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Lord Bach: I pay tribute to the noble Viscount's experience, but I must disagree with him when he suggests that there is a whiff of a cook-up between the leaders of Britain and France in order to make friends. There must be easier ways of making friends than by sending troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo. We have always been friends with France. We disagreed fundamentally with the attitude the French took a few months ago on Iraq in the same way as we disagreed fundamentally even with certain Members of the House who took a different view, but we are still friends with them. The relationship between Britain and France is complex and long-standing, but it is a relationship of friends and allies. I hope that the noble Viscount will not maintain that it is some kind of cook-up.
We are doing this because we think that it is the right thing to do. The noble Viscount is right to point out that there are dangers inherent in it, as there are in any military matters. He will know that well. The EU force has already shown in Macedonia that it can operate sensibly and properly. The noble Viscount will know that too.
Lord Blaker: My Lords, I understood the Minister to say that the terms of engagement for the British troops who will be part of the force are a matter for British Ministers to decide. However, there will be forces there from several nations. Will the terms of engagement for each be a matter for their own government? If so, will there not be many different terms of engagement? Is that really being contemplated?
Lord Bach: My Lords, it is a Chapter VII operation, which gives a good clue as to what the rules of engagement will be for all those who are sent out, from whatever country. In the ultimate analysis, it will be for British Ministers to decide what the detailed rules of engagement should be for British troops. I do not think that, in the end, there will be much difference between the rules of engagement that apply for British troops and those that apply to those from other countries.
Lord Hardy of Wath: My Lords, would it not be unthinkable for the Governmentor any other British governmentto refuse such a request from the United Nations? Does my noble friend accept that there is anxiety among those of us who watched Europe call
Will my noble friend, when it is convenient, provide a list of the numbers of personnel provided by each EU member state? We could assess whether the member states that have called so vigorously for the second pillar, while providing little capacity to give meaning to it, have been as good at bearing the load as they have been at looking for the loot?
Lord Bach: My Lords, with regard to whether we would have no hesitation in reacting to such a request, I must caution my noble friend. We looked carefully to see whether it was appropriate for us to assist in this way. We rightly decided that we would do so.
If my noble friend is saying that the military capabilities of members of the EU are not what they ought to be and that several countries should make greater efforts to make sure that those capabilities come up to scratch, I would agree wholeheartedly. The two countries that, perhaps, have the best capability and spend the money necessary to obtain it are the United Kingdom and France.
Lord Monro of Langholm: My Lords, can the Minister say more about the Royal Air Force commitment in this important operation? I think he mentioned a figure of 30 aircraft. Can he say how many personnel will be required to service the aircraft? Who will be responsible for their safety on the ground in the Congo?
Lord Bach: My Lords, I hope that I did not say 30 aircraft. I would have been misleading the House if I had. A number of CJ-130 transport aircraft will be usednot 30. They will be properly manned, but there will not be as many as 30.
The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, I strongly support the intervention. In fact, I would like to see a larger intervention by the European Union to back up what is already going on in the peace process, which the noble Lord mentioned. Can the Minister confirm that the African forcesmainly Ugandan and Rwandanthat have been in the region will still be onside and will commit their own forces in the future? We should bear it in mind that the neighbouring Kivu region is also unstable.
Lord Bach: My Lords, I know that the noble Earl has huge experience and knowledge of that part of Africa. The political situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in the neighbouring countries is among the most complicated I have come across in my brief time at the Dispatch Box.
We expect that all other countries in the Great Lakes area will behave with responsibility and good sense in assisting the Democratic Republic of Congo to achieve successful government as soon as possible. That, of course, includes the two countries to which the noble Earl referred. In that regard I know that my noble
Amendment No. 20 relates to a cause of some puzzlement to us. In Committee, the Minister seemed to suggest that the combination of subsections (5), (6) and (7) in some way allowed flexibility in setting abstraction limits. That is not our reading of the Bill. Subsection (5) appears to say that the Bill may be used to revoke exceptions in exactly the same way as under Section 27A(1) of the Water Resources Act 1991, except in situations covered by subsection (6) of this Bill. Subsection (6) says that changes to the exception quantities may only be greater than 20 cubic metres. That is one interpretation. Have we misread it? Does it mean that orders to be revoked may be only for amounts greater than 20 cubic metres? Subsection (7) appears to state that having set things up under subsection (5) above, Section 27A(1) of the Water Resources Act may be used to overturn the whole lot. This is something of a roundabout and we should like to have it clarified. That is why we have tabled the amendment. I beg to move.
Lord Whitty: My Lords, Amendment No. 19, standing in my name in this group, is an attempt to meet the points raised by the noble Duke, the Duke of Montrose, when he moved his amendment in Committee. My amendment attempts to have the same effect of allowing a more flexible approach to the removal of exception orders in so far as they relate to underground strata. I therefore hope that we can focus on my amendment. I think that I can partly clarify the matter, but I am starting at the other end of logic from that of the noble Lord.
Once the original exemption order has itself been revoked by the order under this clause, there is no further opportunity to use the powers of this clause as there is no longer an exemption order to revoke. So any further change to the exemption order could then be made only under the new arrangements provided for in this new Section 27A being introduced by Clause 6. The amendment seeks to enable a subsequent variation of the threshold to be made under Clause 10, but that would not workfor the consequential logic which I hope that I have explained.
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I hope that the logic of that explanation is followed by the noble Lord. However, there is a further complication in relation to Clause 10. We may need to bring forward further amendments to apply the provisions of the Water Resources Act to this clause, and possibly other clauses, in order to ensure that the whole sequence of events ties together. If the noble Lord would like that in writing before Third Reading, I think it might be appropriate for us all.
Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, it seems to me that the logic is about as clear as the route through the Hampton Court maze. Once again, we seem to have provoked some perhaps what in time will be useful thinking and re-thinking about exactly what is going on here. A written explanation would certainly help before Third Reading. Obviously, if the Government are to bring forward further amendments in order to clarify the situation, my noble friend the Duke of Montrose, in moving his original amendment, has served the House well. We shall now obtain some real clarification which we do not appear to have achieved quite yet. But I am most grateful to the Minister for his reply. For now, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.