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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I have not seen any reference to small abattoirs in the report, although I accept that the noble Lord, Lord Mackie, is right to make the point that if meat products are to be sold as local food, then the availability of local
The Lord Bishop of Hereford: My Lords, can I help the Minister by saying that references to local abattoirs are made in the report and their importance is certainly emphasised.
The potential for growth in the sale of local food and the need for infrastructure support are important points identified in the report. Also considered is the uncertainty in the minds of many consumers as regards exactly what constitutes a local product. Does "local" mean produce from a nearby farm, from the county or from within the UK? That question is exemplified in the quotation from Sir Peter Davis on page 12 of the report. Would the Government be prepared to consider the implementation of this report alongside the excellent recent report from the Commercial Farmers' Group, The Case for a UK Agriculture Industry and a National Food Security Policy? That is not a snappy title, but it is a good report. If that were done, the future of local food would be seen to form part of a renewed commitment to national food security, something which so many of us would welcome.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, that will teach me to read reports more carefully. I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Mackie, and to the House.
There is an issue reflected both in the report and in government thinking about whether we should seek to define what is meant by "local food". From what I have been reading, the first conclusion I draw is that it is not particularly helpful to enforce a definition. What is the difference between food that comes either 29 or 31 miles away from the place of sale? The second conclusion I draw, which fits in with the remarks of the right reverend Prelate, is that government policies must be supportive rather than prescriptive. That is because so much of what is successful in local food projects is due to the entrepreneurship of individuals and groups of people rather than government encouragement. We must avoid putting obstacles in the way, but it is people themselves who benefit from local food projects and they must constitute the driving force.
Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Amos): My Lords, the Government are continuing to work
Lord Avebury: My Lords, having broken the taboo, which has lasted for 30 years, that all matters of dispute between India and Pakistan are to be settled solely through bilateral negotiations under the Simla Agreement, will not the Government take this matter a stage further and agree that the poor relations between New Delhi and Islamabad constitute a threat to international peace that justifies consideration by the Security Council under chapter 7 of the charter? In this connection, will the Government consider proposing that UNMOGIP, the UN observer force on the boundary between Indian and Pakistani-held Kashmirwhich is the longest-standing United Nations mission in historyshould be asked to play a more active role, particularly in reporting on the shelling across the line of control and on which side is mainly responsible for it, so that the international community can see what are the facts?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, is right. In terms of the relationship between India and Pakistan there has been a focus on this being an issue that the two countries have to resolve. Our position remains the same. A dialogue between India and Pakistan on these issues is very important. That is why the recent statement by India's Prime Minister is very helpful. The international community's role should be to support these efforts. That is why the visit of the Deputy Secretary of State will be important and why the visits here in May will be important. The UN is involved. I take the noble Lord's point about the monitoring of action across the line of control, a matter which he knows the international community takes very seriously. We saw an escalation in that violence last year. That violence has now de-escalated but we are keeping a close eye on the situation. If there is a further role for the United Nations, then of course there will be discussions in that forum.
Lord Ahmed: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that there is great concern that the impunity of the perpetrators of past and present human rights abuses in Kashmir continues without the full investigation of incidents? Would Her Majesty's Government support international investigation of massacres of civilians, including the massacre of Sikhs which took place on the eve of President Clinton's visit to India? Will Her Majesty's Government ask the Indian Government to allow Amnesty International and other international human rights organisations to visit Kashmir in order
Baroness Amos: My Lords, my noble friend is well aware that we have condemned all violence associated with the differences between India and Pakistan, particularly in relation to Kashmir. Indeed, the statement recently made by my right honourable friend Jack Straw and Colin Powell while they were at Camp David was made in response to that violence, which they condemned. We shall continue to condemn that violence and we shall continue to talk to India and Pakistan about our concerns. The important first step has already been taken through the dialogue which has started on both sides. We hope that this will lead to the investigation of massacres that have taken place. It is very important that both sides should have a degree of confidence in the longer term.
Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, does the Minister agree that the Question gives the House an opportunity to join in the universal condemnation of the particularly horrific massacre at Nadimarg which took place towards the end of last March? While both sides have a duty to participate in seeking a peace process, does the Minister agree that, as regards the line of control, Pakistan has a particular responsibility to attempt to identify who committed this appalling atrocity and to bring them to justice? Will the Minister join with me in welcoming the fact that the American Secretary of State and the American Government, together with our own Secretary of State, are focusing their minds on this problem in a thoroughly constructive way which should bring benefits in the future?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, I have made our position absolutely clear in regard to the violence at the end of March. It was the trigger for the statement made by Secretary of State Colin Powell and my right honourable friend Jack Straw. I agree that we need to raise our serious concerns in our discussions with both sides. The noble Lord will know that we have been engaged in discussions with the Pakistani authorities about our concerns in regard to terrorism. We welcome the strong moves that they have made in that direction.
Lord Sandberg: My Lords, does the Minister agree that a little more effort by the British Government to try to get Pakistan back as a full member of the Commonwealth would be helpful, especially before President Musharraf pays a visit to this country in about six weeks' time?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, the noble Lord will know that the issue of Pakistan is one of the items on the agenda of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, which is to meet in May. The group will make its own recommendations. It is important that we and the wider Commonwealth remain closely engaged with
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, is it true that when Pakistan was set up Kashmir was promised a plebiscite as to its future? If so, how do the Government regard the holding of such a plebiscite in Kashmir?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, it is not quite as straightforward as that. There are very different views about whether or not such a plebiscite was promised. We have always said that it is important that India and Pakistan engage in close dialogue on this issue. That dialogue process has started and we wish to support it. The visits which are due to take place in May will be an important part of that process. I shall be happy to send the noble Lord a lengthy background brief on this matter.
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