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Lords Chamber

Volume 447: debated on Monday 6 February 1984

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House Of Lords

Monday, 6th February, 1984.

The House met at hall-past two of the clock: The LORD CHANCELLOR on the Woolsack.

Prayers—Read by the Lord Bishop of Chelmsford.

London Docklands: Transport

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in connection with the development of the area covered by the London Docklands Development Corporation, the Government are prepared to authorise the operation of an independent light rapid transport system operated by private enterprise.

My Lords, the Government will want any proposals for private participation in rapid transport systems in the docklands to be carefully evaluated on their merits. I regret I cannot be more definite than that in the absence of specific proposals.

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that moderately encouraging reply. Am I right in assuming that it means that the Government do not rule out both an essay in privatisation and the experimental development of one or other of the modern methods of rapid urban transport which are now being developed in other cities of the world?

My Lords, my noble friend is right in both his assumptions.

My Lords, is it not a fact that the last report of London Transport emphasised that, in October 1982, the Government had approved a proposal for light railway in docklands to be financed jointly by the London Docklands Development Corporation and the GLC? Is that not an excellent example of public enterprise? Moreover, as it is to link up with the ordinary Underground system, is not the matter best left there?

My Lords, the noble Lord is quite right. This is a joint development between the LDDC and the GLC through their agents London Transport. At the moment there is no question of its being left or removed. That is the position. But the scheme will not come into use before 1987, and there is much preparatory work yet to be done.

Nhs General Practitioners: Training And Employment

2.39 p.m.

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are satisfied with the numbers of students in training for future employment as general practitioners within the National Health Service.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Security
(Lord Glenarthur)

Yes, my Lords.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. Is he aware that there are very many young doctors who, when they finish their pre-registration course, are not able to get full employment as medical practitioners because of the shortage of posts? This is causing grave anxiety among the members of the BMA and, indeed, among many people who are interested in the National Health Service having enough doctors at all times. Is the Minister able to comment on that and give us an assurance that something will be done to prevent young British doctors being put on the dole by the activities of this Government?

My Lords, we are not aware of any significant unemployment among general practitioners. The evidence available to us is that unemployment among doctors in general is largely frictional and concentrated on junior doctors in the South-East, where competition for hospital jobs is most intense. As in other areas of medical employment, openings may not be readily available where the doctor may prefer to live, but that does not mean that openings are not available.

My Lords, as the Question refers to general practitioners and does not differentiate between general medical practitioners and general dental practitioners, can my noble friend explain why he answered only in respect of doctors? Is he aware of the great shortage of work for general dental practitioners at the moment which may eventually involve early retirement and which is certainly involving cut-hacks in training? There is an over-supply of general dental practitioners in training: is there also an over-supply of general medical practitioners?

My Lords, I am afraid that I cannot give my noble friend any facts so far as general dental practitioners are concerned. I think that in my answer to Lord Molloy's supplementary question I referred to unemployment among general practitioners, and not just doctors.

My Lord, would the noble Minister not agree that, on average, medical general practitioners have lists which are too large and that the trend should continue towards smaller, shorter lists in order that GPs may better fulfil their functions, particularly in large conurbations? Is he aware that, while there is a small but steady increase in the number of doctors undertaking the three-year vocational training course, as my noble friend Lord Molloy has said, there is now an increasing number who are failing to get into practice and who are unemployed? If the noble Lord does not have that information, perhaps he could get it from the Royal College of Medical Practitioners who would confirm it. Can the noble Lord's right honourable friend take some action, perhaps, to encourage general practitioners who are of a great age to retire earlier in order to give some of these young doctors an opportunity of getting into practice?

My Lords, when I answered my noble friend Lady Gardner I referred to the figures for dentists, which are, I think, slightly different. But the rate of growth in the number of family doctors in general practice has doubled in recent years and is now running at about 2 per cent. per annum, and the overall average patient list size continues to fall. At 1st October 1982 there were 22,786 what are technically called "unrestricted principals"—that is to say, family doctors—working in England, and the overall average patient list size was 2,155. The noble Lord also asked about early retirement. As regards that matter, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State is awaiting the outcome of some research which is being undertaken at present.

My Lords, on the question of pre-registration posts, is the noble Lord the Minister aware that last November grave anxiety was expressed on this by the Joint Consultants' Committee, and that the then chief medical officer gave an assurance that this situation would not happen again? Already this month—and there are not many days in it—the new chief medical officer has had to apologise and explain that nothing much has been done. If we ultimately have a situation in which even only 10 doctors cannot get jobs after they have qualified at a cost of £1 million to the nation, surely the Government must take this very seriously.

Of course, my Lords, the Government take seriously the employment of doctors; but, as I tried to indicate to the noble Lord, there is not the evidence to suggest that vast numbers of doctors are unemployed. It is a local matter, and is one that is generally considered to be frictional. I thought that the noble Lord, Lord Molloy, accepted that.

My Lords, can my noble friend assure me that, when the Secretary of State looks at the matter of early retirement for medical practitioners, he will also look at this same matter in relation to dental, optical, pharmaceutical, and all general practitioners who come under the General Practitioner Scheme?

My Lords, I shall certainly pass on my noble friend's views to my right honourable friend the Secretary of State.

My Lords, can the noble Lord say to what extent it is true that some areas of the country are far more attractive to medical practitioners than others, and that there is a problem in certain areas? Can he confirm that this is the case, and will he look at this as a matter of urgency?

Yes, my Lords. I think it is true to say that there are parts of the United Kingdom which do not attract doctors in the same way as other parts do. I believe that that touches on the point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Molloy.

My Lords, briefly, in so far as the Junior Doctors' Association of the British Medical Association and the Royal College are gravely apprehensive, it might be worth while if the Secretary of State—indeed, the noble Lord the Minister himself—would agree to meet them to talk about their grave apprehensions on this matter.

My Lords, I am sure that my right honourable friend will note what the noble Lord says.

Housing Benefit

2.46 p.m.

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations have been received in connection with the proposed changes in housing benefit; and what is the estimated number of present recipients who will suffer a reduction if the proposals are implemented.

My Lords, we have received a report from the Social Security Advisory Committee and comments from the local authority associations, which were formally consulted about the proposals. We have also received a number of other representations.

In the light of these representations, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State will today make a Statement in another place about the Government's proposals. With the leave of the House, I shall be repeating that Statement later. I hope, therefore, that the noble Baroness and your Lordships will agree that it might be best to defer further discussion until then.

My Lords, I am sure that my noble friends will agree that we should wait for the Statement. However, just for the record, as I understand it, the noble Lord has not given a full list of the representations that have been received. Have not the Government received representations from the Citizens' Advice Bureaux, describing the scheme as inequitable and unworkable, from the Conservative Members of Parliament, from the Government's own Advisory Committee on Rent Rebates and Rent Allowances, from SHAC, from the London Housing Aid Centre, from the Institute of Housing, which described it as a nightmare, from the Child Poverty Action Group and from the Parliamentary Group for Pensioners? Surely it would be fairer if all the representations could be put on the record?

My Lords, a very great number of representations have been made. I do not have the full list in front of me now, but I shall have it in front of me later on in the afternoon.

Hospital Development In Wales

2.48 p.m.

My Lords I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many new district general hospitals have been built in Wales since 1978–79, and what has been the cost of this initiative.

My Lords, a new district general hospital has been completed since 1978–79 at Bodelwyddan in Clwyd and major district general hospital developments have been completed on the sites of the Royal Gwent and St. Woolos Hospitals in Newport, Gwent. The cost of these developments at current prices is about £60 million. In addition, the new district general hospital at Bangor in Clwyd is virtually complete and will be opened in the spring, and major construction is in progress on new hospitals at Bridgend and Llanelli and the redevelopment of existing hospitals at Wrexham and Morriston. The estimated cost of these at current prices is £76 million.

My Lords, I thank my noble friend the Minister for that very full information. How does this Government's performance in hospital building in Wales compare with that of the late Labour Government?

My Lords, we have a good record but, to be quite fair to the Opposition, I do not think that they necessarily had a very bad one. Major construction works can seldom be attributed solely to any particular government because they go through a process starting with identifying a need and running right through to commissioning and getting patients treated in the hospital. In Wales, Her Majesty's Government have vigorously pursued the hospital building plans which they inherited, and have pursued positive initiatives to improve services for the handicapped and the elderly and to develop regional services. If a commitment can be judged in purely financial terms, total expenditure on the National Health Service in Wales this year is expected to be nearly £800 million, an increase in real terms of 9 per cent. on the spending plans we inherited.

My Lords, is it not a fact that at the present time seven other hospitals, or parts of hospitals, are being constructed at a possible cost of £76 million?

My Lords, I am not entirely sure whether the figure that my noble friend gives is correct, but certainly there are plans which indicate that the amount that has been spent by this present Government has been in excess of what was inherited towards the end of the period of government of the party opposite.

My Lords, will the Minister accept my thanks for being so fair about the record of the Department at the time when I was Secretary of State? Will he confirm that the three hospitals that have already been completed and the one hospital that will shortly be completed were all under construction in 1978–79, and therefore represented the pre-1978 capital programme? Will the noble Lord also confirm that since 1978–79 the hospital capital programme has slackened substantially in Wales? Perhaps he could say when the construction work will commence in Wrexham and also on the third hospital in Gwent, an area of very high morbidity?

My Lords, what I can tell the noble Lord is that the estimate in capital expenditure for this year, 1983–84, is £39.8 million and in 1979–80 it was £36 million, which was inherited from his Government's time. The noble Lord asked me some other questions about the Wrexham hospital. Perhaps he could repeat them?

My Lords, may I thank the noble Lord, Lord Gridley, for his interest in Welsh hospitals, which I know will be of great encouragement in Wales? May I also thank the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, for his pronunciation? However, is it not the case that the only hospital to have been started in the Principality since 1979 is the one at Bridgend?

My Lords, one of the complications in answering a question about Wales is that some of the answers which I have are written in the Welsh language, and some in English, so I have to translate them back again. I am glad that the noble Lord is not stretching me any further with my Welsh pronunciation. I think what the noble Lord says is correct. If he is in fact not correct—and I am sure he is—I shall write to him.

My Lords, in regard to the figures which the noble Lord has just given, would he tell the House whether they are truly comparable? That is to say, are they on a real basis or at current prices?


My Lords, at a convenient moment after 3.30 this afternoon my noble friend Lord Trefgarne will, with the leave of the House, repeat in the form of a Statement an Answer to a Private Notice Question in another place on the withdrawal of United Kingdom forces from the Lebanon.

This will be followed by my noble friend Lord Elton, who will, with the leave of the House, repeat a Statement on the death of Mr. Mhatre.

This will be followed by my noble friend Lord Glenarthur, who will, as he has already said, and again with the leave of the House, repeat a Statement on housing benefits.

Prevention Of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Bill

2.53 p.m.

My Lords, I beg to move that the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Bill, which was laid before your Lordships' House on 26th January, be read a second time. I shall listen, as always, with the greatest of interest to what your Lordships have to say in the course of this debate; but I shall listen with a greater interest still to the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton, whose maiden speech it will be. He has been forced to listen in silence to so many of my banalities in the past that I am, to say the least of it, apprehensive of what he may say now that, at last, he is so deservedly free to utter.

There is something repugnant to the British spirit in the limitations to the rights and freedoms of individual citizens which such legislation as we now contemplate necessarily provides. It is for that reason that Parliament doles out these necessary powers so reluctantly and for such short periods of time. The Home Secretary, upon whom responsibility for internal security rests, is not given these powers indefinitely, or for the duration of a particular state of affairs, or even for the life of a Parliament. Year by year the Home Secretary, and his predecessors, have had to come to the House of Commons and justify their continuance—just as I, and my predecessors, have had to come to this House to convince your Lordships that they were still necessary.

This mistrust of special powers is shared by Governments of all complexions. It was for that reason that the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, was asked to prepare the report on the working of the 1974 and 1976 Acts, which he made in 1978. It was for that reason that my noble friend Lord Jellicoe was asked to prepare the report on the working of the 1976 Act, which your Lordships debated, and deservedly approved, in March of last year. And it is for that reason also that I now come before your Lordships with an application for powers even more carefully doled out, in an Act which must not only be annually endorsed but which, after five years, becomes automatically defunct.

I shall return to my noble friend's report in a moment, but before I do so I must make one comment on the extreme caution with which Governments request, and Parliament grants, powers such as these. It is simply this. To an outside observer this caution would seem notable under any circumstances. Under the circumstances in which they actually take place, they are very remarkable indeed. I need not catalogue to your Lordships the hideous backcloth of clandestine and murderous violence that has been unrolled these last 10 years. Citizens of every rank and members both of another place and of this House have been cut down in a campaign of which the chief irony is that every blow which its members account a success puts its ultimate aim even further beyond their grasp. But that campaign costs the lives and limbs of innocent citizens; of servicemen and policemen and, indeed, policewomen preserving the Queen's peace; of old people on holiday; and, only a few weeks ago, of young people doing their Christmas shopping.

I do not think that in these circumstances I need to convince your Lordships that legislation is needed. In that connection, I return to my noble friend Lord Jellicoe's report and, specifically, to paragraph 65. In it he puts it beyond question that if powers such as these were removed from them the forces of law and order in this country would be seriously handicapped in their duty of protecting the lives of our citizens. That is the conclusion to which the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, came in paragraph 136 of his report, so there has been consensus about that. And the right to life, my Lords, is the most fundamental human right there is. That right is shared by all our citizens and the citizens of every other country living in the United Kingdom.

My noble friend made the point in his report that international terrorists have shown a marked tendency to bring the internal struggles of their own countries on to British streets. I had at this point intended to refer to the shameful attempt upon the life of Mr. Argov when he was Ambassador of Israel to the Court of St. James; but since then there has been another stark and repulsive example of the assassin's work marked by the death of Mr. R. H. Mhatre, Assistant Commissioner in India's Assistant High Commission in Birmingham. I shall be speaking shortly of the deep regret and the fundamental revulsion which that event has caused in Her Majesty's Government. In this debate, however, let me say only that that, very sadly, points up the necessity seen by my right honourable and learned friend and Her Majesty's Government for ensuring that the relevant powers in this Bill extend to international as well as simply to Northern Irish terrorism.

It is in the light of my noble friend Lord Jellicoe's observations and recommendations that this Bill has been drafted, and it is to meet his recommendations that most of the changes from the 1976 provisions have been introduced. My noble friend made 59 recommendations altogether. Forty-four of these required action, and the remaining 15 amounted to conclusions or suggestions that the status quo should be preserved. Thirteen of them are directly incorporated in the Bill. Four will be incorporated in a Prevention of Terrorism Supplemental Order that will be introduced following its enactment. Seventeen either will be or already have been introduced by administrative means. Four which may be implemented by administrative means are at present under consultation with those concerned with their operation, and a further six are included for legislation not in this Bill but in the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill, which will come before your Lordships from another place later this year.

One recommendation was rejected in another place on a free vote. It catches the eye first because it affects the Title, but it cannot be said to be first in importance because it does not affect the powers. An amendment carried in another place inserted into the Title the words "Temporary Provisions", which my noble friend had sought to exclude from it. The arguments for and against this are finely balanced, and I dare say your Lordships will be content to let another place have its way on this.

I now turn to the provisions in the Bill itself. Part I gives the Secretary of State the power to proscribe organisations concerned in acts of terrorism connected with Northern Irish affairs. The organisations already so proscribed are listed in Schedule 1, which is dependent on Clause 1. Part I also creates a related range of offences.

Part II enables the Secretary of State to exclude persons from the United Kingdom, from Great Britain or from Northern Ireland if he considers it expedient to do so in order to prevent acts of terrorism. Part III makes it an offence to contribute or solicit support for acts of terrorism and to withhold information about such acts. Part IV gives to the police the power to arrest suspected terrorists without a warrant and to detain them for a limited period which can be extended on the authority of the Secretary of State.

The present Bill follows the 1976 Act in very many of its provisions and I doubt whether your Lordships will wish me to catalogue them all. Instead I will concentrate on the most important powers in the Bill and specifically on the places where it differs from the 1976 Act.

The powers which have attracted the greatest interest are those of arrest and detention in Clause 12. The equivalent section, Section 12, of the 1976 Act differs from the remainder of that Act in that its application is not restricted to deeds of terrorism connected with Northern Irish affairs. This was intended to give the police the power to arrest a suspected terrorist without first having to identify the particular cause he supported. However, following an undertaking given during the passage of the 1976 Act, the application of those powers was restricted to acts of terrorism in connection with Northern Irish affairs by means of a circular to the police.

This Bill does specify the acts of terrorism to which the powers of arrest and detenion in Part IV apply. In doing so it embodies two of the recommendations of my noble friend Lord Jellicoe. First that the power should be available to deal with what might be called "international" terrorism as well as with Northern Irish terrorism. And, secondly, that it should not be available to deal with terrorist acts concerned solely with the affairs of Great Britain as distinct from those concerned with any part of the United Kingdom.

The point has been made by commentators on the Bill that as at present drafted Clause 12 empowers the police to arrest and detain members of organisations dedicated to the overthrow of what they, and sometimes we, ourselves, regard as oppressive regimes in their own countries. Such people might well be living here lawfully and with the agreement of my right honourable friend. They have viewed with understandable concern the possibility that they might now be subject to arrest under Clause 12 of the Bill. In response to this concern my honourable friend the Minister of State undertook, during the passage of the Bill in another place, to see whether the clause could be redrafted so as to allay those fears without removing from its scope those against whom we believe its powers should be available. In the event it did not prove possible to achieve the first of these objectives without seriously damaging the second. I must therefore advise your Lordships that my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has concluded that the only means of limiting the scope of Clause 12 is to proceed by way of assurance and circular.

It is the Government's intention therefore, in giving guidance to the police, to advise them that the powers in Clause 12 should be used only in relation to international terrorists where there is some prospect either of a charge before a United Kingdom court or that the person would be deported under the immigration Act 1971. The practice of limiting the use of statute by circular is not perhaps entirely satisfactory. But, this method is now well established in the field of the prevention of terrorism legislation and it has worked well since 1976. I hope your Lordships will accept that the Government have gone as far as they can in seeing that those who should be protected are protected while retaining the power for use only against those whose activities bring them within the intended scope of the clause.

Clause 12 also incorporates my noble friend's recommendation that the powers of arrest and detention should not be available for use against those involved in "domestic" terrorism. By domestic terrorism I mean terrorism concerned only with the affairs of Great Britain. I would not wish the term "domestic" to leave your Lordships under the impression that what I am talking about is some innocent or prankish activity of no great consequence. We take the activities of those who are engaged for example in Welsh or Scottish extremist violence very seriously indeed. But the activities of such organisations have not been on a scale comparable to the vicious killings which have been the tragic and shameful hallmark of Northern Irish terrorism. I can assure your Lordships that if at any time the nature of the problem changed, the Government would have no hesitation in seeking the approval of Parliament to an extension of those powers so that they could be applied to suspected "domestic" terrorists as well.

My noble friend Lord Jellicoe said that he found consideration of the issues raised by the provision of powers of exclusion the most difficult part of his task. His recommendations have been incorporated in Part II of the Bill. They are designed particularly to ease the distress which exclusion can cause, not only to those excluded but also to their families.

Under the present system, an exclusion order remains in force indefinitely unless or until it is revoked by the Secretary of State. My noble friend Lord Jellicoe saw no reason why exclusion orders should not be made for a fixed period, at the end of which they should automatically lapse. The Bill therefore provides that exclusion orders will have a life limited to three years. If, at the end of that period, the police believe that the person concerned is still engaged in terrorism they will be able to make an application to the Secretary of State, detailing the intelligence against him, for a fresh order to be made. And my right honourable friend the Home Secretary has said in another place that, except in the rarest of circumstances, he will make a further order only where there is new intelligence indicating a continuing involvement in terrorism. The intelligence on which the original application was based will not be sufficient for this purpose.

Under Sections 4 and 5 of the 1976 Act a British citizen may not be excluded from a part of the United Kingdom—from Great Britain or Northern Ireland—if he has been ordinarily resident in that part for 20 years. The Bill incorporates my noble friend's recommendation that the qualifying period for exemption should be reduced from 20 years to three.

My noble friend was also concerned that very few people had made use of the chance to make representations against exclusion. He concluded that the arrangements in the 1976 Act combined to create a disincentive. Under the present system an excluded person may make representations within 96 hours of service of the order and may include in them a request for an interview with one of the advisers appointed by the Secretary of State. But such an interview cannot at present be granted if the person has already been removed. This means, in effect, that he must remain in custody until an interview can be arranged, if it is to be arranged. The Bill therefore provides, in Clause 7, for such interviews to be held within the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland and extends the period within which representations may be made from 96 hours to 7 days. The Government has also introduced in Clause 7 another measure designed to limit the time spent in custody. Under this an excluded person who agrees to be removed may have a further 14 days in which to make representations.

On a more general point, the Bill, as I have already told your Lordships, has a limited life of 5 years, after which time the powers will lapse unless re-enacted. We fully share my noble friend Lord Jellicoe's view that such exceptional powers should have exceptional safeguards.

Finally my noble friend made several recommendations which were designed to ensure that people detained under this legislation were treated in the same way as any other detainees. Accordingly, the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill provides for a person detained under the prevention of terrorism legislation to have access to legal advice and gives the right to have a relative or friend notified of one's arrest and whereabouts.

In the nine years that this exceptional legislation has been with us it has very properly received more parliamentary attention than almost any other. It has also had the benefit of meticulous examination by two distinguished Members of your Lordships' House. The quality that pervades my noble friends' report is one of balance between individual rights and public safety, and the same goes for that of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton. Even those who have opposed the Bill must welcome the fact that it makes some notable improvements over its predecessors. Successive governments have always recognised that this legislation is as distasteful as it is exceptional, and we must hope that the time will soon come when such powers as these have no place on the statute book. But as long as the all-too-evident threat of terrorism remains with us I believe that the powers are essential, and if we are to try to protect our way of life from the ugly savagery which terrorism can inflict upon it we must have this legislation. It is in that context that I beg to move that your Lordships read this Bill a second time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a second time.—( Lord Elton.)

3.10 p.m.

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Elton, has introduced the Second Reading debate of this very important Bill with his usual clarity and we are grateful to him. With him, may I express my own pleasure and that of my noble friends that this debate will be graced by the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton, whose face and voice are already somewhat well known to this House. Both will always be very welcome. As the noble Lord the Minister said at the very outset of his speech, no British Parliament, with our proud traditions of benefit of law, civil liberties, freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, rights of habeas corpus and freedom of movement within and out of our native shores, can relish for one moment having to contemplate the continuance of legislation such as this. Its provisions offend every one of these treasured concepts.

We have been passing temporary legislation and orders continuing it on a similar basis for some nine years. They have their origin and their cause in the inhuman, indiscriminate, cowardly crimes of gangsters posing as political idealists who have murdered in cold blood defenceless men, women and children who, in the majority of cases, had no connection whatever with any political conflict. Our justification for this temporary, special and quite exceptional legislation and for continuing it year by year was that we were fighting evil and remorseless men; and that it was hoped that by the use, the temporary use, of these exceptional powers, we would succeed in containing, indeed removing, the scourge of terrorism from Northern Ireland and the remainder of the United Kingdom.

Only for such purposes and with such aims could we countenance, even temporarily, such statutory provisions as the banning of organisations, which appear to be concerned with terrorism, and the exclusion of our own citizens from one part of the United Kingdom to another on the mere edict of a Secretary of State—in both cases with no right of redress or appeal to any judicial process and in both cases without any reasons having to be given. Extended powers of arrest and detention and a new crime—that of withholding information from the police about future acts of terrorism or people involved in it—are connected with Irish affairs. Very properly, Parliament had to assess each year whether the aims and purposes of such legislation as this were being fulfilled and whether a continuance for a further year was justified. Very properly, as well, as the noble Lord the Minister pointed out in his speech, two distinguished Members of your Lordships' House were severally given the task of reviewing the operation of the then current legislation.

My noble friend Lord Shackleton, whom the House will observe with pleasure is to participate in this debate, reported in August 1978 (Cmnd. 7234) and the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, in February 1983 (Cmnd. 8803). Their respective terms of reference required them to accept-and I am quoting:
"the continuing need for legislation against terrorism".
It is fair to say, therefore, that there has been no inquiry specifically directed to that continuing need; but it is equally only right to say that, although not having the benefit of such a specific inquiry, both noble Lords at the time of making their reports were of the personal opinion—and I quote the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, in this context in his more recent report—that,
"If special legislation effectively reduces terrorism, as I believe it does, it should be continued as long as the substantial terrorist threat remains".
As your Lordships will know, there will be no question of the Opposition dividing this House on the Second Reading of this Bill. It would be contrary to tradition to so so. In another place, however, my right honourable and honourable friends opposed this Bill in principle. In reasoned speeches, they weighed in the balance whether what had been apparently achieved or not achieved by straying so materially from our normal concept of criminal law and procedure had compensated, over this period of some nine years, for the dangerous sacrifice of vital principles of our law and civil rights; added to which—and such an experienced and courageous Northern Ireland politician as my noble friend Lord Fitt has made his views in this connection very well known while a Member of another place—was the antagonism which this legislation had created among good Irishmen both in Northern Ireland and, very much so, in this country.

As my right honourable friend Mr. Roy Hattersley, then shadow Home Secretary, put it in the debate in another place on the Jellicoe Report in March last, and as quoted in our debate on that report at col. 506 of 14th March last:
"There is much evidence to suggest that the alienation has already happened. Law-abiding Irish visitors feel threatened and harassed at the ports, and the Irish community in Britain feels that it is under constant suspicion. Propaganda victories are handed to the most disreputable elements in Irish politics".
He was referring in that context to paragraph 10 of the Jellicoe Report, which reads:
"The most important assistance which the police can have in the fight against terrorism is not special powers but the support of the public. It is vital that such powers do not unnecessarily alienate—either in their essence or in their application—any section of the law-abiding population".
The statistics available for the period November 1974 to December 1982, which were quoted in another place, were also very revealing. In Britain—that is, exclusive of Northern Ireland—a total of 5,555 had been arrested under the Acts; about 70 per cent. at ports and 30 per cent. elsewhere. The annual total has declined significantly since 1979; 88 per cent. were released without any charge or any exclusion order. The same percentage of apparently innocent people detained varied little over the years: 7.1 per cent. were charged with an offence and 4.7 per cent. were excluded. Only 2.1 per cent. were charged with offences under the prevention of terrorism legislation and 5 per cent. with offences under other legislation. Only 83—that is, 1.5 per cent.—have ever been found guilty of offences under the legislation, and 176—that is, 3.2 per cent.—of other offences, of which no less than 95 appeared to be non-terrorist crimes. If exclusion cannot be treated as guilt, and in the circumstances it should not be, 95 per cent. of those arrested under the Acts have either not even been charged or have been found after charge to be innocent.

Since these figures were discussed in another place, some further figures have very recently been released by the Home Office to cover the year 1983. The percentages remain constant and the picture remains the same. The evidence would appear to show that the powers of arrest under this legislation have largely been used not as a result of reasonable suspicion of involvement in anything to do with terrorism, but to gather information about Irish people and those involved in Irish politics. After detention, which can be for anything up to seven days, those involved are then released without any charge being made. It is an indication of a dangerous shift in the concept of crime as the basis of police action to that of political views. This is a shift which could be the beginning of a slippery slope. We must look at it very carefully, or we ignore it at our peril——

My Lords will the noble Lord give way for a moment? He has quoted a number of figures. I shall be quoting the same figures, but I will interpret them in an absolutely different way. I just wished to make that clear.

My Lords, I am grateful for notice of that fact, as I am sure the House will be, and it will be interesting, as it always is, to see how the noble Lord interprets matters. I emphasise that the statistics I have given relate to Britain; that is, not to Northern Ireland. Indeed, statistics in Northern Ireland for the same period show a contrast. There were 2,278 detained under the legislation, of whom 43.8 per cent. were eventually charged; 1.1 per cent. were excluded; 3.5 per cent.—that is, 79 persons—were charged with offences under the legislation and 40.3 per cent.—that is, 917 persons—with other offences, of which 12 per cent. were non-terrorist type offences and 55.1 per cent. were released without any charge or exclusion order. Unlike the situation in Britain, the number of people detained under this legislation has increased significantly in the last years. Here again, more recent statistics covering the year 1983 have just been published by the Home Office and they indicate the same sort of percentages and the same sort of picture.

Having, as I have said, weighed such matters as these in the balance and after some nine years' experience to look back on. my right honourable and honourable friends decided to oppose a continuation of this legislation and argued that the normal provisions and powers of our criminal law should be applied. Some of their political colleagues did not agree with their conclusions and did not follow them into the Division Lobby. Some of my political colleagues in this House do not agree with their conclusions. But, on any view, their decision was reached after very deep consideration and for good and honourable reasons. It will be the role of the Opposition in this House during succeeding stages of this Bill to scrutinise its provisions, to put forward and support amendments which endeavour to prevent, so far as we can, abuse of powers given under the Bill and, where practicable, to introduce safeguards.

One of the provisions which we shall try to remove from the Bill is that containing the criminal offence in Britain of withholding information from the police about future acts of terrorism or people involved in it, if connected with Irish affairs. That offence has been repeated in this Bill, in spite of the fact that my noble friend Lord Shackleton recommended in his report that it should be allowed to lapse in Britain, and remarked that it had an unpleasant ring about it in terms of civil liberty. I remember also that in our debate on 14th March 1983, at column 498 of Hansard, he said that he still disliked this power to charge people for failing to give information and that it smacked very much of police state type legislation. I imagine that we shall have the pleasure of hearing from my noble friend later on when he addresses the House on that matter, but I shall be grateful if, when he comes to reply to this debate, the Minister can tell the House whether in connection with this offence someone is obliged to give this information about a third party even when such information might incriminate him, the informant, in some way. If so, it is an even greater and more serious incursion into long accepted principles of justice.

Among other areas which we shall have to consider are the exclusion provisions and the extension of the Act to allow the detention of anyone suspected of involvement in international political violence anywhere in the world, whether or not the acts had any connection at all with this country. I know that anti-apartheid organisations, for example, are very concerned at the effect of these provisions and the use that some future Government might be able to make of such powers. This clause could create unfortunate precedents and could also lead to unwelcome requests by other governments being made to our Government which we could find more than embarrassing. I personally was not at all happy with what the noble, Lord the Minister said about the limitation of this provision by a circular. That is not the way to legislate, and we shall doubtless return to that matter at the Committee stage.

In conclusion, I must say that we are faced with evil men perpetrating evil ends. Terrorism is one of the major scourges of our time, and only over the past 24 hours yet another foreign diplomat has apparently become the victim of terrorism on our own soil. The people of Northern Ireland face these evils daily. We have our own recent, bitter and sad memories of Hyde Park, of Harrods and of many tragically bereaved families. Throughout this House and throughout the kingdom there is detestation for the perpetrators of these deeds. Let us most certainly, in facing this continuing threat, give every possible and proper support to our police and security forces upon whom we admittedly place a tremendous burden, which in general they undertake with great courage and integrity. We rely upon them for the protection of our people, to apprehend the culprits and to see that these criminals are brought to justice. In legislating for special powers in the realm of criminal law, however, let us unite in this House, this bastion of law and order and justice, in our endeavours not to permit those who would wickedly destroy lives and property to destroy as well values which are the very foundations of our society. We should do well to remember in the remaining stages of this Bill the principle which the great Lord Chancellor, Sir Thomas More, enunciated centuries ago: that he would not deny the very Devil the benefit of law, since, if he did, it would imperil us all.

3.31 p.m.

My Lords, nobody will know better than the noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton, how inappropriate it is for anybody to comment on the appearance of a maiden speaker in your Lordships' House other than the noble Lord immediately following that speaker in the list of speakers, and nobody will know better than the noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton, that this is bound to be one of those occasions when that tradition is widely flouted. The noble Lord entered your Lordships' House last week to a roar of approval from all the Benches in the House—something almost totally unprecedented. I need say no more than that I know we are all looking forward with the greatest eagerness to his contribution to our debate.

Your Lordships have been over the ground contained in the Bill on many previous occasions. On many occasions noble Lords, including myself, have stood up and discussed the problem in terms of drawing a balance between the fight to combat terrorism and the threat to our civil liberties. The more I have said those words—and I have said them many times—the more I have become troubled as to precisely what they mean, and the more difficult I have found it to draw a balance between like and unlike and to weigh up the value of a loaf of bread against the value of a performance of a Beethoven symphony. I doubt whether trying to draw a balance between these considerations is very practical. In fact, having been over this ground so many times in the past, I believe that that is not the right approach to the problem which faces us.

The right approach is to say, as the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, has made perfectly clear, that we are facing, in the whole concept of terrorism, a vast evil: the deliberate maiming and slaughter for political purposes of, very often, innocent women and children. In those circumstances, I believe that any society is bound to have to take stringent measures in order to defeat that threat. In taking those measures we must be aware of the fact that very often they are a threat to our civil liberties, and in taking those measures we must try at all times to mitigate that threat. But I do not think it is possible in any practical terms to draw the sort of balance we so often talk about.

To give an example, the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, spoke of figures. I wonder what they mean. If a person who is subsequently not charged is detained and if, for each person so not charged, one mass murderer is found, prosecuted and convicted, I would suspect that most members of your Lordships' House would say that it is unfortunate for the person who is not charged but that it is acceptable in the circumstances. If 10 people are not charged while one person is charged, what, then? Or 100 or 1,000? Is it possible to determine this on a mathematical basis in an attempt to draw a wholly artificial balance? It is my view—and the view I believe of my colleagues on these Benches—that we must approach the Bill by looking primarily at whether it will be effective in helping us to combat the appalling threat of terrorism. Secondly, we must ensure that if it is effective its consequences for civil liberties are kept to the very minimum.

Against that background, may I look briefly at the Bill. Part I deals with proscribed organisations, and I need say very little about it. I have repeatedly made the observation, and I am more and more convinced that it is right, that proscribing organisations is desirable for cosmetic purposes because the general public expect organisations such as the IRA to be proscribed and it is right that they should be. However, I do not believe that proscription performs any particularly valuable contribution in the fight against terrorism.

Part II of the Bill deals with exclusion and is a matter which causes us all concern. I do not think that it is helped by those who in another place have tried to draw parallels between the power of exclusion under the Bill and the treatment of dissidents in the Soviet Union. That is a very different problem, with very different consequences for the unfortunate people who are so dealt with. I am happy to see that the exclusion powers have been modified in the way that the Jellicoe Report suggested, particularly in Clauses 3, 4 and 7 of the Bill. I believe, with very great reluctance, that the power of exclusion, if exercised wisely and sensibly as one must hope it will be, must, in the present political circumstances, unhappily remain. I add only this. A determined and ingenious effort was made in another place to try to construct some form of judicial review for exclusion orders. An exclusion order is an executive decision. I do not believe that it is possible, with the greatest degree of ingenuity, to construct any form of judicial process which will give any satisfaction to anybody. This is an end after which we must cease to strive so far as exclusion orders are concerned.

Part III of the Bill deals with miscellaneous offences, in particular with the one which creates the offence of withholding information. This is one of the occasions when I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon. It is an offence which has been prosecuted very, very rarely. In substance, there was only one case in which a substantial number of people were dealt with, and none was dealt with by a sentence of imprisonment. It is a wholly artificial concept in terms of life in Northern Ireland. How can one say to a person living in Belfast that he commits a criminal offence if he fails to disclose to the police some information which he might have obtained about his next door neighbour? That is one of the occasions in the Bill where an offence has been incorporated which has never been of any practical value and which offends against all our concepts of ordinary criminal law.

To turn to Part IV of the Bill, which deals with arrest, detention and court powers, I want to deal primarily with Clause 12. First, Clause 12 brings within the ambit of the Bill international terrorism, as limited by the assurance given by the noble Lord the Minister this afternoon. I find it difficult to argue against it. When one considers the links between terrorists in all parts of the world—the way they train together, equip each other, pass on information to each other and work together—it seems to me to be rather unrealistic to try to limit a Bill of this nature purely to terrorism as between the Irish and this country.

As to the other matter contained in Clause 12—the extension of the power of detention up to a period of seven days—that, as the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, will know only too well, is no great innovation in our criminal law. He and I must have appeared on many occasions on behalf of people who have been detained for five, six or seven days before it was possible, by the threat of some writ of habeas corpus, to secure their release. I am bound to say, having been involved on more occasions than I care to think about in cases where terrorists have been tried for their crimes, that there have been a number of such cases where guilt has been brought home to them entirely as a result of the power contained in this clause to extend the power of detention, and therefore the power of questioning, in that way.

My Lords, before the noble Lord moves on, I wonder whether the House may have the benefit of his comments and great experience in regard to that part of the clause he was just discussing, which deals for the first time with an act of terrorism, so-called and so-defined, anywhere in the world, even though it has no connection with this country at all? Does the noble Lord not share the fears which organisations such as the anti-apartheid movement have about such a clause?

My Lords, the answer to that is, I came to your Lordships' House with an open mind on that matter this afternoon. Bearing in mind very much the links between the various forms of international terrorism—and I do not seek to include anti-apartheid organisations in that observation; of course I do not—I listened very carefully to the assurance given by the noble Lord the Minister in regard to the way in which this clause would be operated. I should like to see in Committee whether it is possible to amend the clause to cover the terms of the assurance given by the Minister. If that is possible, I believe it would be desirable. If it is not possible, I am prepared at least to accept at face value the assurance as it has been offered to your Lordships' House this afternoon.

I come finally to Part V of the Bill: particularly to Clause 17, as to its duration. I am delighted to learn that the Bill is to be limited, whatever may happen in its duration, to a period of five years; that there should be regular re-enactments of this Bill is a proposal which, I believe, came first from the Liberal Benches. I am pleased to note also that there should be annual renewals by order, as there have been in the past. This does create the difficulty, as your Lordships will know, that it is impossible to argue on such an order the merits of any particular part of the Bill.

I do commend to the noble Lord the Minister the suggestion made in another place by Mr. Enoch Powell—and I do not always commend his suggestions—that it may be possible for the renewal order to be laid as three, four or five separate orders relating to each part of the Bill, so that it would be possible for the House, if it wished to do so, to reject one particular part of the Bill if it turned out during the period to be inoperative.

I add, too, that there is much to be said for the suggestion made in another place that, because of the difficulty with an annual order for renewal, it is desirable that there should be a high calibre review body constantly scrutinising the working of the Act and how the various orders are being carried out under the Act—such as the powers of exclusion and the powers of detention—and reporting regularly to Parliament each year at the time when the renewal order comes forward.

As I have indicated, there is much in this Bill to occupy your Lordships in Committee. We look forward to playing our part in those proceedings. We accept of course that this Bill is one about which individuals feel very strongly and have very passionate convictions. Having said that, and accepting as we do that there will be individuals who will go their own way in respect of this legislation, I am bound to say that, as political parties, the SDP and the Liberal Party would find it quite irresponsible to oppose this legislation.

3.44 p.m.

My Lords, I hope that it is not considered indecent of me to make my maiden speech so soon after my Introduction, but I wish to make a few remarks about Clause 17 of this Bill. May I preface my remarks with a few brief personal words? First, I wish to thank those noble Lords who have spoken already for the kind remarks they have made. Secondly, I should like to say that soon after the new year, when my name was mentioned in the Honours List, I read in Country Life, on 5th January, these words:

"Anyone who has not heard of Henderson need not feel guilty".
I found some comfort in that. The article went on to observe:
"Henderson's value as an untouched example of an isolated coral atoll is enormous".
I do feel rather like a tiny speck in the Pacific Ocean as I make my maiden speech, but I believe that I am just on the map.

I agree with the necessity for this Bill—and I wish to refer to necessity later—subject to stringent safeguards, for the reasons set out by the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, in his report and by the noble Lord the Minister when he opened this debate. The noble Viscount the Leader of the House is much to be congratulated on having, when he was Home Secretary, asked the noble Earl to conduct an inquiry; just as his predecessor was much to be congratulated on having chosen the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, in 1978. Both noble Lords are deeply committed to civil liberty as well as to the preservation of public safety.

It is misconceived in the highest degree to suggest that those noble Lords somehow had the wool pulled over their eyes. Listen to this comment, which was published in the Financial Times as recently as 30th January this year:
"The conclusions of both Lord Shackleton and Lord Jellicoe were reached without objective scrutiny"
of any detailed evidence of the operation of the law's provisions from case to case; and that they,
"relied, not unnaturally, on what they were told by the security services and the police"
who enforce the law. The whole House knows, surely, that neither noble Lord would conceivably have reached their conclusions or put their names to their report without having ascertained all the facts and without objective scrutiny. Anyway, I do not suppose that any officials could bamboozle either noble Lord, and I should like to see them try.

May I now say a word about necessity; a concept, especially in the political field, which always makes me reach for my scepticism—and for my Milton. Your Lordships' House will remember that Satan played a rather active rôle in Paradise Lost and spoke frequently and at length. In fact he was, if I may say so without disrespect to the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, the leader of the opposition! In any event, in Book IV Satan made an unusually short and effective speech—and by no means his maiden. Milton, who followed him in the debate—and he was clearly supporting the government—did not feel obliged to compliment Satan on his speech. Instead he said:
"Thus spake the Fiend, and with necessity, The tyrant's plea, excused his devilish deeds"—
a touch of asperity of speech in those words, I think. William Pitt picked up those words when he said in another place exactly 120 years later, in 1783:
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants"—
which just shows that Pitt had read his Milton.

I attach special importance to the words of Pitt in the context of this Bill because it has for 300 years at least been one of the prime functions of Parliament to scrutinise closely any exercise of extraordinary powers taken by the Government. So the ability of this country to preserve freedom has been admired by others, from Voltaire to Dahrendorf. Lord Jellicoe, in paragraph 10 of his report, actually quoted Dahrendorf's recent words on this subject.

But it is as well to remember that Parliament does not always succeed as well as it should. For example, the emergency powers taken in the last war, expressed to last only so long as the emergency existed, were extended annually by the Expiring Laws Continuance Act, and were not finally extinguished until 1970, 25 years after the expiry of the emergency. So there is no room for complacency.

I very much welcome the provisions of Clause 17, following as they do, deliberately, the provisions of the Armed Forces Acts. This is, in my view, the proper model to follow in this Bill. However, I am not at all sure that simple annual renewal by affirmative instrument of the whole Act is sufficient as a parliamentary safeguard, even though the duration of the Act is expressed to last only a maximum of five years. The noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, was particularly cautious about Part II—exclusion orders; indeed, he said in his report, in Chapter 9,
"that the possibility of abolishing it"—
that is, the power to exclude—
"should be kept under regular review, without prejudice to the Act's other powers".
That is in paragraph 178.

I know that among the Home Secretary's advisers on exclusion are the noble Lord, Lord Alport—and no one could possibly describe him as a stern, unbending Tory—and the noble Lord, Lord Underhill, who is essentially a fair-minded man. But, even so, bearing in mind the noble Earl's own reservations about these provisions, I should like to see a separate affirmative resolution annually in respect of Part II. This is a more limited proposal than that referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, which was put forward in another place by the right honourable Member for Down, South, on 25th January, and about which the Minister of State said:
"We shall consider that suggestion seriously".
I very much hope that something on those lines will be pursued in this House and accepted by the Government. This, I think, would be a better and more appropriate safeguard than other courses that have been urged. Here I agree with Lord Wigoder; I do not consider that an appeal tribunal or some sort of judicial monitoring is suitable. The powers taken in this Bill are outside the competence of the court, and it is no use having judicial review of essentially non-judicial proceedings.

I have only one further comment before I sit down. My sole criticism of the Jellicoe Report was that after rehearsing all the arguments for making the provisions of the Act temporary it none the less, quite illogically to me, concluded that the words "temporary provisions" should be left out of the Short Title. I am glad to see that those words were inserted into the Short Title on a free vote in Standing Committee in another place shortly before Christmas. That seems to me entirely right and proper. My Lords, I thank the House for its pacific reception of my few remarks.

3.54 p.m.

My Lords, it has been my privilege to congratulate many maiden speakers, but I know of no occasion when I have been more happy to perform this duty than today. I have already paid a tribute to the noble Lord, at the time of his retirement as Clerk of the Parliaments, and it was very clear then how strongly the House thought of the value of his services and how sad noble Lords were that he was going to depart. But, luckily, he has not departed at all; and it is a measure of his popularity and of the appreciation we have of him that your Lordships' House has filled, not to listen to me—it did not even fill very much to listen to the Minister; or may be it is the Statement—but to hear the noble Lord, Lord Henderson.

I was about to say that the noble Lord is a gamekeeper turned poacher, but that is clearly inappropriate. He is a lonely atoll, a coral atoll, and we are quite sure that he will continue to purify our debates with his wisdom and the common sense and scholarship which he has shown already. If I may call him my noble friend, which is unusual, I am bound to say that if anybody is a noble friend of any of your Lordships it is the noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton. His speech was a model of scholarship and wisdom and firmness. If I may say so, I have always felt that maiden speakers should not shrink from saying what they think. There is this rather misleading concept that they must not be controversial, which means they must not say anything at all. They must say something. What they must seek to do is to avoid being so provocative that noble Lords wish to leap up and assault them. In this the noble Lord has more than succeeded.

I wish to intervene in this debate only very briefly—and it is a very happy circumstance that I have had this extra reason—to give my support to the legislation in front of your Lordships' House. I admired my noble friend Lord Mishcon's speech; it was the most skilful presentation of many issues which concern us all. But at the end of the day I genuinely believe we would be wrong not to renew this legislation. I am amazed that the Government—and I pay my tribute to the noble Viscount—have accepted virtually all Lord Jellicoe's recommendations. No one has welcomed the amelioration of the 20 years' qualification for exclusion: the 20 years after which people could not be excluded has been reduced to three years. It is a very valuable change that exclusion orders are to be reviewed after three years. I am rather sorry I did not think of this myself; I think the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, has done a better job than I did. But at the end of the day he, like I, having seen the evidence, having looked at the evidence in detail, having seen the intelligence, having talked to many policemen and others in private, having heard excellent evidence against from bodies like the National Council for Civil Liberties, which I regard as a valuable institution, nonetheless came firmly to the conclusion that it was necessary to have this sort of legislation.

I am bound to take issue with my noble friend Lord Mishcon—and I know that the noble Lord Lord Donaldson, is going to do so—on his use of statistics. I have not got them at my fingertips. I used them a few months ago, and I am glad to say that they have escaped me. Of course a great majority of the' people detained, particularly at the ports, are detained for only a few hours—much less than many people who are taken into custody by the police before they are charged. In fact, the numbers detained for any length of time are relatively small. I rely on the noble Lord. Lord Donaldson, to set the record straight, since he has given notice that he is going to do so, and therefore my speech will be shorter.

At the same time, I should like to ask the Minister what steps are now being taken about the recommendation I made, and to which Lord Jellicoe referred, that conditions should be further improved for those who are detained for any length of time. Detention up to seven days in the Bridewell is enough to make many people, whether properly interrogated or not, have nervous breakdowns. That is especially so if the diet is inadequate. I hope we can hear something more about that.

That brings me to another point on amelioration—the extent to which the Government now give financial assistance to those who are excluded. It is very severe to exclude someone from his home and his job to go to other territory—possibly back to the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland—and it may sometimes involve heavy financial loss. Something could be done to help rather more on that.

One of the arguments that I offer to those of my noble friends who wish this legislation to disappear is to ask them whether they are aware of the importance of the legislation in restraining counter-terrorism. There have been some horrible terrorist acts by those who have been attacking the Catholic community, and I do not believe that any Government at this time could possibly come before Parliament in the light of the atrocities that continue and say, "We are now going to dispense with this legislation".

We may have particular criticisms—I still dislike Clause 11—as the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, said. Certainly when I carried out my investigation I had no evidence to justify it and it had a nasty ring to it. On the other hand, the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, went into this issue very thoroughly. He found evidence and has come to an opposite conclusion; but I still wonder how necessary it is because it was that aspect of the report which I found most objectionable in terms of civil liberties. I also share concern on Clause 12. I totally accept the sincerity of the Government that they will issue instructions that the clause is not to be used in the way that some fear. However, even at this stage, I should like to ask if they will consider further whether there is some way of providing for legislation.

The Government have behaved absolutely correctly in their extension to Clause 12 in not seeking to use the Act unamended. It would have been improper for them to have done so. It is therefore perfectly proper to put in this provision on international terrorism. I still question how valuable and how necessary it is, notwithstanding the horrible event that has just taken place. Nonetheless, that is something that will need to be looked at.

I conclude by saying that when the Bill was originally introduced by the right honourable Roy Jenkins he referred to it as draconian. At that time I pointed out that any classicist would know that Draco—I know the noble Lord, Lord Elton, will take this point—went in for rather more severe treatment than is represented by this Bill. This is a minimum intervention into our civil rights. We are right to question it and to find objection; but if at the end of the day we find it reduces—it is my judgment and that of the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, that it will—the amount of terrorism, murder and maiming that otherwise would take place we would be failing in our duty not to renew these measures. The noble Lord referred to the conflict between human rights and public safety. Public safety involves individuals, and the individuals who were murdered and maimed outside Harrods are part of the public safety but they are also individuals. Therefore, I think it is right that we should renew this legislation. It is right that we should be critical, but I certainly support it.

The Lebanon

4.4 p.m.

My Lords, with your Lordships' permission, I will now repeat in the form of a Statement a reply being given by my honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to a Private Notice Question being asked in another place on the United Kingdom forces in Lebanon. The Statement is as follows:

"Fighting broke out on 2nd February in Beirut between the Lebanese armed forces and the Shia Militia Amal. The fighting escalated on 3rd and 4th February and continues today. Heavy Lebanese casualties have been reported.

"The Lebanese government resigned on 5th February but continues as a caretaker adminstration. President Gemayel has begun consultations on the formation of a new government and has issued an appeal to all parties in Lebanon to resume reconciliation talks.

"The British contingent of the multi-national force has not been the target of any deliberate attacks. Stray rounds have landed on or near the contingent's base. The contingent has suffered one minor casualty.

"We are today consulting our partners in the multi-national force and will keep the situation under close review. We wish to see an early end to the violence and bloodshed, an effective ceasefire, and more vigorous efforts by the government of Lebanon and all the parties to settle their differences by negotiation.

"Against the background I have described we have to judge with other partners whether the MNF can still help in this process. But we do not intend to withdraw our contingent precipitately."

That is the Statement.

My Lords, we are grateful to the noble Lord for repeating the Statement. The developing situation and the increased fighting to which the noble Lord referred are a cause of concern to all of us. I know that we are all glad to, learn that talks are now taking place between the Government, the United States administration, France and Italy, who are the other participants in the multi-national force.

Can the noble Lord say whether any consideration is being given to asking for a special meeting of the Security Council to discuss the matter in view of the implications of the crisis for neighbouring countries, and indeed for the peace of a much wider area than the Middle East? Can he comment on two further points? First, can he say what is the reaction of the Government to the comment of Mr. Dany Chamoun, which has been reported in the newspapers—including yesterday's Sunday Times—that he believes there will be a major war within a few days in the Lebanon? Have the Government any evidence for believing that that prediction has any certain grounds? Secondly, does not the noble Lord agree that the withdrawal of British troops from the Lebanon now becomes an even more urgent necessity as it is essential we should not become involved in a full scale civil war?

My Lords, we join with the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, in thanking the Minister for repeating the Statement. Can the Government tell us what they are doing to keep continuously under review the possibility of mounting a United Nations' force in the Lebanan—a force from the medium and smaller members? We should like to hear of continuous diplomatic activity in the capitals and in New York towards that end. We do not hear of it at the moment.

Have the Government noted yesterday's 40,000-strong demonstration by the so-called Peace Now movement in Jerusalem, which is said to have been the largest in the history of the state of Israel, in favour of the withdrawal of the Israeli army from Lebanon and of other cognate aims?

Finally, and perhaps most important of all, can we have an assurance from the Government that, after the consultations mentioned by the noble Lord, the Cabinet will act on its own unfettered and independent judgment, as the elected Government of this nation, in deciding the future of the small British contingent in the Western four-power force?

My Lords, I am grateful to both noble Lords. If I may reply first to the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, the responsibility to convene a United Nations meeting of, say, the Security Council would rest in the first instance with the Government of the Lebanon, and they have not so far indicated any intention of doing that. Naturally we shall keep in touch with their views on this matter; but, as I say, for the moment they show no signs of so doing.

As for the prospects of a major war in the Lebanon, to which the noble Lord referred, I cannot hide from your Lordships that the position there is a very grave one, but we do not feel that the situation is as grave as has been suggested in some reports lately. We hope that with good sense on all sides the cataclysm which has been forecast will not happen; and, indeed, taking the wider view, we believe that it will not.

As for unilateral withdrawal of our soldiers—and perhaps I may reply, too, to the noble Lord, Lord Kennet, who raised a similar point—we believe that it is necessary for us to consider the future of our forces there in consultation with our partners in the multinational force. I think that it would be wrong for the United Kingdom to initiate some form of precipitate withdrawal, and we most certainly will not be doing that. As the Statement says, we have today begun discussions—or rather continued discussions, because we have been in touch with them throughout the time that our forces have been there—with our colleagues in the multi-national force to try to chart a new way forward.

The noble Lord, Lord Kennet, also asked me about diplomatic activity. I have referred to some of the diplomatic activity already. I am not sure that it is always particularly productive to discuss in detail the nature and the kind of diplomatic activity that is going on, but the noble Lord may be assured that we are ensuring that our views are known in all relevant quarters and, likewise, that we know the views of the others concerned in this matter. Certainly we noted the Israeli demonstration to which the noble Lord referred. Naturally we take an interest in these matters, but the decisions for Israeli action, of course, rest with the Israeli, and not with the United Kingdom, Government.

My Lords, despite the Minister's doubts about whether there will be a resumption of civil war in the Lebanon, it will be noted that he is unable to furnish any guarantee. Indeed, it is not at all unlikely that there will be a resumption of civil war—in which, by the way, the Israelis would not be participating. I hope that note will be taken of that.

What I want to know is this. This may be a simple domestic question which is frequently asked in other contexts in your Lordships' House; but, first of all, will the Minister say what expenditure has been involved in the presence of our small contingent in the Lebanon? What does it cost this country to indulge in that gesture? In all the circumstances, irrespective of what the Security Council may decide—and, with great respect to my noble friend the Leader of the Opposition, I must say that I regard mention of the Security Council as completely irrelevant. It is as useless as ever. I hardly think that it is on my noble friend's intellectual level to refer to that possibility—or, rather, impossibility.

To come back to the point, what is it costing this country to have that small contingent there? In all the circumstances, and in view of the fact—and it is an undoubted fact—that the members of the British force are getting no experience or training there and are in danger of being assaulted in that area, is it not better that they are withdrawn?

My Lords, I am not sure that I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, that the British forces there are serving no useful purpose. On the contrary, the British forces there have played a useful role by patrolling and by providing a guard for the ceasefire talks. As I have said, they are still there and playing a useful role. I think that it is too early to say that there is no such role for them in the future.

The noble Lord also referred to the imminent prospect—or probability, as I believe he thought—of a major civil war in that country. But, apart from the United Kingdom force, there are of course several thousand other troops forming part of the multinational force in Beirut, added to which, of course, there is the United Nations force situated in the south of Lebanon. So, as I said earlier, I believe that the prospect of a major civil war in the Lebanon is not as likely as some have suggested.

The noble Lord also asked about the cost of our forces in that country. I have a figure of about £2 million, being the cost of the United Kingdom contribution to the multi-national force during the year 1983–84.

My Lords, may I ask a very short question which I hope will have the approval of my noble friend Lord Shinwell? Over the past two days there has been some talk about the possible reconvening of the Geneva talks. Is there any validity in that? Is it possible that, in spite of the worsening atmosphere and climate in the Lebanon, these talks might be reconvened?

My Lords, there is of course no government as such in the Lebanon at the present time. The reconvening of such talks would be for the new government, as and when they come to office. It seems to me that the earlier talks in Geneva made some useful progress, and, if there is more progress to be made, therefore, I think that it would be a good thing for the Geneva talks to be reconvened. But I am certain that it will be necessary for this to be decided by the incoming government in the Lebanon, and I hope that this will be before very long.

I should like to also refer again to the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Shinwell, who poured scorn on the idea of a United Nations initiative in this area. I must say that the United Kingdom Government do not take that view. We think that there might well be a useful role for the United Nations to play in this particular situation, but in the first instance it is for the government of the Lebanon to ask for that.

Mr R H Mhatre

4.16 p.m.

My Lords, with the leave of your Lordships' House, I will now repeat a Statement being made in another place by my right honourable and learned friend the Home Secretary. The Statement is as follows:

"With permission, Mr. Speaker, I will make a short Statement.

"I deeply regret to have to tell the House that Mr. R. H Mhatre, an Assistant Commissioner in the Birmingham office of the Indian High Commission, was found dead at about 10 p.m. yesterday near Hinckley in Leicestershire. It is clear from the circumstances and the nature of his injuries that he was murdered. Mr. Mhatre had been kidnapped close to his home in Birmingham at about 6 p.m. on Friday, 3rd February.

"I am sure that the whole House will wish to join me in expressing sympathy to Mr. Mhatre's family. The Prime Minister has sent a message of sympathy to Mrs. Gandhi, and I have sent a similar message to the High Commissioner.

"An organisation calling itself the Kashmir Liberation Army claimed to have kidnapped an Indian diplomat. It made demands for the release of prisoners in India and for the payment of money. It threatened to kill the diplomat if its demands were not met.

"The Chief Constable of the West Midlands police has been in charge of the case from the beginning. I have been in close touch with him throughout and have given every assistance I can. The police have given the case the highest priority and are making every effort to bring those responsible to justice. I shall, of course, give the police any further assistance they require in the investigation. Arrangements have been made to enhance the protection given to Indian diplomatic staff.

"The seriousness with which this matter is being pursued and the fact that I have reported to the House at the earliest opportunity underline the Government's determination to stand firm against terrorists and their violence. There can be no place whatsoever for either in this country."

My Lords, that completes the Statement.

My Lords, in thanking the noble Lord the Minister for carrying out the sad duty of repeating the Statement made in another place, may I associate my noble friends most sincerely with the expression of sympathy to Mr. Mhatre's family in their tragic bereavement? If I may, I should like to ask a few questions for elucidation. One notices in the Statement that the Kashmir Liberation Army is mentioned as the organisation which claims to have carried out—if that is the appropriate expression—this outrageous act. Have we any information at all about such an organisation? Have we had any experience of that organisation before now?

One also notices from the Statement that the noble Lord the Minister mentioned that the kidnapping took place at about six o'clock in the evening on Friday, 3rd February. There has been a press account—I do not know whether or not the noble Lord can confirm its correctness—that on the evening of that very Friday a packet was sent by this Kashmir Liberation Army to Reuters news agency and that the packet contained documents. Did that packet, if this is true, relate to this matter? Was it promptly handed over to the authorities and, so far as the Minister is at present aware, was prompt action taken in regard to such documents as there were?

Lastly, may I put this question? The noble Lord the Minister referred to protection being given to the Indian diplomatic corps. I believe it to be right that India has missions in London. Birmingham, Liverpool and Glasgow but that up to this moment only the High Commission in London has had the protection of the armed police of the diplomatic protection group. Can the noble Lord confirm that protection will now be accorded at all the centres I have mentioned and not only to the Indian diplomatic corps? Cannot the protection that is given in London to members of the diplomatic corps similarly be afforded to them in the provinces?

My Lords, we, too, are appalled by this news and would wish to be associated with the expressions of sympathy both to Mr. Mhatre's family and to the Indian Government.

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lords for their sympathetic reception of this tragic news. So far as I am aware, the Kashmir Liberation Army had not come previously to notice in any form. I can tell the noble Lord that the package to which he refers was an envelope pushed through the letterbox of a building occupied by Reuters at one o'clock on the morning of 4th February. It contained two documents. The first stated that an Indian diplomat had been kidnapped by the Kashmir Liberation Army and would be killed if the listed demands were not met. The second was a copy of a letter purporting to have been sent by that body to the Secretary-General of the Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front. It asked that that body should act as an intermediary. The deadline was at seven o'clock. Reuters informed the Metropolitan Police, who in turn notified the Indian High Commission and the West Midlands police. All that had been completed by six o'clock that same morning.

The noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, raised another point. He gave the locations of the Indian diplomatic missions correctly. He is correct in assuming that protection is being extended to them. I could not commit my right honourable friend to what I imagine would be the large resources of a commitment to extend similar protection to every diplomatic outpost around the country'. I am reluctant to be drawn further because security discussed is never altogether secure.

My Lords, obviously, I take what the noble Lord the Minister has just said in the proper sense. I should not wish to press him in view of the words that he used and in view of the care that one should exercise. Will he at least undertake to the House to take to his right honourable friend the concern of the House—this being the second time in recent years that a diplomat on our shores has met with the results of severe criminal acts—that diplomatic missions should have proper protection?

My Lords, I will take the concern of the noble Lord to my right honourable friend.

Housing Benefit

4.24 p.m.

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall repeat a Statement which is being made in another place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Social Services. The Statement is as follows:

"With permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a Statement about the housing benefit scheme.

"I announced on 17th November last year that the Government proposed to make some changes to the housing benefit scheme with a view to containing the rapidly escalating cost of the benefit. As is required by the 1980 Social Security Act, I submitted drafts of the regulations giving effect to those changes to the Social Security Advisory Committee. I am today publishing the committee's report together with the Government's response to it. I am also laying before the House amended regulations which take account not only of the views expressed by the committee and local authorities, but also of the debate in this House last month.

"Before moving on to describe the Government's new proposals, I should like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Sir Arthur Armitage, chairman of the committee since its inception, whose death very sadly occurred last week.

"In their report, the Social Security Advisory Committee were particularly concerned about the effect of the proposals on lower-income beneficiaries and the possible cumulative impact of the proposals on a minority of families. They suggested a number of amendments to the proposals designed to alleviate these effects. At the same time they conceded that there were some aspects of the housing benefit scheme which extend financial help further up the income ladder than anywhere else in the social security system, and that, if cuts in social security spending are essential, it might be reasonable to take resources from there rather than from the means-tested safety net.

"I have considered the committee's report and all the representations which have been made very carefully. Clearly, it is essential for the Government to maintain firm control of public expenditure and in the last 10 years cash expenditure on the former rent and rate rebates scheme has increased tenfold—an increase of 140 per cent. in real terms. It is also reasonable to propose that, where a non-dependant is living in the house of someone claiming housing benefit, that non-dependant should be expected to make a contribution to housing costs and that the housing benefit paid to a claimant should be reduced accordingly.

"Nevertheless, in view of the representations made, the Government have decided to modify the proposed changes with three principal objectives: to lessen the scale of any reductions in benefit to be faced by individual families; to minimise the impact of the changes on those on lower incomes, including pensioners; and to simplify the changes which will have to be made. The revised proposals take full account of the administrative problems involved in the changes.

"The Government now propose to make only two changes to the housing benefit scheme in April. First, the "tapers" for assistance with rents will increase from 21 per cent. to 26 per cent., instead of 31 per cent. as originally proposed, and for rates, from 7 per cent. to 9 per cent. This will have the effect of halving the losses resulting from taper changes in assistance with rent.

"Second, the deductions made for non-dependants aged 18 or over will be increased as orginally proposed; but the qualifying period for modification of those deductions will be reduced from 90 days to 56 days as proposed by the Advisory Committee. In addition the proposed changes on the supplementary benefit non-householders' housing contribution will go ahead. Other changes which were to have been made in housing benefit in April have been either postponed or dropped. This will allow time for families and for local authorities to adjust to those of the changes which still have to be made.

"The remainder of the proposals therefore provide that there now will be no change in the minimum payments for the poorest claimants—those with income levels below their needs allowance; that increases in the minimum payment levels for other claimants will not take effect until November 1984 and the minimum payment for rent assistance will be set at 50p instead of £1 originally proposed; that the requirement for 16–17 year olds not on supplementary benefit or youth training schemes to make a contribution to housing costs will not come into effect until November 1984 and will not apply to those in receipt of non-contributory invalidity pension; that the modification to the criteria for eligibility for high rent schemes will also be postponed to November 1984, when current authorisations expire; and that the rent tapers will be increased in November, but only from 26 per cent. to 29 per cent., not 31 per cent. as originally proposed.

"The restructuring of the proposals which I have outlined will reduce significantly the savings which can be made, particularly in 1984–85. I have therefore had to postpone the real increase in the housing benefit children's needs allowance which I had announced would be introduced from April. The allowance was to have been increased from £11.90 to £12.90. That cannot now be achieved in April. But I am glad to say that it will still be possible to implement an increase of 50p in November 1984 and a further increase of £1 will be made in April 1985. The children's needs allowance will then have been increased by £1.50 in real terms compared with the increase of £l originally proposed.

"Mr Speaker, taken together, these modifications will help about 1,300,000 households and will mean that about 300,000 families will not now lose entitlement to benefit in April. Moreover, I propose to discuss with the local authorities how a limit on individual losses from the taper and high rent scheme changes can be brought into effect in November.

"Mr Speaker, all these changes will be accommodated within the Government's existing expenditure plans. But the enormous growth of housing benefit expenditure and the income levels at which it is paid require further consideration. Equally, the continuing difficulties which some local authorities are still experiencing in handling claims and payments are causing anxiety for individual families.

"The Government feel, therefore, that a review of the scheme and its operation is required. Its main objectives will be to examine the structure and scope of the scheme to ensure that it is as simple as possible and that help is concentrated on those most in need; and to improve its administration by local authorities.

"I shall be appointing a small review team under independent chairmanship to report to me so that I may consider urgently what action needs to be taken. I shall also ask the review team to consider the issues which the advisory committee identified as requiring further consideration.

"Mr Speaker, the revised proposals I have described today will soon be debated. Nevertheless, I thought it right that, prior to that debate, I should describe in a Statement to the House the changes that are being proposed. I believe they represent a reasonable balance between the protection of individual benefit recipients and the need to bring under control expenditure on housing benefit which is now running at almost £4 billion a year."

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

4.34 p.m.

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for making that Statement. First, I should like to express on behalf of my noble friends and myself our regret at the news of the death of Sir Arthur Armitage, the chairman of the commission. He brought to this work a clarity of mind and a warmth of understanding not often to be found in combination and greatly to be appreciated and, therefore, greatly to be missed.

So far as the Statement is concerned, we welcome these few crumbs. We are glad to hear about the review team. We only wish that the work which it is being asked to carry out had been done before this absurd system was implemented. For example, the Minister refers in the Statement to:
"the enormous growth of housing benefit expenditure".
He does not say why that has happened. He does not say that it has happened because the economic policies of this Government, with the escalation of rent and rates, have brought more and more people into the poverty trap, into unemployment and therefore into a situation where they call for housing benefit. Surely that is an admission of the Government's inadequate assessment of the housing needs of thousands of our people and the stresses suffered by them through higher housing costs and higher unemployment.

I ask the noble Lord when we are likely to have a debate on the new regulations which will have to be brought before the House. If these changes are to be effected and worked over by the local authorities for implementation before April, we need to have the debate very soon, and that will affect the length of our discussion today. Obviously we should much prefer to have a full debate fairly soon, rather than ask too many questions on this Statement. In fact the Statement today indicates that the idea of a unified housing benefit is just a disfiguration of the English language. We have the most painful bifurcation of benefit ever invented by any Government. We have two old schemes persisting. We have two means tests taking place in different offices, never meeting up except with great delay and great confusion. Whatever small amendments are made, we must make it absolutely clear that the faults in this scheme are fundamental. It is not just a matter of changing the amounts here and there, although we appreciate where they are to be improved. The whole concept of the proposals has not worked out; it has been criticised by every political party and by all the professionals engaged in housing work and it must surely call for really systematic changes.

I want to put one or two quick points to the Minister. If these changes are to take place in April, can the Government ensure that there will be adequate facilities for staff and for training, instead of pressurising local authorities to economise in their expenditure? There are tremendous pressures on townhalls. Like myself, the noble Minister must have had information from all over the country about local councils which are hundreds of cases and, in some instances, thousands of cases in arrears. People are not getting their benefits. I do not know whether the Minister can tell me how many are in rent arrears. Perhaps he can tell me whether there have been any evictions due to non-payment of rent because people have not received housing benefit to pass on to their landlords, whether they be councils or private landlords.

Secondly, can the Minister take steps within his department to ensure that the time allotted for DHSS offices to transfer certificates to councils is reduced? Until the council gets a certificate in each case from the DHSS, the council cannot pay out the benefit. There are weeks and in some cases months of delay. That is very unfair and most distressing, especially to older people who have never been in debt in their lives and who take a pride in seeing that the rent is paid.

Can the Minister also take steps to ensure that payment is made from the date of application and not from the date of the laggard finish of these tormenting processes. which drag on far too long? Also, there is a need to speed up cases for reassessment. Every time there are changes in family circumstances—for example, a young person leaving home or perhaps a woman becoming widowed—there is a case for reassessment. This process is taking weeks and sometimes months. Moreover, if we are to have these changes in April, it must be borne in mind that at the present rate of progress it will be well into midsummer before individual cases are dealt with. Do I understand the Minister to say that then the whole bureaucratic process will have to be gone through again in November because of the up-rating of benefits in November and the other changes referred to in the Statement which are also to take place in November? Who is to do all this work at a time when local authorities are being pressurised to reduce their staff and are experiencing great difficulty in dealing with the matter? I am sorry to press these details, but they are so important to millions of people in this country.

There is confusion about the heating addition. Some people find that, through all these manoeuvres of bureaucracy, they are losing their heating additions. There is something called the "excess income figure" which the DHSS has to send to the council before the council can pay benefit to a person. Again there are complaints of weeks and months of delay before the council gets this information. I want to be constructive, so may I suggest to the Minister that his department looks very thoroughly at the forms which are sent out in this connection? At present, each local authority can compose its own form, and these forms are self-completed. A very high percentage of forms are not completed properly and have to be returned, often because the forms themselves are unclear to start with. This high failure rate is very wasteful of time and money. I am sure that it would not be too difficult for advice to be given on this by the department.

Lastly, I hope that the noble Lord the Minister will give consideration to the setting up of an appeal system in the area of housing benefits similar to the appeal system that operates for supplementary benefit, with its appeal tribunals, with, if necessary, further appeal to the social security commissioners. At present, people who think that they do not receive a fair deal from these benefit arrangements are deprived of a proper appeal system. I very much hope not only that that will be set up, but that the widest publicity will be given to it.

There is no doubt that all over the country confusion, disappointment, poverty and anxiety are being caused by this housing benefit scheme. Although I do not expect the Minister today to promise a fundamental review of housing policy in this country, I hope that, when the committee which is to be set up reports, no time will be lost in making fundamental changes to what was a really hopeless, stupid innovation.

4.42 p.m.

My Lords, we on these Benches should also like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Glenarthur, for repeating this Statement. We should like to include our voices in the tributes that have been paid to the late Sir Arthur Armitage, whose Social Security Advisory Committee has done such valuable work.

On the question of the SSAC, is it not the case that the consultation period was extraordinarily short, and that all the local authority organisations complained about this? Would it not have been better to spend more time on this process of consultation and thus to have avoided the cumulative effects, of which the Government do not seem to have been aware? For example, in the original proposal some families might have been adversely affected as to £14 a week, or even more.

We certainly welcome the less savage increase in the rent and rate tapers. We also give a qualified welcome to the proposal that the qualifying period for modification of deductions for non-dependants aged 18 and over will be reduced from 90 days to 56 days, as proposed by the advisory committee. However, will the noble Lord confirm that apart from a young person qualifying under that clause, there will still be a huge increase in contributions by young people—from £3.10 to £8.20; in other words, a £6 increase in the contribution of non-dependants aged 18 and over? Are those still the correct figures?

The Statement also refers to people on YTS and it appears that their position will not be changed until November 1984. Can the noble Lord tell us whether normal young people on YTS will be expected to contribute the full rate of £8.20? Is that not an enormous amount on an allowance of £25?

The Statement refers to the enormous growth of housing benefit cost, and the original saving proposed was of the order of £230 million. Can the noble Lord tell us what the new figure is? In other words, what is the value of this package to consumers? In fact, was not this enormous growth in housing expenditure partly caused by the decision to raise the upper limit of mortgage tax relief at a cost of £200 million in the last Budget?

Finally, the Statement refers to a review team. Would it not be better to defer all changes until after the review—that is to say, until November? Is it not the case that local authority associations made it plain that they would find it very hard to rewrite their computer programs by 1st April? The Statement refers to full account of administrative problems having been taken. Is that really so? A rushed job will surely lead to over-payments or no payments, and increase frustration.

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Jeger, and to the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock, for their comments on the Statement which I have repeated. First, perhaps I may deal with the questions asked by the noble Baroness, Lady Jeger. The noble Baroness queried whether or not adequate facilities were available within the local authorities to cope with the changes. The fact is that facilities have been made available by the DHSS to help the local authorities cope with the changes that need to be made.

The noble Baroness asked about the date for a likely debate on the regulations. The fact is that the regulations are negative resolution regulations, so local authorities can start preparing for them now, as they actually have the force of law because they have been laid. However, it is up to the noble Baroness and others to decide whether or not they wish to debate them. No doubt, if they want to, that will indeed happen. Others of the regulations which are connected with these regulations are, in fact, affirmative regulations and I am sure that, when the noble Baroness sees them, she will realise that they are another matter, although they are not unconnected.

The noble Baroness said that we would have to go through the whole performance again in November. As she knows, round about July, when the rate of inflation for May is known, it will be possible to start making the necessary calculations to achieve the results for the up-rating in November. So the answer is not in any way other than in any other situation where benefits must be up-rated. The noble Baroness asked particularly whether payment could be made from the date of the application. Perhaps I may assure her that the regulations provide for back-dating of benefits to the date when the claim is received. Indeed, for standard cases—that is to say, for those not on supplementary benefit—local authorities have discretion to back-date benefit up to a year before the claim in exceptional circumstances.

I have already answered the question: why double the changes by effectively introducing them again in November? The noble Baroness asked whether an appeal system could be introduced following the review which I described when I repeated the Statement. This is very much a matter for the review to examine, and I hope that the noble Baroness will leave the matter at that. She asked various other questions on heating additions and other excesses which go slightly wide of the particular matter before us. If I can find any information on that, I shall of course let her have it.

I do not think that I can usefully be drawn on the question of forms now. Forms which are incorrectly filled in may be partly due to the fact that they are complex and partly due to the fact that those who are filling them in are not good at filling in forms. It is incredibly difficult to produce a form which satisfies everyone, but some substantial changes have been made in the quality of forms for matters of this sort over the last few years, and, from visits that I have made to local offices, I have seen the effect that these changes are having.

The noble Baroness asked about the need for adequate facilities for training and the need to improve administration, including the flow of certificates. The April changes are deliberately limited to changes in rates of benefit so that they can be administered quickly and without great training. The department has agreed with the local authority associations a number of proposals to improve the administration of the scheme. Some of these are contained in regulations laid today; some require only administrative action. A joint circular will shortly be sent to both local authorities and local offices about this, and it will stress the need for quick transfer of information, including certificates.

I turn to the points of the noble Lord, Lord Kilmarnock. He indicated that the consultation period was too short. The need to restrain the excessive growth of public expenditure, as was made plain at the time of the autumn statement, allowed a short period; nevertheless, to have allowed spending on the benefits of which these are part to have ripped ahead of sensible public expenditure would have been very unwise. Therefore, it was necessary to have a comparatively short time for consultation.

The noble Lord asked for some facts about whether the 16 to 17 year-olds on the youth training scheme would have a rise in their contributions up to £8·20. The answer is, no. The 16 to 17 year-olds who at the moment contribute nothing will contribute up to £3·10 but, if they are on supplementary benefit, or on the youth training scheme, or in receipt of non-contributory invalidity pension, the answer is that they will not be required to make any contribution.

The noble Lord asked about the value of the package. By this I imagine that he is asking what the value of the package is overall; the sum total that is going to be reduced. When it was announced original, the effect would have been a saving of £230 million in 1984–85. This has been reduced by some £33 million and further by about £20 million in 1985–86. The question of mortgages is not a matter for me. That is a matter of general taxation policy and so is for my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The noble Lord asked about the review team, and suggested that it might have been better to wait until the review team had got under way before doing what we are doing now. The fact is that steps had to be taken now. It is a subject which has been exercising many people and causing a great deal of uncertainty. It was right that certain changes should be made. It was equally right that my right honourable friend should announce that there is a review team under the independent chairmanship to which I referred, and that will be given effect to in the way I described.

My Lords, will the noble Lord accept that his Statement this afternoon will have done little to alleviate the fears of people up and down the country who know that this benefit scheme is in total chaos? Many town halls are struggling with reduced resources and reduced staff to come to terms with the original proposals. We have now had this new package, welcome though it may be, and I understood from local authorities and the computer people who advise them that it was going to be impossible to implement the original proposals by this April. Therefore, any further changes like this will only help to emphasise what we all said at the beginning—that the scheme was ill thought-out from the start.

The fact that the Government have had to have this major reshuffle before the original scheme has been totally implemented would seem to be an admission that the thing is not working. For that reason I had intended to ask the noble Lord, in the supplementary I withheld on my noble friend's original Question, to suspend the whole operation and have a review first, then introduce the changes, rather than, as the Government seem to be doing, introduce the changes and then have a review. That seems the wrong way round, and in my view will cause even more chaos than exists at the moment.

My Lords, I do not accept what the noble Lord, Lord Stallard, says about chaos and the way he has referred to it. We have to contain public expenditure now. We cannot necessarily contain it only in the future, and therefore it is important that these adjustments are made now. So far as the problems faced by local authorities are concerned, what I have repeated this afternoon indicates that only two major changes are going to go ahead in April; that is, the change in the tapers and the non-dependant deductions. That, of course, simplifies the matter for local authorities. In any case, our advice is that local authorities will be able to cope with the limited changes which are now being implemented. This is commented upon by the management consultants who have been looking at the matter with local authorities, and they are satisfied.

My Lords, does not the Minister agree with my noble friend that this really is a minimal crumb to come before us today? During the Statement the noble Lord said that, by concentrating it in this way, it will help local authorities with their administrative problems. How, by dealing in this rather stingy, mingy way, with tapers, by increasing from 21 per cent. to 26 per cent. in April, then from 26 per cent. to 29 per cent. in November, is this going to help any administrative problems? It is probably going to cost even more than it gets in by trying to deal with the matter in these two bites at the one cherry.

If the Government had taken the view that the 31 per cent. and even the 29 per cent.—which I agree is a slightly welcome reduction—were still too high, would not that have done much more to deal with this? Secondly, does the noble Lord accept that some real hardship will be caused by postponing the real increase in the housing benefit children's needs allowance from April, when it was to be increased by £1? Is it not true that, even if it will be £1·50 in April 1985, with the way inflation and unemployment are going up we do not even know what that will be worth in real terms?

Finally, on the question of housing, with which I am particularly concerned, is it not a fact that it is just a postponement of the higher rent scheme, and that in fact the amount of arrears which have been mounting up, as my noble friend pointed out, will in fact be getting even higher, and that unfortunately we shall by then have seen a great many evictions?

My Lords, the noble Baroness asks about tapers. She suggested, if I understood her drift correctly, that taking two slices at it would have the effect of increasing the work for local authorities. The Social Security Advisory Committee made the recommendation that the taper changes should carry some transitional protection. That is a recommen- dation of theirs, and one that we are adopting. So far as the children's needs allowance is concerned, it is not possible to contain public expenditure in the way that we are trying to contain it without some measure of control to try to mitigate the effects of the adjustments which are being made. The children's needs allowance is the one area in which it is possible now to make some restrictions. But by 1985 that will have been more than compensated for by increasing it to £1·50. I cannot forecast what inflation is going to be in 1985, but I can say that it is a great deal lower than it was in 1979, whichever way one looks at it.

So far as the higher rent thresholds are concerned, it is a fairly technical matter, as the noble Baroness will be aware. While the figure that we had before indicated an increase to 150 per cent.—which is what the figure stood at before—which has been gradually eroded, it is bad news, to some extent, I suppose one can say, that it is going up to 130 per cent., but it is good news that it is not going the whole way to 150 per cent. I hope I have got that right, but, if I have got it wrong, I hope I may explain it to the noble Baroness in writing.

My Lords, we have had a pretty good discussion on this subject, and I hope that it will be the will of the House that we now resume the debate on the Bill.

Prevention Of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Bill

4.59 p.m.

Second Reading debate resumed.

My Lords, before I get down to the meat of the business I should like to join other noble Lords in their congratulations to the noble Lord, Lord Henderson. I do not think that I have ever heard a tribute paid in better terms than the tribute by the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, and I should like to endorse everything that he has said.

At the outset I should like to welcome the Bill. I agree with so many other noble Lords in their sadness that in this day and age we should be discussing the suspension of civil rights and not their extension. The facts are that criminal violence and international criminal violence have grown to such an extent that without some legislative action the prime right, as my noble friend the Minister said, the right to live, is in great danger. It is a balancing act. We can go too far, but we can go not quite far enough. If we do not go far enough, the population will lose confidence in the forces of law and order and then retaliate and take the law into their own hands. That is the balance we have to carry out.

This is the Prevention of Terrorism Bill. Other noble Lords have been using statistics. I believe that it is impossible for those statistics to tell us the truth, which is: as a result of the operation of the previous Act, how many acts of terrorism have been prevented? I believe that many have been prevented.

The Bill is part of the legal paraphernalia to aid the forces of law and order. It is because of that that I heard with dismay the hysterical complaints about the visit of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh to Armagh barracks to the Grenadier Guards. These complaints were made by the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic and his great rival Mr. Haughey, and other Republicans in Northern Ireland joined in in condemning that visit.

The protests were in the tone and in terms which have given comfort to the IRA—the largest element of comfort or boost it has had since the escape from the Maze Prison. I do not know how many of your Lordships have seen the statements issued by the Government, but I thought that I would take all I could find to show that the Government have aided this comfort by failing to be clear about their position on this visit. On Friday the Northern Ireland Office said that it had no foreknowledge. On Saturday the Northern Ireland Office said that it was aware. On Sunday the Northern Ireland Office said that His Royal Highness was in the barracks for two hours. On Sunday Buckingham Palace said that His Royal Highness was there for 15 minutes. Lastly the MoD statement came out and I thought it crowned the whole lot. It said, "Prince Philip is rather a difficult fellow".

It is a serious point, but can we not stop apologising? The visit happened. The Irish Government had no right to speak, certainly nor did Mr. Haughey, and that should have been the end of it. But many people have been slandered. And I thought I should try to put into perspective for this House the conditions and the state of County Armagh which is where that battalion is operating and from which battalion eight men have been charged with serious crimes including murder. They have been charged as a result of a supergrass. When supergrasses put away Republicans then "supergrass" is a dirty word and should be condemned. I have yet to hear any Republican condemn the use of a supergrass for the eight men in the UDR.

At the outset I should make it absolutely clear that I condemn murder without equivocation or qualification whatsoever. There are certain Prelates in Northern Ireland who never condemn in the way that His Holiness the Pope did when he said, "Murder is murder" and that is that.

The first point I must make clear is that these eight men come from a battalion of about 600. They are innocent until they are proved guilty. I believe that the protestors are in contempt of court because, were the trial to be a jury trial, the defence in my view—I am not a lawyer—would be quite right to say that in front of a jury a fair trial would be impossible. I hope that the Attorney General might look at those who are within our jurisdiction. There are some who are not.

It is intolerable to have Dublin politicians interfering with United Kingdom justice. There are hundreds of honourable and brave soldiers in that UDR battalion. They should not be labelled "guilty" when they are not even suspected. Mr. Haughey, probably the future Prime Minister of the Irish Republic, called for the disbandment of the Ulster Defence Regiment, because there were few Roman Catholics in it. I should like to remind the House that when the UDR was first formed the proportion of Roman Catholics to Protestants—both communities—was a satisfactory balance. But the Roman Catholics have been so murdered and so intimidated by the IRA that their numbers have become minimal. That has happened as a result of the IRA, whose foundation was laid by certain Southern politicians with the aid of a large sum of money.

The history of the Ulster Defence Regiment is something of which I am very proud. Some 32,000 Ulstermen have either served or are still serving in the Ulster Defence Regiment. Of course, they are not all angels, but what group of 32,000 Englishmen, Irishmen or Scotsmen would all be angels? Their record of service is unbelievable. The risks they have run on our behalf will never he repaid. On a recent agricultural visit I had the honour of taking some noble Lords round to meet some of those brave men in their isolated farmhouses and other places where they live. I invite any other noble Lords to come to Northern Ireland and I will take them round so that they too may appreciate the bravery of these men.

The particular climate in Armagh since that battalion started is no excuse for retaliation, if retaliation has occurred. But since 1969, 161 Protestants have been murdered in a deliberate attempt at genocide. If one multiplies the population in those two police areas up to that of London and then multiplies the murders, the rate would be running at 25,000 murders. That is the climate in which they are serving. Most of the murders originated and were carried out by people from across the border—Mr. Haughey's country and that of the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic.

This describes the atmosphere. If these eight soldiers are found guilty it is the Government's failure to protect that population which has led to the frustration which has caused the retaliation. Thereby, if they are found guilty, they are playing into the hands of the IRA and I condemn it absolutely. There is no excuse.

A great boost has been handed to the IRA because of the rivalry—that is all it is—between two politicians. Mr. Haughey is trying to take the carpet from under the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic and the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic has made a statement because he knew Mr. Haughey was going to try to take the trousers off him—and he did on television yesterday. But this rivalry is putting our lives at risk. It is totally unjustified and I protest against it. Like the noble Lord, I should like to express my complete confidence in the forces of the Crown as, I hope, would all in this House. I recognise that this Bill makes their task possible. Without it, it would be impossible.

5.10 p.m.

My Lords, even after three Statements I think that we can all agree with the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, when he says that terrorism is one of the greatest scourges of the modern era. Contrary to what is sometimes said, I suggest that it is seldom completely mindless or unthinking and is usually very coldly calculated. It is dangerous, in particular, because it inspires fear and panic and induces irrational behaviour, even sometimes in Governments. I think we have a duty to take measured and considered steps against terrorism. Our aim should be to protect democratic law and order, with minimum harm to human rights and civil liberties. We need also to beware of the illusion that security measures alone may be able to resolve the problems of Northern Ireland, as some parties have sometimes suggested, although I know that it is not the Government's view.

I should like to welcome all the considerable improvements that this Bill incorporates over its predecessor. As to the proscription of organisations, I agree entirely with what was said earlier by the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder. The noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, noted in his report and the noble Lord, Lord Elton, confirmed in his introduction of the Bill, the growth of international terrorism. I think it is by no means absolutely certain that present powers to protect very obvious targets such as Parliament itself, the Royal palaces and diplomatic premises are adequate. We might well consider whether protection could be improved either in this Bill or by other means.

Under the Bill, it is possible for a person to be detained for up to seven days. The Police and Criminal Evidence Bill lays down a maximum of four days' detention. Can Her Majesty's Government really justify the extra three days? I should like to see applications for detention of more than 48 hours decided by a judge in chambers. Such an application is similar to a bail hearing. Judges are experienced in these matters and, of course, are a good deal more available than the Secretary of State himself. As to access, I should like to see rights of access by a doctor—and, when possible, a doctor of the detainee's choice—after 24 hours and by a solicitor after 48 hours. This would follow the recommendations of the Bennett Committee.

Can the noble Lord the Minister say whether those who will be detained under this Bill will be covered by the access provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill? Those who are arrested under Prevention of Terrorism provisions in Great Britain will, I hope, he supplied with a written statement of their rights. Again, it would be good to have confirmation of this. This, too, would be in line with the Bennett recommendation (paragraph 91) and with the Home Office draft code of practice on the treatment of suspects, which came out in November 1982. Will Her Majesty's Government provide compensation if loss, rather than just brief inconvenience, is suffered by a person wrongly arrested and detained, for example, in cases of mistaken identity?

May I urge Her Majesty's Government to consider the various points that have been raised by the Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights in Northern Ireland? The commission wanted the period of detention under Clause 13 to be very much shorter than that under Clause 12. They suggested a period of only four hours. This, I think, would be enough to establish the identity of the arrested person and is, in fact, the same period as has the Army in Northern Ireland for its arrests under Section 14 of the Emergency Provisions Act. I am sure that the Government will take very seriously the commission's points about discrimination against Northern Ireland residents legitimately travelling to and from the mainland. The commission is very well placed to assess the impact of this and other points on community relations and their potential for arousing dislike, and even hatred, of the United Kingdom Government.

This Bill, it has been pointed out, perpetuates major restrictions on traditional liberties. It confers wide and sweeping powers on the Secretary of State and it was very little, although slightly, amended in another place. I had hoped that it would omit anything to do with exclusion orders, or at least confine them to persons who had already left either Great Britain or Northern Ireland. The Standing Commission described these orders as providing for internal exile and said that they could be punitive in effect. I take it from what the noble Lord the Minister has already said that the Secretary of State before making an order takes into account the likelihood of a man losing his job or his house and the probable impact on his wife and children, if any, along with all the other security factors. I should like to follow, again at this point, what the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, said about compensation for persons who are excluded.

For these and other reasons your Lordships should examine the Bill most minutely and possibly amend it. I should like to follow the noble Lord, Lord Wigoder, in what he said about the scrutiny arrangement of the workings of this Bill. I should be very much happier if there could be a standing parliamentary committee, perhaps drawn from both Houses, to oversee this legislation and also the Emergency Provisions Acts. I think that such a committee would greatly improve the annual or six-monthly debates on renewal. The committee could receive complaints from individuals and could take evidence in camera. We already have two European conventions, one on human rights and one on terrorism. Like many others, I should like to see the former convention incorporated into English law. I should also like to see these conventions backed up by a European code on the treatment and interrogation of suspects.

5.19 p.m.

My Lords, I am sorry I was not present to hear the opening speeches of this debate; and, because I was not, I will make my speech short. I wanted to express my feelings of opposition and concern that if this Bill, together with the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill in its present form, are passed through Parliament during this year, then together that will represent a victory for the most authoritarian elements in our society. What started as being a temporary emergency measure has become, as such measures so often do become, something permanent and normal, with, now, the legislation being renewed with little essential change in its most objectionable features. The more it becomes entrenched and the more it becomes used, the closer we become to abdicating the rule of law in matters of individual liberty and giving power to the Executive.

When a Government Minister, as under this Bill and its predecessor, unchecked by any court, can order the detention of a citizen for seven whole days; when a Government Minister, unchecked by any court, can order the banishment of a citizen to a particular part of the country in which he lives; when a Government Minister, unchecked by any court, can declare that an organisation is to be banned; and when those measures, enacted for a temporary purpose, become a permanent part of our legislation, then the time is coming to say, "We are going too far". We are allowing ourselves to be deceived, by those who do not want to give up those powers, into believing that they are necessary for the prevention of crime. But the police have all kinds of powers now, irrespective of this legislation, for the prevention of crime, for the arrest of suspects, the searching of homes and the exclusion of undesirable aliens. These powers increasingly are being used not for the prevention of crime but for the control over those who are thought to be dissident.

My Lords, might I interrupt the noble Lord for one moment? I am always astonished at the reluctance of certain people to prevent the criminal from going his own happy way. How about the law-abiding person? Are his rights of liberty to be sacrificed because the criminal must have his way?

My Lords, the difficulty with legislation of this kind is that more and more law-abiding people get sucked into detention under this. When criminals are suspected of being guilty of offences the law has, and always has had, a full measure of authority to arrest them, to charge them and to bring them to trial.

I would wish to make two protests over certain aspects of this Bill, and particularly of Part IV, which have a significance far beyond the conflict in Northern Ireland which was the genesis of this emergency legislation. The first is that we are being obliged to discuss the re-enactment, with some changes, of the provisions of Part IV, dealing with the arrest and detention of suspects quite separately from the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill. The Government are due to bring before us later this year a wide-ranging measure which is now being discussed in the other place. When it comes to this House, there will, I hope, be a very serious discussion about the limits of police powers and the extent to which police powers need to be increased, to the detriment of civil liberties.

The Government in their wisdom have put forward a pattern in the Bill that there are certain offences to be considered serious offences which justify detention of up to four days, subject to safeguards that the detained person must be brought before a court and must have access to a lawyer. Those provisions we shall debate: but we are now being asked to pass a measure dealing with what I suppose the Government are putting into a separate category of "super-serious offences" where the time limit is to be seven days, where there is to be no right of access to a lawyer and, still worse, there is to be no right of access to a court. The noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, tried to frame his recommendations on the basis that the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill was going to be passed, but we have not passed it and we, should have the right to debate the whole question of police powers of arrest for serious crime in a package. I would ask that the whole of Part IV be taken out of this Bill and discussed in the context of the Bill to come before us later this year.

My second protest deals with the same part of the Bill and with the definition of those who are to be subject to the powers of arrest and detention of up to seven days under Clause 12. The people who may be detained are those who are suspected of being
"concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism to which this Part of this Act applies".
Further down we read that that means,
"acts of terrorism of any description"
occurring anywhere in the world unless they are related exclusively to the United Kingdom other than Northern Ireland. Later in Clause 14 we read that:
"'terrorism' means the use of violence for political ends"
Therefore, anyone who is suspected of even instigating the use of violence for political ends anywhere in the world and in any connection other than a purely English or British one is liable to arrest and detention under this Bill.

We live in a violent world. There are deep conflicts taking place around it. There are people of every political and social creed and description, engaged both as governments and not as governments, using violence for political ends. If I support, as I do, the right of the people of South Africa to take up arms against the intolerable régime of apartheid, am I instigating the use of violence for political ends? And if other noble Lords support the right of the people of Afghanistan to rebel against the rule of the Soviet-backed government, are they instigating the use of violence for political ends?

One can look around the world and see Saharans, Eritreans, Namibians, Salvadoreans, Palestinians and so on who are engaged, rightly or wrongly, in the use of violence for political ends, some of whom regularly and legitimately come to this country to explain why they are engaged in such acts. Are they all to be subject to arrest? Presumably not. Or are they to be subject to arrest only if their particular creed or form of struggle is offensive to Her Majesty's Government? That makes it still more arbitrary. This clause is dangerous, and I hope that in Committee we shall manage to limit it, at the very least, to offences or suspected offences which have a connection with Northern Ireland, which was, after all, the genesis of this legislation.

I have kept to the wider issues. I do not want it to be thought that I am happy with the other parts of the Bill which are limited to the affairs of Northern Ireland. I am not; and I hope to be able to take part in the Committee proceedings. But even if every clause relating to the affairs of Northern Ireland in this Bill was necessary, the Bill would have more fundamental and wider objections. It goes far wider than the threat of terrorism in Northern Ireland. It is, the more we keep it on the statute book, and, still more, the more we use it, a threat to our liberties.

5.27 p.m.

My Lords, it is always a pleasure to follow an hereditary Peer from what I may describe as the younger generation who has made by far the most radical speech of the day. I do not agree with a word of it so I shall not follow it in any sense, except that what I am going to say I hope will be largely on the other side. But, first, I must say with what pleasure I heard the admirable maiden speech of my noble friend—I must call him so—Lord Henderson of Brompton. It is, and has been, a tradition in this House that maiden speeches make reference to literature of some kind or another, and we had a rich dividend from the noble Lord today. I should like to cap his comments about Milton's speech in the House of Commons in this way: it is a pity that Dr. Johnson did not overlap enough to report him in his Hansard-writing days, because he thought absolutely nothing of him, as the noble Lord will remember from his steady perusal of the lives of the poets. He made several important points but they are all really points we shall come to in Committee, so I will say no more than that his speech gave great pleasure to me and to everybody else in the House, and we look forward to hearing a great deal more from him.

I was shocked and depressed that the Labour Party in another place could not vote for a Second Reading of this Bill but found it necessary to move an amendment in a contrary sense. I was glad to see that most of my former ministerial colleagues in Northern Ireland were hestitant about this. Not one of them spoke in favour of it. Two of my favourites, I am sorry to say, voted in its favour, but neither of the two Secretaries of State with whom I was concerned, nor any of the others, seemed to have voted at all. No doubt they were diplomatically elsewhere.

I was a junior Minister in Northern Ireland when the original Bill was brought in in 1974. I welcomed it wholeheartedly then and I welcome it wholeheartedly now. The changes recommended by the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, approved this evening by the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, and explained by the Minister, are sensible and I support them. I shall not go into them again. I am at a loss to understand the Labour Party's opposition but I absolutely accept the statement by the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, that it was for good and honourable reasons. I accept that fully. I know how difficult it is in party politics not to have to support a certain number of things about which you are not at all sure, but it is very awkward indeed to support things which you ought, in my opinion, to be absolutely certain are wrong. However, that is the nearest I shall go to criticism. I was just very much upset by this and I think it was a very serious mistake. I think it is due to a complete lack of understanding of the sort of struggle and the ruthlessness of the struggle which is going on.

I remember the first speech that I ever made in your Lordships' House as a Northern Ireland Minister. It must have been early in the troubles—I suppose, March 1974. Several speakers said that they thought the new Labour Ministers there were giving too little support to the RUC and the military, and one said that the army was having to fight with one hand tied behind its back. I promised to look into this, and did so. Of course, it was my Secretary of State's business, not mine, but he said, "Go round to the local army commanders and see what they say" I did and I met with no complaints of political holding back. The army were always very understanding of the political position. They knew very well that the terrorists could succeed only if a fair group of the local population would give them safe shelter. They knew that too much harrassment worked against the decent people who deplored violence and who sheltered gunmen only because they had relations among them or would be beaten up if they did not.

Even so, there was a lot of information gained from interviews and the number of knee-cappings in those early days shows that it is not only supergrasses who tell tales. There was constant information coming and constant punishment of people who gave it. It does not suggest to me that they gave it under very much pressure, but this is a matter about which it is very difficult to be certain. I certainly think that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, when he complained of certain practices there, was right, though I must say that I travelled back in the aeroplane with a Brigadier—he has just got an important job somewhere else—who said. "I have never heard such rot in my life. I was tortured properly by the Japanese. What we are doing is kids' play". Still I think that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Gardiner, was absolutely right to see that we did not do it and I do not think it has been done since. It was a question of making people stand up in a certain position for a long time and things of that sort. It was very unsatisfactory and I am glad that we stopped it.

The security forces told me then, and they would tell your Lordships now, that they know almost every gunman by name and often his address over the border. It was, and is, extremely difficult to pin the crimes on people who had pretty certainly committed them, particularly when witnesses usually refused to appear in court to confirm their evidence and often got shot-up if they did; hence the Diplock courts.

I know very well that the mainland is not the same. The population here, thank goodness, is 99 per cent. totally hostile to the gunmen wherever they come from. But the IRA, the main enemy, is well organized, well fleeced with money and weapons, and I do not believe we can do less than give the police everything, in reason, that they ask for in their difficult and dangerous task of defending this country from terrorists. In Northern Ireland, it was true that too much searching, too much roughness on the part of the RUC gave great offence and it was gradually eased down, because it was absolutely essential not to lose the support of the ordinary population. When my Secretary of State gave up the detention system, by which people were sent into the Maze without trial, it was for that reason and it was with the total understanding of the army.

Nothing of that sort exists here. I do not believe for a moment that ill feeling is being worked up because certain people, a few hundreds, are stopped at the border. Five hours ago, just to make sure about this Bill, I rang up Sir Kenneth Newman, with whom I worked over there eight years ago and whom I greatly admired, and asked his views. He said simply, "The Bill is essential to our success".

We must not send them out with one hand tied behind their backs. It is, of course, a balance between the civil rights of the ordinary man and support of the police against the most ruthless gangsters. I believe that the ordinary British citizen, and a majority of the Irish citizens who live in this country, will be wholeheartedly in support of this Bill, which gives the police the support that they need to do their job, and would put up with the inconvenience of temporary detention and questioning without complaint in a good cause. I have the same figures as the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, quoted and I draw an absolutely opposite conclusion from them. There were 5,500 people detained in the eight years that the Act has been in force and 655 were charged, which is over one in 10. Of these 655,261 were excluded and 109 were charged under the Act. The rest of those 655 were charged with offences not under the Act. Of the 370—that is, 261 plus 109—who were excluded or charged under the Act, I think one can say that each one might have been a bomber. The only existing charge under the Act which is not of the most serious kind is under Clause 11; the question of information. It may have been that a great many of them were stopped for that reason, although it seems most unlikely. In any case, if you get 300 out of 5,000 and you think you have stopped 200 potential gunmen, then the price is extremely cheap and I draw exactly the opposite conclusion to that of my noble friend on the Labour Front Bench.

I do not believe that the ordinary citizen would grudge the inconvenience, which, as I think the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, said, is usually an hour or two and not a day or two. It is only a day or two when there is something that needs a great deal of explanation. The only people who are likely to complain are those who have some connection with the IRA or with any other terrorist organisation which they are frightened may be exposed. When it is not exposed, which is very often the case, good luck to them. They go off and have another go. But if you think I mind because they are minding, I assure your Lordships that I do not and I hope the House does not either.

We support the Bill in its entirety and we shall have the chance in Committee to introduce any minor variations which may seem desirable. There are two clauses which need closely looking at. One is Clause 11, which we have talked about, and the other was mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Gifford, and is the universal clause, which needs very careful examination. It is an agreeable and unusual position for me to be supporting the noble Lord on the Government Front Bench, but I am very happy to do so.

5.40 p.m.

My Lords, I believe that I owe the Minister an apology for not being in my place when he commenced his speech, but I had been obliged to keep a previously arranged appointment. Your Lordships will know that I am one of the most junior and least experienced Members of your Lordships' House, but I recall with gratitude the guidance which the noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton, gave me about 12 months ago when I became a Member of your Lordships' House. Although I very much appreciate the historical references in his speech, I regret that on this occasion I am unable to accept the guidance which he has tendered.

The House is being asked to form a judgment on a difficult and important issue. The Minister and, indeed, all Members of your Lordships' House who have spoken this afternoon have properly acknowledged that the powers bestowed on the Secretary of State and the police by the Bill are exceptional. We have been reminded about how the Home Secretary who introduced the predecessor Act of 1974 described his powers as draconian and unprecedented in peacetime. The powers are so abnormal that the legislation is to be subject to annual renewal and expressly limited in duration, but we recall that the 1974 Act was to last possibly for no more than six months. Subject to annual review, this legislation will endure for five years. Therefore, the legislation is becoming that much more permanent, though I, for my part, am grateful that the word "temporary" has been reintroduced into the title of the Bill.

I shall not go over the clauses. However, it is right that I should very briefly draw your Lordships' attention to three of the powers contained in the Bill. The noble Lord the Minister has referred to two of them. I wish to draw your Lordships' attention to these powers so that we may perceive how fundamental they are to the liberty of the subject and see, even if we do not always sympathise with it, the force of the criticism which has been levelled at them.

First, the Bill gives to the Home Secretary the unlimited power to ban any organisation which appears to him to be concerned with terrorism, but his belief as to the association is subjective, the proscription order is not made after an inquiry to which the organisation is a party and the Secretary of State's decision cannot be appealed against. The noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, concluded that he would be loth to see any addition to the list of proscribed organisations, but we note that he did not go further and recommend the removal of this part of the existing legislation.

The second power to which I wish to refer is also contained in the predecessor Act. It is the unlimited power given to the Secretary of State, without cause assigned, to exclude a citizen from his domicile if it appears to the Minister to be expedient to do so in order to prevent an act of terrorism. The House should be reminded, if indeed it requires to be reminded, that until 1974 the power of banishment or exile had for centuries been unheard of in peacetime in our country. I shall not refer to the dissidents in the USSR, but I will refer to Article 24 of the Soviet Criminal Code which provides for exile and banishment as (this is my point) a form of punishment for a convicted person. But the article in the Soviet Criminal Code provides that exile is not to be applied to a convicted person who has not attained the age of 18, or to a pregnant woman, or to a woman with dependent children.

Thirdly, the Bill gives to the police the power to arrest without warrant a citizen if they reasonably suspect that he is or has been concerned with acts of terrorism. Moreover, such a person can be detained with the consent of the Minister for a period of up to seven days. During that very long week the most famous writ in England, the writ of habeas corpus, is not available to the detainee. Therefore, a brief reference to these powers brings us back to the point from which I started: that the Bill represents an extraordinary interference with the civil liberties of the subject.

Very substantial risks are inherent in a situation where there is a conflict between the interests of national security on the one hand and the basic liberties of the individual on the other. It is argued that if the powers contained in this Bill are not introduced, the executive could lose control of the situation. If, on the other hand, those powers are too severe or are abused, such powers can be counter-productive. The noble Lord, Lord Fitt, who has great experience of the situation in Northern Ireland, has spoken of how counter-productive the legislation can be. The balance is a matter for Parliament. Usually Parliament gets the balance right but it may get it wrong.

It appears to be the accepted view—although the great Lord Atkin, had he been among us, would probably have questioned and challenged this view—that the exercise of the powers contained in the Bill, being powers to be exercised for the protection of the state, cannot be examined by a court of law. The noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton, referred to this view. It is claimed that in this situation one cannot substitute the decision of the judges for the decision of the Minister. We are familiar with the reasoning: that the facts placed before the executive authority are confidential matters of public importance and should not be disclosed to a court of law. That reasoning was accepted in 1942, 40 years ago, during the crisis of the second world war. But Lord Atkin, dissenting in a powerful speech and using these words, to which I attach a great deal of importance, said:
"In this country, amid the clash of arms, the laws are not silent. They may be changed but they speak the same language in war as in peace. And it has always been one of the pillars of freedom and of the principles of liberty for which, on recent authority, we are now fighting that the judges are no respecters of persons and stand between the subject and any attempt at encroachments on his liberty by the executive".
The accepted view, that a court cannot explore the mind of the executive authority, certainly applies in wartime, but should this be an unshakable view in peacetime? First things come first. Before the executive arms itself with such powers it must establish to the satisfaction of the Houses of Parliament, drawn from every class and corner, that this is absolutely necessary. Has that been established in connection with this Bill? Has that case been made out?

There is no unanimity in 1984 as to the need for granting such powers to the Executive. Certainly the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, in the light of the facts and reports which he carefully studied, found that the powers should not be dispensed with. That was also the judgment of the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton. The Government rely heavily on that guidance. But there is also an opposite view. It is argued by many individuals and organisations—and not only by the ever-vigilant National Council for Civil Liberties—that the noble Earl's conclusions are not conclusive of the matter.

There exists one powerful argument against reenacting the anti-terrorism legislation to which reference has not been made in your Lordships' House this afternoon. In 1974, the legislation itself had been shaped by conflict and fear. It could be argued that it has increased tension. We cannot undo history, but we need persistent efforts to relax the tension. It is a matter of judging the occasions when to stand firm and when to begin moving towards reconciliation. It is our belief—and I accept that it can be no more than a belief—that the non-re-enactment of the Act may lead to the gradual relaxation of tension. This, in turn, could lead to a breakthrough to a broader social order in Northern Ireland embodying justice and reasoning. It behoves Parliament to seek to move beyond legislation shaped by conflict and confrontation and to seek broader solutions. We believe, rightly or wrongly, that the re-enactment of the 1976 legislation could be a step towards that end.

If, on balance—and we accept that the argument does go this way—it is considered proper in peacetime to renew that legislation, then Parliament must be constantly vigilant and alert to the possible abuse of these powers; bearing in mind that the possessor of those powers may not always realise that he is abusing them, and bearing in mind also that we cannot assume that a detainee will always receive fair treatment. We cannot overlook that there is, as always, a seamy side to life.

In January 1983 the noble Earl, Lord Jellicoe, made a large number of recommendations to help ensure that such powers were not abused. He made about a dozen recommendations which could be implemented by circular or administrative action. That was more than a year ago. I shall be grateful if the Minister will inform the House how many of the noble Earl's recommendations which did not have to wait upon legislation but which could have been implemented by circular or administrative action have been accepted but not yet implemented, and how many have been rejected.

As my noble friend Lord Mishcon has explained, the Committee will have to consider whether the Bill should include more safeguards for the citizen. Should the aggrieved citizen be given the right to make representations to a standing advisory committee, as I believe was provided for in wartime legislation? Again, should the Home Secretary be under a duty to publish a monthly report to Parliament as to the actions taken by him under the Act, as I believe was also provided for under wartime legislation? Our concern from these Benches will be to safeguard our people against the abuses of power. The abuse of power can in itself be a form of tyranny.

5.55 p.m.

My Lords, I have listened with the greatest of attention and respect to all that your Lordships have had to say. I should like to start by congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton (I cannot forebear from calling him "my noble friend" as well—why should I be left out of this?) on a remarkably concise and lucid maiden speech. I can assure the noble Lord that I shall never think of him as an isolated atoll. I can think of few people who are less of an island unto themselves alone than the noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton. I shall, on the contrary, think of him as a principal adornment of the distinguished archipelago which has its place on the Cross-Benches of your Lordships' House.

I will try first to pick up a number of specific points which your Lordships have raised and will then return to general matters. I will say first to the noble Lord, Lord Henderson of Brompton, that we must obviously consider very carefully in Committee the case he has advanced for separate orders under Clause 17. But I am bound to tell your Lordships that the Government, having looked closely at this aspect, believe that the Bill contains adequate provisions for parliamentary review and that further changes will not be appropri- ate. But our ears and eyes are not shut to what your Lordships may bring before us.

The noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, who has contributed notably to the progress of these issues since they first reached the statute book, referred to his recommendation about the welfare of persons held under the legislation in Great Britain and to my noble friend's recognition that its implementation had been patchy. This relates to the noble Lord's Recommendation 16. I am glad to be able to tell your Lordships that the draft code of practice on the treatment of suspects issued in conjunction with the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill includes in paragraph 8 the requirement that cells in use for detainees should be adequately lit, heated and ventilated, aired and cleaned every working day; and that bedding must be regularly cleaned and fit for use. The code lays down also other requirements for access to washing and toilet facilities, exercise, and the provision of replacement clothing. The draft code will apply in this respect to persons detained under the prevention of terrorism legislation in exactly the same way as to any other persons detained by the police.

My Lords, if I may intervene at this point, there is a difference between somebody being held for a relatively short peiod of time and being held for seven days and given baked beans for his meal every day. Is there anything on diet? I hope that there can be some special provision for those who are detained under this particular Act.

I would rather wait until Committee, my Lords, to give the noble Lord a more specific reply to his question. I accept entirely that there is a difference between being kept in a cell for seven hours and for seven days. My noble friend Lord Brookeborough raised a number of important matters. I am sure that he will forgive me if I do not follow him down some of the paths he tempted me with. I must confirm that those members of the Ulster Defence Regiment who face serious charges have not yet come to trial, so no judgment can be passed in this House or anywhere else. It is certainly true that the UDR as a whole has shown great courage and dedication in the fight against terrorism. The regiment has suffered nearly 140 deaths since 1970. That should be on the record, but I do not wish to go further.

I wish to thank the noble Lord, Lord Hylton, for giving notice of the points that he raised. He referred to the need for legislation of this kind to be subject to very close scrutiny. He suggested that a standing parliamentary committee should be charged with that work. The Government have accepted the recommendation of my noble friend Lord Jellicoe that this legislation should be of a limited life, and that is incorporated in subsection (3) of Clause 17. We believe that by providing for the Act to have a limited life, and for retaining the requirement for annual renewal—and bearing in mind my noble friend Lord Jellicoe's clear recommendation that a thorough review should precede any re-enactment—I hope your Lordships will accept that exceptional arrangements for close scrutiny have already been made. I do not believe that a specific body should be set up to keep an eye on the situation from day to day.

Like my noble friend Lord Jellicoe, Her Majesty's Government are well aware of the serious disruption which may be caused to the lives of those who are excluded under Part II of the Bill and to their families, to which a number of noble Lords referred. It was this consideration which led us to accept the recommendation that the period of ordinary residence in a part of the United Kingdom which exempts a British citizen from exclusion from that part should be reduced from 20 years to three years. I should also draw attention to Clauses 4(3) and 5(3), which require the Secretary of State to have regard, in deciding whether to make an exclusion order, to whether the person's connection with any other country or territory is such as to make it appropriate that such an order should be made. I can assure your Lordships that my right honourable friend does consider very carefully the implications of exclusion not only for the individual but also for his family.

The noble Lord, Lord Hylton, was concerned with compensation for improper detention. Here I have to direct his attention to Section 48 of the Police Act 1964. This section makes the Chief Constable liable in respect of torts committed by officers under his direction and control. Any damages or costs awarded against the Chief Constable are paid by the police authority. The police authority may, if it thinks fit, make a payment in settlement of a claim; any payment made is wholly a matter for the police authority concerned. In other words, there is a procedure for the compensation of those improperly detained. I can assure him and other noble Lords that Clause 52 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill, as drafted, gives persons arrested under the prevention of terrorism legislation an absolute right to see a solicitor 48 hours after their arrest. The Police and Criminal Evidence Bill draft code of practice on treatment of suspects provides that if a detainee requests a medical examination it must be carried out as soon as possible, either by a police surgeon or by a doctor of the detainee's choice. If a detainee makes an allegation of assault while in custody the police surgeon must be called immediately to examine him, and the detainee must be asked whether he wishes his own doctor to be called. Although the arrangements for detention of suspects in Northern Ireland provide for a medical officer to see detainees every 24 hours, the Government's view is that for Great Britain the arrangements I have just outlined provide sufficient safeguards both for the detainees and, I should add, for the police.

The noble Lord, Lord Hylton, drew our attention to the suggestion of the Northern Ireland Standing Advisory Committee on Human Rights that the initial period of detention should be four hours, in line with that permitted to the army in Northern Ireland under the emergency powers legislation. I think it is clear that this is not appropriate to a police operation. It would be impracticable for the police to seek authorisation for an extension after such a short time. It would in practice mean that the Secretary of State would have to base his decision whether or not to grant an extension on the same information or intelligence as the original arrest instead of being able to take into account any additional considerations which had come to light during the initial period of the detention.

The noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, asked about the position of a person who failed to give information about a third party because he could not do so without incriminating himself. Section 11 has been amended in pursuance of Recommendation 59 of my noble friend's report so that it is clear that the information in question must be about a third party. In the case to which the noble Lord, Lord Mishcon, referred there can be no general answer; it must depend on the facts and on the court's application of the defence of "without reasonable excuse" in the light of their understanding of the facts. I suspect there is a certain opacity in that which the noble Lord will want later to test.

As I said in my opening speech, I can tell the noble Lord, Lord Prys-Davies, that only four of the 59 recommendations made by my noble friend Lord Jellicoe and requiring actions are still under consideration. The remainder have been incorporated in this Bill and in the Police and Criminal Evidence Bill, or implemented by administrative means. That is not a bad score, if I may say so.

With the noble Lord, Lord Shackelton, I should also like to congratulate Lord Mishcon on what Lord Shackleton rightly said was a very skilful speech. In so far as he said that your Lordships would be wise to test the need for every provision in the Bill which diminishes by one iota the natural rights and freedoms of British citizens, I can have no quarrell with him. With Milton, Pitt and Henderson, whether in the House of Commons or out of it, I regard the term "necessity" with suspicion. I do not plead necessity; I plead duty. The duty of Government is to protect the rights of individual private citizens, and immeasurably the most precious of those rights is the right to stay alive. As the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, rightly reminded us, the people who died outside Harrods were individuals, and they lost that right. If we were now to disarm ourselves of some of the powers to pursue and interdict those who murder and mutilate our fellow citizens, that would indeed be a very grave dereliction of duty by the Government. We are arguing about inescapable principle. There are people and there are organisations dedicated both to the overthrow of part of this state and to achieving it by slaughtering its citizens. Against that we must always arm ourselves; and the rights that we diminish are but a fraction of the right that we seek to preserve.

The noble Lord, Lord Gifford, deplored continued extension of special powers to deal with terrorism on the grounds that thereby they were becoming entrenched. He was echoed from his Front Bench. He maintained I think an almost total silence about the steady and quite remarkable process of curtailment of these admitted infringements of individual liberties. This is not entrenchment, it has always been subject to annual debate. It is now for the first time given an absolute limit of five years. All these constraints have been imposed not by a reluctant Government but by a Government which has actually commissioned the advice on which these contraints have been extended.

One of the paradoxes of democracy is that in order to defend its essential components from those who seek to destroy them entirely, it is from time to time necessary to constrain some of those components themselves. Here there is a question of balance; for it is not much consolation to be free if, as a consequence, you are also dead. Noble Lords opposite can advocate constraints on the use of these powers with absolute propriety. But where they advise us to lay them down, I think that they have got it entirely wrong. It is not for us to put the lives of innocent fellow citizens in the balance against the theory of liberty and find them lighter in consideration. That is something to which we shall doubtless return at Committee. It must be fundamental to our whole treatment of this Bill. Parliament has to get it right—and, with the House of Commons, we are Parliament. To believe that non re-enactment would herald a movement to peace on our streets and in our towns would be to delude ourselves. I think that we must look at all the amendments put down to the powers in this Bill with that very much in mind, because we are not a tyrannical Government, nor do I see how we can be painted as such. Your Lordships have been good-tempered, lucid and short in your speeches. I have tried to emulate you in my reply.

On Question, Bill read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

Town And Country Planning Bill

6.9 p.m.

My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Bellwin, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—( Lord Skelmersdale.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.


Clause 1 [ Application for planning permission etc. in anticipation of disposal of Crown land.]

moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 3, leave out from beginning of line 4 to ("but") in line 7 and insert ("(8) Any permission or consent granted before the date on which this section comes into force which would have been a valid planning permission, listed building consent or conservation area consent but for the fact that—
  • (a) the land in respect of which it was granted was Crown land; and
  • (b) no interest in the land was for the time being held otherwise than by or on behalf of the Crown,
  • shall be deemed to have been a valid planning permission, listed building consent or conservation area consent, as the case may be").
    The noble Lord said: During the debate on Second Reading, the noble Baroness, Lady Nicol, whose absence from the Committee I regret but the reasons for which I fully understand, referred to doubts which had been expressed about the drafting of this very important subsection (8) of Clause 1. Of course, the same point had been made earlier in another place and in writing by the Association of County Councils. It remains our view that the original drafting achieved the desired effect of validating permissions which authorities had unlawfully granted for the development of Crown land in which there was no subsisting private interest on the basis of a misapprehension about the effect of Section 266 of the 1971 Act and its Scottish equivalent.

    Nevertheless, we have felt it right to ask parliamentary counsel to redraft the subsection to overcome any doubts which might still exist in the minds of some authorities about the validity of these permissions after the Bill comes into operation, and this amendment is the outcome. It has the same effect as the original subsection (8) but we hope that those who were worried will find it easier to understand. I beg to move.

    I begin by thanking the noble Lord the Minister for the care which clearly has been taken and the notice that has been taken by the Minister and those who advise him of what has been said outside this Committee and the other place. I would not cavil with some of the words he used, that Ministers and his advisers felt that the purport was clear and that one could understand what was meant. However, I am sure the Minister understands that when we come to retrospection, and clarity, and although I tried to elicit from the Minister the number of cases that might be involved where people might be worried and for whom this is an absolute cover—that is a proper word—we are uncertain. What we are about to do is to ease the minds of people who, through no fault of their own, have been given advice or have been acting upon advice and as a result find there is a doubt as to whether their position is, as it were, legal and valid. It is therefore right that the Minister should begin what I think will be a short exchange by clarifying the situation.

    The Minister will also be aware that on Second Reading I drew to his attention a local case relating to the Enfield War Memorial hospital. May I say how grateful I am for the prompt and full reply that he sent me. There was a point of uncertainty, and we must ensure that once this legislation is enacted there is no dubiety.

    Our objective tonight and at other stages is to try to look backwards and make sure that there are no circumstances which might be found and could be pointed to in the future as a loophole or a certain circumstance. The Minister and his advisers are wise to have tabled this amendment. If he had merely come back to say that the words were clear that would have been helpful; but he has done even better. As the Minister says, the words are more or less the same but in a form which I believe, and which I am advised those outside the Committee believe, will be clearer and therefore acceptable.

    The Minister was right to draw attention to what was said by my noble friend Lady Nicol, who had raised this point. Having read the report of what took place in another place, it is quite clear that some Members were able to put forward a number of illustrations in their areas which were of considerable concern. The Government are wise, and I am grateful to the Minister. I thank him for making sure that an unhappy situation has been corrected. I repeat that, other than the point I made on Second Reading, it was no one's fault and there is no party animus in this matter at all. It is clear that in the light of the court judgment in November one needed to try to put the matter right. Therefore, we on this side of the Committee fully support the words and the spirit in which this amendment has been moved by the Minister.

    I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, but would also say that even where there are anxieties in only one mind, and not the tens, dozens, hundreds or even the unnecessarily high (as I think) thousands that have been quoted in certain quarters—not by the noble Lord, I know—if we can allay that one anxiety we will have done a good job this evening.

    On Question, amendment agreed to.

    Clause 1, as amended, agreed to.

    Clause 2 [ Control of development on Crown land]:

    6.18 p.m.

    moved Amendment No. 2:

    Page 3, line 22, leave out subsection (3).
    The noble Lord said: This amendment was to have been moved by my noble friend Lady Birk, but the Committee will know that I am not her. However, I have her authority, approval and support in relation to this amendment. I am assuming, not having seen what I would call a marshalled list of how the amendments will be taken, that the Minister will be aware that Amendment No. 2 and Amendments Nos. 4, 5 and 6 very much hang together.
    Amendment No. 4: Page 4, line 32, at end insert—
    ("( ) The provisions of section 90 of the Act of 1971 (power to stop further development pending proceedings on enforcement notice) shall have effect where a special enforcement notice has been issued under the provisions of this section as if that notice were an enforcement notice issued under section 87 of that Act.").
    Amendment No. 5: Page 4, line 32, at end insert—
    ("( )If, on the determination of an appeal under section 88 of the Act of 1971 against an enforcement notice purporting to have been issued under the provisions of section 87 of that Act or a special enforcement notice purporting to have been issued under the provisions of this section, it appears to the Secretary of State that the notice was not validly issued under those provisions but would have been valid if it had been issued as a special enforcement notice under the provisions of this section or as an enforcement notice under the provisions of section 87 of the Act of 1971, as the case may be, he may, if satisfied that this can be done without injustice to the appellant or the local planning authority, vary the terms of the notice so as to convert it into such a notice; and upon any such variation the notice shall be deemed to have been issued and at all times to have had effect and been valid as such a notice, but without prejudice to any challenge to its validity on any other grounds.").
    Amendment No. 6: Page 4, line 32, at end insert—
    ("( ) The provisions of subsection (2)(a) of section 266 of the Act of 1971 shall cease to be applicable to any notice issued under the provisions of section 87 of that Act.").

    What we seek to do is delete a part of the clause and spell out why we believe that part should be deleted. That is the main substance of what I intend to deal with tonight.

    Amendment No. 2 deals with what is in some quarters the vexed question of the necessity for the department which owns the Crown land to have a power of veto—that is what it amounts to—over the actions of the local authority. The part of the Bill that we seek to strike out is, as the amendment states:

    Part 3, line 22, leave out subsection (3).

    This relates to the power and the control of development on Crown land. The part we want to strike out is:

    "No special enforcement notice shall be issued except with the consent of the appropriate authority."

    We need to raise the question of "special enforcement notice", which of course is different and is additional to, and must serve a different purpose from, what we all know in planning matters as an enforcement notice and what it is supposed to do. The main point I want to make, therefore, is that we on this side of the Committee, and outside—I am not saying that the Minister will not be able to persuade us by giving assurances on how this will work—jib at why on such matters there is a necessity for the decisions of the local planning authority to be capable of being overridden by "the appropriate authority".

    We shall need to make reference to what was said in the other place as well as here on Second Reading. Your Lordships must bear in mind that we are talking about Crown land and about undesirable developments by other than the Crown. We are referring to the manner in which that undesirable development can be stopped or controlled, with all the safeguards that that will mean. In another place the Minister said, on 7th December, in respect of this subsection and the "special enforcement notice":

    "The service of such notice will require the consent of the Government Department or Crown authority concerned, and this is more than a formality."

    That is our first unease.

    "The authority would have to be satisfied that it is right for such action to be taken, before giving consent."

    The authority in this instance is not the local authority but authority with a capital "A". It is the department which owns or controls the Crown land. In effect, the local authority has to decide, and then it will be covered by the superior authority.

    The Minister continued:

    "The right of appeal against a special enforcement notice would be more limited than in the case of an ordinary enforcement notice. As the action will normally be taken against a person who has no right to be on the land, we consider that he should not be able to raise issues relating to the planning merits or what he has done, but should be restricted to the factual grounds of whether what is alleged has actually taken place and whether it amounts to development".—[official Report, Commons, 7/12/83; col. 350.]

    That is what the Minister in another place said.

    The Association of Municipal Authorities has been following this matter with special care and diligence. The Committee wants to be sure that as currently drafted the special enforcement procedures—those contained in Clause 2—would enable action to be taken against contraventions of planning conditions. We are not at all certain of that; nor are we certain that the procedures would enable an authority to require steps to be taken to make an unauthorised development comply with conditions or to remove or alleviate injury to amenity.

    I consider that by providing that Section 87 of the 1971 Act shall apply to breaches of planning control on Crown land—without the need to have the special enforcement notice—that would be adequate. In the amendments we are really querying whether the subsection is necessary and whether the action that the Minister wants to achieve cannot be achieved in another place. We also wonder whether there is any need for it at all.

    The special enforcement procedure is complex. The Minister needs to spend a little time spelling out for us how it will work. My honourable friend in another place, the Member for South Shields, Dr. David Clark, spelt the matter out clearly. He said:

    "Under the proposed arrangements, before taking enforcement action a local authority will have to do several things. First, it will have to establish that the land involved is Crown land. Secondly, it will have to discover whether the operator in question is a licensee or a trespasser on Crown land. Thirdly, if the operator is a trespasser, it will have to initiate special enforcement procedures and seek the agreement of the relevant Government Department. Lastly, it will have to take the necessary enforcement action.
    There is a real problem with the existing legislation, but we have approached it in a rather complex manner".—[Official Report, Commons, 7/12/83; col. 354.]

    The Minister needs to satisfy us on this series of amendments whether there is a necessity for this action.

    We then come to the question of the response of the Minister in another place to these matters. On this side of the Committee we fully accept that trespassers on Crown land should not be in a special category. By virtue of it being Crown land, and of their having no entitlement to an interest in the land, we do not consider that they should be excluded from action to stop or prohibit development. As far as we are concerned, anyone who is in that position needs to be dealt with. We are concerned to make sure that the manner in which they are dealt with is as simple as possible. We ask the Minister: why not just amend the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 to remove the exemptions from planning control on Crown land where the development has been undertaken by a private individual or organisation that does not have an interest in the land?

    We know what the Minister said in another place, and it is very interesting indeed. He said:

    "The question of enforcement notices was raised by a number of honourable Members, who argued that a planning authority should be able to serve a special enforcement notice under clause 2 without the consent of the Crown".

    That is the point that I am making at the moment.

    "However, there will be cases where the Government Department or Crown authority considers that there are good operational reasons for allowing the development to continue which outweigh the environmental reasons for taking action against it".—[Official Report, Commons, 7/12/83; col. 366.]

    We are not at all certain whether in actual fact that is the situation. The illustrations that were given are far from satisfactory. The illustrations related to the actions of people who were contravening the use of Crown land; for instance, in lay-bys. That is a very thin base from which to argue the point.

    I hope that the Minister will understand not merely why we wish to strike out Clause 2, subsection (3), but also the reason for the other amendments that we seek. The Minister may tell us that, contrary to the fears of the authorities, the special enforcement notice will not be used punitively and there is only a very limited basis on which action will be taken. In that case, on this side of the Committee we are willing to accept that. But we want a clear statement from the Minister involved that consent for enforcement action would not be unreasonably withheld. That would go a long way to persuade me at the end of the discussion to withdraw my amendments. I beg to move.

    Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

    House resumed.

    The Lord Byers

    6.27 p.m.

    My Lords, I deeply regret to have to inform your Lordships that the noble Lord, Lord Byers, collapsed in his room at the House this afternoon. He was immediately taken to Westminster Hospital but was found to be dead on arrival. The House will have the opportunity to pay tributes to the noble Lord at the beginning of business tomorrow.

    Town And Country Planning Bill

    House again in Committee on Clause 2.

    After that very sorry news we return to the discussion of Amendment No. 2. The noble Lord, Lord Graham of Edmonton, with his customary courtesy, advised us that he would like to speak to the entire series of his amendments. I had not quite anticipated that, but I shall certainly respond in the same manner. I hope that by the time I have finished I shall have been able to give the noble Lord a comprehensive review of the amendments.

    I took it originally that Amendment No. 2 was probing, especially as it has come up at almost every stage of the passage of the Bill so far, both here and in another place. I can only assume that the noble Lord is unhappy with the replies that he has received, either in person or vicariously. As has been explained before, there may very well be operational reasons for a Government department to wish to allow a particular activity on land which it owns to continue. This is sometimes—rather flippantly in my view—referred to as the snack bar in the layby case; but it may very well be for operational reasons that it is temporarily convenient to allow such a thing to continue to operate while being able to remove it once these operational reasons cease to be valid, perhaps when a service station is contemplated, and of course a more normal regime would apply.

    So far as planning law is concerned, if the department carries out the activity itself, it is not subject to planning control. The Government can see no reason for allowing enforcement action to be taken against the department's wishes just because the activity is being carried out by someone else. The service of an enforcement notice on a person with an interest in Crown land under Section 87 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971 and the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972 already requires the consent—this is the point—of the Government department or other appropriate authority concerned. Until now, this requirement has not been questioned by either Governments or Oppositions of any complexion over the considerable period that these planning Acts have been the law of the land. The Government consider that the requirement of prior consent is both reasonable and prudent and that the same requirement should apply to special enforcement notices served on trespassers.

    Like my honourable friend in another place, to whom the noble Lord, Lord Graham referred, I must reject any suggestion that this requirement makes the whole clause of little value. Of course, there will be a few cases where there is a difference of view about the need for an activity to continue on Crown land despite its environmental effects and where consent for enforcement action is refused. If consent were going to be granted as a matter of course in every case, there would, I submit, be no point in the requirement at all, but Government departments will—I can make this assurance to the noble Lord—give due weight to the environmental argument when considering applications for consent. They will not prevent action being taken unless they have good, valid reasons for doing so. There will no longer be any doubt—as there has been in some situations in the past—that it is possible for action to be taken on environmental grounds provided that the department concerned agrees. If consent is refused, the department concerned may well be called on to justify its decision publicly.

    As I have said, this is not a new requirement. It is modelled on an existing provision which the Government believe operates perfectly satisfactorily, and strikes an appropriate balance between the operational needs of a Government department and the rightful environmental concerns of a local planning authority.

    Amendment No. 6, as the noble Lord has said, is a logical extension of the amendment that we are now discussing. The Government believe that the requirement for consent before the service of an enforcement notice in relation to development carried out by a private person on Crown land is appropriate, necessary and—as I have just said—works perfectly well in practice. In that case, why change it? I can perhaps put the onus back on the noble Lord for once.

    Amendment No. 5 is a little different but again is a slight extension. I regret that it is another amendment where I can only offer sympathy and not support. The Government share fully the objective of making the special enforcement procedure as simple as possible. My colleagues thought carefully about the suggestion that enforcement notices and special enforcement notices should be interchangeable. Unfortunately, our conclusion is that it would not work. An enforcement notice alleges a breach of planning control. In the case of a special enforcement notice, there has, by definition, been no actual breach of planning control because, as the Committee will know, planning control does not exist for Crown land where there is no other interest.

    A copy of an enforcement notice has to be served, not only on the owner and occupier of the land, but on "any other person having an interest in the land" and such a person then has a right of appeal. There is no such requirement in relation to a special enforcement notice because it is only issued when no such person is believed to exist. An enforcement notice in respect of operational development may be issued only within a period of four years from the date of the breach of planning control. There is no such limitation for a special enforcement notice. Above all, the right of appeal against a special enforcement notice is more restricted than against an ordinary enforcement notice. Indeed, the only part of the two notices that may be the same is the specification of the steps required to comply with it.

    Over and above this, the amendment begs more questions that, it answers. It refers to the Secretary of State being satisfied that the notice can be varied without injustice to the appellant. What about a third party who is found to have an interest in the land? That is, after all, what this part of the Bill is all about. He will certainly need to be given an opportunity to have his say. What about the additional grounds of appeal in the case of a switch from a special to an ordinary notice? The appellant will have to be given a chance to argue them. There are others. I can only conclude that we shall finish up with a very complicated procedure. It will be much easier, where there is a doubt, for the local planning authority to issue two alternative notices, an ordinary notice and a special notice at the outset. Alternative notices are already issued in this way in other cases when a doubt exists about some particular aspect of what is being alleged.

    I regret having had to come to this conclusion. Unfortunately, the amendment, attractive as it appears, simply would not work. I could not therefore recommend the Committee to accept it. I have, however, a little cheer to offer the noble Lord if he will bear with me a few more moments. The Government are fully prepared to accept the principle that the stop notice procedure should be capable of being applied to special enforcement notices. This is obviously sensible. The problem is that this is extremely complicated to achieve because the terms of Section 90 of the 1971 Act need modification before they fit the special enforcement notice situation. I have taken advice on this matter. I am informed that at least seven or eight different amendments of Section 90 would be required and yet more amendments to the equivalent Scottish provisions.

    Bearing in mind that complaints have already been made about the complexity of this part of the Bill, we concluded that this was not the right way to proceed. The regulation-making power in subsections (8) and (9) is intended to achieve the same objective. The main use that we intend to make of these two subsections is to achieve exactly the same thing. We consider this to be a much neater way than a whole phalanx of amendments to the 1971 and 1972 Acts. In other words, a similar amendment to that currently before us—I refer to Amendment No. 4 on the Marshalled List—would only be one of many. I did, however, say that I would offer the noble Lord some cheer. I am therefore very happy to be able to give him the assurance that once the Bill has been enacted, the Secretary of State will make regulations for the purpose that the noble Lord so obviously requires in this series of amendments.

    I am most grateful. Every crumb of comfort is welcome. Let me say at once that even those outside with a great deal of experience in these matters are always willing to acknowledge that when it comes to drafting precisely to take account of anomalies that emerge, one often creates other problems. The Minister will take on board that it is almost the pride of local authorities that they do not need someone else to rubber stamp or endorse. The Minister was right in saying that if the issue of a special enforcement notice, although containing the caveat that it requires to be approved by another authority, was never used, why have it at all? I wanted from the Minister a clear assurance that it would only exceptionally be the case that any action would need to be taken. I think the Minister understands what I am trying to get at. I can understand that he is not prepared to say that it would be very rarely used. If we are talking of operational circumstances, we do not know how often those circumstances would arise.

    I took note of the words which the noble Lord used. He said that there would need to be "good, valid reasons". It would be good if local authorities could assume either from this moment onwards or from when the Bill becomes an Act that, every time there were good, valid reasons, they would be told those reasons. Indeed, if they were good, valid reasons, then a reasonable authority would, in my view, be prepared to accept them as good, valid reasons as to why their decision to enforce the law had been overridden on what were called "operational grounds".

    Although the use of the word "operational" begs the question, the Minister has persuaded me that, if something irked and irritated a local authority on environmental grounds and, for example, they wanted to remove a snack bar from a layby on environmental grounds, then that snack bar—if it were left in position—would serve a good purpose until a more permanent structure which was in the process of being built was actually finished. That would be a good, valid reason as to why the operational decision ought to be taken. I appreciate that, without giving anything precise tonight, the Minister has asked me to realise that what we are trying to achieve in this series of amendments is well understood and, when possible, to look at the consequences particularly as regards Amendment No. 4 which relates to the stop notice.

    The Minister is telling us that there is sympathy as regards what we are trying to achieve by the amendment and that care will be taken about the matter. But because of the consequences on other legislation—Scottish legislation as well as our own—particularly in the aftermath of what was certainly an unhappy episode last year.on this particular point, we on this side certainly do not want to rush the Minister into taking precipitate action only to find that he will have to take yet more. So we are satisfied.

    However, I should be grateful if the Minister would take this opportunity—and this could well be the last point that needs to be made in this series of debates—to give us an assurance that enforcement action (and here I would like to link him with my words) would not be unreasonably withheld. The Minister is saying that it would only be applied provided it was requested for good, valid reasons. If in fact it would not be unreasonably withheld, and only withheld for a good, valid reason, then honour would be served on all sides.

    After that necessarily lengthy exchange, I would say that there are two minds with but a single thought. The noble Lord asked me particularly whether good, valid reasons—my phrase—would always be given to the local planning authority. The answer is emphatically, yes. As far as his point relating to enforcement action is concerned, the answer would also always be, yes.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    6.43 p.m.

    moved Amendment No. 3:

    Page 3, line 28, leave out from ("condition") to end of line 29 and insert ("before the development took place or for discontinuing any use of the land which has been instituted by the development.").
    The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 3 is an entirely drafting amendment which is intended to achieve greater clarity in the provisions of Clause 2(4)—I do not think I need say any more to the noble Lord and the Committee except that I hope it does. I beg to move.

    On Question, amendment agreed to.

    [ Amendments Nos. 4, 5 and 6 not moved.]

    Clause 2, as amended, agreed to.

    Clause 3 agreed to.

    Clause 4 [ Requirement of planning permission for continuance of use instituted by the Crown]:

    moved Amendment No. 7.

    Page 5, line 26, after ("had") insert ("required planning permission and").
    The noble Lord said: But for the intervening words I would say, "ditto"; this again is a minor drafting amendment. I beg to move.

    On Question, amendment agreed to.

    moved Amendment No. 8:

    Page 5, line 28, at end insert—
    ("( ) The condition referred to in subsection (2) above shall not be enforceable against any person who had a private interest in the land at the time when the agreement was made unless the local planning authority or planning authority by whom the agreement was made have notified him of the making of the agreement and of the effect of that subsection.").

    The noble Lord said: This amendment is a little more complicated. It meets an undertaking given by my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State during the Committee stage in another place. Clause 4 of the Bill is the clause which empowers the Crown to make an agreement with a local planning authority to ensure that a use of Crown land which results from development carried out by the Crown shall be discontinued when the Crown ceases to occupy the land. Subsections (3) and (4) already ensure that a potential purchaser of the land or of an interest in it from the Crown is made aware of the existence of such an agreement. But it has been pointed out that this does not necessarily bring it to the notice of a third party who already has an interest in the land—for example, the freeholder in cases where the Crown is a leaseholder.

    The amendment will make the agreement unenforceable against such a person unless the planning authority have notified him that it has been made, and of its effect. We consider that it is right that the necessary notice should be given by the planning authority—they are, after all, the body who benefit from the making of the agreement and, therefore, have the incentive to make sure that the necessary notice is given. At the same time, we recognise that they are likely to need to rely on the Crown for information about the existence of any private interest, but we do not see why this should in practice give rise to any difficulty. I beg to move.

    Again I am grateful to the Minister and of course to his ministerial colleagues who indicated at Second Reading and during the Committee stage that they were mindful of the need to take this action. I would simply say that when reading the Second Reading speeches I noticed that this point was made by Members from all parties with an interest in these matters. In fact, it was an attempt to be fair to people who, out of ignorance and certainly not out of maliciousness, are parting with the land, to make sure so far as possible that their interests are protected and that the procedures are available. We on this side of the Committee are very grateful to the Minister.

    On Question, amendment agreed to.

    Clause 4, as amended, agreed to.

    Clauses 5 and 6 agreed to.

    House resumed: Bill reported with the amendments.

    Tourism (Overseas Promotion) (Scotland) Bill Hl

    6.50 p.m.

    Report received.

    Clause 1 [ Power of the Scottish Tourist Board to engage outside the UK in the promotion of Tourism in Scotland]:

    moved Amendment No. 1:

    Page 1, line 13, leave out ("only").
    The noble Lord said: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Gray, will be familiar with this amendment. We discussed it at some length in Committee. A fair number of noble Lords took part in that debate and showed considerable interest in this amendment. I think that all of them supported the amendment that was tabled on that occasion. In the course of withdrawing the amendment at the end of our debate I suggested that we would resubmit the amendment in the hope that the noble Lord, Lord Gray, would read what had been said by various noble Lords and consult with his officials; and ultimately I had hoped that reason would prevail and he would agree to omit the word "only" from Clause 1 (2).

    As my noble friend Lord Ross of Marnock said in Committee, it is a tautology to say that "only" with the consent of the Secretary of State shall the Scottish Tourist Board be allowed to take part in promotions

    outside Scotland; whereas without the word "only" the Bill would read:

    "The Scottish Tourist Board shall exercise the power…to carry on activities outside the United Kingdom with the consent…of the Secretary of State".

    The more I look at the inclusion of the word "only ", and I am sure the more noble Lords look at it, the more I wonder how much the Secretary of State is to be reprimanded. If it clearly says that they shall use the power "with the consent of the Secretary of State," it is absolutely implied that they must have the power of the Secretary of State, and therefore I believe that the word "only" is superfluous.

    I am not making a great point of this only because of the word; but it has been suggested that the Bill was introduced because it is the one item of the Scottish Conservative manifesto that has been put forward which has been honoured. It may be easy enough to say to Scottish electors, "We have carried out this part of our manifesto", but how will the noble Lord feel when he realises, or when the people of Scotland realise, that, although a part of the manifesto has been put forward, it has been put forward grudgingly? We welcome whatever has been given in the Bill, but the whole question of the Bill has been grudging. We say to people, "Oh yes, the Scottish Tourist Board is to be given powers to carry on certain activities overseas only if it has the consent of the Secretary of State".

    The noble Lord said that he did not want to discuss the figures, but we are speaking about £200,000. It is not a great deal of money, but we are grateful for it. In addition to that, the other parts of the Bill hedge in the whole question even more. The good aims of the Bill are hedged in by so many conditions. Having given the noble Lord time to look at the amendment and time to read the discussions that took place in Committee—the Liberal Benches took part, some of my noble friends took part and some of the noble Lord's noble friends took part—surely a little concession like this would at least indicate that the Scottish Office is in charge of the Bill and is aware of the importance of Scotland, and that there is seen to exist a certain amount of trust between the Secretary of State and one of the very important bodies promoting Scotland. I beg to move.

    My Lords, this amendment was given very full discussion in Committee. At that time the noble Lord, Lord Ross, said that he would give the Government time to think about it, and I certainly have been thinking very hard about it. I have listened very carefully to what the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, has said this evening. But I am bound to say that I do not find the arguments compelling.

    I hope that noble Lords and my noble friends will forgive me if I state what to them must be very obvious. The phrase "with Mr. X's consent" is ambiguous. It conveys a condition which may or may not be necessary. By contrast, the phrase "only with Mr. X's consent" clearly describes a necessary condition. The condition "only with the consent of the Secretary of State" is the logical form which makes clear beyond any possible doubt that under no circumstances is the activity in question lawful unless the Secretary of State—and he alone—has consented to it.

    The noble Lord, Lord Ross, may feel that in a legal context such nice distinctions can be disregarded. He may say that the phrase "with the consent" would, as a matter of statutory interpretation, invariably be construed as "only with the consent". This is arguable, but let us avoid all ambiguity and express our policy clearly. Why noble Lords opposite should find this little word so objectionable I really am at a loss to discover. It supports and gives due emphasis to our policy intention in the Bill. The phrase "only with the consent of the Secretary of State" is entirely natural in spoken language, adding useful emphasis which assists the reader to obtain more easily a clear idea of what is intended. The phrase is also well precedented in statute. Indeed, it is the usual way of expressing a requirement that a power can be exercised only if a particular consent is given.

    The noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock, is widely experience in these matters. As he will recall, I mentioned during the Committee stage that in 1968 the then Labour Government, of which the noble Lord was a member, amended the Highlands and Islands Development (Scotland) Act 1965. The 1968 Act increased the powers of the Highlands and Islands Development Board in much the same way as this Bill increases the powers of the Scottish Transport Board. But in subsection (2) of Section 1 it is declared that the new powers:
    "shall be exercised only with the approval of the Secretary, of State".
    All that is happening here is that the same form of words are being used to express the same intention as is in the 1968 Act. The new power should only be exercised if the Secretary of State consents. We could have arguments as to whether or not it is a good idea for the Secretary of State's consent to be needed. But that is not what we are arguing about in this amendment. We are arguing about the little four-letter word "only". There are many four-letter words which are often better left unsaid and unwritten; but this little four-letter word is important, and I believe it is necessary.

    Of course, I want to see the best possible legislation for Scotland. The noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, said many things with which I could not disagree; but, naturally, this is what we all aim to achieve. Where we disagree is how best to achieve it. It is important to have absolute clarity. I believe that that is what we are achieving in the Bill; but the proposed amendment would be counter to the Government's desire. Therefore, I hope that in due course the noble Lord will agree to withdraw his amendment.

    7 p.m.

    My Lords, the noble Lord does not like four letter words. There are many four letter words, he says. May I suggest that "Gray" is one of them?

    I know, one is good and the other bad, you see. I want to thank the noble Lord for the thought he has given to this important amendment. I wondered why he was absent from the Roads (Scotland) Bill, with all those hosts of amendments which have taken three days so far. Now I know what he has been doing. He has been looking at this amendment. What does he say? He does not know why we consider it objectionable. I consider it objectionable because it is unnecessary.

    Let me thank him for telling us that it was precedented all over the place. He instanced one Act; the amendment to the Highlands and Islands Development Act, for which I was responsible, and I dare say I was also responsible for the 1968 Act. He now tells us it was the Highlands and Islands Development (Scotland) Act 1968. It would have been helpful if he had got it right the first time. I have Hansard here. He said:
    "he will not be surprised that I have in front of me a copy of the Highlands and Islands Development (Scotland) Act 1965". [Official Report, 20/12/1983; col. 600.]
    Today he says 1968. Noble Lords will appreciate that my eyesight is not what it was. I am nearly 10 years older than the '65 Act and I spent the last two hours going over that Act of Parliament which the noble Lord cited as his precedent—that is, the 1965 Act, which laid down all the powers of the Highlands and Islands Board. I did not find his reference at all. Such is my faith in the Scottish Office and the briefs they give to Ministers that I was sure that the noble Lord, Lord Gray, must be right. So I did not read it once, I read it about six times, and still did not find it. So he owes me something, and that is one of the reasons why he ought to accept this amendment.

    If it was so important to have this word "only" in, I should have put it in in the first Act. It was not there. All the important powers of the Highlands and Islands Development Board are there "with the approval of the Secretary of State", not "only with the approval of the Secretary of State". Why it should have come in the last one I do not know. I shall need to have another look at the Act, but I cannot do it in the middle of a Report stage. It would have been helpful if we had been told the page, the line, and the functions or duties to which this referred. There may be some reason.

    I am not satisfied with what has been given. If you take the word "only" out of here you revert to the position in the majority of statutes where it says, "with the approval of the Secretary of State". The Secretary of State has to give his approval. No wonder the Lord Advocate is not here. It would have taken us another hour if we had had the Lord Advocate's advice. There is no ambiguity in this. It is perfectly clear. It is an unnecessary restriction. It is an offensive restriction.

    The noble Lord, Lord Gray, must know that before the Bill was published and when the information was given to the people of Scotland at long last some measure of independent action had been given to the Scottish Tourist Board, there was great praise for the Government. Then of course the Minister in the other place brought us down to earth by saying, "Well, what has been happening is that the power given to Scotland is a very little one". The more the Minister of State in this House tells us why this word "only" is in, the less becomes the power given to Scotland. The more he hammers this word "only" and gives it a restrictive importance, the less feeling of triumph there will be in Scotland about this breakthrough.

    We consider it important even from the point of view of just pure English, in view of what was said by the Stodart Committee Report. The Committee of Inquiry into Local Government of Scotland thought that the tourism aspect was so important that it may well he that they went a little beyond their inquiry powers:
    "We are however convinced that the distinctive attractions of Scotland and its high dependence economically on tourism merit a separate promotional effort abroad…the Scottish Tourist Board should be given overseas promotional powers in its own right, and he solely responsible for promoting Scotland abroad".
    That was the background. Well, we are not solely responsible for promoting abroad. It is the British Tourist Authority which at the moment is spending £3,500,000 abroad on behalf of Scotland. I have seen a letter from the present chairman of that authority which I may get an opportunity of referring to later. Certainly in this Bill we are being given not the sole power but some power, and then this offensive "only" with the approval of the Secretary of State. Then there is another thing, he has to consult the British Tourist Authority. So we get a continous build up, reducing the measure of independence being given to the Scottish Tourist Board.

    The word "only" does not make any difference at all. It may remove emphasis. That is all. But from a practical point of view it still means that the Tourist Board in Scotland has to have the approval of the Secretary of State. There is no ambiguity there. I have been complaining about combing through of statutes in respect of getting rid of the words "street", and "highway". I think we have got to 50 pages so far in respect of one of the sections of the roads Bill. I do not know what it is going to be like if we have to put this word "only" in to avoid ambiguity in all the statutes which refer to approvals by Ministers. In fact, in every statute you get where there is a power given, whether it is to a local authority, corporation, or board, it is with the approval of the Secretary of State and the consent of the Treasury.

    You do not need the word "only". It is quite unnecessary. It may have been that the noble Lord's judgment has been warped by reading what we have been saying about the roads Bill (because it is within his duties, it is his department) and that he has just lost sight of the real meaning of this. I do not know who gave the noble Lord that speech, but there should be a bit of transferring down in his department because he is completely out of touch with the feelings of the people of Scotland, and certainly with the feelings of his own party when he underlines the fact that you are only going to get a small power, and only, and only, and only after, and after and after.

    I am not happy about this. I hope that the Government will think again. In the meantime, I should be glad if the noble Lord would give me the proper reference to the Highlands and Islands Development (Scotland) Act 1968 so that I can follow that one through at my leisure when I get away from inshore fishing Bills, roads Bills, education Bills, and all the rest of it, for Scotland.

    My Lords, I can see that the noble Lord is up to his usual form. The day that he gets away from all these Bills he will be a very sad man, and it will be a great loss to Scotland. Now I shall be nice to him. I shall tell him exactly where the reference comes from.

    My Lords, the noble Lord is not being nice to me, he is being fair to himself.

    My Lords, the noble Lord enjoys having the last word. I will not deprive him of that. I am being nice to myself, and that is a nice thing to do occasionally as well.

    I should refer to the reference, which is the Highlands and Islands Development (Scotland) Act 1968. Section 1(2) says:
    "The powers specified in the foregoing subsection shall be exercised only with the approval of the Secretary or State and the Treasury".
    That is the reference, and I have no doubt that the noble Lord will digest the rest of it at his leisure in due course.

    I am sorry, my Lords. Before I said anything to the noble Lord I should have said, "By leave of the House I will reply". I apologise to your Lordships for omitting to do that.

    The word "only" is not unnecessary. It makes the Government's policy in this matter absolutely clear. That is what I seek to do in the Bill. I want there to be no doubt what the Government's intention is, and in my view the word "only" emphasises that. It is only with the consent of the Secretary of State that the Scottish Tourist Board can proceed as outlined. We believe that the consent requirement should be observed without exception and that it is only fair to state in our proposals as plainly as possible that overseas activity by the Scottish Tourist Board is in no circumstances to proceed unless the Secretary of State has consented to it. By including the word "only" the consent condition is spelt out with the maximum clarity, and in that at least I am sure we have the blessing of noble Lords opposite. I hope that they may consider withdrawing the amendment.

    On Question, amendment negatived.

    7.12 p.m.

    moved Amendment No. 2:

    Page 1, line 15, leave out ("shall") and insert ("may")
    The noble Lord said: My Lords, this is another amendment that we dealt with at considerable length last time. Part of the whole question of this Bill is its tone and style. Perhaps things would have gone through rather more easily if there had not been this continual grudging feeling behind it all. This was not started by the noble Lord himself but by his honourable friend in another place, the Minister of State for Trade and Industry, who kept retreating in the face of the comments from English Members and kept saying, "It is not really terribly important…it is not terribly important". I must emphasise that while we are glad for the Scottish Tourist Board to have the power to promote Scotland overseas, we feel that it has been spoiled by the grudging nature of it.

    In our amendment we are suggesting that the Secretary of State, before giving or withholding consent to an action or promotion of the Scottish Tourist Board, "may" consult the British Tourist Authority rather than "shall". The point was made by a number of Members in Committee, particularly by the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, who made it clear that he thought the possibility was that the Secretary of State could be put to considerable trouble because an order was being given to the Secretary of State that he must consult a Government quango. He is not able to do something unless he positively consults that quango. He cannot give consent before doing that. There is no question that he "may" consult but that he "must" consult before he can give his consent.

    At the Committee stage your Lordships were convinced that enough had been said from every side—from the Liberal Benches, from our own and from the Government Benches—to make the point that to instruct the Secretary of State in such a way, as the noble Earl, Lord Selkirk, said, was a possibility and a necessity that might land the Secretary of State in great difficulty. I hope that the Minister will not take this as a personal matter, but the tone and style of the Bill has been so disappointing after the beliefs we had that the Scottish Tourist Board would have some real authority of its own. But that has been hedged round with so many conditions that what could have been a good idea, however small, has been badly spoilt. I hope he will take it in that spirit and consider this amendment very carefully. It is a small amendment, but it could, perhaps, in the eyes of the people of Scotland, retrieve the position a little. I beg to move.

    My Lords, I think that the noble Lord, Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove, is not being wholly fair in his suggestion that everybody is concerned about the style of this Bill. That is not what I have found in Scotland. I have found that the Bill has been received with a great deal of acclaim by those involved in the tourist industry. The Scottish Tourist Board is highly delighted with the Bill.

    It has been suggested that the Scottish Office has done extremely well to manage to get £200,000 extra at a time when everybody is having to make cuts and is having to review their expenditure seriously. Therefore, I believe we have achieved a lot with this Bill. I accept that it is a small measure, but I do not for one moment suggest that it is an unimportant measure. The noble Lord, Lord Carmichael, was generous enough to say he was thankful for small mercies and that he welcomes the Bill in that way. But the Bill is much more significant than noble Lords opposite have given it credit for being.

    This amendment would remove the obligation on the Secretary of State to consult the British Tourist Authority before deciding whether to approve the Scottish Tourist Board's overseas proposals. It would provide, instead, that such consultations may be undertaken at the Secretary of State's discretion. Our policy is that the British Tourist Authority should remain the organisation with prime responsibility for the coherent, co-ordinated promotion abroad of Great Britain and its constituent countries. We wish the British Tourist Authority to maintain its current, very significant efforts on behalf of Scotland abroad.

    Recognising, however, that Scotland has in certain markets a quite distinctive and saleable identity and that there would be economic benefit in capitalising on this identity, we wish to enable the Scottish Tourist Board to top up the British Tourist Authority's Scottish efforts. We want the Scottish Tourist Board to be able to add a specialised and distinctively Scottish dimension to the promotional work carried out by the authority. The overseas role we envisage for the Scottish Tourist Board is limited. I acknowledge that that is so, and make no apologies for it. I believe that to allow promotion initiatives overseas to proliferate without central co-ordination would be a recipe for wasted effort. It would merely cause confusion among potential visitors.

    We believe, therefore, that the authority should always have the opportunity to comment at the point at which the Secretary of State is considering whether to approve proposals put foward by the Scottish Tourist Board. The obligation on the Secretary of State to consult the British Tourist Authority ensures that that authority has the chance to make a final check on the compatibility of the Scottish Tourist Board's proposals with overseas efforts being undertaken for Britain as a whole.

    I spoke at some length in Committee about the mechanics of consultation. I assured the Committee that the procedures would not be time-consuming or bureaucratic. I pointed out that we envisaged the Scottish Tourist Board preparing an annual programme of overseas proposals and submitting it to the Secretary of State well in advance of the promotion season. In the circumstances, there can be no real risk of the Scottish Tourist Board losing promotion opportunities as a result of the consent requirement. I would remind the House also that the British Tourist Authority is under a statutory obligation to advise any Minister on tourism matters in Great Britain. A request by the Secretary of State for Scotland for comment on the Scottish Tourist Board's overseas promotion proposals would place the BTA under a clear duty to respond.

    Statutes abound in provisions requiring the Secretary of State to consult before taking a decision on permitting certain things to happen. There is nothing extraordinary in the consultation formula in this Bill and neither is there any inconsistency in requiring the Secretary of State to consult but yet maintaining that the final approval decision rests with him and with him alone. Consultation never forces the consulting party to accept the view expressed by the person consulted, only to give the view proper consideration.

    This amendment would effectively erode the BTA's co-ordinating role. Such an effect would be fundamentally at odds with our policy to grant the Scottish Tourist Board scope itself to promote Scotland overseas while maintaining the integrity of the BTA's efforts on behalf of Britain as a whole. I therefore trust that the noble Lord, on reflection, will consider withdrawing this amendment.

    7.22 p.m.

    My Lords, I am deeply touched by the concern and emotion that the noble Lord, Lord Gray, managed to get into his plea for us to reconsider this and to drop it. We have been told—and told again in a letter recently—how concerned is the BTA for Scotland's interests and how it consults the Scottish Tourist Board on all points, despite the fact that there is no instruction in anything here that it should do so. I am suggesting that there is no need to put in these words here to clarify the position of the BTA. If the noble Lord, Lord Gray, would cast his eye down to the next clause of the Bill, he would see that subsection (3)(a) of Clause 1 of this Bill says:

    "Nothing in this section shall…affect the power of the British Tourist Authority to carry out any activities outside the United Kingdom for the purpose of encouraging people to visit Scotland".
    There is no doubt that it remains there—and what remains, of course, is the power of the Treasury. At the present time, according to the British Tourist Authority, they are spending on behalf of Scotland £3.5 million. Against that, we can judge the suggestion that is made here that there may be an additional £200,000 for Scotland. There is nothing in the Bill about it. If the Secretary of State says, "You are not getting it. I don't approve of your project", then they do not spend it. Virtually, by writing this in in respect of the consultation with the BTA, one is imposing a veto on them in respect of the spending of this £200,000. So let us not be too happy about all these benefits.

    The importance of this is, surely, that if the British Tourist Authority at the present time consults the Scottish Tourist Board—and remember that the chairman of the Scottish Tourist Board is a member of the British Tourist Authority—it is not likely that anything will go unconsidered by the tourist authority without this separate power of right of consultation being written in. Let us remember that the right is not given to the Secretary of State; the right is given to an outside body, the British Tourist Authority. It is an instruction to the Secretary of State that he "shall" consult, not that he "may" consult; not that he "may" through his appointment of a chairman of the Scottish Tourist Board (who, of course, he does appoint and who happens to be a member of the British Tourist Authority). In that way, he will get to know all that goes on before he gives his approval to a project.

    Once again I think that the Government have gone out of their way to be offensive to the Scottish tourist interests. If they want it that way, let them have it, so that we can demonstrate to the people of Scotland how grudging they are. The Minister of State forgets, too, that not everything in the BTA shop window has been absolutely perfect. He will remember the words of his honourable friend in another place. There had been a review of the activities of the BTA and, in another place, it was said—and it is a Minister I am quoting—that they should not forget that the whole question of different tourist boards was looked at by consultants who reached the conclusion that there was a considerable overlap and that some money was not being wisely spent—and that was by the British Tourist Authority.

    The solution to it is that the English Tourist Board and the British Tourist Authority should come together. They are going to share accommodation. And, after the retirement of the present chairman, the chairman of the English Tourist Board is also going to be the chairman of the British Tourist Authority. Now we are a suspicious lot in Scotland and we think that this could have been done a little more generously and a little better. I am perfectly sure that there will be consultation, as there is at the present time. But, to give this virtual power of veto to a soon-to-be-reorganised British Tourist Authority, the chairman of which is going to be the chairman of the English Tourist Board as well, is, I think, asking just about too much.

    I am saying this merely for the good of the noble Lord. He said that, as far as he knew, everyone in Scotland was delighted with this. I can understand their being delighted in the Highlands, which is where the noble Lord comes from, because it does not affect them. The noble Lord is fully acquainted with the Highlands and Islands Development Board. He has told us this today. The Highlands and Islands Development Board have the power to do what is being denied the Scottish Tourist Board. They have independent rights to project the Highlands overseas, and they do not need to consult the British Tourist Authority. It may be that they do consult, it may be that they ask them to help; but they are not are not bound by statute to do so.

    I can understand the people in his area being quite pleased about it, but let me assure him that, so far as the people of Scotland are concerned—with the hopes and expectations that arose from the Stodart Report that full powers were going to be given to the Scottish Tourist Board in respect of overseas advertising of Scotland for tourists—they will be far from pleased with this. I think it is quite unnecessary.

    We do not seek to remove the whole thing. We merely suggest that the word "shall" should come out, that the word "may" be put in and to leave it to the good sense of the Secretary of State rather than telling the Secretary of State what he should do. There are times when I would have divided the House on an important matter like this. I have no doubt at all what will happen when it goes elsewhere. It would have been more graceful to clean up the Bill here than to leave it to people who will use rather less tender words when it goes elsewhere.

    My Lords, by leave of the House, may I comment on some of the points that have been put to me by the noble Lord, Lord Ross of Marnock. First, he mentioned the Stodart Report on a number of occasions. I should tell the House that the noble Lord, Lord Stodart, has dropped me a note, saying how sorry he was that he could not be with us today. But of course the noble Lord will recall that he has welcomed the Bill; and, although it does not go so far as he would have liked and so far as he suggested in his report, he has given the Bill a warm welcome.

    On the question of consultation, consultation does not mean or require consent. There will therefore be no BTA veto. At the end of consultations the matter will lie entirely with the Secretary of State, and the decision ultimately will be his and his alone. The noble Lord, Lord Ross, raised the question of the two boards, the British Tourist Authority and the English Tourist Board, coming together. I am sure that the noble Lord will accept what I say when I tell him that no decision has vet been taken on this matter and that the new chairman, Mr. Bluch, is going to look at this possibility. But there is no commitment at all to a merger: no decision has been taken, and this is a matter which will require a considerable amount of study. I give way to the noble Lord.

    My Lords, I did not suggest that there was to be a merger. What I said was that the boards were going to share accommodation, they were going to be in the one place and they were going to have the same chairman.

    My Lords, the noble Lord may not have said that in so many words, but he did imply that with them moving into the same premises and with one chairman, it was a logical step ahead. But what I am saying is that no decisions have been taken and the chairman is merely looking at this possibility: nothing more. The noble Lord reiterated a number of arguments which we considered at Committee stage, some of which were deployed by him at the time. But I must tell the noble Lord that despite his silver tongue and his persuasive style, I still believe that the Bill would not be improved by amending it in the way that he suggests. I therefore regret that on this occasion I cannot accept the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Ross, and his noble friends.

    On Question, amendment negatived.

    7.34 p.m.

    moved Amendment No. 3:

    Page 1, line 20, after ("Scotland") insert ("after consultation with the Scottish Tourist Board").
    The noble Lord said: If one looks at subsection (3)(a), we see it says that nothing in this section shall—
    "affect the power of the British Tourist Authority to carry on any activities outside the United Kingdom for the purpose of encouraging people to visit Scotland;"

    After all that we have heard from the noble Lord, Lord Gray of Contin, about the necessity of having the law made absolutely clear and having conditions made absolutely clear, I shall wait with considerable anticipation to hear what he has to say on this amendment. I appreciate what the chairman of the British Tourist Authority says in his letter—and I am sure that the noble Lord will have a copy of the letter—about the amount of co-operation there has been in the past. Tributes have also been paid by people such as the Lord Provost of Glasgow to the great help given by the Tourist Board. I am sure that this is true. But this is merely present practice; and we are not discussing present practice but, as the noble Lord has said on many occasions in the two previous debates, we are discussing making law.

    It has always been the fact that the British Tourist Authority in the past have helped the Scottish Tourist Board as much as possible and they have had very close relations with them. Nevertheless, they do not need to consult the Scottish Tourist Board, according to the Bill as it now stands, and as has been continually emphasised by the noble Lord the Minister. The words are very important and the omission of words is also very important; so as the Bill stands at present, the British Tourist Authority could make its own assumptions as to how best to promote Scotland, no matter what the Secretary of State or the Scottish Tourist Board says.

    The Scottish Tourist Board may say, "We think it is crazy; we think it is damaging and a waste of money", but in law there is nothing which would stop the British Tourist Authority doing what they want to do. They need not take advice from anyone. Of course, we hope that they will take advice. They have always taken advice up until now and as the Minister said, the chairman of the Scottish Tourist Authority Board is a member of the British Tourist Authority. But the British Tourist Authority are under absolutely no obligation to pay any attention to what is said by the Secretary of State for Scotland or by the Scottish Tourist Board. This goes back to the point that I tried to make earlier; that the Bill, with all its good intentions, has fallen down very badly in its wording and in its thrust. I know that it is very difficult to write an intention into a Bill, but I believe that this is one point which the Minister, using the arguments he has used previously, could not possibly refuse to accept.

    Therefore I hope that on this occasion the Minister will see the importance of this amendment for the Scottish Tourist Board and for the promotion of tourism in Scotland, and perhaps it will save something of the intention and the fiavour of the Bill, because we all want tourism in Scotland and we all want a good co-operation between the British Tourist Authority the Secretary of State and the Scottish Tourist Board. You cannot have it all one way: there must be a come-and-go, and I suggest that this amendment would certainly provide some respect for the Scottish Tourist Board and for the Bill itself. I beg to move.

    This amendment is intended to ensure that the Scottish Tourist Board has a say in the scope and style of promotions which the British Tourist Authority undertakes on Scotland's behalf. I have no hesitation in saying that I subscribe to the underlying principle which the noble Lord has in mind, but the key point for the purposes of this discussion on this particular Bill is that this amendment is technically unacceptable.

    First—and this is a minor point—the provision, if amended as suggested, could be subject to the interpretation that the British Tourist Authority undertakes activities abroad to encourage people to visit Scotland after they, the people, have consulted the Scottish Tourist Board. Secondly—and much more importantly—the Bill is designed not to affect the British Tourist Authority's powers under the Development of Tourism Act of 1969, and Clause 1(3)(a) is an avoidance of doubt provision. Noble Lords will know that one cannot introduce a new power or duty into such an avoidance of doubt provision. Any change in the British Tourist Authority's powers or duties would have to be effected by separate amendment to the 1969 Act. Any such change relating to the British Tourist Authority, moreover, would be outside the Long Title of this Bill.

    Let me explain here how the British Tourist Authority sets up its overseas activities. In preparing its annual marketing plan, the British Tourist Authority invites each of the three national tourist boards to make suggestions for English, Scottish and Welsh promotions to be carried out by the authority. These suggestions are then assessed by the British Tourist Authority and developed into a coherent package of promotional items covering Britain as a whole. Further consultations take place with the three boards at appropriate points. Therefore, the consultation which this amendment proposes already takes place. Indeed, the British Tourist Authority does not have the staff or the resources to go about compiling its overseas programme without this consultation with, and indeed assistance from, the three national tourist boards.

    Let me also remind the House of a point which I made in Committee about the composition of the British Tourist Authority Board. The 1969 Act recognises the need to involve the national boards in decisions about the British Tourist Authority's marketing plan by placing a national tourist board chairman on the BTA board. The Scottish Tourist Board chairman therefore has a say at board level on the BTA's proposed activities. Such board level consultations supplement and safeguard the official level discussions which I described a moment ago. For these reasons, I am afraid that I cannot accept the amendment proposed by the noble Lord.

    My Lords, for once the noble Lord has a reasonable brief. I think that, technically, it is not a good amendment. It would have been a better amendment if it had been put in two lines earlier. We should then have avoided this business of the visitors consulting. The truth of the matter is that paragraph (a) of subsection (3) is quite unnecessary. If it were not there, the principal statute would remain giving power to the British Tourist Authority to do the overseas work for Scotland. So if you get into trouble with this clause, it is because you are doing something that is quite unnecessary. In other words, this is saying that the law remains unchanged. There was no ambiguity until somebody in the Scottish Office thought: we had better put this in to please the chairman of the British Tourist Authority.

    There has been pressure and it is obvious from the letter that some people have received—I did not receive it, but I saw it—that there is a feeling of unfairness in the British Tourist Authority that it has not got the credit for all that it has been doing for Scotland over all these years, promoting overseas, spending £3½ million, working with Glasgow and getting credit from the Lord Provost of Glasgow for £27,000. But they did not get it from the British Tourist Authority; they got it from the British Government. The fact is that the authority did it because nobody else could do it.

    The authority glories in the fact that money spent in Scotland by overseas visitors has increased by 50 per cent. in the past 10 years. Goodness gracious, my Lords! What has inflation been in these last 10 years? It should have done far better than that, even to retain the standard. The chairman goes out of his way to say that he employs Scots. That is terrible, is it not? Let me tell him that the Scottish Tourist Board employs Englishmen. I do not doubt that the present chairman of the Scottish Tourist Board is an Englishman. A former chief executive was certainly not a Scotsman.

    We are much more catholic in our approach and I daresay that the chairman will be the same, if he happens to have a good marketing man who is a Scot. He would be foolish not to have him. In fact, if he wants the best men it is inevitable that he must employ Scots. But he has no right to expect that we should bow down and worship his fairness. When a Scot is working for a firm, then he is working for that firm. He is not working for something that is not in his remit. He is working for England, Scotland and Wales. He is working for the British Tourist Authority. If he is doing his job properly, he is not giving all his time to only one.

    I admit that it is not a good amendment, but it allows me to say these few words about this rather sad letter that we have received from the chairman of the British Tourist Authority. No one will deny him any credit, but the fact is that nobody else, apart from the Highlands and Islands Development Board, has the right to do what he has been doing. He has been given all the money. What we are seeking to do is to ensure that there are even better statutory rights to consultation. If it is so good to write it in for the Secretary of State to consult the British Tourist Authority, why should the British Tourist Authority not have a statutory obligation to consult the Scottish Tourist Board? That is fair enough. The noble Lord says, "But they do it". He was not prepared to accept that argument in respect of the Secretary of State, that he would do it as a matter of common sense.

    But the amendment which we should have put down was to leave out subsection (3). We might come to that at the next stage of the Bill, because I like to hear the voice of the noble Lord, Lord Gray of Contin. It would be a shame if there were Scottish legislation without his voice being heard. We have missed him so much on the Roads (Scotland) Bill. So I advise my noble friend to withdraw this amendment and not to do it again.

    Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

    Welsh Plant Breeding Station

    7.48 p.m.

    rose to ask Her Majesty's Government what steps are being taken to safeguard and promote the work of the Welsh Plant Breeding Station.

    The noble Lord said: My Lords, the reason why I put down this Question is the very deep concern felt by many individuals throughout Wales regarding the severe cuts in funding to the Welsh Plant Breeding Station. This is a concern which has been expressed by Members on all sides of your Lordships' House. It is a concern which has generated wide support from many organisations in Wales and beyond Wales which are concerned with agriculture, and from very many others which are not involved, or are only indirectly involved, in agriculture.

    The Welsh Plant Breeding Station is the only agricultural institute in Wales which is grant-aided by the AFRC. There are seven such institutes in Scotland which are funded by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland—and I understand that they are unscathed by the cuts—and there are about 22 such units in England. We know that the Welsh Plant Breeding Station was established some 65 years ago by the late Sir George Stapleton. Over the decades, its research programmes have been of fundamental importance to agriculture in Wales and far beyond Wales. Its achievements have earned for the station an international reputation as a centre of plant breeding and grassland improvement research and teaching.

    The proposed cuts arise from the AFRC decision to save £13 million from its current spending. I understand that this is necessary partly to offset a £6 million reduction in DES funding, possibly some reduced funding from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and partly to enable the AFRC to spend £7 million to extend its brief so as to include substantially more research in food science technology and to divert research work into the universities. In the result, the WPBS is required to save £300,000 per annum from its current spending, and an additional saving of £200,000 per annum will result from the AFRC's decision to transfer the station's barley breeding programme to other institutes. Therefore the total saving required from the WPBS amounts to £500,000 per annum, which is about 17 per cent. of its current budget.

    The point should be made that agricultural research effort in Wales (this is true of all scientific research in Wales) is already seriously under-funded on any basis of comparison with England or Scotland. The annual funding of agricultural research institutes is £3 million for Wales, £26 million for Scotland and £70 million for England. The proposed cuts will worsen this already lamentable situation.

    The response of the station to the reduction in funding which it will suffer is to declare that 26 posts will be made redundant, of which 11 are engaged in the barley programme and 15 are engaged in research work on pasture quality, crop physiology, plant nutrition and entomology. When considered together with posts which have already been lost by natural wastage, the total loss amounts to about 25 per cent. of the station's scientific staff.

    I shall discuss first the loss of the breeding programmes. Over the past five years, the station has seen its breeding programmes on brassicae crops and field beans transferred to other institutions. The AFRC now intends to shift its barley breeding programme, the largest single United Kingdom arable crop, and associated research from the WPBS to other institutions in the eastern part of the country.

    The barley breeding programme, with its emphasis on disease resistance and feeding quality, has particular relevance to Wales and the West. I understand that it has been producing excellent results. I am advised that, of the AFRC varieties in joint trials in 1983, the top five were all from the WPBS. Particular reference has been made to the F.1 hybrid barley breeding project which offers the prospect of increasing barley yields by about 20 to 25 per cent. in the near future. It is the only project in the United Kingdom private or public breeding sector. After 13 years of personal commitment and endeavour, this work is apparently now to go down the drain, at the very time when it is reaching fruition. This will leave the field clear to our European competitors.

    Any plant breeding programme draws its strength from the variety and the extent of its bank of genetic resources. This depends upon it maintaining active breeding programmes in a range of crops. The present proposals will plunder those banks and will therefore further reduce its range of interests.

    I turn now to the so-called "budgetary" cuts affecting such areas of vital interest to the Welsh livestock industry as pasture and silage quality, fertiliser usage and clover establishment on the hills. The WPBS has had a long and proud tradition since the pioneer work of the late Sir George Stapleton for its multi-disciplinary approach to grassland problems. The cuts now proposed at the WPBS would destroy this carefully nurtured and successful amalgamation of disciplines. Many of us find this ironic and incomprehensible at the very time that the AFRC is extolling the virtues of the multi-disciplinary approach.

    I am advised that the cuts proposed in the chemistry department, for example, would virtually eliminate all research activity in pasture quality and animal nutrition. I am sure that many Members of your Lordships' House will have read the brief prepared by the staff employed in the chemistry department at the station and will have noted that the following research work will be terminated: the improvement of pasture feeding quality, which is aimed at reducing supplementary feeding costs; studies of the value of grass and clover mixtures for livestock feeding; work on forage conservation and silage quality; and studies of mineral requirement and the need for mineral supplementation.

    We are also advised that the cuts proposed would terminate the station's research efforts in plant nutrition, crop physiology and entomology, all being areas of research which are vital to the station's integrated research programme and have a direct relevance to the specific problems of Welsh agriculture. I would mention in particular the plant nutrition group which conducts studies of fertiliser use in the hills and uplands and the production and establishment of clover. This work is specifically aimed at conditions in Wales and cannot be carried out elsewhere.

    The proposed cuts at the WPBS are structurally damaging to its present remit and to its proposed new remit, which involves expanding work on hills and uplands. In the light of the proposed remit, many of us find the proposals to cut vital areas such as pasture quality and plant nutrition quite incomprehensible.

    As against this, I must acknowledge the optimism of the Secretary of State for Wales. About a fortnight ago he said in another place:

    "There is a firm future for that institution"—

    that is, the WPBS.

    "Its operations have just been extended by the acquisition of an upland farm in Powys and by work on the uplands".

    However, in the submission of the people who are well

    informed about the station, this statement is misleading. It is misleading on at least two counts. First, it assumes that the WPBS, which will have been so weakened by the redundancies to which I have referred, will nevertheless be able to undertake effectively the work allotted to it under the corporate plan. But how can this work be carried out effectively and to the benefit of the Welsh livestock industry if the expertise vital to its success has already been disbanded? Secondly, it does not acknowledge that the acquisition of the uplands farm in Powys is a replacement of an old uplands experimental station in another part of Powys whose lease has run out, and it does not acknowledge that the WPBS will not be a dominant partner in control of the work at the new farm but its role will be subsidiary to that of the Hill Farming Research Organisation—which will bring in Edinburgh staff, with a 750 mile round trip, to do the animal work at the new farm.

    Significantly, we do not know what other less damaging alternative options, if any, were considered by the AFRC before it decided to demand this budgetary saving of £300,000 from the WPBS. Neither do we know what less damaging proposals, if any, were considered by the former director of the station—if he was the author of the detailed redundancy proposals—in order to meet this demand of the AFRC. In other words, we do not know what criteria were applied in deciding that this was the way it was going to go at the Welsh Plant Breeding Station.

    I am not without some sympathy for the AFRC—a body which is not without its critics in England, also—which appears to have been trapped between civil servants under pressure (who do not appear to have fully grasped all the implications of their advice) and a contracting budget imposed by a Government firmly committed to cash limits in the management of public expenditure and the science budget.

    I believe that I may best assist the Welsh Plant Breeding Station by addressing 10 questions to the Minister. First, when the AFRC gave its approval to the corporate plan, was it aware that 26 scientific posts would be made compulsorily redundant in order to achieve the savings required at the WPBS?

    Secondly, when did the Welsh Office first become aware of the scale of the consequences of the budget-led cuts, and what representations were made by the Welsh Office to the AFRC, to the Minister of Agriculture or to the DES concerning the redundancies; and on what date or dates were such representations made? Third, when the budget-led cuts decisions were proposed, what account, if any, was taken of the new remit of the station?

    Fourth, how do the number of proposed redundancies at the WPBS compare with ( a), the other institutes engaged in grassland research—that is, the Grassland Research Institute and Hill Farming Research Organisation; ( b) other institutes engaged in plant breeding—that is, the Plant Breeding Institute and Scottish Crop Research Institute? And what is the current funding and the proposed funding for 1984–85, 1985–86 and 1986–87 for each of those four institutes?

    Fifth, will the Minister of Agriculture and the Secretary of State for Wales ask the AFRC to publish particulars of the alternative options, if any, which were considered by the AFRC in the process of formulating its corporate plan; and will they publish also the relative costs and cost benefits associated with each option?

    Sixth, in view of the long and close association between the University College of Wales and its agriculture department with the WBPS, what consultations took place between the AFRC and the University College of Wales, and the University of Wales, in relation to the savings demanded by the AFRC? If there were none, why was it thought appropriate that the university authorities should be kept in a state of ignorance?

    Seventh, as the WBPS barley breeding programme is 80 per cent. commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, where and to what project or projects will this money be diverted? If it is to be retained by the Ministry, will the Ministry restore it to the WPBS?

    Eighth, in the light of the particulars which have appeared since 23rd January, about the extent and the effect of the cuts, will the Secretary of State for Wales ask the AFRC to revise before April next its proposals for the station so that it is adequately funded and equipped to carry out the additional role envisaged in the corporate plan?

    Ninth, if the AFRC takes the view that its proposals in respect of the station cannot be reviewed until, at the earliest, the next annual review—which I understand will be in 1985—will the Welsh Office, bearing in mind its responsibility for agriculture in Wales, set aside whatever funds are necessary to enable the station to continue its work and to accept new opportunities? Tenth, and finally, are there any valid arguments against financing agriculture research in Wales in a similar way to that which applies in Scotland and Northern Ireland?

    At the end of the day we must come back not merely to the poor AFRC but to the role of the Government and its central departments. If the Secretary of State for Wales pleads that there is nothing he can do to protect the interests of the Welsh Plant Breeding Station, then we are entitled to ask: why do we have a separate Welsh Office with responsibility for agriculture?

    8.7 p.m.

    My Lords, I am pleased to follow the noble Lord, Lord Prys-Davies, in his masterly deployment of the case for the Welsh Plant Breeding Station. I agree entirely with a good deal of what he said. I will start by making two points. First, it is open to any Government at any time in their term to say to their agencies and departments that there should be some curtailment or limit to the amount of money that is spent—whether it concerns tourism (and we have just had a basin of that from Scotland), sport, the arts, or—as in this case—research. None of these very desirable avenues of our national life is inviolate; none may be left untouched by any Government.

    The second point I wish to make is that whereas the debate tonight will be answered by my noble friend the Minister, who has great knowledge of agriculture, in effect the person who ought to be answering this debate is not the Minister of Agriculture or the Secretary of State for Wales, to whom the noble Lord referred, but the chairman of the AFRC. He alone can tell us what caused them to make these decisions, which we find totally repugnant. I make that point because the decisions were taken not by the Government but by an agency of the Government. It is the agency—in this case, the AFRC—which should be questioned upon this matter.

    All I seek to do this evening is ask my noble friend to use his influence to nudge the AFRC—I will not go so far as to say that he should twist their arm because no doubt the AFRC greatly value their independence and would not like ministerial interference. But may I ask my noble friend to request the AFRC to read this debate? I see that a great number of noble Lords from various parts of the Principality are to speak, and by the time this debate has finished, a great deal will have been said.

    I think the issue is one of extreme concern to us. This plant breeding station is of great significance, not just in the Welsh sense but internationally, all over the world and, nationally. It is particularly important because of the very close contact between the plant breeding station and the practical Welsh farmer, mostly in the hills. Those of us who have farmed in the hills of Wales, not actually making a fortune out of doing so during our lives but enjoying doing so and being immersed in the problems, will recognise what the plant breeding station has done for grasses, for legumes and for barley, and the advances that have been made in all these fields.

    The noble Lord referred, quite rightly, to Sir George Stapleton. I would add the name of a man who possibly did more than anyone else to make it possible, by his financial support. That was the late Lord Milford, the father of the noble Lord who sits on our Benches here today, who always had great faith and gave a great deal of help at difficult times.

    It has already been said that out of the 29 research institutes in Britain the Welsh Plant Breeding Station is the only one in Wales, and therefore naturally we feel that the size of the cut is pretty unfair. It is probably in the chemistry field that the cuts will be most severely felt, and in the work which goes on to improve animal and human nutrition. I notice that the National Farmers' Union believe that the decisions lacked detailed consultation and were done in haste. I cannot judge that; I do not know. I just want the AFRC to spend a bit more time before reaching a final decision.

    I happen to be at the moment chairman of the council of the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society, a society which is very closely connected with the plant breeding station. Last year we held a two-day open demonstration of the highest quality at the plant breeding station, which attracted a vast number of people. I must tell your Lordships that our society views these cutbacks with disapproval and with an apprehension that this may lead to a running down of the station. This is what is at the back of people's minds. We need reassurance on that particular point.

    May I finally say this. Previous Governments of various hues have decentralised a great number of governmental functions from London and the Home Counties to distant parts of the country. The Forestry Commission, during our time, went to Edinburgh. The Mint, I think during the time of the party opposite—I think I see the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, nodding; probably he sent it; or it may have been Lord Tonypandy, but one of the two—was sent to Llantrisant. There have been many other examples of this, and all I am saying is that Aberystwyth is a long way from London and that the cuts in terms of employment will be felt much more acutely there than they would be in a densely-populated area.

    I have produced arguments tonight that I hope may be used to persuade the AFRC to think again. In Wales we are extremely proud of our plant breeding station. I have been happy to say a few words tonight on the subject.

    8.14 p.m.

    My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Prys-Davies, for initiating this debate and for couching the Question in the terms in which he has—wide enough to give us scope for a proper debate on this matter. I must immediately cross swords with the noble Lord, Lord Gibson-Watt, when he tries to dissociate the Government from any responsibility for these cuts. Surely the AFRC is carrying out a mandate given to it by the Government; and there is, of course, a joint consultative body which is consulted. If he reads the House of Commons reports on the financing of agricultural research and development he will read something of the background of this matter, which he already knows very well because of his great experience in this field.

    In this debate I feel that I have three interests to declare. Like the noble Lord, Lord Gibson-Watt, though in a much more modest way, I am a hill farmer, and my grasses depend so much, as do his, on the research done at the plant breeding centre at Aberystwyth. Secondly, I was a "co-digger" with Professor John Cooper, FRS, the former director of the Plant Breeding Station. When I was a young student and he was a young lecturer we were in the same digs together, and I have the highest opinion of him. Thirdly, I was brought up by my father, who was a farmer, absolutely to worship, as it were, the name of Sir George Stapleton, one of the greatest, if not the greatest, scientific farming pioneer of our century; and as the years have gone by that value judgment has been wholly justified.

    When I was a student at Aberystwyth it used to be a great argument as to which of the departments had brought the greatest glory to Aberystwyth, the agricultural department or the law department. In this House there are at least five members of the old law department, and it is a very good thing to see that four of them are speaking in defence of the agricultural department, which is so interwined in its work with the Plant Breeding Station. The fame of the agricultural department was great because, of course, Professor Stapleton, the founder of the Plant Breeding Station, was a professor at the university. The noble Lord has made the point that the work of the university is so intertwined with the plant breeding station.

    The fame of the plant breeding station and the agricultural department does not need any monuments; their monuments are to be seen on every green hill in this country. Indeed, as a matter of historical record, to put it into perspective, the first director of the Australian plant breeding station and the grass research programme of Australia was an old student of Professor Stapleton, from Aberystwyth. The first director of the New Zealand research effort into grassland came over to Aberystwyth as a postgraduate student to sit at the feet of the great man. To any farmer I have only to repeat the words "S22", "S23" and "S24", to quote only three of the famous rye grasses from which so many other developments have taken place in the last two or three generations, to realise what an enormous contribution the Welsh Plant Breeding Station has made, not only to the life of Wales but also to agriculture worldwide, and particularly, perhaps, in Australia and New Zealand.

    It was, therefore, with astonishment that I read the first report from the Agriculture Committee in the other place, Session 1982–83, published and printed on 11th May 1983. The subject was organisation and financing of agricultural research and development. When I went through the report and its evidence, not a single witness came forward from the University of Wales, nor from the Plant Breeding Station, nor from the Welsh Office, to give evidence in this matter. Whose fault that was, I do not know. Certainly the Scottish Office gave evidence, the Northern Ireland Office gave evidence, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the AFRC, the University of Reading, and so many other organisations; but I cannot find, first, that there was a single Welsh Member on the committee or, secondly, that there was any representative of a farming union, whether the NFU or the FUW, for Wales. I cannot find in this report, which is full of interesting things on this very subject, a single mention of the Welsh Plant Breeding Station at Aberystwyth.

    My Lords, if I may intervene, I have been trying all day to find copies of the two written memoranda which were sent to the committee of the other place from the University Colleges of Aberystwyth and Bangor, respectively. They are not to be found in the Library of the House of Commons, and they cannot be traced in the Victoria Tower. They were not printed; they were merely deposited. That shows the degree of concern, it would seem, which is paid to any of our Welsh affairs.

    I am grateful, my Lords, to the noble Baroness for telling me that; but looking at the report of the committee and the list of memoranda, and so on, included in the minutes of evidence, they are not referred to.

    Excuse me, my Lords; they are referred to but as papers which were deposited but not published.

    But not published, my Lords. I am grateful for that intervention. In many ways it is the most famous plant breeding station, and certainly the most famous on grasses—after all, we are a country that depends so much on grasses—and its seems very odd that we did not have the position of the Welsh Plant Breeding Station properly considered. Also, it is within my knowledge that in recent times there has been a proposal which was turned down by some of the shrewd farmers on the committee concerned with this matter, that the name of the Welsh Plant Breeding Station should be changed. It was suggested that it be changed to the Welsh Agricultural Research Station or the Aberystwyth Agricultural Research Station. That was an attempt to downgrade the station and treat it as an outlying station, which I think the farming members of the committee realised immediately. That is the general fear in Wales. This is the only Plant Breeding Station or institution that is directly funded through the agency of the AFRC in Wales. That compares with many in England, and I shall presently come to the position of those institutes in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

    It is my view that if we are to safeguard the position of the Welsh Plant Breeding Station the first necessary step is to put it under the Welsh Office; that is, to transfer it from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and have it funded by one fund directly by the Welsh Office. In support of that I look at the findings of the committee in another place which referred to the Scottish system. I quote from paragraph 35 of that report, which I previously adverted to:
    "To begin with there is one single funding source in Scotland, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland which disposes of some £25 million in research and development".
    When one compares that with the £3 million that is spent—until recently, £3.4 million but if this cut goes through it will be £3 million—on the only plant breeding station in Wales, we see a difference of degree already. The report continues—and I quote from the end of paragraph 37:
    "Overall there can be no doubt that the close link between advisers, agricultural college workers and university students in Scotland is of immense benefit to agriculture and we heard a good deal to support the view of one of the witnesses that the system was 'immeasurably more effective' than that south of the border".
    I realise that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Edmund- Davies, the Pro-Chancellor of the University of Wales is to speak later and he can tell us of the importance of the very happy co-operation that has always taken place between the university and the Welsh Plant Breeding Station. If oral evidence had been given to the committee it would have appreciated that the co-operation between the WPBS in Aberystwyth with Trawscoed, the NAAS establishment with the Agricultural College of Wales and with the university faculty, which are all in a close physical proximity to Aberystwyth, make a Welsh set-up that is nearer in practice to the Scottish, although differently controlled.

    When we consider the set-up in England, the committee said this in paragraph 45:
    "The main thrust of the evidence given to us by the JCO was to the effect that the present administration of agricultural R & D is too complex and cumbersome".
    The paragraph continued later:
    "We hope to show that the entire weight of evidence of our enquiry has also been on the need for the development of such a strategy for R & D, though as we shall consider, opinions as to its shape and execution varied widely".
    The thrust of the committee's findings is that it thought that the whole organisation in England, and the Ministry of Agriculture in particular, lacked a proper sense of strategy on these matters. In conclusion the committee said, in paragraph 99:
    "We also believe that attention should be paid to the Scottish and Ulster systems in any reorganisation of the advisory service in England and Wales. In particular we would stress the advantages of the integration of agricultural education with advisory work at Scottish colleges, institutes and universities. Matters such as the training in communication and extension methods and a recognition of the importance of agricultural economics are valuable 'imports' that could well be brought South of the Border".
    I submit that the detailed inquiry by the committee in another place clearly pointed to the enormous advantages of the Scottish system and, even more so, the Northern Ireland system—which I did not quote—where the committee found that the entire funding, even of the university chairs, lecturers, and so on, in agriculture in Northern Ireland is done by the Ulster Agricultural Department. That has enormous benefits. Therefore, I believe that instead of being an outlying station, which distant Aberystwyth no doubt is to the AFRC—it has a cut across the board and Aberystwyth must, as it were, pay its price regardless of the work done there—it would be very much better for Wales, for Welsh agriculture and for all concerned if the Welsh Plant Breeding Station came under the Secretary of State for Wales. Having said that, the immediate problems are obviously those which have been referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Prys-Davies. I entirely agree with the points that he made, though I doubt very much whether he will get satisfactory answers to his questions.

    However, I make one or two comments about the enlarged remit which it has been suggested should be given to the Welsh Plant Breeding Station. As it is obviously on the wet, west side of the country, and as Wales is very largely a country of uplands and hills, there is a great deal of sense in enlarging the remit so that there is not only the fundamental research that is required and carried out at the Plant Breeding Station, but the applied research can be carried out also in the new farm in Powys.

    It seems to be stupid to cut out of the Aberystwyth Plant Breeding Station the very departments that could carry out some of research on this new hill farm in Powys. We read of the barley programme which in this country is now to be concentrated at Cambridge and Dundee. Undoubtedly the greatest amount of barley growing in this country is in the eastern part of the country. Nevertheless, it is right to point out that in Scotland, understandably, and in Cambridge the main thrust of the research into barley is for malting barley which, of course, is very important to the Scottish economy, in particular, and of some considerable importance to the English economy. On the western side of the country, including Wales and the West Country where, say, 25 per cent. of the barley is grown, that is feeding barley. The thrust of the research at Aberystwyth has been not into malting barley but into feeding barley and that is very different. If we are dealing with the western side of the country we must remember that because of the wet areas we are more prone to some kind of diseases than is the eastern part and there is a great deal to be said for maintaining the barley programme at Aberystwyth.

    But why do what the AFRC did? I suppose one could say, if one was looking at the whole question of research and development in agriculture anew, that one would not immediately select Aberystwyth as the obvious place for barley development. Presumably it was cut out for that reason. But it seems to me that it was a short-sighted attitude, particularly to cut it out at the time they did, when obviously the joint trial results showed how very well the work had been done. The development of hybrid barley, which has been referred to, was of great importance. Also the requirement on the director to save another £300,000 a year meant that he had to take his knife and suggest cuts here and there. Whatever he suggested would have been wrong.

    In the light of what we now know, and of the enormous criticisms of agricultural research and development in this country—the detailed criticisms set out in the report of a committee in another place—one cannot have faith and confidence that the right decisions have been taken. In my view, an overwhelming case is made out for a complete review of the decisions that have been taken.

    8.30 p.m.

    My Lords, some years ago, until I had to give up the position on becoming a member of the University Grants Committee, I was a member of council at the University College of Wales at Aberystwyth. I must confess that I was then better informed of the details of the work of the Welsh Plant Breeding Station than I would claim to be today. But I was recently in Aberystwyth and was able to make some inquiries on the spot. I did so because virtually everyone in Wales in university or farming circles has been shocked by the relative down-grading proposed for our one and only agricultural research station in the Principality.

    I suppose that it could conceivably have been argued that in some directions the Plant Breeding Station might have been tempted to rely more than was wise on its past glories and international reputation. But the masterly description given by my noble friend Lord Prys-Davies of the work done there leaves me very doubtful of the possible validity of any such argument. In any case, had there been dissatisfaction with the quality of the work done there, should there not have been a timely word in the right place; and who better to receive that than my noble friend Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, who is not only a former Minister of Agriculture and Secretary of State for Wales but is currently the president and chairman of council of the University College at Aberystwyth? One should perhaps remind the House that the director of the Plant Breeding Station is a full professor of the University of Wales and a member of staff of the University College at Aberystwyth—although the entire funding of the station comes from agricultural sources.

    In view of the forthcoming debate on Friday of this week on the work of the research councils in general, it would not be appropriate tonight to go into the full context of the five-year plan of the AFRC, of which the proposed partial dismemberment of the Welsh station is but a segment. But it is only fair to put our debate into context and to say that that plan has not received a particularly favourable press. For example, the recently retired director of the research station, Sir Kenneth Blaxter, who is a Fellow of the Royal Society, has just written in New Scientist:
    "Britain's agricultural research has long been in need of reorganisation. But the five-year plan of the AFRC will damage research without going to the root of the problem".
    He refers to the council's "parochial view" as being "devoid of vision and without moral concern".

    This complaint comes from Scotland; but, as we have been reminded, the Scots are to retain their agricultural research institutions with very little, if any, diminution of resources. Both the Glasgow Herald and the Scotsman rejoiced when the proposals in the plan were announced. They had good reason to. In England, too, one small institution will be closed and weed research will no longer flourish at Oxford. Otherwise, England is to retain its score or so of agricultural research institutions, no doubt under some pressures; but it nevertheless already has the lion's share of the agricultural research work done in the United Kingdom.

    One of our complaints in Wales is that in general we are extremely poorly served in the number of publicly funded research institutions that we have outside the departments of the university colleges. We have a few small offshoots for hydrology, geology and terrestrial ecology and one shell-fish station. They are all very welcome and enjoy modest excellence. But the only research institute which can fairly claim to have an international reputation is the Welsh Plant Breeding Station. Opportunities for Welsh scientists to work at research in Wales are far too restricted.

    The noble Earl, Lord Selborne, who is Chairman of the Agriculture and Food Research Council and is extremely knowledgeable about apples, pears and hop growing in southern England, may say that this deprivation in Wales is no concern of the AFRC. But the disposition of the work of the research councils in the United Kingdom is not and should not be entirely a matter of pure or even applied research. In the United Kingdom we are a pluralistic society, and there are vital and important undertones and overtones in these matters—factors which presumably the AFRC, with its perhaps necessarily rather blinkered view, is unable to appreciate, but they are very real. It is partly because of them that tonight so many of us from all parts of the House wish to express our concern at what has been proposed. These matters cannot just be brushed aside.

    Admittedly the Secretary of State for Wales is in a an awkward position. He is responsible for agriculture in the Principality but not, of course, for university education or for the work of the research councils, which in any case have their own independence. It may be that the suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Hooson, that these matters should come directly under the Welsh Office—as in Scotland to a larger degree they come under the Scottish Office—is the right course to pursue. But meanwhile there is universal concern in the Principality at the way in which we believe this matter has been handled.

    The proposed cuts in staff have been fully and eloquently described by other noble Lords, so I shall not reiterate what was said beyond saying that no one believes that the cuts will stop at the 27 scientific officers who have already been given formal notice either of dismissal or of transportation to Cambridge—a rather luxurious Botany Bay but not necessarily to their liking. As I have found in Aberystwyth, further adjustments—to use a neutral phrase—are almost universally expected. For example, reducing the number of chemists from nine to one is bound to create a further imbalance. As we have been told, there may be advances in other directions. But it is understandable that there is concern when we are given to understand that the farm which has just been acquired will be permitted to undertake field trials but that the serious research will now be carried out in Scotland. That hardly brings a song to the heart. It gives us little confidence about the level of work which is likely to be carried out at the research station.

    As for the redeployment of AFRC funds to food research—which is one of the reasons given for cutting down on the resources available for agriculture—so far as I can learn, little, if any, of the food research resources will come to Wales. If that is so, we shall lose both on the swings and on the roundabouts. We do not claim undue favours and nor should we be content with any but the highest standards. We believe that with properly directed effort these can be attained at our one institution in Wales. We ask for no more, but we can be satisfied with no less. The AFRC should think again.

    8.40 p.m.

    My Lords, as the noble Baroness, Lady White, has explained, I am the chairman of the Agricultural and Food Research Council. I can therefore assure my noble friend that at least one member of the council will listen to, and not only listen to but read carefully, the observations made in this debate. Your Lordships are tolerant in these matters but I must nevertheless be careful not to speak on behalf of the Agricultural and Food Research Council. I hope that I may be allowed to speak as someone who has more than a passing knowledge as a farmer. I can perhaps assure the noble Baroness that I grow more than just hops and apples. I involve myself in many crops, dairy farming and the like, which will be familiar to Welsh farmers.

    In many ways, I find this debate of enormous encouragement. This may seem totally paradoxical when I have had to listen to so many strictures about the organisation of agriculture and food research. I find it a great consolation because, for 18 months to two years, as great chunks of funding have been knocked off agricultural research, it has been difficult to whip up any response. I do not know how many of your Lordships recollect the paper I hold in my hand from the Advisory Board for the Research Councils to the Secretary of State for Education and Science. That set a precedent, in that its advice was published in October 1982. It has not been published before or since. It was a most devastating document from which, not unnaturally, the secretary of the Agricultural Research Council, as it was then, dissented. To be fair to the advisory body, it printed in full the strictures and warnings of the secretary of the Agricultural and Food Research Council at that time.

    My noble friend will correct me, but I do not remember an enormous cry from the Welsh farmers. The response was muted. It tended to be along the lines that we live at a time of Government cuts, that your party will obviously be looking at all such cuts and that the fact that there may be interests way beyond those that we have been discussing today—I have to say that there are many issues at stake—is something that just has to be borne. I remember even a leader in The Times making just this point; that farmers and the food industry are complaining once more and that they must take their medicine because agricultural support in one form or another in this country is simply too great.

    We are looking now at a situation where devastating cuts have been made. I assure some of the speakers in this debate that the cuts are more far-reaching than might have been suggested. It is not fair to say that in England there is one small laboratory being closed down together with one or two cuts in other institutes. Two institutes are being completely closed down in England, with cuts of the order of the Welsh Plant Breeding Station in other institutes. The cuts about which we are talking tonight are certainly damaging. Everyone in the House, having heard eloquent speeches, must recognise this. But cuts of that order are common throughout the institutes that we are required to run. The simple reason can be found in the cuts in public funding.

    I take issue strongly with my noble friend who makes the point that the AFRC can somehow organise its affairs that it should be able to manage without apparent public funding of the order needed to run its commitments.

    My Lords, with great respect, if I may intervene, that is the last thing I said. All that I said was that every form of agency and activity under every Government must come, at some time or another, under the eye of economy. I never said that research in itself should be cut.

    My Lords, I am delighted that my noble friend has put me right on that. When assessments are to be made, as they have been made, Governments do so presumably by taking a hard look at the strategic considerations which are implied by withdrawing support in one direction and increasing support in another. I do not quarrel quite so strenuously as some will with the concept that the food industry does need further support. The reasons can be well justified, as has been done in another report to which Sir Kenneth Blaxter, who has already been mentioned, was a participant. He made the point that we are losing in the balance of payments on our food industry. The food engineering industry has badly lost its share of the market. Unlike agriculture, be it in Wales, England or Scotland, that has continued successfully to make a great contribution to the balance of payments and to reducing or preventing the full cost of living increase for food products, as for other industries, the food industry has a track record that is less impressive.

    If there is to be a case for publicly funded research, it is fair to look at the opportunities which may lie for further employment and, from the farmers' point of view for assuring that the raw materials, which are mainly from the farm for the food industry, come from our own producers rather than through imported foods, thereby losing markets for our own farmers. There is a case, recognise, as the Ministry of Agriculture and others have urged. I accept that it would be only reasonable to expect that at least some of that food research should be undertaken in universities, colleges and the like throughout the United Kingdom. In the context of today's debate, the point has been made forcibly that at least some of that should come back to Wales.

    What worries me in the broadest sphere is whether there is a sufficient understanding—not just for Wales but for England and Scotland as well—of the benefits that we expect from agricultural research. The industry is highly dependent on new research and new technology. The pace of change is perhaps bewildering. Sometimes, it is objectionable when the conservationists find that drainage schemes or the like do much to reduce the value of the environment. Certainly, for example, when it comes to pollution of water courses, this is in many respects objectionable. These are the areas where agricultural research can and should be making a contribution.

    We are looking with great trepidation at the implications of static prices for agricultural products. This will hurt particularly the Welsh farmers who are living on lower margins than many of my neighbours in the South-East of England. The implications of static price levels for agricultural products must mean examining new systems and lower inputs in order to survive in what will be a fierce climate. There are considerations in the areas of social welfare and keeping rural communities alive.

    The animal welfare considerations, which have been very much to the fore in recent years, have created a genuine requirement from a wide spectrum of society to know exactly what it is that puts an animal under stress, and what should be the relationship between the animals that we harness for agricultural purposes and the farmer. I worry enormously that the cuts which have been imposed deliberately as a result of this advice and as a result, more recently—only in November—of the cuts made in the commissioned research at the Welsh Plant Breeding Station by the Ministry of Agriculture and at the other 22-odd institutes have all been made calculatedly on the basis apparently of the sort of considerations that I have listed, are not of sufficient import.

    The debate has demonstrated clearly that in the case of the Welsh Plant Breeding Station there is equally the Welsh dimension. I am sure that the point must be firmly upheld by all who organise research that the reputation of that institute must be protected from the sort of ad hoc cuts that are being inflicted widely throughout all our institutes. I do not think that this will be very acceptable to those who have spoken before, but it is the case that the cuts about which we are talking tonight—the noble Lord, Lord Hooson, mentioned a cut from £3.4 million to £3 million, although I think it is rather less and of the order of 6 per cent. to 8 per cent.—are very much in line with the cuts which are being imposed on the agricultural research service.

    The discussions which we have had on how we organise research rather missed the point, because there is always a temptation when funds are cut, when plans have to be produced which will upset everyone—and believe me at the moment the animal farmer, the top fruit grower, the soft fruit grower and a whole range of arable growers are extremely disturbed by the corporate plan—to say that it is the plan which is at fault and that we cannot possibly live with it. I make the point once more that when we are required to cut our cloth according to our means we invariably produce a plan which is of great consequence to many people. No doubt there will be other debates in this House about other areas of agricultural research, and even though the points will not be made with as much fervour as they have been made by so many of your Welsh Lordships' tonight, they will, I suspect, he made with almost as equal force.

    8.52 p.m.

    My Lords, like the noble Earl, Lord Selborne, I, too, have to be careful as the chairman of my country's tourist board reporting on tourism to the Secretary of State for Wales. I have no wish to preempt his rights, and plead the Addison Rules. In fact, 40 years ago in Pembrokeshire, as a young student writing a dissertation on the agricultural areas of my own County of Pembrokeshire, I was part of the great plan to upgrade grass as the mother of milk in Wales, and I feel that type of association with it. It was the noble Lord, Lord Gibson-Watt, reinforced later by the noble Baroness, Lady White, who said that it was the point of internationalism. The noble Lord, Lord Gibson-Watt, actually said that this thing is not merely for Wales. It is their point that I wish to reinforce.

    The Wales Tourist Board, in common with other organisations in Wales, was approached and asked to consider its views on the plant breeding station. The issue was discussed as late as Friday last week. At its meeting on that day, while recognising that the activities of the WPBS naturally remain outside the remit of the Tourism Act, the board were mindful of the international reputation that is enjoyed by the station and, more particularly, the fact that it is visited by scientists from all over the world. As a consequence, it remained, we felt, an important institutional ambassador for Wales which featured in our specialist literature and was part of the marketing of our country's attractions overseas. I have, of course, conveyed that to the Secretary of State, before I would ever speak to it in this House.

    Although the benefits are indirect and difficult to measure, we believe that the Welsh Plant Breeding Station makes a significant contribution to the image and the identity of our country. For that reason we formally resolved that I should convey to this House the concern that everything possible should be done to safeguard the future of the centre as a major centre for agricultural research, so that it might maintain its unrivalled reputation for innovative work on subjects that have a direct hearing upon the prosperity of our rural areas.

    I am deliberately holding in my hand our own Wales Tourist Board's study of agriculture in relation to tourism. We have a very sophisticated product now in which we see tourism and agriculture together, integrating the rural community and being vital to sustaining life in an area which has for too long exported its best people. I thought it highly significant, when I asked for the figures, that, in 1982, there were no less than 2,170 official visitors to the station, 330 of whom came from overseas, and that in 1983 there were 2,500 visitors in all, plus 5,000 for open days. I asked for a breakdown of people so visiting and I found that they were scientists, advisers, students, farmers, media "dignitaries" and people who are extremely important in the promotion of Wales as a tourist attraction.

    The decline of our traditional industrial base has placed agriculture and tourism together as providing one of the very few options open to our nation for stabilising its economy. There is evidence that tourism, together with the research that has been carried out at the establishment and the effect that it has had on agriculture within Wales, has at last begun to halt the great decline in the rural areas which has been the running sore of our country for a very long time indeed. It would be ridiculous—and I cannot stress this strongly enough as a private individual Member of this House—if, as we have done so often in the industrial field, we were to dismantle an asset now just at the time when its real value to the country is being understood. I can cite from within my own responsibilities the fact that we have learned over the last 10 years that those enthusiasts who worked to keep alive and working the mineral railways, which were clearly redundant in industrial and commercial terms, have created an asset that is now of infinite value to our country and is helping it to earn its living at a very difficult time.

    For that reason, and underlining the points that have already been made without repeating them, I have travelled here from Wales tonight in order to add my voice to the plea that second thoughts be had upon this issue and that the Minister, when he rises to speak, should give the House the assurance that this plant breeding station will be allowed to continue its work.

    8.57 p.m.

    My Lords, at the outset of my remarks I think it wiser to reveal that I have both a personal and at least a quasi-official interest in the important topic which is currently occupying the time of your Lordships' House. My personal interest arises of course from the fact that I am a Welshman. Any Welshman cannot fail to be interested in the matter currently under discussion. My quasi-official interest arises from the fact that I have the honour to be the pro-Chancellor of the University of Wales—that is, as most people know, a federal university, the senior member of which is the University College at Aberystwyth, of which the present president will, in the near future, be addressing this House.

    As far as the university itself and its connections with the WPBS are concerned, the director of the station is also a University of Wales professor of agricultural botany in the college; the scientific staff are listed both in the university calendar and in the college prospectus; and students are allowed to read for higher degrees of the university at the station, supervised by a scientific staff and under the direction of the director. I have to add that I, as a pro-Chancellor, have no knowledge of any consultations with the university at any time regarding the steps leading to the present position in which the WPBS finds itself.

    I should have thought it was incontestable, and therefore accepted, that the work of the station was of both national and international importance. That that has been universally recognised is surely beyond challenge, and the noble Lord, Lord Prys-Davies, in his notable opening speech, has given the necessary detail to emphasise—if that is necessary—the fact of the matter. It is the only plant research station in the whole of the Principality. Scotland has nine such major institutions; and England, 20. The annual funding of these institutes by the AFRC in the case of Wales appears to be approximately £3 million, in the case of Scotland. £26 million and in the case of England, over £70 million. Wales faces a cut of £500,000—approximately 17 per cent.—in its annual funding.

    What the university does not know—and I cite the university because of its interest and particularly that of the college, which naturally has a more intimate daily contact than does the university with the station—is what are the proposed annual cuts in Scotland and in England. We should like to be supplied with those figures tonight. If, as I understand it, having read at least two of the newspapers published north of the Tweed, Scotland is actually destined to be better off in the future than it presently is—and I congratulate Scotland but I do not envy it; on the other hand, there must be some fairness of approach to all institutions of this character—I ask rhetorically, can the grave consequences of the proposed cuts in the Aberystwyth funding be justified if that is the position in other parts of the United Kingdom? Can it really be said that the interests of the WPBS are being safeguarded, "leave alone promoted" (to use the words of the noble Lord, Lord Prys-Davies) by the events which are threatened?

    I and the university should be grateful for enlightenment on these matters, and we urge the noble Lord to the conclusion that at the very least further urgent consideration of the topics is called for, the details of which have already been furnished by earlier speakers.

    9.2 p.m.

    My Lords, I join with the noble Lords in thanking the noble Lord, Lord Prys-Davies, for the way in which he opened this debate. It is just 14 years since I had the great honour of being Secretary of State for Wales. Like the noble Baroness, I have tried to keep in touch with what happens in the Principality. At that time I learned how much the agricultural industry in Wales looks towards Aberystwyth. The anxieties which have been expressed by noble Lords today from both sides of the House must surely give Her Majesty's Government cause for some concern.

    I should like to say how deeply I appreciate the presence of the noble Earl, Lord Selborne. I think it was a great courtesy to us all that, as chairman of the responsible research body, he has come to participate in this debate and to give us the benefit of his advice. As I listened to my noble friend Lord Edmund-Davies, who claimed a cut of 17 per cent., and to the noble Earl, who referred to a cut of, I believe, 6 per cent., I realised that there is a very great disparity between the sources of information that have been available to various responsible people who have taken part in this debate.

    It would be a grievous error to brush aside the anxieties of Wales with just a passing remark about the fervour of the Welsh. It is true that from time to time our people speak with fervour; it is natural enough because we love Wales. But Wales—north, south, east and west—little country that it is, is not always easy to unite. However, it is united on this matter. From all parts—and apparently all parties—in this House, there is an anxiety that the consultation that did not take place should even now be allowed. It is not too much to ask that the Government should listen to a united voice from the Benches behind them, from the Opposition Benches and from these Cross-Benches, and that they should realise something has clearly gone amiss.

    I do not wish to take the time of the House other than to say that I very much agree with the noble Lord, Lord Hooson, that consideration should be given to the research station being under the authority of the Welsh Office. If it were the responsibility of the Welsh Office, a misunderstanding of the mood of Wales of this sort would be impossible for whoever is in power, whichever side of the House happens to hold authority for the time being in the Welsh Office. It is a department that endeavours to be sensitive to the mood, the needs and anxieties of the Welsh people. I salute the noble Lord, Lord Gibson-Watt, who served a long stint himself both in office and as a Shadow Minister for Wales. I think that he did five years' hard work in another place. He speaks with very great authority on this subject. Therefore, tonight we have had the privilege of listening to people who know the agricultural industry in the Principality inside out and who know our university world thoroughly. I like listening to the Minister, but I shall feel sorry for him unless he has something hidden up his sleeve and unless he is able to say that he will think again.

    9.8 p.m.

    My Lords, I too join in congratulating my noble friend Lord Prys-Davies in initiating this debate, and indeed in the completely masterly way in which he opened his case. He did so with all the skill and painstaking accuracy that one associates with every case that he articulates. In hearing the splendid contributions of the noble Lords, Lord Gibson-Watt and Lord Hooson, my noble friend Lady White, and the noble Viscount, Lord Tonypandy, one had for a brief moment a nostalgic feeling that one was living again a previous incarnation not far removed in distance and not even far removed in time from one's present locus and experience.

    But the debate indeed has been much wider than the confrontations that I have mentioned, and that I and others, were used to in another place. It has been greatly enriched and, if I may say so, leavened by the distinguished contribution from all parts of the House. If ever there was need to endorse the fact that this is in no way a political matter, then that most clearly—and in a most distinguished manner—has been done this evening in this House. Indeed, one only has to speak to almost anyone in any part of Wales to find that there is here a feeling that is deeply rooted and broadly based utterly divorced from any consideration of party-political advantage. I myself am glad that the Honourable Society of Cymrodorion have indeed played so leading a part in relation to this most worthy case.

    I am glad of the opportunity to intervene, albeit for a brief moment so late in the debate. There is no need to rehash any of the arguments that have been so splendidly and succinctly deployed. But may I mention three matters. First is the question that has been touched upon by many contributors to this debate, and that is the inequity that Wales has suffered for many decades—it goes back a long time—in relation to the funding of agricultural research compared with other parts of the United Kingdom.

    I can well understand why that should be so. It was not brought about by any malevolence on the part of central Government from year to year. I suspect that in this, as in more than one other instance, Wales has been the victim of its own success. So great was the distinction, so great the fame, so great the achievements of the Welsh Plant Breeding Station at Aberystwyth, that it could not have dawned upon most people—even people utterly knowledgeable in this field over the years—that Wales was getting only one proportion of 8½ units that Scotland was getting. What is the human population of Wales? It is about half that of Scotland. But what counts here, I suppose, is not humans but animals. The dairy population of Wales is greater than the dairy population of Scotland. The sheep population of Wales is greater than the sheep population of Scotland.

    Scotland, as we have heard from so many noble Lords, has nine such institutions as these. It has one major institution wholly devoted to dairy research, and another to hill farming. I do not think that any Minister—and this is not a party point, it is a point which could have been made during the incumbency of any other Government over the last 30 or 40 years—or anybody could have justified the relatively meagre proportion of funding that Wales has received over the years. That, in my respectful submission, is the starting point. Whatever might be said about the necessity for Wales to take its medicine—if I understood the first part of the speech of the noble Lord opposite, although he rallied fairly strongly late in the day and said that Wales had a special case—that is the beginning of it all. Wales starts in this field from a position of utter inequity in relation to the industry that is wholly central and vital to its whole economy.

    Secondly, the Welsh Office does not, I am afraid, come out of this with very great glory. I appreciate the argument that was put, as always, attractively by the noble Lord, Lord Gibson-Watt, but they cannot be exculpated completely. They do exercise an overall supervision in relation to the whole field of agriculture in Wales. I cannot conceive that a strategic decision would have been made in the first instance to subject Wales to an across the board cut. That is where it started. It must have started at the Treasury, then gone to the ARC and then relayed by the ARC to the various institutes, including Wales, on the basis of a broad across the board cut. I cannot believe that that could have been conceived without close consultation in the first instance with the Welsh Office. If there was no such consultation, it is an even graver situation than we had contemplated.

    I do not think that the noble Lord, Lord Gibson-Watt, would argue for a moment that the situation would have been the same in the time of Jim Griffiths, or my noble friend Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, or the noble Viscount, Lord Tonypandy, or the right honourable Mr. John Morris in another place. If that had happened in the day of any one of them, they and their friends would have descended upon the ARC like a shoal of hungry piranhas. It would indeed have been a gory confrontation. I do not think anything more need be said about that.

    My Lords, would it help if I informed the noble Lord that his noble friend Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos has already descended upon me like a shoal of fish as he has already said?

    My Lords, I am charmed to hear that he is true to type, but I am in no way surprised. I would not have expected him to have acted otherwise. I am grateful for that intervention.

    The case which the Welsh Office had to plead was not one that demanded a great advocative skill. The very heart and kernel of that has already been touched upon by my noble friend Lord Prys-Davies. In the corporate plan published by the AFRC for 1984–98—in the main it is a miserable document dealing with proposed cuts—there are from time to time certain shafts of light to relieve the gloom. One of them comes at paragraph 6.9(vi) of that report. It is very short and if the House will allow me I shall quote it:
    "The proposals for the next five years are…to alter the remit of WPBS to reflect the station's decreased involvement in variety development"—
    then there follow these words—
    "and increasing interest in production studies and farming systems for the hills and uplands in Wales. This new work has already been initiated, jointly with HRFO, at a recently-acquired upland farm in Powys".
    In other words, putting it in lay terms, the AFRC is saying that there should be greater concentration upon what might be described as the practical end of the whole exercise; the evaluation of the nutritive value for animals of the fodder prepared and the crops grown. The body that was responsible for doing that in the Welsh Plant Breeding Station was the chemistry or nutrition department, which now is to lose nine out of ten of its members. That was the heart, core and kernel of the whole of that exercise. The subparagraph that I have quoted is utterly meaningless and rendered totally nonsensical by the disappearance of the nutrition section. Why did not the Welsh Office plead that utterly simply but totally irrefutable case?

    I end on a local note. I, not unnaturally, am deeply saddened by what is proposed to happen at the Welsh Plant Breeding Station. It was situated within the constituency that I had the honour to represent for eight years. It is located within a mile or two of my home. I suppose that I probably know more than half the people of all ranks who work there. I can tell the House—and I am sure the House will accept this in all sincerity—that morale is at a deadly low ebb. Even if those cuts were completely restored immediately, in my judgment it would take many years to repair the damage that has already been done.

    Let me mention one other matter at a local level. The employment that is given by this institution locally in the area north of Aberystwyth is of immense significance. Even in more prosperous economic times that area had the deepest social and economic problems. The problems were not problems of unemployment, as many Members of this House know; there were the problems of employment. There were very few jobs; there were jobs that turned very much upon the sustenance derived locally from publicly-owned, publicly financed enterprises. The loss of even a few jobs will tell very heavily upon that community.

    I am not interested in a witch hunt. I have my own views as to where the guilt probably lies. But I am not asking for any commission of inquiry to adjudicate upon such matters. I ask the Minister not to give a final answer tonight. I am sure that, with his usual good humour, and bonhomie, he will be able to deflect, or seek to deflect, many of the points that have been validly made. But I am sure that he is made of too genuine stuff to rely upon that. I urge him to consider that he is dealing, so far as Wales is concerned, with an invaluable, much cherished national institution. The damage that already has been done is considerable. It is possible to wreak immeasurable, even deadly, damage to it.

    During the reign of terror of the French Revolution, a great and distinguished scientist, Lavoisier, was put to death. Someone said, a long time later, that cutting off his head took but a few seconds; replacing his scholarship was something that took many decades. Unless the Government are prepared to give agonising reappraisal to this matter, I fear very much that it could take decades to repair the damage that is now proposed.

    9.22 p.m.

    My Lords, it is rash indeed for an East Anglian farmer to enter into a debate which has shown itself to be the domain not only of Welshmen and Welsh women but of those who have, as most Welshmen and Welsh women have, the enormous grasp of the problem at issue, the deep feeling towards anything concerning the Principality and the magnificent command of words, of oratory, that we have been privileged to listen to this evening. I do so for two reasons. The first is that, despite coming from the opposite side of the country, I have an admiration which is as high as that shown by any noble Lord who has spoken so far for Aberystwyth, for the work that has been done there and for the tradition so magnificiently started by Stapleton and carried on by his successors.

    I think that there are perhaps relatively few of us engaged in agriculture today who realise what that debt is that we owe to Sir George Stapleton and to his successors and colleagues. When I started farming, nearly 50 years ago, in most parts of the United Kingdom grass was not looked upon as a crop; it was looked upon as something which just happened. If you left the field long enough, it would grow green and that green would be eaten in some form or another by animals. It was thanks to Sir George Stapleton and others, but primarily to him, that we now look upon grass as being a crop as complicated and as important as any other crop which is grown in this country—indeed, more so, because our greatest natural assets in agriculture are our soil and our climate, a climate which may be decried by those responsible for tourism and those who enjoy holidays by the sea, but which is a blessing to farmers, and particularly to livestock farmers, because it is a climate particularly favourable to grassland cultivation. We are now as good as any country in Europe in the cultivation of our grassland because of the work started and continued at Aberystwyth. There is scarcely a grassland officer in the country today or even in the English-speaking Commonwealth who is not called "Davies" or a similar name and who has not been trained for at least part of his time at Aberystwyth. It is an institution which is world renowned, and rightly so, and anything which diminishes the contribution that it continues to make to agriculture is something which can only be viewed with the greatest possible alarm.

    I do not wish to introduce a discordant note, but I do not go along with those who, like the noble and learned Lord, Lord Edmund-Davies, suggest that this should perhaps he one of the yardsticks, that there should be, as it were, an equality of misery and that cuts should be on an equal basis throughout England, Scotland and Wales. I think that research should be carried on no matter in which part of the United Kingdom——

    My Lords, I am sure there is a misunderstanding here: that is the last point I sought to make. I think there may have been an attribution here and it is not for me to say what might be the proper locality of the attribution, but it is certainly not at my door.

    My Lords, I am sorry if I misunderstood the noble and learned Lord and I am delighted to be corrected by him, because I am sure we all agree that the claim of Aberystwyth is not a parochial, local or Welsh claim but a national and an international claim. I will now move on to the second reason why I am intervening in this debate, and that is because of the overall importance of agricultural research—and I include food research there—and the very long-term nature of such research, which I know the noble Earl, Lord Selborne, understands as well as anybody here.

    We are suffering, if that is the right word, at the moment from an over-production of food within the Community. The need for food appears to have disappeared and the problem is: what to do with the surpluses? But we do not have to go back many years to remember the work of people like John Boyd-Orr and others who alerted us to the problems of world hunger. There is still world hunger and, once the world recession has been mitigated, as we are told is happening now, once the third world has rather more money coming from higher prices for its commodities, and as the population doubles, as it will during the next 25 to 30 years so that there will be another 4,000 million mouths to feed, we shall remember the words of John Boyd-Orr and his teachings and we shall look with amazement at this period in the mid-'80s when we are embarrassed by surpluses.

    Food is needed now and it will be needed even more in the years to come. This country having lost its preeminent economic position—by the end of the century we shall be still lower down the scale—our need for food will become even greater than it was 20 years ago. That is the time when the result of research which is being carried on now and research which is starting now will begin to bear fruit. If' we abandon that research now, no matter where it is—whether it is in Aberystwyth, whether it is in Scotland, whether it is in Cambridge—we, as consumers or as farmers, will not suffer for it: it will not have any effect on us. But those who come after us, our children, are the ones who will suffer. The farmers of the coming generation and, above all, the consumers of the coming generation will suffer. That is why this problem of Aberystwyth highlights the inordinate folly and shortsightedness of the present Government's policy towards research of any kind at all and not just agricultural research, although that is what we are talking about tonight.

    I do not know whether any of your Lordships read an article which appeared in yesterday's Sunday Times. With permission, I will read the first and the closing paragraphs. It starts by saying:
    "More than 100 scientists from Britain's small but crucial pool of biotechnologists have left the country to work abroad in the past five years—a brain drain that highlights the major cash crisis facing British scientific research.
    "The biotechnologists, though few in number, work in a field which has exceptional industrial potential in the near future. The exodus, revealed in a report prepared for the Science and Engineering Council, means that North America, Australia and Europe will be benefiting from research which could have been building up Britain's high technology industries of tomorrow."
    It concludes:
    "One overall effect of the research cuts is noticeable now: a significant change in Britain's position in the international reserach league. A study by the US National Science Foundation of American utilisation of foreign research—an indicator of its quality and commercial value—showed that the Japanese position had improved dramatically, the German and French markedly, while the British remained roughly static. And that was between 1973 and 1979, before the latest round of cuts."
    Any of us who have any concern at all for the future of this country, any of us who appreciate, however modestly, the essential nature of basic scientific research and the long lag periods between the theoretical research in the universities and the research institutes and its application, whether it is in genetic engineering and from there into the breeding of plants, or wherever it may be—as I think the noble Earl said, in what may seem a far cry, into the psychological stresses and environments of livestock, based on basic far-away research into psychology, with the enormous effect on animal production in this country today—must be, and are, horrified at what is happening now. It is not simply that we are eating our seed corn. We are deliberately taking our seed corn and throwing it away. Even half-developed research we are abandoning, and the results will make themselves apparent only in the years ahead.

    I personally absolve the AFRC from responsibility in this matter. I do not know whether they have made a wise decision or a wrong decision, and, with the greatest respect, I do not believe any noble Lords here can possibly pass judgment on them, because we have not heard the competing claims of the other research institutes, some of which have to be cut and some of which are able to go on as they are at the present time. The blame lies with those who have decreed that there is less money available for research, and, until that is put right, whether Aberystwyth is reprieved and Dundee suffers or whether East Mailing suffers and Cambridge expands, those are matters on which we cannot pass judgment because we do not have the evidence. All we can pass judgment on is the need for an increasing amount of money to be made available for research, and for an awareness of the damage that it is doing, and will do, to our future as a country and to future generations if the present trend continues.

    9.35 p.m.

    My Lords, I join all those who have expressed gratitude to my noble friend Lord Prys-Davies for asking this Question today and for his well argued and very impressive speech. Other noble Lords on all sides of the House have supported my noble friend in powerful and deeply-felt speeches. They have deployed all the arguments and made my task an easy one. From this Dispatch Box my duty is to plead with the Government to heed the appeals which have been made, for I can say without any doubt whatsoever that what noble Lords have said reflects the very deep feeling which exists in Wales on this matter.

    Let me make it absolutely clear to the noble Lord the Minister who is to reply and to the noble Lord, Lord Belstead, the Minister of State, whom we are glad to see in his place, so that there may be no misunderstanding about it after this debate is over, that on no other issue for very many years has there been such widespread reaction, dismay and shock right across the political spectrum in Wales as there has been on this issue. Let me follow noble Lords in explaining why, but first, like my noble friend Lord Prys-Davies, I must to some extent acquit the Agricultural Research Council of total responsibility. The cuts are not of their doing. It is the Government, through the Department of Education and Science and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, who are responsible for telling the AFRC that they must make substantial economies. I believe that the AFRC did at some stage seek to resist them, but when they came to revise their budget and to plan their reduced expenditure I say that the AFRC did not treat the Welsh Plant Breeding Station as fairly as they might have done.

    Like others, I am very grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Selborne, the chairman of the AFRC, for coming to the House and for making his speech. He and his colleagues had a very difficult task. I am grateful to the AFRC for the work they have done over the years. On this occasion they had a thankless task to perform. Of course I agree with the noble Earl that cuts were made in England, but because the Welsh Plant Breeding Station is the only research institute in Wales the cuts there were far more deep-seated and fundamental than they were anywhere else. As far as fervour is concerned, we are grateful to the noble Earl for the compliment he was good enough to pay to Welsh peers, but the fact is that on this occasion the fervour reflected a united conviction on this issue in the House today.

    Other noble Lords have made this point, but there is no doubt that in Wales the plant breeding station at Gogerddan is regarded as one of our national institutions. For historical reasons, Wales is not endowed with many national institutions, but because of its development since its founding by George Stapleton, to whom many references have been made, it has achieved an international reputation. In passing, it is worth mentioning that many countries in the third world have cause to be grateful for the research carried out at the Welsh Plant Breeding Station. The cuts, therefore, carry a significance well beyond the boundaries of Wales itself, although its work has been of incalculable value to Welsh farmers and in particular to the hill farmers who were mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Gibson-Watt, in his excellent speech. The proposal therefore deeply wounds a national institution in which we in Wales take great pride.

    But it is called "national" because it is the only one that we have. It is the only research institute in Wales that is grant-aided by the AFRC. We are not seeking to gain some advantage this evening at the expense of England or of Scotland. As we have heard, there are 20 major institutes in England and nine in Scotland. I do not wish to see cuts imposed in those two countries, but you could make some and you would still have many institutes left. This is what is to happen in England after the AFRC have completed their plans.

    But we have heard a great deal about Scotland this evening. This is what I read with great interest in the Glasgow Herald in its edition of 12th December:
    "Scotland has miraculously escaped the cost-cutting axe wielded throughout agricultural research…this week. In fact, some of Scotland's research centres are gaining, being given work 'farmed out' from other establishments in a bid to rationalise and streamline projects".
    I wish Scotland well. The Secretary of State for Scotland is to be congratulated on his success in preserving agricultural research virtually intact in his country. To keep several institutes intact is an achievement when we see the one institute in Wales severely mutilated.

    I hope that the Secretary of State for Wales is fully aware of what is happening. I find it hard to believe that he would have tolerated this action if he had been aware of its full implications. On these occasions we are always told, "Wales is a small country and you must take your share of cuts vis-à-vis England". In fact, it is well known that a small country always suffers disproportionately if cuts are applied on an equal percentage basis. In this case, however, Wales has been treated not disproportionately but deplorably. I am staggered by the iniquity of the situation.

    The reason is clear if we look at the annual funding of the institutes in the three countries. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Edmund-Davies, has given the figures. There was a figure of more than £70 million for England, £26 million for Scotland and £3 million for Wales. But let us break those figures down. They represent spending on agricultural research of £15·50 per hectare for England, £7·50 per hectare for Scotland and £3 per hectare for Wales. Those are the basic figures for agricultural research in the principality. We started off at a disadvantage before the cuts were ever made. If one looks at the cuts at the Welsh Plant Breeding Station in the context of those figures, one realises how grossly unfair and how totally indefensible they really are.

    If the proposed cuts are implemented, the result will be to change the character of the Welsh Plant Breeding Station; that is something we find it hard to contemplate or to accept. In a letter to me, the Secretary of State for Wales, Mr. Nicholas Edwards, said he believes that the WPBS will continue to operate "on a firm foundation". One begins to doubt whether anything is firm these days. Even if that be true, it will be a much smaller foundation—and the financial implications are very disquieting. The reduction of £500,000 per annum over three years in real budgetary terms from a working 1983–84 baseline of £3,025,000 represents a shortfall of 16·5 per cent. compared with a forecast reduction over the same period of 7 per cent. for the AFRC as a whole. That is the reality of the situation to which I would direct the attention of the noble Earl, Lord Selborne.

    We have been treated unfairly, and this can be seen in the AFRC corporate plan, on page 28, table 2. I find it very difficult to equate those figures with other figures used by the AFRC or by Mr. Nicholas Edwards in his letter and in his reply to questions in another place. Some have tried to argue that the WPBS reductions are half way in the scale of cuts which are being made in some other English institutes. But those, if I may say so with respect to the Minister, are based on changes over the first year only—1983–84 to 1984–85. Budgetary projections into future years give no such assurance.

    One of our problems is that there was no consultation of any kind with the staff or trade unions concerned and therefore no opportunity to discuss the full significance of these measures as they should have been discussed with the people who are deeply concerned with these measures in Wales itself. This morning I received a note from the National Farmers' Union, which no doubt other noble Lords received in their post and in which they make plain how deeply they deplore the lack of consultation on this matter.

    The repercussive effects go far beyond the immediate proposals, because in order to achieve the total reduction envisaged I understand that it becomes necessary to identify redundancy areas in research on plant physiology, chemistry and entomology including work on plant and animal nutrition as well as the barley programme. The loss of barley breeding and its associated research programme, together with the previous loss of breeding work in forage, brassicae and beans, considerably reduces the diversity of crops and associated expertise. The Welsh Plant Breeding Station will be left with oats as its only cereal programme. The loss of barley is crucial and must be emphasised; it is unique in many ways; it deals with breeding for disease and pest resistance—a vital consideration in the wetter climate of Wales and the west. It is ironic that this remarkable programme is now coming to fruition, as shown by the outstanding success of the WPBS varieties in current United Kingdom trials, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Hooson.

    It is proposed that the barley programme is to be taken over elsewhere. I note that barley breeding will be continued in the institute in Dundee. We could go for a long time discussing details, but I propose to desist. I will repeat what my noble friends have said; namely, that 40 staff posts will have to be lost, many of them involving compulsory redundancies. It is sad for them; it is sad for the WPBS, and it is sad in an area where jobs are hard to find and where unemployment is very high. It sharpens our anger and our resentment that so mean and ill-considered an act should be committed against Wales. I hope we can persuade the Government to think again. In the light of the argument they should do so. I know that the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, is personally a fair and reasonable man with a knowledge of mid-Wales. I say earnestly to him and to his noble friend that I hope they will not commit themselves tonight but that they will talk seriously to their right honourable friend about this. They should tell him what the noble Lord, Lord Walston, and my noble friend Lady White said, that the retreat from research is the path to national decline.

    I can say to the noble Earl that we speak with deep feeling on a matter which will develop into a profound injustice if it is not soon rectified. The University College of Wales, of which I have the honour to be president, has a special relationship with the WPBS, and many noble Lords here tonight have a close knowledge of the University College of Aberystwyth and the plant breeding station. We have heard a memorable speech from my noble and learned friend Lord Edmund-Davies, who is the Pro-Chancellor of the University of Wales. There are five former students of the University College here tonight and four have spoken. My noble and learned friend Lord Elwyn-Jones has restrained himself with great difficulty, because as President of the University College of South Wales, Cardiff, he feels as deeply as any of us about this. We were deeply moved to hear the plea made by my noble friend Lord Tonypandy who has also shown great interest in the university and in the plant breeding station.

    Time is rapidly running out for the plant breeding station but I think there is still enough left for wiser counsels to prevail. We deeply hope that this debate will lead Ministers to act without delay and to give careful thought to the cancellation or at least the substantial modification of these unhappy proposals.

    9.49 p.m.

    My Lords I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Prys-Davies, for his Question and to the other noble Lords who have spoken on this important matter. I think I may say that I am particularly grateful to my noble friend Lord Selborne, who obviously did not find it easy to come here and make the speech that he did in the circumstances; I am most grateful to him.

    I think it was the noble Lord, Lord Elystan-Morgan, who said that morale is low, and that is why I am glad and grateful that this Question has been raised and that I have a chance to say something about this. The noble Viscount, Lord Tonypandy, said he thought I had something up my sleeve, or wished that I had because I was in for a fairly rough ride. I have nothing up my sleeve and I will give your Lordships the truth, nothing but the truth, and the whole truth. I have been told, I believe by the noble Lord, Lord Hooson, that I should cover up and not answer the questions raised by the noble Lord, Lord Prys-Davies. In fact, I was grateful that he gave me prior warning of his questions and I intend to answer every one of them.

    Perhaps I may first give some background. As I am sure your Lordships know by now, the Welsh Plant Breeding Station at Aberystwyth is a state-aided institute funded by the Agricultural and Food Research Council. It is one of 22 agricultural and food research institutes which are supported by the council, and is the only one situated in Wales.

    The Agricultural and Food Research Council is a body which operates under a Royal Charter and whose main purpose is the support of research in the sciences relevant to agriculture. It does this by awarding research grants selectively to teams of scientists in the universities and by running, or grant-aiding, the 22 research institutes. It also supports postgraduate training in relevant fields of science.

    The council receives money with which to conduct its various scientific activities from two main sources. One is the grant-in-aid allocated annually by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science from his department's science budget. The other is the income for research commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. About half the council's income is derived from each source. For 1983–84 the council's total estimated income, from both sources, is £96·5 million. This is a cash limited sum.

    The council is having to face the likelihood of a reduction of funds from DES and MAFF, in real terms, between now and 1986–87. It estimates that its budget will be up to 7 per cent. less than now, in real terms, by 1988. The council's loss of income is due in part to a decrease in MAFF's programme of commissioned research work and in greater part to a planned reduction in the council's share of the science budget. That reduction was foreshadowed in the Advisory Board for the Research Councils' 1982 advice to my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science.

    The main reason why the ABRC recommended such a reduction was that the board's assessment of scientific priorities pointed to the need for an increase in the funds for one of the science budget's other client bodies, the Science and Engineering Research Council, to enable the SERC to expand its programme of research, especially in information technology. As the level of the science budget as a whole has been held steady in real terms, it is evident that this increase in funds had to be secured by reducing the provision for other councils. The main burden of the reduction has fallen on the Agricultural and Food Research Council and on the Natural Environment Research Council. This is not to say that the board doubted the quality of the science being supported by those two councils. It was a question, rather, of having to make harsh choices at a time of overall restraint in public expenditure. My right honourable friend accepted the ABRC's advice in this matter.

    ; My Lords, does the noble Earl acknowledge the priorities that have apparently been established, bearing in mind all the matters that have been brought forward in this debate, on the importance of what is being done in this plant breeding station for the benefit of the country as a whole?

    My Lords, I think if the noble and learned Lord listens to the rest of my speech he will find out what I think about these matters. My right honourable friend thought for a long time before he accepted the ABRC's advice and I think, as my noble friend Lord Selborne said, there was no great outcry when that advice was tendered to my right honourable friend.

    It is for the Agricultural and Food Research Council itself to decide how best to accommodate to its reduced income. I am pleased to say that the council has acted very positively in responding to the challenges facing it, which have consisted not only of living within a reduced budget but also of redirecting its research effort so as to meet new challenges principally in the areas of plant biochemistry and in aspects of biotechnology, neurosciences, food and nutrition. In December last year, the council published its first corporate plan, covering the period 1984–88. The corporate plan, copies of which are in the Library of your Lordships' House, was prepared in consultation with the agriculture departments, the universities and the industries concerned. It covers the work commissioned with the council by the agricultural departments, as well as work done with grant-in-aid from the DES, and deals with the whole range of work in progress, with areas of new scientific opportunity, with the priorities identified by the council and, in broad terms, with the measures which will be necessary to achieve the desired objectives within the funding expected to be available.

    Within the context of the plan, institute directors have over the past months been reviewing their priorities and deciding in consultation with the council which programmes will have to be stopped and how many posts will have to be lost. In the agriculture and food research service as a whole, about 240 posts—including non-scientific as well as scientific jobs—are expected to be lost in 1984–5, with the eventual loss of some 800 posts by 1988. To create headroom for the introduction of new programmes and the expansion of promising work, the council intends to terminate lower priority work to the annual value of £7 million by 1986–7. It has concluded that some areas of work, including arable crops research and cereal variety production, are over-supported in relation to their importance.

    I come now to the Welsh Plant Breeding Station.

    My Lords, the noble Earl is talking of the general matter of financing and where the cuts will fall, may I ask whether due account has been taken of the income which accrues to the Government through the national seed development organisation as a result of plant royalties and specifically what is coming in from the work already done at Aberystwyth in that respect? Is that credited to each individual institute, is it paid back to the AFRC, or is it simply absorbed into the general maw of ministry expenditure?

    My Lords, I shall have to write to the noble Lord on that.

    I come now to the Welsh Plant Breeding Station—and some noble Lords may say, "At last"! The status of the station and the high regard in which it is held in Wales, as elsewhere, is acknowledged. This has been based, and must continue to be based, on the quality of the scientific work which it undertakes. The fact that it brings renown—and, indeed, as we have been told by the noble Lord, Lord Parry, tourism—to Wales is an additional bonus. Within the overall constraints that I have mentioned, the task of the AFRC, in close co-operation with the WPBS, has been to direct the available resources to those areas in which the station can excel. The station cannot escape programme reductions, and these will affect the station in two ways. The present estimates of the funds likely to be available to the station for recurrent expenditure over the next three years are £3 million in 1984–85, £3.04 million in 1985–86 and £3.08 million in 1986–87. This is compared with the station's budget this financial year of £3.2 million. This implies a reduction in real terms greater than the cash figures would indicate.

    First, to live within these cash limits the station's director, in consultation with the council, has decided to cut back work in areas of lower priority, including developmental genetics and on chemistry. This should save about £300,000 annually over the period 1984 to 1987. Twenty-seven posts will have to be lost, including 14 in the science group. Natural wastage and voluntary early retirement are unlikely to be sufficient to achieve this reduction, and I understand that, unfortunately, some compulsory redundancies seem likely. Other economies, such as cutting back on fuel and power for glasshouses and making savings on laboratory supplies, will play their part in achieving the savings but cannot by themselves reach the total figure required.

    I think that this might be a convenient moment to make clear a matter about which there was considerable argument, if not disagreement, in the House: exactly how the expenditure cuts will affect the WPBS. A figure of 17 per cent. was mentioned, but that just is not so. The 1984–85 baseline is £3 million, which, when compared with the 1983–84 cash limit of £3.218 million, represents a reduction of 6.8 per cent. The £3 million for 1984–85 excludes a contribution of £35,000 from DAFS for the hills and upland work at Bronydd Mawr. If this is added, the percentage cut is reduced to 5.7. Secondly——

    My Lords, surely on those figures the noble Earl has just given one year, and he has not dealt with the cutting out of the barley.

    My Lords, I shall come to cutting out the barley if the noble Lord, Lord Hooson, will bear with me.

    Secondly, the Agricultural and Food Research Council, following its strategic review of programmes, has decided that spring barley breeding at the station must be stopped in 1984–85. This will leave the Plant Breeding Institute at Cambridge and the Scottish Crop Research Institute at Dundee with responsibility for breeding barley in the AFRC. The Welsh Plant Breeding Station will continue to survey cereal pathogens and to conduct trials of advanced barley lines developed at the other institutes. The most promising advanced barley lines in the station's present programme will continue to be assessed. Annual savings of £200,000 are expected to be achieved within two years as a result of this reduction. Fourteen posts will be lost, though of these, three retirements and three redeployments are already in prospect.

    On a more positive note, so far as the Welsh Plant Breeding Station is concerned, there has been a substantial increase since 1980 in the station's work on hills and uplands in collaboration with the Agricultural Development and Advisory Service. The station has gradually extended its traditional role of breeding improved forage crop varieties to studying animal performance and to general agronomic work on hill and upland pastures.

    My Lords, I am sorry to interrupt, but it is not right that the speech should continue without the noble Earl agreeing that if you add £200,000 saved on the barley to the other savings that he has already mentioned, you get 17 per cent.

    My Lords, I shall have to have another look at my figures. As I shall say in answer to a question later, the savings in barley will be used to support new work on hill farms. If the noble Lord will be patient, again, all will be explained. Perhaps I am turning into a conjuror, as the noble Viscount said, and at the end everything will come out.

    The noble and learned Lord doubts it! Several noble Lords have mentioned the fact that the Principality is famous for its hill farming. I think that my noble friend Lord Gibson-Watt and the noble Lord, Lord Hooson, declared an interest in that both benefit from it. I think that the noble Lord, Lord Hooson, said that it is a country that depends so much on grasses. The Agricultural and Food Research Council has encouraged this diversification and last summer helped the station to acquire the lease of a 164 hectare upland farm, Bronydd Mawr, near Trecastle, Powys. The farm will be used for new work on pastures, animal performance and systems studies jointly with the Hill Farming Research Organisation in Edinburgh. The importance which the council attaches to this new initiative is evidenced by the supplementation of the station's budget this year by £159,000 for setting up costs together wth £7,000 for farm buildings. In 1984–85 further sums are being allocated for these purposes. I understand that the Ministry of Agriculture also intends to redeploy money saved from the cessation of the station's spring barley programme to support this new programme.

    I was asked a great number of questions. The noble Lord, Lord Prys-Davies I believe, asked me 10 questions. It was rather like one of those quizzes where, in order to win the 64,000 dollars, one question is in eight parts. I shall wade through and see how I get on. His first question was to ask when the AFRC gave approval to the corporate plan, whether it was aware that 26 scientific posts would be made compulsorily redundant to achieve the savings required at the WPBS. Yes, I understand that all AFRC institutes drew up plans for programme reductions in 1984–85. The corporate plan anticipates the loss of about 300 posts by 1986–87 as a result of the financial shortfall to which I have referred and a loss of a further 500 by 1986–87 as a result of programme restructuring.

    His second question was: when did the Welsh Office first become aware of the scale and consequences of the budget-led cuts, and what representations were made by it to the AFRC? The Secretary of State for Wales shares with his ministerial colleagues responsibility for decisions on the level of support for agricultural research. Reductions in the provison being made for the Welsh Plant Breeding Station are in line with the overall reductions being proposed.

    As to the incidence of the cuts, the hills and uplands research programme has the full backing of the Welsh Office. It has been devised in co-operation with the WPBS and with the agricultural departments of the University College of Wales. It has been given priority by the AFRC. To achieve the overall savings and to create headroom for this new initiative, hard decisions have had to be taken, and the spring barley breeding programme at Aberystwyth has been abandoned, although testing of spring barley strains at Aberystwyth will continue.

    My Lords, will the noble Earl clarify one point that he made about Bronydd Mawr? He said that the budgetary allowance in respect of Bronydd Mawr had brought the percentage down to 7 per cent. Would he say whether the budgetary allowance to Bronydd Mawr is a recurring one or whether it is an ad hoc grant? As I understand it, the money for Bronydd Mawr is an ad hoc grant and will not be repeated, in which event, of course, our argument that the percentage cut is nearer 17 per cent. is the right one.

    My Lords, the importance that the AFRC attaches to the new work on hill and upland pastures is evidenced by the supplementation of the WPBS 1983–84 cash limit by £159,000 for setting-up costs, together with an additional £7,000 for farm buildings. Similarly, in 1984–85 the sum of £110,000 is being allocated for further setting-up costs, and about £186,000 for farm buildings, roadways, et cetera. So a total of £462,000 extra is being spent over the two years. I cannot, I am afraid, go beyond 1984–85.

    My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl a question? Can the noble Earl say whether the expenditure at Bronydd Mawr over the next year and the following year is of a capital nature and non-recurrent?

    Yes, my Lords, from the facts that I have given that seems to be the case, but I am not absolutely certain. I may be wrong, in which case I will have to write to the noble Lord. The figures that I read out seemed to be more of a capital nature.

    My Lords, it appeared to me that the noble Earl was setting off the expenditure at Bronydd Mawr against the revenue cuts at the Welsh Plant Breeding Station, Aberystwyth.

    Yes, my Lords, I think I was. In trying to answer noble Lords' questions I have got into a bit of a muddle here with all the papers. I think that I have answered the first and second questions of the noble Lord, Lord Prys-Davies. Thirdly, he asked: when the budget-led cut decisions were proposed, what account, if any, was taken of the new remit of the station? Full account of the new remit was taken both by the station and by the council. The council is providing £500,000 over two years and four new posts for new work on hills, uplands and permanent pastures. So there will be four new posts provided up there, which perhaps contradicts a little of what I said in answer to the noble Lord's last question.

    My Lords, it would appear to me that the new scientific posts at Bronydd Mawr will amount to two or, at most, four, whereas at the Welsh Plant Breeding Station there will be a reduction of at least 26, and possibly 40. Therefore, if the scientific staff at the Welsh Plant Breeding Station are reduced by 25 to 40, how can they undertake the expanding work which is anticipated at Bronydd Mawr?

    My Lords, the AFRC and MAFF are fully committed to the WPBS new initiative on hills and uplands. Any requirement for expertise in animal nutrition, et cetera, will be provided either by redeploying existing resources at WPBS or by additional funds, subject to availability.

    No, my Lords, I am not going to give way. The idea of an Unstarred Question is that the Minister may reply at the end. If the matter is put down in the form of a Question at Question Time, then I understand that the Minister may answer supplementaries. But this is being turned into a mixture between the two, and I will not give way again. I am doing my best to answer the noble Lord's questions.

    I turn to the fourth question which the noble Lord asked me. Perhaps he will forgive me if I do not read out the question before I answer it, because noble Lords can check in Hansard that the noble Lord did give numbers for all his questions as he went through, and this will save a little time.

    The answer to his fourth question is as follows. I understand that the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland has yet to announce allocations to the Hill Farming Research Organisation and the Scottish Crop Research Institute for 1984–85. The budget of the Grasslands Research Institute is £3.284 million in 1983–84 and £3.250 million in 1984–85. Thereafter, as the corporate plan makes clear, animal production studies at the institute and at the National Institute of Research and Dairying are to be consolidated.

    The budget of the Plant Breeding Institute is £3.146 million in 1983–84, £3.140 million in 1984–85, £3.15 million in 1985–86 and £3.23 million in 1986–87. No redundancies are proposed at the Grasslands Research Institute. The Plant Breeding Institute will lose 22½ posts in all.

    On Question No. 5, I understand that, in formulating the corporate plan, the AFRC considered with each institute director the scientific priority of each programme and made judgments accordingly, hearing in mind the overall level of savings which it knew it had to achieve. On Question No. 6, the director of the WPBS is, as we have heard, a professor of the University of Wales at Aberystwyth. I understand that in the course of discussions leading to the formulation of the corporate plan, the director discussed details of scientific priorities with his consultative committee, whose membership includes the principal of the university college.

    Question No. 7 was directed to the hills and upland work at Bronydd Mawr. I think that is a question on the barley. On Question No. 8, nothing that has so far emerged suggests that there are grounds for reviewing the decisions that have been made, either by the AFRC or by the WPBS. At the same time, in view of the intense feeling of the House. I think it would only be courteous of me and quite right that I should draw the attention of my three right honourable friends—that is, the Secretary of State for Wales, the Minister of Agriculture and the Secretary of State for Education and Science—to the debates in your Lordships' House tonight.

    Dealing with Question No. 9, funds for agricultural research are agreed by the appropriate departments. A change in the way in which they are determined would not increase the overall amount that is available. The funds which are being made available should enable the station to respond to the new opportunities that are arising.

    On the final question, No. 10, agricultural research in Scotland is mainly funded by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Scotland needs to assess the priority which he attaches to agricultural research against other priority areas in his programme in deciding how much money to allow agricultural research. If a similar system were introduced for agricultural research in Wales, it would not necessarily result in an increase in the money available for that purpose. There would certainly be a countervailing loss of the close co-ordination between research in England and Wales which exists under the present system.

    Northern Ireland is set somewhat apart from Great Britain in nearly all aspects of public expenditure. Although there are arguments both ways, a change such as that proposed would not produce any net benefit for Wales or the wider national interest. Assurances have been given that the other reductions have been made in areas of lower priority. They will not affect the capacity of the station to undertake its work effectively.

    I think that that answers all 10 questions of the noble Lord. Lord Prys-Davies. There were various other questions asked and points that were made. I believe it was the noble Lord. Lord Elystan-Morgan, who asked what account had been taken of cuts already made at the WPBS in the last five years, and several noble Lords mentioned the way in which Wales had been shabbily treated over the last few years. That is just not true. If the 1979–80 base line is inflated by the growth in the retail price index and compared to the 1983–84 cash limit, it will be seen that the WPBS budget has increased in purchasing power by 18 per cent. over the five-year period.

    I believe that the noble Baroness, Lady White, and also the noble and learned Lord, Lord Edmund- Davis, asked me how the reduction in funding at the WPBS for 1984–1985 compared with that being experienced at other AFRC institutes. The WPBS is experiencing almost exactly the average percentage cut, as is Rothamstead Experimental Station, the council's oldest and largest institute.

    The noble and learned Lord, Lord Edmund-Davies, and the noble Lord, Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, also asked why Wales is bearing an unfair share of the AFRC's cuts. One of the things I should most like to try to convey to the House is that this assumption is just not correct. Over the period from 1979–1980 to 1983–84, the Welsh share of the recurrent expenditure increased from 3·65 per cent. to 3·75 per cent., whereas the allocation to the rest of the United Kingdom fell from 96·35 per cent. to 96·25 per cent. The programme reductions now being implemented will not affect the national balance.

    My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl for going back on his statement that he would not give way. Does he think that 3·6 per cent. of the United Kingdom figure is a fair and proper figure for a country nation that represents 5·1 per cent. of the human population of the United Kingdom, 10 per cent. of its land surface and something like 12 per cent. of its animal population?

    My Lords, this is one of the first questions I asked when I received my briefing and I found out the reason. The reason why there are nine institutes in Scotland and only one in Wales is mostly historical. It was only the good and great Sir George Stapleton who started one in Wales, whereas there were nine just men and good who did the same in Scotland and 22 in England, and that is a fact. People may not think it very equitable, but had there been some rather more generous landlords, or landowners, in Wales the situation might have been the other way round. That is the reason for the budget. If you only have one institute you cannot expect to have the same percentage as the 22 in England or nine in Scotland.

    I think that I have answered all the questions I have been asked. I have tried to stress the importance that the AFRC are placing on the new hill farm and the work that will go on there. In conclusion, I suggest to noble Lords that the programme changes at the Welsh Plant Breeding Station should be seen in a positive light, in the wider context of the AFRC's need to maintain flexibility at a time of declining budgets, and of the evolution of the station's programme away from a relatively narrow base of plant breeding.

    The station will retain its roles of having the sole responsibility in the United Kingdom for oat breeding and for breeding improved forage crop varieties. It will also be extending its role in studying animal peformance and in general agronomic work on hill and upland pastures. The station will also continue to make an important contribution to the council's priority programmes on genetic manipulation and photosynthesis. I truly hope that noble Lords will be reassured that the work of the station is indeed being broadly safeguarded and promoted.

    House adjourned at nineteen minutes past ten o'clock.