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Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, my noble friend is right. Indeed, that was the initial approach of the Human Rights Council. It goes to exactly my point

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about Judge Goldstone and his independence and quality, that he insisted—if he was to take on this mandate—that he look at alleged war crimes by both sides.

Lord Dykes: My Lords, does the Minister not agree, particularly after his first Answer to this Question, that it is interesting that B’Tselem and the other highly respected Israeli human rights groups are all in favour of further thorough investigations?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, I think it is important and is a reflection of the fact that there are people of good will on all sides of this who, whatever their views about the conflict and its origins or long-term peace, recognise that in today’s world these kinds of crimes, whether they occur in Gaza, northern Sri Lanka, or Darfur, must be subject to international accountability.

Lord Dubs: My Lords—

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): My Lords, to be fair, we are in the 24th minute.



11.30 am

Asked By Lord Avebury

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): My Lords, the Djibouti process led to the expansion of the Somali Parliament and its selection of a new President. The formation of a more broadly based Government provides the best opportunity to create a lasting peace and reconciliation necessary for tackling the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Although that Government are battling an assault by the armed insurgency, they must continue to strive for further reconciliation with those outside the political process.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, if we are really determined to prevent the terrorists affiliated to Al-Shabaab taking over the whole country, is it not necessary to provide greater support in terms of logistics and training, both for the Government’s armed forces and for the AMISOM troops? With regard to the humanitarian crisis, is the noble Lord aware of any steps being taken through the Security Council or otherwise to meet the gap of two-thirds in the funding to meet the needs of the 400,000 people displaced internally, and a similar number in refugee camps in neighbouring countries, particularly Kenya?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, the noble Lord has repeatedly brought the question of Somalia to this House’s attention, and correctly so, because it is often

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one of those forgotten crises. About 40 per cent of the country’s population are displaced, completely dependent on international aid, and it has been very difficult to get it there. Despite the current upsurge of fighting, the distribution continues in key places such as Mogadishu, and the World Food Programme delivered something like 35,000 metric tonnes of food last month. On the noble Lord’s other point, we are also seeking to make sure that AMISOM, to which we have contributed generously, is properly supported during this crisis; and there was a move in the Security Council last week to make sure that the transitional Government’s armed forces be supported with the resources they need and to deal with this critical issue of salaries to soldiers and police.

Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, is it true that the Eritrean army is yet again invading Somalia and helping the Al-Shabaab rebels? I do not know whether the Minister has any news on that. One area where we in this country have a direct interest is the offshore piracy. Is it correct that the Iranians now want to contribute through their naval resources to the anti-piracy movement? Might this not be at least one area where, despite all our disagreements with Iran on everything else, we could co-operate with it?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, on the noble Lord’s first point, there is pretty strong evidence of Eritrean collusion in the upsurge of violence against the Government and of possible arms resupply to the rebels by the Eritreans. They were condemned in a Security Council presidential statement at the end of last week and have furiously denied the charges, but frankly that does not give me much confidence—it does not mean that the charges are not true. There is also a real risk of this situation escalating; there have been reports, again denied, of Ethiopian troops returning into Somalia. This is an enormously serious challenge to the Government and we all have reason to be very concerned to support and reinforce them over the coming weeks. I will have to get back to the noble Lord on his second point about Iran and piracy.

Lord Steel of Aikwood: My Lords, given the mayhem that has characterised Somalia for so long, is there not a case for reconsidering the whole question of recognising the Government in Somaliland, the former British protectorate, which at least is stable and orderly?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, this is one of those perennial issues which, quite rightly, come up every time that Somalia lurches back into crisis. The noble Lord knows our position, which is that we try to give Somaliland support but we think that its status and potential independence must be dealt with through African forums: first, through talks between the two sides in Somalia and, subsequently, through the AU. We do not think that British recognition of Somaliland would help its goal of independence.

The Lord Bishop of Liverpool: My Lords, we have a large Somali community in Liverpool. Has there been any contact between the Government and local authorities

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where there are large Somali communities, to address possible tensions that might arise within those communities?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, the right reverend Prelate raises an important point. I will look into it and ensure that information is being shared. Broadly, I do not think—although he knows better than I do—that this is a situation where our Somali British community is divided, as is the case with some other conflicts with which we have been dealing. I think that among Somalis resident here there is quite broad support for the transitional Government; indeed, one very distinguished British citizen is now the Foreign Minister.

Lord Judd: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that, in the immensely difficult situation as he described it, a priority is to regain access for the free-standing non-governmental humanitarian agencies, which are perceived to have no political agenda of their own and are therefore in a particularly strong position to make a contribution in a fraught situation? Does he also accept that humanitarian assistance and the political dimensions are seldom in watertight compartments and that, in approaching lasting solutions, it is terribly important to listen very carefully to non-governmental organisations about what they are learning in the context of their work?

Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, my noble friend is absolutely correct about the critical role of humanitarian non-governmental organisations. DfID is in daily contact not just with the UN agencies and the International Committee of the Red Cross but also with the NGOs involved, to try to work out how we can programme an additional £3.5 million of support. The NGOs are obviously suffering from the same difficulties as the UN agencies, including the huge difficulty of deploying staff there due to the dramatic security situation.

Arrangement of Business


11.37 am

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, with the leave of the House, my noble friend Lord West of Spithead will repeat the Statement on Gurkhas immediately after the debate in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith.

Code of Conduct: Leader's Group


11.37 am

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): My Lords, following yesterday’s agreement to the reports of the Committee for Privileges, I have undertaken to inform the House of the next steps in relation to the code of conduct. Today, I have set up a Leader’s Group with the terms of reference as follows: to consider the code of conduct and the rules relating to Members’ interests and to make recommendations. I am delighted to say that the noble and right reverend Lord, Lord Eames, has agreed to chair the group. The

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other members will be my noble friend Lady Jay of Paddington, the noble Baroness, Lady Hamwee, the noble Lords, Lord Kingsland and Lord MacGregor of Pulham Market, and my noble friend Lord Hart of Chilton.

The group expects to meet during the first week of June, immediately after the Whitsun Recess, with a view to reporting back to me before the end of the current Session. I will take any findings to the Committee for Privileges and it will ultimately be for the House to approve any recommendations. Once the House has implemented such recommendations, in due course I would look for them to be administered by the proposed independent parliamentary regulator, to which I alerted the House yesterday.

Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for giving me early sight of her brief Statement this morning, and I very much welcome the announcement of the Leader’s Group to look at the code of conduct. However, I am less clear as to why she added the last paragraph about the independent parliamentary regulator, as yesterday it appeared that we know very little about that post. As the noble Baroness has mentioned it, I wonder whether she is in a position this morning to tell us a little bit more about when we can expect legislation, how the consultation process is to take place, whether the Government will publish a Green Paper or a White Paper, and whether she believes that legislation will be on the statute book before the next general election.

Lord McNally: My Lords, I welcome the setting up of this group—to borrow an American phrase, there will not have been so much talent around one table since Thomas Jefferson dined alone. I also share the concern expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, about our relationship with this new parliamentary body. It would be a good lesson for this House if we proceeded with caution.

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, I entirely agree that we need to proceed with caution, and I am grateful to both noble Lords for making that point. I was simply trying to be coherent and consistent with what I said yesterday. I do not have any further information about the new body now, but I think that it is terribly important that we continue our work as a House and do what we know needs to be done. As soon as I have further information relating to potential legislation, I will of course come to the House.

Healthcare across EU borders(EUC Report)

Motion to Refer to Grand Committee

11.40 am

Moved By The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon)

Motion agreed.

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European Communities (Definition of Treaties) (Maritime Labour Convention) Order 2009

National Assembly for Wales (Legislative Competence) (Agriculture and Rural Development) Order 2009

Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Establishment of Conservation Board) (Amendment) Order 2009

Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Establishment of Conservation Board) (Amendment) Order 2009

Motion to Refer to Grand Committee

11.40 am

Moved By The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon)

Motion agreed.

Climate Change


11.41 am

Moved By Lord Dixon-Smith

Lord Dixon-Smith: My Lords, in moving this Motion I remind the House that we live very much in a globalised world where our best interests must take into account what is happening elsewhere. We know that the global population is heading for 9 billion people by 2050, from 6 billion today. Supplying the resources to support that increase will strain our ingenuity as well as our present standard of living. One effect will almost certainly be that agricultural land will be focused almost entirely and exclusively on food production and will not be available to produce energy. Here in the United Kingdom our own population is heading for 80 million by 2050. These increasing numbers mean that meeting their energy demands will be likely to negate much of the gain that we hope to achieve through better fuel economy in what we are doing today.

The decision of the Committee on Climate Change to raise the target for greenhouse gas emission reduction to 80 per cent by 2050—a very neat movement in the goalposts—will require a much more focused approach than we have at present. It is worth noting that if we simply use carbon dioxide as the measurement, because greenhouse gases were not in the basket at that time,

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then we passed the level which we are now required to meet in about the middle of the 19th century, when our population was less than 25 million.

Some industries that are fundamental to modern society have no alternative but to use fossil fuel. The metal smelting industries use fossil fuel to reduce ores to base metals; we cannot do without them. The cement industry requires a similar process with similar emissions. Aviation, because of the problem of energy density, might well be included within this category of essential industry. Agriculture—my own industry—emits around 8 per cent of the United Kingdom’s greenhouse gases because of the livestock sector. That is food, so we can do nothing about it. These essential industries will take up the major part of the 20 per cent that is left for greenhouse gas emissions after 2050. In any event, any residual free capacity at that point will be too small to support any major industrial output. If that presumption is correct, everything else will have to change and become zero emissions-based. That is why I initiated this debate today.

We should not overestimate the problem. It remains the fact that any establishment, commercial or domestic, which runs exclusively on electric power is already a zero-emissions establishment. Of course, there is a problem with that, a problem that affects us all: the electricity generating industry, which may be our proxy in this regard, emits huge quantities of greenhouse gases at present and is not as energy-efficient as it could be. However, if we can source our electricity without greenhouse gas emissions, a major problem is solved.

The Government's decision on carbon capture and storage is welcome—I have some doubts about both cost and competitiveness, and I understand that the process is not 100 per cent efficient in capturing carbon, but it is welcome—and we must explore it, but there are many other sources of greenhouse gas-free electricity. Nuclear power is a well known, proven technology. Wind power is another proven technology and, again, the Government have taken action to promote it. Hydroelectricity in this country is already near its capacity, but we could use turbine technology to extract more power from the rivers. Estuarial barrages are a proven technology. They are very expensive, but the high cost is offset in many ways by their very long service life. Tidal stream and wave technologies are very much at the prototype stage, but, again, for us in this island, they have high potential. Domestic and other waste can be digested into methane to generate electricity with a fertiliser residue, and microgeneration in all its forms will unquestionably make a considerable contribution.

Above all—something I have not mentioned so far—is solar power, an almost unlimited resource. The latest prototype solar power-generating stations can capture enough heat during the day that they can then release it at night and continue generating for 24 hours a day. If the sun is not powerful enough here, is that a matter of concern? We already ship gas and oil through pipelines or in large tankers across thousands of miles to meet our needs. Why could we not transmit large quantities of electricity, probably as direct current, where the transmission losses are less, in a similar way?

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A more difficult issue is land-based transport. Railways are no problem. They are already almost completely powered by electricity, and it would not be difficult to ensure that they were totally electrically driven. Road transport is not so straightforward, and we are very road transport-dependent. However, it is interesting that the technology required to make road transport emissions-free already exists and has done for some time. We simply need the willpower to develop it. The Government have made a welcome move on battery cars, which unquestionably have a place in the outcome that we are looking for, but I have doubts about them on two grounds. First, I am not sure that heavy road transport can afford the weight penalty that batteries imply. I am not sure, either, that I like the idea of those batteries being disposed of—and they will have to be. They will contain large quantities of noxious material and will present a major problem when battery-powered cars are in general use. There is also the problem of the long refuel time required.

It is of interest that New Holland Clayson has a prototype fuel cell-powered agricultural tractor with 120 horsepower. It has produced this on the basis that agriculture has the space to generate its own hydrogen, which is what the fuel cell depends on for its power. That could easily be developed and enhanced for heavy transport. We have had buses on the streets of London powered by fuel cells. Again, they have been prototypes and have run very successfully. I believe that I am right in saying that they will be back here again, some time next year or the year after.

Honda has fuel cell cars going on lease to customers in California, where it seems likely that they intend to make one road a hydrogen highway with sufficient infrastructure. These cars are similar in performance to present-day cars, but, unlike the battery-powered cars, can be refuelled completely in a matter of minutes. Hydrogen, the fuel for these vehicles, is the most common element in the universe. The fuel cell exhaust is pure water. Hydrogen can be generated from water using greenhouse gas-free electricity. That means we need increased generating capacity, but if we mean business, we will have to adopt some technology of this nature. The 2050 target is achievable but one has to acknowledge that there is a big question of cost. At the moment it looks as though the cost will be frighteningly high. All our experience, however, shows that as new technologies develop, particularly in the initial stages, the costs come down with further experience, development and mass production.

This all sounds pretty radical, and probably a bit extreme. And it may well not be the answer. I have moved this Motion today not because I have the answer—although I would love to say that it is the answer—but because we cannot afford to wait until 2030 to find that the existing, rather hit-and-miss proposals, which are all done with the best of intentions, will not actually meet the target that has now been set. The critical date is 2050. If we are a bit slow at the start it does not really matter, but we must be absolutely sure that we can get there.

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11.53 am

Lord Bhattacharyya: My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, on securing this important debate. The Government have much to be proud of in their record on climate change. They have pushed forward the agenda at Kyoto. They have enforced the climate change levy. This Government enacted the Climate Change Bill. That said, the debate is too important to give in to partisan instincts. The noble Lord, Lord Dixon-Smith, is quite right to focus on what really matters: the practical changes we all need to make to reduce emissions.

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