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Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply. In spite of the current very welcome lull in violence on both sides, can she confirm that the so-called security fence, which is still being constructed, will place 15 per cent of the West Bank—home to 274,000 Palestinians—in Israeli territory, thus disrupting the lives of 680,000 Palestinians? Those figures come from the United Nations report. Can the

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Minister also confirm that Prime Minister Sharon has announced that he intends to build hundreds of new housing units in Jewish settlements deep inside the West Bank and Gaza, and that he has allocated vast sums from Israel's budget for their enlargement? What action is being taken either by HMG or by the quartet to draw these violations to the attention of the Israeli Government and, indeed, to world opinion?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, as the noble Lord says, there is a welcome lull in the violence. I believe that it is now some two calendar months since any serious terrorist incident such as suicide bombings has occurred. However, the noble Lord is right to say that, despite that, a great deal of activity is taking place around the security fence. Particularly worrying is the treatment of the Palestinians within the closed zones in the security fence area and the way in which individuals become separated from their land or have to obtain licences in order to farm the land that they have owned for many years.

The noble Lord is also right to draw our attention to questions surrounding settlement activity. On 23rd October the housing ministry invited tenders for some 143 new apartments in the Karnei Shomron settlement in the north-west of the West Bank, and another 180 north of Jerusalem. All these matters are brought to the attention of the Israeli authorities by members of the quartet, including the Foreign Secretary and myself. We also, of course, turn to our allies in the quartet to do the same. I am happy to say that on 25th November the United States was moved to cut some 289.5 million dollars from loan guarantees in the wake of the increasing Israeli expenditure across the green line, so the United States is also bringing pressure to bear.

Lord Steel of Aikwood: My Lords, having seen this wall or fence for myself a few weeks ago, does the Minister accept that not only are the figures that the noble Lord, Lord Wright, gave correct, but that the wall itself divides communities, farms and, in one case, a university campus? Why, therefore, is the international community being so meek and mild in the face of a blatant breach of both international law and basic human rights?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I do not accept that the international community is being quite as weak-kneed as the noble Lord suggests. I, too, have seen the fence recently. I know exactly what it is like and I can see the way in which it divides communities. Indeed, I offered my observations on that to the noble Lord, Lord Wright. However, it is important not to lose sight of why the Israelis think that this fence is important. There is a genuine security issue for Israel. Let us not lose sight of that, because once we do, we lose sight of what is at the root of this problem. We lose sight of the fact that there really is a security problem for Israel but that the way that Israel has chosen to deal with it is to build a wall or fence—call it what you will—which in terms of international law is in entirely the wrong place. While we criticise only one side and not the other, we shall simply not

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make progress. In my initial Answer I stressed that it is up to both sides simultaneously to address the obligations that they have both made.

Lord Tomlinson: My Lords, has my noble friend reached any conclusion about the outcome of the Geneva Accord and whether the combined efforts of a former Minister, Mr Yossi Belin, on the Israeli side and a Palestinian Minister will make any progress towards making the road map a more useful contribution towards securing peace in the Middle East? Do Her Majesty's Government have any plans to meet the participants in the Geneva Accord?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, we discussed the Geneva Accord the other day and I said to your Lordships then that although we did not think that the Geneva Accord took the place of the road map, it has been a very welcome development in providing another avenue of discussion. My right honourable friend the Prime Minister gave it some warm words of welcome in that context when it was published recently. My noble friend asks about any plans to meet the authors. Should the authors seek to have a meeting in the United Kingdom, of course we would do our utmost to accommodate that at an appropriate level within the Government.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, sometimes an unjustifiable link is made between behaviour in Israel and the rise in anti-Semitism in this country. Is the Minister able to make clear what the Government are already doing to counter the growth of anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom and in continental Europe?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I am happy to say that when I was in Israel I was able to tell the Israeli Government that the United Kingdom would be part of an OECD initiative on anti-Semitism. The right reverend Prelate has put his finger on a very important point. There had been some initial reluctance on the matter. However, it is important that the United Kingdom is seen to take a full and active part in dealing with something that many people believe is becoming an increasing scourge.

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, is there any hope to be drawn from the report that Mr Sharon will meet Ahmed Qurei shortly and propose some new version of a Palestine, albeit divided up into cantons? It does not sound very hopeful, but can any positive conclusions be drawn from that?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I am not in a position to say. I am aware of the development to which the noble Lord alludes. He may be interested to know that some people are speculating on what may be said in a speech that Mr Sharon has scheduled for later this week. At this stage I cannot tell the noble Lord how we believe that will develop. He will no

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doubt hear the speech when we do. I hope that we shall be able to see at least some glimmer of hope of a move in the right direction.

Lord Kilclooney: My Lords—

Business

3.18 p.m.

Lord Grocott: My Lords, with the leave of the House, immediately after the Question is put on the Motion moved by the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees regarding the Procedure Committee, my noble friend Lord Warner will repeat a Statement on a development in variant CJD.

European Parliamentary and Local Elections (Pilots) Bill

Brought from the Commons; read a first time, and ordered to be printed.

Administration and Works

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): My Lords, I beg to move the first Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. In doing so, I should point out that the Committee of Selection agreed to appoint the Lord Bishop of Guildford to the Administration and Works Committee. However, the Lord Bishop of Guildford has been translated to the diocese of Chelmsford. Therefore, this Motion will reappoint the same person to the Administration and Works Committee but under his new title.

Moved, That the Bishop of Chelmsford be appointed a member of the Select Committee.—(The Chairman of Committees.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Merits of Statutory Instruments

The Chairman of Committees: My Lords, I beg to move the second Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. This Motion establishes a new committee to consider the merits of statutory instruments. The terms of reference follow those proposed by the Procedure Committee in its third report of the last Session, except that the Motion appoints 11 members to the committee instead of the nine originally suggested. That change has been agreed by the usual channels and the Committee of Selection.

Moved, That a Select Committee be appointed to consider every instrument which is laid before each House of Parliament and upon which proceedings may be or might have been taken in either House of Parliament, in pursuance of an Act of Parliament, being:

(i) a statutory instrument, or a draft of a statutory instrument;

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(ii) a scheme, or an amendment of a scheme, or a draft thereof, requiring approval by statutory instrument; or

(iii) any other instrument (whether or not in draft), where the proceedings in pursuance of an Act of Parliament are proceedings by way of an affirmative or negative resolution;

but excluding any Order in Council or draft Order in Council made or proposed to be made under paragraph 1 of the Schedule to the Northern Ireland Act 2000 and any remedial order or draft remedial order under Schedule 2 to the Human Rights Act 1998 and any draft order proposed to be made under Section 1 of the Regulatory Reform Act 2001, or any subordinate provisions order made or proposed to be made under that Act;

with a view to determining whether the special attention of the House should be drawn to it on any of the following grounds:

(a) that it is politically or legally important or gives rise to issues of public policy likely to be of interest to the House;

(b) that it is inappropriate in view of the changed circumstances since the passage of the parent Act;

(c) that it inappropriately implements European Union legislation;

(d) that it imperfectly achieves its policy objectives;

That, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following Lords be named of the committee:

L. Addington, L. Armstrong of Ilminster, L. Boston of Faversham, V. Colville of Culross, L. Desai, L. Graham of Edmonton, L. Hunt of Kings Heath (Chairman), L. Jopling, L. Methuen, E. Northesk, V. Ullswater;

That the committee have power to appoint specialist advisers;

That the committee have power to adjourn from place to place within the United Kingdom;

That the committee have leave to report from time to time;

That the reports of the Select Committee from time to time shall be printed, notwithstanding any adjournment of the House.—(The Chairman of Committees.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.


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