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There are other proposals in the gracious Speech which I welcome which are being dealt with in this House on other days. I mention the proposals to extend full-time education to the age of 18, which I think will tackle social immobility. There is the extension of flexible working for the parents of young children, and the drive to build more affordable homes. All this adds up to the beginning of a step change. However, after the Prime Minister presented his credentials as someone who believes in liberty, it is a great disappointment to see us contemplating yet another extension of detention without charge. Indeed, I was very disappointed to hear him say that he supports the plans for identity cards. If the Prime Minister wants to talk of vision, there is none greater than the vision of liberty. New Labour’s record on civil liberties has been lamentable, and I want to warn the Government that this House will strongly resist any extension of detention powers. I do not need to rehearse the arguments as to why this cavalier disregard for principle is so counter to our hard-won rights and our traditions of freedom.

A search is currently under way, conducted by the Lord Chancellor, to unearth British values. One of the most precious of our values is justice, our belief in fairness and our regard for the rule of law. I hope we revisit these values and that that information impacts upon the Government’s decisions on the front of civil liberties. Most of the world took their lead from us on safeguarding individual freedom, and the protections of those arrested and accused were built-up here in Britain. We set the standard and now we pathetically are abandoning what we secured through painful experience.

As many know, I do these cases where terrorism is alleged—I am a lawyer practising in the courts—and not one suspect has yet been held for the maximum of 28 days and not one person has escaped charges because of the limit. I have first-hand experience of exactly what is involved in evidence gathering. I spent all of last year in Operation Crevice; I spent the whole of the first part of this year again involved in trials alleging terrorism. It is right that the world has changed. Investigations are more complex and involve arduous work for the police, and I can say at first hand that the work of the police and the security services has been truly impressive.

Most of the current wave of terrorist cases involve huge quantities of material stored on computers. That is not surprising; it is the nature of our young. Most of

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them have computers and they collect and share information. I am afraid that that information is often like pornography—the sharing of beheadings; the sharing of information about suicide bombings; the sharing of material that incites radical opinion. In a court case just before the summer, a police officer in the anti-terrorist squad explained delays in disembowelling the contents of computers in the case by pointing out that there were less than 20 officers with the required expertise in the high-tech unit. That makes a nonsense of the demand for extensions of time. Before any consideration whatever is given to eroding civil liberties, all practical steps to deal with such problems should be exhausted. As the Human Rights Committee of both Houses has said, the test should be necessity. The police should be recruiting the young with computer skills from our colleges and universities and getting them on board in these investigations, and they should be given the resources to do so.

People are being frightened into accepting these erosions of liberty on stories that are wholly inaccurate. We heard one of them in the House today when the noble Lord, Lord Mackenzie, gave an example. He quoted the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, apparently. While I am against convicting people on hearsay, the story was rather alarming because what was being presented was the notion that the man who drove a vehicle loaded with explosives into Glasgow airport could not have been questioned by virtue of the fact that he was suffering from burns, and therefore might have been released after 28 days. That is ridiculous because hundreds of people in that airport saw it happening. There were eye witnesses to this event; we all saw it on our televisions. There was no possibility of there not being evidence on which charges would be brought.

I remind the House that according to Home Office data, of 1,228 individuals arrested under anti-terror law over six years, 87 per cent were not charged with terrorism offences. We should be concerned about what the meaning of this might be in the fullness of time because, with the pressure of time on the police, it is right that there will be innocent people detained for lengthy periods equivalent to four-month sentences.

What we do in Parliament has reverberations in our Muslim communities. What we do in this country has reverberations around the world. Our campaigns for hearts and minds across the Islamic world will be further damaged by these changes. I agree entirely with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd, when he described why post-charge questioning is also wrong. Issues of liberty are so important that they go beyond politics. That is why in the past I have taken such a strong position opposing government policy when there is an erosion of civil liberty, and it is why I will continue to do so.

6.55 pm

Baroness Hanham: My Lords, the Home Office, in its previous incarnation, had more than a sufficiency of legislation over the past few years, so it is not surprising that it has run out of steam this year. That is, of course, with the important exception of the counter-terrorism Bill, about which my noble friend Lady Neville-Jones, the shadow Minister for Security, has so ably spoken already.

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Despite what the noble Lord, Lord West, said in his opening remarks, one of the glaring omissions in the Queen’s Speech was the expected immigration Bill, which, it was anticipated, would give some strength to the Government’s stated intention of limiting the number of migrants coming to this country. The noble Lord pointed to the miracles which will occur from the e-borders provisions, which will be 95 per cent efficient by 2010, but he did not mention that these will apply only to those who live outside the European Union. He also extolled the virtues of the recent UK Borders Act. I am going to call it the United Kingdom Borders Act because I am getting terribly tired of the abbreviation “UK”. This was for us largely unexceptional but did not provide for the inclusion of police within the borders force. While giving immigration officers extra powers, we felt, and continue to do so, that it will not have the teeth that a border police force would have. This leaves a substantial lacuna.

It is notable and welcome that at last it is possible to have a reasoned debate on the subject of immigration and asylum without being accused of racism. As Sir Trevor Phillips, chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said about the excellent speech of my right honourable friend David Cameron:

It will be my intention to emulate these tones as we discuss this sensitive issue now and in the future.

The draft citizenship Bill, I hope, will be concerned with the responsibility which migrants, given a home and security here, have to all their other fellow citizens in the context of the need realistically to be able to contribute to the life and economic welfare of the country. The excellent speech of my noble friend Lady Warsi, concentrating on social cohesion, has underscored that point. This is particularly important if the figures of migrants coming to this country, both legally and illegally, are not to be contained.

My noble friend Lady Neville-Jones referred to the counterterrorism legislation. This comes hard on the heels of the report from the Independent Police Complaints Commission on the disastrous outcome of the exercise which resulted in the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes on 22 July 2005. This morning I tabled a Private Notice Question to ask what the Government were going to do to strengthen the leadership of the Metropolitan Police in the light of the judgment on the health and safety charges brought over the actions on that day and the Independent Police Complaints Commission report. Unfortunately, the Question was not considered to be of sufficient urgency to warrant being brought forward today. I do not know whether we will get an opportunity to discuss the report but it is of serious import to the way that the Metropolitan Police moves forward and recovers from the “corporate failures” identified by the judge at the trial; to ensure that lessons are learnt from the mistakes that were made on that day; and to ensure that the systemic failings in the operation leading up to the events on 22 July are all identified and rectified.

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Individual officers were rightly exonerated from blame for what happened, and we are glad they were, but there are questions at least about whether the necessary planning, training and operational tactics required will be in place to ensure not only that such a disaster cannot happen again, but that there is a clear blueprint to ensure it does not. Whether that can be done under the current leadership of the Metropolitan Police, and whether faith in the service can be restored under him, is a question I would have liked to have asked the Minister outside this debate. Denied that opportunity, however, I am raising it now. My right honourable friend David Davis in the other place has called on Sir Ian Blair to resign because of the identified failings, and it would have been helpful to have had a view in this House on why that demand has so far been rejected by the Home Secretary. Perhaps the Minister will do so in his reply tonight.

Of a lesser order, but no less a matter of public concern, is the whole matter of community safety. The Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill brings in provisions for individual anti-social behaviour orders to be reviewed on a yearly basis. At some stage I hope there will be a review of ASBOs to see how they are working and how effective they are in reducing the anti-social behaviour, largely by young people, that causes such anxiety to people, particularly on large housing estates, but also on the streets. We have to know whether the orders are being collected as “badges of honour” or whether they are leading to those subject to them being given the boundaries that deal with their annoying behaviour and help them to a more profitable future. Evidence suggests that the orders are not the panacea it was hoped they would be, and that the general problem of what we might call our “feral youth” is not lessening. We may have an opportunity to consider this during the passage of the Bill, in which I look forward to participating.

7.02 pm

Lord Laird: My Lords, I am delighted to have this opportunity to discuss some actions that concern Northern Ireland. There can be no doubt that almost everything has changed in Northern Ireland over the past 15 years. Most of the change is for the betterment of the Province’s people and I applaud those who have contributed to bringing about the massive improvement. However, dark clouds still remain not too far from the centre of political life in Northern Ireland. Terrorism of all types has not gone away, even if it has been much reduced. Recent tragic events have brought home in true relief the problems that still remain.

One major difficulty is that the Army Council of the IRA is still intact and active. Many of the major units of that organisation are still in operation. Another difficulty is that the plot unveiled by a former Minister of Justice in the Republic, Mr Michael McDowell, is still ongoing. The plot—I referred to it two years ago in your Lordships’ House—is the takeover of the Irish Republic’s main establishment by placing in its ranks IRA supporters as sleepers or moles. Mr McDowell indicated that the republican movement has already placed people in the top positions of authority: the PM’s office, the police force, the army, major sections of the Government and the media.

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Recently strange things have happened, such as the hard line taken by the Republic’s Government against Protestant schools and the ban by the Irish Rugby Football Union after almost 90 years on British symbols at appropriate Irish international rugby matches. All this runs contra to the new atmosphere we all want on the island. In the case of rugby I, along with many in Ulster, am sickened at the introduction of politics into sport. I plead with the IRFU officials to introduce a policy of total equality for all in their dealings with the supporters and players and, by so doing, to remove politics.

One of the most serious incidents has too many shades of the past for us all: the brutal murder of Paul Quinn. It resulted from a dispute between Paul and a son of Vincent Traynor, a local IRA chief. Paul Quinn and some other youths from the area were involved in activities that did not go down well with the senior republican leadership in South Armagh, especially as this new breed of republicans is defying the leadership. It is now quite clear that Vincent had oversold the case against Paul.

Several weeks ago Traynor asked the republican leadership, including Peter and Patrick Quinn from Bog Road—no relations—who run most of the illegal fuel laundering plants in South Armagh for the IRA, to have Quinn executed. After consultation with PJ Carragher and his son Michael, the well known murderous sniper, Thomas “Slab” Murphy, the Provisionals’ commander in the area, Sean Gerard Hughes, known as “the Surgeon”, and James McArdle, permission for the execution was given. Almost 20 republicans were present at the murder as executioners, lookouts, drivers and so on. The eight or nine who conducted the execution were dressed in boiler suits and wore surgical gloves. All were IRA or former IRA members. It took almost half an hour for Paul to die. Every major bone in his body was broken. During the execution he cried for mercy.

Following the murder and the outcry from all parts, a meeting took place in Cullyhanna on Friday 2 November. Although “Slab” Murphy did not attend, a trusted lieutenant was there to speak on his behalf. To quell local discontent, and under pressure from the top, “Slab” offered to put a large amount of cash into the Cullyhanna area in the hope that buying people off with blood money would stop a rift between republicans in South Armagh. The involvement of the republican leadership in South Armagh in the planning, commission and now cover-up of this murder means that it is directly implicated. “Slab” also ordered that no one in the community was to speak to the Garda or PSNI. He was taking full responsibility for the incident because his close associates were involved.

Having felt that they had to blame someone, on 9 November, Friday night past, six armed IRA men went to the home of Vincent Traynor and forced their way in, but Vincent was not there. For the past week Vincent Traynor has been guarded by the police quick reaction force based at Crossmaglen and Newtownhamilton PSNI barracks. Responding to the visit, the QRF was at his house in a matter of minutes, but the IRA gang had gone. Vincent Traynor is now considered to be number one on the IRA hit list

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because he talked the leadership in South Armagh into the situation that saw the brutal and savage murder of Paul Quinn.

The blame for the murder and the subsequent situation has to lie with the IRA. The IRA veterans of South Armagh want to bring into line the young republicans of the area who are openly defying the leadership. Given those activities, “Slab” Murphy should have his bail in the Republic revoked, as he is now involved in the intimidation of witnesses. At his next court appearance, he should be held in custody while papers for his extradition to Northern Ireland are prepared.

Extreme republicans close to the IRA Army Council are trying to suggest that Paul Quinn’s family is being manipulated to create anti-Sinn Fein propaganda. This is not so. I have been contacted by a number of people and groups from the area who would not normally consider me as a friend asking that the police remove and prosecute those involved, and get them off the streets.

To clarify the situation, if any charges as a result of this murder are brought before the Irish courts, I have not influenced a potential jury by my remarks. It must be remembered that any court without a jury would be a special court. Both Governments need to deal with this type of criminal activity. To brush it under the carpet, as seems to many to be taking place, is just a short-term solution. The island of Ireland will never be at peace until illegal activities are tackled in full and equality is in total operation.

7.11 pm

Lord Smith of Clifton: My Lords, it would not be appropriate for me to comment on the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Laird, but it is relevant to point out that the UDA’s decision of yesterday to disband its paramilitary wing, but not to decommission its arms, is a salutary warning to us all that scrutiny must be maintained.

Monitoring should continue more widely to establish that progress is being made in Northern Ireland. As the noble Lord, Lord Trimble, observed, Westminster is the sovereign Parliament and should have a care for all the devolved Administrations. The Deloitte report of last April estimated the extra cost of a divided society in Northern Ireland as being some £1.5 billion, covering policing, education, housing, health and other provisions. This cannot be allowed to continue, yet neither the United Kingdom Government nor the Northern Ireland Executive have addressed the findings of Deloitte’s report to date. Still less have any implications been drawn for future public policy. The silence from both has been deafening, and that is ominous. Will the United Kingdom Government insist that the colossal cost of maintaining division in services be reduced and ultimately eliminated when they negotiate future Barnett formula settlements for Northern Ireland?

While policing takes the major share of this overspend, education is a major element, too. Deloitte estimates that savings of between £15.9 million and £70.6 million could be made in education. The earlier Bain report of the independent strategic review of education called for a reduction in the number of schools, and greater

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collaboration and co-operation between them and with the FE sector. There are falling rolls and plenty of empty desks in Northern Ireland schools. Savings on teachers, Deloitte reckoned, could be within a wide range of between £180,000 and nearly half a million pounds.

The two main providers of teacher training are St Mary’s and Stranmillis University Colleges. They both produce teachers of a high standard, but there is a major flaw: those teachers, taught separately as they are, cocooned in the two distinct cultures, perpetuate the sectarian division. That is the most serious impediment to the construction of a fully democratic and mature civil society in Northern Ireland. Only the University of Ulster, of which I was once vice-chancellor, provides teacher training in a non-sectarian context. The Bain report’s proposals, if adopted, would help to dissipate the sectarian nature that so bedevils the Northern Ireland educational system.

Integrated schools should be the beacon to be followed. They are the most notable attempt to date to rid Northern Ireland’s schooling of its sectarianism. Integrated schools received shamefully insufficient support from the United Kingdom Government during the years of direct rule. The opportunity should have been boldly taken then to promote them as one of the better ways forward. Integrated schools are unlikely to get any better support from the Northern Ireland Executive in the near or immediate future. Their Ministers are drawn exclusively from both sides of the sectarian divide and, as such, have little or no incentive to foster integrated education.

As we saw today at Question Time, the recent activities of the United Kingdom Government have not been helpful. The decision to put a security wall in the playground of the Hazelwood integrated primary school in north Belfast beggars belief. What signal does that give? The present Government are intent on creating many more faith schools in Great Britain. That will entrench sectarianism in society in Great Britain very effectively. Anyone who has lived in Northern Ireland for any time, as have I, knows that. Precedents from Northern Ireland have often been exported to Britain. Sometimes, they have been for the good, other times, not. Are we to expect that the new wave of faith schools, together with those that already exist, as sectarian attitudes are nurtured, will get the Hazelwood treatment of security walls and barriers? It is more than likely.

I am a committed Anglican—I am sorry that the Bishops’ Bench is empty as I might have got a blessing. However, I shall not get a blessing for what I am going to say. I have been a diocesan-appointed governor of a Church of England secondary school; my wife has chaired the governors of a Church of England primary school. However, the time has come to take religious affiliation out of the establishment of schools. In the present age, which has seen a rapid rise in fundamentalism in almost all faiths, the Government should pursue a policy of secularisation as we see in France and the United States of America. This is as true for Northern Ireland as it is for Great Britain.

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7.17 pm

Lord Norton of Louth: My Lords, it is a pleasure, as always, to follow the noble and scholarly Lord, Lord Smith of Clifton, who started his teaching career in the politics department at Hull University.

I propose to focus on constitutional change and the Government’s proposals to strengthen Parliament. To what extent do the proposals for constitutional change advanced by the Prime Minister, both conceptually and in detail, differ from those advanced by his predecessor? At one level, and the most fundamental, there is no change. There is no clear articulation of the type of constitution that the Government are seeking to establish for the United Kingdom. Ministers are unable to identify the goal, the end point, of constitutional change. The Prime Minister talks of a “new constitutional settlement”, without clearly identifying what the settlement is. What, precisely, is the type of constitution that the Government wish to establish for the United Kingdom? We still do not know.

However, at another level, there clearly has been a change. We may not know the intended destination, but there has been a change of direction. Under the premiership of Tony Blair, there were several major changes to our constitutional arrangements. They were essentially external to Parliament and, in many respects, constrained Parliament. Under his successor, Parliament has become the focus of change. In the Green Paper and in the Queen’s Speech is an emphasis on giving Parliament and the people more power and on enabling Parliament more effectively to call the Government to account.

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