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The Chairman of Committees: So was I, my Lords.

Lord Grocott: So were the Government.

The Chairman of Committees: Indeed, my Lords. Certain elements in the package clearly go together. For example, the 10 o'clock rising goes together with more Grand Committees—it is a pity that the 10 o'clock rising tends to slip—and pre-legislative scrutiny goes with carryover. However, I agree with

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the noble Lord, Lord Cope, that it could certainly be argued that Thursday sittings can be seen as a stand-alone issue.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, does the Chairman of Committees recognise that in one major respect the Deputy Chairmen of Committees are not representative of the full cross-section of the House? Without exception, I think, they are all retired. The substantial proportion of the Members of this House who are still earning their living care about this remaining a part-time House. For that reason we welcome in particular the greater use of Grand Committees and very much hope that that part of the reform will be pursued with vigour.

The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, I take issue with the noble Lord's assertion that the Deputy Chairmen on the whole are retired. I would say that they are not more retired than many other Members of this House. This Question is not about the use of Grand Committees—that is just one element of the package—but about the Thursday sittings. I think that the mood of the House is fairly straight on that.

Genetically Modified Crops

3.8 p.m.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What evidence the public will have so that they may form an opinion as to the environmental impact of genetically modified crops and what account the Government will take of that opinion when deciding whether to authorise commercial growing of those crops.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): My Lords, in relation to the public debate on GM, the information packs and the "GM Nation" website contain information on the environmental impact, and the public's views will feed into the report being prepared by the independent steering board. More specifically, each application for commercial cultivation of a GM crop must include an environmental risk assessment and all applications are subject to public scrutiny through two periods of public consultation. The application and public comments are considered by all EU member states and a collective decision taken.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply. However, does he not think it ridiculous that the Government are expecting the public to form an opinion just before publication in July of field trial results which may have some scientific value? Would it not have been better to publish the field trial results and then to ask the public for their opinion? Is he not also very disappointed that the next round of public involvement—the launch of the public debate—will be a closed session, access to

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which can be gained only by invitation and ticket, I believe? So even if genuine members of the public were interested, they would be unable to attend those events. Will he consider a debate in your Lordships' House to discuss the conduct of this public debate?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, that final point is not a matter for me. On the public debate, most of the sessions would be ticket based but would be available by application so anyone can be party to the debate. We anticipate a widespread debate. That is in the hands of an independent steering board, not those of the Government; that is contrary to some comments in the media. As to timing, the noble Baroness misunderstands the situation. The public debate will cover all aspects of GM and the future use of GM technology in a number of applications and a number of ways, whereas the decision on the cultivation of field crops is a particular decision that depends on the outcome of those trials. One is not dependent on the other.

Lord Livsey of Talgarth: My Lords, will the Minister explain how Ministers in another place have assisted in the process of achieving an objective opinion on GM crops when they have just appointed two new members to the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission, which is the Government's strategic adviser on those matters? They are Dr David Buckeridge of Advanta Seeds and Dr Paul Rylott, the UK head of bioscience for Bayer CropScience. Both are strong lobbyists in favour of GM crops. How will he ensure objectivity in this debate with that happening?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, appointments to that committee, as with other committees, cover a wide range of interests. It would clearly be absurd if such committees excluded people with industrial and scientific experience in the area under examination. If the noble Lord, Lord Livsey, examines the full list of members, he will see that many have opinions that differ from those two views. That is the nature of the debate—there is a wide range of views on this debate, which is precisely why the Government want the public to engage more widely on all aspects of the issue.

Lord Haskel: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that scientists wear many hats? They can be independent and objective. The suggestion that they are influenced by other considerations is rather demeaning towards our scientists.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, it is certainly the case that many of our best scientists have at various points in their career been dependent, in terms of employment, research and so on, on the private sector. That does not in any way disqualify their objective scientific judgment.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, when the Government decide whether to authorise the commercial growing of such crops, will they have to

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consult the European Union in Brussels? If so, what would be the influence of the European Union's decision?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, in terms of new cultivations of crops or new products, there was a European-wide system of application. Some of that has been delayed as a result of the de facto moratorium on giving new approvals. New proposals must be dealt with through a European system on which every member state must take a view, after which there is a collective decision. Applications for new crops or new imports go through a European process.

The Countess of Mar: My Lords, the Minister must be aware of the criticism in the media about the first public consultation exercise that took place yesterday. He said that that was organised by an independent organisation. In view of that criticism and the failure of the people organising it to be absolutely clear about the venue, time and date of the consultation exercise, would he kindly convey to the people organising it the intense dissatisfaction of many people who are concerned about GMOs on one side or the other—it is not just the antis who are complaining—about the failure of this exercise to be a proper consultation exercise rather than a cosmetic exercise?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, as the noble Countess herself said, this was the first occasion—the beginning of the public debate. There will be a number of such events. It is in the nature of such events that those with strong views on the issue wish to put their view on the record at an early stage. That certainly happened yesterday. However, I do not believe that that in any way undermines the credibility of the exercise as a whole. It is very important that the Government maintain an arm's length relationship with those who are organising the debate in order to make it absolutely clear that this is not a debate that the Government are attempting to steer. It would therefore not be incumbent on me to pass on such comments to the steering committee.

Baroness Thornton: My Lords—

Lord Mackie of Benshie: My Lords, can we be sure that when—

Noble Lords: This side!

Baroness Thornton: My Lords, will my noble friend the Minister assure the House about the independence of the consultation? I was reassured to learn that Professor Malcolm Grant, a hugely reputable academic, was leading it. I hope that the House will permit me to say to the noble Countess that one can find out about the dates on the website if one wants; they are very accessible. Could we be reassured about the independence of the consultation process and when will it report to the Secretary of State?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, my noble friend is absolutely right. The independence of the consultation

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process is clear. Professor Grant is a person of the highest integrity and I am confident that he will be able to conduct the exercise in a way that draws a meaningful conclusion by the September date, when we expect his report to the Secretary of State.

G8 Summit

3.16 p.m.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall repeat a Statement made by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister earlier today in another place. The Statement is as follows:

    "With your permission, Mr Speaker, I will make a Statement about the G8 summit in France.

    "I pay tribute to President Chirac's very skilful chairmanship in guiding our deliberations. We reached significant conclusions on the Middle East, on weapons of mass destruction and terrorism, and on Africa and sustainable development. In addition, we committed ourselves to strengthening the conditions for growth in the world economy. In all, there were 16 action plans and statements released at the summit, copies of which have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

    "First, on the Middle East, we all recognised that a solution to the Israel/Palestinian problem is not only vital for stability across the Middle East; it would also deprive the terrorists of an issue which they exploit for their own inhuman ends.

    "I need hardly remind the House of the bleak pattern of mistrust, hatred and violence that has blighted the lives of generations of Israelis and Palestinians. Children have been growing up in an area with seemingly no prospect of peace. Since the beginning of the intifada in September 2000, until the end of March of this year, 2,300 Palestinians and more than 600 Israelis have been killed.

    "There have been too many dashed hopes to be anything other than cautious in assessing the current situation but, since I last reported to the House, the road map for peace has been published, the Israeli cabinet has accepted it and there has today been the historic meeting between President Bush and the Palestinian and Israeli Prime Ministers in Jordan. The whole G8 Summit united together behind the initiative that President Bush is taking and fully endorsed what is now agreed on all sides as the only ultimate answer: two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace.

    "That is an objective of historic significance both for the Middle East and indeed for the whole world community. We in the United Kingdom will continue to support it with every means at our disposal.

    "Secondly, on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, there was striking unanimity of purpose that we must urgently strengthen our co-operation in the fight against these two closely related threats.

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    "On weapons of mass destruction, we underlined that North Korea's uranium enrichment and plutonium production programmes and its failure to comply with IAEA safeguards were a clear breach of its international obligations. We called on it to dismantle its nuclear weapons programmes. We emphasised the proliferation implications of Iran's advanced nuclear programme and called on Iran to sign and implement an IAEA additional protocol without delay or conditions.

    "President Putin made it clear that in the mean time Russia would suspend its exports of nuclear fuel to Iran. These are important steps to halt the proliferation of nuclear weapons and I welcome them.

    "In addition, we took stock of progress on the 20 billion dollar programme launched last year to prevent terrorists acquiring nuclear, biological or chemical materials left over from the former Soviet Union, to which Britain has made a commitment of up to 750 million dollars.

    "We put in place mechanisms to improve the prioritisation and co-ordination of technical assistance for countries seeking to assist in the war against terrorism. We launched new initiatives to tackle man-portable surface-to-air missiles and to tighten security controls on radioactive sources. And we agreed on a new drive to cut off terrorist financing.

    "Thirdly, on Africa and development, the summit brought about the welcome participation of many African and developing nations. We all agreed that of central importance is a successful outcome to the WTO ministerial meeting in Cancun in September and the successful completion of the development round by 2005. The wealthy nations of the world simply cannot any longer ask the developing world to stand on its own feet but shut out the very access to our markets necessary for them to do so. Reform of the common agricultural policy will be vital in this regard.

    "In addition, we agreed to resolve all other outstanding WTO issues, including the compulsory licensing of drugs—the so-called TRIPS question—which is important for poorer countries to access drugs for their people, and is also essential for progress in the Doha round.

    "We had extensive discussions about the problem of HIV/AIDS which afflicts 42 million people around the world. All of us welcomed President Bush's recent announcement of a 15 billion US dollar initiative to combat it. I hope that at the European summit in Thessalonika the EU will agree to match the US commitment to the global health fund, potentially up to 1 billion dollars a year. We remain on course, too, to eradicate polio from the face of the globe by 2005.

    "I set out in some detail my right honourable friend the Chancellor's proposal to establish a new international finance facility, which could deliver a doubling of current aid flows for recipient countries committed to economic reform and good governance.

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    Finance ministers have been asked to report back to leaders on this proposal by September. It is important that we now sustain the momentum behind this initiative.

    "G8 leaders also took the opportunity to discuss with President Mbeki and other African leaders the good progress that we have made in partnership with NePAD leaders over the past year in implementing the Africa action plan launched at Kananaskis. Over the past year we have seen the largest ever US commitment to aid for Africa, and many EU countries, including our own, are increasing substantially our aid and development programmes. Consistent with this African-led initiative, we discussed the steps they are taking to resolve the current appalling crisis in Zimbabwe. We condemned the action taken by the Zimbabwean authorities on Monday against their own people and called on the Zimbabwean Government to accept their citizens' right to demonstrate against the regime peacefully.

    "I was also pleased that we endorsed the initiative, which I launched last year, to reduce corruption by getting companies in the extractive industry to make public the tax and royalty payments they make to governments, and for those governments to publicise their receipts. I believe that this simple idea could have a powerful impact. Transparency and increased accountability are the best defences against corruption.

    "Leaders also had a full discussion on the world economy and agreed on the central importance of fostering macro-economic stability and intensifying structural reform as the essential pre-conditions for strengthening growth. Chancellor Schroder briefed us on the steps Germany is now taking to modernise its health and pensions systems and to increase the flexibility of the labour market. And President Bush expressed confidence in the strength of the US economic recovery based on rising productivity and a pick-up in domestic demand.

    "Finally, G8 heads agreed to step up our collaboration on science and technology to help combat the long-term problem of climate change. It is crucial that we tackle this, but in ways that encourage sustainable growth and development. The G8 must lead the way, working in partnership with developing countries. We shall focus, for example, on renewable energy, the hydrogen economy for transport, fuel cells and biodiversity.

    "After the sharp disagreements in the world community over Iraq, the summit represented an important coming together by leading nations. In the past few weeks, we have seen the restoration of unity in the UN with Resolution 1483. As important as anything else, on the very issue of WMD and terrorism, there was a renewed sense of urgency and purpose. Of great significance, we have seen the Middle East peace process, despite all the cynicism, moving forward again.

    "Whatever the differences of the past few months the summit showed common purpose on these key issues. It is now the task of the whole world

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    community to build on the objectives that have been reached which are of such fundamental importance to us all".

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

3.25 p.m.

Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, I thank the noble and learned Lord for repeating the Statement made by the Prime Minister in another place earlier today.

It was an important summit. Perhaps the most significant thing about it was that it linked the United States in partnership with Europe. I hope that the noble and learned Lord can agree that nothing is more crucial than that relationship and that it should be maintained. Like it or not, the United States will be the predominant power in the world for the rest of our lifetimes.

The concept floated by France and Germany of a multipolar world in which some European power—governed we know not how—could be created to counterbalance the United States is in my view an illusion. The United States has been, and can continue to be, a power for liberty, freedom and democracy in the world. We should work with it. We can, of course, collude against it, as France and Germany did earlier this year. But I believe in working with it. Can the noble and learned Lord assure the House that the Prime Minister made that firmly and unequivocally clear to Mr Chirac and Mr Schroeder at the summit?

Turning to the Middle East, we stand four-square with the Prime Minister in backing the bold initiative of President Bush. We welcome the hopeful and promising declarations made only two hours ago, or thereabouts, at Aqaba. We welcome the road map to peace in the Middle East and sincerely hope that it may succeed.

As the Prime Minister said, a two-state solution is inevitable, and it is right. It is good news that Israel has now officially welcomed it. Terrorism must end. But the search for peace must also be multilateral.

Can the noble and learned Lord explain to the House how Syria and Lebanon will be involved in this process? Does he believe that Iran and certain circles in Saudi Arabia will now cease to finance and support terrorism? Can he also assure us that France, which dabbled so damagingly in Saddam's Iraq, fully supports the initiative?

We greatly welcome the statesmanlike action of President Putin over Iran's nuclear programme. We agree with the Prime Minister and the G8 that the threat of proliferation in Iran and in North Korea is a major one. Can the noble and learned Lord tell us whether our Government have ruled out military action in North Korea under any circumstances? Does he think that it might be helpful for the Government to publish dossiers on the nuclear policies of Iran and North Korea?

Much has been said in the past few days about the case made by the Government before the war with Iraq. Let me make it clear that we on this side need no persuading that the war was justified. And, incidentally, will the

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noble and learned Lord make it clear that we have no truck with allegations about the behaviour of our own troops? Our Government must give no houseroom to the hypocrisy of human rights campaigners who were silent about Saddam for so long, but who now target our soldiers on the flimsiest of evidence.

Saddam was a threat. He did use weapons of mass destruction. He was a merciless tyrant, not least to his own people. We need no persuading that Iraq and the Middle East are well rid of him. But some people did need persuading. That is why the material published by the Government before the war and the Statements made to this House and another place raise issues of trust and parliamentary accountability. Something so solemn as a war must be founded on fact. There can be no suspicion of half-truths or spin.

That is why we believe that an independent judicial inquiry would be desirable to clear up this matter. It would help the Government and underpin the integrity of the Prime Minister. Will the noble and learned Lord use his considerable influence to persuade the Prime Minister of the wisdom of that course? Will he consider ways for Members of this House to be involved in any parliamentary inquiries that might take place?

There is another factor that is peculiar to this House. Many of us regret the unworthy accusations levelled at the noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General that somehow his advice on the legality of war was not as unqualified as the published documents suggest. Therefore, would it not be sensible in any inquiry into the publication of the intelligence dossier for the scope to be widened to explore the background to the advice given by the Attorney-General? An independent examination of that, too, would be helpful. I hope that the noble and learned Lord will also use his influence in that direction.

Can the noble and learned Lord tell us a little more about the likely timetable towards self-government in Iraq?

I wish to press further the noble and learned Lord on the important declarations on Africa. We welcome the commitment of the G8 to further help for that benighted continent. However, we still deplore the generally pusillanimous stand being taken by the international community over the savage dictatorship of Mugabe in Zimbabwe. Words and declarations are fine, but when will effective action be taken to remove Mugabe?

Given the importance of the summit talks on Africa and discussions on medical supplies and relief in Iraq, can the noble and learned Lord give the House any hope of an early debate or a full Statement by the Secretary of State for International Development to lay out in some detail the Government's strategy? We are privileged to have a Secretary of State in this House. Surely, we should hear from her on these matters, at least before the House rises in the middle of July.

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Furthermore, while on the subject of debates, I note that another place is rightly going to debate the crucial issues of the future of Europe before the EU summit at Thessalonika. I urge the noble and learned Lord to press his deputy leader, the noble Baroness, Lady Symons of Vernham Dean, to change the Foreign Office's view—as I understand it—that a debate in this place also is not needed before that vital summit.

President Bush has given inspiring leadership in the world in the past few months. The Prime Minister has been right to support him. So long as he does so and does not veer off to chase the rainbow of integration in Europe before the rock of co-operation with our greatest ally he, too, can rely on our support.

3.32 p.m.

Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, I, too, thank the Leader of the House for repeating the Statement. I begin by picking out certain aspects that we on these Benches very much welcome and which I am sure the wider House welcomes.

First, there are the steps taken, evidently successfully, to limit nuclear proliferation. In that context, like the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, I ask specifically whether the noble and learned Lord can bring us up-to-date on whether there has been any response from either North Korea or Iran to the representations made to them: first, with regard to their nuclear programme; and, secondly, with regard to nuclear enrichment facilities. I also echo the question as to whether the Lord Privy Seal is willing to rule out the prospect, at least at this stage, of any military action being considered with regard to Iran.

Secondly, perhaps I may say that we very much appreciate the statement made about the international finance facility, which is a real opportunity to increase the level of investment in Africa. I agree strongly with the statement that this is an initiative by the Chancellor of the Exchequer which deserves strong support from the international community. We wish it well and hope that it can be speeded on its way. September is, after all, for many thousands of people quite a long way off.

Thirdly, I echo what has been said about the road map. In particular, the noble Baroness, Lady Symons of Vernham Dean, was, in our view, absolutely right to express caution and to suggest to us that we need to emphasise the hopeful side of this, which is, after all, the first constructive development towards resuming the peace negotiations in Israel in the past three years. Does she agree that, first, it was not specifically an American initiative but one which was started by the quad, which of course indicates the significance of a multilateral approach, not least when the European Union is bound to be one of the significant financiers of any final peace settlement, particularly with regard to reconstruction on the Palestinian side? Therefore, it is crucial to emphasise that this is a multilateral exercise and that it is all the more important for that.

Finally in that context, I think that all of us agree that the path forward must be pursued by reconciliation and reciprocation between the two sides. We can all hope that any move forward on one

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side will be matched as quickly as possible by a move forward on the other. Therefore, the citizens of Israel and of the Palestinian territories will be able to see a steady move forward in the direction of peace. Anything less than that will sow only disappointment.

Having said that, I turn briefly to Iraq. In particular, I ask whether the noble and learned Lord the Lord Privy Seal can confirm that it is likely that an Iraq interim authority will not be in place for at least another year or 18 months, which is the slightly gloomy indication we have had from that quarter? I raise a matter with regard to Iraq, not least because of the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, about the current debate on WMD and the doubts about whether the intelligence was based on factual material. I shall not pursue that matter further. It will be pursued on many other occasions.

However, for those on these Benches the issue raises a larger question about whether the involvement of the so-called "Iraq survey group" now being launched—as the Prime Minister said in another place—to investigate the possibility of weapons of mass destruction throughout Iraq and involving, we understand, no fewer than 1,300 people drawn from Australia, the United States and Great Britain, will not seriously feed the problem of credibility since all those people will come from the so-called coalition. Would it not be better to leave the matter to experts who are regarded throughout the world as people who have no axes to grind and who do not come from one side or the other; in other words, the UN inspectors? In that context, we should pay tribute to Hans Blix, who is leaving office today, for all that he attempted to do and actually achieved as an independently-minded and uninfluenceable chief inspector.

I turn from those favourable issues to what I regard as the other side of this Statement. I regard that other side of the Statement—the one that concerns Africa and the developing world—as an utterly inadequate response to a world in which the inequities and unfairnesses are so great that they are now at the level of obscenity. These statements were made by the G8 when the western world—and in particular our own government and that of the United States—took credit for what it had done in Iraq. It cannot I think take credit for producing a peaceful proposal that would begin to limit the sense of profound injustice that exists through much of the world.

In that context, I refer to the 16 action plans of pre-cooked honeyed words that seem to us to add up to extremely little in terms of action. Perhaps I may give two examples. The first relates to what the Prime Minister had to say about the common agricultural policy. I should be grateful if the Leader of the House could tell us why at a time when, unusually, President Chirac of France proposed the ending of subsidies on EU products exported to Africa, particularly of food exports, the United Kingdom was one of three countries that objected to that initiative alongside the United States and, I believe I am rightly informed, Japan. That was the first move by France towards beginning to dismantle the common agricultural

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policy. We on these Benches cannot begin to understand why that was not welcomed and pressed forward in every possible way.

The other example I want to give is equally sad—I would even call it shocking. It is the proposal that was put forward to allow African countries to buy drugs to deal with the major diseases that today rack those countries—HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis—which led again to an initiative by the European Union for the rules that protect copyright to be relaxed so that those products could be bought at the generic price, and alternatively that they could buy them from other developing countries such as Brazil on the basis of copyright being extended to those countries and the generic price being charged. It is to us a tragedy that it was among others our own country, and in particular the United States, that refused to accept that initiative. Therefore, although the United States has given 15 billion dollars in aid to Africa, which we welcome, much of that money will be absorbed in the fact that the market price for the drugs is seven times the generic price. That means that the profits will simply go back again to the very companies that led the lobbying for that objection.

In conclusion, the medical director of the UK branch of Medecins sans Frontieres referred to promises that are mostly unfulfilled. With regard to the developing world we must fulfil our promises and not produce any more words that do not mean anything. Let us be sure that of the 16 action plans at least a few come to fruition. The Government will then have the right to take credit for that part of the Statement, as they have reasonably and rightly taken credit for the earlier part of the Statement.

3.40 p.m.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I am grateful for the responses of the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, and the noble Baroness, Lady Williams. There were a large number of questions and I have about five minutes to deal with them, unless your Lordships can be patient enough to let me stray a little beyond.

I was pleased that the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, urged me to look for the rock at the end of the rainbow. That is an interesting intellectual conceit that I had not encountered before in my sheltered life. The noble Lord's first point was absolutely right. It is wholly false to suggest that our future lies either with the United States, our historic ally, or with Europe, which is growing in confidence and power. I agree with him entirely that they are not alternatives and that they are not exclusive. Was that made plain to President Chirac and Chancellor Schroder? I think that they understand quite well.

On the question of President Bush and the Middle East peace process, it is important that we recognise what is happening. There are historic opportunities. The Israeli cabinet has accepted the way forward. That is not an achievement that should be overlooked. It struck me particularly when I was in Buenos Aires for the installation of the new Argentine president that one of the representatives of the State of Israel there

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was a cabinet minister telephoning his assent. That was a truly historic opportunity that we must all work to support. We should not also underestimate in our own interests the extremely persuasive and powerful influence that our Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have had. There is no doubt in my mind that without their intense commitment we would not be at this stage, however early it may be.

The noble Lord asked about military force being used against Korea and the noble Baroness asked about military force being used against Iran. The answer is to be found in paragraphs 3 and 4 of the G8 declaration on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Paragraph 3 states:

    "We have a range of tools available to tackle this threat",

and, right at the end of that paragraph,

    "if necessary other measures in accordance with international law".

Paragraph 4 states:

    "While all these instruments are necessary, none is sufficient by itself".

So I think that that gives the answer. France does indeed support the initiative.

The noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, troubled me as I was paying careful attention by using that dreadful word "dossier". I hope that it is not the result of rogue elements in the Conservative Party. I agree with him that those torture chambers and those mass graves were not built and excavated by the United States or any western power. They were all the result of bestial dictatorship.

The question of accountability in the parliamentary context is very important. It is Parliament that should bring Ministers, governments and executives to account. That is what is being done by the Senate Committee investigation in the United States in Washington, and that is what is going to happen in this country. As the Prime Minster has made perfectly plain, any document called for by the Intelligence and Security Committee will be provided, evidence will be given, and the report that the ISC produces—subject to the constraints of intelligence sensibilities—is going to be published.

The Foreign Affairs Committee may or may not have its own investigation, but if we speak of parliamentary accountability, should we not deal with it in Parliament? After all, we have a Member of this House, my noble and learned friend Lord Archer of Sandwell who is on that committee. His views on the conflict are well known. His integrity is absolute. I think that we should, to use the noble Lord's phrase, rely on parliamentary accountability. Whether the ISC chooses to call for the Attorney-General's advice, I respectfully suggest, is a matter for it.

Have I a timetable for Iraq? No. I suggest with great respect that the conflict has been over for such a short time. It is idle to think of setting a timetable, because timetables, as we know so well in the context of Northern Ireland, have a habit of becoming more important than the process.

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I do not think that the approach to Zimbabwe has been entirely pusillanimous. There was an interesting contribution on the "Today" programme this morning. I am not speaking of Dr Reid interviewing John Humphrys. There was the most fascinating contribution by the brother of President Mbeki. He is the chairman of an independent authority and I think that his remarks deserve careful attention and scrutiny.

Regarding requests for early debates, however passionately they are made, I dispassionately reply that that is a matter for the usual channels. I agree that I am one of the usual channels and I will use my undoubted influence, to coin a phrase, in the appropriate way.

I am grateful for what the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, said about the Chancellor the Exchequer's initiative. He has been well known for his imagination and determination to eradicate the grossly unacceptable—I think the noble Baroness said obscene—discrepancies. She is right. It was a quartet initiative—that is extremely important. We should not forget that one of the quartet is President Putin's Russia. We also should not forget that the other contribution is from the EU. Everyone in this House recognises the overwhelming importance and significance of the role that the United States must be called upon to play. President Bush promised in Hillsborough that he would apply his energies to the matter, and so far, one has to say fairly, that he has. He has been successful. The noble Baroness is quite right to say that reconciliation is the only key. We know that ourselves from Northern Ireland and she is quite right to say that she hopes that one party will not say "we shan't do anything until you have done something first". We should learn the lesson of 30 years past in Northern Ireland on that.

The Prime Minister has made it plain that the survey group of 1,300 will have ample opportunity to detect what evidence there is or may be about weapons of mass destruction. We ought to wait to see what will happen, as the Prime Minister has said. I do not think that all those documents were simply, again I quote, "pre-cooked, honeyed words". It is a great opportunity today for metaphors not entirely unmixed. I do not think that those words should be so described—they are serious declarations. The noble Baroness is right to say that September is a long way away if you are poor and starving, but setting a deadline of September was important. There are many bases for optimism in the documents, not least the fact that they are coming from a large number of different countries that do not always share the same starting point.

I have over-run by three minutes, but I thought that you Lordships desired the answers.

3.49 p.m.

Lord Elton: My Lords, the obscene gap referred to by the noble Baroness is best illustrated by the fact that life expectancy for a baby born in this country is more than twice as long for one born in, for example, Sierra Leone, where the income—the GDP per capita—is

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one forty-ninth of what it is in the UK. It is accepted that that is a great contributor to the ease with which terrorist events are now brought about, because of those perceived iniquities. Therefore, I was glad that the Statement included the sentence:

    "We all agreed that of central importance is a successful outcome to the WTO ministerial meeting in Cancun in September and successful completion of the development round by 2005".

I could not find those words reflected anywhere in M. Chirac's summary issued after the summit. I was surprised that when, at 2.20 p.m., the Library told me that the Foreign Office could not produce a final communique. No doubt there is a reason for that. It remains the case that the WTO has a crucial role to play in stabilising the world, as well as making it more just and safe. I read that the WTO has 28 or 29 members from countries that are too poor ever to send them to it. The WTO itself funds a number of countries to enable them to attend twice a year. Surely something is needed of the order of Short money—we are familiar with that process in this country—because to be effectively represented means to have someone there able to attend meetings two or three times a week, not twice a year.

Could the project in paragraphs 2, 39 and 40 of the Government Command Paper, Eliminating World Poverty, published in 2000, which allocates money for the machinery of WTO, be focused in such a way as to make those countries more effectively represented? Secondly, as the WTO works by consensus—

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