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Lord Holme of Cheltenham: My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this short discussion on the amendment I have proposed from these Benches. I am extremely grateful to all who have spoken. It has been an outstandingly valuable debate, as the Minister has acknowledged. Although at the end of the day we may not find ourselves in complete

11 Mar 2004 : Column 1366

agreement, there is a great deal to agree on. It is to the Minister's credit that she has identified some of those points.

Although obviously concerned not to have the potential support in the Lobbies of the Conservative Front Bench, I am very heartened by the fact that the noble Lord, Lord Newton—who will also not be there—will be at my shoulder, and that I shall have the spiritual guidance of the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman, hovering above me. It fortifies me to think that I might be able to survive this ordeal knowing that I have that, let alone the support of both the Church and the law in the shapes of the right reverend Prelate and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick. It is very cheering from the point of view of a minority party proposing an amendment to have mustered such support.

The noble Baroness could not have put it better: the Government are now on probation. I think that she has got the message, loud and clear, from all sides of the House that it would be quite wrong for the Government to assume from here on that they can come back and say, "Renew Part 4", and expect acquiescence from all of us concerned with the problem of terrorism. We are saying, "You have got to do better, and you should do better within the next year".

I particularly welcome what the Minister said about telephone intercepts. It is very good news that she expects to see the conclusion of the Government's review within six months of discussion. I think that will help them to generate an alternative. She was careful to qualify that, by saying that she would be bitterly disappointed if such a review were not completed in time. It would be a very hard-hearted Home Secretary who would want bitterly to disappoint the noble Baroness, but perhaps this one is hard-hearted, so we shall have to keep up the pressure.

That brings me to my conclusion. We could say that we will rest on our laurels; it is clear what the feeling of the House is and it is clear that the Government are moving, under pressure, towards some abandonment of their first rejection of the Newton proposals on Part 4. However, I am afraid I am not able to feel confident about that, for two reasons. First, the noble Baroness was so circumspect about timing that I, for one, was left very unsure whether the Government would come up with new proposals within the year which are necessary for us to have an alternative. I understand her caution, but I cannot agree with it.

Secondly, when it comes to the content, the noble Baroness has, in her usual skilful way, left it rather unclear whether the Government will simply cherry-pick among the Newton proposals or whether they will make a point of reviewing all of them seriously, even those hitherto rejected, in order to try to come up with a combination which does not provide for derogation from the European convention. In the light of that, I think that we shall have to test the opinion of the House.

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1.42 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 44; Not-Contents, 106.

Division No. 1

CONTENTS

Addington, L. [Teller]
Avebury, L.
Barker, B.
Bradshaw, L.
Dahrendorf, L.
Dearing, L.
Dholakia, L.
Ezra, L.
Hamwee, B.
Harris of Richmond, B.
Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Holme of Cheltenham, L.
Hooson, L.
Howe of Idlicote, B.
Joffe, L.
Judd, L.
Laird, L.
Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Lyell, L.
Maclennan of Rogart, L.
Maddock, B.
Methuen, L.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B.
Morgan, L.
Northover, B.
Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, L.
Rea, L.
Redesdale, L.
Rennard, L.
Roper, L. [Teller]
Scott of Needham Market, B.
Sharp of Guildford, B.
Shutt of Greetland, L.
Smith of Clifton, L.
Southwark, Bp.
Steel of Aikwood, L.
Thomas of Gresford, L.
Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Tope, L.
Walmsley, B.
Williams of Crosby, B.
Wilson of Tillyorn, L.

NOT-CONTENTS

Allenby of Megiddo, V.
Alton of Liverpool, L.
Amos, B. (Lord Privy Seal)
Andrews, B.
Anelay of St Johns, B.
Ashton of Upholland, B.
Bach, L.
Bassam of Brighton, L.
Bernstein of Craigweil, L.
Billingham, B.
Borrie, L.
Bridgeman, V.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L.
Brookman, L.
Burlison, L.
Campbell-Savours, L.
Carter, L.
Chorley, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L.
Clinton-Davis, L.
Cobbold, L.
Condon, L.
Corbett of Castle Vale, L.
Craig of Radley, L.
Craigavon, V.
Crawley, B.
David, B.
Davies of Oldham, L. [Teller]
Denham, L.
Desai, L.
Dixon, L.
Dixon-Smith, L.
Dubs, L.
Eden of Winton, L.
Evans of Temple Guiting, L.
Falconer of Thoroton, L. (Lord Chancellor)
Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Faulkner of Worcester, L.
Filkin, L.
Gale, B.
Gibson of Market Rasen, B.
Golding, B.
Goldsmith, L.
Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Gould of Potternewton, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L.
Grenfell, L.
Grocott, L. [Teller]
Harris of Haringey, L.
Harrison, L.
Haskel, L.
Howe of Aberavon, L.
Howells of St. Davids, B.
Hoyle, L.
Hughes of Woodside, L.
Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Jopling, L.
Jordan, L.
Kilclooney, L.
King of West Bromwich, L.
Kingsland, L.
Lamont of Lerwick, L.
Lea of Crondall, L.
Lipsey, L.
Lockwood, B.
Luke, L.
MacKenzie of Culkein, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L.
Masham of Ilton, B.
Massey of Darwen, B.
Merlyn-Rees, L.
Molyneaux of Killead, L.
Morris of Aberavon, L.
Morris of Manchester, L.
Moynihan, L.
Palmer, L.
Pitkeathley, B.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Puttnam, L.
Radice, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B.
Randall of St. Budeaux, L.
Richard, L.
Rooker, L.
Scotland of Asthal, B.
Sewel, L.
Sheldon, L.
Simon, V.
Slim, V.
Stone of Blackheath, L.
Strabolgi, L.
Strange, B.
Tanlaw, L.
Temple-Morris, L.
Tenby, V.
Thornton, B.
Tomlinson, L.
Triesman, L.
Turner of Camden, B.
Walpole, L.
Warner, L.
Warwick of Undercliffe, B.
Weatherill, L.
Whitty, L.
Williams of Elvel, L.
Williamson of Horton, L.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Business

11 Mar 2004 : Column 1368

1.53 p.m.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I beg to move that the Report on the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Bill be postponed until after consideration of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 (Renewal of Temporary Provisions) Order 2004.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 (Renewal of Temporary Provisions) Order 2004

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos) rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 12 February be approved [9th Report from the Joint Committee].

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, the order before the House would renew the temporary provisions of the Police (Northern Ireland) Act 2000 which give effect to what is known as 50:50 recruitment and lateral entry for a further three years, keeping them in force until March 2007. I know that some of your Lordships harbour principled misgivings about a measure which is, as the Act itself makes clear, discriminatory.

When the Independent Commission on Policing in Northern Ireland, led by Chris Patten, made its report, it reflected the agreed principle of the Belfast agreement that the Police Service should be representative of the society that it polices. The Patten report itself pointed out in paragraph 14.2 that:


    "real community policing is impossible if the composition of the police service bears little relationship to the composition of the community as a whole".

It continued:


    "If all communities see the police as their police, there will be . . . more effective policing".

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That issue of representation is crucial to furthering that effectiveness, not just the police reforms.

The RUC was a fine police service and it had many strengths to which I am glad to pay tribute. However, despite much effort, it was not representative—only just 8 per cent of its regular officers were Catholic. Many will say that the fact that there were so few Catholics in the RUC was due to intimidation from the IRA and others, and the Government acknowledge that that played a part. However, since the Government's implementation of the Patten recommendations, and with support for the police from the SDLP in particular, there has been an unprecedented response. In six competitions there have been nearly 33,000 applications. The level of applications from the Catholic community has consistently averaged around 35 per cent.

I accept that many qualified Protestant candidates who might otherwise have joined the service have been turned down in part because of 50:50. However—and this is an important point—the number of applications means that, across the board, 96 per cent of all applicants are unsuccessful compared with the one in eight who gets into the police in Great Britain. Indeed, the Chief Constable has had to turn away qualified Catholics as well as qualified Protestants. That is a consequence not of 50:50 but of the quantity and calibre of applicants. As a direct result of the 50:50 policy, Catholics are making up an increasing proportion of regular officers: the proportion has increased from just over 8 per cent at the beginning of the process to over 14 per cent now.

Although some suggest otherwise, that progress simply could not have been achieved without the 50:50 recruitment policy; that policy is producing real results. As the noble Lord, Lord Smith, said during the passage of the principal legislation in 2000:


    "Quotas may not succeed, but I have been persuaded . . . that targets certainly have not".—[Official Report, 23/10/00; col. 122.]

I hope that he can now be assured, after more than two years of recruitment, that quotas are succeeding.

Let me make another point clear: no one is appointed unless they pass the qualifying tests—all recruits are there on merit. All the recruits deserve our support. As the Chief Constable wrote in a newsletter on 10 October,


    "They are professionals of the highest calibre and I am proud to have them under my command".

He went on to say:


    "The aim is to make the police service reflective of the whole community of Northern Ireland. This is what I want to see. It is what my organisation wants to see. And, above all, it is what the vast majority of people living here want to see".

To those who are against the 50:50 provisions, I would say that to remove this key plank of the Patten recommendations would be to undermine the confidence of the nationalist community in the police. For we are now reaching a point when those who might try to say that the police are not "our" police, look, more than ever, like what they are— stuck in a past which bears little resemblance to the reality of today.

Many noble Lords will want to know when the Government plan to bring 50:50 to an end. There is no doubt that, should 50:50 go now, applications to the

11 Mar 2004 : Column 1370

police from Catholics would drop substantially. As set out in the Patten model, our target has always been to reach a proportion of 30 per cent Catholics in the regular service by the year 2010–11. We are on course to achieve that. I would not want to prejudge when the 50:50 provisions should end, but I can say that the Government do not want to continue the practice any longer than necessary. As the then Lord Chancellor said:


    "Fifty-fifty recruitment is an exceptional means of addressing an exceptional problem. Because it is exceptional, it will remain subject to regular review".—[Official Report, 15/11/00; col. 296.]

I urge noble Lords to support this order, which is required to deliver better policing in Northern Ireland. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 12 February be approved [9th Report from the Joint Committee].—(Baroness Amos.)

2 p.m.

Lord Laird rose to move, as an amendment to the above Motion, to leave out all the words after "That" and insert "this House declines to approve the draft order laid before the House on 12 February".

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I rise to propose an amendment to this Motion. In doing so, I say that nobody wants to see a fully representative police force in Northern Ireland more than I do. Nobody has worked harder, in my opinion, than a number of us to return the society in which we live, our children live, our parents live—in which we all live and wish to continue living—to some sort of normality.

We opposed the concept of 50:50 recruitment in 2000, when the Bill came before your Lordships' House. It is no pleasure for me to stand here now and say that everything that we thought about 50:50 recruitment has been proved correct. Despite what the noble Baroness has said, it is our distinct view that 50:50 recruitment is in clear contravention of the Belfast agreement, command paper 4705, dated 10 April. Under "Rights, safeguards and equality of opportunity", it refers to,


    "the right to equal opportunity in all social and economic activity, regardless of class, creed, disability, gender or ethnicity".

The concept of 50:50 recruitment, or recruiting people on the basis of their religion, is totally different. What it has done is to produce a lot of hurt, initially in the Unionist community. I have a large file, which I am quite prepared to let anybody see on a confidential basis, of some of the best people in society in Northern Ireland, who spent a lot of time trying to get into the police force but have been turned down in the initial stages because they were members of the Protestant community. They were kept out for that reason. However, I have a letter here—it is only one of a number—dated last week, in which a Roman Catholic member of our community was refused entry into the PSNI on the grounds of his religion. The letter said:


    "You have passed all aspects of the selection process. I regret to inform you that the Chief Constable cannot offer an appointment to those candidates from your community background".

11 Mar 2004 : Column 1371

There is an increasing number of people in that situation. The last campaign has got to the stage where it discriminates against my Roman Catholic fellow countrymen.

So it all depends on where you are and what lottery you are in—what pool you are in—as to whether you are in or not. Do you know whether you are there on merit or whether somebody from the other community who did not get in might be better qualified than you? It is a tragic state of affairs. In the Belfast News Letter of 18 February, a widely respected politician in Northern Ireland said:


    "Quotas lead to resentment when those who are qualified or passed over because of their religion or race. We are risking a morale-sapping backlash".

That was written by David Ford, leader of the Alliance Party.

The whole objective of the building of the Northern Ireland that we want to see and have put a lot of effort into is to build a Northern Ireland in which somebody's religion is of no importance. But what message is a 50:50 recruitment into the police force giving us? It is a tragedy. The interesting thing is that those people who for 30 years have made an industry out of human rights are strangely silent. All those people, including the so-called Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, who have argued about human rights for 30 years, are missing today. I might conclude that it is something to do with the fact that what we are talking about here are the human rights of people who wish to join the police force. It is therefore for others to decide their motives.

If we boil it all down, we are really talking about individual rights versus community rights. I am very hesitant to go down the community rights line. Society is built on the rights of the individual; that is why we have courts to decide whether somebody has been dealt with fairly or unfairly on an individual basis. If we ever proceed on the basis of community as opposed to individual rights—and this is the only piece of legislation that I have ever come across in the western world that talks about religious discrimination—we are opening a Pandora's box that could be very dangerous for us all. To take the most awful example of the past 100 years, looking at the rights of the greater good is what the Nazis did in Germany. What I am saying is that we protect the good of us all by going down the individual route.

It is also interesting to put on the record that since the inception of the Northern Ireland state in 1921, not one piece of legislation on the statute book has discriminated against anyone on the basis of their religion. That has been confirmed by Written Answers in this House in the previous parliamentary Session. The first time that any legislation went on to the Northern Ireland statute book that discriminated against anyone on the grounds of their religion was in 2000 with this wretched Bill.

We must be very cautious. This is having an untold effect. The hurt is bad, as is the draining off of some of our best young people, who say they want to be a

11 Mar 2004 : Column 1372

policeman or policewoman, and who go off to the Met or some other police force. We cannot afford to lose the best people from Northern Ireland because of religious discrimination. We cannot afford to build up the hurt that has been built up on both sides of the community because of religious discrimination. Have we learnt nothing?

The process is now a lottery. I am highly upset that the Government should think so little of those of us who are rebuilding the Province that they should burden us with this sort of religious nonsense once again, which is exactly the sort of thing that we wish to get away from. Producing a lottery is not the answer. Perhaps the solution would be to hand the whole recruitment to the PSNI over to Camelot and let it run it as a lottery alongside the National Lottery. I beg to move.

Moved, as an amendment to the above Motion, to leave out all the words after "That" and insert "this House declines to approve the draft order laid before the House on 12 February".—(Lord Laird.)


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