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Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, the decision on Turkey is a very big one. By the time Turkey is admitted it will be the largest country in what is now called the European Union. Since the Union will then spill over into Asia, it will no longer be purely an European Union. I have made that point before and repeat it now. Exactly what are the limits of expansion of the European Union? Are there to be further expansions into Asia and indeed into North Africa?
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My second question is about arms to China. The continued embargo on arms to China is causing affront to the Chinese themselves. On the one hand, they are being asked to support the war against terrorism; while on the other hand, they feel they are not being trusted to use arms, which might be supplied to them by the West, in a responsible sort of way. I believe that this issue should be settled and settled soon.
Baroness Amos: My Lords, on the issue of enlargement, I think the noble Lord understands that a certain momentum has now been built up, which we should like to see sustained. We would describe this, I suppose, as an enlargement Council, given the decisions that were taken on Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia as well as Turkey. With regard to the limits, it depends on which particular aspect of European Union membership you look at because some treaties refer to geographic areas and others do not. I hope that the noble Lord will be happy if I write to him on those points.
On China, I hope that I made the position clear when I read out the conclusion about China: that it will be looked at again. We must remember that the European Union has a strong code of practice with respect to arms, which we in the United Kingdom support.
Lord Tebbit: My Lords, perhaps I may take up the point that the noble Baroness made in reply to my noble friend Lord Strathclyde. In exactly what way has any of the European initiatives concerning Zimbabwe that she read out improved the lot of the unfortunate peoples of Zimbabwe?
Secondly, with reference to the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart, surely now that the Government have taken the step of supporting the expansion of the European Union into Asia, she must know what is the view of the Government on further expansion outside Europe. For example, can she tell me whether, in the event that Israel eventually conforms to the Copenhagen criteria, it will be a potential member of the European Union, let alone the North African states? Surely there must be a geographical line, even if not a political one, that the Government can draw somewhere?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, the noble Lord will know that one reason that we feel it so important to be part of the European Union is because it is a group of many states that can exercise additional weight, as it were, acting together and co-operatively. Any decisions about further enlargement will be taken by the European Union as a whole; they will not be taken by the British Government operating in isolation. That is why it is important to go back to the treaties that govern how the European Union operates and consider the flexibility that that offers for future membership.
On the noble Lord's first question about improving the lot of the people of Zimbabwe, he will know that the United Kingdom has given substantial humanitarian aid to the people of Zimbabwe, who have been facing food shortages. One of our major concerns has been that the work that the World Food Programme did to identify the difficult and grave situation facing many people in Zimbabwe has not been recognised by the government of
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Zimbabwe, who have effectively made it difficult for us, our European Union colleagues and others to continue to supply food. Time and again I have said that that is something that the British Government cannot do alone. We need to work with the European Union partners, our other international partners, such as the United States, and, indeed, with the governments of Africa.
Lord Brittan of Spennithorne: My Lords, does the noble Baroness agree that, whereas the broad thrust of what was decided about Turkey is warmly to be welcomed, there is one major blemish in what is currently envisaged? Does she not agree that, whereas it is perfectly reasonable and in accordance with precedent to have substantial derogations from various of the provisions of membership of the European Union, to envisage permanent derogations in the area of the free movement of people is fundamentally inconsistent with the basic principles of the European Union and should therefore be removed during the course of the negotiations?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, I have said a number of times that this is the beginning of a process of negotiation. Discussion of the issue of free movement within the European Union, which is one of the principles on which the Union was founded, will be part of the negotiations, which will continue.
Lord Maclennan of Rogart: My Lords, those who welcome the beginning of the accession negotiations with Turkey will now wish to hear from the Government whether it is their first priority to ensure the deepening and strengthening of the decision-making processes of the Union. They should bear in mind that, when Turkey was known as the sick man of Europe in the 19th century, there was a loose relationship between governments of Europe, known as the concert of Europe, which was a conspicuous failure in peacekeeping and the development of common European policies.
Will the Government now turn their attention not only to gaining the acceptance of the necessity of the European constitution but to participate in the discussions about the future mechanisms for strengthening the European Union's decision-making, acknowledging that that may have financial consequences resulting in their reviewing their commitment of their commitment to the 1 per cent limit? Will they do those things to make a real success of the accession of Turkey, when it comes, and of other countries that have qualified under the existing treaty rules for membership?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, the noble Lord is asking me two sets of questions. One is about decision-making at European Union level. One reason that we have been so positive about the constitutional treaty process is precisely because it is our view that a Union of 25 and larger requires a reform of the structures and processes for decision-making. We have been unequivocal about that.
We have been arguing for a much tighter approach to the European Union budget process. It is our view that we can have an effective and efficient Commission with a budget of 1 per cent of EU gross national income. On the noble Lord's final point about altering for the success of the process, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister and others have made absolutely clear but we are in favour of the constitutional treaty and will be arguing strongly for it.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat in the form of a Statement the answer to a Private Notice Question given in another place by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary. The Statement is as follows:
"I refer the honourable gentleman to the Statement that I made on 16 December 2004. The only thing that I will add is that the case is about the compatibility of our domestic legislation with the European Convention on Human Rights. As the Human Rights Act 1998 makes clear, Parliament remains sovereign and it is ultimately for it to decide whether and what changes should be made to the law".
Lord Kingsland: My Lords, first, I thank the noble Baroness for her Statement. I must say that I am rather surprised at its length. I think that it amounted to no more than two sentences. That is in stark contrast to the judgment of the Law Lords in a document that is at least 100 pages long.
As your Lordships are well aware, on Thursday 16 December, the Law Lords decided by a majority of eight to one to allow the appeals before them and quash the United Kingdom's order derogating from Article 5(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
They declared that Section 23 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 was incompatible with Articles 5 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. As noble Lords are well aware, Section 23 allows for the indefinite detention, without charge or trial, of foreign nationals who are suspected international terrorists. The section, of course, does not apply to United Kingdom nationals.
I should like to ask the Minister the following questions. First, since the Bill was passed, the Newton report has suggested a number of changes to the
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legislation; so far the Government have done nothing. Will they now act on the proposals of the Newton report?
Secondly, as the noble Baroness well knows, we have repeatedly pressed the Government from these Benches to introduce measures to maximise the possibility of bringing to trial those detained, by allowing the admission and use of intercept evidence against them. Are the Government now reconsidering their position on that matter?
Thirdly, do the Government have any intention of using the remedial order provisions, under the Human Rights Act 1998 to make the legislation compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, whose provisions underlie the Act? The noble and learned Lord, Lord Irvine, the Lord Chancellor at that time, said on a number of occasions, both to your Lordships' House and in other fora, that if a declaration of incompatibility was made by the courts, swift legislative action would almost invariably follow in your Lordships' House and in another place.
Finally, the noble Baroness will recall that the Appellate Committee also quashed the Home Secretary's order, made under the Human Rights Act 1998: the Human Rights Act 1998 (Designated Derogation) Order 2001. Unlike the ruling that Section 23 is incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, the quashing of the order has immediate effect. What impact will that have on the legality of the detention?
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