|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Cockfield: My Lords, I distance myself entirely from the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, but is the Minister aware that on the clear and specific wording of Article N ii, read in connection with Article B of the Maastricht Treaty, "the aim"that is the aim of the Intergovernmental Conference
Why is that not even mentioned in the brief provided by the Foreign Office? Was it because the Foreign Office did not know or was it because it did not want your Lordships' Select Committee to know? Alternatively, was it merely trying to give the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, the opportunity to table a Question?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lord Cockfield for drawing your Lordships' attention to the exact wording of the treaty. No, I do not believe that the Foreign Office wishes to give additional opportunities to the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, to table
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, I appreciate that the Government may wish to play down the IGC. Is the Minister aware that senior figures in the German Government and the German Parliament are pressing for quick implementation of economic and monetary union and a single currency? They also advocate the abolition of the three pillarsdefence, foreign affairs and home affairs and their incorporation into the Community idea along with qualified majority voting. Will the Government give the assurance that they will oppose all those ideas coming from the Germans and also from elsewhere?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, the noble Lord asked two separate questions. The first related to economic and monetary union. As he knows, there are provisions in place in the treaty relating to those matters which are outside the scope of the IGC.
As regards the other matters, the noble Lord referred to German ideas which are at variance with the ideas of the British Government. The British Government are clear that the creation of the pillared structures in the Maastricht Treaty provides a good basis for future co-operation. We believe that the IGC should seek to improve their working and not replace them. That is our position.
Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, does the Minister agree that enlargement and reform of the common agricultural policy are subjects to be included on the IGC agenda? If so, does he accept that to reach a successful result on these two subjects a conclusion must be agreed on the controversial subject of qualified majority voting, which he has mentioned?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, my noble friend Lady Rawlings is right about enlargement which is on the IGC agenda. We understand that were the common agricultural policy in its present form, together with the structural funds, to remain unchanged, the joining of the four Visegrad countries would add an extra £39 billion a year to European Community budget expenditure. We consider that that is unsustainable. It provides an overriding imperative for common agricultural policy reform.
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I am not aware that any report has been suppressed. The European Union is funding a feasibility study into options for stabilising the shelter over the destroyed Unit 4 reactor at Chernobyl. The findings of Phase 1 of the study were
Lord Jenkins of Putney: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that Answer. But is he aware that, although it may be a matter for the Ukrainian authorities, the consequences would spread far and wide beyond the Ukraine, including this country? Under those circumstances, will the Minister do as the Question suggests and investigate the article which appeared in the Observer that the report has been suppressed? Is it not worth at least looking into the matter, since a real danger exists if the report is even remotely true?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, we have investigated the report in the Observer. As I described, a report was commissioned by the European Union into proposals for strengthening the existing sarcophagus at Chernobyl and building a new shelter around it. I understand that that report amounts to 2,000 pages and it has been presented, as I described, to the meeting in Kiev. It belongs to the European Commission and is confidential. Press releases were issued about it which led to the report to which the noble Lord referred.
Lord Peston: My Lords, it may be that I misunderstood the noble Lord's Answer. Is he aware that the one thing surely that Chernobyl taught us is that we all live on the same planet? If there is a further explosion and fall-out, we are one of the countries that will suffer. Will the noble Lord accept that we agree with him that the European Union has a central role to play? I am not concerned with the suppression of the report. But if there is a danger, does he accept that saying that it is a matter for the Ukrainian authorities in due course is a preposterous Answer? The Ukrainian authorities have nowhere near the money required to deal with the problem, if it exists. Surely this is at least a European Union matter; and it is almost certainly an international atomic energy matter. Should not the British Government be using all their good offices to see that something happens on an international scale, if for no other reason than we are ourselves at risk?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, the noble Lord gets to the heart of the matter. That is why, at the G7 Naples summit, proposals for an action plan were taken forward which involve very considerable sums of western money, if the Ukrainians agree.
Lord Beloff: My Lords, will my noble friend join me in making an appeal to the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, and certain other noble Lords opposite to stop reading the Sunday newspapers, which are full of reports, most of which are untrue?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, as the noble Lord said, the name Chernobyl is inevitably associated with such disasters. It is the wish of all people in the world that such an event does not occur again. Action is being taken in all sorts of ways to try to achieve what the noble Lord refers tofor example, the action plan that I mentioned.
Lord Gisborough: My Lords, will my noble friend accept that there have been serious investigative reports indicating that a very large number of the ex-Soviet Union installations are thoroughly unsafe and that the prevailing risk is very severe and should not be taken lightly?
Lord Inglewood: My Lords, my noble friend is quite right. There are 13 other reactors similar to the type at Chernobyl that are currently operational in the former Soviet Union: 11 in Russia and two in Lithuania.
The Earl of Balfour: My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be now read a third time. I wish to record my thanks to my noble and learned friend Lord Rodgers of Earlsferry, the Lord Advocate, for moving the Committee stage of this Bill on my behalf on 23rd March when, because I was ill, I was unable to attend this House. I also thank him for the advice and help that I have received from his department.