House Of Commons
Wednesday 8 April 1987
The House met at half-past Two o'clock
[MR. SPEAKER in the Chair]
Message From The Queen
The VICE-CHAMBERLAIN OF THE HOUSEHOLD reported Her Majesty's Answer to the Address, as follows:
I have received your Address praying that the Statistics of Trade Act 1947 (Amdt of Schedule) Order 1987 be made in the form of the draft laid before your House.
I will comply with your request.
Oral Answers To Questions
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent representations he has received about the future of Leith hospital; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Speaker, may I first explain to the House the absence of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland? He has a possible fracture to his left ankle and has been advised to move around as little as possible this week.My right hon. and learned Friend has received 24 letters, mainly from members of the public, since the announcement last September that all but out-patient services would be withdrawn from Leith hospital.
As the National Health Service is supposed to be safe in the Government's hands, surely it is reasonable to expect a replacement hospital to be built before the present one is demolished. Will the Minister meet members of the local community, myself and other interested hon. Members to discuss this matter, bearing in mind that much fresh information has come to hand in recent weeks? Will he do that, or are we to be snubbed yet again by Lord Glenarthur — a situation that has been developing since the Minister with responsibility for health in Scotland took over?
I understand that the board plans to build a new hospital for the elderly in Leith. However, I have to tell the hon. Gentleman that there are new and expanding facilities all over Edinburgh, including, for example, the new development of 144 beds and supporting services at the Western general hospital in Edinburgh, which will be opened later this year for the benefit of all patients in Edinburgh, including those in Leith.
The Leith hospital should come under the ambit of the Lothian health board, but how can we have any confidence in that health board when we know, from recent appointments made to the health board by the Secretary of State, that people on that board with Labour sympathies were dismissed? Is the Minister aware that what happened in Midlothian is a perfect disgrace, because two members with Labour sympathies were dismissed and replaced by one Tory placeman?
There is always a change of members of health boards. Some members serve a term, two terms, or sometimes more, and they are replaced by other members. We look, not to political affiliation, but to achieving a balanced representation on the health board that will run efficient health services. I would have thought that the Labour party would be interested in that aspect, and not in trying to make political points about appointments.
2. Mr. Lambie asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he next plans to pay an official visit to Cunninghame district.
My right hon and learned Friend had planned to visit Irvine earlier this week but was unable to do so. He has no other plans to pay an official visit to the area in the near future.
I should like to send my best wishes to the Secretary of State and hope that he will be back and fighting fit once again.The Secretary of State was due to plant a tree in my constituency on Monday. When I heard that he would not be available to do that, I took my own spade, but unfortunately I was not asked to do it, and the Minister with responsibility for health was brought in to do it instead. Is the Minister aware that, in spite of the announcement by Caledonian Paper to come to Irvine and an article this week in the Daily Telegraphthat Irvine new town is now a prosperous place, there is still a hard core of 12,000 unemployed people in the Cunninghame area? Is he further aware that there is not only that hard core, but that one man in every three is unemployed? Will the Minister ask the Secretary of State to accept the invitation of the hon. Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Corrie) and me to come to Irvine and meet the economic committee of Cunninghame district council to discuss the Cunninghame unemployment initiative which is aimed at reducing unemployment and helping everyone in the area?
I shall certainly pass on to my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State the hon. Gentleman's good wishes, for which he will be grateful.Although I appreciate that the hon. Gentleman must be feeling twitchy after this morning's opinion poll in the Glasgow Herald and may feel that it is time to start electioneering, it is surprising that he should raise this particular topic in the week when Caledonian Paper has begun to move towards setting up a paper mill in the new town of Irvine, which will create jobs for 1,000 workers during the two years of construction and 480 permanent jobs once the plant becomes fully operational in 1991.I hope that on reflection the hon. Gentleman will welcome that and see it as a sign of the improving economic position in Scotland.
The Labour candidate for Cunninghame, South has less reason to be twitchy because of the opinion poll than has the Tory candidate for Edinburgh, South (Mr. Ancram). May I ask that Tory candidate if he will guarantee——
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker——
Order. My knowledge of Scotland is not all that great, but I hope that this will be about Cunninghame district.
Will the Minister guarantee that if the Secretary of State pays an official visit to Cunninghame district it will be more successful than his recent visit to Cumnock and Doon Valley district, which neighbours Cunninghame, where unemployment is now the highest not only in Scotland but in the whole country? Will the Government at last recognise that the main centres of unemployment are not only the inner cities, and that the worst centre is the rural area of Cumnock and Doon Valley? Is he aware that the present proposals of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, the hon. Member for Galloway and Upper Nithsdale (Mr. Lang), who is now whispering in his ear, to help unemployment in Cumnock and Doon Valley are insufficient and that we need a major initiative to tackle the problem?
I shall answer rather briefly that fairly lengthy question. My right hon. and learned Friend's visits are always successful. It is not for me to comment on the success of local Members of Parliament.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland which organisations in Dundee have been given approved training organisation status for the new two-year YTS.
At 27 March 1987 six organisations in Dundee had been given approved training organisation status for YTS: full status went to Dundee college of technology, Tayside Road Transport Group Training Association and Dundee football club; and provisional status to Dundee and Tayside chamber of commerce, Henry Boot Ltd. and Tayside regional council.
Has the Minister had a chance to study in more detail our correspondence over one particular organisation? Can he give me an assurance that we shall have a decision shortly that that organisation will not be given approved training organisation status for the new two-year YTS in Dundee?
If the hon. Gentleman is referring to LINK, his complaints have been investigated and, to the extent that they were justified, have been remedied to the satisfaction of the MSC. Naturally, that organisation will continue to monitor progress.
Will my hon. Friend congratulate Dundee and Tayside chamber of commerce on the important role that it has played in youth training, not least in the commercial sector and, indeed, in north-east Fife, where it has been able to show that 100 per cent. of young people who finish a youth training scheme with it end up with a permanent job? Will he also carry the congratulations of the House to the Manpower Services Commission for the effective way in which it has ensured that no person under 18 years of age need lack a job?
That is a remarkable achievement, and I should like to take this opportunity to offer it my congratulations. The MSC is becoming increasingly proficient in an increasingly effective and useful scheme which offers great promise for young people of a better chance of a job afterwards.
Is the Minister aware that young people between the ages of 18 and 25 who are on the job training scheme are effectively being disbarred from entry into community projects? Does he intend to do anything about that?
It would be rather difficult for them to be on the community programme and JTS. Dundee has done very well out of the MSC schemes. Not only has JTS been pioneered there, but job club and restart have been pioneered there, as have a number of other useful schemes that are of great value to the city.
Will my hon. Friend confirm that under the new two-year YTS scheme Dundee United football club is not one of the approved bodies, but that it is probably the best trained and most efficient of all the football clubs in the United Kingdom and we should congratulate it on its appearance this evening in the semifinal of the UEFA cup?
These are controversial matters, but I certainly wish the club luck.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he last met the president of the National Farmers Union of Scotland; and what subjects were discussed.
My right hon. and learned Friend and I attended the union's annual dinner on 12 March, when a wide range of agricultural topics were discussed. I addressed the annual general meeting the following day.
I thank the Minister for meeting a delegation of my hon. Friends and myself this morning to discuss the beef crisis in Scotland. Will he assure us again that he appreciates the seriousness of the crisis in the beef industry? We are looking for an early announcement of any increase that he could make in headage payments and of a devaluation of the green pound. I appreciate that these important matters will be discussed at the Council of Ministers' meeting at the end of the month, but, given the importance of this to the Scottish agriculture industry, will he confirm that either he or his right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State will attend that meeting?
At the moment there are no plans for my right hon. and learned Friend or me to attend the meeting at the end of the month, but I can assure the hon. Gentleman, as I did this morning, that the Government are well aware of the strong feelings in the industry on beef in particular. I am well aware of the importance of beef to the Scottish farming industry. The CAP price fixing negotiations and proposals to reform the agri-monetary system are a major element of the Commission's proposals, and we shall try to ensure that an even-handed balance is achieved between our producers and producers in other member states.
As a matter of Government policy, will my hon. Friend seek the fulfilment of the reasonable, restrained and sensible suggestions that the president of the National Farmers Union of Scotland, Ian Grant, made in his annual speech? His suggestions were reasoned and sensible. Will the Government give them their blessing?
I am happy to echo my hon. and learned Friend's tribute to Ian Grant, the president of the National Farmers Union of Scotland. We have had many discussions, and I am well aware of the view of the industry as seen from NFU headquarters and by farmers. The current Commission package is a tough one. We must take some difficult decisions against a background of soaring surpluses in many of the major commodities. I can assure my hon. and learned Friend that I and my colleagues from other agricultural departments will be ensuring at the Council of Ministers' meeting and other meetings in Brussels that we safeguard the position of agriculture in this country.
When the Minister next meets the president of the National Farmers Union of Scotland, will he ask him, if he did not ask him last time, what his views are on the proposals of the British Commissioner, Lord Cockfield — aided and buttressed by that deplorable organisation, the EEC—on the introduction of VAT on food and what the position of the Scottish farmers will be in relation to that? Will the Minister assure us that his Department and the Scottish Office in general will resist such a deplorable tax on food costs, which would be the most monstrous thing to happen to food prices since the corn laws?
I understand the hon. Gentleman's close appreciation and the way in which he follows the doings of the EC, and possibly also of the European Assembly, but Ian Grant has not discussed those matters with me and I do not believe that they are serious propositions.
I am sure that the House and Scottish farmers in general will view with concern the fact that neither my hon. Friend nor my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State is geared to go to the discussions in Brussels. I sincerely hope that, in view of the crisis in relation to beef, cereals and the devaluation of the green pound, my hon. Friend or my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State will take immediate steps to ensure that they go to Brussels to fight their corner for the Scottish farmers.
My hon. Friend puts a great temptation before me to spend many days and nights in Brussels, as I have done on Fisheries Council matters. I have had no indications from the NFU of Scotland or the industry in general that they wish the negotiations in Brussels to be conducted other than on behalf of the United Kingdom by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
If the hon. Gentleman meets the president of the NFU of Scotland, will he take his opinion on the Minister's rather surprising policy declaration the other day, to the effect that any rural school with fewer than three teachers was educationally damaging and should perhaps be phased out?
The hon. Gentleman clearly does not represent a rural constituency and does not understand what farming is about. Next time I meet Ian Grant I might be tempted to ask him what damaging impact the Labour party's proposals to rate agricultural land would have on agriculture.
Did my hon. Friend discuss with the president of the NFU the serious impact on the beef market of the imports of Irish beef? Why does Irish beef continue to enjoy the benefit of our variable beef premium scheme as well as the advantages that accrue to Irish farmers at home?
I understand and sympathise with the feelings of many Scottish beef farmers about the Irish situation, but that is a long-standing arrangement that was negotiated at the time of our entry, along with the Irish Republic, to the EC, which made it clear that the farmers in the Republic would have access to our markets and to the variable beef premium scheme. That is why it has come about.
Caterpillar Tractors Ltd
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what further meetings he has had with representatives of Caterpillar about the future of its Glasgow plant; and if he will make a statement.
Our main objective is urgently to explore possibilities for retaining manufacturing operations and employment at Tannochside. In this connection officials of the Industry Department for Scotland are in regular contact with Caterpillar management.
Will the Minister now accept that the people of Scotland want action, not just words, from the Government to secure an industrial future for the Caterpillar work force? Will the Government now take the plant and equipment into public ownership, either directly by nationalisation or through the Scottish Development Agency? Having done that, will the hon. Gentleman accept that he may well be in a position to negotiate constructively with Caterpillar about a future for that plant, perhaps supplying spare parts to the Caterpillar operation? If that fails, at least the equipment will be there to be used by other industrialists for the benefit of the Scottish people. It would be outrageous if that equipment, much of which has been substantially paid for by the taxpayer, were allowed to be moved out of the country.
I share the hon. Gentleman's anxiety to secure a future for the plant, but nationalisation has never solved any industrial problem in the past and I cannot see it as being appropriate in this situation either. However, I should like us to be able to gain access to the plant in order to help complete the profile that the Scottish Office is compiling through the SDA and Industry Department so that we can try to market the facility on a worldwide basis.
When my hon. Friend or his officials next meet the management of Caterpillar, will he tell it that Scotland expects it to co-operate in any way possible in order to find a way to maintain. manufacturing operations and employment at Uddingston? Will he tell the management firmly that it is simply not acceptable that it should try to cast the plant, its work force and the community aside like a soiled rag?
I share my hon Friend's views about the way in which the Caterpillar management has handled the matter from the outset. However, I am also anxious to secure the future of the suppliers, and I am glad to know that the management is keen to help maintain the suppliers' relationship with Caterpillar in supplying Caterpillar factories elsewhere.
The Minister is aware that Caterpillar is in my constituency and that some of my parliamentary colleagues and I have met him on several occasions concerning this closure. Will the Minister now take on board the suggestion that he should attempt some initiative to try to get the management, preferably at American level, to meet the shop stewards at the factory — despite the fact that they are sitting in — to try to resolve this pernicious problem? I am sure the Minister is aware that if he does not do that, unemployment—now 20·5 per cent. in the Motherwell district — will be tremendously increased. On that basis, the closure of the factory will be a tragedy for the area.
I acknowledge the hon. Gentleman's close interests over a long period of time in the Caterpillar plant in his constituency. The hon. Gentleman may like to know that ACAS has approached the unions on this matter and they have agreed to attend a meeting. Caterpillar management has also been approached and it is considering the matter.
I know the Minister recognises—it has been illustrated in today's exchanges—that there is a sense of anger and outrage at the way in which the Caterpillar company has treated the work force at Tannochside. That work force has served the company loyally for many years. I believe that the House will be extremely pleased to hear that there is a possibility of mediation through ACAS. Will the Minister join me in urging the management to follow the example of the unions, to agree to that meeting, and to get talks started now? Such talks might remove some of the immediate difficulties about the position at the plant.
The hon. Gentleman is aware that my right hon. and learned Friend and I share his feeling of outrage at the way in which the whole business of the closure of the Caterpillar plant has been handled. I am anxious to see mediation succeed and I hope that the initiative now in train will achieve that end.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received about regional council rates increases in 1987–88; and if he will make a statement.
I have received numerous representations about the large rates increases made by many Scottish authorities. These increases are particularly disappointing since the rate support grant settlement for 1987–88 is a generous one.
Does my hon. Friend agree that, as he has said, in the year in which the most generous rate support grant settlement for years has been given, it is nothing short of scandalous that Strathclyde regional council should be passing on a 19 per cent. rate increase to ratepayers? Does my hon. Friend and his ministerial colleagues have any plans to protect Scottish ratepayers from rate increases many times the rate of inflation?
Obviously we will wish to consider the budgets of all authorities to see whether action is required. It is disappointing to have a rate increase of 18·5 per cent. in Strathclyde, especially as that authority, if it had spent at guideline for the year just ended and budgeted within the guideline for this year, could have achieved a 5 per cent. decrease in its rates. It only goes to show, as we have always said, that voting Labour means higher taxes, whether local or national.
Is it not already clear from an earlier answer that the Minister's statistics are suspect, as he appears to believe that 42 per cent. recorded for the Labour party in an opinion poll is far worse that the 18 per cent. recorded for the Tory party? That is a remarkable fact. Certain Conservative Members are not twitching about the general election, because they are already politically dead.Every regional council has increased its rates, with the exception of Grampian, by more than 10 per cent. That includes Highland, Borders and Dumfries and Galloway, which are not Labour-controlled. Strathclyde region had a 2 per cent. increase in its rate support grant—not a generous one, but well below the rate of inflation —while Lothian region had a nil increase in its rate support grant — again, not a generous one. The Minister's argument about a generous rate support grant is a load of nonsense.
If the hon. Gentleman is satisfied with one sixth of the Labour party's support disappearing within a month, that is a matter for him.The hon. Gentleman has argued constantly that if the proportion of rate support grant is held we can expect to see low rate increases. The proportion of rate support grant was held in Scotland this year and the average of rate increases is 15·1 per cent. If that does nothing else, it gives the lie to the argument that has been put forward by the hon. Gentleman.
Scotch Whisky Association
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he last met representatives of the Scotch Whisky Association; what subjects were discussed and if he will make a statement.
My right hon. and learned Friend met the association's public affairs committee last November. Among the issues discussed were taxation policy as it relates to spirits and the problems encountered in exporting whisky to Japan.
Is my hon. Friend aware that there is still considerable concern within the association on this vexed question of the tax and duty treatment of Scotch whisky imports by Japan? Will he undertake to keep a close interest on behalf of the Scottish Office in the progress of the GATT case against Japan? If no satisfactory progress is forthcoming in the foreseeable future, will he consider it for possible inclusion on the agenda of the Heads of Government summit later this year?
My hon. Friend makes an interesting suggestion, which I am sure will certainly be considered. I pay tribute to his close interest in this matter, which is so important in his constituency. I also congratulate him on his recent initiative with the Japanese ambassador. As he knows, the Government and the European Commission are taking action under article 23 of the GATT to seek the rapid removal of discriminatory barriers. We hope that this will be successful in the case of Japan.
When the Minister next meets the Scottish Whisky Association, will he remember that the DCL-Guinness organisation is the largest single member of it? Therefore, will he ensure that stability in that firm is sustained and that it will not be at the expense of the possibility of introducing bulk export of malt whisky, which would endanger the long-term future of whisky, the bottle-making industry and the packaging industry, with which the whisky industry is so closely aligned?
As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Government are restrained on these matters anyway by the GATT and by European Community commitments. We certainly maintain contact with Guinness.
Has the Scotch Whisky Association made any representations to my hon. Friend about the severe disadvantages suffered by the industry due to the fact that it is now controlled from London by an Irish brewery conglomerate whose only genius was to acquire these brands by deception?
Despite the problems to which my hon. Friend refers, total exports have now exceeded £1 billion. I hope that my hon. Friend is pleased at the transfer of Distillers home trade operations to Perth from the south of England.
Industrial Construction And Production
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the index of industrial production and construction in Scotland in the fourth quarter of 1986.
Estimates for the fourth quarter of 1986 are not yet available. In the third quarter the index of industrial production and construction, excluding oil and gas, rose by 2·4 per cent. in Scotland, compared with a 1 per cent. rise in the United Kingdom overall.
Is it not the case that the figures for the whole of the past seven years show that the level of output in Scotland is running below that which the Government inherited from the last Labour Government? Is it not further the case that the Government are cutting by £100 million the Scottish Office budget? How can that assist in increasing output in Scotland?
I am not sure to which part of the Scottish Office budget the hon. Gentleman refers. Certainly it is the case that output in the last few years has been below the level of 1979. However, it is now very close to that and is being achieved with substantially fewer workers.
That is an achievement?
It is an achievement in increasing productivity, which is the most secure guarantee of future employment.
Has my hon. Friend noticed how the Opposition used to talk about the non-oil economy and are now less inclined to do so? Will my hon. Friend confirm that the improvements in productivity and efficiency in the non-oil sector of Scottish industry have resulted in substantial increases in employment?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Manufacturing productivity in Scotland generally has been increasing by about 6 per cent. over the years 1979 to 1985. Over the same time productivity in England was increasing by only about 4 per cent.
Did the Minister see the report in The Independent this week, which showed that out of all the constituencies in Britain the Ross, Cromarty and Skye constituency had the highest percentage increase in long-term unemployment — over 64 per cent? In terms of industrial production and construction—[Interruption.] I am sorry that Labour Members do not seem to be interested in unemployment in the Highlands of Scotland. Will the Minister look again at the regional aid map? If he does that he will see that the Government reduced substantially the incentives and the assisted area status that had been available to parts of my constituency to attract industry and create jobs.
The significance of the percentage increase to which the hon. Gentleman refers is dependent on the base from which it started. On regional aid, as the hon. Gentleman well knows, about 65 per cent. of the working population in Scotland are now in assisted areas, compared with only 35 per cent. in the United Kingdom. That represents about £62 per head, compared with £19 in the United Kingdom. The substantial increase in the coverage of regional aid as a proportion of the total since 1979 is from about 21 to 30 per cent., which reflects the importance that is attached to that matter in Scotland.
Will my hon. Friend use his influence to ensure—as Scotch whisky is one of the most successful— industries in Scotland—that the Japanese——
Order. Does this come under the heading of industrial production?
It does indeed. Will he ensure that our nips are available to their Nips at the same price as their nips are available to their Nips?
My hon. and learned Friend puts his question in his own inimitable way. He might have asked me about the electronics industry. A recent survey showed that, because of that important industry, about 3,700 American jobs are coming to Scotland — unless a Labour Government are returned.
I thought that that was a splendid example of the Minister's logical thought processes. Why does he maintain the charade of a successful index of industrial productivity when between the third quarter of 1979 and the third quarter of 1986 it has dropped by 5·8 per cent.? Why does he not address himself to the fair point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Cumbernauld and Kilsyth (Mr. Hogg)? Does the Minister not accept that, taking this year against next year, there is a cut in the industry and economy budget of the Scottish Office from £344 million to £257 million? Does he defend that cut, and does it give him satisfaction?
As the hon. Gentleman knows, the RDG1 scheme is about to end. Secondly, regional development grant is demand-led and cannot therefore be specifically cash-tagged in the way that he has suggested. Our budget has had to be increased by 26 per cent. from what we had anticipated a year ago, because of increased activity.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will have discussions with the University Grants Committee regarding the financial situation and the future of Aberdeen university; and if he will make a statement.
I understand my hon. Friend's concern, but the allocation of grants to individual universities is a matter for the University Grants Committee.
I am sorry that my hon. Friend does not remember what my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland said last week about a new committee to run the universities. Is my hon. Friend aware that there is a grave crisis in Aberdeen university due to underfunding by the UGC? This is leading to the loss of viability of a considerable number of specialised research units in the Grampian region. Will my hon. Friend take steps to do something about the funding of Aberdeen university, so that it does not have to close down before its 500th birthday?
The principle of the funding of individual institutions is a matter for the UGC, and the UFC after it, and that is not in doubt. We have recently endorsed it in our White Paper.In the speech made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science to the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals of United Kingdom universities in September last year, he gave an assurance that the Government would not consider any proposals for the closure of a university.
Does the Minister accept that there are two problems that affect Scottish universities in general, and Aberdeen in particular? The first is that the University Grants Committee has had its funding effectively cut—particularly in view of the settlement for university teachers. Secondly, for the second time in only five years, Aberdeen university has been singled out for a depth of cut that makes it virtually impossible for the university to maintain a breadth of departments and future viability. Will the Minister intercede to ensure that the university is not victimised yet again?
The decisions of the University Grants Committee are made on the basis of issues such as peer group review and an examination of the merits and strengths of each university. The recurrent grant is distributed at different rates to different universities. On the hon. Gentleman's point about the total amount of money for universities, of course the Government have attempted to control and constrain public expenditure. This has played the important role in the fact that productivity is up, inflation is down and tax rates are being reduced. Now, unemployment rates are falling, too. The universities have to play their part in restraining that public expenditure.
Would it not be more helpful to the University of Aberdeen, in assisting it to become more viable, if Ministers and academics were to support the principal in his efforts to reorganise the university and make it more suitable for the training and education of graduates, who would then have a ready place on the market? Should not that training be done more efficiently and within a shorter time?
It is important that Aberdeen university should plan properly for its future. The proposals that my hon. Friend mentioned must be considered by the university, and by the UGC if the university puts them forward. That would not be a matter for Ministers. I should have thought that all sorts of proposals, radical and otherwise, are meat and drink to universities.
I congratulate the Minister on the fact that he is answering this question and has not transferred it to the Department of Education and Science. All Labour Members appreciate this opportunity to discuss the problems of the University of Aberdeen. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that it is odd that he is answering this question when, only last week, the Government rejected the STEAC recommendations and refused to accept that the Scottish Office should have a say in the funding of Scottish universities?
My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State announced that he would play a part with our right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science in giving guidance to the UFC on universities in Scotland and on institutions in the non-university sector. Before the Opposition, as usual, attempt to portray some part of Scotland as totally negative, I remind them that in the higher education sector—it is the same in all sectors—there are 10,000 more students in place than there were under the last Labour Government.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will outline those Government economic policies which are designed to stem the loss of population in Scotland through external migration.
The Government have in place a wide range of economic policies designed to reduce inflation and maintain a vigorous, enterprising economy — [Interruption.]—which offers the best hope of reducing migration from Scotland.
I had some difficulty in hearing that answer, but I suspect that it was not worth very much.Does the Minister accept the predictions of the Registrar General for Scotland that over the next 50 years the Scottish population will decrease by about half a million, or 10 per cent., because of adverse economic trends? Does the hon. Gentleman agree that that is the disastrous result of English government over the years and that Scotland desperately needs new economic policies and a new Government of her own to secure a future for our people?
I would hesitate to lend support to a prediction that goes over the next 50 years. I suspect that over the past year migration has probably been related more to the decline in the oil industry. I hope that the irony of that fact is not lost on the hon. Gentleman or his party.
The communities of Greenock and Port Glasgow are suffering from this external migration. Will the Scottish Office now advise the SDA to increase the funding and staffing of the Inverclyde initiative to stem that migration?
I am keen to see the Inverclyde initiative proceed. I am glad that it has managed to secure some land in that area. Since 1979 overseas migration has been lower than under the previous Government and, over the past three years, considerably lower.
How do the figures for external migration compare with those in the Republic of Ireland, which follows a different set of economic policies? Does my hon. Friend agree that the right kind of policy is to build on the success of the Highlands and Islands Development Board, which, for the first time in more than a century, has secured a stemming of the tide of emigration from at least that part of Scotland?
My hon. Friend is right. The Highlands and rural areas generally are doing well in terms of population trends. To some extent this is a result of the activities of the Highlands and Islands Development Board and the SDA, whose role and budget we have expanded. As for migration within the United Kingdom, I suppose that there might be a possibility of Scots leaving Scotland in the face of Labour's tax-raising assembly, but then they would be driven out of the United Kingdom by the Labour party's United Kingdom tax policies.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he proposes to meet the Scottish Trades Union Congress to discuss unemployment in Scotland.
My right hon. and learned Friend met representatives of the Scottish Trades Union Congress on 30 January to discuss a wide range of economic issues, including unemployment. I hope to meet representatives of the STUC tomorrow to discuss Caterpillar.
While I welcome the Minister's answer, may I ask him whether he is aware that unemployment is one of the major issues affecting Scotland? In my own constituency of Midlothian unemployment has increased relentlessly since the Government came to office. Does the Minister agree with the statement by the Pope this week that unemployment is evidence of moral disorder?
I share the hon. Gentleman's concern about the rise in unemployment. However, I hope that he, like me, draws comfort from the fact that unemployment fell by about 8,000 in Scotland last month. That is the largest monthly fall for nine years, and if we persist in our economic policies we can look forward to continued falls in the future.
When my hon. Friend meets the Scottish Trades Union Congress, will he discuss with its members the real danger of unemployment among the beef stockmen in the specialist beef sector? Unless action is taken as a matter of urgency to give a fair opportunity to the beef producers of Scotland, we shall see substantial unemployment and a repetition of the Highland clearances.
My hon. Friend who is responsible for those matters will have heard what my hon. Friend said. Certainly we are very keen to see employment maintained in rural areas.
When the Minister meets the STUC about Caterpillar, will he have some specific proposals to put before it? Unless the Minister gives some evidence that the Government are prepared to act directly to save 2 per cent. of Scotland's manufacturing capacity, all the talk about wishing unemployment to drop will be seen as simply pious nonsense.
The meeting is at the request of the STUC. However, I shall take the opportunity to point out that as soon as the sit-in ends and we are able to gain access to the plant, with the Caterpillar management, and complete the profile, we shall be in a better position to try to market the facility around the world and thus to secure employment at the plant.
Will the Minister confirm that one of the ways in which the Government are trying to reduce unemployment is by encouraging health boards to use YTS youths in the hospitals and paying them £27·50 a week, instead of employing further, although cheap, nursing labour? Is he aware that five health boards in Scotland already employ 300 of those youngsters at pittance wages? This is no excuse for treating nurses as scandalously as the present Government are doing.
I have no responsibility for health matters. However, the hon. Gentleman will know as well as I do of the substantial expansion in the nursing population in Scotland. I hope that he, like me, welcomes the opportunity that young people are given by YTS to secure training and work experience and obtain a vocational qualification, and thus a better chance of finding a job after the training is completed.
When my hon. Friend next meets the STUC, will he ask why it supports the introduction of a minimum wage, the abolition of the civil nuclear power programme, the cancellation of Trident and the rating of agricultural land and buildings in line with the Labour party, when that policy will result in 100,000 jobs being lost in Scotland?
My hon. Friend has hit four nails very firmly on the head. He is absolutely right. Almost every one of the Opposition's policies, when carefully analysed, would lead us to a drop rather than an increase in unemployment.
Renfrew District Council
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he next intends to meet representatives of Renfrew district council to discuss its recent economic initiative.
I met representatives of Renfrew district council on 23 January to discuss proposals for a local economic initiative, and wrote to the council on 10 March with my conclusions. I have received an encouraging response and hope that an agreement can be reached on the present proposals as soon as practicable.
Will the Minister accept that, rather than an encouraging response in words, we should like some cash to fulfil the pledge that the Government gave at the time of the closure of the Linwood factory? Does he realise that the cost in public expenditure of the unemployment in Renfrew district is well over £100 million, and that that will apply to the projects under the economic initiative scheme? Putting that into public investment could wipe out entirely the unemployment facing my constituency of Paisley, South.
The SDA has agreed to meet half the initiative's operating costs and to second staff to it. It has also committed itself to £4 million of environmental improvements. In addition, Renfrew council's current expenditure guideline this year is 7·7 per cent. above assessed need, and 4·2 per cent. above last year in terms of the inflationary increase. In addition, the SDA's LEGUP scheme has approved projects in Renfrew worth £270,000. So a substantial amount of cash is available from a number of different sources.
Will my hon. Friend explain to Renfrew district council that any sound, concrete proposal that it puts forward for economic regeneration in Renfrewshire will be greeted favourably by the Government and that the finances will be looked into? Until it comes up with the goods, we in this place cannot come up with the goods. Will he confirm that the phoney unemployment statistics that it tries to foist upon us are completely unacceptable and are no substitute for good ideas for the area?
My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The most successful outcome of the initiative can be achieved by the co-operation of the district council and the Scottish Development Agency. I earnestly hope that that is now being achieved. I hope also that the arrival of Compaq in the district will enhance the employment prospects and the fact that the Sizewell order is going ahead will be of advantage to Babcock.
Solicitor-General For Scotland
Child And Sexual Abuse
asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland how many prosecutions for offences involving child abuse and sexual abuse have been mounted in (a) sheriff's courts and (b) the High Court in each of the past four years.
These statistics are not centrally kept and cannot be obtained except at disproportionate cost.
Those who are professionally involved with the treatment of child abuse and sexual abuse cases are concerned about the selection and training of sheriffs for children's panel proof hearings. Do the Government have plans to designate a small number of sheriffs to deal with such cases, as happens with adoption cases?
That matter has not been considered. However, because of his earlier interest in child appearances in court the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that there is a Scottish Office project under way, entitled "The Child Witness". Research is continuing. That will probably cover the sort of point about which the hon. Gentleman is concerned.
Does my hon. and learned Friend agree that in cases of child abuse, in particular child sexual abuse, it is important to remember that it is the child who matters and that in the courts, and in every other way, we should make it possible for a child to give evidence in a manner that does not in any way disadvantage the child?
Yes. I think that all hon. Members appreciate that we should make every effort to ensure that the trauma that a child has experienced is not continued or revived through the consequence of a court appearance. Nevertheless, there is the conflicting requirement that those who are accused of serious crimes —and they will be serious crimes if they involve assaults on children—are entitled to a fair trial. For that reason, as part of its review of the law of evidence the Scottish Law Commission is considering how evidence might be taken from children in circumstances that would in some way or another alleviate that trauma. In the meantime, everything is being done to keep to a minimum the problems for a child who has to appear in court.
Nevertheless, the Solicitor-General must be aware that there is increasing concern among social workers in Scotland about the fact that neither the Crown nor the courts are handling cases of child abuse adequately or effectively. As for the matter that he raised — by which the hon. and learned Gentleman presumably means video evidence being given in court—does he not agree that the intense trauma of direct confrontation between the child and the molester must urgently be stopped? Furthermore, is not spouse corroboration a very considerable problem? I have in my hand a letter from a social worker who says:
The social worker goes on to say that that girl will end up in a foster home. She also asks whether, as the girl grows up, she will wonder why she was fostered while her father remained at home, and she says that she will ask whether that was just."I am engaged in one such case at the moment, where the word of a four year old girl means nothing in terms of evidence, despite its detail."
I readily understand why the hon. Gentleman is concerned about the position of children in court, but he has to face the fact that there is a serious dilemma. Those who appear before our courts are entitled to a fair trial. If they are convicted of the sexual assault of a child, that is a crime that we all take seriously and the courts are likely to impose a heavy penalty upon them. In those circumstances, we have to try to maintain a balance. We have to try to avoid trauma for the child, but at the same time we must try to ensure that the accused is able to present his case properly. I have already said that, in an effort to resolve these difficulties, the Scottish Law Commission is examining the matter. As the hon. Gentleman knows, the position is already in hand south of the border.
asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland if the procurator fiscal in Kilmarnock has yet reached a decision in connection with the case of Co-Star Ltd; and if he will make a statement.
The procurator fiscal has not received any report on this matter.
Why is it that Americans can come to this country, set up companies, rob the regional aid system by illegal actions, make a lot of money and still escape prosecution?
I think the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the acquiring of regional aid is essentially a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland. However, if the hon. Gentleman has any evidence that there has been fraud or other illegality, and if he will provide that evidence, naturally it will be looked at, not only by the police, but by the procurator fiscal. All I should say in relation to the matter he has raised is that certain inquiries are still continuing.
The hon. and learned Gentleman will be aware that the secretary and legal adviser to Co-Star was Mr. Graeme Adam, about whom a large number of complaints have already been submitted to the Law Society of Scotland and about whom I have written to the Solicitor-General on a specific matter of alleged fraud in relation to the case of Mr. and Mrs. Robinson in Kilwinning. When can we expect a decision to be taken as to whether there is to be a prosecution of Mr. Adam in that case?
I think that the hon. Gentleman appreciates that I cannot give him a firm date on that. However, he, among others, has made complaints not only to the Law Society of Scotland, for which I am not answerable, but to the procurator fiscal and the police, and I can assure him that the matters that he and others have put forward have been investigated actively.
asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland how many complaints procurators fiscal have received about incidents arising from fox hunting; and how many prosecutions have taken place as a result.
So far as I can ascertain, during the past year procurators fiscal have received 10 reports of such incidents. Seven—involving 29 accused persons — resulted in prosecution. In the remaining three—involving 17 accused—decisions have been taken not to prosecute.
Is the Solicitor-General aware that on 19 January I wrote to the chief constable of Central Scotland police about an incident in my constituency on 3 January when some anti-hunt demonstrators, including two women, complained that they had been deliberately assaulted and their car had been vandalised by members or followers of the Linlithgow and Stirlingshire fox hunt? Now, over 13 weeks since the incident, I am still awaiting a report from the chief constable. Will the Solicitor-General personally ensure that those hunting hooligans are prosecuted and that the police deal with such complaints more impartially and expeditiously until such time as the barbaric practice of fox hunting is abolished altogether?
Having seen the hon. Gentleman in an interview on television with a member of the Scottish Nationalist party, he is certainly in a good position to talk about blood sports.He will appreciate that reports from the police and letters of his to the chief constable are not directly matters for me. However, all complaints that are made, and all allegations of assault involving fox hunting, be it supporters of the hunt or those opposed to it, are properly considered. If he would like to give me further details of the matter about which he is concerned, I shall see that he gets a reply from me once a report has been received by the Crown Office.
Will my hon. and learned Friend note that the hon. Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) prejudges people on the basis of their legitimate sporting interests and regards as hooligans people who have not been charged and people who have not been convicted? What hope is there for the country when the Labour party does not even believe in the presumption of innocence?
My hon. and learned Friend is right to pick up that element of prejudgement in the hon. Gentleman's question. However, I should say to my hon. and learned Friend and the hon. Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) that where there are incidents over fox hunting we attempt, as best we can, to be even-handed and the prosecutions to which I have referred involve both those who are opposed to fox hunting as well as those who support it.
asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland whether he has any intention of introducing further legislation to protect the property rights of citizens in Scotland.
Beyond the Debtors (Scotland) Bill there are no immediate plans to introduce further legislation affecting or protecting individual property rights. Any further reforms proposed by the Scottish Law Commission in particular will receive consideration either by my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland or by my noble and learned Friend the Lord Advocate.
Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that farmers and landowners believe that the introduction of regional parks in Scotland is tantamount to the nationalisation of land by stealth? While existing legislation gives the right to the public peacefully to enjoy the countryside, no such rights are given to property owners.
The introduction of regional parks is a matter for my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State, although I happened to introduce that piece of legislation as a private Member's Bill. However, if my hon. Friend will let me know whether farmers have particular complaints in the regional park within her constituency, and whether there have been any criminal activities, I shall make sure that they are properly investigated.
London Government And Other Councils (Annual Elections)
Dr. John Cunningham, supported by Mr. Jack Straw, Mr. Allan Roberts, Mr. Frank Dobson, Mr. Alfred Dubs, Ms. Jo Richardson, Mr. Brian Sedgemore and Mr. Allen McKay, presented a Bill to provide that London Borough Councillors and non-metropolitan district councillors shall be elected for a three-year term with one-third retiring annually; and to make transitional provision: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time upon Friday 24 April and to be printed. [Bill 136.]
Questions To Ministers
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Considering the draw for Prime Minister's questions, perhaps I am the last person to complain about questions not being called, but you will notice that on the Order Paper Question No. 40 is about the Zircon affair. I wonder whether there has been any request by Ministers to answer that question, because it is a matter of continuing importance and we have had no explanation of the outcome of police investigations into the BBC in Glasgow. As questions to the Law Officers started at 3.21 pm and you often call questions at 3.30 pm, Mr. Speaker, I wonder why, on this occasion, my question has not been called.
I do not think that we started at 3.21 pm; we started at 3.20 pm. I have to take account of the business before the House on any one day. Today is a heavy day. It would not be fair or right on other hon. Members to go over the time that is set down for questions. I am sorry that I was not able to reach the hon. Gentleman's question today and also that he was not called at Scottish Question Time. I did try hard.
Notice Of Motion
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am sorry that I have not been able to give you notice of this point of order, but I have just noticed what looks like a rather cruel April fool joke by the Table Office at the expense of Liberal party policies. I refer to the notice of motion now on the Order Paper, which is entitled "Promotion of Wind Energy".
Order. Not the Table Office, but we are about to hear that.
Privatisation (Multiple Share Applications)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker——
Order. Is it about a matter that arose today?
I do not want to pre-empt the hon. Gentleman, but I should tell him before he starts that I would not be prepared to hear a re-run of the 40 minutes of points of order that we had yesterday.
I do not intend to re-run anything. I wish to draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to a letter that you wrote to me, and that is not a re-run. It is a completely new matter. You will recall, Mr. Speaker, that last week I wrote to you submitting that the behaviour of the hon. Member for Ynys Môn (Mr. Best) brought the House into disrepute and that therefore——
Order. May I again pre-empt the hon. Gentleman? He must not draw attention to a matter of privilege about which he wrote to me and on which I have replied, because he will know that the Committee of Privileges reported on it a good while ago. It was precisely to prevent the raising of such matters on the Floor of the House in that way that the Committee reported. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not breach that rule of the House.
I shall comply exactly with what the Committee of Privileges recommended. I do not intend to read the content of my application to you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to draw the attention of the House to the reply, which was not dealt with in that Committee's recommendations.You wrote me a letter, Mr. Speaker, and in so doing you have effectively prevented the House and the country from knowing your ruling on the application on contempt that I made to you. I put it to you, Mr. Speaker, that I should be permitted to bring before the House that very brief letter because I cannot table it as a motion as a result of the rules that you very accurately and carefully set out for the House yesterday. Of course, it is only following yesterday's interventions that I now feel more free to introduce these matters in the way that I wish. Mr. Speaker, in your letter of 7 April——
Order. That is precisely what I cannot allow the hon. Gentleman to do. The hon. Gentleman wrote to me on a matter of privilege. I replied that I was unable to give the matter precedence as a matter of privilege. He cannot go beyond that. That is exactly what the Select Committee laid down.
I know of no rule in the whole of "Erskine May" or any rule of the House which prevents me as a Member of Parliament from raising on the Floor of the House a letter which you, Mr. Speaker, wrote to me, which should be in the public domain and about which the public want to know. We must be allowed to raise these matters. This letter is of public importance and some people may well construe it to be a historic document. It is your letter, Mr. Speaker. I ask you to allow me to bring it to the attention of my hon. Friends.The letter reads——
Order. I am not prepared to allow the hon. Gentleman——
—to break our rules on this matter.
The Privileges Committee reported on this matter. The hon. Gentleman and the House know that it was stated that a matter of privilege should be raised with Mr. Speaker who would consider it — as I have done—and write to the hon. Member concerned saying whether Mr. Speaker would give it precedence over the Orders of the Day. That is exactly what has happened. The hon. Gentleman may not go beyond that.
I am not prepared to allow the hon. Gentleman to read out my letter.
You say, Mr. Speaker, that you are not prepared——
Order. I am not prepared to allow the hon. Gentleman to read out my letter.
If I am not allowed to read out this letter, I want to ask you a question, Mr. Speaker. How can the letter appear in the Official Report? How can it arrive within the public domain? Tell me that, Mr. Speaker.
The hon. Gentleman may legitimately table a motion setting out his views on the matter. That is what he should do.
These are not my views, Mr. Speaker; they are your views. You are interpreting the rules as you see them. I put it to you that I am entitled to place this letter of yours——
Order. I have told the hon. Gentleman that I am not prepared to break the rules of this House. The present procedure was fully debated by the House, and I abide by the decision then taken.
No; I am not prepared——
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wish to raise another matter.
I will hear one more point of order.
In the reply that you often send to hon. Members when they have raised matters of privilege, Mr. Speaker, you say that your function and responsibility is to decide whether a complaint of privilege should be given priority. May I ask you to explain to the House on what basis you decide whether a matter should be given priority?
That is a matter for my discretion. I must tell the hon. Gentleman that I take into account many considerations, one of which may be whether any offence has been committed in a parliamentary sense against this House.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. The hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) consistently abuses — or attempts to abuse—the rules of this place. You made a very firm ruling several weeks ago. The House has been much better for that ruling. We implore you, Mr. Speaker, to keep the rules and procedures of this House in order. It seems most unfair to Conservative Members, who are behaving themselves, very properly, that the hon. Gentleman can indulge in such scurrilous behaviour time after time. It is politics by innuendo, and it is time to stop it.
The House may rely on me to keep the rules of order in this House.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. You and your predecessors have said that the House has certain privileges. As I understand it, those privileges belong to the House as a whole. In law, they do not belong to individuals. This is a matter for the reputation of the House and for you, Sir. Understandably, in the country people are asking, "Is there one law for the rest of us and another law for Members of Parliament?" To ensure that there is confidence in the House, we must make it clear that the law applies to all.Yesterday, Mr. Speaker, you said that the position of the Conservative Member in question was being considered by the Director of Public Prosecutions. Today the newspapers contain a report—I have it in my hand, since Tory Members raised the matter—to the effect that it is extremely unlikely that any prosecution will occur. To avoid repeated points of order day after day, what action can we take to ensure that a Conservative Member who has broken the law is treated no differently from any of our constituents? That is the issue at hand.
The whole House will accept that, where such accusations are made, that is a matter for the courts. It cannot be right, and surely hon. Members do not wish, that the House should resort to trial by innuendo.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Will you confirm that the matters underlying this affair will be dealt with, and that presumably points of order will no longer be needed, as and when the law takes its course? When Labour Members have faced criminal charges, we have been content that the law should take its course. If hon. Members wish to conduct the debate in this way, they should be reminded that Opposition Members have faced criminal charges and have been convicted, and that we have been content that the law should take its course.
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Will you remind the House, enjoying as it does absolute privilege, that it is not in its interests that Members of any political party should make a political scene or a mockery of the conduct of Members on either side of the House, or that they should abuse your copyright in the letters that you write, and the trust that you put in hon. Members when you send letters, to make cheap, bad points? It does nothing for the honour of the House.
On a different point of order, Mr. Speaker. As you have probably noticed during these exchanges, the hon. Member for Ynys Môn (Mr. Best) has not appeared in the Chamber. That has helped you considerably, because it crossed my mind during the exchanges yesterday that had the hon. Member for Ynys Môn been here he would have heard some of my hon. Friends allege that the man was not honourable but was a cheat. That is the theoretical standpoint. Suppose that the matter continues for a while and eventually he turns up in the Chamber — and, in order to represent his constituents, he may eventually be forced to do that. One would expect him to come here. Then you, Mr. Speaker, will have a problem, which is the point of order. For instance, if an hon. Member says and believes that the hon. Member for Ynys Môn is not honourable but is a cheat, a crook, and a swindler, will you throw that hon. Member——
Order. All hon. Members elected to this House are honourable. That goes for hon. Members on both sides of the House. In this country we are all subject to the courts. I repeat that this matter should be dealt with in that way and not by a process of points of order on the Floor of the House.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I have seen the letter which you sent to my hon. Friend the Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours). I have no wish to quote from the letter unless I have your permission or the permission of my hon. Friend, but I ask for clarification on one point.I understand that part of the reason why no immediate action is being taken against the hon. Member for Ynys Môn (Mr. Best) is that it is considered that this offence was outside the House and was unrelated to parliamentary proceedings. But I understand that the hon. Member supported and voted for the legislation to privatise British Telecom which gave him the opportunity to line his pockets and commit this offence. Many people outside the House will ask, if that is not a breach of privilege, if that is not contempt of the House, and if that is not abuse of one's position as a Member of Parliament, what is?
Order. The House would not expect me to give reasons for the decisions that I take in the exercise of my discretion. The hon. Gentleman has advanced his views. We dealt with this yesterday. There are clearly laid down procedures for contempt. If the hon. Gentleman wants to proceed in that way, he can do so. He only has to operate the rules which we have. There is no point in raising points of order with the Chair.
Promotion Of Wind Energy
I beg to move,
Slowly but steadily, those with responsibility for securing our energy supply are recognising that renewable sources of energy can make a significant contribution to meeting our future energy needs. Of the various renewable alternatives, it appears that wind power is emerging as a front runner. Indeed, the Department of Energy seems to regard wind energy as the most promising of the renewable energy sources, with some experts predicting that up to 20 per cent. of our current electricity demand could be supplied by land-based generators and that an even greater contribution will be possible if we can successfully develop offshore arrays of wind turbine generators. The potential contribution cannot be dismissed as marginal, as some have tried to do in the past. The purpose of the Bill which I seek leave to present is to help the development of this important energy resource. The Bill would have three principal strands: first, the promotion of research and development; secondly, amending the valuation base for the rating of private wind generators; and, thirdly, improving the terms under which private wind generators can sell electricity to the electricity boards. It is only lair to put on record the fact that the Department of Energy, the generating boards, research councils and the private sector have already co-operated well in the research and demonstration programmes, not least in my constituency. Two generators are already operating on Burgar hill in Orkney, and a 3 MW machine should be operational this year as part of a construction, design and monitoring programme involving the British Wind Energy Group, the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board and the Department of Energy. In Shetland a project is underway to establish how much wind energy can be fed into the Shetland grid and how wind installations might be operated in the most efficient manner. Further south, the Central Electricity Generating Board is monitoring the performance of a recently opened vertical axis turbine at Carmarthen bay. The board has planned a 1 MW turbine for Richborough in Kent. Therefore, considerable research and development is already taking place. However, it is now necessary for us to look forward towards a major national wind energy programme. A much increased purchasing programme by the electricity boards would give a considerable boost to our home-based manufacturers, enabling them to undertake more research and development and demonstration of their own, and would put them on a better footing to exploit the home market and to take advantage of the considerable export opportunities. If that is to happen, it is important that the underlying programme of reserach and innovative support must be undertaken by Government, their agencies and the research councils. The British Wind Energy Association recently published a paper outlining what it believes to be a necessary programme of demonstration projects, research and development. It would not be realistic for the House to demand that the Department of Energy should slavishly follow that programme in every detail. However, my Bill provides that the Department should prepare and present to Parliament a five-year programme principally directed towards research and development and wind energy. It provides also for a programme of demonstration projects, which will be necessary to underpin a major expansion of wind power generators in this country. The other two measures that are features of the Bill are intended mainly to help private generators. One of the principal aims of the Energy Act 1983 was to facilitate the sale of electricity produced by private generators to the electricity boards or to third parties on terms which, at the time, were claimed to be fair. Indeed, in moving the Bill's Second Reading, the right hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson), then the Secretary of State for Energy, now the Chancellor of the Exchequer, stated:That leave be given to bring in a Bill to promote the generation of electricity by means of wind powered generators by encouraging appropriate research and development, reforming the rating valuation base for private wind generators and by providing for revised terms for the supply of electricity to the electricity boards from private wind powered generators; and for connected purposes.
The object of that Energy Bill, now the Energy Act 1983, was right and was supported by my right hon. and hon. Friends. However, experience suggests that, in practice, it has not been as effective as was hoped at the time. No provision was made, for example, to take account of the heavy rates burden that has fallen on private wind generators. Indeed, in recent months, this has been focused upon by unsuccessful appeal of the Wind Energy Group against a rating valuation on its wind generator in Ilfracombe which, when rates were applied. amounted to half of the estimated annual revenue from the machine. In my constituency, a private wind generator has received a rates bill which works out at more than 60 per cent. of its estimated revenue. I understand that the Department of the Environment's position is that any appeals for rates to be modified should be delayed until such time as the new legislation on local government finance has been put into place. However, the view of those involved in the industry, especially those involved in the manufacture or wind turbines, is that the time delay that that would involve would be too long. What is needed, in their view—and, I hope, in the view of the House—is much more immediate action to ensure the survival and prosperity of our wind turbine manufacturing industry. We shall not encourage the development of private generation by wind power if operators face penal rates bills. It is estimated, for example, that in relation to the generating costs of the electricity boards, rates bills amount to one sixth of a penny, whereas for those operating private generators they amount to 2p per unit. My Bill seeks to establish a formula whereby assessors would be obliged to consider the relatively low running costs of wind turbine generating plant, and fix the valuation with greater reference to profits or units produced rather than to the exceptionally high capital costs that appear to be the basis of present valuations. My Bill would provide for fairer, more favourable terms to be provided by electricity hoards to those who are offering a private supply of electricity to the boards The terms which electricity boards have been offering have not been as attractive as many anticipated and in many cases the availability charge has been particularly onerous. There is a case for an availability charge when substantial new plant and lines must be laid to a new wind farm development, but when electricity has already been supplied to a private generator it seems exceptionally onerous to impose an additional charge on the private operator. My Bill seeks to provide that such a charge should not be made where electricity is already available. If we encourage the development of wind power, as I believe we should, because it is clean, renewable, can make a significant contribution to supplying our energy needs and because many believe that is one of the cheapest forms of generating electricity, we should be prepared to give private wind generators more favourable terms than they have at present. In the United States, favourable rates for the purchase of power generated are given in addition to tax and grant incentives. My Bill seeks to amend the Energy Act to provide more favourable terms than exist. Wind energy is increasingly proving itself to be an alternative, cheap and plentiful source of energy. Developments to date have provided us with a skilled work force, experienced scientists, and a lead in this technology. If Britain is to maintain that lead, and if we are to tap the considerable potential for exports, it is important that our home market should now be given a substantial boost. The purpose of the Bill is to promote wind energy, particularly in the home market. I hope that the House will give me leave to present the Bill."As a result of the Bill, private generators should no longer have cause for complaint. These measures will, I am confident, encourage the growth of private electricity generation in the United Kingdom." —[Official Report, 24 November 1982; Vol. 32, c. 867.]
Question put and agreed to.
Bill ordered to be brought in by Mr. James Wallace, Mr. Malcolm Bruce, Mr. Michael Forsyth, Mr. Peter Hardy, Mrs. Ann Clwyd, Mr. Charles Kennedy, Mr. Tony Speller and Mr. Donald Stewart.
Promotion Of Wind Energy
Mr. James Wallace accordingly presented a Bill to promote the generation of electricity by means of wind powered generators by encouraging appropriate research and development, reforming the rating valuation base for private wind generators and by providing for revised terms for the supply of electricity to the electricity boards from private wind powered generators; and for connected purposes: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time upon Friday 5 June and to be printed. [Bill 135.]
Orders Of The Day
Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Bill
As amended (in the Standing Committee), considered.
New Clause 16
Power Of Secretary Of State To Direct The Closure Etc Of Roads
'The following section shall be inserted after section 19 of the 1978 Act—
"Power of Secretary of State of direct the closure etc, of roads.
19A.—(1) The Secretary of State may by order direct—
(a) that any highway specified in the order shall either be wholly closed or be closed to such extent, or diverted in such manner, as may be so specified; (b) that any highway specified in the order, being a highway which has already been wholly or partly closed, or diverted, in the exercise or purported exercise of any power conferred by or under a relevant enactment, shall continue to be so closed or diverted by virtue of the order.
(2) Any person who, without lawful authority or reasonable excuse (the proof of which lies on him), interferes with
(a) works executed in connection with the closure or diversion of any highway specified in an order under this section (whether executed in pursuance of any such order or in pursuance of the exercise or purported exercise of any such power as is mentioned in subsection (1)(b) above), or (b) apparatus, equipment or any other thing used in pursuance of any such order in connection with the closure or diversion of any such highway,shall be liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or both.
(3) In this section 'relevant enactment' means section 19(2) or (3) above, section 17(2) or (3) of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1973, or the Civil Authorities (Special Powers) Act (Northern Ireland) 1922.
Brought up, and read the First time.(4) Nothing in this section shall prejudice the operation of section 19(2) or (3) above.".'. —[Mr. Scott.]
I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.I shall speak briefly to the new clause because it represents no change of policy and will not lead to any more road closures. It is merely intended to clarify the legal basis of the closures which are already in force and which were authorised under a range of earlier enactments. A considerable number of highways and border crossings have been physically closed for many years under the authority of a general order made in 1970 under the Civil Authorities (Special Powers) Act (Northern Ireland) 1922 by the then Minister of Home Affairs. The legality of that order has been preserved since 1973 by appropriate transitional clauses in emergency provisions legislation. Any closure or continued closure of a particular highway on border crossing has social, economic and political consequences which must be considered in conjunction with security requirements. The decision appropriately rests, and should be seen to rest, with the Secretary of State. My right hon. Friend and I keep the need for the closure of border crossings under constant review. The new clause will make it clear that the closure or continued closure of any border crossing has been specifically authorised by the Secretary of State and details will be published in the Belfast Gazette.
We find ourselves in the not uncommon difficulty on Report that a substantial slab of legislative material is placed before us which we do not have the same opportunity to examine in detail as would be available to us in Committee. In particular, this is probably experienced by other hon. Members in considering this and subsequent Government new clauses.I am sure that the Minister will readily respond to the queries which arise in the minds of those studying the new clause. He has explained that it enables the Secretary of State, by an order, to validate—I am not seeking to use the correct legal expression—closures which have taken place under existing enactments and, particularly in view of subsection (4) of the new clause, closures which may have taken place under section 19 of the emergency provisions Act 1978. The difficulty that some of us find in studying it is that it apparently applies, for example, to subsection (1)(b) of the new clause where highways already closed under those enactments have that closure confirmed by an order made by the Secretary of State under the new clause, whereas in subsection (1)(a) he appears to be acting de novo. In subsequent (1)(a)—it does not seem that any other part of the new clause must he construed with that subsection — we are creating a new power for the Secretary of State to order the closure of a highway. No doubt it is desirable that there should be power, for emergency reasons and otherwise, for the closure of highways to be ordered. This new clause is to be inserted in an emergency powers Bill, so presumably the only closure which is being envisaged in the new closures which would occur under subsection (1)(a) is a closure deemed necessary by the Secretary of State for the purposes of the emergency provisions Act. In other words, what one misses as to subsection (1)(a) is anything which directs the Secretary of State to have regard to the sort of considerations which in the other provisions of the Bill justify the powers which are taken in exercising his order-making power under subsection (1)(a). I am not certain that I am yet receiving signals that I have successfully transmitted my message to the Minister, so perhaps I may take another moment or two to make sure that, since we are not in Committee, my point has been seized. If we take subsection (1)(a) as it stands and in isolation —it does not appear to be qualified by any other part of the new clause except by subsection (4), which does not interfere with what I am saying—it seems to create an unlimited power on the part of a Secretary of State by order to direct that a specified highway shall be closed. That seems to be out of line with the general purposes of the Bill into which the provision is to be inserted. It does not, for example, say that, if the Secretary of State is satisfied that the closure of any specified highway is necessary for the purposes of the Bill, he may by order authorise its closure. It creates an apparently unrestricted and unlimited order-making power to close highways. I accept that when we get to subsection (1)(b) all is well, because we are then dealing with highways which have been closed under enactments which give the Secretary of State power, for emergency purposes, for a highway to be closed. It may be that in subsection (1)(a) we have inadvertently created a new and unlimited power on the part of the Secretary of State by order to close highways and thus short-circuit the other provisions for so doing. I am glad to have received some signals of comprehension, if not of agreement, from the Minister.
Those of us who foresaw the Bill and that within it there would be a lessening of the derogation from the normal practices will be disappointed by the proposing of the new clause. It deals with probably one of the most emotive issues in Northern Ireland life, yet here it is being re-enacted—because that is exactly what it is — in a piece of legislation that we had all hoped to welcome as an easing of the derogation from the 1978 Act. The Minister is aware of the problems that that has created in the past, is creating at the moment and will create in future.The border of Northern Ireland is not a straight line running from A to B. It moves in an irregular fashion through different roads and through people's land. I know, from experience of my constituency and of the area in which I live, of the difficulties that this creates, especially for the farming community. I shall give an example of those difficulties. To get from one field to another, two farmers must travel approximately six miles to fodder cattle or till land in an adjoining field. This is an on-going problem for anyone involved in the agriculture industry. That work is not done once a week, once a month or once every six months; it must be done on a daily basis. That is what the new clause deals with. It also deals with other aspects of people's lives. The shopping, communication and commerce aspects of many people's lives do not relate to Northern Ireland; they relate to the Republic of Ireland. Again, I can cite instances of people having to travel many miles to obtain the ordinary necessities of Fife because of the closure of border roads. That is an emotive factor. In the past it has created many problems for people. I am not convinced that there are any security benefits in closing roads. I should like to hear the opinion of the Minister of State about the reduction of terrorist incidents. I should like him to show some proof of the effect of the closure of any road in Northern Ireland, or whether it can be quantified in such a way that it can be said that it has reduced terrorist incidents. We need some definition of the term "highway". When we use that term, we are not talking about the type of road which is closed in Northern Ireland; we are talking about something different—that which runs through a person's farm and which is essential to his tending of that farm. The new clause is a retrograde step, especially since we are dealing with an international agreement between the two Governments of the north and south of Ireland. At the same time as this agreement is trying to promote security and co-operation between them so that we shall be able to live free of terrorism, the two Governments, which are beginning to work closely together, are blocking off the roads between their jurisdictions. We must be in no doubt that that will be the net effect of this measure. No doubt the Minister will say that in effect it simply regularises the situation. The Minister may have some pangs when he starts to regularise that which is implemented under the infamous Civil Authorities (Special Powers) Act (Northern Ireland) 1922. The Minister would have grave reservations about that. This is an emotive issue. The clause will make life very difficult for the people living in the border areas of Northern Ireland. It should be opposed.
The hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) focused his thoughts on the frontier region and drew attention to the inconvenience that would be caused. He represents a constituency in that region, so I suppose that that is natural. But it would be a great mistake to imagine that only the frontier region is affected. The hon. Gentleman drew attention to the fact that landowners and farmers were sometimes inconvenienced. He said that on some occasions they have to drive six miles to go into a field on the other side of the barricade. It may be of some small comfort for him to know that in an area surrounding one of our major airports a farmer whom I know has to drive seven and a half miles simply to get into a field that adjoins his dwelling house.No one will deny that inconvenience can be and is caused. The hon. Gentleman said that some inconvenience has an effect on people's lives. However, if there is any possibility that these measures will preserve life, even if they result in the preservation of only one life, we must all accept and bear with fortitude the inconvenience and hardship caused by them.
The right hon. Member for South Down (Mr. Powell) described this as a substantial slab of legislation, and the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) made quite a meal of what is a modest tidying-up measure. Let me deal with the points that they made.I can tell the right hon. Member for South Down that neither in the so-called Porter order of 1970—the order made by the then Minister for Home Affairs— nor in section 19 of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978 was the power to close roads to be exercised only in relation to the emergency. We follow the same pattern in this legislation. But, in practice, no road has been closed under these powers except for reasons connected with the emergency. This measure is in an emergency provisions Bill and the power would in practice be exercised only in relation to roads where closure was necessitated by the emergency. That has been and will continue to be the practice. I am slightly surprised that the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh takes odds with the fact that the Government consider it more appropriate to update the provision and to make it clear that the authority for this rests with the Secretary of State rather than on an order made about 17 years ago by a Minister for Home Affairs in a Stormont Government. There are serious political, social and economic matters which should be taken into account when border closures are being considered. Indeed, the hon. Gentleman mentioned their impact on local farms, and so on, which we always take into account when we review these matters. It is the considered judgment of the security forces in Northern Ireland—the police and the Army—that the sensible and selective closure of roads in the border areas in particular can make a substantial contribution to the improvement of security in those areas.
Can the Minister tell us how many border roads are closed at present and where they are, because then we might be able to draw the same conclusion from that which the Minister is drawing from the opinion of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the Army?
I cannot attempt this afternoon to enumerate the roads that are closed, but I can give the House an idea of the scale of closures. There are roughly 300 road crossings between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Of those, approximately 100 are closed, of which about half would have been closed under the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978 and about half under the so-called Porter order. That is the scale of present closures.Both intelligence and observation show that a considerable number of incidents still happen involving the use of roads crossing the border. We need to look carefully, with the advice of our professional security advisers, to see when and where such closures, balanced with the other factors that I mentioned, can make a significant contribution to security. Sensible and selective closures can be of some help. This is a tidying-up exercise. In itself, it will not result in any new road closures, but it will put them, including those which affect border crossing, on a proper footing.
The Minister referred to the reasons for the closures which take place under existing legislation. I was just looking at section 19 of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978, the operation of which is specifically preserved by subsection (4) of the new section. In referring to the closure of roads it says:
It is not clear whether such a provision is imported into the terminology of new section 19A(1)(a). It might be germane if the Minister could tell the House to what parliamentary procedure an order made under these powers will be subject."so far as he considers it immediately necessary for the preservation of the peace or the maintenance of order".
These orders are not subject to any parliamentary procedure. They never have been and it is not proposed that they will be in this legislation. The part of the 1978 Act to which the right hon. Gentleman refers does not refer specifically to the emergency, but I assert —I hope that the House will accept this—that the very fact that it is contained in emergency provisions legislation means that it would not be used for any other purpose. It has not been in the past and will not be in the future.
Will the Minister assure us that we need not take literally his assurance that this legislation would not lead to further closures of cross-border roads? Did he mean that it would not necessarily mean the closure of cross-border roads, or does he preclude the closure of any further cross-border roads?It might be well that those listening to the Minister would believe that that was the possibility. The most recent victim of terrorism in my constituency was murdered last Friday. His murderers escaped across a road which I have constantly drawn to the attention of the Secretary of State, the previous Secretary of State and the Secretary of State before that. Despite the fact that the road is still used for the murder of my constituents, the Northern Ireland Office does nothing about it. Can the Minister assure us that he is not precluding the possibility of something more positive being done about that road?
If the hon. Gentleman reads my words, he will see that I said that, of itself, this provision will not lead to the closure of more border roads. But, of course, proposals for road closures will be considered on their merits as they come forward from the security forces.
It is noticeable that all the speakers so far have an intimate knowledge of Northern Ireland because they are Members of Parliament for Northern Ireland. But some of us have to try to grasp the matters without having such an intimate knowledge.I have looked at section 19, and, short of war—one of the points that Sir George Baker made was that there is not a war, despite what some claim — section 19 appears to he adequate. I cannot understand the fundamental difference between the new clause and section 19. I know that there are deep feelings about this, but some of us would like to know the precise difference. Security forces anywhere, whether police in a peaceful situation or security forces in a difficult situation such as that in Northern Ireland, always demand more security than is justified at a fixed moment.
Approximately half the border roads are closed under the 1970 order made by the then Minister for Home Affairs. There is slight doubt about the legal validity of some of those road closures. The order was cast in wide terms and there is some legal doubt as to whether it was used properly to justify the closure of a particular road. Therefore, we needed to validate those closures where it is considered they should continue, but section 19 of the 1978 Act that enables the Secretary of State to authorise actions to close roads is not applicable because many of the roads have been closed for the past 17 years. We are seeking to validate those closures to ensure that they are on firm legal ground for the future and therefore validated by the Secretary of State upon authority that is published in the Belfast Gazette.
I did not follow the reply that my hon. Friend the Minister gave to the intervention made by my hon. Friend the Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis). He mentioned a border crossing that he said should have been closed and, as I understand it, he made that suggestion to previous Secretaries of State. Therefore, will my hon. Friend urgently undertake a careful investigation of the case for the closure of that border crossing in view of the appalling toll of murder in Fermanagh and South Tyrone?
As I said to the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis), when the security forces put forward recommendations for road closures we consider them on their merits. Obviously what the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone has said will be drawn to the attention of the security forces, but I cannot go further than that at the moment.
The Minister has informed us that one third of border roads are closed. When we consider the number of border roads that are surveyed by lookout posts and the number that have permanent checkpoints, we narrow down the number substantially. Again I ask the Minister what is the evidence over the past 16 years to suggest that the closure of any border road has prevented the type of murderous activity to which the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone (Mr. Maginnis) has referred? By closing a specific road, how do we know that one simply does not point the terrorist in the direction not just of another road, but along another route? Those routes exist across fields and towns right along the border. I hope that the Minister can quantify the evidence for us because it appears that, rather than being a deterrent against people involved in violent activities, such road closures have been used as a sop to those who wish to see the closure of border roads.
This debate was not intended to run into a general discussion of the principle of whether particular road closures or the general policy of border road closures is wise. Obviously there is a distinction between the views held by the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh and the hon. Member for Fermanagh and South Tyrone and those who advise the Secretary of State and myself on security policy in Northern Ireland. I am prepared to rest on professional judgment in such matters.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.
New Clause 19
Power Of Secretary Of State To Set Time Limits In Relation To Preliminary Proceedings For Scheduled Offences
`The following section shall be inserted after section 5 of the 1978 Act—
Power of Secretary of State to set time limits in relation to preliminary proceedings for scheduled offences.
"Time limits on preliminary proceedings
5A. — (1) The Secretary of State may by regulations make provision, with respect to any specified preliminary stage of proceedings for a scheduled offence, as to the maximum period—
(a) to be allowed to the prosecution to complete that stage; (b) during which the accused may, while awaiting completion of that stage, be—
- (i) in the custody of a magistrates' court; or
- (ii) in the custody of the Crown Court,
in relation to that offence.
(2) The regulations may, in particular—
- apply in relation to cases to which custody or overall time limits apply subject to such modifications as may be specified (being modifications which the Secretary of State considers necessary in consequence of any provision made by the regulations);
(3) Where separate counts of an indictment allege a scheduled offence and an offence which is not a scheduled offence, then (subject to, and in accordance with, the provisions of the regulations) the regulations shall have effect in relation to the latter offence as if it were a scheduled offence.
(4) The Crown Court may, at any time before the expiry of a time limit imposed by the regulations, extend, or further extend, that limit if it is satisfied—
(5) Where, in relation to any proceedings for a relevant offence, an overall time limit has expired before the completion of the stage of the proceedings to which the limit applies, the accused shall be treated, for all purposes, as having been acquitted of that offence.
the regulations shall, so far as they provide for any custody time limit in relation to the preliminary stage in question, be disregarded.
the overall time limit which applies in his case in relation to the stage which the proceedings have reached at the time of the escape or, as the case may be, at the appointed time shall, so far as the relevant offence in question is concerned, cease to have effect.
(8) Where a person is convicted of a relevant offence in any proceedings, the exercise, in relation to any preliminary stage of those proceedings, of the power conferred by subsection (4) above shall not be called into question on any appeal against that conviction.
(9) In this section—
"custody of the Crown Court" includes custody to which a person is committed in pursuance of—
(a) Article 37 or 40(4) of the Magistrates' Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 (magistrates' court committing accused for trial); or (b) section 51(8) of the Judicature (Northern Ireland) Act 1978 (magistrates' court dealing with a person brought before it following his arrest in pursuance of a warrant issued by the Crown Court);
"custody of a magistrates' court" means custody to which a person is committed in pursuance of Article 47 or 49 of the Magistrates' Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 (remand);
"custody time limit" means a time limit imposed by the regulations in pursuance of subsection (1)(b) above or, where any such limit has been extended by the Crown Court under subsection (4) above, the limit as so extended;
"preliminary stage", in relation to any proceedings, does not include any stage of the proceedings after the accused has been arraigned in the Crown Court or, in the case of a summary trial, the magistrates' court has begun to hear evidence for the prosecution at the trial;
"overall time limit" means a time limit imposed by the regulations in pursuance of subsection (1)(a) above or, where any such limit has been extended by the Crown Court under subsection (4) above, the limit as so extended;
"relevant offence" means—
"specifed" means specified in the regulations.
(10) For the purposes of the application of any custody time limit in relation to a person who is in the custody of a magistrates' court or of the Crown Court—
Brought up, and read the First time.
I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.
With this it will be convenient to take the following: New clause 18— Limit on time between remand and commencement of trial—
`After subsection (5) of section 2 of the 1978 ACt there shall be inserted the words:—
"(5A) No trial of a person charged with a scheduled offence shall commence more than 110 days from the date of that person's first remand for the said offence; when new charges are presented arising from the same circumstances a person's trial shall commence within 110 days from the date of the original remand for the original offence.
(5B) No voluntary bill of indictment shall be capable of extending that 110 days period for any person who has been committed for trial in relation to a scheduled offence.".'.
Government amendment No. 31.
New clause 19 arises from discussions in Committee and picks up the idea behind the amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) who was supported by the hon. Member for Foyle (Mr. Hume). It reproduces, in respect of scheduled offences in Northern Ireland, the provisions of section 22 of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985.The new clause will give my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State the power to make regulations imposing time limits on specified preliminary stages of cases involving scheduled offences. I must emphasise, however, that it is only an enabling power and that we do not intend to introduce actual time limits immediately. Indeed, I am not in a position to say when it will be possible to introduce such time limits. The fact is that it is unlikely that there will be another opportunity to take the necessary power for at least five years, when this legislation will come up for reconsideration. In the light of the widespread concern that was expressed in Committee about delays in coming to trial and the support given in Committee for the concept of statutory time limits, we decided that it was right to take the power now. The new clause will give my right hon. Friend a power to set limits on the length of time that a person may be remanded in custody during any of those specified stages and provides that a breach of any such time limit will lead to the release of the accused on bail. It will also confer on my right hon. Friend a power to set limits on the total length of time to he allowed for any of those specified stages. It provides that if any such time limit is breached the accused person should be treated as having been acquitted. It also provides that the courts may, on application, extend a time limit in any particular case where they are satisfied that there is good cause to do so and that the prosecution has acted with all due dispatch. In introducing this new clause I believe that I am maintaining a tradition of concern and action on this matter by the relevant authorities. My right hon. and noble Friend the Lord Chancellor, my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State have given sustained priority to measures intended to eliminate avoidable delays between first remand and trial, particularly in scheduled cases, in Northern Ireland. A list of the measures taken over the previous couple of years was given by me in a written reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Stevenage (Mr. Wood) on 16 December 1986. Additionally, the relevant agencies meet regularly to monitor and evaluate the performance of the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland. Their recent reports suggest, encouragingly, that the average period between first remand and trial in scheduled cases in Northern Ireland is likely to reduce over the next 18 months or so. This exercise has also demonstrated that the causes of delay are many and complicated and often arise from the defence rather than from the prosecution, notably when a defendant or group of defendants elect to wait until the defence counsel of their choice is available to act for them. I am certainly impressed and encouraged by the efficiency of the courts, the court service and the prosecuting authorities and their collective determination to eliminate avoidable delays. They have a heavy and particularly intractable case load to deal with and cannot be held responsible for the delays that occur in some cases. 4.30 pm Despite that, and despite the encouraging prospect that average periods on remand will fall over the next couple of years, we have decided that it would be right to propose the new clause. As I made clear in Committee, before introducing actual time limits we would want to take account of the experience gained in England and Wales of the operation of actual time limits in three police force areas. These are being applied from the first of this month, so it will be some time before any conclusions can be drawn. It is also necessary to gather more data from the current monitoring and evaluation exercise in Northern Ireland that I described in Committee so that we can establish what time limits, if any, it would be desirable to set. Even then we would have to weigh the various arguments very carefully. Our objective is to maintain a degree of pressure on the criminal justice system and to set testing but reasonable targets for disposing of cases, with the aim of maintaining public confidence in the administration of justice in Northern Ireland and thus helping further to isolate the terrorists. The Government would find it necessary to be confident that any scheme was unlikely to have the effect of procuring the release on bail or even the discharge of a person indicted for serious terrorist crime The background against which we are working in Northern Ireland is more serious and complex than in England and Wales. Therefore, any decision to introduce actual time limits is some way off and will not be an easy one. Certainly before taking a decision the Government will study most carefully the views of all those involved in the criminal justice process. Therefore, at the moment the Government are proposing that there should he an enabling power to introduce time limits. This is a powerful earnest of our concern to do all that we can to reduce delays in the administration of justice, and I hope that the new clause will command the support of the whole House.
In Committee there was a general desire to see some limitation placed on the length of time elapsing between a person being taken into custody and being brought to trial in court. One's initial reaction to the new clause was therefore one of disappointment to discover that it was an enabling power and simply a power to make regulations. This disappointment is not lessened by a study of amendment No. 31, which, under your direction, Mr. Deputy Speaker, we are considering in conjunction with the new clause.If I understand it rightly, that amendment specifically exempts the new clause from the operation of section 32 of the 1978 Act. This means that instead of the affirmative procedure applying to such regulations so that there would be reasonable debate on the occasion of their being brought into force, we would have the negative procedure, which in practical terms means that we shall not debate them at all. Much of what the Minister said about the important considerations surrounding this specified length of time makes it all the more desirable that when a time limit is introduced as a matter of law the House should not merely have the opportunity, but should be required, to debate it before assent is given to the regulations. I hope that, even if the House is satisfied at this stage with a regulation-making power, the Government will reconsider tile desirability of making that exception in schedule 1, under amendment No. 31. There ought to be an affirmative power governing the regulations made in so important a matter as this, and there ought to be a review of the circumstances in which that time limit is laid down. I am sure that I am not alone in feeling disappointed that the Government have not found themselves able at this stage to write into the Bill that which will be written in due course into regulations. This is not one of those cases where the regulations have to be so complicated that it saves time and trouble all round to put the matter into regulations instead of into the Bill. Presumably the time periods that the Government have in mind could perfectly easily have been specified in the Bill by means of amendments to it. The Government claim that it is too early to assess or to be able to determine, even experimentally, the time limits that would be practicable in Northern Ireland conditions. I am not sure that there will be general assent to that proposition, but even if there were assent there is a different way in which this could have been done. A provision could have been put into the Bill to impose time limits, and the commencement date of that provision could itself be left to ministerial order. If the Minister had proceeded in that way we could have had the time periods in the Bill itself and the Government would have the opportunity for which they have asked to consider the experience in England and Wales, and to consider the circumstances in the Province, without bringing that provision into effect. Even in its present terms, this is not an offer that those of us who were on the Committee would be disposed to refuse. However, we would be understating the matter if we did not say that we are disappointed at having failed to write the limiting periods of time into the Bill, even with some possibility of delaying the operation of these periods introduced by way of an amendment.
I, too, wish to express some disappointment with what my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office said. That is because what is at the moment in many respects a nebulous Bill becomes even more nebulous through this clause which contains no indication whatever of the time limit involved. My hon. Friend did not even refer to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) that probably 110 days was the ideal time. That is the time specified in his clause. Can my hon. Friend at least say whether he thinks 110 days is too long, or too short? Obviously, even one day is a day too long for a person who may be innocent.Can my hon. Friend give the House any idea of when he expects these regulations to come before us? He said that that was not easy to assess and that it was still some time off. Can he help the House by telling us the average length of time that a person is held in custody before he is charged with a scheduled offence of the type that we are considering? We are perhaps not anxious to peer too far into the future, but this sort of helpful information must be available to the Northern Ireland Office and would help the House to understand a little better what the Minister has in mind. I have grave reservations about endorsing the new clause in its present nebulous form.
Like previous speakers, I, too, feel a sense of disappointment. In Committee this was one of the areas about which there was a consensus that positive changes were needed. This is a very small and lukewarm step and it is disappointing that the Minister has not seen fit to give us an idea of the time limits that he is considering.This is one of the most emotive issues in the North of Ireland, and that is perfectly understandable, because some people have been on remand for upwards of three years. In effect, that is the equivalent of a six-year prison sentence, and the person serves it before he is found guilty. That is bad for any society and unjust to any person. I restate my disappointment that the Minister has not taken his courage in his hands, even on this small issue. At least he could have given an indication of the time limits that he envisages, and when those could become operative.
Many hon. Members who did not have the benefit of serving on the Committee that considered the Bill are understandably somewhat mystified by some of the debates today. I took the trouble to have a cursory glance at the Committee Hansard, and I was impressed by the arguments from both sides of the Committee in favour of making the changes that were mentioned by the hon. Members for Newry and Armagh (Mr. Mallon) and for Harborough (Sir J. Farr).In the Second Reading debate on 16 December my hon. Friend the Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) said :
Like the hon. Member for Newry and Armagh, I would be interested to know what the trends have been and the average length of time that people are now being held in custody before being brought to trial. Can the Minister tell us about the numbers of people involved, and whether different offences are treated in different ways by the court? Sometimes the defendants are to blame for demanding a different kind of legal representation or different counsel. How far is that the fault of the prosecution, because of its dilatoriness, and how far the fault of the police? It would be useful to know that. It is worth reminding the House of what Sir George Baker said in his report :"The time that defendants may be held in custody in Northern Ireland without a trial is a serious matter and one that should be tackled without further delay." — [Official Report, 16 December 1986; Vol. 107, c. 1111.]
That is a straightforward, sensible recommendation. Although it is good to hear the Minister say that he concurs with its spirit, I hope that we shall move towards that procedure before too long. I agree with the right hon. Member for South Down (Mr. Powell) about the kind of procedure that should be used, and that it would be better in include it in the Bill now. I hope that we shall not resort to procedures that deny the House adequate discussions on these important issues. A comparison has been made with the Scottish 110-day procedure. It is true that Sir George Baker pointed out in his report that the Scottish legal system is very different from our own and from that which applies in Northern Ireland. He said that it was not possible merely to translate the experiences of Scotland into those of Northern Ireland. Have the Department and the Minister had a chance to study the procedures that are used in Scotland? Does the Minister have any sympathy with the suggestion of 110 days that is contained in new clause 18?"One objective must be to concentrate the minds of the prosecuting authorities on speed or at least on reducing delay…I recommend that any prisoner who has been held in custody for 12 months or more without having been committed for trial must be granted bail without surety."
Clearly, there are deep differences between us about the whole area of emergency provisions. As I apprehend it, we are agreed that there cannot be a complete and precipitate return to normality in Northern Ireland, but we differ in our reactions to which measures are justifiable, which represent too draconian an invasion of individual rights and which serve only to alienate people and thereby bring the system into disrepute. Therefore, we differ as to which provisions are counter-productive.4.45pm In the course of our proceedings we have not resolved those differences—so much is clear from the debate—hut we have at least come closer to understanding one another's arguments than at any time—so far as I can recollect—in the past. The arguments about the length of time during which unconvicted people are remanded in custody will be the subject of later discussion. I imagine that they will reveal deep divisions between us. However, the Minister of State has clearly listened to some of the arguments that we advanced in Committee. To judge from the fact that new clause 19 was tabled at a late stage, I suspect that he may have had long discussions with his ministerial colleagues and, possibly, with officials. I shall not press him for further information about that. The amount of thought that has gone into a measure is not always directly proportional to the number of words in it. Though it is clear from the length and draftsmanship of the clause that a great deal of thought has gone into it, I do not believe that it meets all the problems that were ventilated in Committee. I agree with the right hon. Member for South Down (Mr. Powell) and the hon. Member for Harborough (Sir J. Farr) and other speakers that we should have liked something much more robust. I agree with the right hon. Member for South Down that amendment No. 31 displays a defensive attitude on the part of someone in the Government. If the clause were fresh and we were in a position to table amendments to it, many of us would readily do that. I believe that we should encourage the Government in well doing. I should certainly not like it to be said of the Minister of State by his colleagues that all that he had achieved was to provide additional difficulties for the Government. We shall be pressing the Secretary of State—he may have made a rod for his own back—to use some of the powers in the new clause. In the circumstances, it represents some advance in the Government's thinking, so I venture to welcome it without prejudice to any representations that we shall make about the use of the powers. It is not wholly absent from my mind that a different Government at some time in the futurebe it near or far —may find it helpful to have the power on the statute book, so in the circumstances I venture to welcome the new clause.
I want briefly to support the new clause because of a salutary experience that I had when I went with a delegation two or three years ago to visit the prisons in Northern Ireland. We made a point of going to the women's prison in south Armagh. It contained about 34 women and we spoke to every one of them that day. They were being strip-searched weekly and taken across to the court. We even went into the detail of looking at the strip-search book, checking the rooms to see whether they were private, and walking the distance to the court to check whether they had contact with anyone on the way.That was hard enough for anyone without experience to understand. Even more difficult were the conversations about how long those women had been there without trial. For an ordinary person, 110 days is surely quite sufficient. Some of those people had been there for a length of time that alarmed me. Some of them were there in connection with the Dropping Well pub bombing and, of course, we are shocked by such terrible things, but trial presupposes that the condemned person is innocent until he is proved guilty. It is bound to enrage people—especially those who know nothing about it—if they are kept without trial for an unconscionable length of time. That experience shook me, as it would any ordinary person who did not understand the process. I want to know how many people have been in prison for longer than 110 days, so that all of us understand the position on which to base our attitudes. That is why I support the period of 110 days, which seems a long time to be held without trial.
If I recall clearly, the Minister said that he thought it would be a long time before the Government would be in a position to bring in the time limits over which they have power in the new clause. There are such time limits in Scotland. There was general concern in Britain about long periods of detention on remand, which are not as bad as the periods that obtain in Northern Ireland. The Home Affairs Select Committee recommended that Britain should consider introducing time limits. The Government responded sympathetically by setting up feasibility studies on implementing time limits. The Minister of State did not tell us anything about setting up feasibility studies in Northern Ireland. Why not?The Government are taking powers to bring in time limits. We all recognise that this is a new move, that there would be complications and that all sorts of arrangements and preparations would have to be made, but, if there is any good will and any real intention to implement those powers, surely the Minister should tell us that he will start a feasibility study, and tell us something about the time scale. If that is done, we can look forward to the implementation of these powers and to rapid progress in reducing the lengthy periods of remand in Northern Ireland, which are deplored by both sides of the House and by every party.
I must utter some sounds of disappointment, because what I had hoped was an earnest of good intent and a move in the right direction, albeit modest, has not been welcomed. I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Member for Warley, West (Mr. Archer) for being generous in the reception that he gave the new clause. The measure is a step in the right direction. I hope that it will be possible to have time limits, but they should be considered against the background that I outlined and the constraints that will continue to exist for some time in Northern Ireland.The right hon. Member for South Down (Mr. Powell), echoed by others, queried the use of the negative form of approval of the regulations that will be made under the new clause. The regulations will set time limits. There will be exactly the same procedure as will obtain in England and Wales. We sought to follow as closely as possible the procedures under the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985, which applies to England and Wales. The regulations under that Act will be introduced for England and Wales, when their pilot schemes have been carried through and evaluated, under the negative procedure. We thought it right to follow that procedure in Northern Ireland.
If the Minister had put in his new clause a power, by negative procedure regulations, to apply the same time limits in Northern Ireland as in England and Wales, I certainly would not have raised that point.
It would be unrealistic to imagine that in the circumstances of Northern Ireland, with the complexity and seriousness of the cases that must be prepared for trial, we could set the same time limits that might apply in England and Wales. I should be surprised if it is possible to introduce time limits that are common across the whole of the jurisdiction in England and Wales. It may well be necessary to apply different time limits to different parts of the jurisdiction — for example, the Metropolitan police area has particular problems with delays in coming to trial and may require different limits from those set elsewhere in England and Wales. By choosing the negative procedure we are following what is happening in England and Wales.There is much interest, of course, in what time limits might eventually be set. It is much too early to give any precise indication. We have to establish how long, on average, the various preliminary stages take and then decide what limits would maintain a degree of pressure on the system so that it operated without undue delays, without creating any unreasonable constraints on the system. The cases about which we are talking are, by definition, both serious and complicated. Any limits will certainly have to be longer than those applied in the pilot area of England and Wales and eventually introduced under regulation there.
Does the Minister recall that in reply to a question in 1984 he said that the average time taken for cases to come to trial was 322 days? Surely it is possible to give contemporary figures to show whether that number has increased or decreased. What does the Minister regard as a reasonable time?
I was about to turn to the latest available figures on delays in coming to trial to show where we are now. In Northern Ireland, in the first six months of 1986, the average waiting time between remand and committal in scheduled cases was about 33 weeks, and the average time between committal and trial was 27 weeks, so we are talking of about 60 weeks in all between remand and cases coming to trial. The present position is unsatisfactory to a considerable degree.As I said, as a result of the measures that I outlined in my written answer in December 1985, and the pressure that we are keeping up to reduce delays in cases coming to trial—all the prosecuting authorities, the police, the court service and the courts are involved—the next 12 to 18 months will see a substantial reduction in that figure. If we were to follow the proposal of the right hon. Member for South Down and set firm times for the various stages, we would find that they would swiftly be overtaken by the improvements that are likely to take place in any case during that period. I shall deal with the point raised by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Ms. Short). We are not running pilot schemes in Northern Ireland but, because it is a small jurisdiction, we are able, by monitoring the progress of the various cases through the courts, to have, in effect, the same ability to evaluate what is happening as the pilot schemes will give us in England and Wales. We shall look carefully at our measures to monitor and evaluate the progress of these cases through the courts of Northern Ireland. We shall obviously carefully follow the experiences of England and Wales under the pilot schemes. I hope that, in due course, we will be able to introduce regulations.
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for what he has said. Do the Government recognise that if we can cut the waiting time there will be a tremendous spin-off, by cutting overcrowding in prisons in Northern Ireland? If only we have a policy that seeks to cut the waiting time considerably, big advantages will flow from it.
That is true. What is more, it is in the interests of justice that the delay should be reduced. Not everyone who is remanded for lengthy periods is found guilty by the courts. Obviously, we do not want people who eventually are found not guilty by the courts to be detained for lengthy periods of remand.
Where are the main difficulties? Does the RUC require more investigating staff, and should they be provided, or is the obstacle in the judicial process, in the courts? If there is a shortage of personnel in any respect, is anything being done to make good that shortage?
I refer my hon. Friend to the written answer that I provided for the Committee. It referred to the 13 steps being taken by the different agencies that have some influence and responsibility in these matters. In a sense, by definition, this reflects the sorts of problems that we were trying to overcome.There remains the right of defendants to choose their counsel. There are a small number of defence counsel in Northern Ireland who have acquired formidable reputations. Often defendants are prepared to wait long periods and spend that time on remand in order to acquire their services. I believe that on the prosecution side we have already taken substantial steps, and the effects will begin to flow through the system in the coming months. I believe that it will be right in due course to introduce regulations to give effect to these measures. We need more experience of our monitoring exercise to see how the England and Wales experiment turns out.
Reference has been made to England and Wales, but I have some experience from a constituency case. Is there not something to be said for looking at Scottish law in this narrow respect?
We have looked at the Scottish experience. At the end of 110 days, people in Scotland are released and regarded as acquitted by the courts. In dealing with the serious terrorist cases that we are talking about, the result of such action would be very dangerous men being released back on to the streets to cause more murder and mayhem. We must consider the special circumstances of Northern Ireland and introduce measures that will reflect its needs, while keeping up the pressure to reduce what I freely accept causes widespread concern right across the community in Northern Ireland.I hope the House will accept that in introducing the new clause I am giving an earnest of the Government's commitment to reducing those delays, and in due course —although I cannot say when—being able to introduce the regulations.
Question put, That the clause he read a Second time: —
The House divided: Ayes 194, Noes 28.
Division No. 137]
|Adley, Robert||Gower, Sir Raymond|
|Alexander, Richard||Greenway, Harry|
|Ancram, Michael||Gregory, Conal|
|Ashby, David||Grylls, Michael|
|Aspinwall, Jack||Hamilton, Neil (Tatton)|
|Atkins, Robert (South Ribble)||Hampson, Dr Keith|
|Atkinson, David (B'm'th E)||Hannam, John|
|Baker, Rt Hon K. (Mole Vall'y)||Harris, David|
|Baldry, Tony||Harvey, Robert|
|Batiste, Spencer||Havers, Rt Hon Sir Michael|
|Beaumont-Dark, Anthony||Hawkins, Sir Paul (N'folk SW)|
|Bellingham, Henry||Hayhoe, Rt Hon Sir Barney|
|Benyon, William||Hayward, Robert|
|Biffen, Rt Hon John||Heathcoat-Amory, David|
|Biggs-Davison, Sir John||Heddle, John|
|Blackburn, John||Henderson, Barry|
|Blaker, Rt Hon Sir Peter||Hicks, Robert|
|Body, Sir Richard||Hind, Kenneth|
|Boscawen, Hon Robert||Hirst, Michael|
|Bottomley, Peter||Holt, Richard|
|Bottomley, Mrs Virginia||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N)|
|Bowden, Gerald (Dulwich)||Key, Robert|
|Braine, Rt Hon Sir Bernard||King, Rt Hon Tom|
|Brandon-Bravo, Martin||Knight, Greg (Derby N)|
|Brinton, Tim||Knight, Dame Jill (Edgbaston)|
|Brooke, Hon Peter||Knowles, Michael|
|Brown, M. (Brigg & Cl'thpes)||Knox, David|
|Bryan, Sir Paul||Lang, Ian|
|Buck, Sir Antony||Latham, Michael|
|Budgen, Nick||Lawrence, Ivan|
|Burt, Alistair||Lennox-Boyd, Hon Mark|
|Butterfill, John||Lewis, Sir Kenneth (Stamf'd)|
|Carlisle, John (Luton N)||Lightbown, David|
|Carlisle, Kenneth (Lincoln)||Lilley, Peter|
|Carlisle, Rt Hon M. (W'ton S)||Lloyd, Peter (Fareham)|
|Channon, Rt Hon Paul||Luce, Rt Hon Richard|
|Chapman, Sydney||Lyell, Nicholas|
|Clark, Hon A. (Plym'th S'n)||Macfarlane, Neil|
|Clark, Sir W. (Croydon S)||MacGregor, Rt Hon John|
|Clarke, Rt Hon K. (Rushcliffe)||Maclean, David John|
|Cockeram, Eric||McLoughlin, Patrick|
|Colvin, Michael||McNair-Wilson, M. (N'bury)|
|Conway, Derek||McQuarrie, Albert|
|Coombs, Simon||Madel, David|
|Cope, John||Malins, Humfrey|
|Cormack, Patrick||Malone, Gerald|
|Couchman, James||Maples, John|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord J.||Marlow, Antony|
|Durant, Tony||Mather, Sir Carol|
|Dykes, Hugh||Mawhinney, Dr Brian|
|Fairbairn, Nicholas||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Fallon, Michael||Miller, Hal (B'grove)|
|Farr, Sir John||Mills, Iain (Meriden)|
|Fenner, Dame Peggy||Mills, Sir Peter (West Devon)|
|Finsberg, Sir Geoffrey||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Fletcher, Sir Alexander||Moate, Roger|
|Fookes, Miss Janet||Morrison, Hon P. (Chester)|
|Forth, Eric||Moynihan, Hon C.|
|Fox, Sir Marcus||Mudd, David|
|Fraser, Peter (Angus East)||Neale, Gerrard|
|Galley, Roy||Neubert, Michael|
|Garel-Jones, Tristan||Nicholls, Patrick|
|Onslow, Cranley||Spicer, Jim (Dorset W)|
|Osborn, Sir John||Squire, Robin|
|Ottaway, Richard||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Page, Sir John (Harrow W)||Stern, Michael|
|Page, Richard (Herts SW)||Stevens, Lewis (Nuneaton)|
|Patten, Christopher (Bath)||Stewart, Andrew (Sherwood)|
|Pawsey, James||Stradling Thomas, Sir John|
|Peacock, Mrs Elizabeth||Sumberg, David|
|Porter, Barry||Taylor, Teddy (S'end E)|
|Powell, William (Corby)||Temple-Morris, Peter|
|Powley, John||Terlezki, Stefan|
|Price, Sir David||Thomas, Rt Hon Peter|
|Pym, Rt Hon Francis||Thompson, Patrick (N'ich N)|
|Rattan, Keith||Thorne, Neil (Ilford S)|
|Raison, Rt Hon Timothy||Thornton, Malcolm|
|Renton, Tim||Townend, John (Bridlington)|
|Rhodes James, Robert||van Straubenzee, Sir W.|
|Ridley, Rt Hon Nicholas||Wakeham, Rt Hon John|
|Ridsdale, Sir Julian||Walden, George|
|Rossi, Sir Hugh||Walker, Bill (T'side N)|
|Rowe, Andrew||Walters, Dennis|
|Ryder, Richard||Ward, John|
|Sackville, Hon Thomas||Wardle, C. (Bexhill)|
|Sainsbury, Hon Timothy||Warren, Kenneth|
|Sayeed, Jonathan||Watts, John|
|Scott, Nicholas||Wells, Bowen (Hertford)|
|Shaw, Sir Michael (Scarb')||Wheeler, John|
|Shelton, William (Streatham)||Whitfield, John|
|Shepherd, Colin (Hereford)||Winterton, Nicholas|
|Shepherd, Richard (Aldridge)||Wood, Timothy|
|Shersby, Michael||Woodcock, Michael|
|Silvester, Fred||Yeo, Tim|
|Sims, Roger||Young, Sir George (Acton)|
|Skeet, Sir Trevor|
|Smith, Tim (Beaconsfield)||Tellers for the Ayes:|
|Speller, Tony||Mr. Francis Maude, and Mr. Michael Portillo.|
|Barnes, Mrs Rosemary||Kennedy, Charles|
|Beith, A. J.||Livsey, Richard|
|Benn, Rt Hon Tony||Madden, Max|
|Bruce, Malcolm||Maynard, Miss Joan|
|Callaghan, Jim (Heyw'd & M)||Meadowcroft, Michael|
|Carlile, Alexander (Montg'y)||Nellist, David|
|Clay, Robert||Roberts, Allan (Bootle)|
|Cohen, Harry||Shields, Mrs Elizabeth|
|Corbyn, Jeremy||Skinner, Dennis|
|Dalyell, Tam||Taylor, Matthew|
|Fields, T. (L'pool Broad Gn)||Wainwright, R.|
|Flannery, Martin||Wallace, James|
|Heffer, Eric S.|
|Howells, Geraint||Tellers for the Noes:|
|Hughes, Simon (Southwark)||Mr. David Alton and Mr. Seamus Mallon.|
|Johnston, Sir Russell|
Question accordingly agreed to.
Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.
New Clause 2
`In Part I of Schedule 4 to the 1978 Act there shall be inserted before "under" in Note 2 the words "triable summarily or an offence for which no sentence of imprisonment exceeding five years may be imposed, or;in offence.":.—[ Mr. J. Enoch Powell.]
Brought up, and read the First time.
I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.
With this, it will be convenient to discuss the following: New clause 3—Attorney General's Discretion—
'In Part I of Schedule 4 to the 1978 Act there shall be added after Note 4 the following note—