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The Earl of Dartmouth: My Lords, does the noble Lord equate ethnic cleansing and genocide with immigration control? That is what it sounds like.

Lord Judd: My Lords, I am very glad that the noble Earl raises that point. Unless it is clear that our guiding principle in immigration and asylum policy is the fulfilment of our humanitarian responsibilities, inevitably the strictures that we may address to other parts of the world are undermined.

The noble Baroness, Lady Williams, concluded with an anecdote. I do likewise. The mission of which I was privileged to be a part went to the border of Albania with Kosovo and visited the impoverished town of Kukes. The mines had been closed and the local population, which was in a disastrous situation, was dwarfed by the refugee population by seven to one. We were in a little office of the prefect who sought to cope with his team. The rain was pouring and mud was everywhere. In the midst of all this I noticed a television in the corner of the room. Displayed on that television was NATO's daily smart, crisp and clinical briefing of how the technological dimensions of warfare were being pursued. The contrast could not have been greater. If we are serious in our commitment we must keep our eyes on those men, women and children in the mud without shelter, or if they are lucky in flimsy tents, and remember that the heat of the summer and cold of the winter are not many months away.

7.37 p.m.

Baroness Park of Monmouth: My Lords, we are at war. That prevents me from asking the questions that I would like to ask for fear of putting our forces at risk. Yet this war is like no other in that so much of it appears to be conducted through (and evidently sometimes, they think, by) the media, who both demand to know more than they have any right to know and are often the first people--not Parliament--to know what our next actions will be and why. Managing the presentation of the facts--a feature of government to which we have become accustomed--extends even to NATO. Mr. Alastair Campbell was sent there to set up a team to show how news should be presented. Fortunately, Mr. Shea, whose style is rather different, seems to have survived.

Russia is emerging from all this smelling like roses. She is the virtuous mediator who wishes to fight the UN corner against a predatory colonialist aggressor, NATO. She is successfully indulging in what the old communists called "splittist" tactics, speaking willingly in the ear of the Germans, Italians, Greeks and the Czech Republic. She has succeeded in securing her IMF loan and the agreement of the Paris Club over her debts, meanwhile seizing the occasion of NATO's "aggression" to delay yet further her accession to the START treaty. Her excuses for that are legion. She also queries her future adherence to the Founding Act.

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Russia can be sure of having a large contingent in whatever form of force Mr. Milosevic graciously eventually allows to enter the ruins of Kosovo. Who knows? She may end with a treaty with Yugoslavia that gives her the access to the Aegean that she has long sought. Her peace objectives and ours, sadly, do not coincide. Her interest lies in preserving Milosevic and giving him credibility, ours in ensuring that he does not continue as a head of state. As the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, said, at the G8 meeting Russia's formula was for a civil and security presence and for the preservation of the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia. It does not include, and never has, a military NATO presence capable of protecting those who return--and they will not return without it.

The Russian press knew that Rugova was going to be in Rome because they are expecting Mr. Chernomyrdin to meet him there. Presumably he agreed that with Mr. Milosevic.

I know that what we are trying to do is right. However, I question whether we can take the ineffable President Clinton with us. Without America we cannot, in the end, act effectively. Let us by all means involve Russia. In the long term that is a wise act. But let us not expect that the results will be in favour of our needs.

Russia's long-term threat to NATO is not at present military but political; it is none the less dangerous for that. Moreover the Kosovo campaign, as the Minister indicated, has exposed many weakness in NATO. There are a great many grand front-doors with no house behind them.

Since I am not prepared to offer solutions without having the facts on which to base them, I wish today to address myself to this question. What do the Government intend to do now to strengthen the Armed Forces and ensure that we are able to deal with future unexplained and unforeseen commitments? The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Inge, stated this far better than I can, but I intend to say it again.

Whichever way things go, whether we have to invade or are part of an accepted force of peacekeepers, we are committed to maintaining a sizeable presence in Kosovo for an unforeseeable period in what may be dangerous circumstances. We are already committed to what seems to be an entirely open-ended position in Bosnia. Meanwhile those troops are waiting in Macedonia and our air and sea forces are engaged. There is a considerable logistical commitment, to say nothing of the number of expensive missiles being fired daily.

The Government knew of the Kosovo commitment before the Strategic Defence Review was completed. Their political campaign included threatening military action. They refer to Kosovo as a threat to stability in Europe. Yet the scale of effort defined in paragraphs 88 to 90 of the SDR states clearly that, apart from Northern Ireland, we should be able to respond to one major international crisis on the scale of the Gulf War or two more extended overseas deployments on a much smaller scale. The SDR states:

    "We would not however expect ... to maintain them simultaneously for longer than 6 months". I wonder whether that would be true any longer.

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The SDR recognises that since 1990 defence expenditure has fallen by 23 per cent and our forces have been cut by nearly a third; and that we have faced a series of new and largely unexpected challenges. It recognises that the Armed Forces,

    "face serious problems that carry increasing risks", and that,

    "there are personnel shortages in important areas which, with the high level of operational commitments are creating excessive and unsustainable pressures on many of our people". That was stated last year. The review acknowledges that the increased operational pressures of the past few years have shown up weaknesses in our ability to sustain forces deployed overseas, particularly where local facilities are limited. That must be true of the present situation. In particular we would face serious difficulty in supporting two substantial operations at once. The pressure on our logistical services has been so great that specialists in key areas have only 14 months between periods of service overseas.

The review states, too, that above all we shall need highly skilled and adaptable personnel. It recognises the disincentive of overstretch as it affects training and retention. If our troops are to be bogged down indefinitely in open-ended peacekeeping commitments, if there is no time for training and more or less permanent separation from families because of roulement difficulties, that, too, will be a strong disincentive to stay in the forces, splendid though their spirit is.

The promise of a 24-month gap between deployments and operations for units seems to have gone by the board. Most of the Kosovo intervention force in Macedonia served in Bosnia the year before. The Government must no longer expect the forces to grit their teeth and manage indefinitely. Families are a powerful force nowadays and there will be rebellion there. It is not good enough for the review to speak of a "Policy for People" and even, rightly, to recognise that,

    "it is also vital to the confidence of the forces that the plans are properly resourced"; and then to say,

    "the plans set out in the White Paper require substantial investment...The resources needed will come from savings generated from within the review". Incidentally, paragraph 170 tells us that over the decade efficiency savings have accumulated to over £4 billion annually. I wonder whether the social security budget, which receives 12.4 per cent of GDP, or the health budget, which receives 4.7 per cent, compared with the defence share of 2.7 per cent, due to fall to 2.4 per cent by 2001-02, is required to make such savings. No one would even ask it.

However, the Treasury has not finished with the forces yet. The review states:

    "The Ministry has the target of achieving a 3 per cent annual efficiency saving in operating costs over the next 4 years". The Government cannot have an ethical foreign policy at the expense of our service men and women. I believe that the Ministry and the Armed Forces should stop

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    gritting their teeth and managing somehow--because that is what they have always done--and should start reminding government (and so should we) that,

    "strong defence is the essential underpinning of a successful foreign policy". Those are the Government's words, not mine. We shall find that we no longer have a strong and committed professional army if we do not do something about it.

Money will certainly be found for the new Marshall plan we shall have to have to help finance the reconstruction of the Balkans. That is absolutely right. I strongly support what has been said about Macedonia. But money must be found for the services too. Without them the Government will have neither an effective NATO nor even a common European defence. Money and resources must be found for better conditions of service, better roulement and time for training, and now in order to allow for the placing of defence orders. An awful lot of missiles, with which one has to wage a war, have vanished; they have been used. There needs to be money for the services and plenty of resources. Otherwise I believe that the Government can say goodbye to any hope of retention of one of their best assets--the Armed Forces.

7.47 p.m.

The Earl of Carlisle: My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Baroness, Lady Park of Monmouth. We on this side of the House have some sympathy with what she said about the dangers of cutting the Armed Forces. The Minister has heard the noble Baroness. Professional chiefs of staff will no doubt advise him when the situation affects our Armed Forces in relation to their operational duties; and I am sure that he will listen to their advice. However, the Motion before us is about Kosovo, so I shall not labour the noble Baroness's point.

I thank the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, for introducing the debate. I am grateful to the noble Lord and his department for the material that I and other noble Lords who serve on the House of Lords' Defence Committee have received. I noted the map of Kosovo which show the displaced persons at one glance. I fear that that map is not complete and that the situation will become worse. I hope that the noble Lord and his department will continue with the excellent way in which they have informed us and the general public of what is going on, in so far as they know, without damaging the security of the forces engaged in this operation.

I have heard many interesting speeches today but I should like to draw attention to the outstanding speech of my noble friend Lady Williams of Crosby. Two points arose. First, it is vital that the American Congress, having allowed the President to launch its air force into battle, continues with that to the end. I hope that anyone who has friends and acquaintances among the Congressmen and women will be in contact with them. I shall play my part, as will other noble Lords, when in June we visit Washington as part of your Lordships' Defence Committee. We shall tell them that if the air force and possible ground force operations are not seen through to the end, Europe will lose a great deal of confidence in the Americans.

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Secondly, we owe another debt to my noble friend Lady Williams. Two weeks ago today she arranged for us to meet, listen to and question in a Committee Room two outstandingly brave Kosovar Albanians who had come from Kosovo. They were Professor Kelmendi, a highly experienced and well respected journalist and broadcaster on Radio 21. She told us how at the outset of the cleansing her radio station was invaded by army and police from Serbia. All the records were destroyed and she was ordered out of the country at gunpoint. She had a car and she drove to the border and escaped. She was one of the lucky ones.

The second speaker was Dr. Dobruna, director of the Centre for the Protection of Women and Children. She told us the most harrowing stories. She was looking after small children and infants in incubators in her intensive care department. She, too, was ordered out at gunpoint.

President Milosevic is responsible for murder. He is a murderer. Those two ladies when questioned were adamant on two points. First, they, like us, were very grateful for what our servicemen, in particular our airmen, are doing to halt the ethnic cleansing. Secondly, after close questioning they informed us that under no circumstances would they return to their homeland, as eventually they must, unless they were protected. I take those points on board. I am grateful to the honourable Member for Weston-Super-Mare, Mr. Cotter, for drawing that point to the attention of the Prime Minister during Prime Minister's Question Time.

We must take action in three important areas: military, diplomatic and social. First, as regards the military issue, we are told that the Serbs have a great warrior history. Let us be careful. I say with irony and great distaste that the current Serbian army is very good at murdering women and children. I am sure that all noble Lords who, like me, have had the privilege of serving in the Armed Forces know that bullies and cowards have no place in our Army. They do not make good servicemen, especially when the going gets tough in either counter-insurgency campaigns or conventional war. Let us not overrate the Serbian army.

Furthermore, I believe that an international protection force will be needed. We are told that it might not have to fight its way in. I hope that that will be the case. I emphasise the word "international". The noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, told us that he sees the need for all the nations of south-east nations of Europe to be brought into our Western institutions. I also note that the Scandinavian countries and the Baltic states have offered to take refugees. I am sure that once they have secured the consent of their parliaments, they will wish to contribute to the international peace-keeping force.

Secondly, as regards the diplomatic aspect, I should like to see the involvement of Russia. Perhaps the Minister will tell us what state the diplomatic contacts with Prime Minister Primakov have reached.

Thirdly, by the "social" aspect, I mean the economic support of the refugees. I am sure that we can do more. In particular, I welcome the constructive suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Judd, that we consider how to get supplies to the hard-stricken people living in the hills in Kosovo.

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In conclusion, we must help the Serbian people to rid themselves of this tyrant and his henchmen because they cannot do so themselves. Once that has happened, we must welcome them back into the civilised European and world community. I offer a word of caution, "humiliation". Let us not humiliate the people who have done these dreadful deeds once they have been cleansed of their democratically elected government who have greatly let them down.

I recall two incidents during this century. The first occurred in 1919 in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. Representatives of the four great powers sat down so that the Germans could sign the Treaty of Versailles. Clemenceau, who was the host, said, "Faites entrer les Allemands", in a harsh and brusque voice. It means, "Bring in the Germans". They came in and they felt humiliated. Fifty years later when the Council of Europe was set up, Winston Churchill, then Leader of the Opposition, looked around the seats of the Assembly and asked, "Where are the Germans? We need them". I hope that Her Majesty's Government, together with their allies, will say when this dreadful conflict is brought to a halt, "Where are the Serbians? We need them".

7.57 p.m.

Lord Belhaven and Stenton: My Lords, in case I should send the wrong message to your Lordships, I begin by saying that I support everything that has been said about helping the unfortunate refugees. Like every other noble Lord in the House, I deplore ethnic cleansing whether it is against Kosovars, Serbs or anyone else. However, I support my noble friend Lord Lauderdale and should he choose to divide the House I will be in the Lobby with him.

According to the Daily Telegraph, this country has been at war for 43 days. Apart from Statements, this is the first opportunity that the House has had to debate the subject. In my view, that is a grave discourtesy to the House. To my recollection, it is the only war in which this country has been involved when the Government have not allowed full parliamentary debate at the outset. It seems to me and to most of the people to whom I have recently spoken, that the Government are at pains to suppress so far as is possible--though, happily, we still have a free press--all debate on a most sombre sequence of events in the second half of this century. Furthermore, it has not escaped my notice that this debate is taking place on the day of the local elections and elections to the Scottish and Welsh parliaments, which will certainly keep the media busy without bothering about us. The stark fact is that this country and its allies have attacked a sovereign state without a declaration of war and without a mandate from the United Nations.

Almost at the same time as this attack took place, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic were admitted to NATO membership. NATO was not formed, as the Secretary of State in another place said on 19th April, out of a desire to secure a just settlement in Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War. In effect an extremely unjust settlement, whereby the three countries

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which I have mentioned were consigned to a communist tyranny, was reached before NATO was even thought of.

The point of forming the NATO alliance was to prevent the Soviet Union from further enlarging its empire at the expense of the members of the alliance. It was pre-eminently a defensive alliance and remained so until the attack on Yugoslavia.

It was at this point that the three new members of the alliance were admitted. One wonders what they were supposed to make of it. I have spoken to Polish people both official and unofficial. The official ones, army and navy diplomats, are naturally cautious. The unofficial ones, as Poles tend to, say what they think. To say that they are unhappy with the situation would be an understatement. Indeed that has also been my personal experience in discussing the war with my British friends.

It is not my business to discuss the conduct of the war. There are plenty of ex-field marshals in this House who can and are able to do that. We are obliged to support our Armed Forces who are being presented with an extremely difficult and potentially dangerous situation, with which I do not doubt they will deal with their usual courage and professionalism.

That said, I believe that we in this House and those in another place are perfectly entitled to discuss and criticise the actions of those of our rulers which have led us into this deplorable situation. There is a long and honourable tradition in this country. Charles James Fox is an exemplar of this. He attacked the policies followed by the British Government and its allies consistently throughout the early part of the French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars.

I have supported the actions of successive British Governments which have led this country into conflicts of varying severity, and it is a cause of great sadness to me that I cannot support the present attack on Yugoslavia. I have never before found myself on the same side of an argument of this kind as the noble Lords, Lord Jenkins of Putney, and Lord Kennet; unfortunately, I do now.

There is a bee buzzing in the bonnets of our present rulers. Its origin is in all the talk and legislation about human rights. The general idea seems to me to be that if any national government breaches human rights or has in the past done so, NATO has the right to bomb and attack them. The decision as to whether human rights have been breached rests entirely with the governments who make up the NATO alliance, pre-eminently Britain and the United States. They are prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner rolled into one. International law as we have hitherto understood it no longer applies in these cases. This is the new Brezhnev doctrine writ large. Brezhnev only justified attacks on what he called socialist states whose rulers were considered by Moscow to be guilty of back-sliding.

As we saw, the attack on and occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968 gave rise to this convenient document. That operation was bloodless compared to the savage aerial onslaught that we are witnessing today. People in Belgrade and elsewhere, who have nothing to

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do with the clearances in Kosovo, are being killed, maimed and having their lives and livelihoods ruined by the continuous bombardment of their towns and cities. As we have heard, communications by the Danube are totally disrupted, thus partially cutting off trade between Romania, Bulgaria and central Europe.

Of course, that is not all. All the Balkan states, as we have recently heard, especially Macedonia, have been severely destabilised at a time when their economies are only beginning to recover from the blight of communism. All this massive disruption of human life and the stability of the whole of Europe is being carried out in the supposed interests of humanitarianism.

I have tried to gather together a few facts which have come out of this conflict. It is taking place in an area which is and has been constitutionally unstable for 2,000 years. Had any of those in authority thought about it, an understanding of history might have helped.

Coming to recent events, I must ask a few questions. It is reported that the Foreign Secretary said in January that the KLA had killed more Serbs than the Serbs had killed Albanians. Is this a true reflection of the situation before the bombing started?

Is it true that on 29th April the Foreign Secretary warned Russia that she risked isolation if she continued to support Serbia? If so, what exactly did the right honourable gentleman mean?

Why were the airport and other installations in Podgorica bombed when we were hoping to keep Montenegro on our side? Was the risk to a large number of refugees who had fled to Montenegro taken into account when this operation was planned? Was the further destabilisation of the situation in Montenegro taken into account?

United States Secretary of State Cohen warned that there would be economic and political consequences if Moscow defied the embargo on Serbia. What precisely did he mean by that?

Is it correct that it is said in the annexe to the Rambouillet agreement that NATO personnel would be permitted to enter Yugoslavia from any border--Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary, Macedonia--with machinery, arms, ammunition and men, and, furthermore, that they must be given all assistance from the military and civilian authorities throughout Yugoslavia and would be able to leave their arms in Yugoslav army depots or where they please?

If that is the case, it is, as Mr. Benn in another place said, an ultimatum. It is on a par with the Austrian ultimatum to Serbia in 1914, which I have taken the trouble to read. In fact, it is rather worse than the Austrian ultimatum, and it is not a demand to which, in my opinion, any sovereign state could submit. Have our diplomats and statesmen given this any thought?

Is it true that as long ago as last October the Vice-President of Yugoslavia--I gather a very nasty man-- promised that as soon as the first NATO bomb dropped the Albanians would vanish from Kosovo? If that is true, why were we taken by surprise?

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No one can defend the appalling clearances which have taken place since the bombings started, but they were predicted. I would put in an historical marker here: columns of refugees follow a continental war as night follows day. We only have to remember France in 1940, Poland in 1939 and Belgium in 1914. In 1914 there were many stories about "German frightfulness" which bear a remarkable similarity to what we hear today.

It is in the interests of governments to spread atrocity stories about the enemy, which does not mean that many of them are not true. This is no doubt why NATO is at pains to destroy television transmitters and other media communication within Serbia. In spite of this, we have a fairly good picture of the situation in Serbia under NATO bombing. As we have heard, a train, a bus, and columns of refugees have been bombed. How is it that one bomb went so far astray from its target as to hit Sofia, 50 miles from the Serbian border and in the wrong country? Is that precision bombing?

A columnist called Andrew Roberts in last Sunday's edition of the Sunday Telegraph proposed the dropping of a small nuclear bomb on Serbia. His article was a serious one. I could not believe it. I have to ask Her Majesty's Government to assure the House that there is no intention of carrying out such a deranged policy.

To conclude, bombing Serbia has not succeeded in saving a single Kosovar life or home. Two wrongs do not make a right. It has destabilised the whole of the Balkans and put NATO's credibility at risk. It also runs the risk of war with Russia, which, however slight, is there and whose attempts to defuse the conflict have not, to my mind, at least until quite recently, been treated with the seriousness or courtesy that they deserve.

8.8 p.m.

Baroness Strange: My Lords, I know that it is impossible to make an omelette without breaking eggs. The trouble is that the end result may so easily turn into scrambled eggs rather than a neat, tidy omelette. The aim of our omelette-making in NATO is to end the humanitarian disaster in Kosovo. My noble and gallant friend Lord Bramall spoke of grandmothers sucking eggs. Some grandmothers are not very good at sucking eggs, and we do not want to end up with egg on our face. Also, the Balkans is not a very lucky place for starting a war. We are all in what we believe to be the civilised part of the world, although sometimes, with nail bombs going off indiscriminately in city centres, good people being shot dead on their own doorsteps and even football fans becoming rather too violent, it is difficult to believe so. But we all suffer when we see on television the sad eyes of old women shielding their bewildered grandchildren as the huge tide of suffering humanity struggles out of Kosovo.

I do not like the pretty euphemism "ethnic cleansing". It refers to killing, murder, torture, atrocity and total barbarism. We all felt that something should be done and I applaud the courage of our Prime Minister and our Government for taking that steadfast action with the rest of NATO. We have struck a blow for decency, democracy and humanity. We could not just stand by and let this horror happen.

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This situation is not new, as the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, said. For six or seven years now, I have been receiving newsletters from Kosovo detailing all the ways in which the very large ethnic Albanian population has been mistreated. It started in a small way--breaking up furniture, requisitioning valuable goods, attacking schoolboys, imprisoning people on trumped-up charges, small acts of violence and discrimination--but it grew. Good and evil are like yeast. They feed on themselves and they grow out of all proportion to the original mixture. When the violence finally erupted, we had to do something.

The noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, has kindly sent me a fascinating map listing all the atrocities committed in every town and village in Kosovo in the past two months. It was a horrifying document--and difficult to see the map for all the horrors marked all over it. I am only a little confused about the acronyms for which there is no translation. I imagine that IDP stands for "itinerant displaced persons", but my noble and gallant friend Lord Craig of Radley believes it to stand for "interminably displaced people". With VJ, however, we are both totally mystified.

Like all speakers, I very much applaud also all our brave servicemen who are flying sorties constantly over hostile territory or helping with the refugee camps. Our hearts are with all our forces whose courage and dedication is second to none, particularly those of us who have been lucky enough to visit and meet some of the men and women now serving in the Balkans.

I also agree with every single word of my noble and gallant friend Lord Inge and the noble Baroness, Lady Park of Monmouth.

We also think much of the suffering refugees. The noble Lord, Lord Judd, wrote in the House magazine most movingly of his personal experiences in the refugee camps in the past two weeks and we listened with much fascination to his speech today.

Your Lordships may have noticed that there was a lack of flowers last week. That was because I was at home in Scotland all week for the AGM of the War Widows Association and 250 of them held their lunch in our home so, as you can imagine, I was busy washing up, cooking, doing flowers and generally organising. It all went well: the weather was perfect, the house was filled with shoals of cold salmon and meringues. The very few Territorials left in the Black Watch lent us chairs and tables, cutlery and crockery and also produced a splendid piper. When he came down from piping on the battlements, he piped and posed with all the ladies in the garden. Mr. Soutar of Stagecoach lent us his real stagecoach, called the "High Flyer", which used to ply from Leeds to York, drawn by four matching Gelderlanders. All the ladies had rides in it and on top, trotting through the blossom and daffodils with the post-horn playing a fanfare.

But war widows, from all wars and of all ages, are ladies who have lost the most important person in their whole life. They have lived with grief and have come out the other side. They all know what it is like. One lady was in tears, thinking of her grandson, a captain in the Territorials, who might possibly have to be sent out

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to Kosovo. They all felt as I do that we have done what we set out to do. We have shown steel and courage and a concern for the refugees and for the battered and bewildered people of Kosovo.

Now we must concentrate our efforts on feeding and housing the refugees. Perhaps with the sanctions and more diplomatic initiatives, we shall be able to sort out the mess that Slobodan Milosevic has made. We shall have to send in a ground force to keep the peace and to help people to go back and to try to rebuild their homes and their lives. But we must draw back from a total offensive with no end in sight. We are, after all, the peacemakers who should inherit the earth. We do not want any more war widows.

8.15 p.m.

The Earl of Lauderdale rose to move as an amendment to the Motion, at end to insert

    ("; but regrets that bomb attacks on the sovereign state of Yugoslavia have resulted in killing and maiming of civilians as well as damage to the economy of Eastern Europe through blockage of the Danube, without clear sanction either in international law or by resolution of the United Nations Security Council.").

The noble Earl said: My Lords, the hidden cabal of the usual channels having denied me the opportunity of moving my amendment earlier in the debate, I must repeat it and beg to move it now. The amendment was correctly tabled yesterday and was being discussed in the Lobbies last night but, as speaker No. 24, it is rather late now for me to start again.

So at this late hour, I shall not take up your Lordships' time by reading out at length important quotations from the European edition of the Christian Science Monitor dated 3rd May. They draw attention to economic damage suffered by Croatia and Slovenia in their tourist trade and the effect, by the destruction of bridges over the Danube, of blocking traffic on Eastern Europe's longest waterway which is hurting trade in Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria.

The Monitor quotes European bankers as saying that apart from damage to the economies of Albania and Hungary, the impact on the economy of the Soviet Union has been considerable and its ramifications have been felt even throughout Belarus, the Ukraine and central Asia--Kazakhstan, Turkestan and other countries.

What is not clearly understood today is that the Serbs who in the past few years have been living in Kosovo were transferred there, having been driven out of the Krajina area of Croatia by the American-trained Croatian Moslem Army where they were exposed to just the same humiliations and mistreatment as is now laid to their charge in Kosovo. That does not excuse their behaviour but it may help to explain it.

What do the sanctions on Serbia mean? According to a report of the Prime Minister's speech to the Romanian Parliament a few days ago, the NATO aim is to "beat them into the ground".

What about some of the implications of this? When electricity is cut off in Belgrade, for example, what about the hospitals and operating theatres, which are immediately halted? What about new born-babies needing immediate incubation when in the middle of the

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night all electricity is stopped? That is not a civilised weapon of war; it is a disgraceful aspect of aerial bombardment. What about depriving hospitals and private users of pumped water supplies? If electricity is cut off, water is cut off. That, too, is not a humane arm of warfare. It may be effective in destruction terms, but it does not go well with the high-minded sentiments of sympathy that we have been hearing today and elsewhere about the wickedness of the Serbs and the loveliness of the Albanian people.

One of the many muddles in this dreadful story is talk of a sea-based oil embargo. No doubt the Minister in winding up will explain what is meant by it. The noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, said that the oil embargo project was now being "examined". How on earth can one by sea stop oil going from Ploesti in Romania overland to Pancevo? There is no sea route; it is land all the way. Blocking Salonica does not stop oil going from Romania. If the idea is to block Salonica, does that need the goodwill and consent of Greece, whose port it is?

What about some of the other things that have been going on? I have to thank the noble Baroness the Leader of the House for a letter that she kindly wrote to me about the legality of all this. She wrote to me on 16th April and placed a copy of her letter in the Library, so I take it that I am free to quote it here. I had asked--as reported at col. 644 of the Official Report of 13th April--what was the legal basis for military action against Yugoslavia. The noble Baroness wrote:

    "I replied that, in exceptional circumstances, the use of force was justifiable when that was the only means to avert a humanitarian disaster. However, I mistakenly gave the impression that this [new] basis was also set out in a United Nations' resolution. It is not. But the force being used on the grounds of humanitarian necessity is in support of purposes laid down by the Security Council". That is very different from having a direct mandate from the United Nations. I must thank the noble Baroness for her letter to me. As I have said, I hope that as she said that she would put a copy in the Library I have not breached any confidence in reading it out.

When we last had a debate, on 25th March, the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, promised to write to me about targets attacked and any collateral damage in Novi Sad. Today, three weeks later, I received a letter, not from him but from his secretary. I am grateful to have even that. He said that his office did not have any information about collateral damage at Novi Sad. Perhaps I may I stress to his office that if it does not have information of its own it might find it worthwhile to listen to Radio Cologne, which, after all, is a NATO broadcasting station. Every night it broadcasts details of damage done in Yugoslavia. The Radio Cologne list of damage is not the same as the official TANJUG list; this is a list from NATO sources. The noble Lord's office might find it worthwhile to tune in to Radio Cologne to learn what is going on, if it does not know from its own sources.

Collateral damage is a tricky subject. I refer your Lordships to yesterday's edition of The Times, where a headline reads:

    "Allies risk crimes tribunal over civilians".

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    The article under that headline reads:

    "NATO risks investigation by the international war crimes tribunal if its bombing attacks are found to have caused unnecessary civilian deaths or injuries. Mary Robinson, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights"-- the former President of Ireland--

    "in a direct reference to recent attacks on bridges, water supplies and electricity stations, said yesterday that more should be done to avoid such casualties.

    "'It is a very important principle that if civilian casualties can be avoided they obviously must be avoided' she said on a visit to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. ... if it is not possible to ascertain that there are civilian buses on bridges, should bridges be blown in those circumstances?".

    "Her questioning of the legality of the bombings echoed her remarks to the closing session of the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva last week. She said: 'These are very important questions because people are not collateral damage, they are people who are killed, injured and whose lives are destroyed, and we are very concerned about the way in which civilians are so much in the forefront of modern warfare.'"

What about the astonishing bungling of the NATO operations? The noble Lord referred obliquely to General Klaus Naumann's comments as retiring chairman of the NATO military committee. He is reported in Monday's edition of The Times to have said:

    "the air war was now working, but Serbia could still achieve its aim of mass deportation of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo." The Times reported that he

    "gave his unvarnished account of the campaign on the eve of his retirement this week." NATO had previously reported only engine failure as a cause of aircraft losses. The quotation from General Naumann continues:

    "quite frankly and honestly, we did not succeed in our official attempt to coerce [President] Milosevic through air strikes to accept our demands. Nor did we succeed in preventing Yugoslavia pursuing its campaign of ethnic separation and expulsions." I wish to draw the noble Lord's attention to that passage in The Times, which he might have overlooked.

My final quotation is from the Daily Telegraph:

    "'Blitz spirit' is boosting Milosevic, US admits".

These quotations, idle and scattered as they are, do little to bolster the Government's claim to be conducting a satisfactory campaign. But, with our service men engaged and having been unable to deploy my arguments at an earlier stage in the debate, I will, when the time comes, beg leave to withdraw my amendment.

Moved, as an amendment to the Motion, at end insert

    ("; but regrets that bomb attacks on the sovereign state of Yugoslavia have resulted in killing and maiming of civilians as well as damage to the economy of Eastern Europe through blockage of the Danube, without clear sanction either in international law or by resolution of the United Nations Security Council.").--(The Earl of Lauderdale.)

8.29 p.m.

Lord Jenkins of Putney: My Lords, I am pleased that the noble Earl will not feel it appropriate to press his amendment to a Division as I do not feel that this is a suitable occasion on which to do so. Nevertheless, if he were to, I should feel it necessary to follow him into the Lobby. I take a similar view to that which he has expressed and which has been expressed latterly in the debate on all sides of the House.

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I begin by reading a letter sent to me by a friend who has been in communication with Belgrade. It is from a Mr. P.R. Adzic, of the VINCA Institute of Nuclear Sciences, Laboratory of Physics, in Belgrade. It reads as follows:

    "Something which we feared that might happen, seems very likely. I can confirm now we expect that NATO planes will bomb VINCA Institute. In the passed several days we received this warning, but today we got this information as serious threat from the highest authority. Our reactor is not working for more than 15 years, but the significant amount of 235-U enriched and unused fuel is still in its interior. Highly radioactive material for everyday activities is also located in several research laboratories. I fear that a big disaster may occur. In the worst case, no Balkan and even European country would be safe. Not to mention ecological catastrophe. I still hope that this disaster could be avoided, unless we are already late. I would appreciate if you succeed in informing as many people as possible on the eventual tragedy. God bless you".

I sent a copy of the letter to the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, who opened our debate. I am not sure whether he has passed it on to my noble friend who will answer the debate. If so, she will refer to it. If not, I hope that she will ask him about it and request him to investigate whether it is a serious threat or whether it is no more than an attempt to avoid the bombing that they fear. I considered it sufficiently authentic to send it to my noble friend and to mention it tonight.

As I have said, I am of the same view in this matter as the noble Earl who has said that he will withdraw his amendment. That position is not unique. It is not just the fact that some of us feel that the whole operation is a mistake; this is an issue on which there is a variety of opinions. There are those who feel that, and others who feel that it has gone wrong in the middle and some who believe that it has gone correctly all along. I take the view that this operation was an error and illegal from the beginning. I believe that it should never have been embarked upon.

There are ways other than war. War cures nothing. There are methods, short of war, by which pressure can be brought to bear upon governments without resorting to a cure that is worse than the disease. That is not to say that one is immune from pity. However, one has to evaluate whether going to war is worse than the existing situation. One cannot attempt to cure by inflicting something even worse on the patient.

Perhaps I may inject a personal note. There is a point at which one has to decide what will be done as a war comes to its end. I have some personal experience of that, having been posted to Burma towards the end of the Second World War. I was due to join an operation, which by that time had reached Rangoon. By the time I arrived in Rangoon, the bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima and there were no more operations in which to take part, so I was seconded to the civil affairs government of Burma, the British temporary government before we handed over to the Burmese. Hence, I have some experience of the complications and difficulties of such a situation, particularly as in Burma there were tribal or international difficulties such as we encounter in the Balkans. The Serbs and the Croats are in a similar position to that of the Burmese and the other nationalities surrounding the Burmese borders.

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That kind of complication often exists when a war comes to its close. The winning party has to deal with it. We messed it up in Burma, although not deliberately. We were not quick enough. By the time Lord Mountbatten got to work, he shared my view that the only man worth talking to in Burma at that time was Aung San. The old hands who had returned to Burma wanted to talk to the people who were there before they left and, quite frankly, they were no good at all. Prime Minister Attlee came to share that view, but by the time we got around to it, it was too late. I am not saying that if we had acted quicker the murder of Aung San could have been avoided, but if it had been avoided the history of Burma, lamentable though it has been since, would have been quite different.

These are crucial times, when actions taken affect the future history of the country. Whether it is true or not, I am not certain, but it can be said that because we did not get around to recognising and establishing Aung San at an earlier date--sharing the opposition view which he regarded as fascist--the murder took place and that changed the situation. Several experts on Burma--more expert than I shall ever be--took the view that the history of Burma was altered by that tragic act.

I mention that in passing to show that I am not unaware of the difficulties that will face the former Yugoslavia as and when this matter comes to a quick conclusion. The quicker, the better, as far as I am concerned.

In this age of new weapons, as the matter to which I have just referred emphasises, we must learn that war is no longer an adventure or a cure for anything. We must be patient and use methods other than those of warfare if we want matters to be brought to a conclusion with which we can live in the future. If we do not learn to eliminate war, war will eliminate us. Weapons of mass destruction--nuclear, chemical or biological--will make our world uninhabitable by mammals. As I said, if we do not eliminate war, war will eliminate us.

The present conflict is, of course, illegal. It was started by a non-European state--the great and only superpower--chiefly supported by its main satrap, the Labour Government of the United Kingdom, who can and did start a war without consulting Parliament.

My old friend Robin, our Foreign Secretary, knew that to be legal wars need the unanimous support of the Security Council. To do him justice he tried very hard to secure that support. Only when he failed did he decide that a majority, backed by earlier unanimities, would have to do. He decided that if all those joining in the conflict agreed to it and said it was legal, it became legal. But of course it did not--and it remains illegal.

Even if that point was arguable, the way in which the war has been fought has become hopelessly illegal. The question of whether or not the war was legal was raised a little earlier in the debate. I recommend that noble Lords read the Rambouillet agreement and the Geneva conventions. Those who are interested will be able to obtain copies of the Rambouillet agreement from the Library, but I understand that Appendix B is not always included. It is important to ensure that it is attached because it is an incredible document.

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Appendix B led me to the conclusion--a conclusion I believe to be inevitable--that the agreement is not an agreement at all and was never intended to be one; it was an excuse to go to war. No government could conceivably have accepted the conditions laid down in Appendix B and elsewhere in the document relating to NATO's powers when occupying the country after the war. The agreement insisted that NATO could occupy the whole country; it could utilise all the machinery of the country; it could travel anywhere in the country without payment; it could use the radio and television and must not be questioned. All that is laid down as a condition of agreement. Needless to say there was no agreement. No sane person would ever sign such a document. I came to the conclusion that it was never intended that it should be signed; it was an excuse to go to war. Noble Lords may disagree with that view, but if they read the document they may come to the conclusion that there is at least a possibility that I am right.

Once we started the war, we got into a situation of making it more illegal. We had signed the Geneva conventions. When we accept a convention in this country, we do not just accept it like some do and do nothing about it; we incorporate it in an Act of Parliament. I am holding a copy of the Geneva Conventions (Amendment) Act 1995. Under that Act what we are now doing in Yugoslavia is illegal and must not be done. So we are breaking not only the Geneva conventions, but also our law which implements those conventions. We are therefore doubly guilty of breaking the law and the war is doubly illegal.

The Geneva conventions are not only international; they are also part of our own law. We introduced Acts of Parliament such as the 1995 Act to ratify the conventions and in doing so we agreed not to do exactly what we are now doing and admit doing. The only lip service we pay to the law is that we call the civilian economic structure we agreed not to attack--the bridges, radio and television stations, oil refineries, car factories and so forth--part of the military apparatus. Frankly, the Geneva conventions would not permit any such nonsense because they say quite clearly that if there is any doubt in any matter, one assumes that the target is civilian and not military. That is entirely opposite to the assumption that we make in carrying out our operations in Serbia.

We are also killing and maiming civilians, including women and children. In the places we are bombing there are usually more women and children around because the men are more often out at work. Our Secretary of State for Defence has at last admitted that, but of course said it was accidental. It is not accidental; it is incidental; it is consequential, which means deliberate and intended. In short, it is murder.

It is said that we will go on as we are--that is, burning to death more and more babies, blinding, maiming and killing people as well as destroying the structure in which they live, all of which is illegal--until Milosevic gives in. But what can the people of Yugoslavia do about that? Pressure is not being brought to bear upon the people who are responsible; it is being brought to bear, by and large, upon the people who are

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not part of the governmental machine. It is no wonder that they are not quite sure what our eventual aim is. I can see noble Lords on the Front Bench becoming restive; it is perhaps time that I sat down, and I shall. Are we saying that the innocent are to suffer until the guilty become good? A distinguished Conservative Peer described it to me in one word: madness. Let us stop it as soon as we can.

8.48 p.m.

Lord Eden of Winton: My Lords, a short time ago, in his interesting speech which certainly merits careful reply, my noble friend Lord Belhaven and Stenton reminded the House that this is the first debate that we have had on this subject since these hideous events began.

I agree very much with him that that is a poor show, and I put down a marker that I should expect another debate before too long on this topic, because this is not the right moment to engage in any detailed analysis or to pass judgment upon what has been taking place.

I was encouraged by the article which appeared in The Times today by the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury. I very much agree with his view that the campaign by NATO against strategic and military targets in Serbia is fully justified.

There have been doubts expressed about NATO action, and they are due in large part to the wrong signals having been given at the outset. In his powerful speech my noble friend Lord Moynihan reminded the House that NATO's declared objective was to avert a major humanitarian catastrophe. For very good reason, that quickly won popular support in most NATO countries; there was a groundswell of revulsion. It was that, I believe, which enabled the alliance to keep together. The public reaction was understandable and creditable. No one could have ignored the scenes of human misery, suffering and degradation that were daily projected into our homes. However, we should take heed that media-led decisions are an inadequate replacement for measured judgment and clarity of purpose.

NATO duly responded, but initially not very decisively. The bombing began almost half-heartedly. The trumpet gave an uncertain sound. Evidently, NATO hoped that by demonstrating a willingness to bomb, and by inflicting a degree of damage, Milosevic would be brought back to the negotiating table. But I have to ask: on what evidence? It is certainly not by the example of his previous conduct.

There was a grave miscalculation and one that ignored the lessons of history. Far from crumbling, as we know, in the event the very reverse happened. With a cold-blooded ruthlessness that is impossible for us to understand, the regime in Belgrade scaled up its campaign against the Kosovars, showing a total contempt for life and bringing about a massive humanitarian catastrophe which it had been NATO's publicly declared aim to avert. This has hurt NATO's credibility, and some responsibility for that must lie directly with the Prime Minister and with other leaders in the alliance who have presented the case for bombing solely in the context of the unfolding humanitarian disaster.

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I do not in any way discount the patience and persistence of the negotiators at Rambouillet, but the tactics seem to have been flawed in this respect: they failed to secure Russia's commitment to compel Milosevic to stop his dreadful deeds against the Kosovars. As the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, reminded us, Russia had, and still has, great influence over Serbia.

At the end of the Cold War much effort was made to bring Russia into a closer relationship with the West to allay Russia's fears about any possible threat to her boundaries. NATO brought Russia more closely into partnership.

What has happened to the concept of partnership for peace? During the course of the tragic events in Kosovo, of what value has been the founding Act of May 1997 which was designed to promote better co-operation, harmony and understanding between NATO and Russia? Instead of co-operation it seems that Russia gave moral and practical assistance to Milosevic and then threatened to frustrate the more effective prosecution of the war by NATO.

Although Russia is now more directly involved in the search for a solution, towards which the GA meeting could certainly be helpful, the differences that have arisen should never have been allowed to fester. The real underlying purpose of NATO surely should be, and one hopes is, to ensure that the evil being unleashed by Milosevic does not precipitate a wider conflict which could engulf other countries in the region. That always was, and to some extent still is, a very real threat. If nothing had been done, it could have led to NATO member nations opposing each other with the almost direct, inevitable involvement of Russia as well. The consequent disruption would have been far more severe and extensive than anything we have seen so far. The ultimate result would have been the re-opening of old divisions in Europe, the destabilisation of the newly emerging democracies and the collapse of the credibility of NATO as a force for peace. The true justification and purpose, in my view, of NATO's actions is to prevent just such a disaster. It is for that objective that the alliance nations must continue to work together.

Our immediate short-term goal has been made clear and has often been re-stated by Ministers: it is for all Serb forces of repression to be withdrawn from Kosovo and for a credible international protection force to be put in place so that those refugees who wish to will feel safe to return to their country.

In the longer term it is in the interests of every member country and of Russia that NATO is seen to prevail. A strong NATO spells stability in Europe. For that to happen, those who have taken the lead in the military campaign must maintain control over the ensuing diplomatic processes. I think we are entitled to seek assurances from Ministers that there will be no weakening; that they will show no irresolution at this time. In the event that any settlement might be brokered, there must be a strong NATO military presence. To agree to anything less would be a betrayal of our fighting services who, despite the politically imposed handicaps under which they have had to operate, have

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carried out their task with the professionalism and dedication that we have come to expect. The British servicemen in particular have earned our admiration and respect. We will be letting them down and failing to achieve NATO's objectives unless we can be sure that any peace settlement secures the dispersal for all time of the monstrous Milosevic terror machine.

8.56 p.m.

Lord Carver: My Lords, a number of different opinions have been expressed in the debate. The ones with which I felt most in sympathy were those of the noble Lord, Lord Crickhowell, and my noble and gallant friend Lord Craig of Radley. A view that is shared by all noble Lords is that the problem of how to handle the Balkan imbroglio since the break-up of Yugoslavia has been one of exceptional difficulty. It has seldom been obvious what not to do and it remains very difficult to decide on the right thing to do. It is, however, clear that many noble Lords of different political affiliations are unhappy about what has happened. They are greatly distressed about the present situation and are deeply apprehensive about the future.

I do not wish to spend too much time crying over the spilt milk of the past, but I believe that there were two major errors which have been influential in leading to the present situation. The first was to recognise Bosnia Herzegovina as an independent sovereign state, although it met none of the criteria normally applied for such recognition. That almost inevitably led to intervention, step by step, until it culminated in the Dayton Agreement brought about under military pressure. Anyone who thinks that that agreement will last once SFOR is removed--whenever that may be--and that Bosnia will then remain a single sovereign state, viable in every respect, is, in my view, living in Cloud-cuckoo-land.

NATO's air action, which its supporters believed led to that agreement, was the second major error. It persuaded some of the policy-makers, especially in the United States, to see it, or the threat of it, as the answer to the major Balkan problem--Milosevic's determination to create a greater Serbia, free of other ethnic elements. Of course, everyone rightly felt that something had to be done to try to stop him being beastly to the ethnic Albanians of Kosovo and from planning an even more beastly fate for them. However, as the noble Lord, Lord Eden of Winton, said, it was a major error of politico-military judgment to think that that threat, or, if it failed, its implementation, would quickly lead to his capitulation. It would be interesting to know what advice our embassy in Belgrade gave about his likely reaction.

So what should be done, or not done, now? It is clear that the Government believe that continuing and intensifying air strikes will result either in persuading Milosevic to accept NATO's five conditions or in his removal and replacement by some other Serb political figure who will accept and implement them. Many speakers seem to believe that that will happen, but at present it seems to me to be only a slender hope. To a large degree, hope must rest on the diplomatic mediation of Russia, and, if that is to succeed, the alliance, I am

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sorry to say, may have to modify its insistence, expressed in paragraph 4 of the summit meeting press release of 23rd April, that,

    "There can be no compromise on these conditions".

However, if we assume that, whatever route is taken, somehow or other most of the refugees return to most of Kosovo, what then? That same statement talks about,

    "an international provisional administration of Kosovo under which its people can enjoy substantial autonomy within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia", secured by an international force, of which NATO forces would form the core. I believe that much greater thought is needed about what form this should take. For example, to cite only one problem: what law should operate and who would enforce it? I believe that no British forces should be committed to it until it is much clearer than it is now what its functions would be and how it would operate. But whatever form it takes, it is likely to be there for a very long time. I hope that the Government can give the House an assurance that on no account will we contribute to a force which attempts to force its way into Kosovo and maintain itself there against the active military opposition of the Serbian forces. That could lead to a situation like that hinted at to a certain extent by the noble Lord, Lord Selsdon, which the Russians faced in Afghanistan.

Intervention in the Balkans is gradually creating a quasi-imperialism, a sort of NATO empire, there. Empires in the past, however much resented, have at times been beneficial in creating a form of regional peace; but they have depended on the authority exercised by a sovereign power. An alliance of 19 members, which intends to increase its numbers further, cannot effectively do that. The North Atlantic Alliance must not go down that road.

Finally, I strongly support the views expressed by my noble and gallant friends Lord Bramall and Lord Inge that the Government must be careful, by giving way to popular and media pressure or to the pressure of allies, not to over-commit our forces. They must tailor their commitments, which still include a sizeable one in Northern Ireland, to the cloth which they have themselves cut.

9.5 p.m.

Lord Hamilton of Dalzell: My Lords, I ventured to speak in this debate because I found that the developing affairs in Kosovo touched me in a number of unusual ways. One of my four boys is a financial journalist in Sofia in Bulgaria. His job is to explore financial opportunities for people from the West to invest in. There are a number of extremely bright people, headed by a Bulgarian ex-patriate from America, who have been beavering away for a long time.

When Bulgaria escaped from the clutches of the Soviet Union, there was a colossal feeling of optimism there. The crisis in Bosnia, and now in Kosovo, has cut off its trade with the West. When I was there a year ago, I found that there was beginning to be a

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feeling of despair. I heard the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert, say that Yugoslavia has been reduced to the state of 1945. It strikes me that much of Bulgaria is still in the state of 1945.

When the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, answered a Question earlier today, she said that the European Community was looking forward to the moment when the democratic systems in Bulgaria will enable it to be welcomed into the European Union. I think that it is the other way round. We have been responsible for impeding Bulgaria's progress by this war, whether voluntarily or involuntarily. The Bulgarians are innocent parties. I think that we should compensate them for this; indeed, they have never been compensated for Bosnia. We should take an active interest in their financial affairs. Otherwise I think their politics will go wrong and they will never be in a position to join the European Community or anything else.

My journalist son visited Kosovo between a year and 18 months ago. Travelling on a bus among ethnic Albanians he made a derogatory remark about the Serbs, only to be turned on by its occupants and told that, on the contrary, the Serbian police were the only people to protect them from the activities of the KLA. In civil wars there is seldom a clear-cut line between right and wrong.

My youngest son is newly commissioned in the Coldstream Guards and may well find himself involved in this conflict. Members of my family have served their country as soldiers over many generations; at least three were at the Battle of Waterloo. We understand the sayings, "Theirs is not to reason why", and, "My country right or wrong". It is only afterwards that the debate should begin on whether the cause which induced the politicians to commit them to the field was sufficient and what made the sacrifice inevitable. History delivers its verdict. But those of us who are closely involved in this affair have the right to feel that the Government have a strategy. But I was far from convinced of that fact when I listened to the noble Lord, Lord Gilbert. I endorse the views expressed by noble and gallant Lords who emphasised the point I have just made; otherwise, you will not keep the support of the people for the war.

When you hear the recording of the haunting voice of Chamberlain declaring in 1939 that, "We are, therefore, now in a state of war with Germany", it is possible to understand the impulse that made thousands of people flock to the colours and the sensations that my father and his generation must have felt when they opened the brown envelopes recalling them to their regiments. Nowadays we go to war with less emotion.

I heard that we were at war with Serbia on my short-wave radio in Zimbabwe where I visited the farm that I jointly own. It was a simple announcement that targets in Serbia had been attacked by NATO missiles. Zimbabwe was an interesting place to hear that announcement because a major topic of the conversation there concerns its own war. It too is fighting a war which, with no viable parliamentary

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opposition, the country has never been given the opportunity to approve or disapprove. The war is in the Congo. It is a civil war in a sovereign state between rival tribal factions, neither of which has any claim to humanity, trying to wrest the government of a benighted country away from each other. Zimbabwe shares no common boundary with the Congo but they are both in Africa and the war is causing unbelievable cruelties.

As Zimbabwe does not have the US as an ally, it is fighting on the ground--no cruise missiles or laser guided weapons for it. The country has no money and the war is unpopular with the people. To save money and to keep the number of casualties from the public view, it is alleged that the war dead are decapitated and only their heads are returned to the families from which they came.

This horrific and unnecessary involvement of a poor country with an unpopular and undemocratic government in a battle which should be none of its business has, quite rightly, been condemned by the international community and Zimbabwe finds itself with all sources of aid cut off and the support of the IMF withdrawn.

Of course I fully understand that Africa is not Europe, with all the politically incorrect sentiments that such a statement assumes; that NATO, supported by the United States, is rich and powerful, while Zimbabwe is a struggling third world country; and that President Clinton and the Prime Minister are not President Mugabe. Kosovo is a war where we are promised that a moral right can be enforced by technical might and there will be no grieving at home. But is not that where the difference ends? Who is the pot and who the kettle in these similar affairs across the continents of the world? What precedents are we setting? We need to be able to distinguish our actions on a better basis than just who we are if there is not to be anarchy in the world.

9.12 p.m.

Baroness Ludford: My Lords, I shall try not to be repetitive, particularly at this late hour. I have agreed with many comments that have been made today, in particular with everything that my noble friend Lady Williams of Crosby said and also with much of what the noble Lords, Lord Judd and Lord Hylton, have said.

With John Austin MP, I am the co-chair of the newly registered all-party parliamentary group on Kosovo. We of course welcome new members. I entirely support what the Government have done in this matter. NATO military action is the regrettable result of the refusal by Milosevic to sign up to the Contact Group's peace proposals at Rambouillet, and it will stop when he complies with NATO demands. The responsibility for the outbreak of war lies entirely with Belgrade. NATO action did not provoke Milosevic; it just showed him up as a war criminal. It was not NATO air raids that triggered the wave of refugees but violence by Serbian forces. That has been attested to by the refugees, whom surely we should believe. NATO has acted to protect the rights of people. It has not acted over claims to

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territory or to resources; this is not a militaristic or imperialist adventure. The unity and political leadership shown by NATO has been impressive.

International law is in evolution but it does provide for action on humanitarian grounds. I am persuaded by the arguments of Professor Christopher Greenwood, Professor of International Law at the LSE. He says,

    "Nato is not asking the world to accept its own assessment of the humanitarian situation. It is acting not in a legal vacuum but to address a humanitarian disaster"-- created by the Yugoslav government--

    "which the Council has characterised as a threat to international peace". So, although there has not been a specific resolution authorising the use of force, there have been resolutions by the Council characterising the situation in Kosovo as a threat to international peace.

When I make comments under three headings--how to deal with the refugees; how to end the crisis and get people back into Kosovo; the future and how to prevent a repetition--I will not be trying to score political points. I will be trying to express some concerns, drawing some lessons and perhaps urging the Government to carry through with the best of what they have done so far, and to be consistent.

Perhaps I may pray in aid the noble Lord, Lord Judd, and speak in the same spirit, about the refugees. It must be admitted that we were not prepared to deal with the scale of the humanitarian disaster which has occurred. The UNHCR is under-funded. The figures I have seen show that the UNHCR launched its first appeal for contributions specifically for Kosovo on 1st April; the appeal was repeated on the 6th and 22nd April. As at the 29th April, a week ago, of the 275 million dollars that the UNHCR requested, member states have so far promised to contribute only 105 million dollars. It is obviously of prime importance that further assistance be speedily given. Perhaps there will be an opportunity in the months to come to review the way in which the UNHCR functions and the further resources which are needed to enable it to fulfil its task as the lead agency in major refugee situations.

I will not repeat what others, and particularly my noble friend Lady Williams, have said about the need for urgency in airlifting refugees out of Macedonia. We may be talking about several hundred thousands. I will also not repeat what others have said about the 10 per cent increase in the populations of Macedonia and Albania that the refugee influx has created. It might help to understand the situation by imagining that that 10 per cent would represent an increase of five to six million in the population of the United Kingdom or eight to ten million in the population of Germany. Albania's generosity must be recognised.

It is obvious that the Immigration and Asylum Bill currently passing through Parliament--and here I am being more explicit than the noble Lord, Lord Judd, although I think he was hinting at it--is totally inconsistent with the current response to the plight of the Kosovan refugees. The Government are now acting to receive probably thousands of refugees; local communities and councils are being generous. Perhaps

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I may refer to a letter from my colleague, the deputy leader of Liverpool City Council, Councillor Richard Kemp, who, a couple of days ago, said:

    "Since Liverpool Council informed the public three weeks ago that we would be helping asylum seekers and refugees from Kosovo, we have been inundated with offers of help from local people...A multi-agency steering group has been established with support from more than 30 organisations...If a relatively poor city like Liverpool can open its heart and its homes to asylum seekers and refugees then so can and should the rest of the country. Perhaps where Liverpool leads today the government and other cities will follow tomorrow."

What we are setting up is (as I hope) a Rolls-Royce welcome for the early Kosovar refugees, but perhaps a rickshaw for the others. Refugee organisations in this country are concerned that two parallel systems will operate, with Kosovar refugees being placed in reception centres while asylum seekers, even Kosovars who come clandestinely in lorries, or, let us say, those from Sierra Leone, will have to survive on vouchers and £1 a day. Indeed, the carriers of those who come in lorries will be fined if caught.

I believe that the citizens of Britain understand what a real refugee crisis is, and that we have a responsibility to take our fair share of refugees. I hope that that will track through to the Government, and that they will perhaps reconsider the situation as regards the Immigration and Asylum Bill. The Home Secretary said yesterday in the other place that the exceptional leave to remain being granted to the earliest refugees provides a passport into the normal benefits system and the right to work, but Kosovars who arrive in Britain by their own means will continue to be able to apply for asylum in the normal way. I am afraid that we are setting up what a colleague of mine has called a Jekyll and Hyde approach, a two-tier approach in which we surely cannot persist given our experience of the current crisis.

Perhaps I may comment briefly on how the crisis might be ended and the people returned. The news of a statement from the G8 meeting on principles of a political solution evokes some hope, but also some concerns. Perhaps I may take up a phrase cited by my noble friend that deployment in Kosovo would be of an effective international civil and security presence. I should be concerned that the composition and operational deployment of an international force as described should avoid aiding or encouraging partition. It should also inspire confidence in the Kosovar Albanians whom we want to return to Kosovo. We have learnt from them that NATO leadership of the force is essential to such confidence. Furthermore, the implementation of a peace agreement surely cannot depend on the goodwill of President Milosevic, such that he is protected from prosecution for war crimes.

I was slightly concerned on hearing the phrase used by President Clinton. He said that there could be an agreement without Mr. Milosevic being forced from power. I hope that does not mean that we shall consolidate his grip on power. Surely we want to loosen it. It would be rather ironic if we were to treat President Milosevic yet again as the solution, as a factor for stability, and treat the KLA as a factor for instability.

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These are sensitive matters, but perhaps the KLA might also claim to be as much part of the solution, or at least more so than President Milosevic.

We must also be concerned about the status of Kosovo. Surely President Milosevic has lost the moral authority to rule there. The reference to the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia rings hollow when President Milosevic's expression of sovereignty has been to strip his own citizens of their passports which attest to that citizenship. Any sovereignty must be heavily qualified, and probably not permanent. We must not rule out, even if it means in the medium rather than the short term, the possibility of independence for Kosovo. We have been talking about an international protectorate in the short term to guarantee an interim political settlement allowing the Kosovars to run their own affairs. But we must not close doors at this stage.

Finally, perhaps I may repeat the comments of other noble Lords regarding the need for a Marshall Plan for the Balkans. I take the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Hylton. Perhaps we should refer to south east Europe rather than the Balkans. Without any plan, which must include a democratic Serbia, we risk creating a situation like that in Germany under the Weimar Republic rather than the post-Nazi Federal Republic. We must not prolong the instability that arises from lack of democracy and repression in that part of Europe. Therefore, we need a Bretton Woods, not a Yalta, and there must be no carving up of territory on a map.

The ultimate future of south east Europe, including a democratic Serbia, lies with the European Union. All efforts should be devoted to ensuring that there is stable democracy and social development in that region to prepare for its engagement in the European main stream. As the Treaty of Amsterdam came into force a few days ago we should redouble our efforts to achieve a coherent common foreign and security policy in the European Union and a defence capability within NATO.

We should have heeded the words of Ibrahim Rugova 10 years ago. It has been said that the war in Kosovo is one of the most predicted in history. The Government must be consistent. Progress has been made in talks about the substance of defence co-operation led by the Prime Minister. I am not sure that that has tracked through to the institutional structure of the European Union so that it acts under a common policy rather than just co-ordinates national policies. If we do not learn those lessons for the future we shall go back to where we started. I hope that we do not do that.

9.26 p.m.

The Earl of Onslow: My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, on becoming a co-chair--whatever that may mean--and equally for reviving something that I thought had died in the early part of the 19th century when Chamberlain became a Liberal imperialist, saying of Kosovo and Serbia that we should do this and that. It is worth pointing out to the noble Baroness that Mr. Milosevic is elected by popular mandate and is a socialist and has very little in common with Adolf Hitler. He is an unattractive Balkan thug

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enthusiastically put into power by his fellow Serbs. Adolf Hitler was an Austrian house painter elected by proportional representation, so beloved by the Liberal Party. He was anti-smoking, anti-fox hunting and a vegetarian, all of which are equally beloved by the Liberal Party. I accept that then he went slightly astray. But Mr. Milosevic does not have at his disposal 20-odd panzer divisions that can go on the rampage all over central Europe. He is a Balkan thug.

Afghanistan, Burma, the Caucasus, Indonesia, Iraq, Kashmir, Kosovo, Kurdistan, Rwanda, Sudan, Zaire and Zambia are the ABC of nastiness in this world. Even with the limited resources available to NATO we cannot go round the world putting down unattractive regimes because we do not like them. That is a form of imperialism out of which I thought we had grown. Unfortunately, we must live with the beasts and brutes of this world. There is nothing that we can do about it.

However, I believe that Kosovo may be slightly different. This was explained to me by a South African friend whose reasoning was as follows. If there is rape in your own flat you do something about it; if it happens at the other end of the passageway it is nothing to do with you. I believe that Kosovo comes under the heading of rape in your own flat. It is undoubtedly an example of quite appalling behaviour. We have said that we must do something about it, but we cannot do much about it. The only possible way that the Kosovar situation will be resolved is by Rifleman Bloggins on the cross-roads in Pristina. It will not be resolved by fusing the lights in Belgrade with a graphite bomb. The only way that those people can go back is by having infantrymen on the ground. This has been true since Thucydides, Xenophon and Alexander the Great. It does not matter whether you are Rifleman Costello on the walls of Badajoz, or a hoplite on the walls of Persepolis.

There is no other way known to military science of controlling the ground other than by infantry on the ground. As the noble Lord, Lord Merlyn-Rees, and the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig, said, everything else is subsidiary or an aid to getting those people on the corner of the cross-roads so that the man who has been pushed out of his shop can go back to his shop and sell his goods under the protection of infantrymen.

The Government have not realised this. When the noble Baroness, Lady Jay, made the announcement, I asked her what will happen if Mr. Milosevic does not react. She said, "We'll go on being beastly to Mr. Milosevic". I think that those were her words. Quite understandably, and in my view correctly, the Government have said that something must be done. But they have not thought through the consequences.

Let us assume for the sake of argument that they come round and realise that the former second lieutenant Viscount Cranley in the Lifeguards in 1960 is a military genius and they will take his advice and understand about infantry on the ground. We will have created this wonderful imperium advocated by the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford. How long will it last? How long shall we be there? It may be of interest to your Lordships to know that Mr. Gladstone said that we would be out of Egypt after he bombarded Alexandria. He was another Liberal imperialist.

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It is essential to know what we are thinking of. Do we say, "We shall have an imperium and a protectorate"? We must think through the consequences of that. I do not think that anything has been thought through. It has been reported that Mr. Clinton takes poll soundings almost twice daily as to what to do. How to be a leader, my Lords! "What shall I do?" he says to the pollsters. Surely he should say, "This is what I think we should do. This is the policy I propose, and if you don't like it you must say so", but it should not be the other way round it. I do not think that we have thought through the consequences of what we are doing.

I accept that the Government were right to intervene, but they should have been upfront and said, "This means infantry. It means casualties". The European Union has been pathetic. The only people who have really good troops on the ground are ourselves and the Americans. I looked at some Italians and thought, "Caporetto, Sidi Rezeg", but did not allow the thought to go much further. There are not enough Germans. For heaven's sake, come back 90th Light and 21st Panzer--all is forgiven. That is what one wants. The European Union is not putting in enough force and it should do so if it wishes to be grown up and behave on the world stage. It has to be able to behave in its own backyard and not have 86 per cent of its work done by someone else. I feel that not enough thought has gone into this issue.

I accept that the Government have a great problem. I accept that the Government are trying to do their best, but they have not done enough joined-up thinking. I therefore worry very much for the future.

9.35 p.m.

Lord Shore of Stepney: My Lords, the Government have faced a great problem, as the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, stated. It would be sensible to begin by touching on some of the special difficulties and features of this crisis and, in my judgment, tragedy.

We have become used to a world in which, if one nation aggresses against another and crosses its frontiers in a hostile way, it has committed an international crime. We then rally together, as we did in the recent case of Kuwait, to resist and punish the aggressor. That is a great step forward in the story of mankind. But Yugoslavia--the collapse of a state! The Serbs have not crossed anyone's frontier and that is the beginning of the difficulty. My noble friends have had to face the new problem of dealing with an internal catastrophe and how the international community should deal with it. That is a big problem to which I shall return at the conclusion of my remarks.

I believe that my noble friends, and certainly the Prime Minister, deserve far more of our praise than our blame and criticism--much more. The moral force which the Prime Minister has brought to bear in facing such disastrous conduct and appalling treatment of a helpless minority people in Kosovo has been outstanding. He has identified the evil and spoken against it. He has insisted on action against that evil.

Of course, it is one thing to identify, condemn and act, but, unfortunately, the tragedy is that one's actions do not always meet the needs of the situation. The

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tragedy is that, for the best of all possible motives, we have failed to achieve the central objective with which we started the whole affair: it is the answerable call from the Kosovar people to be rescued and helped and that the Serbian attempt to drive them into exile should be resisted and stopped. That was our number one war aim and it is precisely that aim that we have been unable to achieve.

Instead of being able to rescue the Kosovars and resist the Serb oppression, what was already a serious problem of exodus has turned into a flood of refugees. Seven hundred thousand people have been driven into the surrounding territories. We have not heard the end of the problems, particularly of Macedonia.

It can be said of my noble friends--it is probably the only accusation that the debate has brought against them--that they might have foreseen the appalling Serb reaction; a reaction which turned what was a flight into a flood. I am not so sure. Frankly, it took a bit of imagination to conceive of the wicked continuing actions that Milosevic has inflicted on the people of Kosovo.

Against that, I must strike a balance. We heard some relevant contributions today from those who know about Balkan history, what went on under the old Ottoman Empire and the hatreds which were generated. My good friend Lord Merlyn-Rees spoke about that earlier today. Those hatreds are formidable. They are not merely the meeting point of religions but of different linguistic, cultural and racial groups clashing together.

When I think about it a little, I would quarrel with the noble Lord, Lord Campbell, whose speeches I generally agree with entirely, when he uses the word "genocide". It is not genocide. Genocide is the deliberate destruction of a race. By God! we saw it under Nazi Germany dealing with the Jews, as they did in their Holocaust. It is not that. It is ethnic cleansing. We are seeing a deliberate expulsion of people, triggered by deliberate terror, resulting in mass migration. It brings with it slaughter and wickedness of all kinds; but the aim is to expel. Frankly, that is part of the history of the Balkans.

One thinks about the Armenians in Turkey at the beginning of this tragic century; the expulsion of the Greeks from Asia Minor at the end of the First World War; and more recently the expulsion of the Serbs from the Krajina. That was very serious. It was a major factor, of course, and it does influence their behaviour and thinking. Although not on the same scale, what about Cyprus? People there could not live together any more, resulting in division, partition, separation. That is one of the ways in which problems are solved. We know that from our own experience. Heaven knows, when we gave independence to India, the Punjab erupted into hatred between Hindu and Moslem and the populations moved out into Pakistan and India respectively. Perhaps we might have had that a little more in mind, even though the behaviour of Milosevic was almost unbelievable.

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