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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, President Milosevic has accepted that there will be free and fair elections within nine months, a Kosovan assembly and a police force that is somehow not subservient to Belgrade. I believe that in three very important respects there has been a major breakthrough in relation to self-government. However, negotiations will continue on the political track, and that is what Ambassador Hill will be pursuing in his discussions up until 2nd November.

Lord Eden of Winton: My Lords, can the noble Baroness say a little more about Russia's position? Is it possible that this agreement would have been in place

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much earlier, and therefore probably many lives saved, if Russia had taken a more constructive and positive attitude? Is there any evidence available to Her Majesty's Government to show that Russia has supplied or sold arms and equipment to the forces at the disposal of President Milosevic?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, to deal with the last point raised by the noble Lord, I do not have any information. It is very difficult to deal with the hypothetical realms into which the noble Lord tempts me to enter. The "what if" scenario is neither here nor there at the moment. We are where we are. Russia agreed with the rest of the contact group on 8th October that Mr. Milosevic had not complied sufficiently with UNSCR 1199. The Russians supported the return of Dick Holbrooke to Belgrade to secure full and lasting compliance and joined with the rest of the contact group in endorsing the negotiating track that is being pursued by Ambassador Hill. Therefore, we have enjoyed a degree of co-operation from the Russians on this issue, which perhaps surprised one or two people. We shall try to maintain the maximum possible agreement with the Russians in pursuing the United Nations Security Council resolution which is under discussion in New York today.

Lord Craig of Radley: My Lords, some difficult and dictatorial regimes have made use of civilians as human shields, as Saddam Hussein did during the Gulf War. The Serbians also captured United Nations servicemen at an earlier stage in the conflict in Bosnia. Can the Minister explain to the House the views of the Government about the risks to the 2,000 civilians who may possibly be exposed to such use, which in turn may detract from the value of the air threat that so far has proved so useful?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I do not believe that I can add a great deal to what I said to the noble Baroness Lady Williams who raised a similar point. Perhaps I may recap. Her Majesty's Government and others have been acutely aware of the possibility of the use of civilian and military monitors as a human shield. It was for that reason that a specific guarantee was sought and gained by Richard Holbrooke from President Milosevic in the agreement that we have been discussing. The issue is being pursued in relation to the United Nations Security Council resolution which is being discussed today. It is in the agreement. Further reassurance is being sought through the United Nations Security Council.

Without trespassing on the patience of the House, I should like to refer again to one matter on which I touched earlier. There has been planning in NATO and nationally on measures to protect monitors and to arrange for their possible extraction from Kosovo if that proves necessary. I ask noble Lords to consider whether it is wise to draw me further into details on this point.

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I put it to noble Lords that it is not in the interests of the monitors to enter into further public discussion of the issue.

Northern Ireland Bill

5.37 p.m.

House again in Committee.

Clause 5 [Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly]:

Lord Cope of Berkeley moved Amendment No. 9:

Page 2, line 42, after ("as") insert ("Northern Ireland").

The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 9 and at the same time speak also to Amendment No. 10 in the name of the Minister. Amendment No. 9 is a very minor matter in comparison with some of the great issues of principle with which we sought to deal earlier in Committee. The amendment proposes that legislation passed by the Assembly should be known as Acts. My amendment proposes that they should be referred to as Northern Ireland Acts. In other parts of the Bill they are referred to as Acts of the Assembly. That appears to be the accepted designation elsewhere, although not for some reason in this clause. That makes them distinct from Acts of Parliament passed by this Chamber and another place, although presumably it may give rise to confusion with Acts of the Welsh Assembly and other legislation. It is rather confusing. My modest suggestion is that this legislation should be known as Northern Ireland Acts to distinguish them from Acts of Parliament.

Lord Dubs: I am grateful to the noble Lord for explaining his amendment. I think in fact that ambiguity will in practice be avoided. Legislation on the Northern Ireland statute book has generally been cited with the words "Northern Ireland" in brackets after the name of the enactment. So the 1974 Assembly passed an instrument called the Financial Provisions Measure (Northern Ireland) 1974. The same method of citation is still used for subordinate legislation on the Northern Ireland statute book. We envisage the convention applying to Acts of the new Assembly.

Nevertheless, it is true that the Bill refers here merely to "Acts", while otherwise it refers to "Acts of the Assembly". If the noble Lord will withdraw his amendment, I shall ask whether the drafting here could properly be expanded.

I turn to our own amendment, Amendment No. 10. It is intended to put beyond doubt that an Act of the Assembly, so long as it is otherwise within the bounds set by the Bill, can modify anything in an Act of Parliament, or in any legislation made under one. That is implicit in the Bill, and we at first thought such provision unnecessary. But, on reflection, we now believe it best to put the matter beyond doubt, particularly since there was such a provision in the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973, and it is

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possible that an inference could be drawn in the future from the omission now of such a provision that we intended something different.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: I am grateful to the Minister for giving further consideration to the point I made as a result of Amendment No. 9.

I am in sympathy with what the Minister seeks to achieve in Amendment No. 10, but I would like to suggest that this amendment is in the wrong place in the Bill. I am sure the noble Lord will be well aware, as will other noble Lords, that subsection (6) is taken from the Government of Ireland Act and is regarded as being of the greatest importance by many in Northern Ireland. It does indeed implement a specific reference that the Westminster Parliament's power to make laws for Northern Ireland would remain unaffected. To qualify that by adding Amendment No. 10 at this point reduces the symbolic effect of the subsection.

I suggest that it would come better after Clause 5(1); that is, in line 42 on page 2 of the Bill, which says that the Assembly may make laws. Amendment No. 10 says:

    "but an Act of the Assembly may modify any provision made by or under an Act of Parliament in so far as it is part of the law of Northern Ireland".
It is logical to put the provision there. By leaving the provision as it stands, it makes that symbolic point. After all, it was important enough to be quoted by the Minister only an hour ago or thereabouts, just before the Statement intervened, as being of significance. I think that it remains a significant subsection which should be left unmodified. Therefore, the Government's Amendment No. 10 would be better placed earlier in this clause. I should be grateful for the Minister's views on this matter.

Lord Dubs: I understand what "the Minister" is saying. It is a question of where in the Bill to place the particular view expressed in Amendment No. 10. I hope that the noble Lord will accept that Amendment No. 10 is good and important to have on the face of the Bill. We are not taking anything away from Clauses 5 and 6 by inserting Amendment No. 10 where we are doing so. It is not derived from the Government of Ireland Act. Therefore, despite his wish to have it in a different place, I hope that the noble Lord will feel that Amendment No. 10 is a useful amendment and should be on the face of the Bill.

5.45 p.m.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: I am not objecting to it being on the face of the Bill, but I think that it modifies the effect of subsection (6). I do not see how that can be doubted. I am not objecting to this phrase being included, but I should be grateful if the Minister would give at least some consideration to whether it might be better placed in a different position, as I have suggested.

As regards Amendment No. 9, I am satisfied. A little flattery gets one a long way. It is some time since I have been called a Minister in a Chamber of this kind. I am most grateful for that and I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

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Lord Dubs moved Amendment No. 10:

Page 3, line 12, at end insert ("but an Act of the Assembly may modify any provision made by or under an Act of Parliament in so far as it is part of the law of Northern Ireland").

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 5, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 6 [Legislative competence]:

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