Saturday, April 28, 2007

Victoria took a better photograph of Granny's portrait

Last week

Tuesday, April 24, anniversary of the start of the Armenian Genocide, chaired a meeting to hear from expert historians led by Christopher Walker in the Grand Committee Room. The proceedings are to be published, and will contribute towards the campaign for official recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the Government.

Then, a meeting of the All-Party Burma Group, and after that to Mr Speaker's for the announcement of the Mr Speaker Abbott Award (of which I'm one of the judges). This year's award went to Akbar Ganji from Iran, with a special posthumous award to Anna Politkovskaya.

Thursday, attended a morning FCO roundtable on Afghanistan.

Today, had a long conversation with Maurice in NZ on Skype.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Somali sheep, as discussed in the Lords


Xayiraadda Xoolaha Ee Somaliland Oo Xukuumadda Tony Blair

Lord Avebury oo xisbiga Liberal Democrat ugu jiray aqalka sare ee Odayaasha dalka Britain, ayaa xukuumadda Tony Blair wax ka weydiiyay xayiraadda Sucuudigu ku soo rogay xoolaha Somaliland uga dhoofa. Haatuf
London. April 20, 2007 (Haatuf) – Lord Avebury oo xisbiga Liberal Democrat ugu jiray aqalka sare ee Odayaasha dalka Britain, ayaa xukuumadda Tony Blair wax ka weydiiyay xayiraadda Sucuudigu ku soo rogay xoolaha Somaliland uga dhoofa.

Mudanahan ayaa su’aashaas waxa uu weydiiyay gabadha la yidhaahdo Baroness Amos oo metelaysay xukuumadda Britain, isagoo intaas ku daray inuu nuqul laga dheehan karo mashruuca JNA, waxaanu yidhi: “Ma jiraan wax horumar ah oo laga sameeyay xalinta cunaqabataynta xoolaha Somaliland ee ay ku soo rogeen wadamada carabta iyo in laga heli karo maktabadda Ingiriiska Nuqul laga dheehan karo macluumaadka JNA oo si gundheer uga waramaya barmaamijka dib u dhiska iyo dib u habaynta Somaliland ee dhawaan guddida JNA daraasada ka samaysay?”.

Baroness Amos ayaa iyadoo ka jawaabaysa su’aasha Lord Avebury waxay tidhi: “Xoolaha la joojiyay dhamaantood waxay ka siinaayeen Somalida oo dhan, waxaana xayiraada laga qaaday sanadkii 2006, laakiinse waxa taas ka dambaysay xanuunka Rift Valley oo billawgii sanadkan ku soo noqday meelihii lagu arkay berigii hore, taas oo ku keliftay Sucuudiga iyo wadamo kale oo carbeed inay joojiyaan xoolaha Somalida.”

Ms. Baroness Amos waxa kale oo ay intaas raacisay in wadamada Yurub ay wadaan sidii ay u abuuri lahaayeen istiraatijiyad mucaawinooyin waxtar leh lagu siinayo Soomaalida iyo sidii kalsooni buuxda xoolaha Somaalida loogu soo celin lahaa, “talaabooyinkaasna waxa ka mid ah sidii loo heli lahaa adeeg aan kharash badan ku kicin isla markaana sugaya caafimaadka xoolaha, in la horumariyo daryeelka xoolaha Somalida ayaa qayb kaga jirta mashruuca JNA ee loogu talo galay dib u dhiska iyo qorshaha horumarineed ee Soomaalida. Macluumaadka ay JNA soo ururisay waxay ka koobnaayeen lix qaybood waxaana laga heli karaa internet ka, hawshuna imika way socotaa oo waxa isku dubaridkeeda u xilsaaran World Bank ka iyo UNDP oo loogu talo galay qaybaha maamulada Soomaalidu ka kooban yihiin barmaamijka ka dib iyo qorshaha horumarineed kaas oo la filayo marka la soo dhamaystiro macluumaadka in iyagana website-ka la soo galin doono” ayay hadalkeena ku soo xidhay.


Justice & Security (Northern Ireland) Bill

Clause 7 [Limitation on challenge of issue of certificate]:

Lord Avebury moved Amendment No. 3:

Clause 7, page 5, line 27, leave out “exceptional circumstances” and insert “lack of jurisdiction”

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment is in the name of my noble friend Lord Lester of Herne Hill, with whose permission I move it. We have already dealt with the issues arising on Clause 7 in Grand Committee, so I need summarise them only very briefly.

The clause prevents the ordinary courts entertaining challenges to the DPP’s decision under Clause 1 to certify that a trial is to be conducted without a jury. As the Bill stands, the certificate can be questioned only on grounds of dishonesty, bad faith or other exceptional circumstances, and we relied on the report of the Joint Committee on Human Rights on the Bill to argue that the Government had misread the Shuker judgment on which the clause was said to be based and that Parliament had consistently set its face against statutory ouster clauses. We had the powerful support of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew, and the noble Lord, Lord Trimble, who cited the observation by the Lord Chief Justice, Sir Brian Kerr, in the Shuker case that,

“further grounds of judicial review challenge may be deemed appropriate”.

23 Apr 2007 : Column 509

However, he added that it would not be,

“helpful, or even possible, to predict what those grounds might be”.—[Official Report, 19/3/07; col. GC 128.]

The noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General explained that the main reason for the clause was that, in issuing the certificate, the DPP would almost always have relied on sensitive human intelligence which he could not reveal but which would certainly be demanded by the defence if a challenge to the DPP’s decision was allowed.

The noble and learned Lord also disputed the JCHR’s reading of the Shuker judgment and drew attention to the quotation, in paragraph 17, by the Lord Chief Justice of a sentence from the judgment of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Steyn, in the case of Kebilene, where the words “exceptional circumstance” were used. That, he told the Grand Committee, was the language that had been picked up for the purpose of this clause.

The first of these arguments was already known to the JCHR; it dealt with it explicitly in paragraph 1.34 of the report. The gist of it was recited in Grand Committee, so I do not need to go over it again. The JCHR welcomed the amendments tabled by the Government following the debates in another place, but it pointed out that the High Court of Northern Ireland had taken on board the sensitivity of the information on which the DPP's decision was based and had still rejected it as an argument for ousting the jurisdiction of the court.

The Kebilene case was not germane to this debate, because the decision of the DPP there was, not to deny a jury trial, but to consent to criminal proceedings before a jury. Incidentally, the words attributed by the Lord Chief Justice to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Steyn, were in fact those ofMr Pannick of counsel. The Lord Chief Justice, followed by the JCHR and the noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General, left out seven crucial words at the beginning of the quotation. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Steyn, said that Mr Pannick had contended that,

“there is a common law principle that”—

I emphasise those words—

“absent dishonesty or mala fides or some other wholly exceptional circumstance, the High Court will as a matter of discretion not entertain judicial review proceedings of a decision to prosecute”.

I therefore suggest to the noble and learned Lord that it is inappropriate to use those words as a model in this context, reading across from a common law principle applying to a decision to prosecute to a statutory rule applying to a decision to deny jury trial. In any case, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Steyn, specifically disclaimed the application of this principle to the Kebilene case. The paragraph in that judgment, following the one just quoted, begins:

“For my part, I would not wish to base my decision on these observations”.

Whether the analogical force of Section 29(3) of the Supreme Court Act 1981, which prohibits an application for judicial review of the decision of the Crown Court judge to refuse to hold a prosecution to be an abuse of process by reason of an alleged breach

23 Apr 2007 : Column 510

of the convention, extends to the matter under review, as it did in Kebilene, I would not have the temerity to say, but I would like to hear it argued.

No doubt these matters have been covered in the discussions since Grand Committee between my noble friend Lord Lester and the Attorney-General. As I understand it, they were moving towards a compromise under which the clause would be retained but the grounds on which judicial review could be sought would be widened. My noble friend has suggested “other lack of jurisdiction” instead of “other exceptional circumstances”, and we believe that this amendment would bring the clause more into line with accepted judicial principles. It takes full account of the Attorney-General's concerns, which are shared by my noble friends, about the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland, where non-jury trials may still be needed for some time to come and it is undesirable to open the reasons for certifying a case to examination because it would compromise the security of human intelligence.

I fully understand that the Attorney-General may not have had sufficient time to consider this proposal since it appeared on the Marshalled List, but I hope that he will indicate this afternoon that discussions with my noble friend are still in progress and that he is hopeful that a mutually acceptable form of words can be agreed. I beg to move.
3.30 pm

Lord Trimble: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, for his reference to me and our discussions in Grand Committee. However, I remain of the opinion that I expressed then: the clause is unnecessary and the Government would be well advised to leave it out. I am sorry to say that I do not see the amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Lester, as particularly helpful. I suspect that it would narrow the scope for challenge rather than extend it as the noble Lord wishes. From a drafting point of view, it would be much better to insert “lack of jurisdiction” as an additional ground rather than take out “exceptional circumstances”. The one good thing that can be said about the clause is the reference to exceptional circumstances, which gives the judges a door through which they can walk if they think that it is appropriate to do so.

Lord Goldsmith: My Lords, I am grateful to both noble Lords and to the noble Lord, Lord Lester. I knew that the noble Lord would not be able to be here today, and I entirely understand.

I should like to get one technical point out of the way. I listened with interest to what the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, said about the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland quoting from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Steyn. I beg to differ with him, however. I have the report with me; on page 371, between letters f and g, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Steyn, says:

“My Lords, I would rule that absent dishonesty or mala fides or an exceptional circumstance, the decision of the Director to consent to the prosecution of the applicants is not amenable to judicial review”.

23 Apr 2007 : Column 511

That is the passage quoted by the Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland in the Shuker judgment, not an earlier passage that recites what counsel had submitted. Just to be technical about that, I think that what has been said about the Shuker judgment is correct.

Fundamentally, the issue has been how to produce a situation in which, as I explained in Grand Committee, there would not be an undesirable risk that sensitive intelligence information, on which these decisions are generally based, would have to be revealed. The conversations that I have had outside the House have been very helpful in getting a common view as to the significance of that point and how to deal with it. But the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, is right in saying that I am not in a position today, given the time at which the amendment was tabled, to express a concluded view on it. Therefore, if your Lordships are agreeable, I propose that we accept the invitation of the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, that I should continue to discuss the matter with the noble Lord, Lord Lester. Then the matter can be brought back at Third Reading to be decided one way or the other. It is a slightly unusual approach, but I hope that your Lordships will agree.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Trimble, for his intervention. Iwas advised, technically, that the words “lack of jurisdiction” included exceptional circumstances and were wider. I specifically questioned that point with those who assisted us in drafting the amendment and was assured that it was so.

I am most grateful to the noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General for his assurance that the matter is not closed and can still be the subject of further discussions between my noble friend and himself.

The words that I quoted from the Kebilene judgment were taken from the text available in the public domain on the British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII) website. I am afraid that the paragraph number is not given, so I cannot argue with the noble and learned Lord about which paragraph I am referring to. However, the material point is in the words that I cited:

“there is a common law principle that”,

which precede the sentence quoted in the Shuker judgment. My argument was the substantive one that you could not read across from the common-law principle to a rule of statute as the drafters of this legislation have attempted to do. However, it may be best to leave that matter for the discussions between my noble friend and the noble and learned Lord. With that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

With the Communities Minister, Meg Munn MP

Last 36 hours

Saw my GP yesterday to ask why I hadn’t heard anything following a January MRI scan to see that my chest was still clear after last April’s maltoma removal. No problems, next appointment with haematology clinic May 4. Ditto prostate, appointment with urology clinic to review medication May 31 Ditto Barrett’s oesophagus (you probably don’t want to know, but Google finds plenty of sites), where I am to be reviewed January 2009. Ditto orthopaedic where there is no news of the scan of my left foot. As Michael Winstanley used to say, the human body is only designed to last 40 years, and after that bits wear out.

Then lunch with Pola Uddin to meet the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury.

Then my topical question on the World Bank managing director and family planning:

Later, interesting meeting of the All-Party Afghanistan Parliamentary Group for a discussion with the Director of Womankind.

This morning, to the Baitul Futuh, the great Ahmadi Mosque in Morden, where there was a reception for Meg Munn MP, the Communities Minister, see picture above. The Minister, who was accompanied by the Muslim Adviser Maqsood Ahmed, said she was impressed by the work of the Ahmadi community.

Also present were Justine Greening, MP for Putney; Siobham McDonaggh, MP for Mitcham & Morden, and Dan Rogerson, MP for Cornwall North.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Monday and Tuesday

Two minute speech on Zimbabwe on Monday:

Offender Management Bill second reading Tuesday:

Community Legal Service (Asylum and Immigration Appeals) (Amendment) Regulations 2007:

Plus meetings with Amnesty International on Bangladesh, and with Alcohol Concernto discuss the forthcoming review of the Government's alcohol harm reduction strategy.

From JW's window at 11.15 this morning

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Not much news

JW went back to Nottingham on Tuesday, having won the last exchange 2-1, making us level pegging at 56-56.

Yesterday I had a meeting with former Ambassador Andebrhan W Giorgis, the newly appointed Africa Advocacy Director of the International Crisis Group, an excellent source of information and analysis. (

Speaking of favourite sites, is a model of what blogs should be. Its informative, amusing and well written, and Alianore deservedly gets a lot of favourable comments. Her current post is about Maud de Chaworth my 18G grandmother, who died February 19, 1317/18, and was half-sister of Hugh le Despenser,Edward II's notorious favourite and 20G grandfather.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Easter Monday

Alastair came over and stayed overnight, and today helped by JW he put up Irma's enormous swinging set in the garden. There must be a name for these things but I can't think of it.

Yesterday JW and I had only the second game of ping-pong since the winter and he won 2-1. Today it was 2-1 to me so the cumulative score since my operation last April 55-54 in my favour.

Yesterday Prins and Sriya Gunasekera, Lanka and little Leon came to lunch, but all the pictures are on JW's camera, so I will post them later.

Easter Sunday