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Lord Bach: My Lords, the noble Lord is always heard with great interest in this House on these matters because he is undoubtedly an expert on them. I was not in Munich myself this weekend, although I know many people who were. I understand that the American Secretary for Defense presented the case for the United States and the coalition that it is hoped will be formed in a measured and proper tone, as I am quite sure he did.

I have no doubt that criticisms can be made generally of politicians from whichever country in regard to this very difficult matter, but I think that it would be unfair to say that any particular individual had made matters better or worse. The fact is that there is one individual who really counts in this matter in the opinion of the British Government, and that is Saddam Hussein. It is really up to him. He can prevent war if he wants to. What he must do is to disarm.

Baroness Ramsay of Cartvale: My Lords, I wish to return to the content of the Statement about the NATO situation. I echo the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Howell, that this is not the first crisis that NATO has encountered and it will obviously not be the last one either. Should we not take a leaf out of a certain insurance company's advert and try if we can not to make too much of a drama out of what is a crisis?

Lord Bach: My Lords, as usual I agree exactly with what my noble friend has said.

The Lord Bishop of Hereford: My Lords, I speak as one who is also not yet convinced of the case for military action and who shares the great sense of unease at the public disagreements that have surfaced within NATO. Does the Minister agree that the deployment of defensive missiles in Turkey is a sensible precaution and is a necessary step to take if the threat of the use of force is to be credible? It is the credibility of the threat of the use of force that is most likely to bring about that drastic change of mind of which he speaks.

Can the Minister clarify the position about the deployment of those missiles? Will the United States provide them in any case, even if there is no agreement within NATO? Has Germany indicated also that it might provide them with Dutch personnel to man them if there is no agreement? There seems to be great confusion. I should be grateful if the Minister could clarify the position.

Lord Bach: My Lords, as to the last point made by the right reverend Prelate, I am not in a position to speculate about what will happen if NATO does not reach the consensus required under the treaty. I very much hope—and I am sure the House agrees—that it

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will reach such a consensus. I think it would be foolish for me to speculate about what could happen next. I am grateful for the right reverend Prelate's comments, in particular because he is not convinced yet of the case.

As to the right reverend Prelate's point about Patriot missiles in Turkey, they are part of the credible force that is clearly required at the very least—I think we can agree on this—if Saddam Hussein is to move at all. Does anyone think for a moment that inspectors would be in Iraq or that we would be where we are if it had not been for the credible force that might be employed against him? I think the clear answer is, no.

As regards the case made, we continue to hope that Iraq will co-operate fully and disarm peacefully in line with the demands of the international community. I remind the House that that international community includes NATO. It was not just the United Nations Security Council that voted 15:nil for resolution 1441, not long afterwards at Prague all NATO members—every one of them—agreed that 1441 was an appropriate resolution. It gave Saddam a final opportunity to comply. He has not complied yet I fear to say and time—I also fear to say—is running out.

Baroness Northover: My Lords, can the Minister answer the question from my noble friend Lord Redesdale about Turkey? Can he tell the House when Turkey asked for assistance? Did it make any request for Patriot missiles before Monday? In addition, I note that the Russian parliament will debate the question of Iraq tomorrow. Might the House authorities agree to our having a similar debate, so that we can have the same rights as those of our newly democratic neighbours?

Lord Bach: My Lords, I do not know the answer to the question asked by the noble Baroness as to the exact chronology of what Turkey asked for and when it asked. I have given the chronology as regards events in Brussels this week.

We have debated Iraq on a number of occasions in this House, as has the House of Commons. I understand and appreciate the feeling that there should be another debate shortly. I also know that the Chief Whip knows that too, and these matters will be sorted out, as always, through the usual channels. I do not think we need to take any lessons about free debate from the Russian parliament.

Lord King of Bridgwater: My Lords, I understand the Minister referring to the need to avoid exaggerated language at the present time. One hopes that the present controversy can be resolved, albeit it was only seven minutes ago or whenever we started discussing it. None the less, we are in a very serious situation.

Everyone in the House agrees that unless there is the absolute credibility of force to support the UN resolution, there is no prospect whatever of this matter being resolved by inspectors or by the programme set out by the UN. Every instance of indecision and disagreement among United Nation members, who

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were agreed, merely reinforces the conviction in Baghdad that perhaps after all the United Nations—as has been the case for the past 11 or 12 years—will fail once again to rise to the challenge and that it will be able to get away with it.

Lord Bach: My Lords, the noble Lord will not be surprised to hear that I do not disagree with a single word that he has said.

Lord Clark of Windermere: My Lords, perhaps I may declare an interest as the leader of the British delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. I agree with the Minister that NATO has had crises in the past and we have always overcome them quite well.

Does the Minister appreciate the concerns many of us have in this case? We understand that the application by the Turkish authorities for missiles was under Article 4—and, of course, that has been negated—which was a precursor and indeed perhaps a preventive measure for an application under Article 5. Article 5 would require all the other 18 member states of NATO to go to the assistance of Turkey if it were threatened. Can the Minister assure us that nothing would be allowed to stop Article 5 being invoked if it were necessary?

Lord Bach: My Lords, my noble friend is absolutely right; the Turks have invoked Article 4. That matter is currently being considered in Brussels. As regards speculation about the future, I am reluctant to go very much further, but I must say that it would be remarkable if and when Article 5 came into play there was not unanimity among all NATO members.

Strategic Investment and Regeneration of Sites (Northern Ireland) Order 2003

3.40 p.m.

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn) rose to move, That the draft order laid before the House on 14th January be approved.

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, This is the first illustration that we have had of the procedure to deal with Northern Ireland legislative matters. We had a full discussion of these matters yesterday in the Moses Room. I beg to move.

Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 14th January be approved.—(Lord Williams of Mostyn.)

Lord Smith of Clifton rose to move, as an amendment to the above Motion, at end to insert "but this House regrets the omission of representatives from both the business and community sectors on the proposed strategic investment board who would ensure that the board would be a model of social partnership and would reflect the need to involve key stakeholders as called for in the report of the PPP working group review of opportunities for public private partnerships in Northern Ireland".

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The noble Lord said: My Lords, in proposing the amendment standing in my name, it should be emphasised at the outset that it is in no sense a wrecking amendment. Indeed, its aim is to strengthen the order. As I said yesterday in Grand Committee, the proposed strategic investment board will have a wide and as yet unspecified remit. It will be appointed by and solely responsible to the First Minister and Deputy First Minister. Again, its composition is not specified in the order.

After the Grand Committee, the noble and learned Lord the Lord Privy Seal kindly wrote to me fleshing out in more detail what the Government have in mind. The letter states:

    "The precise composition of the SIB is still under consideration. A small expert board is the most efficient option . . . The Board will bring a strategic and highly innovative approach to managing and financing the infrastructure programme right across all Depts. It will deal with the new source of borrowing, and also make the best use of private finance through Public Private Partnerships to meet local needs".

It continues:

    "The early PPP pathfinder projects have demonstrated the need for ensuring effective management procedures for the procurement process".

You can say that again. The record of the PPPs is chequered. Some procurements appear to have been in the public interest and give good value for money; but many more have been proven not to have been. Government capacity, whether in Northern Ireland or elsewhere in the UK, is still too poor to guarantee the best procurement of PPP projects. The cleverest experts, of course, are those of the tenderers for such projects. They are past masters at ripping off the public purse. That is why the amendment draws attention to the need to have local community and business representation on the board of the SIB to keep a common-sense eye on proceedings. The board needs some non-executive directors with that perspective. Experts need close scrutiny in Northern Ireland, as elsewhere—as the De Lorean episode illustrated vividly and is still remembered in Northern Ireland.

The Government intend to have an advisory council alongside the SIB to bring in wider business, trade union and community viewpoints. Such advisory bodies are all very well and, successfully run, they can be useful, but they are not a substitute for places on the board of the SIB. That is not just my personal view. The earlier PPP working party in Northern Ireland forcefully suggested that business and voluntary groups should be involved in strategic policy making. The SIB is, above all, concerned with strategic policy planning.

Northern Ireland is a small place where the bush telegraph is as quick as any piece of information technology. Operational decisions made by "a small expert board" will be rapidly transmitted to the outside world and when, weeks later, they are reviewed by an advisory board the seeds of disgruntlement may well have been sown; and, in any case, it will be too late to influence decisions. Have an advisory board by all means, but make things smoother by having direct

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local business and voluntary sector acumen available to the board during its deliberations and crucial decision making. I beg to move.

Moved, as an amendment to the Motion at end to insert "but this House regrets the omission of representatives from both the business and community sectors on the proposed strategic investment board who would ensure that the board would be a model of social partnership and would reflect the need to involve key stakeholders as called for in the report of the PPP working group review of opportunities for public private partnerships in Northern Ireland".—(Lord Smith of Clifton.)

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