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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I very much join the noble Lord, Lord Astor of Hever, in welcoming the resignation. The noble Lord is quite right, the Prime Minister made clear in his speech at Evian that there has been significant progress on NePAD, with many countries within the African continent now agreeing to review mechanisms which lie very much at the heart of the NePAD initiative. It is true that Zimbabwe casts something of a shadow over NePAD. None of us can disguise that. But it is our strong view that we cannot hold an entire continent to ransom on the basis of what is happening in one country.
During the G8 summit President Mbeki of South Africa detailed the continuing efforts of African leaders to start interparty dialogue between ZANU-PF and the MDC. However, we have not had any specific feedback on the arrest of Mr Morgan Tsvangirai or, indeed, on the way in which the Zimbabwean courts have outlawed the week of action which is currently under way. We shall have a much clearer view of that over the next couple of days.
Lord St John of Bletso: My Lords, with the ever increasing condemnation of Mr Mugabe and his brutal regime in Zimbabwe is it not time for Her Majesty's Government to put pressure on the United Nations Security Council to initiate a full debate on Zimbabwe?
Lord Avebury: My Lords, will the Minister initiate an inquiry into the manner in which the Interpol rules provide for the appointment of its vice-presidents so that this kind of thing does not happen again? Is the Minister aware that Mr Chihuri was the subject of a court order two years ago for facilitating the illegal seizure of farms and that the latest exploits of the force to which he belongs include not only the arrest of Mr Tsvangirai but also those of the mayor of Bulawayo and the secretary-general of the MDC, Mr Welshman Ncube? Is the Minister also aware that the police force is accused of beating Mr Edwin Dzivaresekwa MP to within an inch of his life and that he is in intensive care? Does the noble Baroness agree that even if we cannot refer those matters to the Security Council, they should be the subject of a rigorous examination by the High Commissioner for Human Rights?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I have a great deal of sympathy with what the noble Lord said. As regards the way in which the police commissioner was awarded the honorary vice presidency, Her Majesty's Government were not involved in Interpol's decision. I believe that it was a matter of precedent that those who had been elected in the past were then given an honorary vice presidency, as happened in the case that we are discussing. I agree with the noble Lord that where the situation changes on the ground there should be a mechanism for reviewing exactly that automaticity. The police force in Zimbabwe has become something of an instrument of state terror, as the noble Lord, Lord Avebury, described in the examples that he cited. As I say, I have a great deal of sympathy with the points that he made and I shall relay them to my right honourable friends.
Lord Elton: My Lords, is it not the case that as well as those who have already been mentioned as having been arrested yesterday, no fewer than four other MPs were arrested, all members of the main opposition party, and that at least one of them is said to have been held without food for 24 hours? Can the noble Baroness tell us a little more about the regime which Mr Chihuri represents and of any other effective action we can take to discourage this kind of atrocious behaviour?
Baroness Park of Monmouth: My Lords, the Minister will remember that when this country tried to raise such an issue last year, the African Union voted it down. Have the Government considered asking Mr Mbeki, in his character as chairman of the African Union under President Gaddafi, what it intends to do? At the G8 last year, we were told that good governance was not really in the gift of NePAD, but an issue for the African Union. What have we done to try to use that, and to put the African Union on the stand and ask what it is doing about that situation in an African country where Africans are murdering Africans?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, that is a difficult question, as I am sure that the noble Baroness understands. It is difficult to ensure that we get the support that we need from African Union countries while still having a robust position ourselves, and to try to avoid putting anyone else in the dock other than those in the Mugabe regime who should be there.
The noble Baroness is quite right: the EU tabled a resolution in the 59th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, and it fell to a no-action motion proposed by South Africa on behalf of the Africa group. We were enormously disappointed by that reaction from the Africa group. On the other hand, Presidents Mbeki, Obasanjo and Muluzi visited Harare from 5th May for meetings with Mr Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, and we very much welcome their continued engagement in trying to tackle the problems facing Zimbabwe.
We are talking to those in the African continent whom we believe can bring pressure to bear on the Mugabe regime, but there is a delicate balance to strike to ensure their full engagement and that they put pressure on the regime in the way needed.
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, the Financial Services Authority has statutory powers under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 to issue rules to counter money laundering. The rules are consistent with the Money Laundering Regulations 1993, and require financial institutions to obtain satisfactory evidence of a client's identity and to keep records for five years. The regulations are not prescriptive about how identification should be made, and nor are FSA rules. In supervising compliance, the FSA tries to ensure that they are applied in a flexible manner that does not interfere with legitimate business.
Lord Peyton of Yeovil: My Lords, is the Minister aware that he has followed most admirably the criterion for Answers of adding absolutely nothing to what is already known on the subject? Having said that, does he accept that it is common ground between us that money laundering is a disreputable practice to be discouraged? What ought to be common ground as well is that it is undesirable to gum up legitimate business with silly regulations. Does he accept that an example of that is for banks and others, before they open a simple account with people, to require from the customer, actual or intended, proof in the form of a utility bill that they live at the address to which the bank has just addressed their communication? That verges on the barmy.
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I had never conceived of it as being a Minister's job to educate the House, but merely to reply to Questions in the way in which they had been phrased. The rules are not prescriptive. One or two financial institutions have asked for evidence along the lines that the noble Lord suggests, but that is not required by any legislation, including the FSA rules. Guidance is being issued that indicates that, so long as proper identification is established, the means by which that is achieved is for the institution itself to decide.
Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, will the Minister see that some advice on the subject goes to, for example, building societies? My recent experience has told me that if I want to open a new account at a building society of which I have already been a customer for many years, it still insists on new identification. It says that that is the lawthat in its view it is obliged to do so. When customers ask whether the building society cannot refer to their other account, it says that it is not allowed to do so under the Data Protection Act. It seems that there is great overkill for people who have established accounts. Something should be done to educate such bodies, and perhaps the FSA should do so.
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