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The noble Lord, Lord Waddington, seemed to believe that immigration had no benefit for this country. He gave a litany of terrible things that have happened to our society as a result of immigration. What disappointed me was that he did not seem to understand that the people who run many of our vital services such as hospitals, hotels and catering—not to mention the Polish plumber or dentist—are immigrants who are making a positive contribution to society, as they always have done.

There has been a lot of talk about House of Lords reform; I am not going to add to it because we have heard every variation imaginable. However, I had to smile at a couple of comments. The noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, said that it was unfortunate that we were talking about reforming the House of Lords at all and that cash for peerages did not exist under the old hereditary system. If one examines the history of hereditary Peers and how they obtained their peerage, one recalls that pillage, looting and a whole host of other things were often rewarded by the monarch of the day. I should not think that one could really recommend that system as the way forward.

The noble Lord, Lord McNally—he is not with us, unfortunately—referred to sleaze. There were perhaps 2.4 million reasons why he might have thought whether he should have made that comment in the way in which he did. Glasshouses and stones came to mind.

I can usually rely on the noble Baroness, Lady Miller, to make an interesting and vital contribution, but today I did not feel that her contribution had quite the balance and charm that her speeches usually have. She talked about a conspiracy theory—that the reform of the House of Lords was to appease the left in the Labour Party. Let me assure the noble Baroness of two things. First, many people in the Labour Party who would not be on what she would consider the left would support an elected second Chamber. Secondly, there are two theories of history, as she well knows—the conspiracy and the cock-up theories. I always favour the latter.

5.01 pm

Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, as the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor said in opening this debate, the prime concern of any Government is public perception. Have not the customary reciprocal diplomatic arrangements made by this Government under international law which could have afforded extraordinary rendition engaged public perception? That comes in the wake of the courageous initiative of the noble Baroness, Lady D’Souza. A series of flights via the UK over many years has been given diplomatic clearance by the FCO without knowledge of the purpose of the flights. The findings of independent bodies were that the purpose was extraordinary rendition. The question is how to deal with this unfinished business in a manner acceptable to government.

My noble and learned friend Lord Lyell of Markyate has said that it is just not good enough

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merely to pay lip service to our opposition to extraordinary rendition. We must satisfy the world at large that we really mean what we say.

In the light of the speeches of the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, on the Civil Aviation Bill, the noble Lord, Lord Triesman, on the Unstarred Question, the noble Lord, Lord Drayson, on the Armed Forces Bill and the noble Baroness, Lady Scotland of Asthal, on the Police and Justice Bill, it has to be accepted that this is not a matter of domestic law that can be dealt with by statute—an assertion that was wholly supported by the speeches of the noble and gallant Lords, Lord Boyce and Lord Inge, on the Armed Forces Bill. The only way in which this worrying and emotive matter can be dealt with is by a bilateral arrangement with the United States as to the FCO verification procedures which seek to ensure a requisite measure of safeguards.

This is no occasion to rehearse the findings of these many independent bodies, as recorded in a series of sister amendments to those three Bills, accepted on two Divisions by cross-party, Cross-Bench minorities as having evidential credibility and, at all events, as warranting an inquiry, as was said by my noble friend Lord Kingsland in the Unstarred Question of 18 July.

On the first occasion, on 28 March, I voted with a minority of 58 against 84. On the second occasion, on 6 November, on the amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Garden, to the Armed Forces Bill, I voted with a majority of 170 against 69. Why so? I was compelled to do so for the reason given by the noble Baroness, Lady Scotland of Asthal, on 18 October when we were debating the Police and Justice Bill, as reported at cols. 782-83 of Hansard. She explained with total clarity what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Drayson, on 12 October on the Armed Forces Bill, reported at col. 440—that the flights from the United States were part of the normal arrangements between states. Also in this context, one relies on what was said by the noble and gallant Lords on 6 November, and I shall come to that in a moment.

Perhaps I may summarise what the noble Baroness said, although that is difficult to do as it was an erudite and authoritative presentation. As I understood it, she said that the flights of the US state aircraft were given clearance to overfly land and leave military and civil airfields in the United Kingdom in accordance with normal diplomatic reciprocal arrangements under customary international law, the principles of which were none too clear, and that there was no bilateral arrangement between the United Kingdom and the United States. Such arrangements under public international law are not subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of any state, and the series of sister amendments that were made would not be conceived on any other Bill.

Accepting, as was said by my noble friend Lord Kingsland on 6 November, that complicity with the international crime of torture imports personal liability, regard must also be had to what was said by the noble and gallant Lords, Lord Boyce and Lord Inge, on the amendment moved by the noble Lord,

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Lord Garden. This is the only quotation that I propose to make but it is of such importance that, by leave, I wish to make it.

Ten minutes is showing on the clock so it is time that I should end. I will do so by pointing out that at col. 628 on 6 November, I made such a tentative suggestion, which was concerned not with legislation but with the examination of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office verification procedures. The noble Lords, Lord Drayson and Lord Triesman, were good enough to concede that that should be considered on its merits. How else could your Lordships satisfy the world at large that the United Kingdom and the United States really meant what they had said, and so alleviate justified concern?

5.12 pm

Lord Ramsbotham: My Lords, in this debate we have heard some very distinguished contributions on weighty issues to do with our Lordships’ House and other constitutional matters. I make no apology at this late stage in the proceedings for coming down to brass tacks, as it were, and focusing instead on something at the other end of the spectrum; namely, the Bill announced in the gracious Speech for the management of offenders.

As noble Lords will know, this is not the first time that the Queen has announced that there would be legislation to reduce offending. She said so on 23 November 2004, and, on 12 January 2005 the Minister begged to move that the Bill that had been introduced should be read for the first time. However, the Weekly Information Bulletin for that week announced that the Bill had been dropped. Having looked at it, I am not surprised because, frankly, there was very little in it to do with the management of offenders. In Her Majesty’s gracious Speech on 17 May 2005, she announced again that her Government would be bringing forward,

This time, there was nothing to drop in the Session because nothing appeared. So we waited with interest on 15 November, when she said:

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The Bill appeared in the Printed Paper Office this morning.

I looked at the content of both the Queen’s Speech and this Bill with some interest. Three other things were mentioned in the gracious Speech that affect the management of offenders. The Government would put victims at the heart of the criminal justice system. I was interested in the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, because I must admit that one of the phrases used by the Government that worries me is that they are going to rebalance the criminal justice system in favour of victims. To me that smacks of lynch law, and I am not happy when I hear phrases like that, because they suggest a distortion of the way justice is administered. A Bill will be brought forward for the next stage of reform of the criminal justice system, along with legislation to create an independent board to enhance confidence in government statistics. I venture to suggest that the statistics about which the public have least confidence are those to do with crime, imprisonment and offenders.

I also noted that in the list of 29 Bills that the Government intend to introduce, no fewer than 11 have something to do with the conduct of imprisonment: asylum and immigration, child support, further education, local government, mental health, organised crime, corporate manslaughter, legal services and so on. That suggests to me that, instead of merely having a Bill to deal with offender management, we actually need some form of consideration of the whole way in which the treatment and conditions of offenders are handled, quite apart from their management. When I looked at the Bill this time, I found again that there is precious little to do with the management of offenders; it is all about the management of the management of offenders, which is not the same thing at all. You manage offenders by having face-to-face contact between managers and offenders, the manager, teacher, officer or whoever being responsible for acting to protect the public by preventing that person from reoffending.

What worries me about all this is that here we are, three years after the then Home Secretary, Mr David Blunkett, announced with great trumpets, following the publication of a government document, Reducing Crime, Changing Lives, that he was forming a new National Offender Management Service that would have direct responsibility for the punishment and rehabilitation of adult offenders, both in custody and in the community. It was to be responsible for improving the enforcement and credibility of community punishment so that prison is not the first resort for less serious offenders, for ensuring that both custodial and community punishments make offenders address their behaviour and offer a path away from crime, and for raising educational standards among offenders in order to break the link between low educational attainment and criminality. No one would argue with any of that as an aim—but

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those things were already the aim of the Prison Service and the Probation Service, so why did we need a new one?

It was then announced that other things would follow, such as the merger of those services. That has not happened. The National Offender Management Service is in fact a myth. Nothing has happened, other than an increase in the numbers of people who have reoffended, and a retrenchment, not just of Bills that have never appeared, but of the mergers of services and the “custody plus” that was going to be at the heart of the programme. Last month, the present chief executive of NOMS, in an interview for the Guardian, said that under the latest blueprint,

so where was the Blunkett vision?—

If NOMS is merely going to become a small strategic commissioning organisation, where does the word “service” come in? What is the purpose of establishing a great body with 1,647 civil servants, two tiers of management, and not just a national system but a regional system that has 10 regional managers each at a cost of about £500,000 a year, who for two years have been allegedly commissioning services from prisons and probation without any budgets with which to provide them?

The Home Secretary announced that the Home Office was not fit for purpose. Frankly, my sympathy goes out to the poor, beleaguered civil servants in the Home Office having to process this torrent of legislation, initiatives, rules and orders contradicting the previous ones. Hardly is the ink dry on one before another contradictory one follows. My sympathy is also with the poor officials in the Prison Service and the Probation Service, who simply do not know which way they are meant to be turning. They have had contradictory directions from three Home Secretaries and three Prisons Ministers. They have had two chief executives, three change managers, 10 regional offender managers and so on—all that has been piled on to an existing organisation. I submit that what is dysfunctional is actually the lack of direction from the Government and senior officials to the criminal justice system, and particularly to those who have the responsibility of protecting the public by the prevention of crime and the way that they try to rehabilitate.

It is no good trying to say that you are going to supervise every offender in the community unless you have got supervisors. At the moment, there are some 7,000 probation officers to look after 209,000 offenders. I entirely agree with what my noble friend Lady Howe of Idlicote said about the Probation Service. I am deeply worried about it and deeply worried about there being more change here. I respectfully suggest that, instead of pressing ahead with yet another ragtag of minutiae, the Government should tackle the guts of the problem with offender management, which is that the Prison Service, which I know best, is neither structured nor organised in a way that is capable of looking after offenders in the

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way that the Government would like. There is no system of responsible and accountable management, and it has no one responsible for each type of prison. The governors of prisons are not given clear aims for their prison. When I asked one what his aim was, he said that it was to save £500,000 from his budget by the end of the year. Without a clear aim, how can you possibly provide a prison with the courses, resources and facilities that it needs to manage the offender in a way that the task should be done?

NOMS has been referred to as the “nightmare on Marsham Street”. I prefer the word “nonsense”. I respectfully suggest that the Minister looks seriously at what is going on and realises that the dreams with which she beguiles and charms the House so often will never be realised unless the basics are put right.

5.23 pm

Lord Graham of Edmonton: My Lords, it is my pleasure to speak in this debate. Having heard the debate being introduced by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer, earlier on, I congratulate the Government on the totality of the Queen’s Speech.

Before I get on to my main point, I will refer to some of the points made by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor. He mentioned particularly those aspects of the Queen’s Speech that deal with terrorism. The House and people outside would do well to appreciate the enormity of the burden that rests on the shoulders of Ministers, the police, and others, who have the awful job of trying to combat what is undoubtedly a reign of terror instigated against this country and the people who live in it by evil forces, wherever they may come from. Whether the measures that the Government are taking will work remains to be seen. I have been about this House and the other place for some years and I know that the efforts we make to improve a situation sometimes do not work out as well as we would like. However, the Queen’s Speech reveals a genuine attempt to deal with the problems.

The other point made early in the Speech was about dealing with the immigration scene, and I am glad that the Government persist in trying to improve the position that arises from it. My noble friend pointed out earlier that this was not a black and white issue. It is not a question of all right or wrong; there are good points and bad points. We ought to recognise that we will never solve to the satisfaction of many people what is called the immigration problem, but I congratulate the Government on the measures that they are taking.

Then there is the Criminal Justice Bill. Sometimes I think that the public, and often Members of the House, fail to appreciate that those who work in our prisons—the prison officers and others—are also prisoners themselves. The public acknowledge—I will not say relish—that when terrible crimes are committed by awful people, those people are sentenced to go to prison, and the prison doors are locked bang against them. Once that happens they cease to be a matter of memory or concern to the public but, inside the prisons, the prison officers and others have to deal with the problem. I do not say that

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every prison officer is lily-white—just the same as in this House or any other group of people, there are good and bad—but we ought to recognise that society gives them the awful task of having to deal with those problems.

I shall move on to the future of the House of Lords. The word that I relish in the relevant paragraph is “consensus”. I have not looked it up in a dictionary, but consensus means a seeking towards a common view on how to make progress. I warmly welcome the contribution of the noble Lord, Lord Wakeham. I think that shares in Wakeham will go up in time, because of his perception. Three or four years ago, he and his committee presented us with options and alternatives, and although he said fairly that it may not have been the position from which he started, he said that eventually, working towards it painfully and slowly, we should look towards a House that had an element of elected Members. That is my view. I carry about with me a card of a poster, which says:

and it shows the doors of the House of Lords smashed down. Therefore, the Labour Party has been committed.

When I started my political philosophy, the abolition of the House of Lords was one of the cardinal principles—that is, getting rid of it altogether. In time and by argument, I came to the view that we could not abolish the House of Lords because we needed a second Chamber. Whether it continues to be called by this name remains to be seen, but we need a second Chamber. We are arguing about what shape it should take. The noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, said that the House was working well and that the public appreciated it. She did not say, of course, that it has only worked well after 1997 because of the major change that took place in 1998, the removal of 90 per cent of the hereditary Members. What the public and the noble Baroness are saying is that, devoid of 90 per cent of the hereditaries, the House is working better than it was then. Lord Cranbourne did the deal in 1998, which retained 10 per cent of hereditary Peers because in his view that was better than losing 100 per cent. He was known as a wise politician.

When we had the debates on the future of the House of Lords I started by saying that I wanted as high a percentage of elected Members as I could possibly get. I went down the list until I got nothing at all because that was the way it was. There is a play by Arthur Miller, “A View from the Bridge”, which relates to an immigrant community living on the dockside in New York. An interlocutor comes on stage from time to time and says, “That is how it is here; we settle for half”. In other words, you cannot win them all; let us try to win some.

I shall give my philosophy on the future of the House of Lords. I cannot begin to compete with the very clever people—I mean that kindly—who have given their time and thought to the various stratagems that need to be employed on aspects of the

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change. I cannot believe that anyone on this side of the House—or even on the other side—believes that the public thinks there should be no change in the composition of the House of Lords.

When I first came here, people tried to kid me that this really was not a political House and that Members of the House of Lords were not political. Of course, we are all politicians. We may not be full-time professional politicians, like the Commons, but we are all politicians. As Rab Butler is alleged to have said, politics is the art of the possible. I fear that attempts by the Government this year to proceed in a substantial way may not go very far. I speak to colleagues and friends all around the House, and I sense that the mood is such that I cannot envisage that we are ready to do the deed—dirty or otherwise. We need a little more time to reach consensus.

I can say to the noble Baroness who will reply to the debate, all power to your elbow and that of the Leader of the House of Commons, who is faced with the difficult task of producing a workable solution to the future, whether it is 50 per cent, less or more. I believe that the public are ready for the change. We may not be ready for it, but we are here to serve the public. Time and again the public have said that that which has constituted the House of Lords for 100 or 1,000 years is no longer acceptable in 2006-07. I am all for change, and I rest my case.

5.33 pm

Lord Hastings of Scarisbrick: My Lords, having drawn the short straw of having to speak last, I start by congratulating the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York on his maiden speech. His refreshing and truthful style is noticed by the public and appreciated in this House. I apologise to the noble Lords, Lord Luce and Lord Dear, for not being here for their maiden speeches.

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