|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, of course I agree that a new chapter starts on 30 June. It is quite right that, given the contribution we have made, we should have the consultation outlined in Dr Allawi's letter to the United Nations Security Council president and in the reciprocal letter written on behalf of the MNF by Colin Powell.
The noble Lord is quite rightthe MCNS will be the main forum for deciding defence policy. As well as the Prime Minister, the body will include the Deputy Prime Minister, the Ministers for defence, the interior, justice, foreign affairs and finance. The MNF commander, his deputy and others are expected to be invited to serve on it. The noble Lord will also wish to know that there will be consultation at all levels in Iraq, from the region to the province.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, the Minister has given us some information about the composition of the MCNS, particularly the identity of the Ministers who will be serving as members. She also said that the multinational force commander and his deputy would serve on it. Will those individuals be there in a purely advisory capacity? If there is a difference of opinion on matters of security between the members of the committee who are appointed by the Prime Minister and those appointed by the MNF, how are those matters to be resolved, particularly with regard to the sensitive defensive operations referred to in the resolution?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, let us be clear about this. The letters that were exchanged were put out by the Security Council's annexes to UNSCR 1546. They make it clear that the Iraqi Government are responsible for setting the broad framework of Iraqi security policy and that they will consult with the MNF on security policy and sensitive operational issues. The commanders will under no circumstances have direct control of the multinational forces. The whole point is that there should be proper consultation throughout the system and that there
24 Jun 2004 : Column 1349
should be flexibility in that systemthe very flexibility that the noble Lord, Lord Howell, thought was so sensible when we last discussed this on 7 June.
Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, is not the problem with this letter the fact that it excludes any consideration whatever by the people who will be on the new authority at the end of this month? Would it not have been far better if that letter had been drawn up after the authority had been created?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: No, my Lords, I do not think that it would have been. I think that it is far better to have clarity before the handover of power. Your Lordships have, quite rightly and properly, been asking about the relationship between the sovereign government of Iraq and the multinational forces. The exchange of letters which has been endorsed by the Security Council gives us exactly that framework within which to work.
I also draw to your Lordships' attention the very powerful statement on Iraqi defence which was issued on 20 June by Dr Allawi, in which he goes into more detail about how security arrangements will work. I shall ensure that a copy of the statement goes into the Library of your Lordships' House.
Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, does the Minister accept that some of use are getting a little uneasy about the way in which American reported pronouncements are already placing restrictions on the new Iraqi Government designate in a way that may undermine the important authority of Mr Allawi and his colleagues? How does she feel about the announcement that the immunity question will be decided by the Americans, that the public safety aspirations of Mr Allawi have been denied him, and that all ports and airportsthere may be a reason for thisare to be under Allied/coalition or MNF control rather than Iraqi control? Does she not agree that it is important to get on quickly with having a British voice at the centre of these evolving security arrangements so that we can get some balance and not see the new Iraqi Government weakened before they have even started?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I counsel the noble Lord against reacting to every single reported statement of an American point of view. We are in daily contact with the Americans about all these issues and have a strong relationship with the State Department. However, your Lordships will be aware that there are many arms to the American administration. Perhaps the noble Lord is reflecting some of the other points of view emerging in the United States. I assure him that the British Government have a clear voice on these issues.
We discussed the question of immunity and the continuation of or adjustments to CPA Order 17 only yesterday. I was able to tell your Lordships that so far the Iraqis have not raised any fundamental problems over the immunities question. I suggest that when we
24 Jun 2004 : Column 1350
can see the full picture of everything that has been agreed on 30 June we will be able to take up any points of detail on the basis of facts rather than speculation.
Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde: My Lords, does the Minister agree that Lieutenant-General McColl, although a soldier, is certainly well placed and experienced to carry out this function, having done such a marvellous job in Afghanistan in bringing together the security services and the civilian population? Does she agree that the appointment is a particularly good one?
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Yes my Lords, I agree with my noble friend Lady Dean emphatically. Lieutenant-General McColl took up his post in April this year. I hope that he will complete his tour of duty, which will end towards the end of this year. As my noble friend said, he is very experienced and is an exemplar of the way in which the British Army have conducted themselves in Iraq. That is why they have won so many friends among the population of Iraq.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): My Lords, our wide-ranging consultation on public health includes questions about what action should be taken to tackle second-hand smoke. One of the options discussed is whether legislation should be introduced to ban smoking in workplaces and in enclosed public places. The consultation period has been extended until 28 June and responses to this consultation will inform a White Paper later in the year.
Lord Janner of Braunstone: My Lords, does my noble friend not agree that this is now a matter of urgency? Thousands of people in the United Kingdom die from active smoking and hundreds die from passive smoking each year. The period of consultation has been extended. When can we have action? If there is not to be action to prevent people exercising a choice and going into pubs, restaurants or cafes where there is smoking, surely immediate steps should be taken to prevent people being forced to go into those places. In their workplaces, people have no such alternative. So how long must we wait for action?
Lord Warner: My Lords, in 2002 an ONS Omnibus survey showed that smoking is either banned throughout, or limited to smoking rooms or areas, in 86 per cent of workplaces, so a great deal of progress has been made on the workplace protection of people from second-hand smoke. I suggest that we need a mature debate about how to tackle the key health challenges and
24 Jun 2004 : Column 1351
how to support people to become, as Derek Wanless says, fully engaged in their own health. We are taking these matters forward on a basis of partnership and consultation and will be publishing a White Paper later this year.
Baroness Trumpington: My Lords, is the Minister aware that, according to recent polls, public opinion opposes smoking bans in hospitality venues and supports choice with facilities provided for non-smokers and smokers alike? Is the Minister also aware that I share the views held by national government that individual choice on whether smoking should be banned in public places is preferable to legislation?
Lord Warner: My Lords, I am always pleased to have a variety of views expressed to me on this subject from all sides of the Housea warm range of views is coming from behind me in particular. We have committed ourselves to the path of consultation with the public and I am grateful to the noble Baroness for her support. We know that the public has conflicting views on the extent to which there should be restrictions on smoking in pubs and restaurants. That is why we are going carefully through a proper process of consultation.
Lord Addington: My Lords, is there any truth in the matter that if a new drug were introduced as damaging to people as second-hand smoke it would be banned? Under those circumstances, should not the Government take vigorous action to create more smoke-free environments?
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|