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I hope that noble Lords will consider that this amendment moved by the Government in another place is sensible. It reflects listening to the views of

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noble Lords in this House and in the other place. I believe that it gets the balance right between the renewables obligation and feed-in tariffs. Clearly a considerable amount of work now needs to be undertaken on the practicalities, but we think that this is a sensible amendment which I commend to noble Lords.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment No. 42A to Lords Amendment No. 42.—(Lord Hunt of Kings Heath.)

Lord Jenkin of Roding: My Lords, I do not wish to oppose the amendment because the proof will be in the outcome. I am glad to see the Minister nodding at that. Noble Lords will remember that on Third Reading I tabled an amendment to reduce the figure to 1 megawatt. I was therefore somewhat surprised to find myself being demonised, if I may put it that way, by one or two speakers in the other place who accused me of trying to sabotage the feed-in tariff scheme. One honourable gentleman quoted what I said, which I am surprised to find is in order in that House. Under our rules, I am not at liberty to quote what he said. But I can say that I made my intention very clear when moving the amendment when I said:

“I am seeking by the amendment to give the Minister the opportunity to explain to the House what lies behind the Government’s thinking for the 3 megawatt cap”.—[Official Report, 5/11/08; col. 239.]

That is still my position and I hope that those at the other end who bother to read the Official Reportof this place will recognise that demonising me was perhaps not wholly appropriate.

However, I still have a question, which is the same question that the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, asked at Third Reading. How do the Government intend to use their power to fix different caps for different circumstances? The noble Lord, Lord Teverson, got a rather dusty answer when he asked that question, but I cannot help feeling that now that the Government are raising the maximum cap to 5 megawatts they must now have some idea of the circumstances in which a lower cap would be appropriate. The House will remember that I quoted observations from the very small company that was pressing for a very low cap because it felt that if it were too high it would lose out. It does very small renewable energy projects, at the domestic level and just above it. There must be some way in which the Government are going to differentiate and use their powers to fix different caps for different circumstances in the feed-in tariff. I do not wish to go on at length because there is an important debate to come and other noble Lords may wish to say a word. I hope that in his reply the Minister will be able to enlighten the House about how that is going to be done.

Lord Teverson: My Lords, we on these Benches welcome this move. However, I get the impression that if it were not for Prorogation, we might be back next week and the cap would be 10 megawatts and we would keep on going backwards and forwards. At least we now know that the figure is 5 megawatts. I am sure that the Minister will agree that the industry and the sectors involved need to know what the cap and the timescales will be for which bits of those sectors. Given the urgency of the renewable energy programme,

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we are all concerned that there should be that certainty and that there should not be a pause in investment, which would damage those long-term aims, because no one knows which rules apply under 5 megawatts. I would love to hear exactly how the Minister foresees that happening and in what timescale, but I think he will be less than exact. As the Government have made these important decisions, I press them to get on with designing the scheme to let everybody know the rules of the game so that investment can take place.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, as one of the protagonists who tried to change the Government’s mind on feed-in tariffs, I welcome their conversion during the progress of the Bill. I also welcome, in a lukewarm manner, the 5 megawatt limit. Like others, I argued that there is no need for a limit, not because we wanted to undermine the ROC scheme—we believe in it—but because there are different sorts of users who are likely to use the feed-in tariff mechanism and therefore the two could coexist. The majority of such users will benefit from a 5 megawatt limit. For example, community schemes, farmers, single site operators and so forth will greatly benefit from the Government’s move. While I understand that the Government need a bit of flexibility in case special cases arise, I hope that they will not make it too complicated by setting different limits for different sorts of application. Subject to that, I welcome the move upwards, and I believe that we will see schemes in this range that we would not have seen if we had not argued and convinced the Government of the need to include feed-in tariffs in the Bill. I congratulate the Government and, in particular, the Minister’s new department for seeing the light on this issue.

Lord Goodhart: My Lords, the new clause after Clause 40 includes some important delegated powers. The scheme was proposed very late, so the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee has not had a chance to consider them. The powers include powers in subsection (6) to amend primary legislation in subsection (5), so I would expect the affirmative resolution procedure to be used to approve such an order. I am not clear whether that will be the case. Can the Minister say how the powers will be exercised?

Baroness Wilcox: My Lords, I am pleased to see that the Government have seen the light, as the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, would have it, and moved towards greater flexibility, as our original amendment would have provided. As the Bill has progressed, we have had several debates on the level of the cap and it is clear that there is no level that will please everyone. However, I am pleased to see that the Government have ensured that the cap is high enough to make community schemes possible. I look forward to hearing more from the Minister as further details emerge about the implementation of the feed-in tariff.

The arrival of the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, mid-Bill, when the Government had their change of heart and established a new department, was very welcome. That has allowed them to reassess the mood of the country and of this House and to agree to the inclusion of the feed-in tariffs and smart metering. That has improved

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the Bill immeasurably, enabling your Lordships' House to fulfil its commitment to help the Government get their business and to improve legislation.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I thank noble Lords for their contributions to this short but important debate. In particular, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Wilcox, for her remarks. Since I have taken part in our debates on the Bill from Report onwards, I have been struck by the constructive way in which they have taken place. Bringing this amendment to noble Lords today reflects that. I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, that even if we were bouncing back and forth, 5 megawatts would have been the settled view of the Government on the matter.

I say to the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, that we are not debating the insertion of the new clause as that went through at the previous stage; we are debating whether 3 megawatts or 5 megawatts should be the limit. I thank him and his committee for their comments. I well understand the difficulty for the committee because many amendments to the Bill were laid at a late stage. I understand that that has not always enabled the committee to report to your Lordships' House in the time that it would wish, but that has been because the Government have listened to the debates in this House and the other place. I am grateful to him and can confirm that the orders will be in the affirmative.

My noble friend Lord Whitty has always preferred for there to be no limit at all, but he will know that we have always thought that there ought to be a limit if we were to introduce feed-in tariffs, because it is essential that investors have certainty. Defining an upper limit at this stage gives investors the certainty required.

I know that noble Lords now wish me to fill in the details of how the tariff will operate, where the cap will be set in relation to different technologies and whether there will be specific differentiation. I hope that I am not going to give to the noble Lord, Lord Teverson, and others what the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, described as a dusty answer. I will try to give as much detail as possible. However, a lot of work needs to be undertaken before I can give definitive answers. Very simply, the Government decided only a few weeks ago to accept the principle of feed-in tariffs. That is why we need to undertake considerable work on this matter. I very much understand the need for action to be taken as quickly as possible and investors’ need for certainty. I recognise that we need as quickly as possible to help projects that might be regarded as transitional and to tell them whether they are likely to come under the renewables obligation or the feed-in tariffs and what the transitional arrangements should be.

In the first half of 2009, we are launching our renewable energy strategy. We will then submit our more detailed proposals on feed-in tariffs for small-scale low-carbon electricity and on incentives for renewable heat, which we have also introduced in the Bill. In the light of those decisions, we will be in a position to set out in detail the expected contribution of on-site generation alongside other kinds of electricity and heat generation. I well understand the need for us to give certainty in these matters as quickly as possible.

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It is then our intention to consult next summer on the detail of the regime, including proposals for tariff levels. In recognition of the need to make rapid progress towards the 2020 EU renewable targets, we aim to have the feed-in tariff system in place in 2010. Our ideal target is for the scheme to go live in April 2010 so that it can be aligned with the financial year of the renewables obligation. We well understand that investors and all those with an interest need speed and certainty, but delivering a fully operational scheme in a little over 16 months is a considerable challenge. We will do everything that we can to meet the target, but it is clearly important that we get the details right as well.

I have found the contributions of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, to be most constructive and helpful, and I look forward to debating these highly important energy matters with him in the months and years to come.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Democratic Republic of Congo

3.53 pm

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown) rose to move, That this House takes note of the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, I welcome the ongoing and high-level interest that both Houses are taking in the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This reflects the Government’s own concern, which is why I gladly agreed to put forward this Motion in government time.

Reflecting our commitment, I followed up the Secretary of State’s recent visit to the region with his French counterpart by going to the Great Lakes region last week. I visited Kinshasa, North Kivu and Kigali. In Kinshasa, I called on President Kabila and pressed him on the need to find a political solution under the so-called Goma agreement to the problem of General Nkunda and the CNDP rather than trying to find a military option to resolve the problem. I also urged him publicly to denounce the FDLR—the militia that is made up of Hutus who were involved in the Rwandan genocide and which is still the root of many of the problems in the eastern DRC. In Goma, I visited General Gaye, the acting commander of MONUC, the UN peacekeeping force, and discussed with him the situation on the ground and MONUC’s needs. I also saw the governor of North Kivu and visited an internally displaced persons’ camp where I saw at first-hand the suffering that this conflict is causing. In Kigali, I called on President Kagame and urged him to continue to engage in the regional peace initiative and to maintain an ongoing dialogue with President Kabila, building on their recent meeting in Nairobi as part of a regional gathering. I also asked him publicly to denounce General Nkunda and the CNDP as part of a reciprocal renunciation of the FDLR by President Kabila.

As I saw for myself in North Kivu, the situation in the region remains fragile. Despite the recent ceasefire agreements, there has been renewed fighting over the past week and the situation remains volatile. Since the

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end of August, this conflict has resulted in an estimated 250,000 displaced people in North Kivu, bringing the total in North Kivu to well over 1 million, and at least 100 civilians have been killed. While the humanitarian consequences of the fighting are dire, it is the violence, insecurity and general lawlessness that is affecting the civilian population and hampering the delivery of assistance. Last week’s fighting has resulted in fresh displacement in areas difficult for the humanitarian agencies to reach, although we are still not clear on the numbers.

I take this opportunity to thank all those people working in such difficult circumstances on this humanitarian crisis. I met many devoted NGOs and individuals working there. I also commend the lead role that the Department for International Development is playing in the response.

Most humanitarian assistance is still getting through to camps around Goma, Rutshuru and Kiwanja. The World Food Programme is managing to distribute food aid sufficient for 200,000 people, and shelter materials have been supplied to displaced people around Goma and Rutshuru. Nevertheless, the situation remains precarious and access for humanitarian assistance can quickly be blocked if the fighting and lawlessness continue to spread.

Her Majesty’s Government had already committed £37 million of humanitarian assistance to the DRC for 2008. This included funding to ensure that supplies were in place to respond quickly to emergencies such as this. Much of our resource has been targeted on North Kivu. We announced an additional £5 million on 31 October. Six DfID humanitarian flights arrived in Goma between 9 and 11 November carrying water purification materials, plastic sheeting, blankets and water containers, and £2 million is to be used to assist the World Food Programme to source and distribute food in North Kivu. The rest will be channeled to the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Rescue Committee and Oxfam for provision of water and sanitation, health assistance and other essential supplies.

Like all noble Lords, I am deeply disturbed by unconfirmed reports of FARDC soldiers—the national Congolese army—raping and killing civilians and of atrocities of equal severity committed by the CNDP forces. We also have reports from Human Rights Watch and other NGOs that there has been large-scale forced recruitment, including of children, not just by CNDP but by PARECO and the Mai-Mai militias.

The deliberate targeting of civilians, civilian infrastructure, humanitarian aid workers and supplies is evidently in direct contravention of international humanitarian law and we hope that it will cease immediately. The targeting by the FARDC, the national army, of a therapeutic nutritional feeding centre on 19 November is a disgraceful example of this. MONUC has sent a team to investigate the alleged massacres at Kiwanja and the forced recruitment around Rutshuru. We await its report and encourage it to work with the Government of the DRC to bring the perpetrators to justice.

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The All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Great Lakes will meet on 27 November to look specifically at sexual and gender-based violence in the DRC and will launch a report from the noble Lord, Lord Mance, on the subject. This is an important issue.

This crisis has again underlined the fact that the Congolese state, for all the support that we and the international community have given it, is still a long way off track in reforming its national army. We need to review our support in this area. We are certainly willing to provide more support to help to reform the security sector, but for that to happen there needs to be a step change in the DRC Government’s own approach. We would like to see a stronger commitment to tackling corruption within the army, which remains one of several key obstacles to the ongoing reform efforts.

The UK’s immediate goal is to ensure that the ceasefire agreed in October in North Kivu between the CNDP and the DRC Government remains in place and to try to bring an end to the fighting and allow humanitarian assistance to reach the displaced people around Goma and other affected towns in North Kivu. The cause of the immediate crisis is General Nkunda’s CNDP and for that purpose we need to resume meaningful negotiations with the Congolese Government and the CNDP to end the current fighting. However, we must also tackle the longer-term underlying cause of instability in the Great Lakes: the continuing presence of the FDLR and the Hutu genocidaires within it in eastern Congo. Dismantling and repatriating the FDLR is an essential element in any long-term solution.

Neither this nor a restitution of the status quo ante before the fighting began in October is enough. A long-term solution that finally brings stability, economic growth and development in eastern Congo and the broader Great Lakes region is needed and we are active in trying to achieve that goal. The Prime Minister has worked the phones, including calling President Kagame and discussing the crisis with both President Sarkozy, with whom he introduced a Security Council resolution, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. As I said, the Foreign Secretary also visited the region with his French counterpart at the beginning of November. We have strongly supported the appointment of former Nigerian President Obasanjo as UN special envoy for the Great Lakes and we hope to work closely with him on his mediation efforts. Indeed, I have already been in touch with him a number of times.

I attended the Nairobi summit on 7 November. The summit saw the first steps taken by the region and the United Nations towards a resolution of the conflict and injected fresh momentum into achieving full implementation of the Nairobi communiqué and the Goma accord. It also agreed on the establishment of a follow-up mechanism to drive implementation of these agreements and it saw regional leaders back Mr Obasanjo in his role as UN special envoy.

I turn to the issues surrounding MONUC. The UN’s peacekeeping mission in the DRC has a key role both in ensuring the implementation of the diplomatic

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agreements—the Nairobi communiqué and the Goma accord—and in stabilising the current situation in order to allow full access for humanitarian assistance and protect civilians. With over 17,000 troops and 1,000 international civilian staff, MONUC is the biggest peacekeeping force that the UN has ever deployed. It also enjoys a broad mandate that allows it to tackle a wide range of challenges that need to be overcome if stability is to be brought to the DRC.

Nevertheless, the current crisis has highlighted the limitations that MONUC faces both in current force levels and in rapid response ability. Having followed MONUC from the beginning of its life, I have seen its responsibilities and mandate expanded, but all too frequently without the reinforcement of its logistical capability or its fighting forces that is required in order for it to carry out the ambitious Chapter 7 tasks that it has now been given. The Prime Minister announced on 13 November that the UK would support the request put to the UN Security Council by the UN Secretary-General to approve additional troops for the UN’s peacekeeping force in DRC. Following on from this, the UK co-sponsored UN Security Council Resolution 1843 on 20 November mandating the deployment of 2,785 additional troops and 300 police for MONUC. We are now working with the UN’s Department for Peacekeeping Operations to identify contributors and to ensure that these troops are deployed to the DRC as soon as possible. Indeed, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister announced in another place today that he has written to those countries deemed most likely to provide additional troops to encourage them to do so and to say that we would offer whatever support we could to facilitate their urgent arrival in eastern Congo.

In the mean time, we continue to work closely with our Security Council partners to ensure that MONUC’s existing resources are utilised as efficiently as possible and targeted where they are most needed. We commend MONUC’s efforts to reinforce its presence in and around Goma by moving troops from other parts of the DRC. Now, 95 per cent of MONUC’s troops are deployed in the eastern Congo.

Nevertheless, we approach today’s debate with a heavy heart. The situation has improved modestly over the past several weeks but it remains deeply dangerous and precarious. Unless we can apply political will, from this House and elsewhere, on the leaders of the region and the leaders of the militia to find a political solution to this problem, the likelihood that this situation will once more revert to a descending cycle of violence and civilian loss of life remains high. I beg to move.

Moved, That this House takes note of the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.—(Lord Malloch-Brown.)

4.06 pm

Lord Avebury: My Lords, we are grateful to the Minister, not only for giving this report on the situation in the DRC but for his considerable efforts in the region—he has described his visit there last week—and to the Prime Minister for his equally robust efforts. We are also grateful for the way in which the Minister has

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constantly kept your Lordships informed of developments in the region on an almost day-to-day basis. We are well briefed for the debate today and we are grateful to him for that.

Although the Security Council had the DRC on its agenda at the end of October for the first time since the end of March, until just now its response to a rapidly escalating emergency was a statement by the president and the Secretary-General’s assurances that it was indeed his number one preoccupation. One had a sense of déj vu thinking back to the former Secretary-General’s commitment following the genocide in Rwanda to the UN,

and the independent inquiry’s recommendations, for example, that member states be prepared to provide the necessary troops and logistical resources at short notice in support of peacekeeping operations. Yet it is only now, at this 11th hour, that the Security Council has authorised, as the Minister described, the deployment of an additional 2,700 troops and 300 police to the eastern DRC with already a quarter of a million people displaced from their homes over the past few weeks and lacking access to food, shelter and medical attention.

President Kabila has demanded a stronger mandate for MONUC whereas all that SCR 1843 does is to underscore the present mandate, including what it describes as the robust rules of engagement. Can the Minister say whether the rules of engagement are being updated and whether they will be published so that civilians who are at risk will know what protection they can expect from the UN? On Monday, the Minister said at Question Time that there were caveats by some troop contributors which affected the competence of peacekeeping operations. Can he say something about the further steps being taken to persuade the relevant states to lift these restrictions?

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