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Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that Answer. It had a good spin to it, but I am disappointed with it. Clearly, the Government are indifferent to the wishes of the 8,000 Normandy veterans and their families. This is the last big anniversary that many will be able to attend.
Do the Government accept that, by any standards, the 60th anniversary of D-day is an enormously significant occasion? D-day was the biggest single multi-service operation in the history of warfare. Its commemoration deserves our full support. Are the Government concerned that Britain will be put to shame by the Americans, Canadians and French?
Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord. The Government hold the D-day commemorations and the Normandy veterans in the highest esteem. In no way do we underestimate the value or significance of the 60th anniversary of D-day or the debt that we owe to the Normandy veterans.
Baroness Crawley: My Lords, I know that the noble Baroness gave great service in the Land Army and at Bletchley. There will be a tri-service commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Second World War, and I am sure that, in that commemoration, the people who worked at Bletchley Park and the Land Girls will be represented.
Lord Bruce of Donington: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that her Answer will give quite a little satisfaction to those of us who were there at the time? The memories abide with us, and we are still reminded of the friendships that we all had. It was so different from the social divisions that, at the moment, disfigure this country.
Baroness Crawley: My Lords, as well as the support that we are giving to the events that are being organised in France for the commemoration of D-day, the Government are also funding and organising the commemoration of three separate campaigns that have been put forward by the services: the Battle of Britain, which was celebrated in 2000; the battle of El Alamein, which will be celebrated on 23rd October this year; and the Battle of the Atlantic. In addition, the Government are supporting and funding a major commemoration of the end of the Second World War and there will be high-level representatives from government, all the services and, of course, the veterans themselves in those celebrations.
Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, is the Minister aware that the 50th anniversary was commemorated in Normandy in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen and President Reagan? Will the Government carry out their planning on this occasion in plenty of time in order to enable British veterans who are considering participating, the youngest of whom will be in their late 70s, to make their plans and reservations?
Baroness Crawley: My Lords, absolutely. The Government and the Normandy Veterans Association are already in planning discussions which will continue right up to the date in 2004. There are very good relations between the Normandy veterans and the Government on this matter and the Government will do all they can to support the veterans in what will be a memorable commemoration.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, I welcome the recent construction of the Commonwealth Gates, which commemorate all those from the Commonwealth who gave their lives. However, do the Government think it appropriate that, as I noticed when passing the gates
Baroness Strange: My Lords, is the Minister aware that the War Widows Association of Great Britain is hoping to persuade the Caithness glass company to issue a poppy paperweight to commemorate the event?
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): My Lords, we are beginning discussions with the United States on the possibility of a bilateral agreement. We will ensure that any agreement which emerges will be consistent with our obligations under the statute of the International Criminal Court and within the guiding principles agreed between EU Foreign Ministers on 30th September.
Lord Archer of Sandwell: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reassurance, and recognise the part played by the United Kingdom Government in preserving what has been achieved. Will she confirm that the American neuroses are quite groundless because the jurisdiction of the court will be activated only if an accused's own country fails to bring him to trial? Can it be explained to the American Government that, for a country which is demanding that those who commit horrific crimes should be held internationally accountable, it is hardly consistent to undermine the jurisdiction which exists for that very purpose, and that if President Bush wished to appear as a champion of international legality, it would be more persuasive if he behaved like one?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, I agree with my noble and learned friend that in our view adequate safeguards exist in the statute. However, we do understand US objections, although we do not share them. We value the US role in international peacekeeping and we want to enable the United States to continue to play that role. It is in that spirit that we are looking at the possibility of a bilateral agreement.
Baroness Amos: My Lords, we are contemplating a bilateral agreement precisely for those reasons. That is why the EU guiding principles agreed on 30th September are so important. Those state parties to the ICC statute which have signed bilateral agreements are East Timor, the Gambia, Honduras, the Marshall Islands, Romania and Tajikistan, although they all still require parliamentary approval. With respect to Italy, a US team will be visiting a number of European countries in October, including the United Kingdom, and I think Italy is one of the countries on the itinerary.
Baroness Amos: My Lords, noble Lords will be aware that there are a number of areas in which our policy differs from that of the United States. What we have sought to do with respect to the ICC statute is to meet United States' concerns while at the same time preserving the importance that we attach to that statute. Contained in the guiding principles, which were agreed at the General Affairs and External Relations Council meeting in September, are a number of limitations on the scope of the arrangements with respect to impunity, reciprocity and scope of persons. I am happy to write to the noble Lord with the detail of that agreement if that would be helpful.
Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, as the United States is by far the most heavily committed peacekeeping nation by virtue of its size and strength, surely in practice we should be doing everything possible to avoid deterring it from an effective
Furthermore, have not the Germans stated that in no way do they wish to join in any bilateral agreement? If so, does that cause any problems with the European Union as a whole? Are we in fact bound by the European Union in what we should do to help our American allies?
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