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Earl Ferrers: My Lords, if that is so, it is highly regrettable. I hope that those companies which feel that they are being pressured into sanction busting will have the good sense to reject those pressures. The Iraqi regime behaved in such an intolerable way during the 1990s that all 186 member countries of the United Nations approved the decision to impose sanctions, including Britain. We intend to apply those sanctions rigorously and any company that tries to break the sanctions is doing a disservice both to this country and to the world.

Lord Beloff: My Lords, does not my noble friend agree that the Prime Minister yesterday, in his speech in Israel, made it absolutely clear that this country does not regard the lifting of sanctions from Iraq within the near future as being in any way on the table?

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Beloff for drawing that point to our attention. He is entirely right. The sanctions will not be removed until Saddam Hussein fulfils all the obligations made upon him. First, he must withdraw from Kuwait—which he did. Secondly, he must recognise Kuwait's borders—which he does. Thirdly, he must recognise Kuwait's sovereignty—which he does not. He must dispose of and destroy all the weapons of mass destruction in his

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possession, and that is presently the subject of a United Nations report. Finally, he must return the 600 Kuwaiti detainees, which has not yet been achieved. Until all those objectives are satisfied, the sanctions will remain in place.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, does not Saddam Hussein also have to comply with the provisions of Resolution 688 which require him to cease repression of the Iraqi people? Is not the report of the UN rapporteur on Iraq, tabled by the Commission in Geneva, proof that the situation for the people of Iraq has deteriorated in the past year? In those circumstances, will the Government resist any proposals to weaken or remove sanctions? In particular, will they draw to the attention of the Security Council the serious breach of sanctions occurring with the traffic of 1,200 trucks a day crossing between Turkey and Iraq and bringing back oil in contravention of the UN resolution?

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I can assure the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, that we have no intention of weakening the sanctions regime. We intend to keep those sanctions until such time as it is proved that they should be given up. With regard to the latter point, I shall ensure that the anxieties of the noble Lord are drawn to the attention of my right honourable friend.

Lord Bruce of Donington: My Lords, is the noble Earl aware that so long as Her Majesty's Government follow precisely the lines indicated by the Minister this afternoon, many of us on this side of the House will support the Government in their stance?

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I became rather frightened when the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, stood up; I felt that he was about to disagree with what the Government were doing. I am deeply indebted to him for reinforcing what we are doing in his usual characteristically forthright way and I entirely agree with him.

Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, is the Minister aware that the Official Opposition share the view that for once the Government have made the right decision in relation to this matter? Is he also aware that a carefully orchestrated campaign is being undertaken by the Iraqi Government to which some very ill-advised businessmen, not only here but in France, seem to be subscribing and that the views which the noble Earl has expressed as to the conditions upon which the embargo proposed by the Security Council might be lifted are utterly inconsistent with the views that are being taken by those people? Is he further aware that, in the light of what he said, the view of the French Government that the sanctions might be lifted once the United Nations Security Council representative says that Iraq is complying with resolutions on weapons of mass destruction is wholly inadequate?

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for saying that the Opposition Front Bench are in agreement with what the Government are doing.

Lord Shepherd: My Lords, it is not just the Opposition Front Bench but the party as a whole which takes that view.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, perhaps the Cross Benches would like to agree to that, too. I am grateful to the

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noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, for expressing that approval. The point that he makes is a very real one. There are those people, and sometimes those countries, who always try to seek a way round a regulation in order to try to benefit themselves momentarily and personally. I deplore that totally and I think that your Lordships would deplore it totally. It is up to each country to enforce United Nations sanctions as best they can. As far as I know, they are all doing it correctly. If there is evidence that any country is breaking those sanctions, I should be glad to know of it.

Lord Molloy: My Lords, will the noble Earl acknowledge that many people in countries bordering Iraq were most grateful for the immediate action taken by the British Prime Minister and our American allies which resulted in Kuwait being restored to its people? Are the Government still insisting that those who were taken away by the Iraqis should now be returned? Does he agree that we should not in any way seek any help from Iraq or acknowledge its leadership until those conditions which the British initiated are fully honoured?

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, the noble Lord is quite right. One of the reasons why sanctions were introduced in the first place was to ensure the return of those 600 or so detainees to Kuwait. At present, Iraq has not done that.

Lord Rea: My Lords, can the noble Earl foresee a way in which some form of sanctions-lifting towards the Kurdish parts of Iraq could be thought about in such a way that an alternative government might be founded there which could offer the Iraqi people a choice against the current murderous dictator?

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, there are always ways of trying to get round a position, but we have to see the position as it is. The position is that Saddam Hussein is in control of Iraq. He is carrying out his activities in a way that is totally reprehensible to the rest of the world. Until that is finished and Saddam Hussein approves and agrees to that which the United Nations has suggested, sanctions will continue.

Pensions Bill [H.L.]

3.4 p.m.

Report received.

Clause 1 [The new authority]:

Lord Ezra moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 1, line 9, at end insert:
("( ) It shall be the duty of the Authority to exercise general supervision over the operation of occupational pension schemes coming within the scope of this Act, with a view to ensuring that schemes are efficiently and satisfactorily administered and that the interests of beneficiaries as a whole are safeguarded and to this end the Authority shall be provided with adequate staff and resources to intervene where appropriate in schemes which do not appear to the Authority to meet the standards laid down in this Act.").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, this amendment deals with the general duties of the authority. This issue was debated on an amendment moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Turner, in Committee on 7th February.

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On that occasion the noble Lord, Lord Mackay, spoke against it, mainly on the grounds that it appeared to ask for the authority to monitor every one of the pension schemes. This amendment does not do that. It pays regard to that view and it talks in terms of general supervision.

Subsequent to the debate which we had in Committee I did a little personal research, and I found that the Government, in introducing all the measures which established bodies of this kind—regulatory bodies—since they came to power, have given in the Acts of Parliament concerned a statement of their general duties right at the start. That goes for the Telecommunications Act 1984, the Gas Act 1985, the Water Act 1989, the Electricity Act 1989, the Railways Act 1993 and the Coal Industry Act 1994. In every one of those cases the general duties of the regulatory body are set out at the start of the Act.

Furthermore, my researches took me back to 1946, when the reverse process was undertaken by the post-war Labour Government when these industries were put into nationalisation. In every one of those cases the duties of the new statutory bodies, which were then the boards, were also defined right at the beginning of the Act. Therefore, I feel that the precedent in the actions of the Government and of previous governments is overwhelming for this to be done. I shall not be able, therefore, to understand any further resistance that the Government might have to the wording as now proposed because it is in very general terms.

My surprise if the amendment were to be opposed would be even greater having regard to what the Government themselves have said about the functions of the new authority. I ask your Lordships to turn to Schedule 1 on page 98 of the Bill as now amended. Paragraph 2 states:

    "The Authority may do anything (except borrow money) which is calculated to facilitate the discharge of their functions, or is incidental or conducive to their discharge".

It seems to me that if the authority were disposed, pour encourager les autres, to execute a few recalcitrant trustees and considered that that was in the interests of discharging its functions, or was incidental or conducive to the terms of the instrument appointing it, it would be entitled so to do. This is an extremely wide-ranging statement. I am surprised that the Government should have included it in the Bill. The proposed amendment is much more limited than that. It attempts in simple terms to set out what the authority should be doing. On those grounds, I hope that the amendment will command the support of the House. I beg to move.

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