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Lord Ezra: My Lords, I congratulate the Government on the very positive attitude that they have taken towards the Kyoto Protocol and on the actions that they have taken to persuade other countries to do likewise. Can the noble Lord indicate what is the procedure for ratification by the UK Government and whether there will be an opportunity for a full debate on the subject before ratification takes place? Secondly, can he advise on the development of the attitude of the United States towards this problem? The US has indicated a fairly negative attitude; has this in any way been modified?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, so far as concerns the ratification process, there will need to be an EU decision because we wish to proceed with our EU partners. The ratification decision here will need to be taken around the end of June/early July, in time for the Johannesburg summit in early September. This would leave time for a debate—but, of course, debates in this House are not matters for myself but for the House authorities.

So far as concerns the United States, it has demonstrated very clearly that it does not wish to proceed with the ratification of Kyoto. It is undertaking, internally within the administration, a review of climate change policy. That review is on-going but it has obviously been delayed by other events recently. We are expecting that review of policy to be

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positive and constructive, although it will not lead, I fear, to the US re-engaging in time for Johannesburg or at any foreseeable point in the Kyoto process.

Lord Lea of Crondall: My Lords, given the major efforts that we in Britain and the rest of Europe—painful efforts in many cases—are making to deal with the problem and the protocol, can the Minister indicate how, and the time-scale within which, major developing countries such as India and China will be brought eventually within the protocol?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, clearly, with their populations and speed of development, both India and China are important to the process. However, it is worth re-emphasising that the level of emissions per head within those countries is substantially below the rate in Europe, Japan and North America. They are both influential countries, both played a positive role in Marrakech, and both are likely to be beneficiaries of the clean development mechanism under the protocol.

As to their emission rates, we want to move them to future commitments under the protocol. We need to negotiate with them and other developing countries on the role that they should play in order to mitigate their own growth in emissions. The UK is engaged in helping them to do that through our joint programmes on mainstream climate change issues and through projects and programmes within those countries.

Lord Jenkin of Roding: My Lords, is not the reality of the case that even the Kyoto agreement is unlikely to be implemented and that, since then, there have been substantial derogations from the Kyoto figures? Against the background of the recent leaks about the forthcoming PIU report, is not the reality that there is no hope whatever in this country of achieving the Kyoto targets—let alone the Royal Commission target of a 60 per cent reduction in CO2—without the resumption of a nuclear build? Is it not rather disturbing to recognise that there may be some obstacles in government to achieving that extremely necessary step?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the noble Lord is mistaken in saying that there is not a chance of the UK Government meeting our targets. We are probably better placed than any other country, in Europe or elsewhere, to meet our commitments on existing programmes and on the climate change programme that we have developed. Indeed, together with Germany, we are the most advanced in meeting those objectives. We have targets which go beyond that to reduce carbon emissions by up to 20 per cent by 2010. We are, therefore, very well placed and the issue of nuclear power or otherwise does not affect whether or not we shall meet our 2010 targets; we will do so. Meeting the Royal Commission targets—which run beyond 2010 into the middle of the century—will raise very serious issues of energy policy, which we will address. However, that issue does not arise in immediate terms and we will reach our Kyoto target.

The Lord Bishop of Hereford: My Lords, I add to the congratulations expressed by the noble Lord, Lord

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Ezra, to the Government on their very positive approach to the Kyoto Protocol. Is the Minister aware that many of us who are anxious to meet and exceed our obligations under the Kyoto Protocol are nevertheless very concerned about any plans to achieve that which depend on an extension of on-shore wind power? Are the Government seriously committed to research and development and to the implementation of solar and tidal energy? Can the Minister repeat the assurances that he has given the House in the past that the Government have no plans to amend, overrule or set aside the planning process which has so far frustrated many ill-conceived schemes to introduce more wind turbines into our beautiful upland landscapes?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, and say to him and to the right reverend Prelate that I appreciate the congratulations. Getting this process moving has been a major achievement by the Government in international circles.

The Government are anxious that all forms of alternative and renewable energy are pursued. We have in place a target of 10 per cent of our energy supply. We are developing policies to achieve that, and it will be part of our strategy to meet and to go beyond the Kyoto targets. Windpower will play a role. Clearly, we do not want to support windpower proposals that would have a seriously detrimental effect more generally on the environment. Nevertheless, there are onshore wind projects that would be allowable under our approach; we are also looking to offshore windpower to make a significant contribution. The planning process is not affected in any respect in the light of those ambitions.

European Rapid Reaction Force

2.51 p.m.

Baroness Knight of Collingtree asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many British servicemen and women have currently been allocated to serve with the European Rapid Reaction Force.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): My Lords, there is no standing European rapid reaction force; therefore, no specific UK forces have been allocated to it.

However, the United Kingdom has identified a pool of relevant forces and capabilities up to a maximum of 12,500 troops, plus, if required, up to 18 warships and 72 combat aircraft. Any decision by the UK Government to participate in an EU-directed operation, as well as the nature of our contribution, would depend on the circumstances at the time.

Baroness Knight of Collingtree: My Lords, is the Minister aware that his reply will occasion some amazement in the rest of Europe? It is apparently the

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case that whatever RRF personnel are allocated, the number is exactly the same as is presently allocated to NATO—they will sometimes be within one force and sometimes within another. Under which general will they be allocated? Let us suppose, for example, that the RRF, including our own troops, were involved in clearing up following flooding or following the eruption of a volcano and NATO had urgent need of them for a terrorist exercise, who would say whether they would go or whether they would stay? Which general would be the senior and how would the chain of command work—bearing in mind that there must be extreme urgency in matters of this kind?

Lord Bach: My Lords, I would be surprised if there were any amazement at the Answer that I have given. So far as concerns any chain of command, any decisions about where British Armed Forces will or will not be used will be a matter for Her Majesty's Government.

Baroness Seccombe: My Lords, will the Minister tell the House how the United Kingdom could possibly contribute any of its Armed Forces to the European rapid reaction force when they are fully engaged on present operational commitments? Secondly, if we are to commit our Armed Forces to this force, when will the national defence budget be increased to make that possible?

Lord Bach: My Lords, like all of us, the noble Baroness will have to wait for an answer to the second part of her question until later this year. As to her first point—I want to emphasise this because there may be some misunderstanding about it—there is no additional commitment for the deployment of United Kingdom forces on operations. The new arrangements do not mean that we shall consider operations that we should not otherwise consider. Individual countries will decide whether, when and how to commit their forces. Of course, national governments will continue to be answerable to national parliaments for the use of their forces.

Lord Burnham: My Lords, the Minister says that there will be no commitment, but there are a number of Petersberg tasks which various countries, including this one, will feel that they have to carry out. How are those Petersberg tasks to which the ERRF is committed to be carried out if there are no staff and no armed force in place?

Lord Bach: My Lords, I repeat that there is no European rapid reaction force. I must make that clear to the House; there is not one. When and if the Petersberg tasks needed to be fulfilled, it would be a matter for Her Majesty's Government to decide if and when that should take place. I emphasise that there is no extra commitment so far as concerns the Armed Forces.

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