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Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, the noble Lord will have to accept that it is a little premature to elaborate, because repeated deadlines for the announcement of this settlement have been missed. We are still not aware of its full details, but it is a facilitated negotiation between President Mugabe and the MDC opposition. However, there are still sticking
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What specific initiatives did the summit agree to take against Mugabe in respect of his destruction of the rule of law, human rights and good governance? Is it not the reality that the platitudes of Lisbon held out no hope whatever to the people of Zimbabwe that they will not suffer probably another five years under the yoke of Mugabe?
Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, the noble Lord should take some comfort from the fact that there is an EU envoy reporting to the Foreign Ministers, who, like the Heads of Government, realise that when the Mbeki plan is announced, Europe will have to have a position on it and on whether any elections that follow are honest and fair. Europe recognises that if the elections are not fair it will have to ratchet up its pressure on the regime.
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, does the Minister think that the cutting up of the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Yorks clerical collar live on television as a protest was a helpful gesture?
Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, I think that we were all hoping for a rather fuller statement from the Government on this EU-Africa summit which appeared to go rather badly wrong, not only with the sinister presence of Mr Mugabe but with the complete misunderstanding about the economic partnership agreements which many people in Africa felt were going to make things worse and not better. We all know very well and greatly admire the noble Baroness, Lady Amos, of course, but what was her precise status at the meeting and what did she actually say? Did she remind Mr Mugabe that 80 per cent of people in his country are unemployed; that four in five of them are living below the poverty level; that famine is spreading; that he has reduced this once rich country to the most appalling misery; and that he is using torture and murder against the opposition? Did she tell him that face to face? If not, is there not more opportunity ahead to be a little more bold and forthright against this horrible man?
Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, I share the noble Lords desire for an opportunity for a fuller discussion of the summit, as I have indicated to him
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Lord Davies of Coity: My Lords, is my noble friend aware of the report in the Times this morning that the divisions within the Movement for Democratic Change are being overcome and that the movement is more united? As a result, if Robert Mugabe gerrymanders the elections proposed for next year, will our Government be prepared to respond positively to any demand or request made by Morgan Tsvangirai?
Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, the Government will stand four-square behind honest and fair elections in Zimbabwe. It is not enough for President Mugabe to agree to a piece of paper as a result of this mediation; he must be seen to change the laws and respect them and to allow genuinely free and fair elections. If those do not occur, we will in no way lessenrather, we will increaseour objections to the Government of President Mugabe.
Baroness Park of Monmouth: My Lords, can the Minister explain how Zimbabwe can have free and fair elections if no vote is given to the 4 million Zimbabweans in the diaspora? Is there the slightest possibility that, even if that were agreed to, it could be organised by March?
Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, as the noble Baroness is no doubt aware, votes for those in the diaspora is one of the conditions on which Morgan Tsvangirai is still insisting. That is one reasonalong with other amendments to laws in the constitution that the agreement would requirewhy he is insisting that the elections should be postponed until June, so that there is time to make the arrangements.
Earl Attlee: My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper. In doing so, I remind the House of my interest as a serving TA officer and apologise for changing the Question at a late point.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): My Lords, first, I am sure that the whole House will wish to join me in sending sincere condolences to the family and friends of Guardsman Stephen Ferguson who died last Thursday from injuries received while serving in Basra.
Earl Attlee: My Lords, I thank the Minister for her reply and for researching the Answer at disproportionate cost and short notice. The Minister could not answer my Written Questions because Ministers did not know how many TA officers were getting commissioned, so how did they know that they were getting enough?
Baroness Taylor of Bolton: My Lords, the Question previously asked by the noble Earl, Lord Atlee, was about commissioning targets, and we answered it. As the noble Earl acknowledged, he changed the Question very late on, and I have today sought to get all the figures for Group A and Group B. There was a particular dip in 2005, but actions have been taken to remedy that and progress is being made.
Lord Addington: My Lords, I associate these Benches with the condolences that have been expressed. How do the Government regard the TAs role, especially its commissioned branch, in supporting the Army in these times of conflict?
Baroness Taylor of Bolton: My Lords, the TA has played a very significant role in supporting and operational activities in both Afghanistan and Iraq. There have been 10 TA deaths since 2003. The role that the TA plays is extremely well-valued and its expertise is important to our armed services.
Lord Ramsbotham: My Lords, I am glad that the Minister used the word significant to represent what the TA means to the Army and, indeed, to the country. I am sure that she is aware that one of the key factors in obtaining people for the TA is the important relationship with employers, so that they are prepared to release people in order to serve. That relationship has been described as a profitable partnership. Clearly, the very depressing numbers which the Minister has given suggest that employers are not so willing to let people go. Are the Government prepared to consider ways of encouraging employers by, for example, as was suggested some years ago, relieving them of their part of the national insurance contribution for those people they release to serve in the TA?
Baroness Taylor of Bolton: My Lords, I understand that two organisations are very helpful in this respect: SaBRE, which supports Britains reservists and employers, and the National Employer Advisory Board. As I understand it, the relationship between the Ministry of Defence and those organisations has proved very positive. We do not think that there are significant difficulties in employers putting up barriers to people
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Lord Astor of Hever: My Lords, we on these Benches also send our condolences to the family and friends of Guardsman Ferguson. My noble friend Lord Attlee is absolutely right to continue to pursue this question, particularly at a time of increasing use of the reserves. Do the Government accept that the short notice given for the mobilisation of many TA soldiers has contributed in the drop in the numbers able to make the commitment to TA service?
Baroness Taylor of Bolton: No, my Lords, I do not think that that is the difficulty. In fact, there are 3,084 reservists on operational duty at the moment. Overall, 14,000 Territorial Army people have been involved in operations since 2003. Those numbers are holding up; indeed, recruitment at the officer level, which is the original starting point of this Question, has improved recently.
Lord Hamilton of Epsom: My Lords, does the Minister not accept that the TA has always been a poor relation with regards to funds from the Ministry of Defence and that very often regular units take priority over the TA? Is it not time that we had a totally separate budget under a different department that would pay for the TA and increase its numbers as a reserve for civilian contingencies as well as military ones?
Baroness Taylor of Bolton: My Lords, that is not an argument that I have heard used by anybody involved in this matter or briefing me on it, but obviously I shall look into it. With regard to training, there have been attemptsand I think successful attemptsto ensure that the training given to officers in the Territorial Army units is more comparable to that given to other officers. So the comparability is actually improving.
Lord Elton: My Lords, the Minister said that the late announcement of mobilisation was not a factor discouraging enrolment. What does she consider the factors are, and what are the Government doing to counter them?
Baroness Taylor of Bolton: My Lords, the low point was 2005. At that time, new training arrangements were put in place and the commandant of the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst got control of all the training. Since then, further improvements have been made in recruitment activities, including more open days, more access to information on the web and things of that kind. That might be one reason why we have seen an upturn in uptake recently.
Earl Attlee: My Lords, it seems to me that the MoD is trying very hard to solve this problem, but what more can be done to encourage parents of potential junior officers? Sometimes I think that they may be the stumbling block.
Baroness Taylor of Bolton: My Lords, the Command Paper that my right honourable friend the Minister for the Armed Forces is putting out, together with the work that is going on to ensure that everybody in the country is more aware of the contributions to the Armed Forces, may help in that respect.
Lord Grocott: My Lords, with permission we shall have two Statements repeated this afternoon, which we shall take at a convenient time after 3.45 pm. The first is on the European Council and will be repeated by my noble friend Lady Ashton. The second is entitled HM Revenue and Customs Data Loss and will be delivered by my noble friend Lord Davies of Oldham.
Moved, That the draft order laid before the House on 15 November be approved. 3rd Report from the Statutory Instruments Committee, Considered in Grand Committee on 13 December.(Baroness Royall of Blaisdon.)
Moved, That the draft regulations laid before the House on 20 November be approved. 3rd Report from the Statutory Instruments Committee, Considered in Grand Committee on 13 December.(Lord McKenzie of Luton.)
The noble Lord said: I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 76, 144, 150 and 154 in my name and that of my noble friend Lord Teverson. I should also like to associate myself with Amendment No. 31 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord May of Oxford.
The purpose of the amendments is quite clear: they would set annual targets. The purpose of the Bill is to reduce the level of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere. The Government have talked about five-year targets and they were not persuaded of the need to support our amendments for three-year targets. Indeed, I have a sneaking suspicion that they may not support these amendments because of a few well-judged words at the end of the first Committee day. However, will the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, answer a question which is at the heart of the Bill? If we do not set annual targets, is there any point in the Bill at all? A five-year target could quite easily be missed and, if we are to follow the scientific evidence that has been so ably demonstrated by many Members of the Committee who have spoken about the science behind this issue, and 10 years time will be the point of no return at which irreversible climate change will have taken place, the first few targets are incredibly important.
As we all know, there will be slippage because when policies are put in place they suffer from implementation stages, planning stages and so forth. As we have seen in the past, there can be a major difference between the levels of emissions on a yearly basis depending on whether there is a cold winter or a change in the spot price of gas, which means that companies move from gas power stations to mothballed coal power stations. That would have a major impact on any budget set by the Secretary of State.
The other point is that many Secretaries of State will not last the full five years. It is my conjecture that most will not last the full year, although that is probably just on past form and shows that I am quite cynical. However, it is important that each years target gives each Secretary of State his own individual stamp to ensure that the policy is being adhered to.
The most important aspect of all of this is that, if we are serious about reducing the amount of carbon dioxide, we must do so as early as possible. Each year that we do not reduce carbon dioxide is adding to the greater total and therefore the carbon dioxide will be in the atmosphere for a longer period. It would be great if further along we had reduced the amount of carbon dioxide, but there would still be an interest rate of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that had built up at this end of the curve.
The Minister will probably say that there are excellent reasons why this should not be adhered to because it would put a straitjacket on ministerial policies. However, he may have a slight difficulty with that partly because of the bravery of the Government in introducing the Bill into this House first. I am sure that an amendment carried by this House would be extremely popular in another place and in the country. We should not forget
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