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As noble Lords will know, responsibility for policing is devolved to Scotland. It is for the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Parliament, not the UK Parliament, to determine the level and type of policing in Scotland and how best to use resources, including whether to enlist the assistance of immigration officers in this way. On the introduction of this Bill, and following discussions with the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, the previous Scottish Administration concluded that an alternative non-legislative approach was sufficient to deal with people liable to arrest. That involves the routine deployment of police officers at Scottish ports to deal with those identified as liable for arrest for non-immigration purposes.
I understand that the new Scottish Administration have given a commitment to review, in consultation with ACPOS and the Border and Immigration Agency, whether the support of immigration officers is necessary in Scotland and, if so, how any legislative solution should be taken forward. That is the Scottish Administrations commitment to review.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, the clause to which the noble Duke refers, if I am following him correctly, deals with what the designated immigration officer may do. The designated immigration officer,
Perhaps I may continue my response to the amendment. Until that review has been carried out a commitment to replicate the provision in Scotland cannot be given. If legislation is necessary, either the Scottish Parliament could introduce its own legislation or provisions could be brought forward in UK legislation following a legislative consent Motion. For those reasons, I hope that the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.
I wish to pick up some of the other points raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Carnegy of Lour. I have made it clear that the Scottish Parliament has the power to legislate on the matter. That is what it has agreed to review. It is also our understanding that the legislative programme for the coming year in the Scottish Parliament is tight and further inclusions would need to be discussed and agreed by the First Minister and the First Ministers Cabinet. I have also indicated that this is not the only option. Provisions could be brought forward in future UK legislation, again following the consent of the Scottish Parliament. Alternatively, the Scottish Executive may conclude that further legislation is not required.
As I said, the deployment of police resources at Scottish ports is a matter for the Scottish Executive and Scottish Parliament. I therefore cannot accept the amendment, because it would be improper to do so. The security of our ports is delivered by a number of agenciesgovernment departments, port operators and the police. The Government take most seriously their responsibility for protecting the borders of all of the UK. That is why issues such as transport security, terrorism and allied matters are reserved to the United Kingdom Parliament in the interests of national security. There will be no compromise in the security of UK borders as a result of these provisions not applying to Scotland.
There was a question on immigration powers and so on. The powers are there for the use of custody officers, for use in detention facilities, and for escorting, but they do not affect the underlying purpose of detention, which is to act in support of the police service.
Lord Boyd of Duncansby: My Lords, can the Minister clarify a matter regarding Clause 2? Am I right in thinking that the purpose of the clause is to extend the powers of immigration officers as such not to immigration but to criminal justice? That would be clear from subsection (1), which gives the circumstances in which the immigration officer may
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Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, I do not know what other noble Lords think but to my mind the Ministers replies have to some extent muddied the waters. The previous Lord Advocate, who has just spoken, said one or two things which, I am sure, from his deep experience and skill as a lawyer, have clarified some points. I found it difficult to follow them and shall not try to respond to them.
The Government seem convinced that the Bill will extend to Scotland some functions of immigration officers that apply to criminal justice but not to immigration. That is difficult to understand. They are trying to enable these immigration officers to hold things up until the police come, to help frustrate someone who is trying to immigrate and should not. I take it that the Government have taken advice on that and are convinced. I just hope that they will continue to be convinced and that we shall not have, as someone said earlier, challenges to the law on this point. It is very difficult for a lay person to see that what the Government are saying is so, but one must accept that they have taken good legal advice and that it is correct.
The Minister did not give much encouragement on the length of time that the Scottish Parliament will take to plug the gap in the arrangements. He says that its programme is tight, and I am sure that it is. I expect that it has a fast-track system and that, if it does, it will be required to use it. I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, who said that half the United Kingdom is vulnerable if Scotland does not legislate quickly on the point. He is probably right: Scotlands population is not half of the United Kingdom population but its coastline must constitute, if anything, more than half. The vulnerability must be very great before Scotland has legislated.
We have discussed this fully and given the Government every opportunity to see the problems. The Minister has been no more responsive to the questions on this matter than he has on many others. I hope that when the Home Secretary reads the debates on the Bill, particularly at this stage, she will look at what was said by the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of York and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Winchester. They were very critical, but very politely, about the Home Office in relation to the Bill. I hope that the Home Secretary will read that with care. I do not blame the Minster here for not giving in; he has no power to do so and is told what to do by those at the other end of the building. However, we are rather shocked at the way in which the legislation is being dealt with, particularly as it affects vulnerable people.
I thank everybody who has spoken in the short debate on this amendment. I hope that the Government will not rue the day when they see the result of leaving things to the mercy of the Scots Parliament. I do not understand the argument that gives the Scots Parliament the power, but I hope that it is correct and that the Parliament will get on with it quickly. I am informed that it is now understood in Scotland what the Bill is about and that something has to be done. It is the whole of the United Kingdoms safety that we are talking about, not just Scotland. It is with the greatest reluctance that I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, I briefly make two points. I have given prior notice of them and am advised that they are within the restrictions imposed by the Companion. We have worked long and hard on the Bill, with extra time both in Grand Committee and on Report, but with precious little to show for all that effort. The chances of making significant improvements were reduced by the decision to parcel the Bill off to a Grand Committee, combined with the latest restrictions on amendments that can be moved at Third Reading. Although a Bill goes through six different stages in this House, in the circumstances of the Bill the main arguments can be brought to a vote only on Report. This may be all very well for some legislation, but it was clearly inappropriate in this case; so the procedure for sending Bills to Grand Committee needs to be reviewed, and consideration needs to be given to whether the latest restrictions on amendments at Third Reading should apply to Bills that do go to Grand Committee.
Secondly, in passing this Motion, the House is relying on codes of practice that deal with critical matters such as the safeguarding of children, which have been published only in draft, and on the many assurances given by the Minister about the way in which the Government are going to use the extensive powers that they are taking in secondary legislation. The Minister said that he would give thought to our suggestion that there should be pre-legislative scrutiny of some codes of practice, and I hope that the same reasoning can be applied to orders. The affirmative procedure, to be used for instance for biometric identity cards, does not provide adequate parliamentary oversight, and the more we hand over powers such as this, which have large implications for our civil liberties, the greater the need for pre-legislative scrutiny of controversial secondary legislation.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I am sorry if there is a feeling in the House that the Bill has suffered in any way as a result of its Committee stage not being held on the Floor of the House. I disagree with the noble Lord. The quality of scrutiny in Grand
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The Bills process was, of course, agreed through the usual channels. I understand that the noble Lords party was fully consulted and that, on its initiative, efforts were made to review the way in which the allocation was made. That is its entitlement, and it was quite right to exercise it. I am afraid that the Government do not get what they wish through the House of the Lords, as I and other noble Lords, particularly those who represent the Government as Ministers, have experienced on many occasions. That is the privilege of the House and the way in which it operates, and that is the way it should be.
There were 14 Committee sittings in the other place, of which four were public evidence sittings, so there was the opportunity to interrogate precisely on the childcare and other issues that have so exercised noble Lords. I also understand that the total amount of Committee time on the Bill was some 29 hours, and that Report in another place lasted four hours and 45 minutes. In your Lordships House, we had 23 hours in Grand Committee and a further 13 and three-quarter hours on Report. Noble Lords have detained your Lordships House this afternoon for a further two hours. Therefore, I argue that we have very thoroughly considered this Bill. While noble Lords might not like the outcome, we have given it a thorough going over.
The noble Lord said: My Lords, this debate comes at a busy time. London hosts several visitors from the Middle East and Afghanistan this week. President Karzai is here today, while Prime Minister Olmert of Israel and Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey are also visiting to discuss the region. Even without such visitors to London, the Middle East is always with us. For better and sometimes for worse, the Middle East is constantly at the top of our agenda, because so many dossiers beyond those of traditional foreign policy alone that matter to us here in the UKterrorism, crime, drugs and migrationhave roots in the wider Middle East and, of course, in Afghanistan.
The debate today is sufficiently wide that I felt that I had no choice but to treat this opening intervention as a tour dhorizon, which perhaps can offer some points for subsequent interventions. I am honoured to share the debate with the noble Lord, Lord Roper, who will shortly move his Motion on the EU Committees report into the EU and the Middle East. The report is a valuable contribution, not just to todays debate but to our wider thinking on how the EU should engage in the peace process as it gathers momentum.
I begin with Afghanistan, which I visited last week. Afghanistan is a key priority for us. The Afghans deeply appreciate, as I learnt first-hand, what we are doing in their country. But I must say that I came back from that visit more convinced than ever that Afghanistanits Government and peopleshould lead the security and reconstruction effort. The more we are pushed into displacing them in that leadership role, the more counterproductive it is.
I saw last week that a great deal has been achieved in Afghanistan since 2001, including a constitution and presidential and parliamentary electionsthe elements, if you like, of a functioning democracy. There has also been the return of 5 million refugees, major improvements in healthcare82 per cent of people now have access to basic healthcare, compared to just 9 per cent in 2002and improved life expectancy, education and provision of electricity. Perhaps more surprisingly still, the Afghan economy, which we rightly still think of as one of the poorest in the world, grew some 42 per cent between 2003 and 2006a year-on-year growth of over 7 per cent. Even on some of the more difficult indicators, there have been improvements. The number of poppy-free provinces, for example, has increased from six in 2006 to 13 this year.
Some of these improvementsfrom health to reduction in poppy cultivationare a direct result, at least in part, of the £500 million-worth of assistance provided by this country since 2002. But the successes remain fragile and dependent to a large extent on the security situation. I am afraid that in the southern province of Helmand, where I was a little under a week ago and where British forces are based, insurgency consistently impedes progress.
There is some welcome news about supplementing our security forces in the south, about which I have been asked in this Chamber before by noble Lords. Last week, the Slovakians announced that they will
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However, opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, despite the number of poppy-free provinces, has risen for the second successive year, driven by a significant increase in cultivation in the south and, to a lesser extent, the east of the country. The total area under cultivation increased by 17 per cent this year. Cultivation in Helmand province has risen by 48 per cent following a 162 per cent rise in 2006. Today, Helmand is responsible for more than half the entire Afghan poppy crop.
Our new package of measures on counter-narcotics, which we announced on 9 August, is designed to reverse this trend. We are confident that our analysis shows a strong link between access to the rule of law, security and poppy cultivation. Where we are able to succeed in establishing a functioning state, a convincing rule of law and development alternatives for people, the rate of poppy cultivation comes down.
I come now to Iraq, where the number of our troops will be reduced to 4,500 by the end of this year and, if conditions allow, to 2,500 by spring next year. This is in line with our long-held strategy of handing over increasing responsibility to the Iraqi authorities as conditions and capabilities allow.
Progress has been made in Basra. The new Iraqi security chiefs there are making a real impact. Increasingly, Iraqi security forces are able to handle the incidents that have occurred, and the overall level of violence has dropped in recent months. There have been positive security achievements elsewhere in Iraq, too: in Baghdad, following the intensified Iraq-led security plan; and in Anbar, where local Iraqi leaders have shown commitment to working against al-Qaeda.
We continue to work in support of the Iraqis so that progress on the security front can be matched and sustained by progress on the political front, which is critical to long-term peace. At the leaders conference in August, the Iraqi leadership recommitted to the programme of national unity. We are pressing in particular for regular meetings of the Prime Minister and the Presidency Council to drive forward progress on national reconciliation, which, as one cannot overemphasise, is key to overall political progress in the country. Much depends on whether Iraqis will learn the art of compromise and concession to one another.
Iraqs neighbours have a central role in supporting Iraqs future. Issues such as refugees, security of borders and the security of fuel supplies have regional implications for everyone. Conversely, external support for militias and insurgent groups prolongs the violence and threat to Iraqi lives. We welcome the UNs recent commitment to provide a secretariat for this regional initiative, but a critical factor for success will be the willingness of all Iraqs neighbours, including Iran and Syria, to recognise that a secure, well functioning Iraq is in their interest.
The next of these neighbours meetings is in Istanbul. In the past few days, the Turks have faced unacceptable and deliberately provocative violence from the PKK operating out of Iraqi territory. I want to express our admiration for the restraint of the Turkish response. Turkey is right to seek a solution through dialogue and to focus, if possible, on the long-term gains that a secure neighbourhood would bring.
Iraq continues to face acute economic and infrastructure problems. By April next year, we will have spent nearly £750 million on reconstruction. At the beginning of this month, the Prime Minister announced an additional £90 million to create employment and improve infrastructure in southern Iraq. That will provide more than 1 million people with water and power. The southern province, and the city of Basra, is a key region to raise oil revenue. Growth in this region should take hold more quickly and, we hope, act as a multiplier for the country as a whole.
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