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Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: I am afraid that we are unable to agree to these amendments. Amendment No. 347WA would require consultation before the mayor revises the strategy. Subsection (7) of the proposed new Section 7A to the RDA Act, introduced by Clause 239, requires that revised strategies are published which ensure that consultation takes place by virtue of subsection (8). The amendment is, therefore, unnecessary, as the effect is already achieved.
Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: Amendment No. 347XA adds Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police Authority and the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority to the list of consultees in subsection (8) of the new Section 7A of the RDA Act. That subsection adds only to the list of consultees in Clause 34 of the Bill and the functional bodies are included in Clause 34. So we have already made the provision which the noble Baroness seeks.
Amendment No. 347ZA would require the mayor to consult on a strategy which had been revised following a direction from the Secretary of State. A direction can only be issued after a strategy has been published. It is very much a reserve power. Before publication, the strategy must have been the subject of consultation. The amendment would therefore require a second consultation in the rare circumstances of the direction being issued. We cannot see that that would be appropriate or constructive. I hope that the noble Baroness feels able to withdraw the amendment.
Baroness Hamwee: Amendment No. 347XA takes us back not just to earlier provisions of the Bill but to the provisions of the Regional Development Agencies Act in which the clause in question, in effect, means that before publishing the LDA strategy, the mayor has to consult the people under the RDA Act whom she or he has to consult in making appointments, which is not the same as formulating the strategy. Those two groups of people are representatives of employers and employees.
At the end of the Committee stage I shall read all that has been said about the various connections. I wonder whether I shall be able to understand the connections without drawing charts, given the cross-references to different pieces of legislation originally drafted, as I have just illustrated, for other purposes. I anticipate that I may not succeed--perhaps I am arrogant to suggest that I would apply a reasonable degree of intelligence to such a task--in drawing up such a chart. I believe that it will be extremely difficult for the authority, comprising the mayor, the assembly and the various functional bodies, together with the responsibilities in this case of the London Development
We have already said how concerned we are about the prescription in the Bill. We accept that this is the Government's way of dealing with matters. We believe that there should be broad obligations for consultation and broad obligations for having regard to people's views. If we get to the end of this stage--I do not believe I speak only for myself as I see that the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith is nodding--and we are still confused, there will have to be some effort made to make life simpler for those who will operate the system.
Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: Amendment No. 347XA adds further to the list of consultees. I understand the concern raised by the noble Baroness. I see the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, nodding. If it would help, I shall write to the noble Baroness on this matter, with a copy to the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, so that we can seek to clarify the situation. I agree to consider carefully any points that they raise.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): My Lords, with the leave of the House I shall now repeat a Statement on relations with Libya, which has been made in another place by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary. The Statement is as follows:
"One of these was the refusal by Libya to hand over the two men charged with responsibility for the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie. As the House will be aware, the diplomatic stalemate over this issue was broken by our initiative in offering a
"UN sanctions were imposed on Libya in 1992 as a result of its refusal to comply with the investigations into the Lockerbie bombing and the parallel UTA case. Following the surrender of the two accused, sanctions on Libya have been suspended.
"However, diplomatic relations between Libya and the United Kingdom had already been broken off before the Lockerbie bombing. They ceased in 1984 when we broke off diplomatic relations over the refusal by Libya to co-operate with the investigation into the killing of WPC Yvonne Fletcher, who was shot while carrying out her duties in front of the Libyan People's Bureau in St James's Square.
"In the weeks since the handover of the two Lockerbie suspects, we have been engaged in repeated exchanges with the Libyan Government in an attempt to secure their co-operation with the police investigation. Throughout these negotiations, over some weeks, we have consulted fully with the Metropolitan Police and through them with the Fletcher family. Earlier this afternoon, I met with Mr Obeidi of the Libyan Government and we have finalised a joint statement.
"In that statement, Libya accepts general responsibility for the actions of those in the Libyan People's Bureau at the time of the shooting. They express deep regret to the family of WPC Fletcher for what occurred and offer to pay compensation now to the family. Libya agrees 'to participate in and co-operate with the continuing police investigation and to accept its outcome.'
"I have placed a full text of the joint statement in the Library of the House. It fully meets the objectives pursued by successive British Governments since 1984 and it is supported by the Metropolitan Police and the Fletcher family. No amount of payment can ever compensate the Fletcher parents for the loss of their daughter, but the agreement to make compensation now is a welcome recognition by Libya of its responsibility.
"The way is now open for the police to pursue their investigation into the killing of Yvonne Fletcher. That investigation will be pursued as far as it can and we expect Libya to co-operate at all stages.
"The two agreements we have secured also open the way for us to resume diplomatic relations with Libya. I am upgrading immediately the British Interests Section in Tripoli to embassy status. We will, as quickly as practical, appoint an ambassador and bring the embassy up to full strength. As a result, the 4,000 or so British citizens resident in Libya will have restored to them full consular protection and we will be able to provide appropriate support to British commercial interests. Full diplomatic representation
"Today's announcement brings to an end 15 years throughout which relations between our two countries were suspended. I should like to record our thanks to the Government of Italy for their assistance throughout those years as the protecting power of British interests in Libya.
"Before concluding, I would ask the House once again to pay tribute to Yvonne Fletcher, a young woman who gave her life to the service of law and order. Her family have suffered not only her loss but the added pain of 15 years in which its investigation has been blocked. They have borne it with dignity and fortitude. I would express on behalf of the whole House our deep sympathy to them. I hope that the agreement we have secured today will open the way for them to learn more about what happened on that fateful day."
Lord Moynihan: My Lords, I should like to thank the Minister for repeating the Statement made in another place, giving details of the Government's joint statement with the Libyan Government. From these Benches, I should like to welcome the progress in Anglo-Libyan relations contained in the document. Perhaps the Minister will be able to assist me on one point. I was not completely clear whether one of the two agreements to which she referred when repeating the Statement included the full text of the joint statement. If it does not, can the Minister clarify what the two agreements mentioned in the third paragraph before the end of Statement refer to? If they are separate from the agreements that she has already agreed to make public, will the noble Baroness ensure that both of them will also be placed in the Library of the House? It will be very important for your Lordships to read them.
From these Benches, we have always been of the opinion that Libya must accept responsibility and express regret for the appalling murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher, as well as providing compensation agreeable to her family. It has always been our view that Libya must co-operate fully with the investigation into her murder. The Minister has said that the Government now expect Libya to co-operate at all stages with this investigation. Therefore, can she tell us whether she expects this will entail efforts by the Libyan authorities to identify and specifically bring to justice the murderer of WPC Fletcher? If so, would the same procedures as those currently in place for the trial of the Lockerbie suspects also be used to try any person accused of her murder?
The relatives of those killed in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 will be following these developments closely. Can the Minister tell the House what discussions the Government have held with them concerning today's announcement and what their reaction has been to the agreed compensation to the family of WPC Fletcher, which is symbolic of the guilt of the Libyan regime?
The Minister also referred to the UN sanctions against Libya. As she is aware, those sanctions are currently suspended, not lifted. Does the Minister envisage that the UK will now press for those sanctions to be lifted? It would be helpful if the Minister could inform the House what discussions have been held on this matter with our partners in the Security Council, in particular with the United States Government.
There has been undisputed evidence in the past of Libyan support for terrorists, particularly the IRA. Can the Minister assure the House that all training of terrorists and material support for their activities has now stopped, including support of rebel groups in West Africa?
In view of the highly successful business mission led by my noble friend Lord Prior in his capacity as chairman of the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce some three weeks ago, on which I understand my noble friend Lord Trefgarne accompanied him, and given the newly restored bilateral links and the opportunity that this presents for the development of both cultural and commercial contacts between our two countries, can the Minister clarify the status of the business delegation proposed by the British-Libyan Business Group? Following the confusion earlier this week between the Foreign Office and the Department for Trade and Industry, does this delegation now have the support of the Foreign Office? From these Benches, we hope that the restoration of full diplomatic ties will prove to be a turning point in our relations with Libya and, critically, in Libya's relations with the rest of the world.
Finally, I should like to associate these Benches with the tribute paid by the Minister to the dignity and fortitude of the Fletcher family. We are very pleased that this outcome has their full support. Although today's Statement marks what we hope is a new chapter in Anglo-Libyan relations, no one in this House will ever forget the bravery of the young WPC who in doing her duty paid with her life.
Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, perhaps I may also thank the Minister for repeating the Statement made in another place. I should like to say how delighted we are that diplomatic relations have been resumed with Libya; indeed, that will open very real opportunities for business people and others in the United Kingdom. I should also like to express a few words of thanks to the Government of Italy for the conscientious way in which they carried out the representation of British interests in Libya over a long period of time, which they could not have envisaged when they first agreed to do so.
I have three questions for the Minister. The first goes further into the subject of the killing of WPC Fletcher. I fully share and endorse every word said by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, and by the Minister about the extraordinary courage and conscientiousness of this young woman who lost her life in serving law and order in this country. Can the Minister tell the House whether the Government know the names of those who were present in the so-called "People's Bureau" at the time
Given the willingness of Libya to co-operate over the Lockerbie air crash after a long period of negotiation, I wonder whether consideration could be given to whether Libya would be willing to extradite anyone who might be soundly suspected of involvement in the murder of WPC Fletcher. Perhaps I may also pay tribute to the endurance and the great patience shown by her family.
My second question concerns the debts still owing to British firms from the period before the breach in diplomatic relations. My understanding is that some hundreds of millions of dollar-equivalents are owed to British firms from the period prior to the breaking off of relations after WPC Fletcher's murder. Can the Minister give any enlightenment at all on the issue of whether those outstanding debts are likely to be settled at any foreseeable time?
My third and final question concerns the issue of diplomatic relations between the United States and the Government of Libya. The Minister will be aware that Helms-Burton still applies, although it is somewhat more honoured in the breach than in the observance by many American business interests. Can the noble Baroness say whether any representations are being made by Her Majesty's Government in Washington for the reconsideration of Helms-Burton, which I believe has caused quite a lot of strain on diplomatic relations not only with Libya but also with many other countries with which we in the United Kingdom would wish to see much happier and closer relations in future?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I thank both the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, and the noble Baroness, Lady Williams of Crosby, for their warm welcome of my right honourable friend's Statement today. I thank them not only for what they said but also for the way in which they said it. I join with them in paying tribute to the family of WPC Fletcher. I echo in this House the sentiments expressed by my right honourable friend in the Statement and by both the noble Lord and the noble Baroness on the dignity and bearing of the Fletcher family during what must have been an anguished time for them.
The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, referred to the agreements. The relevant agreements relating to the initiative for the Lockerbie trial in the Netherlands have been placed in the Library, as has the text of the joint statement agreed between Her Majesty's Government and the Libyan Government. There are two separate agreements--two separate pieces of paper, if I can put it that way--and both texts are available for inspection in your Lordships' House.
The noble Baroness asked whether we had the names of those who were in the People's Bureau at the time. We do because they were accredited diplomats. I cannot tell the noble Baroness whether that is a full list of who was there on the day. However, we would certainly know the names of the accredited diplomats at that time. That information will be available to the investigating authority. It is a matter for that authority as to how it pursues individuals. We have the basic statement from the Libyans that they accept what the coroner's court said about where the shot came from. However, that is not the same as establishing who was responsible for the shot that was fired.
The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, asked about the procedures that might be used to prosecute anyone who might eventually be accused of this appalling crime. He suggested that they might be the same as were established for the prosecution in relation to the atrocity committed on Pan Am Flight 103. The regime in the Netherlands at the moment was set up under a UNSCR. I believe that it is a unique measure. However, I point out to your Lordships that the proceedings in the Netherlands are subject to Scottish law whereas the matter we are discussing would be prosecuted under English law. I rather doubt whether the same mechanisms will be available to us simply because the case in the Netherlands was established under a UNSCR and because we shall be dealing with the case of WPC Fletcher under English law and not Scottish law. However, the way in which any prosecution would be carried out is a matter that we shall have to consider as the investigation proceeds.
The noble Lord also asked about discussions with the Lockerbie families. Officials in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have discussed the statement on WPC Fletcher, but, more importantly, the re-establishing of diplomatic relations, with all the families of the British people involved in that atrocity. I am sure that individual families are either more or less enthusiastic about that but none has expressed any fundamental misgivings about the re-establishing of diplomatic relations, given what we have been able to establish in both the documents detailed in your Lordships' House.
The noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, asked about Libyan support for terrorism. I believe that when he has had the opportunity to study the agreed statement in the Library of your Lordships' House, he will see that the Libyans have said unequivocally that they are opposed to the use of terrorism. They have condemned terrorism and have pledged to co-operate in the international fight against it. As regards the worries which have been expressed in certain quarters about their previous relationship with the IRA, the previous administration stated on 25th November 1995 that they were satisfied that the Libyan Government had met expectations with regard to ceasing to have that kind of relationship with the IRA.
The noble Lord also referred to the trade group. I do not believe that there has been what the noble Lord described as confusion over this. The British-Libyan Business Group first approached us in May when our discussions were at a sensitive stage. At that time I believe that it would have been premature of the Government to endorse participation of MPs in that venture. Advice was given through the Whips' Office which reflected that view. In recent days we are aware that there has been more positive progress in our negotiations and we have clarified that there is no objection to participation by MPs in this matter. As the noble Lord would expect, throughout all this we have kept in close contact with our colleagues in the DTI to ensure that we are indulging in joined-up government.
The noble Baroness referred to debts. Now that we have restored diplomatic relations we can open up discussions on a full range of outstanding issues. I know that the question of debt is a worrying one. It will, of course, be included in those discussions. I join with the noble Baroness in expressing thanks to the Italian Government for the way they have looked after our interests over the past 15 years. My right honourable friend made that clear in his Statement but I am sure that my own Benches in your Lordships' House would wish me to add my voice to those thanks.
Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for repeating the full Statement. I hope that she can clarify a point on compensation. I may have misheard the relevant part of the Statement in that regard. First, is there an agreement at present in principle to pay compensation, or has a definite amount been agreed already? If it is a question of principle, who is to adjudicate on the issue of the quantum amount in relation to that payment? Will the Fletcher family be fully consulted about that and given access to legal assistance paid for by the state? Whether or not legal aid is available to them, will they receive very full advice about that matter?
Secondly, would it not be appropriate for this very brave young woman's memory to be perpetuated? There is already, of course, an indication in the square where she fell, but perhaps my noble friend will think it appropriate to consider the possibility--I do not ask her to be definite at this stage--of a more lasting memorial than that which exists at the present time. It would be much appreciated by the country as a whole.
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