in the fourth session of the fifty-first parliament of the united kingdom of great britain and northern ireland commencing on the twenty-seventh day of april in the forty-first year of the reign of




House of Lords

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Monday, 1st April 1996.

The House met at half-past two of the clock: The LORD CHANCELLOR on the Woolsack.

Prayers--Read by the Lord Bishop of Southwell.

Rwanda: Multi-Donor Evaluation

Lord Desai asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their response, in terms of bilateral and multilateral humanitarian and overseas aid policies, to the recent multi-donor evaluation of the handling of the conflict in Rwanda and its aftermath.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Chalker of Wallasey): My Lords, we supported preparation of the study and we expect to discuss the recommendations from the evaluation report with other donors, UN agencies and non-governmental organisations.

Lord Desai: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that Answer. Can she tell the House what Her Majesty's Government are doing about the problem?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, we supported the study on the Rwanda evaluation to see what lessons we could learn from it. One of the good things to come out of the study is that the input by British non-governmental organisations has obviously been extremely well respected there. We also closely monitored the humanitarian effort throughout the emergency phase and shall continue to do so. We are sharing with others the lessons that we learnt in order to try to achieve better co-ordination of the efforts when such ghastly tragedies occur.

Lord Judd: My Lords, does the Minister agree that one of the lessons of that dreadful story is that humanitarian operations can never be a substitute for

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timely political action and proactive diplomacy? Does she further agree that timely political action was needed most in April 1994 and is it not timely political action that is needed most now in the Great Lakes region as a whole? What lessons have the Minister and the Government drawn from the role of the Security Council in 1994 in failing to respond and to recognise genocide? What are they promoting as positive diplomacy now to deal with the overall situation in the region?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, I, for one, am glad that this is the only time that we have seen something quite so horrendous as the genocide in Rwanda. One of the difficulties back in April 1994 was that no one could envisage what was building up, even those who knew the country. From it, we have learnt the need for pre-conflict action, as the noble Lord said. That is why this country has been engaged on a major programme of conflict prevention, working particularly in Africa. So far there have been four seminars in different parts of Africa with military and civilian personnel, to try to find out the key issues that turn a country away from normal civilized behaviour and towards such total uncivilized behaviour.

With regard to Burundi, where there is most concern at the moment, we have been visiting regularly. There is the Great Lakes Conference, and we had the Tunis Conference a couple of weeks ago, when many of the key players were brought together. I believe that the whole world has learnt a lesson from the genocide in Rwanda and everyone is determined that it shall never happen again. That is why we are now much more proactive across the world--not just the few of us who were involved right at the beginning in Rwanda--in trying to prevent it.

Lord Redesdale: My Lords, if the situation in Burundi becomes worse, what action, taken from the lessons of Rwanda, will the Minister consider undertaking?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, first, the situation in Burundi was linked with Rwanda, but is by no means identical. Certainly, it is an over-simplification to

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suggest that the lessons we learnt from Rwanda have a direct application in Burundi. We are playing our full part already in the international preventive diplomacy. We are bolstering the standing of moderates within the power-sharing government. By individual visits to Burundi (which I shall visit again in August) we are putting a whole series of pressures on those people. Past President Nyerere of Tanzania is spearheading the peace-making process. We are offering him every support and we have constant contact. In addition, there is the European Union Special Representative, Aldo Ajello, whom I saw last Thursday. He is on his way to work on all the problems of the Great Lakes but doing so from a base in Addis Ababa, so that he connects up with the Organisation of African Unity. So I can assure the noble Lord that we are all involved in trying to prevent further tragedy.

Lord Rea: My Lords, can the noble Baroness give us a progress report on the reintegration of the large number of refugees from Rwanda back into the economy of that country, in such a way that they do not need to have continuous outside aid from now onwards?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, the return of refugees is slow, as the noble Lord, Lord Rea, said. But the trilateral talks with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and neighbouring governments succeeded in agreeing a means of safe and voluntary return, and the Tunis and Addis Ababa meetings are taking that forward. Those who have returned need to be enabled to take up their old occupations and start to live a steady life. Britain has put resources into helping that to happen and to get people back to normality.

Baroness Park of Monmouth: My Lords, does the Minister agree that one of the chief problems is that the countries concerned have infrastructures which, such as they were, collapsed? It is extremely difficult to help a country to get on its feet if it has no infrastructure of its own with which to do it.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, my noble friend is right. That was why, in Rwanda, one of the first things we did was to try to get the health service, such as it is, and the basic education service going again. Without those there was nothing to stabilise the community. We have also given help for the building up of civilian administration in Rwanda. The Government of Rwanda have come a long way, though there is much to be done to have anything like an infrastructure as we would know it and as Rwanda once had, which is the sadness of the situation. All that has been destroyed and it will take us a fair time to put it back on its feet. I believe that relations between us and Rwanda are very good. They are prepared to accept civilian help even though, understandably, they do not want military help.

Viscount Waverley: My Lords, are the Government considering financial assistance to past President Nyerere's initiative as a regional honest broker?

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: My Lords, that may be necessary. We have given a lot of help to Rwanda

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and continue to help through the NGOs. The Carter Centre initiative, which has encouraged the dialogue, does not need our funding. If there should be any special need for funding for past President Nyerere, I shall look at it. He certainly has not asked for any at the present time.

Civil Service Recruitment

2.45 p.m.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are taking in the light of the rejection by this House of their plans for the privatisation of the system for recruitment to the Civil Service.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe): My Lords, the Government are still considering their response to the opinions expressed by the House on this matter. We have also noted the recommendation that a Select Committee on the public service be established which might consider as its first report the Government's plan for the future of Recruitment and Assessment Services.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply. Can he say when we are likely to hear what the Government's decision is, given the clear view of this House as expressed and related in the Question?

Earl Howe: My Lords, at the conclusion of our debate on 8th March, my noble friend the Leader of the House gave an assurance that the Government would come back to the House once our conclusions on the way forward are finalised. As my noble friend will understand, they are important and complex issues to which we shall need to give full and careful consideration. That process is still continuing. Clearly, we hope to report to the House as soon as we can.

Lord Richard: My Lords, the Minister will recall the debate on 8th March; he took part in it and I listened to it. Can he go this far and say that, until the Select Committee has reported on this aspect of the public service--I understand that the committee is to be set up shortly and this is to be the first matter that it will consider--the Government will take no further action towards the privatisation of the service?

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