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Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, the Lord Speaker, all leaders in the House and the Procedure Committee have considered this issue, as is proper. The Procedure Committee is the right place for these matters to be considered. We had a discussion in the Procedure Committee two days ago-or maybe yesterday-on the basis of a short paper that I presented. We are going to take this further at the next meeting of the Procedure Committee.
Lord McNally: My Lords, we strongly support the thrust of the request of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours. In the review, would the Lord President-I am sorry, she is now the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster-look at the demarcation line between the role of the Lord Speaker as Speaker of this House and the Lord Chancellor? It seems to some of us that the Lord Chancellor gets into his tights with surprising enthusiasm and turns up in the most surprising places. There is a need to make sure that what was once the role of the Lord Chancellor as Speaker of this House should be retained by the Lord Speaker of this House.
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, when a review takes place, if I am at the Dispatch Box, I shall certainly do what I can to ensure that those aspects of the role of the Lord Speaker are properly considered.
Lord Wakeham: My Lords, if the Leader of the House should have any discussions about self-regulation, will she bear in mind that, in my view, this House has not practised self-regulation properly in the past 10 years? The first thing we ought to do is draw up an aide-memoire of what self-regulation means, because I fear that a great many noble Lords have not got the remotest idea.
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, that is an interesting idea; I shall certainly take it on board. I have looked at the Companion to see how self-regulation is described. In essence, the House makes its own decisions, and that is what self-regulation is. It would be useful to have a definition, as the noble Lord suggests, but perhaps I should ask the House first.
Lord Grocott: My Lords, following on from the question of the noble Lord, Lord Wakeham, while we describe ourselves as being a self-regulated House, in one part of our activities that is not 100 per cent true. I refer, of course, to Question Time, when there is, quite properly, a degree of regulation-there has to be-exercised by the government Front-Bench. I ask my noble friend a rhetorical question: is there any other assembly, anywhere on the planet, before or today, or any other club or organisation, where the person responsible for determining who the next speaker should be is someone with their back to half the audience?
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, my noble friend makes a strong point. I know that some people in this House believe that Question Time is dysfunctional; I do not think it is. If you compare our House to the House at the other end of this Parliament, I think we do a jolly good job in this House. However, I take on board what my noble friend has said about our backs.
The Earl of Onslow: My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that this particular Peer finds that the Government choosing when people should speak is completely and utterly fair and that they do the House a good service? Is she further aware, however, that people ask much too long questions and Ministers give very long answers? The noble Baroness, Lady Kinnock, gave a perfect example. Her answer to the last Back-Bencher should have been "Yes", and not a repeat of the question.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): My Lords, there are reports that on 21 October the Lord's Resistance Army raided camps for displaced Darfuris in southern Sudan. These claims are denied by the Government of Sudan. The LRA is a destabilising force wherever it operates and is notorious for brutal abuses of human rights. LRA activity in Darfur would threaten an already fragile security environment there, as well as continuing to pose a threat to broader stability in the region.
Lord Chidgey: I thank the Minister for that reply. She may be aware that there are claims that opposition troops within Sudan are deliberately rearming and regrouping the LRA in order to destabilise the attempts at a referendum later this year or beyond, and to affect the comprehensive peace agreement. There is a clear need to improve and strengthen our support for the United Nations mission that is attempting to identify the LRA. I believe that the Minister will agree that this should be done, and that it is our responsibility as co-guarantors of the peace agreement.
Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead: I hesitate to say yes. Our support for the United Nations is very strong, but the noble Lord will be aware that both MONUC in the Democratic Republic of Congo and UNMIS in south Sudan are under enormous pressure. There is a likelihood that the MONUC force will receive 3,000 more soldiers in the near future; if that is so, it is possible that we can use them in this case with the LRA.
Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, given that Joseph Kony and three of his lieutenants are wanted for war crimes and, when apprehended, are to appear before the International Criminal Court, how do the
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Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead: The LRA is destabilising the situation in the region wherever and whenever it can. The United Nations, the UK and the European Union are well aware, as is the African Union, that finding Kony is not easy. It has been asserted that he was on that sortie into Darfur and south Sudan; certainly that whole region is being destabilised. It is encouraging, though, that we are seeing a military collaboration by the regional powers to try to deal with the mayhem that he has created.
The International Criminal Court issue is a separate one, because it will be up to Uganda. The final peace agreement has not been agreed by Kony. A special court has been set up in Uganda, which is sitting there waiting. Were he to be captured, it would have to be decided what to do next.
Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead: Our main priority, rightly, is the protection of civilians, because they are the ones being affected most severely by the crisis in the region. With regard to humanitarian assistance, the UK has been investing substantial amounts in supporting peace, recovery and longer-term development in south Sudan. The situation in Darfur remains fragile; humanitarian access is inadequate and a great deal more needs to be done. DfID has committed major investment in the south and in northern Uganda where the LRA was based, but we need to realise that the suffering and misery of the people in the Darfur region of Sudan carries on almost unabated.
The Lord Bishop of Winchester: The noble Baroness mentioned the reinforcements for MONUC, which it was decided by the UN to send last October. Does she agree that had those reinforcements arrived, which they have not, MONUC might have been able to work with other forces in dealing to some extent with Kony so that he might never have got to Darfur in the first place?
Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead: I thank the right reverend Prelate for the point that he correctly makes. It is indicative of the difficulty we have across the region in putting in place the forces necessary to cover such terrible instability and insecurity. The United Nations is greatly stretched, and moving its forces around is very difficult if not impossible. We hope to be able to have some more soldiers in place in the region where the LRA is now increasingly active. However, the UN is also working in the DRC and across the whole region in an effort to try to introduce a semblance of stability and security for the people there.
Baroness Northover: My Lords, can the Minister assure us that the LRA will not be pushed back into northern Uganda? Given that hunger is partly driving the LRA, can anything further be done to try to separate off those who have been forcibly recruited by the LRA, including child soldiers, and to isolate the leadership further?
Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead: Every effort is being made to try to take out of the LRA's forces some of those-the young people, for instance-who have been coerced. Tens of thousands of child soldiers have been involved in this appalling brutality.
The noble Baroness should be aware that Uganda is working hard to protect its borders. It is working with the DRC, south Sudan and the Central African Republic, which are all engaged in trying to push back the LRA. We know that the LRA goes in to steal humanitarian food supplies from displaced people, but it is very difficult to control.
Clauses 1 to 17, Schedule 1 , Clauses 18 to 21, Schedule 2, Clauses 22 to 27, Schedule 3, Clauses 28 to 33, Schedule 4, Clauses 34 to 46, Schedule 5, Clauses 47 to 79, Schedule 6, Clauses 80 to 111, Schedules 7 and 8, Clauses 112 to 116.
Clauses 1 to 40, Schedule 1, Clauses 41 to 59, Schedule 2, Clause 60, Schedule 3, Clauses 61 to 81, Schedule 4, Clauses 82 to 87, Schedule 5, Clauses 88 to 122, Schedule 6, Clause 123, Schedule 7, Clause 124,
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Lord Whitty: My Lords, I understand that no amendments have been set down to this Bill and that no noble Lord has indicated a wish to move a manuscript amendment or to speak in Committee. Unless, therefore, any noble Lord objects, I beg to move that the order of commitment be discharged.
Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, I express my thanks to the Minister for having a discussion with me about the amendment, which enables us to debate it and look at it in some detail. Clause 64 amends the Criminal Law Act 1977, which was itself amended in 1998.
The curious thing about this provision relating to conspiracy is that a review of conspiracy law is going on at the moment, which will shortly report and may well lead to some statutory effect being given to the law of conspiracy in the broadest sense. When one sees an amendment to the Act being proposed at this stage, suspicions are aroused that there must be a case knocking about somewhere for which this provision is being introduced. The clause changes the heading of Section 1A of the Criminal Law Act 1977, from "Conspiracy to commit offences outside the United Kingdom", to "Conspiracy to commit offences outside England and Wales". An agreement, which is part of a conspiracy, falls within this section if it is in pursuit of an agreed course of conduct, which would at some stage involve an act by one or more of the parties or the happening of some other event intended to take place in the country or territory outside the United Kingdom.
That amendment to the 1977 Act removes the words "the United Kingdom" and puts in their place "England and Wales". One would have thought that, if there was a conspiracy in England and Wales that was to be carried out in Scotland or Northern Ireland, either the courts of England and Wales or the courts of Northern
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I have never come across drafting like this, in which the words are changed and then reversed in a subsection, so that for a particular period of time, instead of England and Wales, you go back to the original wording, "the United Kingdom". That was what caused me to have some suspicion that there might be an attempt to introduce some retrospective legislation that would catch a case that has not been prosecuted for some reason. Fortunately, the Minister and I have conducted some research into the matter, and I look forward to hearing an explanation, which may throw light on a very odd piece of legislative drafting. I beg to move.
Lord Henley: Before the Government attempt to respond to this, we want to add our thoughts to what the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, said. It does seem confusing that the Government should have brought this clause in while there is a review in progress on the whole law of conspiracy. Also, with regard to the point that the noble Lord made about subsection (1)(a), whereby "England and Wales" is substituted for "the United Kingdom", it seems odd in the light of the laws of conspiracy that something would affect England and Wales and not the United Kingdom as a whole. No doubt the Minister will be able to satisfy the House in such a manner that not only these Benches but the noble Lord, Lord Thomas, is happy.
Lord Tunnicliffe: My Lords, the House will not be surprised to hear that I am not going to defend the elegance of the drafting of the clause. However, I will try to defend its value, why it should be retained, why we have taken this course of action and why fears that noble Lords have raised are properly addressed.
Amendment 66B would remove Clause 64 from the Bill. Clause 64 amends Section 1A of the Criminal Law Act 1977 to correct a small but significant anomaly in the law of England and Wales in relation to conspiracies to commit criminal offences within other parts of the United Kingdom. At present, there is no offence of conspiring in England and Wales to commit an offence in Scotland or Northern Ireland, whereas it is an offence to conspire to commit an offence in England and Wales or to commit an offence outside the United Kingdom. Clause 64 therefore amends Section 1A(2) of the 1977 Act by replacing the words "the United Kingdom" with the words "England and Wales".
The effect of Clause 64 is to widen the scope of the first condition in Section 1A(2) of the 1977 Act. This currently applies only to agreements by two or more people to pursue a course of conduct that would involve one or more of them in an act or the happening of an event intended to take place outside the United
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The introduction of these provisions will ensure that conspiracies in England and Wales to commit a crime within the UK can be prosecuted in the most appropriate jurisdiction-for example, where most of the evidence relating to the conspiracy is to be found and where investigatory resources can best be utilised. That may be especially advantageous in cases where the conspirators are caught before the intended crime is committed. Clause 64 does not make any retrospective provision. The noble Lord, Lord Thomas, has expressed concern on this point and I thank him for the time that he has taken to explain his concern.
The proposed new subsection (15) of Section 1A expressly ensures that the change we are making does not affect conspiracies that predate our change coming into force. The effect of subsection (15) is that where a conspiracy is entered into before our change comes into force, the current law will continue to apply to such a conspiracy, so a conspiracy entered into before our clause takes effect will always be governed by the current law. Those who enter into conspiracies before the change we are proposing to make comes into force will not therefore be affected by the change at all.
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