Commander Frank Armstrong of the City of London Police. The report of that investigation will determine conclusively what went wrong on the night, and whether disciplinary action needs to be taken.

    "This report will be available within the next four weeks and it is my intention, in consultation with Sir John Stevens, to publish the report. But neither the police nor I are awaiting that report before considering what further security measures need to be taken. This is the subject of urgent work with the Royal Household by the Metropolitan Police and my officials.

    "My particular concern is that this very serious breach of security occurred despite extensive security and surveillance measures already in place at Windsor Castle. Further work has been carried out over the last few months and more is planned for the autumn. Security at all royal residences remains under constant review, but at this stage we have no reason to believe that there were any technical failures at Windsor on Saturday night.

    "Assistant Commissioner David Veness of the Metropolitan Police has made it clear that the events of Saturday night are wholly unacceptable, and I share that view. That is why, within the confines of the inquiry and possible further police action, I have sought to give the House a picture of the events of Saturday night.

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    "I want to assure the House that by working together with the police and the Royal Household, lessons can be learned from this event which can only improve the security of the Royal Family for the future.

    "I know that the whole House will share this objective.".

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

3.30 p.m.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement made by her right honourable friend a short while ago in another place.

This is indeed a matter of great concern. It is perhaps disappointing that the Home Secretary made certain statements to the press yesterday before Parliament had the opportunity to hear his views today. The Home Secretary was reported yesterday as saying that he does not have direct responsibility for specific police operations. I agree. But it is his job to ensure that they are able to co-ordinate security effectively.

It is clear that the security systems themselves failed in a wholly unacceptable way. Indeed, the Home Secretary himself recognised in his response to Questions in another place today that there was a systemic failure. Our purpose in considering this Statement and the event to which it refers, should be to learn the lessons and improve the systems of protection, rather than to satisfy any political or administrative witch-hunt. What lessons have the Government learned about their own responsibilities for the future security of our Royal Family, and more generally of all of us?

The Minister says that urgent work is now being undertaken and that a report will be published in about four weeks. That will be during the Summer Recess. Will the Government make arrangements for the House to debate this important report during the September spill-over period?

3.32 p.m.

Lord Dholakia: My Lords, I also thank the Minister for repeating the Statement. I endorse almost all of the concerns expressed by the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay.

Only a week ago I was attending a seminar of the Windsor Leadership Trust in Windsor Castle. I was impressed by the courtesy and kindness of the security and police staff in the way that they directed me to the place that I was attending. It was therefore a complete shock to hear what happened during Prince William's 21st birthday party. I share the concern expressed by the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister about the incident. One shudders to think, in the present days of high terrorist alert, what would have happened if it had been someone other than a foolish comedian.

Concern has already been expressed by my colleagues in the other place. It is right for the Home Secretary to have ordered an urgent inquiry. Everybody—whatever their views—must understand the need for senior royals to have proper police protection. It is a relief that once again a breach of royal

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security resulted in no harm—but we can never be too careful. Equally, no matter how high and tough the security, there will from time to time be incidents of this type, and it is the duty of us all to ensure that we are all vigilant.

We share the objectives that the Home Secretary has set out, and they have our full support. A detailed inquiry is continuing. It would be unwise to comment any further. We must await the recommendations.

3.34 p.m.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, and the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, for the understanding and support that they have voiced in relation to this matter. Regarding the questions raised by the noble Baroness, we are doing everything that we can to learn the lessons from what happened on this occasion. It will be critical for us to establish the facts before we can make any informed judgment about them. It would be a matter for the usual channels to arrange a debate at an appropriate time, if that is the desire of the House. We shall do all that we can to ensure that the report is made available to Members of this House as soon as is reasonably practicable, so that everyone will have an opportunity to consider it.

I particularly endorse the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, about the need for individual vigilance, for a balanced response and to await the outcome. I thank the noble Lord for the sensitive way in which he responded to the Statement.

3.35 p.m.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, noble Lords will be only too thankful that the reason for the incident turned out to be what it was. Of course the matter is serious. Is there not one lesson that we can learn, which is that perhaps prominent people, when they have a party, should not have it in fancy dress for the time being?

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