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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, we have taken note of the fact that, in particular, the Reverend Ray Owen is petitioning the European Parliament. Clearly, there are relevant European directives about employment rights and we adhere to those directives. We shall take a great interest in the outcome of the Reverend Ray Owen's case.

Earl Russell: My Lords, while I can understand why it might be held that the Sex Discrimination Act is not the most appropriate weapon for the clergy, will the Minister venture a lay opinion as to whether the text of St Paul, that

might be thought to have any relevance to the issue of equal pay?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: No, my Lords. Given my known views about religion, I am the last person who should venture such an opinion.

Afghanistan: Security

2.59 p.m.

Lord Burnham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What response they intend to make to the proposal by the president of the World Bank that donors to the World Bank should separately contribute to the funding of a trained and disciplined Afghan army as a necessary element in rebuilding that country.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, security in Afghanistan is vital if the current political and reconstruction processes are to succeed. A properly trained army under central control is an essential element. The UK is willing to commit resources to that end, provided that there is a framework for security sector reform, accountability for the use of funds and a programme to reintegrate former combatants.

Lord Burnham: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that Answer. However, it is a question of whether the World Bank could take part. What information does he have as to whether this country and other countries will be potential or actual donors to such a scheme if it comes into operation?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Burnham, indicates, by its constitution the World Bank is unable to contribute for military or, indeed, police purposes. In a speech in Kabul last month, the president of the World Bank, Jim Wolfensohn, appealed to members of the World Bank as individual countries to set up trust funds for these purposes. He recognised the importance of military and security issues in Afghanistan. We have been

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responding positively to that. We have already dedicated 33 million dollars for security sector reform as part of our global conflict prevention pool. Money from that will be in part for army salaries. Along with other nations, we are taking an active part in work to that end.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, I wonder whether the Minister noted the views expressed by Mr Ahmed Rashid, the well-known expert on Afghanistan, in an article in the Daily Telegraph on 8th June, that one of the factors fuelling warlordism is the lack of funds and the lack of aid projects on the ground? Can the Minister tell the House how much of the 1.8 billion dollars, pledged at the Tokyo donors conference, has been paid over? I know that the United Kingdom has a good record on this matter.

Can the noble Lord tell the House what progress has been made in setting up the Afghanistan reconstruction trust fund, which is another proposal by the World Bank? It was supposed to lead to a donors' meeting in June and to the appointment of a donors committee this month. Has that been accomplished? Would not it be better to concentrate on those ventures rather than to go off at a tangent and consider the security issue separately?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I do not accept that this is going off at a tangent. I do not think we can have effective aid measures unless there is peace in the areas in which those aid measures are taking effect. The two are completely complementary. Unless there is an army, border guards, a police service and a judiciary, there will not be the conditions in which aid will go to those for whom it is intended, and it will not be properly used.

The noble Lord, Lord Avebury, asked about the Afghan reconstruction trust fund. That is, indeed, what the World Bank is working on. He told the House about the plans for progress in the next month or two. My understanding is that those plans are on course.

Lord Judd: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that while security is an essential element in ensuring a proper reconstruction programme in Afghanistan, if peace and stability are to be secured we must be careful that a tendency does not develop whereby governments—perhaps not our own but others—may be tempted to see security as a military matter and to put military operations ahead of the essential top priority of economic and social development.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, my response is the same as that I made to the noble Lord, Lord Avebury. I do not believe that we shall see the delivery of aid in the broader sense that he wants unless there is social peace and law and order in these countries. That is certainly the view of the World Bank, which is why it has appealed to individual countries to support the security sector programmes. If we kept to the present situation, we would have the regional commanders in effect employing the only armed people in Afghanistan. The Afghan Government

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cannot afford to pay them. If they are paid for by the regional commanders they will not be under central control and there will not be a guarantee of security for, apart from anything else, aid workers.

Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, now that we know from reports of international Human Rights Watch that the regional commanders and regional warlords in particular are manipulating the process of democratic reform by putting their placemen in position to run the country in future, surely the whole process of setting up the central military operation should be accelerated. Does my noble friend have any idea how long it will take to establish that military structure, which is so important for Afghanistan?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I do not think it would be appropriate, on the second day of the Loya Jirgah, which started only yesterday and is due to continue until next Sunday, for me to anticipate the results and how far the regional commanders will succeed in coming together to produce a stable and democratic government. The conclusion drawn by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, about the urgent need for military and police forces in Afghanistan is entirely correct.

Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, does the Minister accept that the greatest threat to security in Afghanistan comes from warlords and residual terrorist groups? Does he agree that that shows the continued importance of the war on terrorism and the need to support the newly-appointed president, Hamid Karzai? What is being done to strengthen Hamid Karzai's capacity to govern in the name of all Afghans from each ethnic group?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am not aware that we have a final outcome of the election or appointment of a president in Afghanistan. Perhaps the noble Baroness, Lady Rawlings, is better informed. However, as I indicated in a previous Answer, there will never be a secure civil society in Afghanistan so long as there are armed bands controlled by and responsible to those regional commanders. If that is the thrust of her question, I agree with the noble Baroness.

Andy Hood

3.7 p.m.

The Earl of Northesk: My Lords, I beg leave to ask a Question of which I have given private notice, namely:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they endorse the move of Andy Hood, special adviser at the Ministry of Defence, from that post to join a PR company; and whether such a move is consistent with the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): My Lords, Mr Hood made an application to join Brunswick Group under

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the normal procedures. His application was considered in the normal way by MoD officials and a decision was made that no condition should be imposed upon Mr Hood taking up this appointment. All that is entirely in line with procedures applicable to special advisers.

These procedures, set out in the Civil Service management code, allow for applications from special advisers to be dealt with in that way.

The Earl of Northesk: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. Perhaps I may make clear at the outset that my concern is not with Mr Hood per se but with the underlying principle that has seen a steady stream of government advisers find alternative employment in the private sector.

Regardless of whether or not there is a conflict of interest in this case, do not the Government realise how that sort of action plays with public perception? Does the Minister accept that if it is appropriate for Ministers of the Crown to be subject to a period of purdah before taking up outside appointments, it is just as appropriate for special advisers? Would not that ensure that the prized impartiality of the Civil Service is not only upheld but is also being seen to be upheld?

Lord Bach: My Lords, there is no issue of principle here. The time of the House is being wasted, and I shall tell the House why. This application was approved without condition. Mr Hood had no dealings with his prospective employer when he was a special adviser and had no routine dealings with commercially sensitive information about any company. The noble Earl is wrong when he says that there must be a gap for senior civil servants. Everything depends on what job the senior civil servant is doing and to what job he or she may or may not be moving. The same applies to special advisers, as it did in this case. I really must invite the noble Earl not always to believe everything he hears on the radio.

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