|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, was good enough to refer to me in this context as well. Perhaps I could reveal to your Lordships that I leave for France at dawn on Sunday.
Lord Triesman: My Lords, God be with you. I enjoyed what I thought was a sort of a Maginot speech. The element where the octopus got attacked and then regrouped reminded me of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. I am not sure that I ended up grasping all the metaphors but I did very much enjoy it.
The obligation that we havethis is a question that has been asked by a number of noble Lords, and I hope that I am answering the noble Lords, Lord Thomson and Lord Biffenwas set out in yesterday's debate again, although I think that it is actually well known. My friend in another place, Douglas Alexander, said:
"It's an obligation of each member of the European Union, ourselves included, a free-standing obligation under the terms of the Treaty to ratify it. But if there was a case where a Member State did not ratify it, as Jack Straw said yesterday, this would be a problem for the European Union. So as the Prime Minister made clear as long as there's a Treaty to vote on we intend to have a referendum".
In all of that work, I hope that we will have the serious debate and the greater information for which noble Lords have appealed and that we will have all of the input that the noble Lord, Lord Grenfell, has described as their forward working programme. I look forward to that very much. And I hope that we have that debate in a serious way; not a debate about straight sausages or any of the other things that somehow drag us away from the task or really dealing with this seriously.
I emphasise now, however, that tax, social security, defence, foreign policy, key areas of criminal law, the EU budget and further treaty changes remain in our national hands and we retain a veto in respect of each and every one of them.
There have been a very large number of contributions and I am very well aware of the time. Perhaps I may summarise them by saying the following. I was intrigued by the analysis of the noble Lord, Lord Howell, and the response of the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, to it. I think that it is one of those framework-setting matters that we will have to analyse in your Lordships' House over the coming month.
I think that some fundamental issues have been raised, in particular by the noble Lords, Lord Astor and Lord Luke, about armament provision and capability. I will ask because I think that those matters require a detailed response with all of the information well
19 May 2005 : Column 226
categorised. I will ask through my noble friend Lord Drayson that we respond to those matters in detail and in writing. I am sure that we will have further debates on them.
We will obviously deal with the questions of military justice. I do not think that the authority of commanding officers has been undermined; it is still critical in the delivery of operational effectiveness. The ability of service courts to try offences committed outside the United Kingdom helps to ensure that the accused are dealt with in accordance with a system of British law rather than foreign courts and other systems of law. That is the beginning of a discussion that I know noble Lords will wish to ground far further than we can do now. I do not accept the assumption that we will face instability in provisions that might be made in Northern Ireland where police capacities, among other things, have become so much better and more robust.
I say to the noble Lords, Lord Howell and Lord Garden, that the review of the embargo on China is ongoing. At the moment, no date has been set for a decision. Incidentally, while talking about what dates have and have not been set, I know of no date set for the trial of Saddam Hussein. I was also invited to provide that date, but it is a matter for the Iraqi authorities.
The issues that unquestionably cover trade are all issues that we will return to in our debates in the near future. We still aim for our targets in aid as a proportion of our national wealth, and we are well on the way. I say to my noble friend Lady Whitaker and to the noble Lord, Lord Alderdice, that we are thoroughly committed to all of the international legal and domestic legal provisions to ensure that corruption does not undermine either the countries to which we send assistance or our own performance. There is no point in judging others unless we are prepared to make sure that what we do is beyond reproach.
I would love tobut I know that it would drive the House completely to a frenzy of despondencygo through so many of the other issues, about Sierra Leone and the work that is being done there, and to deal with so many of the other questions that have been asked about our capacities. The noble Lord, Lord Lyell, asked about the rapidity of response, which we will cover in the responses, and he raised other matters about military capability. All in all, we have a huge and difficult, but also exciting, process ahead of us. I know that in this House, where foreign policy and defence are so central to our thinking, we will cover all those areas in greater detail. I will write to noble Lords where I have not covered issues. I hope that noble Lords will forgive me as I have already trespassed on their time too much. This is about the welfare of our nation, just as events in the south of the former Soviet Union are about the welfare of our nation and about human rights, all issues that we will have to take up.
I will work closely with colleagues on the Front Benches of both the Opposition parties, as there will be so much that we hold in common about the interests of our country. Where we have our disagreements, we will have them, but disagreements are not necessary on occasion and theatre, attractive as it is, does not always
19 May 2005 : Column 227
carry our national interests forward. We will work as closely as we can, because the interests of the United Kingdom demand that we do so.
That the promoters of the HBOS Group Reorganisation Bill which originated in this House in the previous Session on 25 January 2005 may have leave to proceed with the Bill in the current Session according to the provision of Standing Order 188B (Revival of Bills);
That the promoters of the London Local Authorities and Transport for London Bill which originated in this House in the previous Session on 25 January 2005 may have leave to proceed with the Bill in the current Session according to the provision of Standing Order 188B (Revival of Bills);
House adjourned at fourteen minutes past six o'clock.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Don Touhig) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|