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Orders Of The Day

Volume 116: debated on Thursday 14 May 1987

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Criminal Justice Bill

Lords amendments considered.

Clause 1

The Serious Fraud Office

Lords amendment: No. 1, in page 2, line 15, after "him" insert "on reasonable grounds"

4.2 pm

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

With this it will be convenient to take Lords amendments Nos. 2 to 4 and 172.

The Bill comes back to us in a somewhat different form from that in which it left us, as I am sure that those of us who sat through 36 sittings of the Committee will ruefully have to concede. I am glad that the other place was prepared to consider, in the time available, the very important provisions of part I, dealing with serious fraud, which have always commanded the support of all parties in the House. We properly had lively debates in both Chambers and in Committee about the precise nature of, and the demarcation lines appropriate to, the powers, duties and responsibilities of the Serious Fraud Office.

Clearly, a number of significant provisions in the Bill will not now become law during the lifetime of this Parliament; for example, the important changes to the laws of extradition and the arrangements for child witnesses to give evidence by video link as well as other significant changes to the laws of evidence, changes in penalties and important improvements in the law on confiscation. I hope and expect that those provisions will come back at an early stage of the new Parliament. I trust that they will then be considered with the seriousness of purpose and in the spirit of co-operation that characterised our debates in Committee.

The amendments mainly serve to make explicit assumptions that we believe to be implicit. Amendment No. 1 makes it clear, for example, that the director of the Serious Fraud Office may involve himself in a case only on reasonable grounds. Under amendments Nos. 2 and 3 the admissibility of prior inconsistent statements in the court when the defendant chooses to give evidence is placed beyond doubt. In the other place Lord Roskill called forcefully for the deletion of clause 2(8) on the ground that the financial and companies legislation on which the Serious Fraud Office powers are modelled expressly allow evidence obtained by the investigative powers to be adduced in court against those who provided the information.

We undertook to reflect further on that matter, and naturally gave great weight to the fact that the point was made to us by Lord Roskill, who, with others, had been charged with the duty of considering the matter and bringing forward the report upon which the present changes are based. Nevertheless, we concluded that the traditional safeguards in criminal proceedings should remain. Those who served on the Committee will remember that I relied heavily on those safeguards when defending the extension into the criminal field from the more limited field of the regulation of companies the power to require compulsory answer.

Under the rule about previous inconsistent statements, it is generally understood that if the defendant chooses to give evidence in court and his statement is inconsistent with a statement made on a previous occasion he can be cross-examined on the inconsistency, because it is part of the prosecution's duty to test the credibility of the witness. Amendments Nos. 2 and 3 put it beyond doubt that that rule will apply to statements made to the Serious Fraud Office, but do not otherwise touch on the points that were exhaustively considered in Committee.

This very important matter concerns the safeguard of the normal rules of criminal procedure, and balances it against the requirement, which most of us believe to be necessary, to allow investigators, using powers that have been used for many years in another context, to require answers when they are essential to the proper pursuit of investigation through a maze of interlinked companies or of financial transactions involving several accounts and perhaps around several countries.

I am sorry to have taken up a little of the House's time on this matter, but we think that the Bill is improved by the clarification that resulted from cross-party consideration in another place.

The Minister referred to the 36 sittings of the Standing Committee. Opposition Members believe that the Bill has emerged from the other place in much better shape than it was in when it left this place. We are especially pleased that the clause that would have removed the defence's right to peremptory challenge has disappeared. There are, of course, items which, I suspect, will shortly be deleted, and which we shall be sad to lose. Examples include the ability to ensure that children can give evidence by video link rather than directly in awesome and sometimes frightening circumstances before a court, especially in cases involving violence or sexual abuse.

A further part which we support and would certainly wish to see enshrined in legislation under the Labour Government who will take office on 12 June is the increase in compensation for victims of crime and the establishment for the first time of a statutory body to ensure that they can receive compensation. We were disappointed at the Government's lack of generosity in excluding about 28 per cent. of potential victims from the provisions of their Bill and that is something that we shall put right in a new Bill under the Labour Government.

There is much that we are happy to see going down the drain and it would be foolish to pretend otherwise. The provision on peremptory challenge is one, and is the most important of the provisions that we are happy to see disappear.

We are glad that the provision to establish the Serious Fraud Office, to which the Lords amendments refer, will remain, as we have consistently supported it. We had detailed arguments in Committee about the precise mechanisms under which the Serious Fraud Office should work, and we still have some reservations about the Government's intentions in relation to its funding. We wish to ensure that it is properly funded, especially in the light of the establishment of the Crown Prosecution Service, which hitherto has been inadequately funded.

We support the establishment of the Serious Fraud Office and we are particularly pleased that Lords amendment No. I inserts a test of reasonability on the director of the Serious Fraud Office in deciding what to investigate. It seems sensible that that provision should be included and we support the amendment. We have no major differences with the Government over the other amendments and we are happy to agree that they should be included in the Bill.

I am pleased that the Serious Fraud Office has been saved, and I entirely endorse much of what my hon Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith) said. Some parts of the Bill, such as those dealing with extradition laws and certain matters of sentencing, have much merit in them and I am sure that my hon. Friend and his colleagues will bring them before the House after 12 June. If the worst comes to the worst and we must again face the Minister, they will also no doubt come back.

In the intervening period perhaps the Government and my hon. Friends will consider the views expressed by professional and other bodies on other parts of the Bill. The debate goes on, and perhaps we can use the time well by learning from those views. In the light of recent events, the extradition laws, for example, should be considered even more carefully so that we get them absolutely right.

In general there is cross-party agreement because all of us wish to see the criminal law work effectively and the time of the courts saved by law becoming definitive and clear. I ask the Minister for an undertaking in respect of the Serious Fraud Office in the unfortunate event of his party being the Government after 12 June. I have already secured an undertaking on funding from my hon Friend and I declare a public interest as a practising barrister.

I am appalled at the way in which the Crown Prosecution Service has been starved of funds, facilities and support. Experienced lawyers of many years standing have become fed up with the bureaucratic nightmare of the Crown Prosecution Service and have left. Lawyers from the old county prosecuting solicitors' department who were transferred and promoted suddenly find within 12 months that people who were transferred as their deputies are promoted to the same level. No one objects to their having the same standing, but those who were promoted subsequently are often £2,000 or £3,000 a year better off than those who were transferred and promoted at the same time. Senior Crown prosecutors are leaving the service in droves and we cannot afford to lose them. I make no secret of the fact that a member of my family is employed in that service.

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That concept, which both the Minister and I were in favour of, is being ruined by the short-sightedness of the mandarins at the Treasury. That is why I secured an undertaking from our Front Bench team that in the event of their forming the next Government they would ensure that the Serious Fraud Office was properly manned. Unless it is staffed with people of the highest calibre, we shall never successfully get at the rats and destroyers in the City who have creamed millions, if not billions, off the wealth of the nation through swindles at Lloyd's, share-dealing swindles in the City and a multitude of other swindles from long-term fraud to bogus supplying. A bogus supplier begins by supplying vast quantities of products but fails to pay those supplying him. They are complex, difficult matters which require the employment of accountants and people with great knowledge of the financial world. We cannot buy those people cheaply; we must pay them salaries commensurate with what they can earn in private practice or in the City. If we want the best, we must pay for the best. If we want the best investigative service, we must provide support staff and the most experienced lawyers. In other words, we must invest.

By investing in the service and making it work properly we shall in the long run save the nation vast sums. If we can catch fraud early and prosecute fraudsters successfully, others will be deterred. But it takes willpower and effort, experience and expertise to prosecute them successfully. These fraudsters are no amateurs; they are professionals who set out deliberately to cream millions of pounds from our economy. To catch a villain in a modern, complex society, we must know as much as the villain, and to know as much as the villain we must use experts who understand the subject properly, and that costs money.

Will the Minister undertake to fund the Serious Fraud Office properly? I hope he accepts that I ask for it for the best possible reasons. I do not want to see the sadnesses of the Crown Prosecution Service repeated. They are causing considerable grief to many people who have a great interest in that area and who are greatly supportive of it. It was a brilliant idea and unless the tide can be reversed it risks being destroyed by underfunding. I do not blame the Minister for that, as he well knows; I blame a lack of foresight on the part of those who do not understand the service and how it needs to be funded.

Perhaps in the next four weeks we can send the mandarins at the Treasury on a crash course to learn how prosecution services work. If the mandarins could learn that, they might let loose enough pounds and pennies to enable that service, and the service we are helping to bring into existence today, to be funded so that it can work effectively and to ensure that the guilty are prosecuted to conviction. I wait to hear whether I get the undertaking from the Minister that I have already had from my hon. Friend.

With the leave of the House, I shall respond briefly to the points that have been made.

I am grateful to the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith) for accepting the amendments, and I hope that the whole House will share his view. The answer to the hon. Member for St. Helens, South (Mr. Bermingham) is that the new office will have all the resources that it needs to do its job. There is no question about that. In defence of my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who led the study within the Government from which the Serious Fraud Office emerged as our response to Lord Roskill's committee, I must say that he, as much as anyone, has a vested interest in the office running successfully and I know that he would fully endorse all that I have said.

I appreciate and have welcomed the interest of the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury in Bills such as this over the lifetime of the Parliament. I acknowledge that no one was keener than he was on the Crown Prosecution Service. However, he has been unfair in his description of its present state. It is not strictly relevant to the Bill, but I shall take just a few sentences to comment on it. My right hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General, who has taken charge of the Crown Prosecution Service at ministerial level, has made very clear the commitment of the Government to ensuring that it receives proper resources. There has been a marked increase in the resources made available, which has allowed the service to offer considerably higher salaries than were originally on offer, to the point where organisations such as the Justices Clerks Society—which springs to mind because it made the point at a recent function that I attended—have said that a number of justices clerks are now leaving that service to join the Crown Prosecution Service because of the salaries on offer.

Inevitably, when a major change is made there are bound to be teething troubles and difficulties. I do not think that any of us would have expected otherwise. The fact that we have achieved a nationwide service makes the crucial distinction. The Royal Commission established by the last Government, the views of which in other respects were carried into force by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, asserted that it was absolutely necessary to separate the processes of investigation from the processes of prosecution.

I have little doubt that in the fullness of time the idea will not only be proved to be a good one, but in practice will succeed in effecting improvements in our system, particularly if it can address what I believe is the real difficulty—the amount of expense and time taken, and the unnecessary trouble and fuss caused, when prosecutions that do not stand a great chance of success nevertheless limp through the court system and are terminated at a far later stage than need be the case if they had been scrutinised earlier.

I am grateful for the welcome the House has given to the amendments, and I further commend them to the House.

Amendment agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 2 to 4 agreed to.

Clause 4

Notices Of Transfer—Procedure

Lords amendment: No. 5, in page 8, line 18, leave out "(4)" and insert "(3) and (7A)".

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

With this it will be convenient to discuss Lords amendments Nos. 6 and 7.

I think that we can take the amendments shortly.[Interruption.] I do not know why the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) is interrupting, because this is not Scottish business. I am not sure how advantageous to the general understanding of these complicated matters his interruptions are. The first two amendments allow magistrates to order witnesses to attend the Crown court trial where cases are transferred by the new procedure in the same way as they would if the case were committed. The third amendment ensures that the judge takes into account any oral submissions that may be made in an application for discharge in determining whether there is a case to answer. They are technical amendments that improve the comprehensibility of the Bill.

We have no great quarrel with the Government on the three amendments. Amendment No. 6 states in subsection (b):

"a person whose written statement is tendered in evidence for the purpose of the notice of transfer shall he treated as a person who has been examined by the court."
At first sight that might appear to enshrine the dangerous principle that evidence can be taken as having been examined, even though it is simply tendered in writing. Because we are talking here about an early stage in the criminal proceedings that follow the investigation by the Serious Fraud Office, although we have some qualms that ought to be put on the record about the principle that appears to be enshrined here, we are happy that the amendments should be accepted.

Amendment agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 6 and 7 agreed to.

Clause 7

Power To Order Preparatory Hearing

Lords amendment: No. 8, in page 10, line 33, leave out from beginning to "it" in line 34.

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

With this it will be convenient to discuss Lords amendments Nos. 9 to 35.

All the amendments relate to the preparatory hearing procedures. The bulk of them make the distinction called for by the Criminal Bar Association between a defendant and his lawyer for the purpose of the preparatory hearing. On that basis, I hope that the amendments will be welcomed by the House.

Amendment No. 20 responds to the concern expressed by the Opposition in another place and makes the obligations upon the defence at the preparatory hearing a little less specific than they were. I accept that the wording that has been substituted follows the relevant part of the Roskill report—paragraph 6.82. In no sense do we resent the change, because it seems eminently proper. It is faithful both to the Committee's views and to our central aim of allowing the preparatory hearing to be an effective procedure for defining the issues to be put to the jury.

Amendment No. 31 also responds to a point made by the Opposition in another place. It is taken from a useful precedent in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, which allows a jury to draw such inferences as appear proper from a refusal to provide an intimate sample in a police investigation. The parallel seems to us to be apt. When one is suggesting that inferences of that kind be drawn, there is some advantage in statutes, particularly those that follow closely upon each other in time, setting the parameters and using the same phraseology. The amendment achieves that. I commend the amendments to the House.

We give a warm welcome to the amendments, especially those that have been persuaded upon the Government by the Criminal Bar Association and those that were moved by the Opposition in the other place. We give a special welcome to amendment No. 20, because it gives a much more general interpretation of the terms that must be set out by the defence at the preparatory hearing. It follows Roskill and is something that we pressed upon the Government in Committee. Therefore, I am pleased that, with the assistance of the other place, it is to be included in the Bill.

There is one question that I wish to ask of the Minister, the answer to which I suspect is probably easy and technical. In respect of amendment No. 35, the principal change that seems to be made, especially by subparagraph (b), is that material may not be disclosed
"without the consent of the person who supplied or gave it."
In the original form of the Bill it was without the consent of the defence. I suspect that in some circumstances, only a limited number, they may he different people. I should be grateful for an indication from the Minister of the Government's thinking on that. I suspect that we have no quarrel on the matter, but it would be useful to have a small amount of clarification. With that sole and small question, I should like on behalf of the Opposition to give a warm welcome to the amendments.

4.30 pm

My hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith) is too modest. The House may remember that amendment No. 20 follows concerns expressed in Committee during the passage of the Bill. The original draft of the Bill required the setting out in some detail of exactly the nature of the defence that was to be advanced. That was a breach of the long-standing practice by which people were under no duty to reveal their defence. The Bill in its present form merely asks the defence to state the issues upon which it will seek to challenge the prosecution case.

A considerable number of cases set out along one track and people think that the defence will do one thing rather than another. However, because of issues brought to light by way of cross-examination or otherwise, the whole nature of the defence can change as the case progresses. Under the provisions of amendment No. 20, that will remain so and people will not feel restrained or restricted as would be the case if the defence had to be advanced along the lines disclosed in the preparatory stages.

This is a sensible amendment which all practising criminal lawyers will welcome.

Again with the leave of the House, I am glad to say that I welcome the reception for these amendments. I hope that the whole manner in which the Government have dealt with this Bill is characterised by the fact that we accept good advice when we receive it. I accepted many amendments in Standing Committee, some of which were significant. My noble Friend the Minister of State, Home Office did the same in the other place. Far from that being a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength when we can gather together and draw on experience throughout the Chamber on technical matters that generate no partisan differences. On the whole, these matters did not generate such differences.

The hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith) asked about amendment No. 35. This amendment follows directly from the invitation to us by the Criminal Bar Association to distinguish between the accused and his lawyer. All references to the defence have been altered in order to be more specific. If there is any additional significance to that change, I shall be happy to drop the hon. Gentleman a note. These are technical drafting amendments and I am assured that they have the effect only of meeting the point that I think we all agree ought to be met. There is no additional significance to them.

Question put and agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 9 to 35 agreed to.

Clause 12

Charges Of And Penalty For Conspiracy To Defraud

Lords amendment: No. 36, in page 15, line 43, at end insert—

"(1A) In section 5(2) of the Criminal Law Act 1977, the words from 'and' to the end are hereby repealed."

I beg to move, That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said amendment.

With this it will be convenient to discuss Lords' amendments Nos. 37 to 198.

These are technical amendments, the combined result of which is to reduce the Bill to only those provisions associated with the operation of clauses 1 to 12. The final amendment, which reduces the long title of the Bill, is perhaps the neatest illustration of the radical but precise surgery performed by these amendments.

The Minister is kidding us when he says that these are technical amendments. They are drastically radical amendments because, of course, they excise from the Bill everything that does not relate to the establishment of the Serious Fraud Office. We welcome the departure of much that these amendments excise, and we attach great importance to the disappearance of the removal of the right of peremptory challenge.

It may he helpful to the House if I give a strong commitment that the Labour Government who come into office in four weeks' time will seek to legislate to ensure that a proper statutory scheme of compensation for the victims of crime is established on more generous terms than those proposed in the original Criminal Justice Bill. Our legislation will include the provision that the Government gracefully accepted in Committee for the compensation of train drivers who suffer shock after an accident involving a person. We shall also seek to legislate to ensure that children can give evidence by means of a video link rather than having to give evidence in court.

We attach great importance to those matters and we hope that we can build on the constructive work that we carried out in Committee on those two specific areas by bringing forward further measures. We shall do that when we form the new Government in four weeks' time.

I have no doubt that the electors of Putney will recognise the superb service that they have had from their Member of Parliament in the last four years, and that in shortly over a month's time my hon. and learned Friend the Minister will return to the high office that he now holds. At that time he will be in a position to reintroduce these clauses. I have personal experience of my hon. and learned Friend's tremendous understanding and the courtesy that he showed during the passage of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Bill, and I know that on occasions he is willing to review situations.

When my hon. and learned Friend returns to this matter, will he consider again clause 29, which deals with the prosecution appeal against sentence? Will he reconsider the point made by many hon. Members in Committee, on the Floor of the House and in another place that if the prosecution is to have a right of appeal against sentence—and we believe that it should—it should also have the right, if necessary, to seek to have the sentence increased?

Hon. Members have already spoken about clause 89. It deals with the abolition of the right to peremptory challenge. In Committee and in the House we face assaults on this clause. The alliance spokesman, who, sadly, is not in the House, attacked this clause. In spite of their newfound allegiance to the cause of law and order which we believe was heavily leaked from the alliance parties' manifesto, I hope that my hon. and learned Friend will give no ground whatever. I hope that when the Bill comes back to the House—once more under his pilotage—we shall have the proposal to abolish the right to peremptory challenge back in the Bill where it belongs.

I wish to express my opposition to amendments Nos. 120 to 137 and amendment No. 180 which have the effect of deleting clauses 96 to 133 and schedule 9. I oppose the amendments because the clauses and the schedule cover amendments to the law of extradition that the Government were wise enough to propose in the original Bill. That was almost an heroic proposal on their part, because the extradition law in this country in the form in which we are debating it today derives from an 1870 Act. Therefore, it has taken a long time to bring forward amendments to bring the law up to date. Over the past 10 years Governments have promised reforms, but have never gone about it until, happily, this Government did. It is a great shame that the proposal before us is that we should abandon again this attempt at reforming the law of extradition to bring it up to date.

Broadly speaking, there are three sets of beneficial proposals in the clauses. There is a proposal for summary procedure in our extradition law, and that would have been very useful in cases where there was little opposition. There would have been conditions with regard to restrictions of extradition to Commonwealth states, which apply in the updated law—that is, the Fugitive Offenders Act 1967. The relevant clauses would have applied to the Extradition Act 1870, or the new extradition law proposed by the Bill. it is important to bring such matters up to date.

There would have been simplified rules of evidence. We all know how much difficulty the courts have run into because of the tortuous rules of evidence which apply to the original extradition law. Those clauses represent a very useful reform. In Committee, there was scarcely any opposition to them, so I am somewhat puzzled as to why the Government have chosen to agree with the Lords proposal that we should drop them. The matters were debated and I cannot recall any outright opposition or a single Division being called on any of part IX of the Bill.

I ask my hon. and learned Friend—I am glad that he is now officially a learned Friend—whether it was necessary, after all these years when we tried to bring extradition law up to date, to abandon the reforms attempted by the Government.

Having once had the honour to hold the office which my hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State now holds, and having in that capacity taken a major Criminal Justice Bill through the House, in 1971, it is perhaps appropriate that my final words in the House should be to congratulate my hon. and learned Friend on the way he has carried out his duties in the Home Office and to say that I welcome the decision of the House of Lords to delete clause 29.

The House of Lords has twice removed what I believe to be an ill-thought-out and ill-considered proposal by the Government. My hon. and learned Friend may consider, when he comes back after the election in a Conservative Government with a substantial majority, that, as far as clause 29 is concerned, the best advice the third time may be not to try at all.

I echo and endorse what the right hon. and learned Member for Warrington, South (Mr. Carlisle) said in perhaps his last contribution. He will be sadly missed. He brings much wisdom and learning to these debates and we all learn much from listening to him.

I support, as I did in Committee, the view of the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook). The sooner we bring the extradition laws up to date, the better. We had an opportunity, on a matter which was not disputed in Committee, to rectify a series of glaring omissions from the extradition law. When crime becomes international, as it has, we must make it easier for people to be extradited to the country where the offence took place or to seek and obtain the extradition of people who have committed crimes in this country. The matter is not politically sensitive; it comes in the international context of the pursuit of crime, and our laws must be updated and modernised.

I asked my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith) for an undertaking that, in the event of our forming the Government after 12 June, the provisions will be brought back to the House at the earliest opportunity. I received such an assurance. I ask the Minister whether, in the event of his party forming the next Government, the same assurance can be given. It is of international importance that we pursue crime wherever it is committed and that our law should facilitate such pursuit.

4.45 pm

I wish to speak briefly on clauses 29, 32 and 125. I am sorry that my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warrington, South (Mr. Carlisle) took the view he did. I am glad that clause 29 will come out, but for a slightly different reason.

The powers in clause 29 are quite inadequate. The ordinary person in the street does not understand why those provisions were so weak. Recently in my constituency a Mrs. Whitehouse, landlady of the Lamb inn in Stafford, was brutally beaten and the person who did it received only a nine months' suspended sentence. If the power had been adequate, the opportunity could have been taken to review the position. I hope that when we return to office shortly a similar but tougher provision will be included in the new Bill.

I am somewhat concerned at the removal of clause 32. I hope that that will come hack rapidly because there is no question but that penalties for crimes must be increased.

Clause 125 relates to anonymity in rape cases. That is a matter of considerable controversy. The ordinary man and woman in the street are deeply concerned about this issue and it must be dealt with.

I take this opportunity to congratulate the Minister on the way in which he has conducted himself in his office. Those of us who are observers of these things have noted, both on the "Today" programme and on many other occasions, the way in which he has done a great service to his office.

I must tread carefully on this matter, not being an expert in legal matters. but I have checked my facts with the Minister. First, I apologise to him on behalf of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Montgomery (Mr. Carlile) for his absence. I am attending on his behalf because he has asked me to do so.

I support what the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) said about extradition. It incenses me and many of my constituents who lost much money in a Lloyd's fraud that a gentleman is sitting in America with vast sums of money and we are unable to bring him back for trial. I have asked questions of the Attorney-General, but so far nothing has happened. Our Belgian friends must also feel pretty sick after the recent Liverpool case.

I support what has been said by all hon. Members and hope that the new Bill will include those clauses and they will go through swiftly.

I am delighted to see my hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough (Sir M. Shaw) here because he chaired the Committee with considerable distinction, just as he chaired the 59 sittings of the Committee on the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill. That had got to the Lords amendment stage at the end of the last Parliament, but had to be reintroduced. Any illusion one may have had that the Bill had been well turned over and therefore would go through speedily was set to one side, as there were 59 sittings, which I believe to be a parliamentary record. It has been asserted by the right hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Kaufman) that it was a parliamentary record and, of course, I believe implicitly every word he says.

When my hon. Friend was chairing the Committee, he told us that he suspected we would not have the last word on this Bill. I congratulate him on the ability of whatever gipsy he consults on Scarborough beach, because the prediction was right. I shall not mind in the least having another go at this measure. I am confident that the Government will reintroduce the Bill at an early stage, because it contains matters which are far too crucial to let drop.

I endorse what my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) said, supported by others, about the significance of the extradition proposals. The extradition arrangements must be modernised. We cannot go on appearing to be an inhospitable place from which other civilised countries try to get their criminals back. That merely invites a similar lack of co-operation towards our own efforts. There is a blot on our procedures because, for example, we have only one tenth of West Germany's extradition traffic, so unappealing are our arrangements for our friends and associates within the European Community and elsewhere.

I cannot criticise the other place for deciding that it could not send these matters back to us without full consideration because this was to have been the first substantive change in extradition arrangements for 117 years. We cannot begrudge our revising Chamber the right to examine such matters.

Other parts of the Bill could have been salvaged if other parties had so wished. In particular, I regret that the child video evidence provisions were not saved. I also regret that the increased penalties for insider dealings are not attached to the Bill. This is not a time for partisan points. At least the serious fraud provisions can pass into law. We intend to pursue the other matters at the earliest opportunity.

I am grateful to my hon. Friends the Members for Stafford (Mr. Cash) and for Thanet, North (Mr. Gale) and to my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warrington, South (Mr. Carlisle). My hon. Friend the Member for Thanet, North asked whether we would think again about clause 29. My candid answer is that we will have to think about it again in the light of what has happened. Precisely what form those other thoughts will take is not a matter for the present. I am clear—I say this with some pain because of the respect that I have for my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warrington, South—in believing that the option of doing nothing is not open, but we shall think carefully about it.

Our commitment to the abolition of peremptory challenge is as strong as ever. That will unite all my hon. Friends in the Chamber.

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Thanet, North for what he said about my personal contribution. He has been with me on a number of committees which have led to significant changes in the law, particularly to changes in the law on animal experimentation which have taken that issue out of its former context.

I am most grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Stafford for what he said.

No one has been more consistently kind and helpful to me than my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Warrington, South during my eight years in the House. I have great respect for him for what he did in government and for what he has done since for home affairs and as chairman of our Back-Bench home affairs committee. He will be much missed by all his friends here and elsewhere.

The achievement by the hon. Member for Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) is formidable. Most of us are elected to the House on the back of a successful ongoing tide. He won his seat in spectacular fashion and held on to it. He has suffered some ill health in recent years, and I regret that that has caused him to announce his retirement. I wish him well. He has many friends in this place.

I regret that this radical surgery on the Bill is necessary. It is unfinished business and we shall not be long delayed in coming back to it.

Question put and agreed to.

Lords amendments Nos. 37 to 198 agreed to.

Parliamentary And Health Service Commissioners Bill

Lords amendments consideredc

Lords amendments Nos. 1 and 2 agreed to.

Irish Sailors And Soldiers Land Trust Billlords

Order for Second Reading read.

4.55 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
(Mr. Tim Eggar)

I beg to move, That the Bill he now read a Second time.

I am grateful to the Opposition for supporting the Bill's passage. It is a worthy measure which will help many ex-service men and their dependants. The trust was established to benefit Irish veterans of the first world war. In view of their declining numbers, it is right that surplus funds should be released to benefit Irish veterans of more recent conflicts. I commend the Bill to the House.

4.56 pm

I am sure that widows, widowers and former members of Her Majesty's armed forces and their children who are affected by the Bill will be grateful to hon. Members on all sides of the House for agreeing that the Bill should pass before the election, after which a Labour Government will be returned.

It would help if the Minister could say how much money is involved so that the people concerned know exactly what residual amount will be distributed by the distributory agency when it is appointed by the new Labour Secretary of State.

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The electors of Enfield will soon have the opportunity by their votes of expressing their appreciation of the manner in which my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State has served them while sustaining a heavy burden in his Department and in foreign parts.

The debt of the people of these islands to Irish fighting men is immeasurable. There is no mention of airmen in the Bill's title because the land trust was set up to help those who fought in the great war of 1914 to 1918, and their dependants. When the Bill was given a Second Reading in another place, Lord Denning recalled seeing Lord Ypres, then Sir John French, at the front. That field marshal, during recruiting tours of Ireland, promised that volunteers would be provided with housing after the war. Hence the trust. Now that the main function of the fund has come to an end, it is to be diverted to other beneficial purposes, as my hon. Friend described.

Together with the lifeboat service of all Ireland and other cherished institutions, the Irish Sailors and Soldiers Land Trust is one of those bodies which, despite partition, plays its part throughout Ireland and embraces representatives of the Governments of the kingdom and of the Republic in what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister describes as the "unique relationship".

I should like to ask the Minister about the allocation of the assets. The Bill provides for two fifths of the 68 per cent. share held by Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom to be made available. What is the basis of that computation? Why should five fifths not be distributed after allowing for administrative expenses?

I am glad that the distributing agency is to be the Royal British Legion, of which a number of us in the House are members. It is appropriate that Earl Haig should have spoken in the Second Reading debate in the House of Lords.

Like the trust, the Legion overleaps the Irish border. In Northern Ireland, the Legion is pre-eminent in poppy day collections and it is also active in the South. When the Irish Free State was established as a dominion in 1922, it was proposed to form an Irish Legion, but Irish old comrades insisted that the name British Legion be retained. There are still a number of British Legion branches throughout the Irish Republic. That is strange because the Irish Free State was set up as a dominion modelled on Canada. There is a Royal Canadian Legion but in the Irish Republic the name British Legion remains.

In the other place Lord Killanin said that the new arrangements had the blessing of the new Taoiseach. Mr. Haughey, like his predecessor Dr. FitzGerald, assured the noble Lord that the money would not be snapped up a nd put into the Treasury, but that it would be spent wisely. The Secretary of State will ensure that it is spent wisely for the benefit of the veterans and their dependants.

In the debate to which I have referred the noble Lord Prys-Davies put certain questions to my right hon. Friend the Baroness Young. My right hon. and noble Friend replied to most of those questions, but there are two questions, found in column 1425 of the Lords Hansardof 28 April 1987, to which my right hon. and noble Friend gave no answer. Doubtless no answer was given because those questions are not for the Foreign and Commonweath Office, but for the Northern Ireland Office and the Department of Health and Social Security. Doubtless the Minister will be writing to the Lord Prys-Davies and, if so, the hon. Member for Epping Forest will also be interested in those replies.

I am grateful for this opportunity to say a word of gratitude to those Irish men and women to whom we owe so much.

First, I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Epping Forest (Sir J. Biggs-Davison) for his remarks about me. It is absolutely typical of my hon. Friend that it was he who, during the business statement, asked that efforts should be made by parties on all sides of the House to get this Bill through in the closing days of this Parliament. It is also typical of my hon. Friend that he should, quite rightly, pay tribute to the tremendous contribution that was made by Irishmen, on both sides of the border, during the first world war and of course subsequently.

The hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) asked about the amount of the trust. Leaving aside sufficient money for the prudent management of the remaining houses, the trust estimates an initial surplus of £4·5 million. That and any subsequent smaller surpluses will be shared between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland in proportion to the original contribution made by the United Kingdom and the Irish Free State. Two fifths of the British share will be paid to a distributory agency for the benefit of former members of the British armed forces and their dependants resident in Ireland.

My hon. Friend the Member for Epping Forest asked about the percentage of the share that is going back to the British Government and the trustees. That percentage was agreed upon after negotiations between the Government, the trustees and the Royal British Legion. I assure my hon. Friend that the arrangements, finally arrived at, have received strong support from the trustees and the Royal British Legion.

We believe that this Bill strikes a fair balance between the interests of the contributing Governments and, on our side, between the Government and former members of the British armed forces and their dependants. I strongly commend the Bill to the House.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the whole House.— [Mr. Lennox-Boyd.]

Further proceeding postponed, pursuant to the order of the House this day.