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Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord on his imaginative approach to this subject. It is a welcome change of heart from noble Lords on the Liberal Democrat Benches to see them championing the cause of anti-social behaviour orders. That is not something we hear too often in your Lordships' House.

I take the point made by the noble Lord about the behaviour of certain individuals. While it would be invidious of me to select any one of those referred to, I do think that managers and footballers have a very important part to play in terms of leadership. They must demonstrate a strong lead in taking a stand against poor behaviour, which reflects very badly on
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what is by and large a game that everyone loves and is in most cases enjoyed by many millions of people in this country in good circumstances in good stadiums.

Baroness Sharples: My Lords, how long does a ban last, and is there any form of appeal?

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, it is open to those convicted to appeal against their conviction. However, bans can last for as long as 10 years. The length of the bans is having a serious effect on the numbers now being arrested. Bans appear to be acting as an extremely strong deterrent.

Lord Lyell: My Lords, despite what may be slight complacency both on the Minister's part and on that of the kind noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, does the Minister agree that he should consider this matter during the odd years of 2005 and 2007 when no major international championships involving England and Scotland will be held? Draconian views have been expressed in your Lordships' House. However, when football supporters are treated with humour, kindness, help and assistance—as I saw at Norwich this weekend—people tend to behave in like ways. Draconian measures of the kind outlined by the noble Lord do not then need to be taken.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I certainly reject the charge of being complacent on this issue. We have to be ever vigilant. Indeed, plans are already being made to ensure that when England participates in the 2006 World Cup, it is an orderly competition in which our fans and supporters are well behaved. However, I agree with the noble Lord that it is much better when fans are entertaining and entertained. In stadiums where other distractions are provided, they help to create a generally satisfactory atmosphere. Certainly my experience as a travelling supporter in Portugal this summer suggested that the way in which the Portuguese organised the tournament was a great credit to football.

Iraq: Army and Police Protection

Lord Redesdale asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): My Lords, Multi-National Force-Iraq (MNF-I) continues to support the Iraqis in the provision of force protection for the Iraqi security force. I do not want to go into the details of this for obvious reasons, but practical measures include physical protection, detailed briefs to the Iraqi security force on prevalent threats, advice on force protection for training
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centres and police stations, the provision of body armour and helmets as part of the overall equipment programme, and enhanced operational security.

Lord Redesdale: My Lords, I am sure that the thoughts of noble Lords on all sides of the House will be with those who lost loved ones in the recent terrorist attack on the Iraqi National Army and the continued assaults on the new Iraqi police force.

What steps are being taken to upgrade the training and equipment provision for the army and police force? It would seem that up until now this has not been a priority in the American sector. I understand that in the British sector training is a priority. What representations have been made to the Americans to ensure that people who are fundamental to a democratic and stable Iraq are properly trained and properly protected?

Lord Bach: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for what he said about the outrageous incidents that occurred last weekend, and one in particular. All civilised people will share his horror at that act. Effectively, it was the assassination of 49 unarmed young men. Its coldness, calculation and pure brutality should leave no one, in this House or outside, in any doubt at all that the coalition and, particularly, the Iraqis themselves are dealing with ruthless men who have to be stopped.

Increased protection has been primarily a matter for the Iraqi Interim Government since they took over on 28 June this year. Of course the multinational force is there to assist and support wherever and whenever it is requested to do so—and that is exactly what it is doing.

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, everyone recognises that the Iraqi military forces, the police and security forces and the national guard—who have taken such terrible punishment, as the Minister has reminded us—will not be at anything like full strength until well into next year, some months after the election, which we all want to see happen. As the Japanese forces' contribution to the coalition has now been increased; as the Americans are apparently thinking of increasing their troop commitment to see us through the very difficult period ahead; and as Mr Ayad Allawi himself has urged the need for more troops to provide protection both for Iraqis and to see the election through, are we beginning to face the unpalatable prospect that we may need to send more troops—that is, if we have any spare troops left?

Lord Bach: My Lords, I attempted to answer this question last week when we were debating the Black Watch and its new temporary role. I made it clear that we have no plans at present to send more troops to Iraq. It is clear that the next few months leading up to the January 2005 elections—which are absolutely critical to the future of the country—will be very difficult indeed. We have at present though no intention to increase our number of troops.

Lord Garden: My Lords, Prime Minister Allawi has been remarkably critical for once of the multinational
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forces in respect of how much protection they are giving to these new recruits. The future depends on establishing the security forces and recruiting enough brave men and women from Iraq to train for them. Given the drawdown of forces going elsewhere, is the Minister certain that he is now able to provide such protection for Iraqis under training in the British sector?

Lord Bach: My Lords, Prime Minister Allawi's comments are alleged to have been related to the incident to which I referred a moment ago. I am aware, as the House will be, of the comments purported to have been made by the Prime Minister. The most recent information I have is that an official speaking for Dr Allawi has said that his comments on the attack have been taken out of context. We shall have to see exactly what he said and in what context.

As to the main part of the noble Lord's question, we are as sure as we can be that we give the right amount of security force protection to those who are training in our area, but I cannot give any guarantees. As I said earlier, the people we are dealing with are ruthless criminals who are capable of being both clever and cold. We will do our best to ensure that we give the brave people who join the Iraqi security forces—the House should recognise the bravery and pure courage that they show in wanting to move their country forward in this way—what protection we can.

Lord Neill of Bladen: My Lords, can the Minister comment on the mismatch in intelligence? The assassins, as he rightly described them, must have been aware that a bus containing 49 unarmed men would be going along a particular road at a particular time. The regrettable fact seems to be that on the other side—our side—there was no intelligence whatever of the likelihood or possibility of such an attack. It is not the first time that one has been dismayed by the apparent lack of knowledge and intelligence on our side.

Lord Bach: My Lords, I cannot reply to the noble Lord's comments on intelligence. He has great experience in this field and I take note of what he has said. We do not yet know whether the assassins, as I call them, had intelligence concerning these recruits. One can only suspect that.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, my noble friend will be more aware than anyone in the House of the number of murderous attacks that have taken place on Iraqis queuing up in the roads to join the police or the Iraqi army. While I appreciate that operational matters cannot be readily discussed on the Floor of the House, perhaps my noble friend will comment on the following proposition. If roads were to be closed where these individuals are queuing, at least their safety might be a little greater than at the moment. The method has been used in other areas where there have been threats of terrorism. Is it being used in, for example, Baghdad?

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