|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Bach: My Lords, the overall cost of the contribution remains to be finally determined. All United Kingdom costs will be borne by the cross-departmental African conflict prevention fund. The UK, with other member states, will contribute to the costs of the deployed multinational force headquarters and what is described as common use infrastructure. We believe that that cost will be around £800,000 to £900,000. I hope that that answers the noble and gallant Lord's question.
Lord Bach: My Lords, the noble Lord is right. It is a dangerous situation in which we are sending our troops. But there will be troops from other countries there, too. I remind the House that the MONUC UN force is already in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and some of those troops are already in Ituri province. The numbers referred to in the Statement will be added to them.
I cannot say much more about the rules of engagement, save that it will be UK Ministers, on advice, who will set them out in detail. The rules of engagement will relate to Chapter VII rather than Chapter VI. I hope that it is some comfort to him, at least, that that means that they are a good deal more robust. Of course the protection of our own forces is paramount.
Lord Lea of Crondall: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that many of us breathed a great sigh of relief when we read that the EU force would be going to the eastern Congo? On the question of protocol, in this tragic situation, there is no more reason why it should be prima facie necessary for it to be a NATO force than it would be if Americans troops were doing something analogous in Guatemala or Colombia. Does my noble friend not agree that, given the extreme savagery in the eastern CongoI echo the sentiments of the noble Lord, Lord Biffenas the Prime Minister said a couple of years ago, we now have no alternative but to be involved in Europe? We cannot stand by on the other side of the road. So the rules of engagement are stronger than those of the UN, are they not? We will not allow ourselves to be in a situation such as Srebrenica. As the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, implied, this engagement will probably have to continue and we cannot on 1st September allow the Bangladeshis to enter only on the previous rules of engagement under an earlier chapter of the United Nations charter.
Finally, will my noble friend confirm that the whole of Europehere, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Vivianmust pull its weight in such operations because given the way in which the world is developing there will be many more such operations?
Lord Bach: My Lords, my noble friend will forgive me if I do not go down the road of comparing a NATO with an EU force. Both have their place. What we are doing is in absolute accordance with what has always
Lord Kilclooney: My Lords, the Minister stressed that this is a European Union force. Other than France and the United Kingdom, what real contribution has been made by each of the other 13 member nations of the European Union?
Lord Bach: My Lords, it is too early to answer the noble Lord accuratelyor at all. What is important is that other countries who are not members of the European Union may well also contribute to the force. It is not limited to EU members. Those who are willing to help in one way or another will be extremely welcome, from wherever they come.
Lord Judd: My Lords, does my noble friend accept that many of us are sad that, so frequently in recent years, we have regretted mass killing and genocide after it has happened and wished that effective action had been taken in time, and that analysis has often demonstrated that a relatively small intervention can have disproportionately positive results? Does he further accept that many of us will be wishing British servicemen and women involved all success? We shall be thinking of them and their families during a difficult and demanding assignment.
However, can he assure the House about one point? He emphasised that there is a United Nations mandate and that this is a European Union first effort, in terms of a European Union-led force. He has also spoken of the need for liaison with the United Nations. Can he make it absolutely clear that that is not only a United Nations mandate but that accountability remains to the Security Council, not to the European Union, for what is being undertaken and achieved?
Lord Bach: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for his keen support of what we are doing. Of course this is a United Nations mandate and of course the United Nations will be ultimately responsible for ensuring that the mandate is carried out satisfactorily. The United Kingdom and other member states will exercise their political direction and strategic control, not from Paris, but from the EU Political and Security Committee, which consists of ambassadors from each of the member states. The operation commander will be answerable to that EU committee.
Baroness Park of Monmouth: My Lords, I have experience of how these things work for the UN in the Congo. I should like to get something clear. The Minister has reassured me by saying that, although the operational headquarters will be in Paris, the decisions will be made in Brussels, in the committee.
My second question concerns the chain of command. Generally speaking, when things happen in a crisis such as the Congo, decisions need to be made. We cannot run a war by committee. In the past, if people rang up the UN after five o'clock in the evening, they were not answered. So it is necessary to know exactly where responsibility lies. The United Nations document states that they will be reporting to the Secretary General. This document says that they will be reporting to the EU. When it is an operational decision, where do commanders go?
Lord Bach: My Lords, I acknowledge the great experience of the noble Baroness in this troubled field over many years. I shall do my best to answer. On rules of engagement, as I understand it and am advised, British Ministers will in the end decide under what rules of engagement British soldiers behave. On the chain of command, it is right to say that there will be a French commander of the operation. It is suggested that, on the ground, there will be a British lieutenant-colonel in charge of the engineers to whom I referred, with a French brigadier above him.
As to where decisions will be made, the political decisions will be made in Brussels; the operational decisions will be made in Paris. But it is important to note that we shall also have British Army officers in Paris to advise and assist in the operational field.
Lord Mackie of Benshie: My Lords, can the Minister tell us more about Chapter VII? I understand that he prefers it to Chapter VI. Does it mean that the commander on the spot can, when appalling situations arise, take the decision to act with force?
Lord Bach: My Lords, I want to be cautious in what I say about that aspect. Chapter VII is much more concerned with peace enforcement than the rather less robust peacekeeping that applies under Chapter VI. I have no doubt that the commander on the ground will, when it comes to it, take the decisions necessary to allow those serving under him to protect themselves in the best way. The answer to the noble Lord's question is yes.
Viscount Slim: My Lords, the Minister may find it odd that I should question the number of the Royal Engineers. To say that it will be 100, even with up-to-date equipment and the versatility of the engineers, is not an accurate figure. In the Congo, at least a percentage of those engineers will have to be guarding those who are working when we get down to the basic practicalities. So 100 engineers will not be working on the many tasks.
The Minister may be surprised to hear me say this, but we require more engineers. That should be carefully considered. From the question posed by the noble Baroness, I sense that there are quite a lot of chiefs who are fairly well spaced out. Will they talk to each other after five o'clock or when the sun goes
The Minister may not agree with me, but I get a whiff that that is definitely a little cook-up between the President of France and the Prime Minister to make friends again. However serious the work required in the CongoI agree with noble Lords who spoke for itone wants to be clear about the political and operational aims. It is a tricky part of Africa, and I have some experience of it.
Back to Table of Contents
Lords Hansard Home Page