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Grand Committee

Volume 723: debated on Monday 20 December 2010

Grand Committee

Monday, 20 December 2010.

Arrangement of Business


My Lords, before the Minister moves that the first order be considered, I remind noble Lords that in the case of each order the Motion before the Committee will be that the Committee do consider the order in question. I should perhaps make it clear that the Motion for approval of the orders will be moved in the Chamber in the normal way. If there is a Division in the House, the Committee will adjourn for 10 minutes.

European Union (Definition of Treaties) (Partnership and Cooperation Agreement) (Republic of Indonesia) Order 2010

Considered in Grand Committee

Moved By

That the Grand Committee do report to the House that it has considered the European Union (Definition of Treaties) (Partnership and Cooperation Agreement) (Republic of Indonesia) Order 2010.

Relevant document: 8th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments.

My Lords, this partnership and co-operation agreement is an international agreement between the Republic of Indonesia and the European Community—now the European Union—and its member states, which was signed on 9 November 2009. This treaty has not yet entered into force, but will do so once all 27 members of the European Union and the Republic of Indonesia have ratified it. This order is a necessary step towards the UK’s ratification.

The principal effect of the draft order is, first, to ensure that the powers under Section 2 of the European Communities Act 1972 would be available to give effect to any provisions of the agreement; and, secondly, to permit any expenditure arising from the partnership and co-operation agreement to be met from the Consolidated Fund.

We have a strategic interest in developing the UK’s and the EU’s relationships with Indonesia. As south-east Asia’s largest economy and emerging power, its international influence is growing through its membership of the G20 and it is a key country on climate change issues. It is the world’s third-biggest carbon emitter, as well as a major energy producer and consumer. It is also on course to be the fifth-largest economy in the world by 2030, which is only 20 years away. We are talking about a new but vibrant democracy and the world’s largest moderate Muslim-majority country, which certainly is moving towards being rated as having the most liberal stance in south-east Asia.

The partnership and co-operation agreement should enable us to deepen trade and investment links and make the most of the many commercial opportunities which lie in Indonesia today. It is also a necessary precursor to an EU-Indonesian free trade agreement. I should explain that the agreement has been ratified so far by four EU member states. Others expect their domestic processes to be completed by early 2011.

I am satisfied that the order is compatible with the rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights. This order is important for our nation, for the European Union and for world trade. I commend it to the Committee.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for introducing the order and for the brevity of his presentation, which I shall try to copy. It is good to read a treaty that clearly represents a factor in a good relationship, in this case between the European Union and Indonesia. It includes the sort of good words that you would hope to see in such a treaty, but reading it left me asking what will specifically come out of it, at what pace and through what mechanisms. I wonder whether the Minister could give me some brief insights.

Article 41 of the framework agreement talks about a joint committee that will meet not less than every two years. That does not have a strong sense of urgency about it. The essence of such treaties seems to me to be the rate at which they are taken up and used, with practical steps coming forward, yet in the UK you would expect that to fall to BIS and the FCO, both of which are seeing a reduction in their resources of 25 per cent. However, frankly, the framework has commitments to work between the Community and Indonesia on virtually every area of human activity. Could the Minister comment on what we will do about Article 5, on terrorism? What specific input will the UK make in terms of resources committed to helping Indonesia and ourselves in that extremely important area?

There are two other important areas, one of which is Article 34, on migration. All the people in the world have an interest in humane movement and controls of people, and particularly in the stamping out of the evil of people trafficking. I hope that we will be able to make some contribution to Indonesia in that area. Finally, and probably most significantly, is the whole issue of deafforestation. Indonesia has the second highest rate of deafforestation after Brazil; it is about half that of Brazil but many times greater than any other nation. The Indonesian forests are a key part of the ecology of the planet. Anything that can be done through co-operation with Indonesia to lower the rate of deafforestation has to be good for climate change and needs to be done fairly urgently.

I am interested in how the Minister can illustrate the practical steps that will follow once this treaty comes into force, which we all hope will be quite soon.

We too welcome this partnership agreement with Indonesia. As the Minister pointed out, it is the largest Muslim country, and this agreement is the first with an ASEAN country so it is very welcome. However—he would expect there to be some howevers in such a comprehensive agreement—there are obviously concerns. First, it is undoubtedly true that Indonesia has made significant progress since 1998 in terms of democratic freedoms and human rights. Multi-party democracy is now established and is increasingly becoming entrenched throughout the country, which is no mean feat given the size of the population and the very different traditions evident there. Nevertheless, the agreement—particularly Article 26—is very weak in terms of human rights. It tries to encompass all the European Union’s interests in that area in 56 words—Article 27, on environment and natural resources, runs to a couple of hundred words; I did not have time to record quite how long it was—words that are at best dressed up as hopeful sentiments. Its second paragraph states that:

“Such cooperation may include … supporting the implementation of the Indonesian National Plan of Action of Human Rights … human rights promotion and education”,

and so on. Those 56 words go on to say:

“The Parties agree that a dialogue between them on this matter would be beneficial”.

This is extremely weak and almost inadequate if it is to be a blueprint for how we approach partnership agreements with other countries, particularly in the Muslim world where there are significant concerns about human rights norms. If this is the first such measure, I dread to think what might happen as we proceed with countries with worse records.

Most human rights organisations agree that abuses by security forces have been especially severe in Aceh and Papua. Freedom House recommends that the two most important steps the Government can take to improve civil liberties are keeping the peace process on track in Aceh and engaging in serious dialogue with local leaders in Papua. The Minister will recall that he was asked to deal with some of these questions only last Thursday, 16 December, as recorded at cols. 726 and 727 of Hansard. He was asked about the inability of foreign journalists to travel in these areas and the lack of any transparent, open media coverage of these conflict situations, despite our having raised these issues at the highest level. This raises suspicions that things may be worse than we might imagine. When asked to say what was the response of the Indonesia Government to the Deputy Prime Minister and the ambassador raising these issues, he replied:

“Not in detail, except that they recognised we have these concerns”.—[Official Report, 16/12/2010; col. 727.]

Given that we are just one of 26 EU countries that have these concerns and were involved in the lead-up to this partnership agreement being agreed on 9 November, and that these ongoing situations constitute extremely severe and serious conflicts with significant loss of life, I should have thought that the EU would be able to take on board that we have rather graver concerns than those set out in Article 26.

Women’s rights are also of considerable concern to us. We understand that at some levels Islamic law is incompatible with civil law and that gender equality is still a long way from being achieved. Therefore, it is not only a matter of our exhorting Indonesia to do better but of using the leverage that we had at the point of signing this agreement to achieve something. Naturally, the agreement is set and we will move forward, but I echo the sentiments of the noble Lord opposite that the proof of the pudding will be in the implementation. A joint committee meeting every two years to discuss articles as weak as the ones that I have described will not create the environment whereby we might achieve great advances in these areas.

Finally, Article 44 on resolving differences allows for a party to opt out,

“except in cases of special urgency”.

Given that we are discussing a country that, even after it embraced democracy, has a record of imposing a state of emergency, it does not instil confidence in one to think that these cases of special urgency will be exceptional. Clearly, we can expect that they would be exceptional in a conflict situation but I hope that, as we go forward with this agreement, we will make representations to the Indonesians that we expect them almost never to be invoked.

I am extremely grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, and my noble friend Lady Falkner, for their comments on this issue. We are dealing very briefly with a vast range of issues connected to a vast country. I shall first address the acute points made by the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, about the detail. We have the agreements; where is the detail; if I may use the colloquial, where is the beef?

Let me describe to the noble Lord four policy areas for closer co-operation—one, in particular, on which he concentrated—which have been agreed already but which the PCA will boost, reinforce and create a new forum in which we can carry them forward. First, on trade and investment, we will, under the PCA, explore new areas of co-operation, including research and development, and a series of sectoral committees will help to identify opportunities and more rapidly defuse irritants in key sectors of commercial interests, which is always a very valuable asset, because small irritants can turn into great barriers if one is not careful and does not handle them very positively indeed.

Secondly, on environment issues, the climate change question is a shared political priority. As I said earlier, Indonesia is the world's third largest carbon emitter, and we will use the PCA to boost co-operation in key environmentally sensitive areas, such as fisheries and afforestation—which the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, rightly raised. A partnership agreement with Norway earlier this year, which the UK supports, should put in place a framework with Indonesia to reduce deafforestation and degradation rates. I fully accept that a lot more work is needed to make the framework robust. The UK committed in December last year—a year ago—to support the achievement of Indonesia's climate change objectives through a five-year, £50 million programme. That is particularly relevant when it comes to deafforestation. It is likely to include significant partnership with the province and district governments of Papua, where the potential for emission reductions, development gains and the checking of deafforestation is very important.

In answer to the general question about the detail, the third area that is very important for us is education. Indonesia and the EU will seek to boost a co-operation agreement in the education field through existing programmes, such as the Erasmus Mundus scholarship programme, which funds Indonesian students to study in the EU; and through a new initiative, such as educational fairs, co-operation on research and other programmes. That will all be reinforced within the PCA forum.

Fourthly, on the area on which my noble friend Lady Falkner rightly concentrated—although when I say that it is fourth, one could say that it is first, because there is no priority of numbers here—the EU-Indonesian human rights dialogue was launched on 29 June last year. My noble friend rightly observes—she is tireless in her accuracy and her work on this front—that rhetoric and saying where we have got to is not enough, and that a lot more work is required. The dialogues are under way already.

The PCA is reinforcement for what has been raised in the dialogues. The aim is regularly to discuss issues of mutual interest and concern related to human rights, including through annual meetings of senior officials. It is an avenue to discuss issues such as that which we discussed in the Chamber of your Lordships' House only the other day—the situation in West Papua, in which there is a great deal of proper and understandable interest. The next dialogue will be in June next year. Beyond that, the existence of the partnership agreement will provide opportunities for pressing further. My noble friend is quite right that one can aspire, for example, to greater access for journalists to the situation in West Papua, or that human rights issues are investigated. We can aspire to see that appropriate dialogue toward some settlement of the West Papuan scene is progressed. Those are aspirations, but carrying them forward requires the most constant, intimate exchanges based on trust and respect.

We fully support the territorial integrity of Indonesia as a great nation, but obviously, like everyone else, we want to see the West Papua situation resolved and human rights respected wherever possible. We will carry on with the procedures that I described to your Lordships last week of raising the issues. More than that, once the PCA comes into force—of course, it has yet to be approved in the other place—we will have an additional forum in which we can reinforce these views, press them, turn them into real actions and carry them forward.

I thank my noble friend and the noble Lord for their comments. I believe that further engagement of every kind with Indonesia will help us to achieve greater prosperity in our country because of the huge opportunities of a vast, new consumer market, with an estimated 35 million to 40 million people with incomes in the range of the European Union’s average level of income. This is an enormous, ready-made consumer market, which will grow bigger because the total population is many times that.

It is important to strengthen our ties with Indonesia on the security agenda, about which we have not talked much, but which is very important. It is important to do that while supporting all the ongoing work and reforms to further improve the human rights situation and to entrench democracy and the rule of law. I thank noble Lords for their support and ask that they approve this order.

Motion agreed.

Crime (International Co-operation) Act 2003 (Designation of Participating Countries) (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) (No. 2) Order 2010

Considered in Grand Committee

Moved By

That the Grand Committee do report to the House that it has considered the Crime (International Co-operation) Act 2003 (Designation of Participating Countries) (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) (No. 2) Order 2010.

Relevant document: 10th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments.

My Lords, the Crime (International Co-operation) Act 2003 provides a streamlined and modernised framework pursuant to which the United Kingdom can both make and execute requests for mutual legal assistance. In an effort to further improve international co-operation we are now seeking to designate Japan as a participating country for the purpose of various sections of that Act. This designation is required so that the UK can comply with the provisions of the EU-Japan mutual legal assistance agreement. The UK opted into the Council decision to conclude the agreement on 17 March 2010 —that is to say, under our predecessor Government. The UK opted into this agreement because it will provide significant benefits for the UK in our mutual legal assistance, or MLA, dealings with Japan.

Until now, MLA has been conducted with Japan on an informal basis relying on international comity. I am sure that all noble Lords will be familiar with the concept of international comity—I have been for the past two hours since the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Scotland, gave me an informal tutorial in the corridor. This is the first comprehensive framework for MLA between the UK and Japan. It will be of huge benefit in ensuring that requests are dealt with in a timely and efficient manner, and will provide several advances in the range of MLA available, including specific provisions on banking evidence and taking evidence via video link.

The UK must now ensure that it has the necessary secondary legislation in place so that it can fulfil its obligations under the agreement. Article 18 of the agreement enables one party to request the other to ascertain whether banks within their territory possess information on whether a suspect is the holder of an account and to produce records of any such accounts, transactions or recipient accounts. The powers in domestic law through which the UK can comply with these obligations are found in the Crime (International Co-operation) Act 2003. These provisions are, however, applicable only in relation to a “participating country”.

Under the scheme of the 2003 Act, in order for the UK to seek and provide MLA to a country in accordance with these provisions, that state must fall within the definition of a “participating country”, which is contained in Section 51(2)(b) of the 2003 Act. A country falls to be regarded as a participating country under that section if it was a member state of the European Union on the date on which the relevant provision of the 2003 Act was commenced, or if it has been designated as a participating country in an order made by the Secretary of State. To ensure that the UK can comply with certain obligations which arise under the agreement, it is therefore necessary for us to designate Japan as a participating country under Section 56(2)(b) for the purposes of Sections 32, 35 and 43 to 45 of the 2003 Act.

Designation for the purposes of Sections 32 and 35 of the 2003 Act will allow the UK to deal with incoming requests for customer banking information and account monitoring information made by the authorities in Japan. Designation for the purposes of Sections 43 and 44 of the Act will allow the UK to make requests for such information to Japan. Section 45 provides that requests for assistance made under Sections 43 and 44 must be sent to the Secretary of State to be forwarded to the relevant authority, unless they are urgent.

Japan is not the only non-EU country designated for those provisions. We have, for example, similar arrangements with Norway and Iceland, as EEA members, and with the United States.

The UK is committed to improving the provision of mutual legal assistance, which is a key tool for ensuring that cross-border crime can be combated and that justice is achieved for British victims of crime. The agreement is a further effort to improve international co-operation and the order, which enables us to meet the terms of the agreement, will therefore be of benefit to British victims of crime. I therefore commend the order to the Committee.

I welcome the order, which the Opposition are happy to support—as the noble Lord no doubt learnt from my noble and learned friend Lady Scotland in what must have been an exciting tutorial a couple of hours ago. As the Minister said, it relates to the Crime (International Co-operation) Act, which the previous Government introduced to enable the UK to participate in improved arrangements for international co-operation in the fight against terrorism and other crime.

As the Minister informed us, the UK opted in to a Council decision to conclude a mutual legal assistance agreement between the EU and Japan. The agreement seeks to improve international co-operation. I understand from the Explanatory Memorandum that, until now, mutual legal assistance has been conducted with Japan on an informal basis. I would be grateful if the Minister could comment on how well that has worked in the past few years. What outcome does he expect from the conclusion of a rather more formal agreement? What discussions have been held between the UK and Japan to ensure smooth implementation of the agreement? We welcome such agreements. Are there discussions between the EU and other countries to extend the number of participating nations? Any information that the Minister could give on this matter would be much appreciated.

These agreements are clearly important, given the development of cross-border crime. International crime affects us all. Greater freedom to travel and live in other countries and the growth of international trade mean that crime is no longer confined by national boundaries, but the impact of international crime is often felt on a local scale. It is the larger criminal gangs who facilitate local crimes in the UK—for example, by supplying goods or drugs. Drug smuggling is one of the main cross-border crimes and the main activity of serious and organised criminals, but the problem is not confined to drug trafficking. Other cross-border crimes have an impact on society more widely, such as people trafficking, counterfeiting, money-laundering and cigarette smuggling. Terrorism is, of course, an ever present concern for all of us.

The best way to tackle international crime is to work closely with other countries. In the past, too many obstacles to international investigations have served only to protect the criminal. The success of co-operation between the many countries involved in these agreements is essential in order to combat such crime, which is why we very much support the intentions of the 2003 Act and the order. However—this point has been made both in the passage of the 2003 legislation and in debate on previous orders—it is important that there be confidence in the judicial and police systems of other countries partaking in such agreements. It would be helpful to know from the Minister how confident the Government are that satisfactory standards are in place and being maintained by the countries subject to the agreement, and that they will continue to be monitored in future. Overall, though, we are happy to support the order.

My Lords, I have not had the benefit of a tutorial from any colleague, in this House or otherwise, on international comity, although I was surprised to see that dealings had occurred “on an informal basis”; this does not seem the sort of subject that should be dealt with informally. Be that as it may, we are told in the Explanatory Memorandum about consultations carried out before the order was put forward. The Serious Organised Crime Agency is not mentioned, and I would be interested to know whether it was consulted. Perhaps it comes under some umbrella that is mentioned. As the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, said, the sort of serious crime with which SOCA deals is very much something to be targeted.

The noble Lord has asked almost all my questions, so I will not repeat them unless it will be for anyone’s convenience for me to talk a little longer; I have noticed some notes going to and fro. I will ask my noble friend about the position the other way around; I may have missed something on it. Are there mutual arrangements in Japan? I can deal with this fairly quickly. Whichever countries come within this arrangement, it is clearly important that there is a balance and that we can expect the same assistance from the other country involved.

My Lords, I thank noble Lords for the questions that they have raised. This is a complex area that we will come back to when we are discussing the EU Bill, in which the extension of mutual legal assistance—otherwise known as mutual criminal assistance—will come up in the context of the much more extensive co-operation that we have within the EU under what was the Third Pillar and is now part of the Lisbon treaty, for which Britain has various opt-ins and opt-outs. I was briefed to say that this is an EU-Japan rather than a UK-Japan agreement because it is much more convenient for the Japanese to negotiate with 27 countries as a group rather than with individual countries. I was also briefed to say that there are a number of UK bilateral agreements, including with India and a number of other Commonwealth countries. This is an area in which the European Union and the member states have shared competence, and at the moment we have a range of bilateral and multilateral agreements. I understand that at the moment there are no other negotiations under way between the EU and other member states. I am tempted to suggest to the noble Lord opposite that he might care to start putting questions down on which other countries we might usefully consider that the EU should negotiate with; but that would make more work for the Government, so of course I will not suggest it.

British officials have met the legal attaché at the Japanese embassy to ensure good implementation. While we are talking about the Japanese problem, one of the problems with the informal co-operation under the principle of international comity was that the Japanese had some sovereignty concerns, particularly about video conference links taking evidence from the territory of one country in the territory of another, which are therefore much better covered by this agreement. I can assure the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, that SOCA was consulted on this issue. We apologise that it is not mentioned here.

Previous experience in terms of numbers of requests is that the British have received much more information from the Japanese so far than they have received from us. We have many more requests of them. The video-link evidence has been a particular problem, but the banking evidence is also one for which, as the international financial system becomes much more complex, the agreement now gives a much firmer framework for future consultation.

I strongly agree with the noble Lord opposite that questions of people smuggling are becoming increasingly important. There is a whole range of areas in which serious crime is now almost automatically trans-national or international crime. The likelihood is that, under Governments of different characters, we will have a succession of agreements like this. All of us cling to national sovereignty, but as crime increasingly crosses frontiers, we have to have agreements like this.

I read the security and defence strategy at the weekend, as one does for light relief. I noted that this year 220 million border crossings were taking place between Britain and other countries, and it is expected that in the next 20 years the number will double. That means that these sorts of mutual legal assistance are likely to expand further. I trust that that will have the sympathy and acceptance of both Houses of this Parliament.

Motion agreed.

Export Control (Amendment) (No. 3) Order 2010

Considered in Grand Committee

Moved by

That the Grand Committee do report to the House that it has considered the Export Control (Amendment) (No. 3) Order 2010.

Relevant document: 10th Report from the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments.

My Lords, the proposal before us is for an order under Section 6 of the Export Control Act 2002. The effect of this order would be to control the export of the drug sodium thiopental to the United States of America. It prohibits the export of sodium thiopental to the United States unless the exporter has first obtained a licence from my right honourable friend, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Sodium thiopental is an anaesthetic widely used in the United Kingdom and Europe, but it is also used in several states in the United States of America to anaesthetise prisoners prior to execution. For several months there has been a shortage of sodium thiopental in the United States, which has caused at least some individual states to seek supplies of the medicine elsewhere. There is evidence that the state of Arizona obtained the sodium thiopental used in a recent execution from the United Kingdom. On 28 October 2010, Leigh Day & Co, solicitors acting for Mr Edmund Zagorski, a prisoner on death row in Tennessee, wrote to my right honourable friend in another place inviting him to place controls on the export of sodium thiopental. While affirming the United Kingdom’s opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances, my right honourable friend declined to impose export controls on the drug. His primary concern was that he should not take action which might cause delays in the export of a medicine which some patients may need.

The High Court granted permission to Leigh Day & Co to conduct a judicial review of my right honourable friend’s decision. In light of this, he reaffirmed on 12 November his decision not to impose a control. He reiterated that there remained a possibility of significant legitimate trade in this important medicine and that it was unlikely that an order to control its export would be effective in preventing any execution. The first hearing of the case took place on Wednesday 17 November. On 22 November, the court indicated that it would dismiss the claimants’ arguments that my right honourable friend was under a duty by the European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights or the common law to make an export control order. The court refused to grant interim relief, which would have required him to make a control order. The court adjourned the claimants’ public law challenge, which was due to be heard on Monday 29 November. In the mean time, however, all parties sought to clarify the extent of any possible lawful trade in sodium thiopental. Having consulted United States lawyers, they all agreed that, under applicable federal law, it is not currently lawful to import sodium thiopental into the United States for medical purposes. Moreover, in the course of the legal action, it was established that sodium thiopental is at present hardly ever used for legitimate medical purposes in the United States of America—although, as I have indicated, it is used widely as an anaesthetic around the world. These two discoveries mean that an order controlling the export of sodium thiopental to the United States of America should not, in fact, have any adverse impact on patients in the United States of America or on UK exporters.

The order before us reflects the particular circumstances of the United States of America and applies only to that country. The United States of America is unique in that sodium thiopental is not currently used there in medicine but is used for capital punishment. An order which controlled the export of sodium thiopental more widely would have affected legitimate medical trade in a way that this order would not. On 29 November, my right honourable friend decided that these new developments significantly strengthened the arguments in favour of a control order. Such an order would serve to underline the United Kingdom’s moral opposition to the death penalty in all circumstances without affecting legitimate trade. My right honourable friend therefore announced that he would make an order under Section 6 of the Export Control Act 2002, controlling the export of sodium thiopental from the United Kingdom to the United States. The order came into force on Tuesday 30 November. From that date, any person seeking to export sodium thiopental from the United Kingdom to the United States of America requires a licence issued by the Export Control Organisation, which will refuse a licence if the stated end use is execution, or if it considers there to be an unacceptable risk that the drug will be diverted for use in execution. In the latter case, it would assess the risks case by case in the light of all relevant factors. A breach of the order is a criminal offence.

Noble Lords may wish to note that the control order covers both the direct and indirect export of sodium thiopental from the United Kingdom to the United States of America. The indirect control applies when the destination is not the US, but the exporter knows that the goods will be re-exported and that the ultimate destination is indeed the United States.

The order was laid before Parliament pursuant to the procedure in Section 13 of the 2002 Act and, unless approved by a resolution of each House within 40 days, it will cease to have effect. Orders made under Section 6 last for a maximum of 12 months. On the basis of the facts that I have outlined, I conclude by commending this order to the Committee. The operation and effect of the order will be kept under review in the light of factual developments.

My Lords, I do not think that we will detain noble Lords for long on this order. I welcome the Government’s full explanation and clarification that the order will require a Secretary of State licence, whether it is direct or indirect control, which is important. I also welcome the assurance that there will be a monitoring and review process. I cannot help but ask one question, as a result of the O-level chemistry that I never got. Like the Minister and the Explanatory Memorandum, I always refer to the drug as sodium thiopental, but I notice that the order reverses that and refers to thiopental sodium. From mere curiosity, I am wondering why that is the case. I hope that those behind the Minister who know the answer to everything will tell us why the words have been reversed. That aside, I welcome the Government’s decision.

My Lords, I, too, support this somewhat bizarre order, which I am sure noble Lords from all sides will welcome. I have three questions resulting from the Explanatory Memorandum. As someone who spent an early part of my life working as a lawyer campaigning against capital punishment in the United States, I would be interested to know which two states have used this drug to effect execution rather than simply to anaesthetise the condemned person before execution.

Secondly, it is obviously clear from the action taken by the lawyer for one of the people on death row that he or she believes that if this supply can be stopped there would be an advantage, presumably, to either postponing or stopping the execution of his or her client. If export of this drug from the United Kingdom does not take place, are we aware as to from where the relevant execution chambers will obtain the drug? Will this have a major effect on executions in the United States or is there a simple alternative source of supply?

Thirdly, the fact that this order is being brought indicates that presumably there has been export of sodium thiopental in the past from the United Kingdom to the United States. Do we have any idea what the volume of that has been? Will this have a direct effect on drug companies which have been exporting it or is this simply a theoretical order that will have no practical effect? I obviously overwhelmingly support the order.

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Young, and my noble friend Lord Razzall, for their questions. I can answer the question posed by the noble Lord, Lord Young, fast and easily. Both versions of the drug’s name are in common use. But, with his O-level chemistry background, it is right that the noble Lord should check and I am delighted that he is able to support the amendment.

My noble friend Lord Razzall asked where else the drug can be obtained. It is manufactured in Austria and Italy. We have no information about suppliers outside the European Union. I am afraid that we will have to write to my noble friend as regards where the drug has been used for execution. We do not have that information at the moment. With my noble friend’s past interest—I understand my noble friend said that he has campaigned in the United States against the death penalty—obviously that information will be of interest to him.

My noble friend also asked what volume has been imported. We have no figures on imports to the United States of America. It cannot lawfully be imported to the US for medical purposes, so the volumes must be very low if it is used only for this purpose. I hope that these are helpful answers. If there are no other questions, I conclude by reiterating that, on the basis of the facts outlined in the opening statement, I commend the order to the Committee. I should also like to emphasise that the operational effect of the order will be kept under review in the light of factual developments.

Motion agreed.

Committee adjourned at 4.21 pm.