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Lord Ahmed: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that India is developing Prethvi II the long range missile which is capable of carrying nuclear warheads and that Pakistan will follow, as it did in respect of the nuclear tests? Does she agree that if the issue of Kashmir were solved in accordance with United Nations resolutions both countries could spend money on education, health and the eradication of poverty rather than wasting it on a nuclear arsenal?

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that question. Of course, it is clear that the key to resolving conflict in the sub-continent is for there to be direct talks between India and Pakistan on all issues of possible conflict, which should include Kashmir. That is the best route for the avoidance of a costly and dangerous arms race in south Asia.

Viscount Waverley: My Lords, is the G8, encouraged by the United States, about to dilute its principal position on economic loan restrictions? If that is the case, what message does that send to neo-region states which are criticised for developing a nuclear capability for civilian benefit only?

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, the restrictions imposed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are very much in place and

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remain in place. We have never criticised states whose nuclear programmes are clearly intended for civilian purposes only.

Lord Dholakia: My Lords, will the Minister indicate what discussions have taken place between Britain and the rest of the Security Council members about the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with reference to India and Pakistan? Will the Minister also indicate whether it is in the interests either of India or Pakistan for unilateral or multi-lateral sanctions to be continued against those countries? Such action gives the impression of coercion rather than willingness to be able to join such a treaty.

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, sanctions were imposed to express international dismay and unhappiness at the nuclear tests carried out by both India and Pakistan in the summer of last year. As regards further discussion with other members of the Security Council and India, the US Deputy Secretary of State, Strobe Talbot, has now conducted eight rounds of talks with the Indian and Pakistani Governments on non-proliferation and regional security issues. The latest round was held in late January, during Mr. Talbot's visits to New Delhi and Islamabad. The Russian Prime Minister, Yevgeniy Primakov, visited New Delhi in December. The Russian Government have told us that he too urged India to sign the CTBT. France and China have also had recent bilateral contacts with the Indian and Pakistani Governments and I have indicated the British contacts with both the Indian and the Pakistani Governments.

Lord Paul: My Lords, coming from the sub-continent, I would say that both India and Pakistan are peace-loving and responsible members of the world community. I have no doubt that they want to show regard for the world community. Will the Minister make sure that the sensitiveness of their national pride is kept in mind during negotiations on the CTBT?

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, Britain has a long and close relationship with both countries. Your Lordships can be assured that we will certainly keep firmly in mind all the points raised by my noble friend.

Lord Chalfont: My Lords, may I ask--

Noble Lords: Next Question!

Roadside Drug Tests for Drivers

2.52 p.m.

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the law and current technology provide adequately for police to test drivers at the roadside for drugs in quantities that might make them unfit to drive.

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The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): My Lords, under road traffic law the police have strong powers to require motorists to provide specimens for laboratory analysis where they suspect that they are unfit to drive through drugs. The deployment of roadside screening technology for drugs would require a change to primary legislation. We are keeping the legislation and technology under review.

Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his reply. I understand that trials on equipment are being carried out in selected areas of the country. When is it likely that the equivalent of a breathalyser will be in general use to detect both illegal substances and drugs that are prescribed for medical reasons? Will the Minister confirm that soft drugs, such as cannabis, have dangerous effects on driving ability?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, as the noble Lord will recall, a three-year study was set up in October 1996. Therefore, it will finish its work in October of this year. We agree that there is a need for a roadside screening device of the sort to which the noble Lord referred. The difficulty is that the breathalyser focuses on one drug only--namely, alcohol--whereas, as the noble Lord rightly indicated, a variety of drugs are sometimes taken by those breaking the law. Cannabis is regularly found. It has been found in 16 per cent. of those tested so far. We need to keep this new area of technology and legislation very much in mind.

Lord Geddes: My Lords--

Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, will my noble friend agree that in too many cases people are stopped by the police in relation to drink and drugs on the pretext that an offence has been committed. Rather than engage in that sort of pretext, would it not be better for random testing to be introduced?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I believe that the police have sufficient powers to stop motorists. One has to strike a balance between infuriating the law-abiding and catching those who break the law. The police have substantial powers which can be used legitimately for the protection of the public and the prevention of that type of crime.

Lord Geddes: My Lords--

Baroness Masham of Ilton: My Lords, is the Minister aware that several years ago the All-Party Drugs Misuse Committee was shown equipment that could be used to test drugs at the roadside. The equipment was inside what looked like a briefcase. Is the Minister also aware that there is some very efficient equipment for testing diabetics? That equipment simply takes a sample of blood. With the scourge of drug-abuse, surely it is time that steps in this direction, including legislation, were taken quickly. It is a terrible problem for many people.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, we have tested two devices. They can be used on either sweat or saliva at

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the roadside. However, there are difficulties because one is not screening for just one drug. There are prescribed drugs and unlawful drugs. We recognise that this is an important area of the law and that is why we believe that we should wait for the conclusion of the study which will be in October of this year.

Lord Geddes: My Lords, is the Minister aware--

Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate: My Lords--

Lord Geddes: My Lords, this side! Is the Minister aware--I am sure he is--that a report of some 12 months ago by the Select Committee on the European Communities into what I broadly call the drink-drive regulations looked, at some depth, into the problem of drug-abuse and incapacitated drivers? I recommend that that is read by Members of your Lordships' House who are interested in the subject.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, that is a valuable publication. My noble friend Lady Hayman presented the preliminary outcome of the study in February last year. Of 690 fatalities, which included 284 who had been driving, 16 per cent. had cannabis in the blood. However, the fact remains that alcohol was the major contributor at 34 per cent. I offer that as a perspective.

Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate: My Lords, does my noble friend agree with me that the exchanges this afternoon provide compelling evidence not to legalise cannabis because of the uncertainty of technology?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, the Home Office policy has been made perfectly plain by Jack Straw on many occasions. It is to the effect that my noble friend has identified.

Lord Cope of Berkeley: My Lords, will the Minister undertake that as soon as these highly desirable devices become available, appropriate legislative changes will be proposed promptly so that they can be put into use?

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, as I said in answer to the original Question, primary legislation would be needed. However, primary legislation and the time associated with it is not in my gift. A number of steps are being taken at the moment. There is a good deal to be said about the Strathclyde police force. That force has sent two sergeants to the United States to see what technology is available there and we have interesting lessons to learn from that.

"Decommissioning": Definition

2.58 p.m.

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will define "decommissioning" as referred to in the April 1998 Belfast agreement (Cm 3883).

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