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a detainee and the determination of their legal status falls within the sole responsibility and competence of the receiving EU state. That is as may be, but as my noble friend has said, people can travel around inside the EU. I would be grateful to know what internal arrangements between member states will be made to ensure that the Schengen arrangementsthe UK is certainly not a full member but it has a relationshipdo not become a means of evading the necessary security precautions.
In the UK, our security services are still facing allegations about complicity in torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. That is not the object of today's discussion in detail, but I would be grateful for any update that the Minister can give us. It is a pity that the Foreign Secretary continues to refuse to publish
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Finally, on the question of Mr Binyam Mohamed, it would be helpful if the Minister could give us an update on where the Attorney-General has got to in her investigation and whether there is any indication of when her investigations are likely to be concluded. There is a key lesson to be drawn from the operation of the facility at Guantanamo. As I said at the beginning, let us not in future respond to the terrorist threat in ways that defeat the purposes of our own society.
It would be helpful if the Minister could clarify some of the issues that have been raised in the debate because the object of debates of this kind are on the one hand to know what the security situation is, and on the other to know that we are securing ourselves in ways that are consistent with our liberties.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): I thank noble Lords for what has been a useful discussion. As was mentioned by a couple of speakers, it is a shame that more noble Lords were not involved, because it is useful to go into some of these areas. They are important.
As a backdrop, before we go into detail, it is important for us to remember what a monumental event 11 September was to the United States, which did not lose 60,000 people in the Blitz in London. Something like this had never happened before. It is the largest ever loss of lifejust under 3,000 were killedon US soil as a result of a hostile attack. It was a shattering moment for the US and for the world. There was a realisation that we faced a new kind of threat. It is fair to say that the world has changed as a result.
We all know how the United States responded and I do not think that it would be sensible to rehash all those arguments here. However, on one specific point, the United Kingdom has long held that the indefinite detention of detainees is unacceptable and that the Guantanamo BayI am never quite sure of its pronunciation, but I am sure that it is not Gitmo, as the Americans seem to call itdetention facility should be closed. As the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Jones, said, one of the problems of Guantanamo Bay is that it has added to our problem and our risk. It has been a cause of radicalisation and further extremism. It was not very clever in any sense. It was wrong that it happened, but it was also damaging and extremely dangerous.
As the noble Lord, Lord Bridges, mentioned, not just the people of Britain but also the Government welcomed President Obamas executive orders of 22 January covering the closure of Guantanamo, interrogation techniques and detention standards. That was a brave and absolutely correct thing to do. These moves demonstrate a real commitment to addressing the challenges of violent extremism in a manner consistent with upholding human rights, civil liberties and the rule of law. All of us would applaud that.
However, we have not just said that we welcome this commitment to close Guantanamo; we have backed it up with action. We should be proud of that in this nation. We have already taken back into the UK 14 former detainees, nine UK nationals and five individuals who were previously lawfully resident in the country. That is more than any other European country; I will come to numbers, as far as we currently know them, of other European countries a little later. We have also requested the release of one further lawful resident, Mr Shaker Aamer. That is going on at the moment.
We continue to discuss with the United States Government how best we can work with them and our European partners to see the closure of Guantanamo, and we will share our experience in accepting the transfer of former detainees. Again, I will come on to the checks we do on them later. Certainly, it is not our current intention that we should take any more. We have done rather well in this area. The noble Lord, Lord Wallace, asked whether we were taking any more. As I say, we are negotiating on one at the moment, but we have no intention of going any further.
A number of speakers raised the issue of Bermuda. We were unaware that that was going to happen until it did. By accepting these detainees from the US Government, Bermuda overstepped our constitutional agreements with it in handling foreign and security policy. It was not a proper thing to do. It was a mistake. We have been clear with the Government of Bermuda that their actions were unacceptable and are looking at the operation of the general entrustment. However, we must deal responsibly with the situation as it stands. We are looking at ways to ensure that these men are dealt with in a properly humanitarian way while protecting the security of the United Kingdom. They do not have travel documents, so they cannot actually get here. We are considering all options and are discussing them with the United States and the Government of Bermuda. That discussion is still ongoing, so I cannot really go into any more detail. I am particularly interested because I am going on holiday to Bermuda in July, so I hope that they are reasonably safe chaps. It would be awful for the Minister responsible for counterterrorism and security to be blown up in a hotel sitting alongside four Uighurs, but I am sure that they are not that dangerous and that it is being handled.
On other British Overseas Territories accepting detainees, which the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, mentioned, that is a good question. As I hope we have made clear, we have taken a lot ourselves and have been in touch with all these other Governments in the region and elsewhere who are now fully aware of the need to discuss any such action with us; I think they were before. We have discussed it with them under the terms
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It was mentioned that the EU justice and home affairs Ministers agreed a framework in early June for accepting into the European Union those individuals cleared for release but who, for compelling reasons, cannot return to their countries of origin. As I understand it, France has so far accepted one individual and Italy will accept three. I do not know how many Ireland will be taking, but Spain is taking four or five, Portugal two or three and Hungary one or two. Those are the latest figures I have and I know no further details. However, something is happening. I was at the JHA conference where this was discussed. One area of concern was the ability of individuals returned to the EU to travel within the Union. It was a key consideration in that debate. People in the Schengen area were particularly concerned, but our borders are a little tauter and tighter. There were discussions about how security concerns would be discussed between states, how people would be monitored and how relevant information would be shared between member states about these people and their movements.
President Obama has committed to closing Guantanamo Bay within the year. We would encourage all nations to do their part, as Britain has, to help the President fulfil his commitment, but we recognise the real difficulties in this. We must not kid ourselves; Guantanamo Bay contains some dangerous individuals. Noble Lords will be aware of statistics issued by the US Department of Defense on the number of individuals who have been released from Guantanamo Bay who have returned to fight coalition troopsthere is one man who is heavily involved in killing our people in Afghanistanor to engage in terrorist activities elsewhere in the world. Of course, a number of them are not a risk, which is where the difficulty lies. On top of this, some of the men in the camp come from countries where they would be at risk of cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment on their return, which adds to the problems.
People coming back to this country have had a very thorough check by our agencies to look at their details and ensure that they are not a major risk. If they were, the prime role of the Government is to protect our citizens, so we would have to ensure that they were locked up.
That brings us on to the issue raised by the noble Lord, Lord Ramsbotham. He touched on the slightly hypothetical question of whether we had taken steps to identify the conditions in which a difficult, long-term person would be held and the special staffing necessary. None of the people we have taken are anywhere near that category. Some terrorists we have put in prison are inside for quite long periods. The noble Lord raised important issues about psychological profiling and having a proper psychologist looking at them. As far as I am aware, the MoJ does that to an extent. If I am wrong in that, I will get back in writing. It is a valid issue, but it is hypothetical with these people because we do not intend to take any such person.
These difficulties mirror our experience in trying to disrupt terrorist activities. When we cannot prosecute or safely deport people, what we do with them is a real
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We are doing our bit to close Guantanamo. Our first priority and overriding responsibility is the safety of the British public, which must come first. We gave full consideration to national security, and we have made sure that those who come back here are not a risk to the British public. Assisting the US to reduce the number of individuals at Guantanamo Bay helps it in its efforts to close it. It has real difficulties, for example, in the negotiations with Palau. It is getting quite desperate in some areas. We need to do everything we can. I cannot go into specific details on individuals.
The noble Lord, Lord Bridges, asked about statements. The Foreign Secretary and the Home Secretary have updated Parliament on developments when appropriate. Indeed, they reported on the EU discussions. I do not think they could produce much more than that.
The noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Jones, asked about the number of individuals still in Guantanamo. The latest figures I haveI think it is a moveable feastshow that 244 individuals remain detained. All the cases are being reviewed on a rolling basis and, so far, only 30 have been cleared for releasenot the figure of 50 that was given. As I said, this is a moving figure and will be changing all the time.
We touched on torture and allegations of UK complicity. I would first endorse what the noble Baroness said about our agencies. We are extremely lucky with the quality of the people in themas well as in the police force, SO15 and across the board. We should always recognise that when we discuss this matter, we must not let any of them be fall guys for some error that might have been made in how instructions were passed out. We condemn torture wholeheartedly; it is not acceptable. I cannot talk about ongoing cases involving the police. They were passed to the Attorney-General and the police are now dealing with them.
The Prime Minister has said that we will produce a new code, in which the ISC will be deeply involved. It remains our wish to consolidate the review with the ISC. It is not clear when we will be able to publish it, but we are moving forward as quickly as we can. I agree that that is very important, because our agents and people in the field are at risk. I know, for example, that one of our allies agents was killed when carrying out an interview. They are involved with really dangerous things. The alleged torture of Mr Mohamed is the subject of a police investigation which I cannot talk about.
The noble Lord, Lord Wallace, spoke about extraordinary rendition, which we condemn. He mentioned Diego Garcia. It is a fact of record that a couple of flights went through there. We were totally unaware of them; the Americans apologised profusely. It was quite appalling that it should have happened, but I believe much more in mistake than conspiracy. It is amazing how often mistakes happen in huge, complex operations.
The issue of rendition is made all the more difficult because the Americans talk of a war on terrorI do not like that termthe theatre for which is world
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As we made clear when we published the CONTEST strategy in March, the Governments approach to counterterrorism is based fundamentally on a set of guiding principles, foremost among which is respect for human rights. If lose that, we do the terrorists job for them. As a nation, we believe that Guantanamo Bay should be closedI have described how it helps the terroristsbut we cannot just stand on the sidelines and criticise it, which I do not think we have done. We have stated our position; we have not shirked our responsibilities. We have taken 14 detainees and are trying to get a further one. This is a good thing; it strengthens our national security, notwithstanding some of the other issues that then come to light. The message that we send to the rest of the world is that the closure of Guantanamo Bay is fundamental to our concept of how one should behave, which I hope will help our huge prevent strategy for radicalisation and recruitment. I know that we would all agree that promoting human rights, democracy, good governance and the rule of law is the best guarantee of our security. That is the way forward.
Lord Bridges: Perhaps I may be allowed a few concluding words. I thank all who have spoken, particularly the noble Lord, Lord West, for his thoughtful and thorough reply. There is a tendency, which I hope we have avoided, to adopt a tone of high moralistic disapproval of what has happened. We should remember, after all, that we have done something not too dissimilar in our own past, for example, in transporting people to Australia in conditions of terrible inhumanity. Only a few of them ever came backthey built Australia as a result, so perhaps some good came out of that. I trust that no one will feel tempted to repeat this particular experiment, which is very difficult to bring off for a democratic and law-abiding country.
It is extraordinary that one should try to find a sort of terra nullius, where there is no legal jurisdiction and which you pinched or borrowed from somebody else called Cuba. That is repugnant to our own attitudes, and it is rather astonishing that our American friends should have done it. It is courageous of President Obama to have drawn it to an end. If we can help him bring it to a conclusion, I am sure that we are doing the right thing. I thank the Minister for replying so carefully to the points that we have raised.
To ask Her Majestys Government what steps they are taking to draw business opportunities in India to the attention of United Kingdom companies and to attract Indian investments in the United Kingdom.
Lord Janvrin: It is a great pleasure to open this short debate this afternoon. I declare my interests. I am deputy chairman of HSBC Private Bank (UK) Ltd, I am a member of the advisory board of the UK India Business Council, and I was a member of the parliamentary delegation on a visit to India arranged last March by the Industry and Parliament Trust.
In addition, I declare, rather more informally, a long-standing interest in India and in British-Indian relations stemming from a three and a half year diplomatic posting to New Delhi in the early 1980s. The extended visit arranged by the Industry and Parliament Trust gave me the opportunity to take a snapshot of the new India and the opportunities now presented to British business. That led me to request this short debate today.
At this stage, I pay tribute to the work of the Industry and Parliament Trust. It performs an invaluable service in fostering better understanding between Members of both Houses and the world of business. I think my noble friend Lady Coussins may intend to say a little more about our recent IPT visit, but I want to place on record my gratitude to the IPT for arranging the visit and my admiration for the work it does. I also express my thanks to other organisations, including Virgin and KPMG for generously supporting our visit.
The Question I tabled asks Her Majesty's Government about promoting trade between the United Kingdom and India because I think it is timely to remind ourselves and others of the huge importance of India to our national economic well-being. I firmly believe that India is important to us in the short term, as we look at opportunities and the importance of trade with the emerging markets as vital components in extracting ourselves from the recession. In my view, it is important in the medium term because there are good reasons to believe that further deregulation of the Indian economy will offer real opportunities for important sectors of the British economy. It is important in the long term because I believe that India, the sleeping giant that I knew 25 years ago, is now wide awake and intent on developing into one of the major economic and political powers of the 21st century.
The UKs business relationship with India is founded on three very solid pillars: first, India's stable democratic political system; secondly, its growing economic strength; and thirdly, our unique bilateral relationship. India's political stability is a vital anchor not just for British business interests, but globally. It was therefore with a mixture of relief and admiration that the world watched as 400 million Indians went to the polls in their recent general election. Any business operating overseas welcomes the reassurance of a stable political context in which to operate. The recent general election not only gave that reassurance but, in producing a clear result rather than a period of weak coalition politics as many pundits feared, it has offered India the possibility of firm political leadership at this time of global economic crisis.
India has not escaped from the consequences of the crisis, but for Indians it is a downturn, not a recession. India is still registering positive economic growth of the order of 6 per cent, having for some years been running at 8 to 9 per cent. This is a huge achievement,
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The breadth of our bilateral relationship is the third pillar. It is certainly true at the political level, but it is so evidently operational in business relations and in the dynamism and excitement of the cultural relationship. The danger here for British business is complacency. Since we speak the same language, share 250 years of history and enjoy each other's culture and company, we might make unwarranted assumptions about each other that our competitors avoid. Nobody these days can be complacent in any world market.
How can we build on these pillars? I have five suggestions on which the Minister may care to comment at the end of this short debate. The first is to make sure we think through the give and take of our relationship with India. British business needs the help of the Indian Government. It needs them to introduce further measures of market access and deregulation in the sectors of financial and professional services, retail, education and defence to name a few of major interest to this country. Are we now working out how best to encourage this process by thinking where we can help in return? It may not be by reciprocally offering market access here because so much of this exists already. It may well be across our wider political relationship with India, whether it be in the Home Office over visas, climate change negotiations or on counter-terrorism. I believe we should take nothing for granted. We need to devote our scarce diplomatic resources to ensuring that, with India, we are partners of choice in multilateral forums and partners of habit in our bilateral dealings.
My second suggestion is that in our business dealings with India we concentrate on co-ordinating the work of the many agencies: the FCO, DfID, UKTI, the British Council and UKIBC. Promoting business with India is a crowded area. Certainly, on our recent IPT visit, I was impressed by the way in which these organisations were working together. However, there could easily be a degree of overlap, duplication and, at worst, competition.
My third suggestion is that we need to need to look for creative, innovative ways to encourage SMEs to look for opportunities to trade in both directions. How do small firms make the initial approaches, look for partners or undertake market research? At one end of the spectrum, small but adventurous enterprises that are willing to explore India need help and guidance to get going. The UKIBC is hard at work here, but are we devoting enough resources at regional level both here and in India to stimulate and inform this crucial SME sector?
My fourth suggestion is that we need to understand and anticipate the speed and extent of India's economic development. I have been much impressed by the recent work done by the UKIBC to promote India's emerging cities beyond the well known centres of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore. There are real opportunities in the so-called "tier 2" cities. Are
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Finally, we should encourage British firms that are operating in India to look at their corporate social responsibility programmes to ensure that they complement and support their business plans. In all conscience, it would not be acceptable for any significant enterprise in todays world to operate in India without having a serious corporate sustainability plan, to contribute over and above the direct economic impact of the business to help in some way to address the social issues besetting that 42 per cent of the Indian population below the poverty line and the many others who are not far off it.
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