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Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, my noble friend will be aware that there are a number of initiatives in this area, including the one to which she refers at the IAEA. The UK Government have been supporting the development of these options because we believe that both within the forthcoming review of the NPT and more generally in our disposition of arrangements for a nuclear-free world it is vital to provide safe sources of nuclear power to those who wish to pursue that option.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, as we are about to break for 10 weeks and as there are disturbing reports about those within the Government of Israel who are considering at some stage in the next three months a conventional attack on Iranian nuclear facilities as a means of delaying—although not entirely abolishing—the Iranian nuclear programme, can the Government assure the House that they have made it quite clear to the Government of Israel and to their supporters in Washington that we would not under any circumstances support or condone that kind of unilateral attack?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, I certainly want to ensure that the noble Lord enjoys his summer holiday in peace. The Government have repeatedly made it clear that they view the negotiations of the E3+3 as the vehicle at this time for achieving a solution to the Iranian nuclear programme. We do not believe that a military option is appropriate.

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, on the immediate dangers ahead, to which the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, has referred, does the Minister accept that while the idea of the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, has good sentiments behind it, it would be quite tricky when it came to implementation? Does he further accept that we on this side support the long-term vision of a world free of nuclear weapons if that can be achieved? We realise that there are considerable difficulties—it would take time and would require the fully verifiable destruction of every nuclear weapon—but we believe that this is the right guiding light for policy makers in the years ahead and will support all endeavours in that direction.

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, I take the noble Lord’s assurances and I congratulate him on them. I refer again to the article by that extraordinary group of American leaders, including Secretary Shultz and Secretary Kissinger, and more recently the article in the Times by Sir Malcolm Rifkind and the noble Lords, Lord Hurd, Lord Robertson and Lord Owen, which laid out a similar vision of the objective of a nuclear-free world while recognising the complex, extended negotiations that it will take to get us there. That objective should drive all of us in our nuclear policy even though it must be larded with a high degree of caution that we do not at any point leave ourselves unprotected.

The Lord Bishop of Ripon and Leeds: My Lords, as nuclear weapons are no longer an adequate deterrent against others acquiring them, what ways do the Government have in mind to reduce the worldwide stock of nuclear weapons?

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Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, proposals have been made in recent months by the United States, the United States presidential candidates and President Sarkozy of France, all of which are driving towards the prospect of major reductions in existing nuclear arsenals. We are supporting that process having ourselves already taken significant steps in that regard. We will certainly continue to reduce wherever possible.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, the Minister spoke of the benefit of nuclear-free zones, and he will know that there are proposals for a nuclear-free Arctic. What is the UK Government’s attitude to those proposals?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, at the moment there are three existing treaties that create these nuclear-free zones, covering Latin America, the south Pacific and Africa. There are two more treaties, covering south-east Asia and central Asia, that need further work for us to be able to support them fully. The same principles apply to the Arctic. We are in favour of as many of these regional agreements as possible, so long as they are sensibly drafted to ensure that all countries are bound by them and that they apply in an equal way the principle of non-nuclear use.

Iran: People’s Mujaheddin Organisation

11.30 am

Lord Archer of Sandwell asked Her Majesty’s Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): My Lords, the continued listing of PMOI on the new EU list of persons and entities subject to the EUCT assets freeze was supported in the Council of Ministers by the overwhelming majority of member states. The renewed listing was based on new information brought to the Council’s attention by another EU member state. However, respecting the UK court judgment, we abstained in the vote.

Lord Archer of Sandwell: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that dismal story. Will he first confirm that until a few weeks ago the listing of the PMOI in Europe rested entirely on its listing domestically in the United Kingdom? Secondly, will he confirm that two superior courts in the United Kingdom, including the Court of Appeal, after scrutinising all the evidence, declared that its listing here was unjustified and perverse, and that Parliament has endorsed an order to remove it from the list? Thirdly, will he confirm that the European Court of First Instance has declared that its initial listing was unlawful? Given all that, would my noble friend agree that the continued listing of the PMOI demonstrates a shameful indifference to human rights or an abject capitulation to the Iranian Government—and, in either case, a repudiation of the rule of law?

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Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, I felt it enormously important that the UK Government respected the undertakings we had given your Lordships in this House, and that we ourselves were therefore not party to a vote at the European level on continuing this listing. I urge the supporters of the PMOI, who were successful here in overturning the view of the Government through court action, to similarly take advantage of the Court of First Instance action in Europe to which my noble friend referred to pursue a similar legal strategy there to secure redress.

Lord Waddington: My Lords, how could it have been proper for the British Government to accept and not oppose a new listing when the Court of Appeal, having examined the evidence, had concluded that there was no evidence to justify any listing? How could any evidence presented by France to justify a new listing have escaped the notice of those who represented Her Majesty’s Government before the Court of Appeal, and not therefore have been known to that court when it gave its judgment? It follows, therefore, that by not opposing this matter the British Government were spitting in the face of a court in this country, the Court of Appeal.

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, the noble Lord will have to allow that that is not the case. We were determined to respect that court decision, which is why we were not able to support the Government who brought to the table new information that had not been available earlier, on the basis of which they were able to persuade many Governments of Europe to support them. As to why we abstained rather than opposing the listing, the difficulty is that it is a total list with all terrorist organisations on it, and you have to vote up or down on that list. We were therefore faced with the unpalatable situation that either the old list would be retained, which would have done no good because the PMOI would have remained on it, or we would have been left with no listed terrorist organisations in Europe. We felt that was an unacceptable threat to the people of Britain as well as the rest of the Continent.

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, can my noble friend tell the House what was the evidence that was so persuasive?

Lord Malloch-Brown: I cannot, my Lords, for reasons of confidentiality. However, the PMOI has been written to and the case against it, on which the decision was made, has been shared with it. It now has the option of pursuing this in a European appeal court action.

Lord Slynn of Hadley: My Lords—

Lord Avebury: My Lords—

Noble Lords: Cross Bench.

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): My Lords, I think the House wishes to hear from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Slynn.

Lord Slynn of Hadley: My Lords, if, as the Minister’s letter of July states, the Council has given no reasons for putting the PMOI back on the list; if, as appears to be the case, the Council did not identify in detail the

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basis of the French Government’s reasons for doing so; and if, as also appears to be the case, the Council contends that, by abstaining, the British Government and others have not prevented the decision being unanimous, how can the Government possibly say that they upheld the rule of law as declared by the Court of Appeal when, by their very abstention, they were implicitly giving support to this proposal by the French Government and the Council?

Lord Malloch-Brown: Again, my Lords, it will be a matter for the PMOI and the Council; the PMOI can institute proceedings in the Court of First Instance challenging the Council’s decision. The Council is required to defend its decision and make clear its actions. It may be of some small comfort to noble Lords to know that although the Council decision has led to an asset freeze, because of the situation we faced before the court decision, it is no longer illegal in this country to be a member of the PMOI; it is only an issue of the assets of the PMOI, which are under threat from the European ruling.


11.38 am

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, with the leave of the House, my noble friend the Lord President will repeat the Statement on Iraq after the debate in the name of my noble friend Lord Dubs. After the Statement, the House will adjourn during pleasure while the Commons complete their consideration of the Crossrail Bill. The House will resume for notification of Royal Assent, which we expect at around 7 pm. The precise time will be advertised via the annunciator as soon as we have the relevant information.

Pensions Bill

Lord Tunnicliffe: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in the name of my noble friend Lord McKenzie of Luton on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the amendments for the Report stage be marshalled and considered in the following order:

Clauses 1 to 73

Schedule 1Clauses 74 to 98Schedule 2Clause 99Schedule 3Clauses 100 and 101Schedule 4Clauses 102 to 113Schedule 5Clauses 114 to 117Schedules 6 and 7Clauses 118 and 119Schedule 8Clauses 120 to 125Schedule 9Clauses 126 to 142Schedule 10Clauses 143 to 145.—(Lord Tunnicliffe.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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Crossrail Bill

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, I have it in command from Her Majesty the Queen to acquaint the House that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Crossrail Bill, has consented to place her Prerogative and Interest, so far as they are affected by the Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.

Bill read a third time.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill do now pass.

Perhaps before we move to approve the Crossrail Bill, it would be worth me saying a few words about it and offering some very well deserved words of thanks.

Hybrid Bills are rarely used procedures; indeed, the last one considered by Parliament was the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Act 1996, 12 years ago. Following the introduction of the Crossrail Bill in the other place in February 2005, some three and a half years ago, the Bill received a Second Reading by a majority of 370. After a period of gentle persuasion, the Select Committee in the other place was appointed in December 2005 and first met in January 2006. There were four batches of additional provisions to improve the project, which is one reason why the committee took nearly two years to conclude its hearings. It heard in excess of 200 of the 400 or so petitions lodged; its special report was published on 23 October 2007.

The Public Bill Committee, Report and Third Reading in the other place followed expeditiously and the Bill was introduced into this House on 14 December 2007. The Second Reading was secured without a Division and, by the time the petitioning period for this House’s Select Committee had closed, 113 petitions had been deposited. The Select Committee of this House did a sterling job; it sat for 29 days and listened to many of the same petitioners. I am sure that the House will join me in paying tribute to the skill and rigour with which the committee was chaired by the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross. The Select Committee published its excellent special report in May, so we could consider it alongside the Committee proceedings.

This is the last time that the House debates the Bill, so I take the opportunity of once again paying tribute to the work of both the Select Committees and all noble Lords who have played an important part in shaping the future of what is probably one of the most exciting engineering and rail projects that this country has on the stocks and in the immediate and near future—a project that will very much influence how London continues to generate and regenerate itself in the next two decades.

There are one or two noble Lords who deserve special mention: the noble Lord, Lord Hanningfield, who sadly is not with us today, and the noble Lord, Lord Bradshaw, for his sterling work and constructive views and comments, as well as my noble friend Lord Berkeley for the role that he has played, not only in your Lordships' House but also for his appearances representing the Rail Freight Group during the Select Committee proceedings. Finally, I mention the noble Baroness, Lady Valentine, for her unwavering support for the project.

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Outside the House, I thank my colleagues at the Department for Transport, the CLRL team led by Keith Berryman, our parliamentary agent Winckworth Sherwood and our counsel team, led by David Elvin QC. I thank the House greatly for its interest and support in this project.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.—(Lord Bassam of Brighton.)

Earl Attlee: My Lords, in the absence of my noble friend Lord Hanningfield, it falls to me to complete the last stage of this important Bill on behalf of Her Majesty’s Opposition. I begin by thanking the Minister for the manner in which he accepted our scrutiny and listened to our concerns and amendments. He has covered the points about the hybrid Bill very well already. Although he rarely agreed with our position, the debate has provided your Lordships and the public with valuable information about some of the finer details of this complex legislation.

A legal framework to facilitate the funding and construction of Crossrail has been long in coming. I remember when this project was first conceived, nearly 20 years ago; since then, its progress has been stalled by a plethora of reviews and seen many false dawns. I think that a dairy farmer would be impressed by the number of times that this Government have announced that Crossrail was to go ahead. Since finally obtaining a finance package last year, there has been a high level of scrutiny which benefits this Bill, but that has not been too protracted in this House.

I pay my own tribute to the work of the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross, and his committee, the noble Lords, Lord Snape, Lord James of Blackheath, Lord Young of Norwood Green and Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe.

It has been clear from the start that we on these Benches have always supported the Crossrail project in principle, but throughout the progress of the Bill in this House and in another place we have raised concerns relating to transparency and disruption. We would have liked to have seen the Government go further on some issues such as ensuring that disruption is kept to a minimum through earlier notification and being more open in taking a transparent and consistent approach to reporting.

As expected, funding has always been a major worry. We are concerned about the cost of the Government’s delay in getting Crossrail to this stage, which has been estimated at £1.5 billion per annum. We are also concerned about whether the current £16 billion funding package is sufficient and that taxpayers have already spent £400 million without a single track being laid. The main reason for that apprehension is that mega-projects such as this often span the life of more than one Government. Who knows; by the time of completion we may have a Liberal Democrat Government. Therefore, it is imperative that we get the legislation right now in order to avoid problems in the future.

In closing, the benefits that Crossrail will bring are undoubted; it could add £20 billion to the UK economy and support an expected 30,000 new high-value jobs. Crossrail will also provide greater capacity and speed to the city's transport network, enabling a further

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1.5 million people to be within 60 minutes of our capital and key business areas. I look forward to visiting the construction sites of this great project and I am glad we have been able to progress this Bill so quickly through this House on its way to Royal Assent.

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