Previous SectionIndexHome Page

Kyoto Protocol

11. Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington): What discussions he has had with his US counterpart on the Kyoto protocol. [1551]

The Minister for Europe (Peter Hain): My right honourable Friend the Foreign Secretary will discuss the Kyoto protocol when he meets Colin Powell during his visit to Washington this week.

Tom Brake: Does the Minister agree that, while US initiatives to promote renewable energy through its Export Credit Agency are welcome, unless the US is willing to put together a detailed package of measures to achieve the CO 2 reductions that have been set for it in the Kyoto protocol, both President Bush and the companies, such as Esso, that backed him during his election campaign will find themselves increasingly isolated in the international community?

Peter Hain: We and the European Union continue to have an active dialogue with the American Administration on how their concerns and reservations about the Kyoto protocol can be addressed. No country, especially one that contributes up to a quarter of the world's emissions, can opt out of the problems. The planet faces a catastrophe unless we work together on climate warming and other environmental problems. The dialogue with the US and others is designed to achieve a solution to that.

Linda Gilroy (Plymouth, Sutton): I welcome my hon. Friend's response. In making those representations, will he ensure that for every military and industrial adviser that the American Administration listen to, they listen to just three of the 3,000 scientists who have confirmed in a report to the United Nations that global warming is real?

10 Jul 2001 : Column 660

They say that it is causing increasing difficulties and inflicting growing costs that cannot be ignored or put on the back burner.

Peter Hain: I hope that everyone concerned takes note of American scientists, including those from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, who made exactly the point that my hon. Friend advances. It is important that we all move together, which is why the European Union has been actively pursuing the issue. Incidentally, that is another reason why it is important for us to join together to ensure that the EU puts the environment at the top of its agenda, as it did in the communiqué from the Gothenburg summit.

Sir Sydney Chapman (Chipping Barnet): The Minister will be aware that the last US Administration agreed at Kyoto to reduce greenhouse emissions by 7 per cent. by 2020 on the 1990 levels. At the same conference the British Government commendably pledged to reduce them by 12.5 per cent. Before his right hon. Friend meets the US Secretary of State tomorrow, will he check by what amount greenhouse gases in Britain had been reduced when the commitment was made four years ago and by how much they have been reduced since then?

Peter Hain: We shall certainly check that. The hon. Gentleman draws attention to a wider issue. We all have a responsibility to make progress on reducing the emissions that cause such dangerous climate change and, if necessary, to put in place policies to do so. Simply because someone is not going along with that does not mean that the rest of us should not. His point is welcome in that context.

Plan Colombia

12. Mr. Tony Lloyd (Manchester, Central): What recent reports he has received about Plan Colombia; and if he will make a statement. [1552]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Denis MacShane): We continually monitor the situation in Colombia, including the implementation of Plan Colombia via our embassy in Bogota and our contacts with the Government and civil society in Colombia and the non-governmental organisations that work at home and abroad.

On behalf of the House, I welcome the safe return of Alistair Taylor who was held by Colombian guerrillas for nearly two years and is now re-united with his family in Aberdeenshire.

Mr. Lloyd: I join my hon. Friend in welcoming the release of Alistair Taylor.

Colombia has been engaged in one of the bloodiest conflicts in one of the most prolonged civil wars. Does he accept that it is astonishing for the United States or Europe to believe that our drugs problems can be solved by beating the Colombian Government into intensifying an unwinnable civil war? Will he ensure that our message to the Colombians is that we and our European allies want to be partners in working to achieve an approach to peace that engages the guerrillas and the paramilitaries? If the

10 Jul 2001 : Column 661

war intensifies on the premise that we can solve our drugs problem, it will be at the expense of the ordinary people of Colombia who have been brutalised in this long conflict.

Mr. MacShane: I thank my hon. Friend for his contribution at the Foreign Office and thereafter to solving the problem. The civil war in Colombia has been going on for 40 years, so it started well before drugs became a crucial feature of it. However, he is right to raise that issue. This country and the EU insist on recognising the social dimension to the problem because unless we find replacement jobs for the peasant farmers who grow the crops, they will be attracted to the idea of participating in the drugs trade.

Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham): I warmly congratulate the hon. Gentleman on his appointment.

10 Jul 2001 : Column 662

Given the verdict of the head of the United States Drug Enforcement Agency that Plan Colombia is not denting the supply of drugs to the United States, what steps is the Minister taking to encourage other Governments to assist the Colombian Government in their battle against the drugs menace and the activities that accompany it?

Mr. MacShane: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind words. He meant them sincerely, and I hope that praise from him will continue.

This Government and other European Governments, which are all afflicted by the drugs trade—as our constituencies are afflicted—continue to make it clear to the Colombian Government that all measures must be used in their battle to end that trade, and that economic and social help must go hand in hand with direct attacks on the guerrillas responsible for some of the trade.

10 Jul 2001 : Column 663

Disturbances, Bradford

3.31 pm

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. David Blunkett): With permission, Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a statement on the disorder in Bradford at the weekend.

I believe that the response of the whole House will be to make it absolutely clear that we cannot and will not tolerate the wanton destruction and violence that we have witnessed over the last few days. The message must be unequivocal and unwavering: whatever the debate about alienation and disaffection, attacking the police, destroying the well-being of the local community and playing into the hands of organised groups will simply not be tolerated.

The facts can be recounted briefly. The banning order on all marches and processions in Bradford for three months has been in force since 4 July. The police were aware of reports of extreme right-wing elements seeking to defy the ban. Fighting began in the town centre in the late afternoon as efforts were made to disperse an Anti-Nazi League rally. The fighting shifted from the city centre to the Manningham area in the early evening, by which time the police themselves were the focus for attack. Missiles, including petrol bombs that had clearly been prepared in advance, were thrown at the police by a mob numbering 400 to 500 at its peak; 164 police officers were injured; 36 people were arrested, only two of whom were from outside Bradford.

On Sunday night and Monday morning the Manningham area was quiet. Subsequently there was a serious attack on a restaurant in the Ravenscliff area, and I regret to say that there was further disorder last night, involving youths throwing missiles in the Ravenscliff and Holmwood areas of the city. There have been 34 more arrests arising from disorder in the city since Sunday. The police commander at the scene spoke of "senseless violence and criminality"; I endorse his judgment and applaud the courage shown by the police in dealing with the situation.

The damage to local businesses and the prosperity of the area will not be made good quickly. As always, the people who will suffer in the long run are members of the local community. We wish to work with the people of Bradford to restore calm and look to the future. But let me make it clear that a prerequisite for dealing with social ills or rebuilding confidence within the community is to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that order is restored.

Following the disturbances in Oldham and Burnley, I asked the Minister of State with responsibility for crime reduction, policing and community safety, my right hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Denham), to draw together an inter-departmental ministerial group. This has met twice already. My right hon. Friend will today publish preliminary details of wider action proposed by the group in addressing the concerns in a range of communities throughout the country and the way in which, in conjunction with local people, the Government can do more to minimise the risk of further disorder.

I wish to stress that we are not seeking to impose solutions from Whitehall or lift responsibility, which must rest at local level, but we are seeking from local

10 Jul 2001 : Column 664

communities possible ideas on how young people can be further aided in taking up opportunities for recreation and other activities over the summer and, in particular, measures that bring together different religious, racial, and community groups.

I now propose to take that work a stage further. The ministerial group will undertake an urgent review over the summer of all the relevant community issues and will be supported by a small, dedicated review team of people with the right skills. That team will seek views from people on the ground in areas which have suffered from violence the most, as well as in other places with similar social and demographic features which have not. The aim will be to draw lessons which can inform future policy at national, local and community levels. The group will continue its work and will be complemented by the development of longer-term proposals from the performance and innovation unit based in the Cabinet Office.

There are many lessons to be learned from the past, as well as present events. For the police, intelligence and practical planning issues are particular challenges. We now need to ensure that the professionalism and experience of our police service is made available quickly and effectively to prevent further disturbances. The Association of Chief Police Officers has already held one meeting of commanders under the auspices of the national operations faculty to establish what lessons can be learned not just in preventing but in bringing to a rapid conclusion the kind of disorder that we saw on Saturday evening.

I will wish to discuss with ACPO how we might build on that initiative, pooling such experience and ensuring that operational commanders can find sources of advice immediately to help them to deal with the exceptionally difficult situation that they face. The vast majority of people in our society, regardless of their ethnic background, want the same things for themselves and their children. As we share a common citizenship, we have to find ways of working and living together in harmony. Our aim is to create an inclusive society, local communities which meet the needs of all groups, and a dialogue which transcends differences.

Organised thugs from whatever background or standpoint undermine that possibility, and that is why the threat from them must be met head on. The message from today is that we will not accept the destruction of hard-won improvements in the most difficult areas of our country—and nor would local people forgive us if we do not provide them with the protection that they deserve.

Next Section

IndexHome Page