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Mr. William Hague (Richmond, Yorks): On Kosovo, the Prime Minister knows that we have expressed our hopes and concerns about the long-term future of policy towards Kosovo, but he also knows that we have expressed support for the present action and the air strikes, and I reaffirm that support today.

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The loss of a NATO plane is a reminder of the great risks that our aircrews run as they do their job, and the rescue of the pilot is a reminder of the extraordinary ability of the armed forces involved. Does the Prime Minister agree that we went into the action in full knowledge of those risks, and that we should now have the resolve to see it through? Nothing would be more disastrous for the humanitarian situation that he described or to the credibility of NATO than if we backed out of what has been started.

I welcome what the Prime Minister said about refugees. May I ask him three specific questions about events in Kosovo? First, he referred to an intensification of military action. Can he confirm that NATO has extended its operations to target Serbian ground forces? Will that mean a new combat role for the allied rapid reaction corps based in Macedonia? What protection will those NATO forces give to Macedonia?

Secondly, what is being done to try to involve Russia in our diplomatic efforts? Will the Prime Minister tell the House what contact he or the Foreign Secretary have had with the Russian Government in recent days?

Thirdly, what preparations are being made now for aid, reconstruction and peacekeeping in the event of the military action being successful, as we all hope?

On the matter of the European Council in Berlin, however, is it not the case that the summit failed to agree on many of the objectives set by the Government, and failed to make the fundamental reforms necessary to prepare adequately for enlargement, or to make the European Commission effective and respected?

The Prime Minister's spokesman said two weeks ago that the common agricultural policy reforms agreed by farm Ministers were "unsatisfactory" because they did not go far enough, yet the Prime Minister has accepted a deal that falls significantly short of even those reforms. Ministers said last week that now that the euro was in existence, the cohesion funds were an anomaly to be re-examined, yet the Prime Minister has signed up to a deal that keeps those cohesion funds in place for the future.

A Foreign Office Minister said this month that the objective at Berlin was to freeze the EU budget, yet it was agreed at the summit that the EU budget would rise. Is not the result of the Berlin deal that British contributions to the European Union, taking account of the rebate agreement, will go up? Is not that the truth of the matter?

The other thing that the Prime Minister promised us before Berlin was root-and-branch reform of the Commission. The commitment to a new Commission later this year is welcome, provided that it means a new Commission. Can the Prime Minister confirm that, at the end of a major summit of EU leaders, just one week after the explosive report on fraud, all the Commissioners who resigned, including Mrs. Cresson, are still sitting behind their desks at the Commission; that those Commissioners are still looking forward to receiving £250,000 pay-offs; that there is still no truly independent fraud office to police the Commission; that no instructions have been given to the new Commission President to make sure that the Commission does less in the effort to do better; and that, on the contrary, Downing Street says:

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    in the words of the right hon. Gentleman's spokesman?

Is it not true that a summit that was supposed to prepare the EU for the next decade has left it with a largely unreformed agricultural policy; with cohesion funds still there; with enlargement more distant rather than nearer; and with a disgraced Commission still in place?

The Prime Minister: First, on Kosovo I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his support and I agree that it is important that we have the resolve to see this through. The intensification certainly includes action taken against the repressive forces in Kosovo. There is no new role there envisaged for our own forces in Macedonia. In respect of Russia, I have myself spoken to Prime Minister Primakov. The Foreign Secretary has been in close contact with his opposite number in the Russian Government and is due to speak again to him later today. We are putting aid and peacekeeping measures together now, and part of the humanitarian package is making sure that we get aid to people there.

In respect of the European Council, it is best to compare the deal that was secured by this Government--[Hon. Members: "Oh."] Well, I think it is a fair comparison; the Opposition do not seem to want to make it, though, do they? On our basis, real-terms spending within the 15 falls, but one wonders what the Conservatives negotiated when they were in office: it rose by 15 per cent. in 1988 and 22 per cent. in 1992, and at Fontainebleau it rose by more than either 15 or 22 per cent. That is what happened when the Conservatives were negotiating for Britain. They did not merely remain isolated; they were pretty unsuccessful in their isolation.

I seem to remember that the key tests that were set for me were--point number one--whether I would maintain the United Kingdom abatement and--point number two--whether we would get a good deal on structural funds. That is what the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues were saying a few weeks ago. I notice that he did not even mention either of those two points in his statement. I take that as the best endorsement for my negotiating position I can have.

However, the right hon. Gentleman is right that we wanted the reforms to go further. He is wrong that root-and-branch reform has been put off in respect of the Commission. Not at all; we are due to meet the President elect of the Commission within the next couple of weeks and we will agree specifically--there is no doubt about this--a clear mandate for reform of the European Commission and the way that it operates. People in Europe expect no less from us and we intend to deliver it.

Mr. Paddy Ashdown (Yeovil): Bearing in mind the statement that is to follow on Northern Ireland, I am reminded of the old saying about sorrow coming not in single spies but in big battalions. The Government are in for quite a tough week, I think.

On the European summit, is it not the case that there is good news and bad? The good news is that the Government have retained the rebate; the bad is that they have done so--as, indeed, others have succeeded in doing--by sweeping everything under the carpet. The summit did not tackle the tough decisions that needed to be tackled. I understand why that is so, becausethe Government were facing two crises--one in the Commission and the other in Kosovo--but is it not the case that they will have to be tackled and that we cannot safely widen the EU until they have been tackled?

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On the question of Kosovo, may I put four brief points to the Prime Minister? First, is it not the case that, if the voices of the Kosovar Albanians were heard in the Chamber, they would be saying, "For God's sake, don't stop until the job is done."? I can tell the Prime Minister that I have been in touch with people in Kosovo in the past 24 hours, and that is exactly what they are saying: "It is appalling, it is terrifying, it is horrific, but please keep going and, if you can, speed it up."

Secondly, will the Prime Minister give us a clear assurance that whatever needs to be done to cope with the humanitarian catastrophe--which has been described as the worst that we have seen since the second world war--will be done, not only for reasons of humanity but for reasons of stability? One of Milosevic's clear and specific intents is to ensure that the appalling flood of refugees now being forced--at gun point and by atrocity--overthe border into Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro destabilises those countries.

Thirdly, would it not be useful if we heard a little more about the pressures and divisions growing up within the Former Republic of Yugoslavia? Montenegro has clearly said that it is Milosevic's fault that the intervention is taking place and wants to leave. The Vojvodina are saying the same thing and the Sanjak similar.

Lastly, on the question of troops on the ground, may I put this to the Prime Minister? Surely he will agree with me that there can be no point in terminating this operation--or, indeed, in putting the lives of our service men and women at risk--and leaving Kosovo with less than a durable and sustainable peace. If that is to be done, there is no other way to do it than by establishing, whether by law or in fact, an international protectorate. Rambouillet is one way to do that, but if Milosevic will not agree we shall have to establish it anyway. The only way to do that and to secure peace is to have troops on the ground. If that is not the Government's plan at the moment--as I believe it is not--will the Prime Minister at least say that he will not exclude it in the future?

The Prime Minister: On the European Union summit, I take issue with the right hon. Gentleman's assertion that we have swept all the issues under the carpet. It is worth pointing out that the EU 15 are in agreement about the enlargement process--the five plus one coming into the European Union. In one sense, as I said earlier, we would have preferred more fundamental reform of areas such as the CAP. However, we have agreed a basis on which structural funds are hugely reduced for the 15. Countries throughout Europe are prepared to give up some of their European Union money to allow enlargement to happen. Taken together, the structural and cohesion funds are less than the European Commission was looking at. There are elements of CAP reform in the cuts in the price of beef, cereal, milk and other products, which are very important for the future. We now have an agreed basis for enlargement to happen, and there is no reason for the process to slow down.

Although people can always say that perhaps we should have gone further and done better--I would say that myself in relation to some of the areas of reform--it is worth underlining what we did agree. One of the great pluses for Britain was that we were not the people who were proving difficult in this negotiation. We secured every single objective that we wanted--[Interruption.] For the benefit of those Opposition Members who

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are shouting, we did it without the absurd and often counterproductive posturing that has characterised their relationship with Europe over the past few years.

In respect of Kosovo, I agree with the first three points that the right hon. Gentleman made about the Kosovar Albanians. He is absolutely right: if people ask their representatives, of course they will say that what is happening on the ground is terrible, but it is absurd to imply that before the NATO action began those people were living an untroubled and stress-free life. This has been building up for months and months.

On the humanitarian crisis, I agree that we must do all that we can to ensure that people can go back in safety at a later date. What the right hon. Gentleman says about Montenegro and other areas is absolutely correct. We cannot do enough in pointing out to our own people, particularly when we have people reporting from Belgrade, that we are dealing with a state-run media. People there are shown what they are allowed to be shown, and nothing else--[Hon. Members: "Like here."] No, as a matter of fact, it is not like here. People should know the difference.

As for troops on the ground, we have made it clear that we favour ground troops in pursuit of a viable settlement. We have said all the way through, however, what the problems are with putting in ground troops to fight their way through. In respect of the international protectorate, I believe that, de facto, to use the right hon. Gentleman's words, Rambouillet offers a proper protectorate. Obviously, the purpose of the ground troops would be to go in in support of that.

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