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Lord Young of Norwood Green: I am not sure that I am competent to answer that question. I would rather not just have a go-I would rather get it right-tempting though the offer is from the Opposition. I will write on that aspect. I understand the point that is being made
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Lord Morgan: My Lords, are not the problems that we see at the LSE an example of the difficulties that can be created? In particular, is it not worrying that emphasis in the changed criteria for research on the economic impact is necessarily disadvantageous to the humanities and the social sciences? Are we not putting at risk one of the glories of our educational system?
Lord Young of Norwood Green: I thank my noble friend for that question. We do not think that we are putting those subjects at risk. Clearly, there is a balance to be struck. The share of funding for non-STEM subjects did not decline. In fact, funding for non-STEM subjects increased, although not as much as it would have done. Again, I stress the need for a balance. We need also to protect STEM from a decline in funding to get us out of the downturn and to equip our next generation with the skills to compete in global, high-skilled knowledge-based economies, and I make no apologies for that. Anyway, the two groups are complementary.
The Lord Bishop of Lincoln: My Lords, the Minister answered the question put by his noble friend Lord Judd in terms of the levels of funding in the recent past, but has not answered it with regard to reassurance for the future. Given the Government's rather dubious criteria of functionality to render educational research worthwhile, is he aware that recent evidence suggests that for every £1 invested in humanities research, a return of some £10 is made to the economy? Thus, even on the Government's own criteria of the value of educational research, ring-fencing it for the future would be justified.
Lord Young of Norwood Green: I agree with the right reverend Prelate that the creative economy is fundamentally important. I shall finish on this because we are running out of time. The combined budget of the Arts and Humanities Research Council is due to rise from £247 million in 2008-09 to £286 million in 2010-11. We are pledged to the future as well as the past.
Lord Brett: My Lords, an internal investigation into allegations that appeared in the Guardian newspaper on 2 February has been commissioned. The Home Office expects the highest levels of integrity and behaviour from all its members of staff and takes all allegations of inappropriate behaviour very seriously.
Lord Dholakia: My Lords, the jailing yesterday of Ali Dizaei 10 years after the Macpherson report on institutional racism clearly demonstrates that racist behaviour or racism of any kind is not acceptable. The Guardian report clearly illustrates the culture of impunity among some staff in the UK Border Agency. Will the Minister revisit the decisions taken by the agency in relation to asylum seekers who have been deported to ensure that racism played no part whatsoever, and will he ensure that the inquiry looks at the wider aspects of race relations in the agency?
Lord Brett: My Lords, I agree entirely with the noble Lord that racism should play no part in decision-making in relation to asylum issues, and I am rather astonished that he would claim that the fact that there has been an allegation means that there is impunity. We do not know that. We know that an allegation has been made that will be seriously investigated independent of the department and separate from the Cardiff office. People have been accused of things for which they have not yet been found guilty. If there is guilt to apportion, it will mean that lessons have to be learnt. The noble Lord's latter point of ensuring that there have been no deportations as a result of racism is important. The removal stage is reached only after consideration by the Immigration Appeals Tribunal. I am confident that the inquiry will find a solution to the problem and verify whether the allegations are correct. However, at this point I think we should work on the old premise that people are innocent until proven guilty.
Lord Elton: My Lords, if the inquiry endorses the claims that have been made about this behaviour, will the Government bear it in mind that immigration officers hold powers at least equivalent to those of police officers for interviewing suspected criminals, because they can temporarily incarcerate and deport people? Is it not therefore right that immigration officers should be subject to the same camera and voice recordings when such interviews are carried out?
Lord Brett: My Lords, again we seem to be leaping forward from a point made in a newspaper article. I cannot say that every article that I have ever read has been 100 per cent accurate, although I believe that this should be investigated. However, we should await the outcome of that investigation before we rush to judgment.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, the Minister will recall the report published in July 2008 by the Medical Justice Network on private contractors' abuses against deportees, which was reinforced a year later by the report of the chief inspector, who stated that safeguards to protect against abuses of the process were "singularly lacking"? What has happened to the report by the
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Lord Brett: I have taken note of the noble Lord's question and will respond to him about the report and the follow-up. It has to be said that after those allegations were made, there was a change in the regime. With the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, I had the privilege of visiting Yarl's Wood, about which one of the major accusations was made. We were shown the major changes that had been made to how that place operates. I am confident that the issues of a year or two ago referred to by the noble Lord are no longer the norm.
Lord Judd: Does not my noble friend agree that this is not simply a management problem but also a cultural one? We are asking staff members to do extremely difficult work in these centres, so training is crucial. Central to that training should be an understanding that the government strategy is to win hearts and minds, not to increase alienation.
Lord Brett: I agree entirely with my noble friend but I believe the training to be thorough, and that the great majority of the 24,000 people employed by the UKBA not only understand our training but actually treat asylum seekers as they should be treated-as human beings with a problem and with legal rights. If we are talking about any, it is a tiny minority. Frankly, I doubt that the problem is as great as is sometimes suggested in the Daily Mailand other newspapers.
Lord Skelmersdale: None the less, my Lords, the Minister has made a stout defence of something which may or may not turn out to be indefensible. Can he explain why the head of the UK Border Agency has had on occasion to issue a sincere apology to immigrants; and have any agency staff been given written warnings or been dismissed in the past 12 months?
Lord Brett: I always delight in the noble Lord's questions. They are always very precise and usually defeat me in terms of the information available in my brief. I will respond to him on the latter point, namely the question of any warnings. It has to be said that the UK Border Agency has been dealing with a whole series of backlog asylum investigations. In fact, there is a significant report published today, Fast and Fair? from the Parliamentary Ombudsman, which has some criticism of the UK Border Agency-a genuine criticism which I think the agency will take on board. It is the fourth report of the ombudsman. It says, "Significant improvement but must try harder". It sounds like one of my school reports, except the word "significant" was never used.
The Earl of Sandwich: Would the Minister accept that he was a little dismissive of the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Avebury? It was only last summer that Her Majesty's inspector of prisons reported, and these are not isolated incidents; they are a policy.
Lord Brett: I would be no more dismissive of a question from the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, for whom I have a tremendous regard, than I would indeed from the noble Earl, for whom I also have a tremendous regard. I did say I would look into the issue and respond, and I will. If I gave the impression of being dismissive, I apologise to the House.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, before we begin the Second Reading of the Terrorist Asset-Freezing (Temporary Provisions) Bill, it may be helpful if I say a few words about anticipated timings for the remainder of today's business.
There are five speakers on the list for Second Reading, so we anticipate Committee on the Equality Bill to follow it at around 4.30 pm. We would then aim to continue with the Equality Bill until around 6.30 pm, when we would take Committee stage of the terrorist asset-freezing Bill. The intention would then be to resume proceedings on the Equality Bill at a later stage this evening after completion of Committee on the terrorist asset-freezing Bill. The deadline for tabling amendments for Committee on the terrorist asset-freezing Bill will be 5.30 pm.
There is a great deal of important business to get through today, and I am sure that all noble Lords will wish to make effective use of the time available, while ensuring proper and efficient scrutiny of the legislation before the House. As is usual on days like today, expected timings of business will be displayed from time to time on the annunciators.
The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners):My Lords, the Terrorist Asset-Freezing (Temporary Provisions) Bill makes provision for the temporary validity of Orders in Council that impose financial restrictions on, and in relation to, persons suspected of involvement in terrorist activity, and for connected purposes.
The whole House will, I know, understand that terrorism continues to pose a threat to the UK. The Home Secretary recently raised the UK terrorist threat level to "severe", meaning that an attack on the UK is highly likely at any time. As noble Lords know, terrorist organisations including al-Qaeda have executed or planned a succession of attacks with the aim of causing mass casualties. Measures to prevent terrorist finance are at the heart of the international effort against terrorism. Without resources, terror networks are unable to plan, to organise or to execute attacks. For this reason, the United Nations requires that all states freeze, without delay, the assets and resources of people who commit, attempt to commit, participate in or facilitate the commission of terrorist acts. Our tools to combat terrorist finance therefore, have become an important part of the UK's counterterrorist strategy. Our measures must be proportionate but they must also be robust and effective. Terrorist attacks are not expensive, and even small amounts of money in the wrong hands can cause devastation. The attacks in London on 7 July 2005 cost the perpetrators just £8,000.
While financial sanctions have a long history, their use against terrorists is only around a decade old. The UN Security Council established an asset-freezing regime against the Taliban in 1999. It was quickly extended to include Osama bin Laden and persons associated with al-Qaeda. In the weeks after 9 September 2001, the UN created a separate requirement on member states to freeze the assets of those involved in terrorism more generally, where those individuals were identified by member states. The UK acted quickly; using secondary legislation under the United Nations Act, we were able to ensure that our freezing regime was in place by 10 October 2001, only 12 days after the UN Security Council passed the resolution.
Some people have asked why we used secondary legislation under the UN Act in the first place rather than putting our regime into primary legislation. The answer is that in good faith we believed that the
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"If, under Article forty-one of the Charter of the United Nations, the Security Council of the United Nations call upon His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom to apply any measures to give effect to any decision of that Council, His Majesty may by Order in Council make such provision as appears to Him necessary or expedient for enabling those measures to be effectively applied".
Given that there are clear UN Security Council obligations to freeze the assets of terrorists, the Government believed that the UN Act gave them legitimate authority to make secondary legislation to freeze terrorist assets. The Court of Appeal upheld the Government's position. The Supreme Court decided on 27 January 2010 that the United Nations Act does not go so far as to give us that authority and that the Orders in Council we have used were therefore not validly made.
However, I hope noble Lords will appreciate that until the Supreme Court made its judgment, the correct interpretation of the United Nations Act was unclear. The Government acted in good faith when using it as the basis for implementing UN asset-freezing obligations.
The Supreme Court ruled that the Terrorism (United Nations Measures) Order 2006 and the Al-Qaida and Taliban (United Nations Measures) Order 2006 were beyond the scope of the power provided by Section 1 of the United Nations Act 1946, and quashed both orders. On 4 February, it ruled not to grant the Government any stay or pause before its judgment took effect.
Assets frozen under the UN regime on al-Qaeda and the Taliban remain frozen under the effectively parallel EC regulation. However, the Supreme Court's judgment has the effect of removing the sanctions for breach of its provisions, so we will attach sanctions to the EC regulation through secondary legislation. This will be debated in the House in due course through an affirmative procedure.
The court then also struck down the terrorism order 2006, and in so doing rendered vulnerable the terrorism orders of 2001 and 2009. There is no back-up EC regulation for the UK's designations under the terrorism orders. Primary legislation is therefore needed to ensure that we can continue to freeze terrorist assets.
Currently, more than £150,000 is frozen in the UK under the terrorism orders. We need to act quickly to ensure that this money remains frozen and that suspected terrorists are not allowed to use the financial system to raise and move funds. That is why this Bill is being fast-tracked, with all stages being considered in this House in one day. I appreciate that one day is inadequate to consider legislation of this significance, but I hope noble Lords will understand why we need to act quickly.
The Bill seeks to provide a temporary legal base for the Orders in Council, aimed at freezing assets of those we reasonably suspect are involved in terrorism where it is necessary to protect the people of this
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Lord King of Bridgwater: When that fuller Bill is considered in the House, will it take account of the fact that, while this freezes some terrorist assets at present, many terrorists are closely involved in serious organised crime? The figures the Minister has given for what is actually going to be frozen under this are minute compared to the resources available to some of these organisations. One of the tragedies of recent years and successive Administrations around the world is the total failure to deal effectively with money-laundering by terrorists and serious organised crime.
Lord Myners: I note the observation from the noble Lord, Lord King. Matters relating to serious organised crime are already dealt with by other agencies and legislation. This legislation focuses on the use of finances that are specifically related to the risk of terrorism activity which threatens the United Kingdom. No doubt the authorities will at all times be vigilant in recognising the area where organised crime may well abut terrorist activity, and will be alert to ensure that we are vigilant in addressing that risk.
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