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Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, the challenges of Zimbabwe are clear. We have had close contact with all sides of the debate in Zimbabwe. We have met parties and made very clear the basis on which Her Majesty's Government would be prepared to help Zimbabwe in relation to the recovery. If Zimbabwe's government show themselves to be serious in relations to those conditions, we have made it clear that we would be willing to consider how that help could be more easily given.
Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, many of us have great sympathy with those in Zimbabwe, both black and white, who are calling for the return of democracy and who have suffered greatly in doing so. In view of the rather biting criticism of committees of another place, can the Minister give an assurance that we will consider carefully the supply of any further arms to Zimbabwe, given the way in which the Hawk spares were used in the Democratic Republic of Congo?
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I can certainly say that the embargo is in place. It will continue to be in place for so long as we reasonably believe that it is necessary. We shall look very carefully at the way in which Zimbabwe behaves before any change occurs in relation to that position.
Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, given that the rule of law continues to be flouted in Zimbabwe and, as we have just heard, the parliament that was elected has not been recalled, might this not be a instance where for once quiet diplomacy is not the answer but a time when the Movement for Democratic Change must be greatly reinforced and Mr Mugabe put more on his guard by strong calls for the upholding of the rule of law? Cannot the Commonwealth, Mr Mbeki and others be prevailed upon to raise their voices in support of democracy and the rule of law so as to give some hope to people that they will be able to outwit Mr Mugabe's dislike for law and his determination to carry on with the present chaos?
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I understand the sentiments expressed by the noble Lord. This Government, in all that they have done in the past few months, have made absolutely clear to Mr Mugabe the importance we place on the rule of law. I should also like noble Lords to take into account the fact that Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, who spoke to my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary on 18th July, made clear that the opposition are seeking to work with the government to ensure that democracy prevails and also that the opposition wish to act in a constructive manner. If we wish to see a
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, if the situation were to improve, as the noble Baroness has indicated the £32 million compensation for land redistribution could then be made available. Given that many farm workers stand to lose considerably as a result of any land redistribution, will they be compensated under that package?
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I cannot give the noble Lord a specific response. However, I can say that a policy of continuing compulsory uncompensated land acquisition will do nothing to foster the sense of unity that President Mugabe wishes to see and spoke of in his address to the nation on 27th June. Furthermore, that policy will not help the economy, which is already in crisis. We recognise the importance and urgency of the land issue, but any resettlement will need to be arranged in a way that is acceptable to all concerned and that minimises the impact on Zimbabwe's already beleaguered economy. In that context, we very much hope that such issues will be taken into account.
Baroness Park of Monmouth: My Lords, can the Minister tell us whether the Government are in contact with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank? Have any plans been drawn up for decisions to be taken during the period of the Summer Recess? The coming six weeks will be a critical time, not only for the white farmers, but also for the unfortunate farm workers who stand to lose all they have: their livelihoods, their homes, schools and hospitals. That could happen during the weeks when we are not here. What plans have been made?
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): My Lords, Her Majesty's Government have recently published a consultation document on noise from civil aircraft. This fulfils a commitment given in the 1998 White Paper, New Deal for Transport, and proposes powers to assist--and, if necessary, to compel--aerodromes to operate noise
Lord Lloyd-Webber: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that helpful reply. Does he believe that the only rule which applies to light aircraft and recreational flying; namely, that aircraft must fly 500 feet from--not above, but from--a building, is adequate? Does the Minister further believe that that rule will stand in good stead in the light of a case brought under Article 8 of the Convention on Human Rights concerning individual amenity?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I was aware that a case is being taken to the court in Strasbourg on this particular issue. Given that, I expect that it is not appropriate for me to comment on the specific case. Clearly, in certain circumstances there may be a perceived infringement of the environment by individual citizens. Under normal circumstances, we would assume that the 500 feet rule would be sufficient to minimise noise heard on the ground. However, the consultation document is in part directed at investigating whether the responsibilities of aerodromes should be enhanced and whether the powers of the Secretary of State to regulate aerodromes as regards noise amelioration should be given further attention.
Lord Taylor of Blackburn: My Lords, as regards the consultation document arising from the White Paper, will the same consultation exercise apply to model aircraft? They can be just as much of a nuisance as some light aircraft.
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I regret that the consultation paper has not been drafted quite as widely as my noble friend would wish. I do not believe that model aircraft are covered; nor, I regret to say, do I believe that model aircraft are subject to the 500 feet restriction. Model aircraft can cause a nuisance on occasion, but I believe that they are covered by the normal nuisance laws rather than specific aviation law.
Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, no mention has been made in the consultation document of the noise produced by helicopters, in particular in built-up areas. Does that mean that people will still be able to present written submissions to the consultation on this point, even though no specific proposals as regards helicopter noise appear to have been included in the document?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, no restriction has been placed on the subjects to be covered by written submissions to the consultation. I should tell the noble Baroness that the aviation rules covering helicopters are somewhat different. As regards the situation in London, about which I know the noble Baroness is concerned, a system of helicopter routes operates through London which defines the heights at which the
Baroness Strange: My Lords, is the Minister aware that several low-flying aeroplanes pass over our garden in Scotland over the weekends? One of those aeroplanes makes a peculiar grinding noise when it flies up to disgorge parachutists? That is extremely distressing for people on the ground.
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I was not aware that the noble Baroness had experienced aircraft passing over her garden from which parachutists jump--I was "unsighted" on that matter, as they say. Parachuting is subject to separate regulation. So far as I am aware, the same 500 feet rule applies in Scotland because the regulations cover the whole of Great Britain.
Lord Dubs: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that in some parts of the country, such as in the Lake District, we wish that we could hear the noise of light aircraft, which is drowned out by the screams of military planes?
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