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Baroness Elles: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that, contrary to the deduction of the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, it is largely a tribute to the British Government and civil servants negotiating on behalf of British interests that we have so few times been in a minority in a qualified majority vote? Will she confirm that both Germany and the Netherlands, among others, have lost far more often in majority voting than has the United Kingdom?
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, I believe that my noble friend is absolutely right is saying that Germany and the Netherlands have lost far more often than the United Kingdom in majority voting. She is also right in pointing out that often, while agreement may
Lord McNally: My Lords, does the Minister agree that any rational analysis of the figures before her show that most of the countries behave similarly and that statistics about Germany, the Netherlands, France or Britain being isolated are roughly the same? Does she agree that it is only the chip-on-the-shoulder approach to Europe that brings the conspiracy theory forward? Can she provide figures showing the number of times the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, has asked Questions on Europe in respect of which he has been profoundly isolated from his Front Bench?
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, I have lost count of the number of times that the noble Lord, Lord Bruce of Donington, has been out of agreement with his Front Bench but I do not want to penalise him unduly. He is a good friend in personal terms and I appreciate that very much.
The noble Lord, Lord McNally, is right in that it is arguing out the issues, in particular what lies behind the apparent issue, that is sometimes trumpeted by certain members of the press. That is essential and while I do not have to hand all the figures the noble Lord would like I can assure him it is a matter we watch with extreme care.
The Lord Privy Seal (Viscount Cranborne): My Lords, I hesitate to interrupt what I know has been an extremely interesting series of exchanges. As always, I am in the hands of the House. I am conscious of the clock and we have a fourth Question which will be at least as interesting. Perhaps the House feels that it is time to move on.
Lord Monson: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that Answer. It clarifies considerably the position of IFOR and Admiral Leighton Smith, about which there have been conflicting reports. Does she agree that every effort must be made to uncover what appear to be the worst atrocities on European soil for 50 years, in which it would seem that more civilians and POWs have been murdered in cold blood than Polish officers were massacred at Katyn?
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, the noble Lord is right, and every effort will be made in this regard. At a meeting on Monday this week in Sarajevo the commander of the NATO peace implementation force, Admiral Leighton Smith, and the chief prosecutor of the International Tribunal on War Crimes in the former Yugoslavia, Richard Goldstone, agreed the procedures to co-ordinate their respective missions. That is a good step forward. I assure the noble Lord that IFOR is very sensitive to this issue and is prepared to help the tribunal in whatever reasonable ways it can.
Baroness Blackstone: My Lords, does the Minister agree that it is of the utmost importance to secure the release of the many hundreds of prisoners who are still being held by all sides in this conflict. Since the deadline for their release has passed, will she tell the House what steps are being taken to secure their release? Is NATO supporting the UN in that task?
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, IFOR is doing excellent work and is also co-ordinating with the Higher Representative, Carl Bildt, very well. We know that the early weeks were difficult, in particular prior to 19th January, but the progress made is significant and it is palpable when one is in the zone.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, IFOR can provide the security. It does not have the power of arrest. It must report any suspicious activities, and it will do that. It is then up to the war crimes tribunal and its chief prosector to make sure that persons who should be arrested are so arrested.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, I understand that Justice Goldstone has said that he is satisfied with the level of support offered by Admiral Leighton Smith. He has agreed that the IFOR support should be provided within the limits of its mandate and its resources. If there is any need for further assistance, the parties will be consulted. If there were any specific news to tell your Lordships of course I should seek to do that.
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, I apologise to the noble Baroness. I thought that she had asked two poignant questions and that we were both on the same wavelength. I believed that she asked me about the steps being taken to assist the investigation. Am I right?
Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, I apologise to the noble Baroness. The steps being taken are the responsibility of the High Representative and of IFOR. The way in which they are pursuing these matters is not known to all of us, but they are watching for every sign and following up signs in order to find out where people might have been taken. As regards those whom we hope are still alive--the prisoners behind the lines--it is a matter of negotiation, which is being pursued daily, if not hourly. We know that a large number of Serbs and Croats could be exchanged for Moslem prisoners, but working that out must be done on the ground, and it is being pursued in the most practical way.